2 Days In Paris: A First-Timer’s Essential Itinerary

Can you see Paris in two days? Absolutely. Will you get to see all of it? No. But you’ll see the essential spots in Paris.  

Can you see Paris in two days? Absolutely. Will you get to see all of it? No. But you’ll see the essentials, and you’ll get a true sense of Europe. Some love it, and others hate it, but the truth is that there’s no other place like Paris. 

I often talk about visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe and complain a bit about this urge to visit Paris with every chance we get. But even I have to admit that Paris is a must-see if you’re travelling for the first to Europe

Why visit Paris?

Paris is a top travel destination in the world. And it’s definitely one of the cities to include on your first European itinerary. Many consider this to be the romantic capital of the world (some call it the “City of Love”), and top fashion designers are all somewhat tied to this place. 

Paris is renowned for its iconic European landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre Museum, which houses famous works of art like the Mona Lisa. 

The city is also a mecca for food lovers, offering a range of culinary delights from croissants and escargot to fine dining experiences. 

The charming cobblestone streets, outdoor cafes, and the Seine River create a picturesque setting that appeals to romantics and photographers alike.

Where to stay in Paris, France?

€€€ – La Demeure Montaigne

€€   – Hôtel des Arts Montmartre

€     – Hotel Apolonia Paris Montmartre

Paris will not be cheap, but it’s worth splurging if you’re only for two days in Paris. I recommend choosing only highly rated hotels. You don’t want to have any surprises in such a big and expensive city. 

What to do in Paris for 2 days?

  • Eiffel Tower. No trip to Paris is complete without visiting this iconic landmark. Whether you go up to the top or admire it from the ground, it’s a must-see.
  • Louvre Museum. Home to the Mona Lisa and countless other masterpieces, the Louvre is one of the world’s largest and most visited art museums.
  • Notre Dame Cathedral. This Gothic masterpiece is famous for its intricate architecture and historical significance.
  • Montmartre. Visit this historic and artistic neighbourhood to get panoramic views of Paris and to see the famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
  • Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe. Walk along one of the most famous avenues in the world, leading up to the Arc de Triomphe, a symbol of national pride.
  • Seine River Cruise. A boat ride on the Seine offers a different perspective of Paris and is especially romantic at sunset.
  • Luxembourg Gardens. This beautiful park is a great spot for relaxation and people-watching.
  • Sainte-Chapelle. Known for its stunning stained glass windows, this chapel is a hidden gem within the city.
  • Latin Quarter. Wander through this lively neighbourhood, known for its student life, cafés, and bookshops.
  • Musée d’Orsay. Located in a Beaux-Arts railway station, this museum has an extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces.
  • Try French Cuisine. From croissants and baguettes to fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant, experiencing French food is an absolute must.
  • Go Shopping. Whether it’s luxury boutiques or flea markets, Paris is a haven for shoppers.

Itinerary for Paris 2 days

Day 1 – Itinerary for Paris 2 days

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Breakfast 

Cost: Around €10-€15 per person

Location: Café near your accommodation

Start your day the Parisian way with a cup of coffee and a croissant at a local café. It’s a great way to soak in the morning atmosphere and prepare for the day ahead.

9:30 AM – 11:00 AM: Visit the Eiffel Tower

Cost: €11.30 (by stairs to the second floor) €18.10 (by lift) or €50.30 for the summit, champagne included. Book on the official website for better prices. If your travel dates are sold out, Book your visit here starting at €48.

How to Get There: Metro Line 6 to Bir-Hakeim or Line 9 to Trocadéro

The Eiffel Tower is the epitome of Parisian charm. Whether you choose to go up or admire it from the Champ de Mars, the iconic structure is a must-visit. Early morning is less crowded.

Tickets are sold up to 60 days in advance and are often sold out for specific days, especially for the summit. Book your tickets as soon as you know your travel dates. 

Seine River Cruise 
2 days in paris

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM: Seine River Cruise 

Cost: Around €18 per person. Book here

How to Get There: Walk from the Eiffel Tower to the river cruise boarding point nearby (Hotel Longchamp de a Leicester) 

A cruise on the Seine River offers a unique perspective of Paris. Many important landmarks are visible from the river, making it a scenic and informative trip.

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: Lunch

Cost: Around €30-€50 per person

Location: Choose a café or bistro near the Seine

Enjoy a classic French lunch at a café. This could be the perfect time for some quiche or a Croque-monsieur.

