Paris needs no introduction. The capital of France is full of beautiful architecture, historic sites, and cultural institutions that are unparalleled anywhere else in the world.
But with so much to see and do, how do you pick the best activities and places to visit while in Paris? Don’t worry — our travel experts have done the hard work for you. Let us be your guide!
The 20 Best Places to Visit in Paris
Paris, France, has a history that dates back thousands of years. The French capital is thousands of years old and was founded by the Celts, then settled by the Romans and called Lutetia.=
Thousands of years, several dynasties, and a handful of revolutions later, Paris is now one of the global capitals of fashion, finance, culture, and so much more.
When you visit Paris, thousands of years of history and culture are at your doorstep. Medieval churches are right next to Art Nouveau buildings and metro stations.
Plus, the city is a globally famous destination for gastronomy, shopping, and taking in cultural performances.
It’s hard to narrow down the list of attractions in Paris to just a few, but here are some of the most famous places you should absolutely visit while you are there.
1. The Eiffel Tower
Yes, the Eiffel Tower is a tourist trap. Yes, it costs money to go up to the top. Yes, every single visitor to Paris has a picture in a silly pose from here. However, there is a reason everyone goes here.
The elegant 19th-century tower is Paris’s most famous symbol — which is ironic since it was despised when it was first built. Make sure you go to the top of the Eiffel Tower (luckily, there are elevators) for an unparalleled view of Paris.
During the day, it’s popular to picnic in the park under the base of the tower but be sure to come back at night to see the spectacular light show.
The palace of Versailles is located slightly outside of Paris but is easily accessible by public transportation. The massive palace complex was built by the French King Louis XIV, nicknamed the Sun King for his power and lavishness, in the 17th century.
It will probably take you an entire day just to explore the thousands of rooms in the palace as well as the landscaped gardens, on-site museums, and smaller buildings that dot the grounds. Don’t miss the Hall of Mirrors, one of the most spectacular palace rooms in the world.
3. The Louvre
The magnificent museum of the Louvre is a bucket list item for any art lover. Housed in a former palace of the French royal family, the Louvre Museum houses thousands of artworks, from ancient Egyptian antiquities to magnificent paintings.
Everyone flocks to the Louvre to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa but save some time for the amazing antiquities collection, including famous statues of the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo, and the other amazing paintings by world-famous masters.
4. Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris
The medieval Notre Dame cathedral is another symbol of Paris. The spectacular edifice is 860 years old and a beautiful example of Gothic architecture, down to its famous gargoyles.
One of the best views of Paris used to come from climbing the towers of Notre Dame, but the towers have been closed since the devastating fire of 2019.
The cathedral is scheduled to reopen fully by 2024, but for now, visitors can check out the square and the crypt. It’s still worth a visit to see the enduring façade.
5. Musée d’Orsay
We’ll let you in on a little secret — the Louvre may be Paris’s most famous art museum, but the Musée d’Orsay is probably its most beautiful one. The museum is dedicated to 19th-century and early 20th-century French art.
It is the best place to check out work by the Impressionists, including Paul Cézanne, Edgar Dégas, and Vincent van Gogh.
The building of the museum is spectacular as well. It is housed in a former train station, and the grand halls are perfect for these artworks. Be sure to check out the massive clock on the top floor.
For centuries, Paris was the center of the world for bohemians and artistic types. In the 19th century Belle Epoque, most of those artists congregated in Montmartre.
This bohemian neighborhood is still hip today. Visit Montmartre, and you can check out the history of the district at the Musée de Montmartre, which honors famous former residents such as Toulouse-Lautrec.
Return to the present day with a visit to one of the many flea markets, modern galleries, or exciting nightclubs in the area.
The Champs-Elysées is probably one of the most famous streets in the world. This wide avenue is dotted with monuments and green spaces. Stroll from end to end to take in some of Paris’s most famous sights.
The Champs-Elysées is also one of Paris’s most fancy streets. Check out some of the designer shops along the way — or just window-shop if Vuitton is out of your vacation budget.
8. Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe marks one end of the Champs-Elysées. The spectacular boxy monument towers over the surrounding area. It was built in the early 19th century to commemorate soldiers who fought for France.
Check out the famous sculptures that dot its façade, especially La Marseillaise; pay your respects at the Memorial Flame for dead soldiers, and for a fee, take in the view from the terrace at the top.
Sainte-Chapelle is probably the most stunning example of medieval church architecture in Paris (yes, even more stunning than Notre Dame). This church was the private chapel of the French royal family, built by King Louis IX.
When you visit, be sure to take in the soaring arches, surviving 13th-century stained glass windows, and the spectacular ceiling painted to look like the night sky. Devout Catholics come here to visit important relics such as a thorn from Christ’s crown.
10. Quartier Latin
For centuries, the Quartier Latin was where Paris’s students lived, and that bohemian atmosphere survives today thanks to the several universities here.
Visit the area for affordable meals, pretty bookstores, and bars popular among local students. The Quartier Latin is also packed with sights, including the Pantheon, Jardins de Luxembourg, and the Jardin des Plantes.
11. Moulin Rouge
The Moulin Rouge’s name translates to “red mill,” which makes sense since a garish red mill tops the building. The club was one of Paris’s most famous cabarets during the hedonistic Belle Epoque and is the place where the suggestive cancan dance was invented.
The Moulin Rouge still puts on cabaret shows that you can visit during the night, but even a visit during the day to snap a photo of the famous mill is worth it.
