Of all the gorgeous cities in Europe, Paris comes up pretty frequently. It’s one of the most visited cities in the world and one of the most romantic places to travel to. If you’re looking to plan the perfect Paris 3 day itinerary, then you’ve come to the right place!
Although it’s not the most affordable city in the world, it’s truly stunning with beautiful buildings, an interesting history, and lots of things to see and do. Saving money for travel can be hard, but you can make a trip to Paris more affordable if you select the right activities and make a few sacrifices (taking the stairs at the Eiffel Tower for example). No matter your budget, you really can’t go wrong with 3 days in Paris!
Of course, longer is always better no matter where you’re travelling. There are plenty of great things that you may not get to see if you’re only in the city for a few days. However, a long weekend in Paris is the ideal time to get a taste of the City of Light.
Below, I’ve included a selection of the best things to do in Paris ordered into the perfect itinerary and including admissions costs for each. You can choose which activities work best for your budget and you’ll be guaranteed to have the most amazing time in the French capital. You will definitely be able to tick plenty off your Paris bucket list!
Is 3 days in Paris enough?
3 days in Paris is enough to see all of the major sights and tourist attractions that the city has to offer. But, if you have longer in the city, you can dig a little deeper into the Parisian lifestyle, explore a few of the local hotspots and find some of Paris’s hidden gems. But for the average traveller looking for a long weekend city break, 3 days in the city can be enough.
What should you not miss on a Paris 3 day itinerary?
There are plenty of things you shouldn’t miss in Paris, especially if this is your first visit. Despite it being super touristy, the Eiffel Tower is usually high on any Paris itinerary. If you’re planning the perfect trip, the iconic landmark is a must-see. Also, don’t forget to explore the history of Paris, the infamous Louvre Museum and the Arc de Triomphe.
Discover the most romantic cities in Europe
What is the cheapest way to get around Paris?
Overall, Paris is a pretty walkable city, which is ideal if you’re travelling around Europe on a budget. However, if you only have a few days in Paris, then using the public transport system is a reliable way to save yourself some time.
There are buses, under and overground trains, taxis, trams and even a funicular. Many City Passes also include free public transport as well as discounts on tourist attractions. You can find out more about how to get around Paris here.
However, the Metro is the quickest way to get around the city. It has connections close to many of Paris’s top attractions. A single ticket costs €1.90 and can be used for one journey, including all connections. You can also buy monthly, or weekly tickets. If you’re under 26 (classed as a youth), you can also purchase a weekend pass for €4.
What are the best 14 things to add to a Paris itinerary?
So, if you’re planning your perfect trip to Paris, prepare for a weekend jam-packed with sights, museums, history and delicious food! Here’s the ultimate Paris cheat sheet to help you plan and see the best of the beautiful city in just 3 days!
Paris 3 day itinerary: Day 1
One day one of this Paris 3 day itinerary, we’ll cross all of the classic Parisian sights off of your bucket list!
Cost – €10.40 (with stairs), €25.90 (with elevator)
You gotta start with a classic, right? Undoubtedly top of your Paris bucket list, the Eiffel Tower is an iconic gem in the city. You’ve probably already seen it on every possible Paris to-do list, postcard and tourist guide. But it’s an absolute must-see. Especially if you only have 3 days in Paris!
The best time to visit the Eiffel Tower is as early in the morning as possible. It’s less likely to be crowded with tourists and you’re consequently less likely to be standing in queues for ages and jostling for a good photo spot at the top.
The Eiffel Tower opens at 9:00 am in summer and at 9:30 am in winter. You should buy tickets ahead of time because the lines are often extremely long. If you want to learn a little more about the Eiffel Tower whilst you’re up there, then I recommend a guided tour. They sometimes start as early as 8:45 am which is even better because you’ll be guaranteed to be one of the first up there.
From the top, you’ll have fantastic views over Paris and the surrounding areas of France. But there are plenty more photo opportunities in the city, where you can include the Eiffel Tower in the shot.
Cost – €17 to book online
Even if you only have a long weekend in Paris, you simply cannot see the city and not pay a visit to one of the most famous art museums in the world. It’s also the most well-known museum in the city. Its signature glass pyramid makes it a gorgeous sight to see from both the outside and the inside.
