Things to Do in Paris in 1 Day

You may be worried that a single day is too little for a city with so much to enjoy, but don't worry, it is possible to organise a 24-hour itinerary to get an overview of the city and enjoy the basics.

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

9 min read

Things to Do in Paris in 1 Day

View of Paris | ©Dimitri Iakymuk

Paris has it all! Having a full day to enjoy what the French capital has to offer is a great opportunity and in this guide I take you through a hectic itinerary but one that aims to help you cross off your list of things to see and do in Paris as much as possible in a short period of time.

Enjoy Paris's Gothic architecture: Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle

Notre Dame| ©Adrienn
Notre Dame| ©Adrienn

The city of Paris is divided in half by the waters of the Seine River. This is why it is common to find references to the left bank or right bank of Paris. The left bank refers to the lower part, while the right bank refers to the upper part.

In the middle of the Seine you will find two islands: Île de la Cité and Île Saint Louis. I recommend starting your day trip with a visit to Île de la Cité, where you'll find Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Considered, along with the Eiffel Tower, a Parisian icon, this is a must-see destination on your day trip to Paris. Construction of this famous cathedral began in the 10th century and took nearly 200 years to complete its impressive structure.

In April 2019 a devastating fire caused significant damage to the cathedral's structure: both the wooden roof and the spire collapsed during the event, so Notre Dame remains closed until further notice, although that doesn't mean you can't visit Notre-Dame from the outside, as the public is allowed to enter the Plaza area while the restructuring plan continues. Also, if you book a tour of the exterior of Notre-Dame you can enter and explore the crypt at your own pace.

Book a tour of the exterior of Notre-Dame


Take advantage of your quick visit to Notre Dame to see another imposing work of Gothic architecture. Sainte-Chapelle is a cathedral famous for its collection of stained glass windows, titled as the most extensive collection of 13th century stained glass windows in the world.

Book tickets to Paris' Sainte Chapelle and discover its two chapels:

  • The Upper Chapel, which was created for the royal family and nobility to do their preaching.
  • The Lower Chapel, which was intended for the employees of the palace.

Book tickets for Sainte Chapelle de Paris

Immerse yourself in art and history at the Louvre Museum

Facade of the Musée du Louvre at night| ©Lonni Besançon
Facade of the Musée du Louvre at night| ©Lonni Besançon

No visit to Paris would be complete without a stop at the city's most famous museum: Musée du Louvre. Originally built as a palace by Philip II, this iconic building was long the official home of French royalty; until 1682 when Louis XIV decided to relocate the royal household to the Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris.

From Sainte-Chapelle to get to the Musée du Louvre is a short 12-minute walk along the boulevard Georges Pompidou on the banks of the Seine.

I recommend buying your skip-the-line tickets for the Louvre Museum in advance to avoid long queues, both at the ticket office and for access, and to make the most of your day in Paris.

Book a guided tour

If you are an art lover, you may want to book one of the guided tours of the Louvre. It's one of the best investments you can make to save time and effort when visiting the Louvre. The reason? It's a large museum and this way you'll make the most of the minimum time required for a visit to the Louvre.

You'll have too much to see and too little time to do it in, so a 2.5 hour guided tour can take you straight to the Louvre's best works such as:

  • The Venus de Milo sculpture
  • The Mona Lisa
  • The sculpture of the Greek goddess Artemis
  • Botticelli's frescoes
  • The French crown jewels

Buy tickets for the Louvre

Take a walking tour of the Jardin des Tuileries

Tuileries Garden| ©Roland Turner
Tuileries Garden| ©Roland Turner

The Tuileries Gardens were originally designed for the exclusive use of the royal family and court. However, the gardens, which extend over approximately 55 acres, have been fully open to the public since 1667 and are free of charge.

The gardens are located directly opposite the Louvre Museum, so the best time to visit them is after you have finished your tour of the museum grounds.

Why visit the Jardin des Tuileries?

Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries to soak up the peace and quiet of the heart of the City of Light. You don't have to have a set itinerary, just walk wherever your feet take you and enjoy the late morning sun.

In its beginnings, the area was nothing more than a marshland bathed by the waters of the Seine, where tiles were produced for Parisian houses and businesses. Work began on the construction of the Garden in 1564 on the orders of Catherine de Medici. When the garden was opened for public enjoyment in 1667, it earned the title of the first garden in Paris to be completely open to the world.

Book a guided tour of Paris

Soak up the history of Paris at Le Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde| ©Rutger van der Maar
Place de la Concorde| ©Rutger van der Maar

Find yourself at the Place de la Concorde, the mythical Parisian site where King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were executed during the French Revolution.

At the other end of the Jardin des Tuileries you will find La Place de la Concorde. The walk to get to the square will take between 10 to 20 minutes walking in the Gardens.

Why visit La Concorde?

Designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel and covering an area of approximately 7.6 acres, it is the largest square in Paris. It was originally built to glorify King Louis XV, but during the time of the revolution several royals, including the then King Louis XVI, were executed there. Every year a tribune is built on this square from which French dignitaries watch the Bastille Day military parade.

In the centre is the prestigious Louxor obelisk and at either end are two important works of art that you should see, the monumental fountains of La Concorde.

  • Fontaine des Mers (Fountain of the Seas)
  • Fontaine des Fleuves (Fountain of Rivers)

Book a bike tour of Paris

Enjoy a Parisian lunch

An afternoon snack at Café Mollien.| ©Bharat Vohra
An afternoon snack at Café Mollien.| ©Bharat Vohra

Paris is full of fabulous offers for a great meal around the Louvre Museum. Some places to enjoy a good meal depending on your preferences and itinerary are as follows:

  • If you are looking for authentic Parisian food you can visit Café Blanc.
  • If you are looking for French food with an exotic twist I recommend Le Fumoir.
  • If you are looking for a quick snack my favourite options are Bo & Mie, Pret-a-manger: or Franprix Supermarket.

