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5 days in Paris – Best things to do

Discover the best of Paris in just five days! Our guide covers top attractions, local favorites, and hidden gems, ensuring a memorable and efficient exploration of the City of Light.
5 days in Paris

Paris is the quintessential European capital that’s not just brimming with landmarks, but also boasts a vibrant arts scene. It’s undeniably one of Europe’s most visited cities, and frankly, a trip to Paris is a must for anyone.

Most people spend just three days in Paris before moving on to their next destination. In my opinion, though, that’s hardly enough time to scratch the surface of this luminous city. Ideally, you should allow at least five days to really soak in everything Paris has to offer.

To make the most of a five-day stay, I’ve crafted a suggested itinerary covering where to stay, what to see, and activities to enjoy. Plus, I’ve thrown in a few extra tips just in case you’re tempted to extend your visit even further.

1st Day

1. Musée d'Orsay

Suggested start time: 9am
Visit Duration: 1.5 hours

Musée d'Orsay

Nestled close to the iconic Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay is a treasure trove of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces. It ranks among the largest museums in Europe and draws in over three million visitors each year. When you visit, prepare to be dazzled by the works of art legends like Degas, Monet, Manet, and Van Gogh.

👉 To make the most of your visit, I highly recommend picking up a skip-the-line ticket. This way, you can spend more time admiring the art and less time waiting in line.

2. Shakespeare and Company

25 minutes walk from Musée d’Orsay

Shakespeare and Company

On your way to the Pantheon, make sure to drop by Shakespeare and Company. This legendary English-language bookstore is a haven for bibliophiles and one of the most photographed spots in the city.

George Whitman opened its doors in 1951, naming it after Sylvia Beach’s original shop, which had been a literary hub until it closed in 1941. Stepping inside, you’ll find shelves laden with both new and used books, capturing the charm of a bygone era. It’s like stepping into a time machine, surrounded by stories waiting to be discovered.

3. Pantheon

11 minutes walk from Shakespeare and Company

Pantheon Paris

Nestled in the charming Latin Quarter of Paris, the Pantheon stands majestically atop a hill, offering sweeping views of the city since 1781. Originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, it was later transformed into a mausoleum, housing the remains of France’s most illustrious figures, such as Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, and Marie Curie.

To explore this iconic monument, be sure to grab an entrance ticket. For the rooftop, you can purchase a separate ticket for about 3.5 euros.

4. Jardin du Luxembourg

9 minutes walk from Pantheon

Jardin du Luxembourg

The Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden) created in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV, for the Luxembourg Palace, are a true oasis in the heart of Paris. This public garden is a beloved escape for both locals and visitors alike, offering a perfect slice of tranquility just moments away from the bustling city center.

5. Tour Montparnasse

15 minutes walk from Jardin du Luxembourg

Tour Montparnasse

Towering at 210 meters, the Tour Montparnasse (Montparnasse Tower) is an architectural marvel in the heart of Paris. Completed in 1973, this skyscraper held the title of France’s tallest building until the rise of Tour First in 2011.

With 60 floors packed with office spaces, it’s a beacon of modernity designed by architects Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan, and Louis Hoym de Marien, and built by Campenon Bernard.

👉 For an unforgettable view of the city, you can zip to the top with a ticket available here

6. Catacombs of Paris

20 minutes walk from Tour Montparnasse 

Catacombs of Paris

The Catacombs of Paris offer a truly unique experience, housing the bones of over six million people beneath the city’s streets. This underground labyrinth, primarily a section of old quarry tunnels stretching south from the Barrière d’Enfer, has a chilling yet fascinating history. Before becoming an ossuary, these tunnels served as stone quarries.

Today, the catacombs are one of Paris’s 14 municipal museums and a must-visit for anyone intrigued by the macabre and the historical.

👉 For those daring enough to explore this eerie underworld, tickets are available here.

2nd Day

1. Eiffel Tower

Suggested start time: 9am

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is undoubtedly the crown jewel of Paris and its most iconic landmark. Constructed around 1880 for the 1889 World’s Fair. Standing at 324 meters, it offers stunning views across Paris.

I suggest visiting early in the morning when it’s less crowded to fully enjoy the serene beauty of the city from above.

👉 You have the option to purchase a guided tour ticket, which includes an elevator ride to the top, or just a general admission ticket to explore at your own pace. Either way, the experience is unforgettable!

2. Champ de Mars

Champ de Mars

Champ de Mars is a sprawling public garden that stretches alongside the Eiffel Tower. It’s one of the largest green spaces in Paris and a favorite spot for both locals and tourists to relax and gather.