Here are some highly-rates lunch restaurants near the Seine: (click on them for Google Maps location)

Notre Dame Cathedral 2 days in paris

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Notre Dame Cathedral

Cost: Free to walk around it. The cathedral has been closed since the 2019 fire. 

How to Get There: Metro Line 4 to Cité

Although currently under restoration, Notre Dame is still an architectural marvel worth seeing. Its façade, gardens, and the view from the bridges nearby are spectacular.

Sorbonne University latin quarter paris

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM: Latin Quarter

Cost: Free 

How to Get There: Walk from Notre Dame

This neighbourhood is bustling with student life, historic sites, and lively cafés. Great for a stroll and maybe some souvenir shopping.

6:00 PM – 7:30 PM: Dinner

Cost: Around €25-€50 per person

Location: Restaurant in Latin Quarter

Wrap up your day with a lovely French dinner. The Latin Quarter has numerous options, from bistros to fine dining.

Here are some highly-rated restaurants in the Latin Quarter in Paris: (click on them for Google Maps location)

Day 2 – Itinerary for Paris 2 days

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Breakfast

Cost: Around €15-€25 per person

Location: Another café near your accommodation

Another chance to enjoy a Parisian breakfast. Maybe try a different pastry today, like a pain au chocolat (my personal favourite).

Louvre Museum paris

9:30 AM – 11:30 AM: Louvre Museum 

Cost: €17. Book here. Book in advance. The museum is free if you’re under 18 or 18-25 from the EU. But you still need to book your ticket online. 

How to Get There: Metro Line 1 or 7 to Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre

The Louvre houses some of the world’s most famous artworks, including the Mona Lisa and The Venus de Milo. It’s massive, so focus on your must-see pieces.

12:00 PM – 1:30 PM: Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe

Cost: Free to walk; €13 to climb the Arc (Book here)

How to Get There: Metro Line 1 to George V or Line 2 to Charles de Gaulle—Étoile

Walk along this famous avenue filled with shops and cafés, leading up to the Arc de Triomphe, a symbol of French national pride.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Lunch

Location: Café along the Champs-Élysées

Cost: Around €20-€50 per person

Enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the many cafes on this bustling avenue.

Here are some recommendations: (click on them for Google Maps location)

Montmartre

3:30 PM – 6:00 PM: Montmartre 

Cost: Free to wander; €7 for Sacré-Cœur dome

How to Get There: Metro Line 2 to Anvers

Montmartre offers sweeping views of Paris and is rich in artistic history. Don’t miss the stunning Sacré-Cœur Basilica. If you have the time, go up the dome to get to see what I believe to be the best view in Paris. Better than the Eiffel Tower. 

I strongly suggest visiting Montmartre with a guide if your schedule allows it. 

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM: Dinner 

Cost: Around €25-€40 per person for dinner. 

Location: Restaurant in Montmartre

End your Parisian journey with a memorable dinner in the artistic hub of Montmartre, perhaps trying some classic French dishes like coq au vin or bouillabaisse. 

You can even combine your dinner time with the show. But you’ll need to book in advance the dinner at Moulin Rouge

11:00 PM: Moulin Rouge Show 

Cost: €125. Book here

Grab a seat at one of the most iconic cabaret shows on Earth—the Moulin Rouge’s “Féerie.” 

This dazzling performance is a must-see.

Be mesmerised by a cast of 100 performers, including 60 Doris Girls, all dressed in eye-popping costumes. These outfits boast feathers, sequins, and rhinestones, bringing the stage to life in a riot of colour and sparkle. 

As you take it all in, sip on Champagne. You’re not just watching a show; you’re experiencing a feast for both your eyes and ears. And don’t worry about extra costs—service charges and tips are already covered in the ticket price.

Paris travel tips

Public transport

The public transport system in Paris consists of buses, trams, metro, and trains. 

  • Metro and trains schedule – 5:30 a.m. to about 1:15 a.m
  • The metro operates later on weekends (Friday and Saturday evenings) – until 2:15 a.m
  • The night bus (Noctilien) works between 0:30 a.m. to about 5:30 a.m. 

To travel within Paris, you can buy single trip tickets (t+) or day tickets (1, 2, 3, or 5 consecutive days) from ticket machines in metro stations and RATP-authorised retailers. 

