3-Day Itinerary for the Ultimate Paris Experience
There are so many things to do in Paris, it can be hard to know where to start. That's why I've put together this 3-day itinerary that will help you see the best of what the city has to offer! From iconic tourist destinations like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral, to lesser-known gems like the Pompidou Centre and Canal Saint Martin, I've outlined the perfect Paris itinerary for those looking to see all of the best attractions and cultural experiences that the city has to offer!
About This Itinerary
After coming back from my third trip to Paris, I've now been able to spend even more time in this magical city to see which attractions are a definite must. And in my opinion, you would want at least 3 days to get the best feel for the city, without it feeling too rushed or packed. After 3 days in Paris, you will have checked off all of the big landmarks from your list, with enough time to really relax and enjoy each activity.
This itinerary was initially made for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but could be adjusted based on other travel dates. I will also provide a few different options of activities to do depending on your budget so that you can get the most out of your trip. Each day focuses on a different area of Paris, so by the end of 3 days in Paris, you will have seen most of the major neighborhoods and attractions.
When to Visit Paris
The best time to visit Paris is in the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds. However, Paris can be visited year-round. Just be prepared for colder weather and more crowds if you're visiting in the winter or summer. As for the time in the week, the weekends tend to be more crowded, so if you're looking to avoid that, I would recommend going during the week. I tend to prefer the weekends though, as I am usually an early riser when traveling and enjoy when restaurants and bars are open later. Plus, many restaurants post-COVID are closed on either Mondays or Tuesdays, so that's something to keep in mind as well!
Where to Stay in Paris
There are so many arrondissements (districts) in Paris, and each one has its own unique character. I would recommend staying in the 2nd, 7th, or 8th arrondissements for your 3 days in Paris. These arrondissements are centrally located and within walking distance to all of the best attractions. For Paris, I would actually recommend booking a hotel over an Airbnb. They tend to be less expensive after all the fees that Airbnb tacks on, not to mention more convenient.
If you're looking for a specific hotel recommendation, I would recommend the Hôtel Lenox Montparnasse. This was the hotel I decided to stay at to be closer to Montparnasse and the restaurants I planned on going to. On my previous trip, I stayed in the 8th arrondissement and loved it, but this time I wanted to explore a different area. If you're looking to stay closer to the Arc de Triomphe and Montmartre, I would recommend the Hotel Ampere Paris.
3-Day Itinerary for the Ultimate Paris Experience
Day 1 :
For the first day, we will be covering the area South of the Seine River, which includes some of the most iconic attractions in Paris. The 5th, 6th, and 7th arrondissements are home to many landmarks, as well as beautiful parks and gardens. This will include stops at the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Luxembourg Gardens, and more!
Optional Sunrise: 6:00 AM-7:00 AM
For those wanting to start their day off super early, or are willing to get up for a phenomenal view, sunrise at the Eiffel tower is an experience not to be missed. I would recommend getting there at least 45 minutes early to get a good spot. Keep in mind that the Eiffel Tower is one of the most popular attractions in Paris, so there will already be a lot of people around even at this early hour. The Tower itself does not open until 9:30 am usually, so you will not be able to go up just yet, but the views from the ground are still stunning.
Early Morning Start: 7:00 AM-8:00 AM
Most cafes open around 7-8 am, so start your day off with a classic Parisian breakfast - a croissant and coffee! If you're staying in a hotel, you can probably get one at the hotel's breakfast buffet. We will begin this day on the East side and move west towards the Eiffel tower, so here are some recommendations of cafe's near the 5th arrondissement:
Jozi Cafe - artisanal coffees, pastries, and breakfast items in a Latin American area with a South African touch
Strada Cafe - A cute spot for specialty coffee and breakfast with a terrace view.
Dose - Laid back spot for coffee and pastries, with a great cappuccino
Spend the Morning Exploring the Latin Quarter: 8:00-10:00 AM
The Latin Quarter is home to the Sorbonne University and many students, so it has a vibrant and young atmosphere. It's filled with charming narrow streets, cute cafes, and lots of boutiques. This is the perfect place to stroll around and do some shopping or people watching. Some must-see sights in the Latin Quarter are the Pantheon, Luxembourg Gardens, and of course the Sorbonne University. The Luxembourg Gardens are my personal favorite spot in the Latin Quarter, so I would recommend spending some time there relaxing or reading a book.
Although it has been closed for a while now for repairs, the Notre Dame Cathedral is also located in the Latin Quarter. The exterior of the cathedral is still stunning and definitely worth a visit. If you want to spend more time around the Latin Quarter, I would also recommend popping into Shakespeare and Company, which is an iconic English bookstore located on the Left Bank.
Mid-Day in St. Germain: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM
After exploring the Latin Quarter, we will make our way over to St. Germain des Pres - one of the most gorgeous and picturesque arrondissements in Paris. This is a great place to do some more shopping, as there are high-end stores as well as more affordable ones. As for activities, you can visit the Musee d'Orsay, take a stroll along the Seine River, or explore the beautiful Saint Sulpice Church.