This picturesque park is also the perfect place to snap that quintessential Eiffel Tower photo—believe me, the view is spectacular! Whether you’re picnicking, people-watching, or just soaking in the vibrant Parisian atmosphere, Champ de Mars is a must-visit.

3. Trocadero

18 minutes walk from Eiffel Tower

After exploring the Eiffel Tower, why not stroll across the Seine via the Pont d’Iéna to the Trocadéro Gardens? This is another open space in Paris that breathes life into the city. One of the standout features here is the Warsaw Fountain, where columns of water shoot up to a dramatic 12 meters.

4. Arc de Triomphe

20 minutes walk from Trocadero Gardens

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe stands as a proud emblem of Paris. Located at the center of the bustling Charles de Gaulle – Etoile roundabout, this monumental arch is the starting point of the Champs-Élysées, the city’s famous avenue.

Erected in 1836 and towering at 55 meters, the Arc de Triomphe is dedicated to the soldiers who fought and died for France in its various wars. You can admire this grand monument from the ground or climb to the top for a spectacular view of Paris.

👉 To visit, make sure to pick up a ticket here.

5. Champs-Elysées

Champs-Elysées

The Champs-Élysées is arguably Paris’s most famous avenue. Stretching from the majestic Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde, this street is a vibrant showcase of what Paris has to offer. Lined with hundreds of shops, high-end boutiques from world-renowned designers, delightful restaurants, cozy cafes, and even theaters, it’s a bustling artery of Parisian life.

Even if shopping isn’t on your agenda, a stroll down the Champs-Élysées is a must—especially during the Christmas season when the avenue is spectacularly adorned with festive lights and decorations. The atmosphere is simply magical, transforming an ordinary walk into a dazzling experience.

6. Place de la Concorde

30 minutes walk from Arc de Triomphe

Place de la Concorde

At the end of the bustling Champs-Élysées, you’ll find Place de la Concorde, one of the most historic squares in Paris. This grand plaza played a pivotal role during the French Revolution as a site of numerous demonstrations. Encircled by eight statues representing French cities, the square is dominated by the striking Luxor Obelisk at its center.

7. Jardin des Tuileries

5 minutes walk from Place de la Concorde

Jardin des Tuileries

Right next to Place de la Concorde, you’ll find another charming green space, the Jardin des Tuileries. This garden was originally crafted by Catherine de’ Medici in 1564 as part of the Tuileries Palace and was opened to the public in 1667. Today, it draws crowds for its peaceful ambiance and picturesque settings, making it an ideal spot to unwind before or after a visit to the nearby Louvre Museum.

3rd Day

1. Louvre Museum

Suggested start time: 9am

Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum is not just a Parisian landmark but a treasure trove of over a million artworks, making it one of the most illustrious museums in Europe. Home to world-renowned pieces like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, it tops the list as the most visited museum globally. The museum, housed in the historic Louvre Palace originally built in the 12th-13th centuries, is a must-see for any art lover or history buff visiting Paris.

If you’re planning a visit, I’d highly recommend booking your tickets well in advance to avoid the long queues—trust me, it’s worth planning ahead to experience this magnificent collection without the wait. 

2. Palais-Royal

6 minutes walk from Louvre

Palais Royal

Directly across from the Louvre, you’ll find the Palais-Royal, also known as the Palace of the Cardinals. Constructed in 1628 by architect Pierre François Léonard Fontaine as the residence for Cardinal Richelieu, it now hosts parts of the French Ministry of Culture, the State Council, and the Constitutional Council.

Today, entry to the Palais-Royal is free, unless there are special events or if you opt for a guided tour.

3. Sainte-Chapelle

20 minutes walk from Palais Royal

Sainte-Chapelle

Sainte Chapelle is a royal chapel nestled on the Île de la Cité, an island in the heart of Paris. While its exterior is certainly striking, the interior of Sainte Chapelle is where it truly shines—particularly the stunning stained glass windows that envelop the upper chapel in a kaleidoscope of color.

These windows are not just windows; they are a breathtaking canvas of medieval art. Pick up a ticket!

4. Notre Dame

6 minutes walk from Sainte Chapelle

Notre Dame

Visiting Notre Dame Cathedral is a must, although currently it’s closed for restoration. Located on the same island as Sainte Chapelle, Île de la Cité, this iconic cathedral’s construction began in 1160 under Pope Alexander III and King Louis VII and was completed in the mid-13th century. The 2019 fire tragically destroyed the roof and the spire, but restoration efforts are underway with hopes to reopen in December 2024.

