Paris is a city that captivates travelers from all over the world with its stunning architecture, rich history, and romantic ambiance. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or returning for another adventure, there’s always something new to discover in the City of Light.
From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, Paris is packed with must-see attractions and experiences that cater to all interests. As a seasoned traveler, I’ve compiled a list of the top 13 must-do activities in Paris that will help you make the most of your time in this beautiful city.
So grab your walking shoes, get ready to indulge in delicious food and wine, and let’s explore the best of Paris together!
1. Climb the Eiffel Tower – Take in the Breathtaking Views from the Iconic Landmark
The Eiffel Tower is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, and climbing it is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Paris. As you make your way up the tower’s stairs or elevator, you’ll be treated to stunning panoramic views of the city that will take your breath away.
Whether you visit during the day or at night when the tower is illuminated, you’ll have a truly unforgettable experience at the Eiffel Tower. So be sure to add it to your list of things to do in Paris!
2. Explore the Louvre Museum – See Famous Artworks and Historical Treasures
The Louvre Museum is an absolute gem, filled with an impressive collection of art and history. With masterpieces from all over the world, this museum is truly a journey through time. It’s a place to explore the galleries and bask in the wonder of ancient artifacts, stunning sculptures, and timeless paintings, including the world-renowned Mona Lisa.
Visiting the former palace of the kings of France is like stepping into the world of royalty and extravagance. It’s a destination that’s bound to excite both art enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Prepare to be blown away by the sheer creativity and brilliance of humanity.
3. Experience the Musée d’Orsay – Immerse Yourself in the World of Impressionism
Immerse yourself in the vibrant world of Impressionism at the Musée d’Orsay, where you can admire some of the most famous masterpieces of this artistic movement. Explore the galleries and marvel at the stunning brushstrokes and vivid colors of works by Monet, Degas, Renoir, and other renowned artists.
Learn about the history and techniques of Impressionism, and discover how it revolutionized the art world. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply appreciate beauty, the Musée d’Orsay is a must-see destination that will transport you to a world of beauty and inspiration.
4. Discover the Magnificent Gothic Architecture of Notre-Dame Cathedral
Notre-Dame Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and an iconic symbol of Paris. The soaring spires, intricate sculptures, and magnificent stained glass windows are awe-inspiring, transporting you back in time to the Middle Ages. Take a walk around the cathedral and marvel at the intricate details, such as the gargoyles and chimeras that adorn the exterior.
Step inside to discover the intricate vaulted ceiling and intricate rose windows that illuminate the interior with a kaleidoscope of colors. Don’t miss the chance to climb to the top of the bell towers for a breathtaking view of Paris, including the Seine River and the surrounding cityscape.
5. Experience the Bohemian Charm of Montmartre – Stroll Through Picturesque Streets and Cafes
Montmartre is the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of Paris and immerse yourself in the bohemian vibes of this historic district. Wander through the winding streets and soak up the artistic energy that inspired some of the world’s greatest artists like Picasso and Van Gogh.
Discover hidden gems like the Moulin Rouge, the iconic cabaret venue, and the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, a beautiful white-domed church with stunning views of the city. Sip on coffee at a charming sidewalk café and watch the world go by, or browse the vintage shops and art galleries for unique finds.
6. Enjoy a picnic on Champs de Mars
When the sun is shining in Paris, one of my favorite things to do is to have a picnic on the Champs de Mars. This beautiful park stretches out in front of the Eiffel Tower, offering an incredible view of this iconic landmark. I usually pack a baguette, some cheese, wine, and other snacks that I love and spread out a cozy blanket on the grass.
It’s so enjoyable to people-watch and take in the beautiful scenery of the park and the Eiffel Tower. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, a picnic on the Champs de Mars is the perfect way to unwind and soak up the Parisian ambiance in a charming setting.
7. Embark on a Seine River Cruise – Discover Parisian Landmarks from the Water
Experience the magic of Paris on a Seine River Cruise! This hour-long boat ride is a must-do, offering a unique perspective of the city from the water. Admire the stunning views of iconic landmarks such as Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre Museum while listening to an audio guide or a live tour guide. The scenery is simply breathtaking, with picturesque bridges, charming houseboats, and lush greenery along the riverbanks.
It’s an activity suitable for all ages and interests, whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned traveler. Enjoy a relaxing boat ride while immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of Paris. You can choose from different options such as daytime or nighttime cruises, dinner cruises, and sightseeing cruises with hop-on-hop-off options.
8. Immerse Yourself in French Royalty at the Palace of Versailles
Experience the grandeur of French history with a visit to the Palace of Versailles. This magnificent palace was the former residence of Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, and served as the center of political power in France for over a century. Today, visitors can explore the palace’s opulent rooms, stroll through the stunning gardens, and learn about the history of the French monarchy.
Walking through the halls of the Palace of Versailles is like taking a step back in time. The palace is filled with ornate decorations, lavish furnishings, and intricate details that showcase the wealth and power of the French monarchy. The gardens are equally impressive, with fountains, sculptures, and manicured lawns that stretch as far as the eye can see.
9. Visit the Catacombs and explore underground Paris
The Catacombs of Paris are a network of underground tunnels and chambers that hold the remains of more than six million people. It’s a macabre but fascinating place to visit, and the guided tour takes you through narrow passages and eerie chambers that are lit only by candlelight. It’s a unique and unforgettable experience.
10. Watch the sunrise from Sacré-Cœur
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Paris is to see it at sunrise. Head up to the steps of Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre, and watch as the city slowly wakes up. The view from the top is breathtaking, and you’ll have a unique perspective on the city as the first rays of sunlight bathe the rooftops in a warm glow.
11. Visit Moulin Rouge – Experience the Glamour of the Belle Époque
No visit to Paris would be complete without a trip to the Moulin Rouge. This iconic cabaret is famous for its extravagant shows, featuring dancers in sequined costumes, acrobats, and singers. The Moulin Rouge has been a fixture of Parisian nightlife since the Belle Époque, and it continues to attract visitors from around the world. Be sure to book your tickets in advance, as shows often sell out well in advance.
12. Take a cooking class and learn how to make French pastries
French pastries are famous around the world, and learning how to make them is a bucket list experience for many foodies. Take a cooking class and you’ll learn how to make classic French pastries like croissants, macarons, and éclairs. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in French culture and take home some delicious souvenirs.
13. Visit the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte at Les Invalides
At Les Invalides, you can see Napoleon’s tomb, which is located in the impressive Eglise du Dôme. The tomb is made of red quartzite and rests on a green granite pedestal, under a large dome decorated with paintings and sculptures. It’s an impressive sight, and a fitting tribute to the man who reshaped France and Europe during his time.
But Les Invalides has more to offer than just Napoleon’s tomb. You can also visit the Army Museum, which houses an impressive collection of military artifacts, weapons, and uniforms from various periods of French history. And if you’re interested in military history, you can attend the daily ceremony of the changing of the guard, which takes place in the courtyard of the complex.