This is the most visited city in the world attracting millions of tourists from around the world every year.
Although there are hundreds of places to visit in Paris, from world famous iconic destinations to lesser-known hidden gems, if you are going to have a short break you won't have time for everything so its important to see the unmissable attractions.
View our list of the top things to see in Paris and add them to your sightseeing itinerary.
1. Eiffel Tower
No trip to Paris is complete until you’ve been up to the third floor of the Eiffel Tower and seen it light up the city at night. This is one of the must visit tourist attractions in Europe!
Opened March 31st 1889 millions of visitors are attracted to Paris’ most iconic attraction year round. Standing 324 metres high it attract many people due to its unique structure and seasonal events such as; every winter the Eiffel Tower hosts an ice skating ring on the first floor.
For a special or romantic experience you can dine at one of the two restaurants located in the Eiffel Tower one of the first and one on the second floor.
Before visiting the Eiffel Tower buying tickets online can be very useful so you can skip the crowded queues that assemble below the tower itself and especially can be very crowded in summer and winter; you can buy your tickets and book your times on the Eiffel Tower website.
It’s important to get the views of the city from the Eiffel Tower at both in the day light and night, so with only taking one trip going up just before dusk you will get the day views going up and the night views seeing the city all covered with light on your way down!
2. The Louvre
Located centrally in Paris The Louvre is one of the largest museum and historic monument, visited by more than 8 million people per year it is the world’s most visited museum.
Established in 1793 The Louvre hold some of the most famous painting and art pieces in the world, including the very famous Mona Lisa which gathers quite a crowd.
The Louvre is a must see for any Paris tourist, even if you’re not into art, paying a visit to simple just see the architecture of the outer pyramid shape is a must.
The Louvre is free to those under 18 years of age (plus others that fit under certain categories- check the website for details) and for full day access to The Louvre it is around 12 Euros per adult.
There is no need for pre-booking tickets as getting into the museum as it is pretty fast and easy.
3. Arc de Triomphe
Located on the Champs-Élysées the Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous Paris monuments, standing 50 metres high the Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the Napoleonic Wars and in the French Revolutionary.
Opened on July 29th 1836 it has since been visited by millions of visitors year round, with children and students up to 17 entering for free. The top of the Arc de Triomphe can be accessed by climbing the 50 stairs that lead up to the top where then you can see the many views of Paris.
Being located on the most famous avenue in Paris the monument itself can be very hard to access with the chaotic traffic surrounding it so you have to wait for the best time to cross the roads.
While visiting the Arc walking the Champs-Élysées is a must! You can shop in some of Paris’ most luxury stores or maybe see a movie and get a spot of lunch in one of the many cafés!
Though pre-booking tickets is not needed as up to 17 is free choosing the right time of day can be a struggle as in the day light many things can be seen that will just be lights at night even though the city looks beautiful lit up.
Like the Eiffel tower it is recommended to the top of the Arc de Triomphe at dusk then getting a view of both day and night; while not forgetting to be there at 6:30pm when the ‘Eternal Flame’ is lit every evening!
4. The Notre-Dame Cathedral
The Notre-Dame Cathedral is the most cultural and religiously visited place in Paris, standing up to 226ft high it is among one of the largest and well known church building in the world visited by millions annually.
The cathedral holds many services and masses including the Christmas Eve mass which is one of the most popular activities while in Paris around Christmas.
The Notre-Dame is free to enter to all the public however the cathedral towers and treasury have an entrance fee. Leading up to the south tower of the cathedral there are 387 steps in which you will climb if you are interested in going up it as no elevators have been added so the Church would remain intact.
Pre-booking tickets is not needed but during busy peak times like summer queues can be long.
Getting in to the cathedral is pretty fast and simple however they may be a small wait around busy seasons such as Christmas and summer so check opening times before you go and have a back-up plan if it’s too busy, there is always something else to do around, including many cafés and restaurants too!
5. Pont Des Arts
Finally, the Pont Des Arts; though not normally on many Paris tourists itinerary, it should be!
This is one of the more unusual places to see in Paris - a beautiful pedestrian arch bridge that crosses The Seine River is a must see, the 155metre long bridge is covered with padlocks along either side of the steel netting, this is because those who love another can put a padlock on the bridge and there it will remain, it is a symbol of people’s love for one another.
Many tourist couples engrave their names into the padlock before locking it onto the bridge and then taken to throwing their keys into the river Seine down below as a romantic gesture to one another however now police are known to patrol the bride stopping those who want to do so.
The bridge is seen in many T.V. and movie appearances and is also the location of some art exhibitions year round. The bridge is for pedestrian use and can be crowded but usually moves fast.
There is also no entrance fee making it one of the best free things to do in Paris.
Plan the Perfect City Break to Paris
Whether you are planning a European city break or would like to spend a longer gap year in France, Paris is a city you have to see.
There really are so many other places you could see, and this really depends on your interests and how much time you have. For culture there are so many museums and galleries. Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre, is another popular destinations or for something totally different you could consider venturing deep underground to experience the Paris Catacombs.
What you do also depends on the time of the year, for example if you travel for summer in Paris you could spend a day cycling or enjoying one of the many parks. Or for winter you could explore some of the various Paris Christmas markets.
Sometimes just wandering the streets of central Paris is just as magical as seeing the tourist attractions, this really is a really pretty city architecturally with the street lined cafes and buildings.
If you are really short of time check out this 24 Paris sightseeing itinerary where you can see all the main highlights within a short time.
If you would like to see more of Paris and the country several France tour companies offer trips all year round. Or view these tips for how
By Laura R Murgatroyd