5. Seine cruise

Seine River cruise

The Seine River gracefully weaves through Paris, flowing past many of the city’s premier attractions like the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame Cathedral. Taking a river cruise along the Seine is an experience I can’t recommend enough—it’s a fantastic way to see these iconic sites from a unique perspective.

There are plenty of cruise options available, ranging from simple sightseeing trips to those that include meals or a glass of wine. The prices are generally quite reasonable.

👉 Here are some of the best cruises.

4th Day

Versailles

If you have five days in Paris, dedicating one to visit Versailles is well worth it. Located about 20 kilometers from the center of Paris, it’s easily accessible by train from the city—departing from stations like Musée d’Orsay, Invalides, Pont de l’Alma, and Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower, the journey takes less than an hour. Plan to spend several hours exploring, as there’s much to see both in and around the palace grounds.

👉 For those venturing on their own, you can purchase tickets for the Palace of Versailles here. Alternatively, if you prefer a more structured visit, consider booking an organized tour that includes transportation; you can reserve a spot here

Versailles

Versailles Palace

Versailles, once the heartbeat of French royalty, is renowned for its grand Palace of Versailles and sprawling gardens, both recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Originally a humble hunting lodge, the palace was transformed into a symbol of absolute monarchy by Louis XIV beginning in 1660.

The Palace’s most dazzling feature is the Hall of Mirrors, filled with crystals and mirrors set against art-covered walls. The vast gardens are a masterpiece in themselves, adorned with intricate statues and dramatic fountains.

Annually attracting over 10 million visitors, exploring Versailles is like stepping back into the splendor of France’s royal past. It’s a place that demands a full day to be truly savored, including a visit to the Marie Antoinette’s beloved Petit Trianon within the Trianon Estate.

5th Day

1. Montmartre

The distance between Paris and Montmartre is 2 km 
Paris Monmartre

Montmartre is one of the most enchanting neighborhoods in Paris, nestled in the city’s 18th arrondissement. To get there, you can easily hop on the metro from the city center or any other convenient location. Set 130 meters above the rest of Paris, this northern district is famous for its cobblestone streets, charming shops, and iconic cabarets like the Moulin Rouge.

Montmartre has historically been a hub for legendary artists and writers, including Ernest Hemingway. I highly recommend enjoying a meal in one of its quaint bistros and then settling on the steps near the Sacré-Cœur Basilica to watch the sunset. It’s a particularly popular spot for couples seeking a romantic retreat in the city.

2. Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

The Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, is a stunning Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It stands as the crown jewel of Montmartre and is an unmissable landmark of the area. Designed in 1875 and completed in 1914, the basilica boasts a mesmerizing blend of Romanesque and Byzantine features, captivating both inside and out.

Admission to the basilica is free, which is fantastic for those exploring Paris on a budget.

👉 You can book a guided tour of Montmartre that includes a visit to the basilica. 

3. Moulin Rouge

15 minutes walk from Basilique Sacré-Cœur 

Moulin Rouge

Nestled in the vibrant Pigalle neighborhood, the Moulin Rouge stands out with its iconic red windmill atop its roof. This cabaret, founded in the same year as the Eiffel Tower (1889), is the birthplace of the can-can dance, a lively spectacle that has become synonymous with Parisian nightlife. Today, the Moulin Rouge is not just a cabaret but a legendary attraction in Paris.

You can immerse yourself in the glitz and glamour of this historic venue by attending a cabaret show. Tickets often include a glass of champagne, making the experience even more delightful. Pick up a ticket here!

Tip for saving money

Consider picking up the Paris Museum Pass if you’re planning to dive deep into the city’s rich cultural scene. This pass grants you access to over 60 museums and attractions across Paris.

This pass not only saves you money but also often allows you to skip the long entrance lines, giving you more time to enjoy the art and history of this incredible city.

Where to stay in Paris

where to stay in Paris

Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, each offering its own unique charm. Choosing where to stay largely depends on your budget and how central you want to be. While Paris boasts an efficient metro system, I’d recommend staying as centrally as possible to make the most of walking around this beautiful city.

If you want to be close to the main attractions, consider arrondissements 1, 4, 5, 6, or 7. These areas are heartbeats of Parisian culture and history, putting you within easy walking distance of iconic sights.

If you’re looking for more affordable options, you might want to explore accommodations in the more peripheral districts. These areas often offer better deals and give you a different perspective of Parisian life.

Recommended Hotels in Paris

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