You’ve finally booked that trip to Paris you’ve been dreaming about forever. The City of Light is calling your name, and you’re ready to dive in and experience all the magic it has to offer. But where to begin in a city with so much history, culture, food, and beauty? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We compiled a list of the absolute must-see places to visit in Paris so you can make the most of your time in this stunning city. Whether you want to channel your inner bohemian in Montmartre, feel like royalty at Versailles, get lost in the Louvre, or simply people watch at a cafe, these destinations will make you fall in love with Paris. Alors, pack your bags and bon voyage! The adventure of a lifetime awaits.
The Eiffel Tower – An Iconic Landmark
The Eiffel Tower is Paris’s most famous landmark and attracts nearly 7 million visitors each year. Standing at 324 meters tall, you can take an elevator or stairs to the top levels which offer stunning 360 views of the city.
Once at the summit, you’ll be on top of the world. Gaze out at the Champ de Mars, the River Seine winding through the city, and many of Paris’s most iconic buildings like the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame Cathedral. At night, the tower is lit up until 1 am and sparkles like a jewel. The top level restaurant, Le Jules Verne, is pricey but offers an unforgettable dining experience with panoramic vistas.
If heights aren’t your thing or if you want to avoid the queues, simply strolling around the base of the tower and soaking in its architectural marvel is still impressive. The intricate latticework of the tower’s framework is a sight to behold up close. The surrounding Champ de Mars park also offers a perfect spot for a picnic lunch with a view.
No trip to Paris is complete without visiting this global symbol of romance and style. The Eiffel Tower represents the heart and soul of the city, with its marriage of artistry, culture and stunning beauty. Make sure to stop by at night when the tower is illuminated – the light show starts on the hour, every hour, for 5 minutes. C’est magnifique!
Louvre Museum – Home to Famous Artworks
The Louvre Museum is a must-see when in Paris. Home to many famous artworks like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory of Samothrace, you could spend days exploring its massive collection.
As one of the world’s largest museums, the Louvre’s galleries span over 650,000 square feet. To tackle this beast without feeling overwhelmed, focus on a few sections at a time. A good place to start is the Denon Wing, which houses many iconic pieces like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. The Richelieu Wing contains ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman artifacts. The Sully Wing includes the famous Winged Victory of Samothrace.
Give yourself at least half a day to tour the Louvre. Arrive early and have a game plan for what you want to see. You’ll still have to battle crowds, especially around the most well-known artworks. But with some strategy, you can navigate the sea of selfie sticks and view legendary masterpieces up close.
The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, so avoid that day. Buy tickets in advance on the museum’s website to skip the ticket line. The Louvre is also open late on Wednesdays and Fridays, so those evenings are perfect if you want smaller crowds.
No trip to Paris is complete without seeing the Mona Lisa smile in person. Venture inside this world-class museum and you’ll discover a visual feast of human creative achievement spanning thousands of years of history. From Ancient Egypt to the Romantic era, the Louvre offers an unparalleled artistic experience you’ll never forget.
Arc De Triomphe – Stunning Architecture
The Arc de Triomphe is one of Paris’ most iconic landmarks. Built in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, offering impressive views down the Champs-Élysées, this stunning example of neoclassical architecture is a sight not to be missed.
Commissioned in 1806 to honor those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Arc de Triomphe was completed in 1836. At the center of the arc, beneath its vaulted ceiling, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honors those who lost their lives in World War I. The arc’s rooftop terrace provides panoramic views of Paris, allowing you to gaze down the Champs-Élysées and see many other landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Cœur basilica.
The arc itself is elaborately decorated with reliefs and sculptures depicting famous battles and victories of the Napoleonic era. The names of all French generals and their victories are also inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. You can walk around and under the Arc de Triomphe to admire its beautiful sculptures and gain insight into the history of France.
To reach the top of the arc, there are 40 steps leading to the terrace that offer a rewarding climb and stunning 360° views of the City of Light. The Arc de Triomphe is open every day of the year, and admission tickets can be purchased on-site. This landmark is a very popular tourist attraction, so I would recommend going early and avoiding the midday crowds if possible.
No trip to Paris is complete without seeing the Arc de Triomphe. A symbol of France’s military history and an architectural wonder, it provides a glimpse into the country’s past and a panorama of the city’s present. Take the time to experience this monument and you won’t regret it. The memories of this striking archway and the views from its rooftop terrace will stay with you long after you’ve left Paris.
Notre Dame Cathedral – A Gothic Masterpiece
The Notre Dame Cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece you absolutely must see while in Paris. Construction began in 1163 and took nearly 200 years to complete. Though tragically damaged by fire in 2019, restoration efforts are underway and parts remain open for visitors.