12. Père Lachaise Cemetery
For fans of more gothic tourist attractions, Père Lachaise Cemetery is one of the best places to visit in Paris. This historic cemetery in the 20th arrondissement is a beautiful, contemplative place to walk, thanks to its garden-like design.
The cemetery is a pilgrimage site of sorts thanks to the dozens of famous people buried here, including artists such as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Marcel Proust.
13. Galeries Lafayette
Paris is one of the shopping capitals of the world, and even if you’re not a fashionista, you should at least pop into the city’s most famous department store! The Galeries Lafayette sprawls across one of Paris’s most expensive neighborhoods.
Browse the several floors and dozens of departments for designer goods from any brand you can think of, or just take in the dazzling architecture (which is even more spectacular during Christmas). The rooftop terrace provides spectacular views of Paris.
14. Jardin des Tuileries
When you need a calming break after sightseeing, the Jardin des Tuileries is the perfect place to go. This Park is right by the Louvre, making it perfect for a break after taking in art.
Architecture and history lovers will love the classic layout, which hasn’t changed much since its days as a French royal garden. Younger visitors will probably spend more time in the miniature amusement park.
15. Palais Garnier
The Palais Garnier is Paris’s spectacular opera house. It plays an important role in international music history and is the setting of the novel (and musical) The Phantom of the Opera.
The Palais Garnier still hosts performances today (mostly ballet) and is a must-visit for lovers of culture. Even if you don’t get to take in a performance, check out the beautiful, ornate architecture.
16. Buttes Chaumont Park
Paris is such a big city that there is even room for wild spaces such as the Buttes Chaumont Park. This spectacular park is a bit outside of the center, making it the perfect break from the busy city.
The landscape of the Buttes Chaumont Park is very dramatic, with plenty of cliffs, caves, and waterfalls. Climb to the top of one of the cliffs to check out the 19th-century replica of an ancient Roman temple and get great views of Paris.
The Sacre-Coeur basilica is located in Montmartre, but it’s so iconic that it deserves its own entry. The ornate, white-domed church was completed in the 19th century and has great architecture and decorations.
However, the best part of the Sacre-Coeur basilica is probably its location. The church is perched on top of a hill that offers spectacular views of Paris, especially at sunset.
18. Seine River
The Seine River winds its way through Paris, so you will have to cross it at some point, but it deserves some time in its own right during your visit. Walk along the Seine and take in the famous book stands.
During warm weather, all of Paris descends to the banks to take in the sun and relax with friends. One of the best ways to see Paris is to take a river cruise along the Seine.
You can take in spectacular riverside sights such as Notre Dame and admire the many elegant bridges that cross the Seine, including the Pont Neuf and the Pont Alexandre III.
19. Catacombs of Paris
If you’re looking for a darker, edgier tourist experience, then the catacombs of Paris are the perfect place to visit.
In the 18th century, city authorities realized that Paris was growing too fast for the cemeteries to keep up, so they moved the bones of six million dead into former mining tunnels.
Today, morbidly curious visitors come to check out the tunnels full of piles of bones. Don’t visit if you’re claustrophobic or easily grossed out.
20. Disneyland Paris
After a long visit taking in lots of culture and history, sometimes you just need some light-hearted fun. That’s where Disneyland Paris comes in! Check out the fun rides, familiar characters, and immersive experience at the theme park.
If you’re looking for a more quintessential French experience, then check out Parc Asterix, an amusement park dedicated to a famous French comic book series.
Things to Consider
First, and most importantly, strikes and demonstrations are frequent in Paris. Since late 2022, France has been undergoing strikes protesting a change to the retirement system.
Strikes often make it hard to get around Paris, and protest marches can get violent. Check the news if there is a strike announced and avoid main areas where protest routes might go.
Remember that Paris is still a bustling, modern big city with common big city problems, including crime. Pickpockets are common, so keep a firm grasp on your valuables, especially in the metro.
Avoid common scams, such as people offering to give you bracelets (they are never free). You will also probably be doing a lot of walking, so make sure to pack comfortable shoes!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some other questions visitors to Paris wanted to ask:
What are the prettiest places to visit in Paris?
Some of the prettiest places in Paris are the city’s parks and gardens. Check out the Luxembourg Gardens in the Quartier Latin or the Jardin des Tuileries near the Louvre.
What is the number one attraction in Paris?
The number one attraction in Paris is definitely the Eiffel Tower. No visit to the city is complete without a glimpse of its most famous monument.
What should not be missed in Paris?
Besides a visit to the Eiffel Tower, there are a few other sites that you have to visit if it’s your first time in Paris. These include the Louvre, Notre Dame, a stroll along the Champs-Elysées, and a stop in one of the city’s famous bakeries.
What is the prettiest street in Paris?
There are a few streets in Paris that are very popular for photo opportunities. These include the famous Champs-Elysées and less famous streets, such as the Rue Crémieux with its candy-colored houses.
Which side of Paris is best?
For some of Paris’s most famous sites, you’ll have to visit the right bank. However, the left bank is better for a bohemian vibe, and it’s more affordable.
So What Is the Best Place to Visit in Paris?
It’s hard to narrow down the best place to visit in the French capital. Paris has beautiful churches such as Notre Dame, museums such as the Louvre, and of course, no visit is complete without a trip to the Eiffel Tower.
So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Paris today and experience all that this gorgeous city has to offer. Happy travels!