Oh, Paris! The city of love and romance. That dreamy city where you sit in the grass by the Eiffel Tower and eat croissants all day without a care in the world. I hear you asking yourself, how can you possibly see everything with only three days in Paris?
Paris is a big, bustling city that can easily sweep you off your feet. Three days in Paris really isn’t a lot of time, but with some careful planning you can visit most of the “must see” sights and still have some time to relax. Just be sure and do your research before going. Take notes of the items that you want to see the most so you aren’t spending precious time in Paris planning. For tips on getting to Paris as cheaply as possible, check out our post 5 Tips for Finding Cheap Airfare.
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Travel Like Us:
When to go: We included Paris as part of a three-week summer trip to Europe. This particular summer was the hottest on record in Paris, so it was not the most pleasant weather. Normally that is not the case in Paris as June to August are typically some of the best weather in Paris with average highs in the 70s. This, of course, draws big crowds and higher prices. Winter is the best time to visit if you’re looking for a deal as crowds deplete because of the colder temperatures, usually in the 30s and 40s. Do take note that Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, so you can always expect some tourists and crowds. So much of when you decide to go will depend on personal preference, budget, and tolerance for crowds.
Where to stay: Of course, everyone has different tastes, but I think we all dream of staying in the picturesque Paris neighborhood. You know, the neighborhood where you can wake up in the morning and go buy croissants from the local bakery and awe at the beautiful wrought iron balconies draped with flowers. Paris is broken into 20 neighborhoods, that Parisians refer to by their numbers. My top pick would be the Marais (3rd/4th). The Marais is centrally located and loaded with great architecture, bakeries, cafes, and amazing shopping.
We booked our Paris hotel using Hotels.com. Not only did we get a great rate, and excellent customer service, but we were also earning free nights. You can’t beat that. Click here to find your perfect Paris accommodations and start earning free nights as well
Day 1 of Your 3 Days In Paris:
Try a Hop on Hop Off Tour
When we visit a large city and only have a limited amount of time, Marty and I always get a one day pass for one of the hop-on-hop-off bus tours. These tours always make stops at the major tourist attractions, and they are a great way to get a feel for the layout of the city.
Now I will tell you, we only did this tour for one day. For our hop-on-hop-off tour, we chose the Gray Line L’Open Tour. This tour waited too long at each of the stops. We would see two buses from the competitor’s company, The Big Bus, pull up and leave while we were still sitting at the stop waiting. Based on this experience, we will book our tour with The Big Bus from now on!
Cruise the Seine River
A Seine River cruise is perfect for seeing the city through a different lens. Marty and I loved passing all of the little houseboats on the river, and picking out “ours”. From the river, the landmarks you pass look so grand and beautiful. I highly recommend taking some time and doing the Seine River Cruise. For the ultimate experience, go on a Bateaux Parisiens Seine River Dinner Cruise. This cruise will have you sipping champagne and enjoying a 3-course dinner while cruising past some of the most beautiful sights in Paris.
Visit the Eiffel Tower
I mean, the Eiffel Tower IS Paris, right? Why not make it one of your first stops? Take your camera and your selfie stick, because you are definitely going to want a picture in front of this iconic landmark.
If you are wanting to go to the top of the tower, I suggest making reservations in advance. The lines can get very long, and they often sell out during peak season. If you’re like me and HATE lines, then skip the lines by booking in advance here.
For an amazing experience in Paris, consider taking this tour that includes dinner at the Eifel tower or Seine River dinner cruise and a Moulin Rouge show!
Go to The Louvre
Another undeniably Parisian structure, the Louvre is beautiful. The gorgeous glass pyramid beckons you to come inside. The Louvre is so much more than just the Mona Lisa. The Louvre is the largest museum in the world and is home to many priceless artifacts from around the world.
The lines at The Louvre can be LONG! Your time in Paris is precious, so don’t spend it waiting in line when you could be seeing more of this amazing city. Avoid the long lines by booking a Skip the Line Guided Tour.
Arc de Triomphe
This was a quick photo stop for us. You can choose to go to the top of the Arc if you would like, but we decided our money would be better spent other places.
Avenue de Champs-Elysees
You have to walk down the Champs-Elysees and at least window shop. The stores are so enticing that I couldn’t help but to pop into a few and just touch some of the items that I wouldn’t be buying (things are pricey on this piece of real estate). I can at least say “I went shopping in Paris on the Champs-Elysees”. I know, window shopping, but still!
When we arrived in front of Notre Dame, I was mesmerized. My eyes did not know where to look first. Notre Dame is an amazing architectural feat. It was the first building in the world to use the flying buttresses. There is beautiful stained glass and statues staring at you from every angle. Although we didn’t climb to the top, I wish we would have. I hear there is an incredible view of Paris from above.
Notre Dame is free to enter (there is a small fee to climb to the bell tower) but is usually very crowded. If you are visiting during high season, go early! Be aware that Notre Dame is still an actively operating Catholic Church, so you unless you want to worship, you might avoid visiting during Catholic holidays.
After leaving the Notre Dame, be sure to walk over to the bridge of love locks and add your “lock of love”.
Tonight is the perfect time to visit the Moulin Rouge, I mean voulez-vous coucher avec moi? In my opinion, the best time to snap pictures in front of the Moulin Rouge is right at dusk. Snap your photos, go get a bite to eat, and then come back once it gets dark. Now the Moulin Rouge is alive. Even if you can’t afford a show here, come and take some more pictures, and observe all of the action taking place in this lively area.
Don’t miss your chance to see a show at the world famous cabaret. Awe at the magnificent costumes while enjoying all of the great music and dancing. Shows at the Moulin Rouge often sell out, so be sure and book in advance by clicking here.
Day 3-Versailles or Montmartre Walk
Today, you can choose to tour the palace of Versailles or to walk around the beautiful neighborhood of Montmartre. If you choose Versailles, please know that it will take up the majority of your day and you probably will not have time to fit in any other activities this evening.
Get up early today because Versailles takes up an entire day, so be ready. Take the RER suburban train by 8:00 am to arrive early at Versailles (it opens at 9:00). Tour the chateau and then stop and rest for lunch. After touring the chateau, consider touring the Royal Stables before the gardens as the gardens stay open later.
If you would rather someone else plan everything for you, then click here to take a guided trip to Versailles with skip the line priveledges.
A great resource that Marty and I have found are the guidebooks written by Rick Steves. Use his Paris book to guide you through the historic Montmartre neighborhood. If Rick Steves isn’t really your style, then check out this post from Solo Sophie. This post is the reason I wanted to visit Montmartre and experience this beautiful neighborhood for myself.
3 Days in Paris Itinerary
I know this is a busy three-day itinerary. Feel free to scale it back or add to it. Ultimately this is YOUR trip and you should enjoy it! If you have extra time in Paris, I recommend taking a day trip to the Chateau de Fontainebleau (especially if you skipped Versailles). Read our post on Chateau de Fontainebleau.
Please comment below and tell us about your favorite places in Paris. Or, check out our Pinterest account for other great Paris resources.