Centrally located in the city, the easiest way to get to the Louvre from the Eiffel Tower involves a scenic walk along the River Seine. I highly recommend this. You get some beautiful views across the river and it’s a great place to take some photographs of the Eiffel Tower.
The Louvre boasts an impressive collection of artwork from all over the world. This includes pieces depicting the ancient world to Islamic masterpieces and art from Western Europe dating back to 1848. Featuring Medieval ruins, artefacts from around the globe and a Napoleon III Apartment, the Louvre is more than just a collection of art; it’s the largest museum in the world.
Of course, the creme de la creme of the Louvre is the celebrated Mona Lisa. It’s a painting that has been reproduced countless times and is known worldwide. However, also be sure to check out the Seated Scribe, The Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo as well as plenty of other exhibits. To make the most of your 3 days in Paris, it’s also worth booking a skip-the-line ticket to the Louvre, which you can do here:
Cost – Free
Possibly the most famous Parisian Street, a stroll down France’s grand boulevard simply can’t be missed. The perfect place for a spot for shopping, the street is lined with pricey designer brands like Sephora, Louis Vuitton, and Adidas. You can also find high street stores like H&M and New Look.
It’s a great place to find some traditional snacks if you’re starting to feel like lunch. Brioche Dorée on the right side of the street sells delicious baguette sandwiches, patisserie cakes and many other scrumptious treats. At the end of the street, you’ll find the fascinating Arc de Triomphe which is the next stop on this Paris 3 day itinerary.
Arc de Triomphe
Cost – €12
Paris is one of those gorgeous European cities with an almost uncountable amount of beautiful photography spots. One of the best ones is from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
Located on Place de l’Etoile at the western end of the Champs-Elysées, the Arc was built in astylar style architecture. It was created as a memento for the victims of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Each side of the arch is decorated with carvings and sculptures and engraved with names. It is a beautiful structure and one of the best things to see in Paris.
For €13, you can climb the spiralling staircase to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Inside there is a small museum with artefacts from the war. If you climb further, you’ll find the observation deck at the top of the arch.
From here, you’ll be treated to the best panoramas in the city; breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Coeur, and the Louvre, as well as the tree-lined Champs-Elysées. Prepare to witness some pretty bonkers driving too as the Arc is in the centre of one of the busiest roundabouts in the city. You can also buy tickets for the Arc de Triomphe in advance which saves more time queuing.
Day 1 total activities cost – €39.40 (€54.9 if you take the elevator at the Eiffel Tower)
Paris 3 day itinerary: Day 2
Your second day in Paris calls for spending some time around the beautiful Seine River and exploring some timeless historical sites.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Cost – Free (usually tower (€8.50) and the crypt (€6))
France’s most famous Cathedral, the Notre Dame is one of the most wonderful places to visit in Paris. Located in Île de la Cité, it’s a truly beautiful building that was constructed between 1163 and 1345. A visit inside the intricately decorated Cathedral is usually pretty high on any Paris itinerary. However, on April 15th 2019, the Cathedral suffered a devastating fire and remains closed. It aims to re-open by the Olympics in 2024.
While you’re nearby, check out the incredible views from the corner of Rue de la Cite and Quai de Montebello, near the Pont de Coeurs. From here, you can photograph the tops of the towers and get some semi-normal shots of some of the front of the cathedral. But, unfortunately, the damage is extensive. The inside of the Notre Dame is currently inaccessible.
Île de la Cité
Cost – €13
The beautiful island region of Île de la Cité is home to some other wonderful sights. After you’ve visited the Notre Dame, be sure to pay a visit to the nearby Sainte-Chapelle. It is prettier inside than the Notre Dame and home to one of the world’s best stained-glass displays.
It can be a little busy though so, once again, if you purchase your tickets in advance, you’ll get in quicker. The entrance fee is €13 but it’s also included in the Museum Pass if you decide to buy that.
Whilst in Île de la Cité, you should also pay a visit to the La Conciergerie; it’s the oldest part of the Palais de la Cité. Also, wander around some pretty flower markets, explore the boutique shops and stores on the island or, see the oldest clock in the city. Plus, if you visit in the Spring, Île de la Cité (specifically Square Jean XXIII). It’s possibly the best place to see cherry blossoms in Paris.
