Millions of tourists flock to Paris every year. If you’re heading to the French capital yourself, check out some of the things you can see and do.
Visiting Paris may not be the cheapest vacation idea, but it’s still a destination that should be on anyone’s bucket list. The city’s architecture is amazing and its many landmarks and museums can keep you busy for days.
And don’t forget – Paris is a gourmand capital as well as a shopping mecca. There’s really no shortage of things you can do.
But if you’re short on time, here’s a list of the top things you can do in Paris.
#1 – Visit the Eiffel Tower
Built for World’s Fair 1889, the tower is the most recognizable landmark in Paris and one of the most famous in all of Europe. Needless to say, a trip to the Eiffel Tower is something every first-time visitor should do.
Did you know that it was initially commissioned as a temporary structure? Parisians didn’t even like the future architectural marvel in the early days. Luckily, its transmission capabilities saved it from being torn down during World War I.
But like any world-class monument of its stature, you might have to spend hours waiting in line before you can get to the top. That’s why it’s always best to book your Eiffel Tower tickets ahead of time.
#2 – Tour the Louvre
One of the most popular things to do in Paris is to visit the Louvre. It’s among the most famous and well-regarded art museums in the world after all.
Opened in 1793, the Louvre has since accumulated over 35,000 works of art but the Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci is still considered as the museum’s main attraction. That said, the exhibits feature everything from paintings to Greek sculptures to Egyptian mummy tombs.
Keep in mind that the Louvre’s 650,000-square feet gallery takes a lot of time to see. You may need more than one day if you want to see everything.
#3 – See the Notre Dame Cathedral
Of all the things to do in France, how can you not include a visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral in your list? It’s one of the finest Gothic Cathedrals in the world, and perhaps the most famous, too.
Builders applied the finishing touches on the cathedral around 200 years after its construction started in the 10th century. It’s an architectural gem and another one of Paris’ most impressive landmarks.
While some areas are off-limits due to the damage it sustained after the famous spire caught fire in 2019, all the accessible areas are still worth visiting.
Fortunately, restoration of the cathedral is underway. Plans are in place to build a replica of the old spire and the oak tree forest.
#4 – Take Pictures at the Arc de Triomphe
Tourists around the world pay a visit to this historic landmark every year. Many people know it as the site of Napoleon’s funeral and the location of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It even served as a stage for iconic photographs of Nazi’s coming to Paris.
While you can check it out from the outside for free, you have to pay to climb to the top. Alternatively, you can use a museum pass, which is recommended if you’re also seeing other attractions.
#5 – Cruise the Seine
The Seine, flowing right through the middle of Paris, splits the city into the Right and Left Banks. Each bank is home to a myriad of eateries and smaller Parisian attractions that you should check out.
However, what you should really do here is go on an evening cruise on the Seine River – it is one of the best things to do in Paris.
You can go on longer river cruises that reach the Paris Canals. Or, you just can enjoy a gourmet lunch cruise while sightseeing from the river in the French capital.
#6 – Have Some Leisure Time in the Luxembourg Gardens
Before the French Revolution, only members of royal families had access to the Luxembourg Gardens. But the good news is that the formal gardens have been open to the larger public since then.
These days, the Luxembourg Gardens serves as a go-to spot for Parisians and tourists alike.
The meticulous landscaping and pruning look amazing whether you’re seeing them up close or from above. The vast amounts of shade are also part of the draw, especially during hot summer days.
#7 – Tour the d’Orsay Museum
Like the Louvre, the d’Orsay Museum also holds an impressive collection of Impressionist art that draws tourists from all over the world. Initially a railroad station, the gorgeous structure now houses one of the most extensive galleries on three floors.
It’s also located in a great spot that allows you to quickly hit nearby attractions, such as Napoleon’s tomb, the National Parliament building, and one of the most exclusive residential areas in the city.
#8 – Go On A Trip to the Sacred Heart Basilica
Don’t be surprised if the Sacred Heart Basilica looks more like a castle due to its ivory domes and blanched exterior. The Roman-Byzantine architectural marvel looks spectacular as it rises high above the city.
Visiting this religious site is still one of the best things to do in Paris.
It’s an active church that holds several masses every day, though most tourists go there for the awe-inspiring interior and the breathtaking panoramic views it offers. Get ready to climb 300 steps to reach the top of the dome for a perfect photo op.
#9 – Catch a Ballet or Opera at the Palais Garnier
Opulent is the best word to describe the interior of Paris’ National Opera House. In fact, its Old-World interiors served as inspiration for the Phantom of the Opera.
Napoleon III, France’s first president, commissioned the fantastic opera house. Although you can also tour the building, catching a live performance offers an entirely different experience. But do note that it’s one of the most expensive attractions in Paris, France.
#10 – Go on a Stroll on the Champs-Elysees
It’s among the top free Paris attractions and activities for everyone. The Champs-Elysees is the city’s most famous boulevard and also one of the top shopping strips in all of Europe.
The popular street is almost always crowded, but it’s precisely the bustling atmosphere that appeals to most tourists.
While the boulevard is best known for its many luxury stores, keep in mind that there are plenty of affordable shops here, too.
The Top Tourist Destination in France
Some nine million tourists visit the Louvre every year and you can bet good money that even more people visit the city. Whether you plan to visit in the summer or winter, know that the French capital will amaze you at every turn.
So, are you ready to see for yourself what makes the City of Lights such a crowd-drawer?