Notre Dame is considered a prime example of French Gothic architecture. Two towers dominate the western façade, as well as the famous stone gargoyles and chimera. Walk around the exterior to admire the flying buttresses, spires and ornate details. The interior is equally stunning, with high vaulted ceilings, stunning stained glass rose windows and rows of columns.
For centuries, Notre Dame has been the center of Parisian life. Napoleon was crowned emperor here in 1804, and its bells have rung out during momentous events. The cathedral has inspired famous works of art, like Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Kings and queens wed here, and many important relics are housed inside.
What to See
Don’t miss the three rose windows, the largest of which is over 42 feet in diameter with nearly 10,000 pieces of glass. The twin towers offer panoramic views of the city, though access depends on restoration work. The cathedral’s most prized relic is the Crown of Thorns, believed to have been worn by Jesus during the crucifixion. The Great Organ, with over 8,000 pipes, is a work of art in itself.
Visiting this magnificent cathedral is a moving experience for people of all faiths and backgrounds. Though still recovering from the devastating 2019 fire, Notre Dame remains an enduring symbol of Paris’ history, culture, and indomitable spirit. Whether you find solace in its soaring arches or simply appreciate its architectural magnificence, Notre Dame Cathedral is a must-see highlight of the City of Light.
Champs-Élysées – Upscale Shopping Boulevard
The Champs-Élysées is Paris’ most famous boulevard, lined with luxury shops, restaurants, and theaters. This grand avenue stretches from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, making it a popular tourist attraction.
Walking down the Champs-Élysées, especially at night when it’s lit up, is a quintessential Parisian experience. The boulevard is filled with upscale stores like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Cartier, as well as popular clothing retailers Zara and H&M. Even if the high-end brands are out of your budget, window shopping and soaking in the glamor is entertainment in itself.
Restaurants and Cafés
When you need to rest your feet, the Champs-Élysées offers no shortage of cafés and restaurants. Stop for a café au lait and a croissant at Ladurée, a posh tea salon that’s been an institution since 1862. Or try the seafood platter and a glass of crisp white wine on the patio of Fouquet’s, a historic brasserie that has hosted celebrities like Brigitte Bardot and Tom Cruise.
In the evenings, catch a show at the historic Lido de Paris cabaret or the extravagant Moulin Rouge. Or see the latest blockbuster film on release day at the massive Le Balzac cinema.
The Champs-Élysées is easily accessed by metro, bus, bike or taxi. The metro stations Concorde, Champs-Élysées Clemenceau, Franklin D. Roosevelt and George V will drop you right on the boulevard. City busses 42, 52, 73 and 84 also run the length of the avenue.
A stroll down the Champs-Élysées should be on every Paris visitor’s itinerary. The grand boulevard offers a perfect blend of shopping, dining, entertainment and history—all with a distinctly Parisian sense of style and joie de vivre. No trip to the City of Light is complete without experiencing its most famous avenue.
The Catacombs – Underground Ossuary
The Catacombs of Paris are a subterranean ossuary that holds the remains of over 6 million people. This underground maze was created in the 18th century in the abandoned tunnels of Paris’ stone mines. If you’re not claustrophobic and don’t mind being surrounded by bones, the Catacombs offer a glimpse into Paris’ history.
To access the Catacombs, head to the entrance near Place Denfert-Rochereau. Be prepared for long lines, especially in the summer, so go early. Once inside, a winding staircase takes you 20 meters below the streets of Paris into a series of tunnels lined with human bones and skulls. It’s a sobering sight, but a testament to the lives of millions of Parisians from centuries past.
The Catacombs were created as a solution to the overcrowding of Paris’ cemeteries. Between the 1780s and 1860s, the remains of those buried in cemeteries were exhumed and transferred to the abandoned tunnels beneath the city. The bones are meticulously organized, with skulls lining the walls and femurs and tibias used to create circular patterns. As you walk through the 1.7-mile network of tunnels, you’ll see inscriptions and poems created from bones, a chilling reminder of humanity’s shared fate.
A visit to the Catacombs is a must for history buffs and those fascinated by the macabre. While not for the faint of heart, the Catacombs offer an unparalleled opportunity to connect with those who lived and died in Paris hundreds of years ago. The sea of bones is a sobering yet captivating sight you won’t soon forget. Just be sure to mind your head—low ceilings and millions of bones await you in the tunnels below the City of Light.
Jardin Du Luxembourg – Beautiful Public Park
The Jardin du Luxembourg is one of the most charming gardens in Paris. Located on Paris’ Left Bank, this sprawling public park is a perfect escape from the bustle of the city.
Beautiful Flowers and Trees
The garden’s pathways are lined with lush lawns, colorful flowerbeds, and rows of leafy trees like chestnuts, maples and ash trees. In the springtime, daffodils, tulips and irises bloom throughout the park. The orchard area features apple, pear, and cherry trees. The garden’s centerpiece is the Medici Fountain, a massive Baroque fountain built in 1630.