Ile Saint Louis
Cost – Free
The small, central Parisian island is within easy walking distance of the Sainte-Chapelle and the Île de la Cité. The little neighbourhood is home to one of the most gorgeous cafes in the city. This includes the Insta-famous Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole, which is the perfect place to stop for a cup of coffee.
Whilst you’re there, check out the nearby, Rue de Chartres. It’s one of the narrowest Parisian streets. It’s also one of the few remaining locations where you can glimpse a true sense of Paris’s medieval past.
Seine River Cruise
Cost – Between €10 and €200 depending on the type
In my opinion, river cruises are always a great idea. I’ve been on some great ones through London, Amsterdam and Bangkok. The water is a great way to see any city. Plus you get some tremendous photography opportunities of some of Paris’s top landmarks. You can book a Seine cruise below.
Whether you want to take in the sights with a bottle of champagne or prefer to use the hop-on-hop-off service for glimpses of the waterways, there’s a Seine cruise out there to suit all tastes and budgets. Setting sail on the River Seine is one of the best things to add to your Paris 3 day itinerary.
Cost – €11.50
Standing proud in the Latin Quarter, on top of the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, The Panthéon is a gorgeous monument. The resting place of historic Parisian patriots such as Marie Curie and Voltaire, the Panthéon is the perfect balance of culture, history and beautiful architecture.
You can book a guided tour of the structure in advance, which is ideal if you only have 3 days in Paris, and you can skip the queues and ascend to the top of the beautiful building. From there, you’ll get to see more beautiful panoramic views across the city.
A couple of other highlights of the Paris Pantheon include many murals depicting Saint Genevieve (Paris’s patron Saint) and the rather impressive Fouque pendulum.
Day 2 total activities cost – €34.50 – €224.5
Paris 3 day itinerary: Day 3
On our final day in Paris, we’ll explore some more of Paris’s cultural gems and take a peek underneath the city.
Cost – Free but €5 to go up to the dome
One of the things that should be on your Paris bucket list, is a visit to the Sacre Coeur. It provides yet more breathtaking panoramas across the city. The Sacre Coeur is located at the highest point in Paris – 130 meters above sea level.
Situated in the neighbourhood of Montmartre, the Sacré-Coeur is a surprisingly new construction having only been completed in the 1900s. The pearl-coloured stone of the basilica’s exterior has remained spotlessly white, despite the over 11.5 million people that visit it annually.
It’s free to enter the church, although if you want to climb the 300 steps to the top of the dome then you will have to pay.
Opening at the crack of dawn (literally at 6 am!), you’ll actually have to get there this early if you want some tourist-free photographs. Despite its popularity, the Sacré-Coeur is one of the best sights in Paris.
Cost – Free
Next on this 3 day Paris itinerary is a stroll around Montmartre. It’s the lively neighbourhood that is home to the magnificent Sacre Coeur. You can easily spend all afternoon soaking up the 18th arrondissement’s ambience and discovering some of the other hidden gems in Paris.
It’s one of those areas that spawn creativity and has been the haunt of many actors, writers and artists for decades. You can still see artists painting out on the streets today – everything from caricatures to impressive oil landscapes.
Expect to find quirky vintage antique shops, winding cobblestoned roads and photogenic corner spots such as La Maison Rose and La Consulat Restaurant. Montmartre has a unique vibe that you just won’t find anywhere else in the city.
Cost – Free
Most impressive in the spring or summer months when they are alive with wildflowers and buzzing with bumblebees, the Luxembourg Gardens are a wonderful spot to relax and get away from the city chaos for a while.
With a distinctly Parisian feel, the gardens are just one of the many gorgeous city parks that Paris has to offer, but if you only have 3 days in Paris, then Luxembourg should be your top choice. Some of the garden’s hidden gems include the Medici Fountain and Luxembourg Gardens’ very own beehives. Bring a picnic lunch or grab a baguette and some fruit from a nearby cafe and chill out amongst the flowers.
Cost – € 29
If you’re interested in seeing a completely different side of Paris to what you’ve experienced so far on this Paris 3 day itinerary, then the next stop will be right up your street. The Paris Catacombs are a little spooky and unusual, but, unless you hate bones, they are a must-see.
Located in Paris’ former quarries, the catacombs hold millions of Parisian skeletons. They were moved there during the 18th-19th century as people were worried that the cemeteries would cause health issues.