But if you really love gastronomy and want to dedicate part of your day to discovering the secrets of traditional French dishes, my suggestion is to set aside an hour for a gastronomic tour of Paris. You won't be disappointed.

Book a gastronomic tour of Paris

Take a tour of the Champs Elysées Avenue

Champs Elysées Avenue.| ©Josh Hallett
Champs Elysées Avenue.| ©Josh Hallett

The Place de La Concorde is the monument that marks the end of the most beautiful and famous avenue in Paris: Le Champs-Élysées. My suggestion is that, once you have replenished your energy, you should walk the path from the Louxor Obelisk to the end of the avenue. It is a 1.9-kilometre-long walk that invites you to discover the best of the best in Paris: with prestigious shops and cafés everywhere you look.

Points of interest

Although there is a lot to see on the Avenue Champs Elysées, I list below some places that might be of interest depending on your tastes.

  • Cafés and restaurants: Café Di Roma, Fouquet's, Ladurée, Léon
  • Shops and boutiques: Boutique Lancôme, Sephora Paris, L'Occitane , Petit Bateau, Zara, DIOR Paris, Louis Vuitton and BOSS Store.
  • Other points of interest: Cinéma Pathé, L'Atelier Renault and Galeries Lafayette Champs-Elysées.

Book a guided tour of Paris

Get to the Arc de Triomphe de Paris

Arc de Triomphe in Paris| ©Alex Azabache
Arc de Triomphe in Paris| ©Alex Azabache

It's time to get to know one of the most iconic monuments in the City of Light. Visiting this emblematic destination can be as simple as strolling under its enormous arches and contemplating the beautiful avenue you have just walked down; you also have the option of going up to the viewpoint located at the top of the structure.

At the end of the Champs Elysées avenue you will find, at the western end, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, a must-see on a day trip.

Why visit the Arc de Triomphe?

It really is much more than a monument. Not only is the Arc de Triomphe not to be missed on a guided tour of Paris, it is also a museum whose upper terrace offers breathtaking views of Paris and at the base of which is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Its construction was ordered by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 and completed in 1836; unfortunately the French emperor never saw its completion.

If your intention is to see the inside, my advice is to buy tickets for the Arc de Triomphe in advance to avoid queues and wasted time.

If you don't go inside, still take a moment to appreciate the four large sculptures that make up the outer walls. These are:

  • Le Triomphe de 1810 - (The Triumph)
  • La Résistance of 1814 - (The Resistance)
  • La Paix of 1815 - (Peace)
  • Le Départ of 1792 - (The Departure)

Buy tickets for the Arc de Triomphe

Walk around the Place and the Trocadero Gardens

Trocadero Gardens.| ©MrT HK
Trocadero Gardens.| ©MrT HK

Next on the list of must-sees on a visit to Paris, take a moment to enjoy the view at the Place du Trocadero and then the Jardins du Trocadero.

To get from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place du Trocadero you'll need to take a 30-minute walk along Av Kléber. It is another beautiful avenue in Paris where you can enjoy a spectacular view.

Why visit Place Trocadero?

From there you have one of the most impressive views of the Eiffel Tower. Most of the pictures of this iconic Parisian landmark you'll find on the internet, books and postcards are taken from Trocadero Square - don't forget your camera as spectacular pictures are practically guaranteed!

Why visit the Trocaderos Gardens?

Mainly to admire the Warsaw Fountain. It is a rectangular water fountain, centred around 12 huge fountains, each of which is capable of projecting columns of water up to 33 feet. The spectacular design is complemented by 24 smaller fountains and 10 water arches.

During the quieter times of the day, the mirror effect of the Warsaw Fountain can be beautifully dramatic; making for splendid shots. But don't linger too long - you need to get to your next stop before sunset!

Book your place on the Big Bus in Paris

Enjoy the sunset at the Eiffel Tower

Amazing Eiffel Tower| ©Pedro Szekely
Amazing Eiffel Tower| ©Pedro Szekely

Although our tour of Paris is almost over, it's impossible to leave the city without admiring its most iconic landmark.

Leave your location in the Jardins du Trocadero behind, cross the Avenue de New York to reach the Pont d'Iéna, one of the classic Parisian bridges linking the two banks of the Seine, and you'll be in the Gardens of the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower at sunset

This is one of the best places in the city to watch the sunset. The view from the Eiffel Tower will allow you to see all of Paris and enjoy the last rays of sunlight falling on this beautiful city. The Seine River with its boulevards, the beautiful Parisian streets, buildings and manicured gardens, all bathed in an orange sky, will make you fall in love with the city; making you want to come back very soon to enjoy new experiences.

Bearing in mind that your time in Paris is limited, buy your ticket to the Eiffel Tower in advance so you don't miss a second of your itinerary. Also, remember that the Eiffel Tower is illuminated at night and has a light show every hour on the hour.

Book tickets for the Eiffel Tower

Say goodbye to Paris with a cruise on the Seine River

Seine River Cruise with the Eiffel Tower in the background| ©Heather (Gruber) Williams
Seine River Cruise with the Eiffel Tower in the background| ©Heather (Gruber) Williams

As a farewell to Paris, take an evening cruise on the Seine which includes dinner on board and sometimes live music.

This type of excursion includes a cruise on the canals of Paris and the nearby rivers, including the Marne River and the Saint-Martin Canal.

Why take a cruise on the Seine?

The scenery, the food and the excellent service are totally worth it. Paris at nightfall offers exceptional scenery, you can experience architectural wonders such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower's nightly light show and many more.

Book a Seine River Cruise