A t+ ticket costs €2,10

Paris Visite travel pass starts at 13,55€ for 1 day for zones 1-3

Mobilis (day card where you can choose the zones) starts at 8,45€

Paris is divided into 5 zones, but all attractions mentioned in this Paris itinerary for 2 days are in zones 1 and 2, which is the standard ticket. 

How do you get from the airport to Paris city centre?

  • From Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle airport (CDG), get the Roissybus to Paris (Opéra). Cost – €16.20 time – 60 minutes. Ticket from the driver.
  • From Paris Orly Airport (ORY), get the Orlybus to Paris (Denfert-Rochereau). Cost: €11,20. Travel time: 30 minutes. Ticket from the driver.
  • From Beauvais-Tillé Airport (BVA), get the Aérobus Beauvais airport shuttle to Paris centre. Cost: €18. Travel time: 75 minutes.
  • Book a private transport. 

Special tickets to know about in Paris:

  • If you’re planning to go to Versailles, you’ll need a specific Île-de-France
  •  Destination ticket for Versailles Château-Rive Gauche. Use that ticket to travel in Paris (zone 1-2) and with RER line C. Cost: €7.10 
  • If you’re visiting Disneyland Paris, you will need a specific Île-de-France ticket to Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy. Use that ticket to travel in Paris (zone 1-2) and with RER line A. Cost: €15.20. 

Use the official public transport website to schedule your trip in and around Paris. Here’s more info for airport transfers in Paris. Use the Bonjour RATP app (Android or iOS) to get tickets if you would like a digital ticket. 

Remember to keep your physical ticket until the end of your trip. 

Book tickets in advance

Popular sites like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre can have long lines. Booking tickets online in advance can save you a lot of time. Also, it might happen that an attraction is sold out for the day. 

The Eiffel Tower sells tickets up to 60 days in advance, and it’s cheaper to book directly from the official website than from a third-party website. 

Both the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre have huge queues, so booking online will help you save precious time. 

Watch out for scams

Be wary of street scams, including the “gold ring” trick or people asking you to sign petitions or ask for donations for sketchy associations. 

Also, be aware of your surroundings at all times and watch out for pickpockets. Like any major city, Paris has pickpockets. Keep your belongings secure, especially in crowded areas and on the Metro.

Other tips to know before visiting Paris for the first time

Learn Basic French Phrases. While many people in Paris speak English, a few basic phrases in French can go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable.

Stay connected and online. Free Wi-Fi is widely available but may require a local phone number for access. Consider getting a local SIM card or getting an eSim card from Airalo (tested by me). 

Tipping is optional. Service charge is included in your bill in restaurants, but it’s customary to leave small change.

Embrace café culture. Don’t rush your meals or your coffee. Parisians take their time to enjoy these moments, and you should, too.

Check museum-free days. Some museums are free on the first Sunday of every month, and those under 26 from the EU can get free admission to many museums and monuments.

Carry a water bottle. Paris has numerous public drinking fountains, including some that offer sparkling water. A reusable bottle is handy and eco-friendly.

Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking on cobblestone streets, so comfy, durable shoes are a must.

Get travel insurance. It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance that covers health emergencies, cancellations, and lost belongings.

Day trips from Paris

Here’s a list of the top day trips from Paris if you plan on spending more than 2 days in Paris:

Versailles. Visit the Grand Palace of Versailles, the royal residence of King Louis XIII and King Louis XIV. This palace is the Hall of Mirrors and the extensive Gardens of Versailles.

Giverny. Home to Claude Monet’s house and gardens, it’s a paradise for lovers of Impressionist art.

Mont Saint-Michel. This abbey, perched on a rocky island, is one of France’s most iconic landmarks.

Loire Valley. Known as the “Garden of France,” it’s famous for its amazing chateaux and vineyards.

Reims. The cathedral here is a masterpiece, and you can tour Champagne cellars.

Rouen. It is known for its cathedral and as the place where Joan of Arc was martyred.

Fontainebleau. The Château de Fontainebleau is surrounded by a beautiful forest ideal for hiking.

Normandy beaches. Visit the historic D-Day landing beaches and memorials.

Provins. A UNESCO World Heritage site known for its well-preserved medieval architecture.

Chantilly. Visit Château de Chantilly, a beautiful castle with an extensive art collection and gardens.

Brussels, Belgium. A slightly longer trip but doable in a day, famous for its medieval town squares, modernist architecture, and chocolate.

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.

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