Once you’ve passed the slightly alarming sign across the entrance that reads “Stop! This is the empire of the dead”, then you can wander down into the creepy tunnels. They bury under the city for over 200 miles!
However, the Catacombs are another rather popular attraction, so I recommend buying skip-the-line tickets to make the most of your time. You can buy them here.
Cost – €16 but free on the first Sunday of every month and to 18-25-year-old EU residents
Not quite as popular as the Louvre but, in my opinion, just as impressive, the Musee d’Orsay is another of Paris’s best museums. Located a 20-minute metro ride from the Catacombs, not only is the Musee d’Orsay home to the largest collection of impressionist art in the world, but the building itself is also a bit of a crowd-pleaser.
Almost resembling Grand Central in New York, the museum is set in a gorgeous former train station, Gare d’Orsay, which was built at the end of the 19th century. When you’re inside, look for the famous gigantic clock on the top floor. It provides a unique view of Paris and a perfect photography opportunity.
Day 3 total activities cost – €50
If you have more than 3 days in Paris…
If you find yourself with a few days extra in the City of Light, here are a few additional activities to add to a 4 or 5 day Paris itinerary.
Palace of Versailles
Cost – €20
If you have slightly more than 3 days in Paris it’s the perfect opportunity for a visit to the Palace of Versailles. Potentially the most famous chateau in the world, you can easily reach Versailles from Paris with a quick trip on the RER C Line. The journey is only 9 miles (but will still take around 45 minutes). Public transport is the cheapest way to get there with a return ticket costing just €7.30.
The Palace is the largest royal domain in the world, so aim to get there early. When you arrive at the Palace, grab an audio guide and start exploring the intricately decorated mansion. Once you’ve spent some quality time inside, head to the gardens for a leisurely stroll. The total area of the gardens is a rather large 230 acres, so it’s unlikely that you’ll see every inch of manicured greenery. But make sure you see the most popular gardens near the palace. They’re also home to the ornamental fountains of Versailles.
Explore the Museums
Another of the best things to do in Paris is to explore the museums. We have already covered the Louvre and Muse d’Orsay during this Paris 3 days itinerary. However, Paris has plenty of other museums that are well worth exploring if you have more than a long weekend in Paris.
A few of the highlights include:
- The Centre Pompidou (€14) – Pompidou contains the largest collection of modern art in Europe, rivalled only slightly by MoMA in New York. Opened in 1977, this massive 100,000-piece collection stretches back to 1905. Inside, you’ll find everything from creative videos to Picasso’s magnificent works.
- Musée National Rodin (€12) – ‘The Kiss’, ‘The Cathedral’ and ‘The Walking Man’ are just some of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s most famous pieces showcased in this museum. The perfect place to view his work up close, you will also find some of his best bronze sculpture work: ‘The Gates of Hell’ and ‘The Thinker’.
- Fondation Louis Vuitton ( €16) – Paris’s fashion scene is one of if not the best in the world. Opened in 2014, this tribute to French designer Louis Vuitton is a cultural gem. The inside is buzzing with contemporary art exhibits from the likes of Olafur Eliasson and Ellsworth Kelly.
- The Palais de Tokyo (€12) – A fairly modern museum having opened in 2002, The Palais de Tokyo is the largest centre for contemporary art in Europe.
Explore the Surrounding Parisian Villages
Cost – Free
One of the best things to do if you have longer than 3 days in Paris, is to explore a little outside of the main city and see some of the gorgeous villages that surround the capital. You see, Paris used to be much smaller than it is now. The neighbouring hills were once full of small village communities of farmers and bakers. These areas are now part of Paris, but some of the areas have retained their authentic charm and are some of Europe’s cutest hidden gems.
Some of the best villages to explore outside of Paris are Butte-aux-Cailles, Cité Florale, and Square de Montsouris. For gorgeous secret vineyards, head to the authentic micro-arrondissement of Butte Bergeyre.
Today, many of these little areas remain blissfully calm and you could spend many an hour wandering the streets and drinking in the French beauty. Talking of drinking, it’s also a great idea to explore some of the winemaking cultures outside the city. Having a glass (or two!) is definitely recommended on any Paris 3 day itinerary.
My Favourite Platforms for Finding Cheap Travel
For browsing cheap flights!
For road trips!
For buses, trains, ferries, and transfers.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. But, I only recommend only products and companies that I use and love.