The City of Lights is an amazing tourist destination that everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime. With hundreds of things to do and see, it’s no wonder that Paris is the 3rd most visited city in the world. If you’re planning an upcoming trip to this French gem but don’t know where to begin, start by checking out this list here.
1. Eiffel Tower
You can’t make a Paris bucket list and not put the Eiffel Tower in first place. One of the most recognized landmarks in the world, the Eiffel Tower is a breathtaking element of the Parisian landscape. Walk up to the first floor or take the elevator which will take you all the way to the top. We should warn you, if you get there it can take you about 3 hours until you even reach the entrance. We strongly recommend booking your tickets in advance to save precious sightseeing time. Another must regarding the Eiffel Tower is to visit the grounds at night, when thousands of flickering lights make it a can’t-miss spectacle. However, if you just want to chill and enjoy the view from the ground, you should get something to eat and drink and enjoy your time under the Eiffel Tower right on Champ-de-Mars.
2. Notre Dame Cathedral
Considered to be one of the most notable masterpieces of the Gothic period, Notre Dame Cathedral started construction work in the late 10th Century and was somewhat finished 200 years later. This iconic Parisian Cathedral rests close by the famous Seine River and its vast size reminds us of the grandeur of Gothic architecture. Before you think of visiting, it must be noted that Notre Dame Cathedral suffered a devastating fire on April 15, 2019. This fire resulted in significant damage to the wooden roofs and structure spirals, so the Cathedral is closed until further notice.
Related: The Ultimate Greece Travel Guide
Technically a little south from Paris (14 miles to be exact), the Château de Versailles is one of the most opulent historic buildings in the whole world. First grounded by Louis XIII, the grand palace started to expand into what we now know thanks to Louis XIV. He was the one who moved both the government and the court into the buildings and created the famous Hall of Mirrors. Walking through Versaille might take up at least half of your day, but you won’t even feel it when you’re admiring the gold figurines, the massive chandeliers and the countless frescoes that decorate the walls.
4. The Louvre
The most visited museum in the world has some reasons for you not to skip it on your next trip. If you only have time to see one museum in Paris, the Louvre is the one. This place, which holds a whopping collection of 35,000 works of art, first opened its doors in 1793 when it was vacant after Louis XIV left for Versailles. Between the immense 650,000 square feet of gallery space and the massive crowds, this tour can take up your whole day; but we guarantee it’ll be worth it when you admire Egyptian tombs, the Greek Venus de Milo and of course Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
5. Champs-Elysées and Arc de Triomphe
To get a little fresh air you can enjoy two attractions in one route. Champs-Elysées is probably the most famous boulevard in Paris, running for more than a mile from the Place de la Concorde to the must-see Arc de Triomphe. Your walk will take you through some of the most luxurious fashion stores on your way to this iconic arch. Commissioned by Napoleon to honor his army during the Napoleonic Wars, the Arc de Triomphe is the biggest of its kind in the world. Bask in the historic significance of this monument, which has the dates of the most important battles fought during the First French Republic. At Arc de Triomphe you can also admire the unknown soldier’s tomb, dedicated to all those who died unidentified in battle. Enjoy the view from the ground or from the top.
6. Moulin Rouge
Paris also knows how to show you a good time when the sun goes down, and the perfect place to do that is undoubtedly Moulin Rouge. This worldwide known cabaret club started business in 1889. Ever since then people love to attend their nighttime burlesque shows, enjoy fine dining and lots of champagne. Be advised that the sequined costumes worn by the dancers leave very little to imagination, so it’s not the best place to take kids.
7. Montmartre and Sacre Coeur
If there is another place in Paris, besides the Eiffel Tower, to have a wonderful breathtaking view of the city, it is certainly Sacre Coeur. The Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre is one of the most important monuments in Paris. It is over 420 feet in height and the inside ceiling is painted with the biggest mosaic in the whole of France. Next to Sacre Coeur you can also take a walk around Montmartre which is the most bohemian area of Paris, you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee, find a bookstore, patisseries, boulangeries and enjoy the work of local artists at Place du Tertre.
8. Musée d’Orsay
Sure, the Louvre is Paris’ superstar, but there are plenty of other museums in the city with breathtaking art collections, and Musée d’Orsay is one of them. Built in a former railway station, this museum features beautiful glass ceilings and an impressive transparent clock which you can see through to catch a glimpse of Sacre Coeur. Musée d’Orsay holds one of the biggest impressionist works of art collections. So, if you consider yourself a fan of Degas, Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh, this is the place to visit.
9. Walk along the Seine River
Even though Paris is full of glamour, architecture and history you should always take some time to enjoy a nice walk by the Seine River. The river flows across the city with several bridges connecting one side to the other. If it is too great a distance to cover from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame, then you can go for a shorter distance and enjoy the views from Notre Dame to the Musée du Louvre.
This walk is highly recommended for both friends and couples. It offers a magnificent view of the life of the local people as you walk by some of the oldest streets and it’s a great place to take some pictures. If you’re looking for a different experience there are some small cruises that will take you along the river. Some will work as a turibus and there are others where you can book a romantic dinner. If you’re interested in this cruising experience you can buy your ticket on the same day or through a website to save some Euros.
10. Eat your heart out: croissants, macarons at Ladurée, crepes…
Technically this is not an attraction, but it was far too important to be left out of the list. Paris, France has one of the best gastronomies in the world, and it’s particularly popular because of its sweet treats and pastries. There’s a street vendor, or café, on each corner where you can indulge in a fluffy croissant or a tasty crepe to give you a little boost and help you on with your day. If there’s a place you can’t miss to satisfy your sweet tooth, then you should visit Ladurée, home of the world’s best macarons.
Related: 12 Best Sightseeing Places in London
These are just some of the most iconic historical and cultural places to visit during your trip to the City of Lights. If, by any chance, you have some time to spare and, especially if you’re travelling with kids who find some of the tours tedious, you can always make a visit to Disneyland Paris. There is so much to see and do that we assure you that you’ll need an extra week or two to see even more!