Grab Some Lunch: 12:00 PM-1:00 PM
There are so many great lunch options around the area, so it's tough to choose just one! Here are some spots I would recommend, that give you an array of different cuisines to choose from.
Josephine Chez Dumont - A veteran brasserie serving French classics like beef bourguignon, souffles, and foie gras and more.
Arpege - Sophisticated fine dining spot serving Haute French cuisine.
O Cocher Table & Burger & Cave a vin - Laid back bistro serving burgers and elevated comfort food
Inizio - Italian classics for a great price, with the best Neapolitan pizza in Paris.
Lobineau - Cozy bistro with great traditional French seafood options
Le Tourne Bouchon - International cuisines from all over the world served in a cute bistro setting
An Afternoon in Montparnasse: 1:00 PM-4:00 PM
After lunch, we will make our way over to the Montparnasse area. This is a great spot to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the busier areas of Paris. There are plenty of things to do, like visiting the Paris Observatory, The Liberation of Paris Museum, Bourdelle Museum, and Montparnasse Tower. The Paris Catacombs are also located in Montparnasse and definitely worth a visit if you're interested in that kind of thing! If you're more interested in a laid-back stroll, Rue Daguerre is a beautiful and quaint street, lined with charming cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.
I would recommend getting in for a quick wine tasting at a local wine bar, accompanied with some great cheese and a french baguette for an afternoon snack! The wine culture in Paris is amazing and definitely worth checking out.
Evening Eiffel Tower Visit: 4:00 PM-7:00 PM
End the day by visiting one of Paris's most iconic landmarks - the Eiffel Tower! This is the perfect time to go, as the lines are shorter and you'll be able to enjoy the views of the city as the sun sets. If you want to avoid the lines, I would recommend buying tickets online in advance. You can also upgrade your ticket to include a trip to the top of the tower, which I would highly recommend. There are two levels - the first one is open-air and offers amazing views of Paris, and the second level is completely enclosed and gives you a 360 degree view of the city. If you're not interested in going up the Eiffel tower, you can enjoy a book or picnic in Champ de Mars, which is the park located right in front of it.
Nighttime in Paris 7:00 PM Onwards
After admiring the sunset from the Eiffel Tower, it's time to enjoy the best nightlife that Paris has to offer! If you're interested in checking out some of the local bars. For a more upscale evening, you could make reservations for a dinner cruise along the Seine river, or eat at one of these restaurants in the 7th and 6th arrondissements:
Felix - Inventive bistro with a twist on traditional French fare
Restaurant Le Blavet - Classic French dishes like foie gras, tartar, and duck breast with great regional wines
Le Volant Basque - Traditional basque specialties in a down-to-earth setting
Arnaud Nicolas Restaurant & Boutique - Artfully presented tasting menus with house-cured meats and terrines
Ministry of Spice - Intimate restaurant with Indian fine dining cuisine
Epicerie Fine et Traiteur Pisanov - Bulgarian comfort foods in a nice setting
Milagro - Bistronomic spanish restaurant with culinary creativity
Restaurant Armonia - Stylish global tasting menu
This will be the most packed day as we explore the Champs Elysees, and everything directly North of the Seine, which is packed with famous landmarks, museums, and more! This day can start at the West side of the 8th arrondissement, and ends at the Louvre (since it stays open late on Fridays) but can easily be flipped for other days or if you want to end the night with some major shopping or late night dancing and drinks.
Breakfast in the 8th: 8:00 AM-9:00 AM
Start the day off with a delicious breakfast at one of these great places in the 8th arrondissement:
Cafe Joyeux Champs-Elysees - Centrally located spot with casual breakfast
Azur Brunch & Coffee - Up-beat restaurant with mediterranean influenced breakfast items and a decent array of vegan options
Cafe La Carre Elysee - Traditional French style cafe
Morning on the Champs Elysees: 9:00AM-12:00PM
We will begin the day by exploring one of Paris's most famous streets - the Champs Elysees. This is a great spot for some shopping, as there are high-end stores as well as more affordable ones. If you're someone who wants to shop at luxury stores like Louis Vuitton and Chanel, then this is the place for you. You should get there early, as there are usually lines to limit the amount of people in the high-end stores, and people even will queue up before the store opens.
If you're not interested in shopping, or want to take a break from it, there are plenty of other things to do on the Champs Elysees. You can visit the Arc de Triomphe, go to one of the many museums like the Jacquemart-Andre Museum or the Army Museum, or take a stroll in one of the parks like the Tuileries Garden.