There are many activities to enjoy in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Rent a toy sailboat to float across the park’s central pond. Lounge in one of the park’s iconic green chairs with a book or just people watch. The park also has courts for tennis, chess/checkers, and boules (a French ball game). There is even a vintage carousel for kids with hand-carved animals.
Palace and Museum
At one end of the garden sits the Luxembourg Palace, where the French Senate meets. The Luxembourg Museum, housed within the palace, displays European paintings, sculptures and artifacts. The museum’s collection includes works by famous artists like Rubens, Rembrandt, and Matisse.
The Jardin du Luxembourg is a perfect escape in the heart of Paris with its sprawling lawns, colorful gardens, fountains and numerous activities. No trip to Paris is complete without visiting this iconic park. Spend a relaxing afternoon strolling the garden paths, sailing toy boats with kids, or just sitting and enjoying the surroundings. The Jardin du Luxembourg is one of the city’s treasures that both locals and visitors cherish.
The opulent Palais Garnier opera house is a must-see when in Paris. Completed in 1875, this historic performing arts venue is a prime example of Second Empire architecture, designed by Charles Garnier in an ornate Baroque Revival style.
Breathtaking Grand Foyer
Upon entering, your eyes will immediately be drawn upwards to the massive Grand Foyer with its grand marble staircases. The immense hall is lavishly decorated with red velvet seats, gilded balconies and an extravagant ceiling fresco painted by Paul Baudry. This spectacular space is open to visitors during the day and attending a show in the evening allows you to experience its grandeur firsthand.
The main auditorium, which seats nearly 2,000, is just as opulent with a massive chandelier hanging from its domed ceiling. Red velvet seats, gilded columns and private boxes surround the stage. The proscenium, framing the stage, is decorated with sculptures depicting musical allegories. If you’re lucky enough to catch a show, it will make you feel as if you’ve been transported back to the gilded age.
Behind the Scenes Tour
For a small fee, guided tours provide access to areas typically off limits like dressing rooms, the massive stage and the orchestra pit. Ascending to the dome, you’ll get a glimpse of Eugène Delacroix’s painted ceiling at its peak. The Palais Garnier also houses a museum dedicated to its history as well as a library and archives open to researchers.
Whether attending a ballet, opera performance or simply touring on your own, the Palais Garnier is an unforgettable experience. Let yourself get lost in the sheer grandeur and opulence of this Parisian landmark, a relic of the Belle Époque era. No trip to the City of Light would be complete without visiting this architectural wonder.
Top 10 Must-See Places to Visit in Paris FAQ
Paris is filled with world-class museums, stunning architecture, charming cafes and more. If you only have a short time in the City of Light, here are the must-see places you simply can’t miss.
The Eiffel Tower
No trip to Paris is complete without visiting this iconic landmark. Head to the top level for panoramic views of the city. Best seen at night when it sparkles on the hour.
Home to many famous works of art like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, the Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums. You could spend days exploring its vast collection.
Notre Dame Cathedral
One of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. Though damaged by fire, the cathedral remains an impressive sight. Entry is free, but access may be limited due to ongoing restoration work.
Arc de Triomphe
At the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, offering impressive views down the Champs-Élysées. You can climb to the top of the arch for a small fee.
A must for art lovers, housing many famous works including Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles. The building itself is a former railway station, adding to its charm.
Home to the National Museum of Modern Art, showcasing art from 1905 onwards. The colorful, tube-like design of the building is a work of art in itself.
Stunning basilica set atop Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Climb the dome for panoramic views and then explore the charming Montmartre district.
The Latin Quarter
Wander the charming Latin Quarter, home to Sorbonne university. Soak in the bohemian atmosphere, browse bookshops and enjoy a coffee at a sidewalk cafe.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Beautiful gardens on Paris’s Left Bank, perfect for relaxing on a sunny day. Watch locals play tennis or chess, rent a toy boat to sail on the fountain, or just sit back and people watch.
Palace of Versailles
Just outside the city, the magnificent Palace of Versailles is a spectacular sight. Explore the opulent chateau and sprawling gardens, a perfect day trip from Paris.
So there you have it, 10 must-see places to visit in Paris. With so much history, art, food, and culture packed into this amazing city, you really can’t go wrong no matter where your wanderlust takes you. But these spots should definitely be at the top of your list. Whether you’re strolling the Champs Elysees, gazing at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, climbing the Eiffel Tower, or just soaking in the atmosphere at a charming cafe, Paris has a way of stealing your heart. Once you experience the magic of the City of Light, you’ll never want to say au revoir. But don’t worry, Paris will be waiting for your return. Now start planning your trip – the adventures await!