Lunch on Rue St. Honore: 12:00PM-2:00PM
After exploring the Champs Elysees, it's time to grab some lunch! I would recommend heading to Rue St. Honore, which is a street known for its high-end fashion boutiques. This is also a great spot for some people watching, as you'll see plenty of well-dressed Parisians strolling down the street. There are plenty of great restaurants to choose from, but some of my favorites are:
Le Florentin - Traditional brasserie serving French food
Balagan - Stylish space with an open kitchen serving Israeli dishes
MAR’CO - Contemporary health minded French dishes in a stylish bistro setting
Kosyuen - Cozy Japanese eatery with a rustic-chic look
Pendino- Casual Italian spot with outdoor seating
Afternoon at the Louvre: 3:00PM-6:00PM
In the afternoon, we'll head to one of Paris's most famous museums - the Louvre! This is a huge museum, so I would recommend planning out which exhibits you want to see in advance. Some of my favorites are the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Egyptian Antiquities. If you're interested in art history, then this is definitely the place for you. The Louvre is also a great place to take a break from walking around all day, as there are plenty of benches and seats throughout the museum. On Friday's, the Louvre is open late, so you can easily spend a few hours here. The best hours to visit in my opinion are either right when they open, or in the evening right before they close. This way, you avoid the bulk of the crowds during the day.
Evening in the Montmartre: 7:00 PM- 10:00 PM
After a long day of exploring, it's time to relax and enjoy some of the best food that Paris has to offer! I would recommend heading to the Montmartre district, which is known for its romantic atmosphere and great views of the city. There are plenty of great restaurants to choose from, but some of my favorites are:
Le Maquis -Traditional French bistro in an intimate setting
Restaurant Montcalm - Contemporary French dishes with a twist
L’Equisse - Creative takes on French food with a great wine list
HIRU Paris - Intimate spot for tapas and cocktails
AMORE da Francesca - Classic Italian restaurant for a good price
I would also highly recommend booking a show for the night. The Moulin Rouge is one of the most famous cabarets in Paris, and definitely a must-see. If you're not interested in that, there are plenty of other great shows to see, like the Lido de Paris or the Crazy Horse. They usually have a dining option where you can have a meal while watching the show, which is a great way to end the night.
Late Night in Paris: 10:00 PM Onwards
After the show, it's time to experience the nightlife in Paris! There are plenty of great bars and clubs to choose from, but some of my favorites are:
Shake N’ Smash - Trendy spot for cocktails with some small plates. They also host mixology classes as well
Wine Therapy - Great wine bar with cheese and meat pairings
Club Haussmanian - Great club for people who want to dance the night away. A bit more low-key than some of the other clubs, but it's still a lot of fun.
The Harp Bar - Classic Irish Pub vibe with a simple bar menu and beer on tap
Isadora Cocktail Bar - Unique cocktails in a laid-back intimate gathering spot
CopperBay - Craft beers, innovative cocktails, and elevated bar food in a stylish gastrobar
The Backstage - A live music bar with food and drinks
Le Willi’s Wine Bar - Great wine selection with a focus on Rhone varieties with bistro dishes
Bamboo Bar - Creative cocktails in an intimate setting with mediterranean inspired tapas and small bites
On the final day of your 3-day trip to Paris, I would recommend exploring some of the other great neighborhoods around the edge of the city. This way, you can get a feel for a less-touristy side of Paris and see what everyday life is like for the locals.
Some of my favorite neighborhoods to explore are:
The Marais - This is a great spot for shopping, as there are plenty of independent boutiques and stores. You can also find some great food here, as there are plenty of cafes, bakeries, and restaurants. It is also great for a museum day since there is the Picasso Museum and the Carnavalet Museum.
The Bastille - This is a great spot for nightlife, as there are plenty of bars and clubs in the area. If you're interested in history, you can also visit the Bastille Opera House and the Bastille Market.
Canal Saint-Martin - This is a great spot for a relaxed day, as you can stroll along the canal or picnic in one of the parks. There are also some great shops and restaurants in the area.
The 19th arrondissement - This is a great spot for exploring, as it's home to the famous Paris flea market and the Basilica of Sacre Coeur. It also has a few parks you can visit, like the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. It is also where you can find a great cultural center called Centquatre Paris, which is worth checking out.
Centquaide - This is a great spot if you're interested in art, as it's home to many of Paris's famous art galleries. You can also find some great food in the area, as there are plenty of cafes and restaurants.
Tips for Traveling in Paris
Now that you know what to do and see in Paris, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your trip:
Get a Paris Museum Pass - This is a great way to save money, as it gives you free entry into many of the city's museums.
Get a Navigo Decouverte pass - This is a great way to save money on transportation, as it gives you unlimited rides on the metro and buses.
Avoid tourist traps - There are plenty of great places to eat, drink, and shop in Paris that aren't tourist traps. Do some research in advance to find the best spots.
Dress well - Parisians are known for their sense of style, so make sure to dress your best. This will help you blend in and avoid looking like a tourist.
Learn some French - Parisians appreciate it when tourists try to speak their language, even if it's not perfect. It's a good idea to learn some basic phrases before your trip. Duo Lingo is a great resource for learning languages.
If you have more time, I would definitely recommend taking a day trip from Paris and visiting one of the many great towns and cities that are located nearby like Versaille or
Rouen. Check out my blog on Day Trips From Paris That Will Make You Fall in Love With France or Unique and Unforgettable Things to Do in Paris for more ideas on what to do in Paris.
I hope you enjoyed this 3-day itinerary for the ultimate Paris experience! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions.