The Ultimate 3 Days in Paris Itinerary

When you only have 3 days in Paris, you need to get your Paris itinerary just right.

With a nearly unlimited number of incredible things to do (and eat, and see) in the City of Light, it’s important to plan a short trip carefully.

Sure, you want to see as much as you can–but you’ll also want to prevent yourself from burning out and/or wasting too much time in transport bouncing all over the city.

As first-time visitors to Paris quickly learn, the city is enormous and quite spread out, and without a solid plan, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

That being said, Paris ranks among our absolute favorite cities in the world, and we want you to love it as much as we do!

After roughly 10 trips to Paris (and counting!), we’ve designed this itinerary for Paris in 3 days to cover the best of the city, fast.

Follow this travel itinerary to see a solid chunk of Paris’ best highlights, eat some delicious food, wander stunning neighborhoods, and make sure you travel home with a snapshot of Paris that leaves you dying to plan your next trip to the city.

Here’s exactly how to make the most of a few days in Paris, France!

Kate Storm in a red dress standing with a caroseul and Sacre Coeur in the background--this is one of the most instagrammable places in Paris!

The Perfect 3 Days in Paris Itinerary

Day 1: Classic Paris Highlights

Start your morning on Île de la Cité near Notre Dame.

What better way to start 3 days in Paris than to visit one of Paris’ most famous landmarks?

Even after the awful April 2019 fire, Notre Dame’s status as an icon of Paris and its convenient location in the center of the city still make it a great place to kick off your few days in Paris.

3 Days in Paris Itinerary: Notre Dame View

While you’re nearby, check out the view from the corner of Rue de la Cite and Quai de Montebello, near the Pont de Coeurs, where you can photograph the tops of the towers and some of the front of the cathedral looking semi-normal.

Unfortunately, though, the damage to the cathedral is extensive, and Notre Dame is not expected to reopen before 2024.

I’m leaving our photos from the rooftop of Notre Dame in place in this 3 day Paris itinerary out of nostalgia, but scroll down for a look at the current view from the corner mentioned above for a more realistic take at the moment.

view of the front of notre dame in 2022 with barrier in front
A recent view of Notre Dame, snapped in 2022. The construction is much more visible on the sides and back of the cathedral.

Step inside Shakespeare & Company.

5-minute walk from Notre Dame

Paris’ most famous bookstore is known as the former haunt of Lost Generation writers like James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the ever-present Ernest Hemingway (he knew all the good travel destinations before the rest of us).

What some don’t know is that the present Shakespeare & Company is a bit different than the original!

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The original location closed during the Nazi occupation, and this store was opened by new management in 1951, in order to nurture a new generation of writers–think Henry Miller, Ray Bradbury, and Langston Hughes.

I could wax poetic about bookstores forever, but I suggest you check out this great article from Vanity Fair if you’re interested in a thorough history of Shakespeare & Company.

front facade of shakespeare and company as seen through blooming flowers during a travel paris itinerary

Here’s what you need to know to visit: it’s delightful and beautiful, they’ll stamp any books you buy with their seal on the title page (which make wonderful souvenirs from Paris), there’s a cat who lives upstairs, and the view from the second-floor window over the Seine and toward Notre Dame is divine.

Photos are forbidden inside, so you’ll just have to step across the Seine from Île de la Cité to see the beautiful interior for yourself!

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I will note that we’ve after almost a decade of visiting this bookstore on the majority of our trips to Paris, we skipped it on our July 2022 visit because of the huge line in front–we had never seen one there before.

When we returned in December 2022, we were able to walk right in, but if you are planning to visit Paris during the high season, we recommend visiting as early in the morning as you can (Shakespeare & Company opens at 10:00 AM).

Paris in 3 Days: Shakespeare & Company

Grab a coffee and pastry from a beautiful Parisian cafe.

Having checked a tiny bit of Paris sightseeing off your list, it’s officially time for a traditional French breakfast of a delicious coffee and pastry.

Here are a few cafes nearby (and by nearby I mean practically hidden in plain sight) that you may want to check out.

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Odette

Famous for its beautiful building nestled into the corner of a cobblestone street near Notre Dame, Odette is a lovely (and photogenic) choice for grabbing breakfast on your first morning in Paris.

Odette Cafe in Paris France with an empty cobblestone street in front of it--not a bad place to grab a coffee during your 2 days in Paris France!
Shakespeare & Co. Cafe

Surprisingly affordable and home to delicious coffee, if you want to keep your 3 days in Paris itinerary simple this morning, head next door to Shakespeare & Company for breakfast at their popular cafe by the same name.

(Odette is mere steps away from here, so if you’re a huge Parisian cafe lover, you could even visit both).

A. Lacroix Patissier

This cafe isn’t famous, but it is delicious, cozy, and boasts views of Notre Dame!

We’ve been eating here for years and can highly recommend it.

macarons for sale at patisserie near notre dame paris
Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole

This one is more for the photo snappers and late risers among us, as it doesn’t open until noon, but Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole is worth mentioning as an option here.

Famous for its gorgeous wisteria, this Parisian cafe is practically next door to Notre Dame, is quite-well known among places to eat in Paris, and is incredibly charming.

Kate Storm in a gray dress sitting in front of Cafe Au Vieux, one of the most instagrammable spots in Paris

Pay a visit to the oldest clock in Paris.

8-minute walk from Odette or Shakespeare & Company.

En route to Sainte-Chapelle during your 3 days in Paris, be sure to make your way past the Tour de l’Horloge on the side of the Conciergerie.

Here you’ll be able to take a peek at the oldest clock in Paris, which was installed in the 14th century, is still ticking along to this day, and also happens to be incredibly gorgeous.

Oldest clock in Paris located on the side of the Conciergerie. The clock is blue and gold, and definitely worth slowing down to take a peek at during any Paris itinerary!

Stroll over to Sainte-Chapelle.

6-minute walk from Shakespeare & Company

Sainte-Chapelle boasts one of my favorite church interiors in the world, but you likely won’t notice when you first enter: the first floor is rather typically decorated and quite dark.

Climb up to the second floor, though, and you’re in for quite a show: nearly every inch of the 50-foot walls (about 15 meters) are covered in elaborate stained glass.

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It is colorful, magical, and absolutely beautiful–I haven’t seen anything quite like it anywhere else in the world, and it’s well worth fitting into your itinerary for Paris.

We recommend grabbing a skip-the-line in advance (for no extra fee!) to save time in lines and ensure that this (small and very popular) attraction doesn’t sell out.

Get your ticket for Sainte-Chapelle today to skip the ticket line!

Stained Glass of Sainte-Chapelle with rear window of stained glass in the center--this chapel belongs on any Paris itinerary, and you should definitely visit during your Paris weekend trip!

Make your way to the Luxembourg Gardens.

15-minute walk from Sainte-Chapelle

Obviously, the Luxembourg Gardens are most impressive in the spring and summer, but they’re worth visiting regardless of time of year: the gardens feel distinctly Parisian and are a joy to visit.

The Luxembourg Palace sits to one side, and be sure to stop by to admire it.

If you want to take a peek at some of the garden’s hidden treasures, the Medici Fountain and Luxembourg Gardens’ very own beehives are both nearby.

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If you’re trying to stay on a budget, this is a great place for a picnic lunch!

Simply pick up some Parisian staples (a baguette with cheese and fruit, perhaps) and bring them into the gardens to eat.

If you’d prefer a restaurant, the area surrounding the park is lousy with them (Le Prince Racine is close by and a favorite of ours, and Restaurant Polidor is both tasty and served as a Midnight in Paris filming location!).

During your 15-minute walk over from Sainte-Chapelle, a slightly longer route will also take you by the Pantheon if you’d like to stop by.

3 Days in Paris Itinerary: Luxembourg Gardens

Walk toward the Louvre via St. Germain.

18+ minute walk from the Luxembourg Gardens.

Head to the Louvre through St. Germain, one of the most classically Parisian neighborhoods.

As you explore, you’ll pass by some beautiful boutiques, great restaurants, and gorgeous architecture.

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Those classic Paris streets you see in photos? St. Germain is a great place to photograph them!

In addition to the restaurants mentioned above, we’ve also enjoyed eating at Eggs & Co. while here, which specializes in omelets. The food is tasty, and the decor is adorable.

The walk from the Luxembourg Gardens to the Louvre is technically under 20 minutes, but depending on how much you want to meander around the neighborhood, it could take quite a bit longer!

3 Days in Paris Itinerary: Cafe

Pay a visit to the largest art museum in the world.

The Louvre is a hard thing to budget time for–for people who aren’t very into art, an hour or 2 of checking out the most famous works might be enough.

For art and history lovers, weeks would be needed.

With only 3 days in Paris, we’d recommend booking timed entry skip-the-line tickets and spending around 2-3 hours in the Louvre, and doing a bit of research before you go.

If there are particular works you’re dying to see (say, the Venus de Milo or the Mona Lisa), make sure you plan accordingly and head in the right direction.

Alternatively, you can book a tour (we absolutely loved this one) to ensure you see the best of the Louvre in an efficient way!

Sphinx in the Louvre--definitely visit the largest museum in the world as part of your 2 days in Paris weekend trip!

We’ve now visited the Louvre three times and have seen almost none of the same exhibits on any of our visits!

Personally, one of my favorite things I’ve found in the Louvre is the Napoleon III apartments, which are an unexpected surprise amongst all of the paintings, sculptures, and historical artifacts.

It took us a few trips to Paris before we splurged on a Louvre tour, but we’re so glad we did.

This tour was amazing and gave us great context for the pieces we saw in the museum, and we can heartily recommend it. For a different take, this tour is also well recommended.

Lines at the Louvre get notoriously long–plan ahead and book your visit to the Louvre today!

You can get timed entry skip-the-line tickets here, book the same amazing tour we took here, or book another well-reviewed tour of the Louvre here.

Three Days in Paris Itinerary: The Louvre at Night

Stop by the Colonnes de Buren or grab hot chocolate at Angelina.

Once you finish exploring the Louvre, it’s time for a quick Paris sightseeing pitstop before heading off to the Eiffel Tower.

If you’re searching for popular Paris photo spots, this is a great time to stop by the Colonnes de Buren in the Palais Royale.

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The columns are free to visit and fun to see in the evening, when there will be plenty of people hanging out (and even working out–we’ve seen everything from group lunges to kids playing soccer) nearby.

After you finish at the Colonnes de Buren, the Galerie Vero-Dodat is just around the corner and is another one of Paris’ beautiful covered passages, so you can consider swinging by there for a quick look as well.

If you’re done seeing the sights and simply want to sit down and indulge, famous Angelina is a short walk away, ready to serve you a steaming cup of their legendary hot chocolate.

Kate Storm in a black shirt and cream cardigan standing on one of the Colonnes de Buren in Paris France--if you like quirky photo ops, definitely come here as part of your weekend trip to Paris!

Admire the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero Gardens.

50-minute walk or 30-minute metro ride from the Louvre.

Are your feet killing you yet?

If so (and depending on the time), you may want to consider a metro ride at this point.

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If not, we highly recommend the long walk along the Seine to the Trocadero Gardens, which will take you along some beautiful Paris views and past the famous Pont Alexandre III.

Regardless of how you get there, it’s safe to say that your first day spent visiting Paris isn’t complete without a picture-perfect view of the Eiffel Tower!

3 Days in Paris Itinerary: Eiffel Tower from Trocadero Gardens

Head to the river to take a Seine river cruise before sunset.

To be perfectly honest, it took us many trips to Paris before we signed up for a Seine river cruise… and after taking one, we can’t believe that we waited so long!

Yes, they’re a bit touristy, but there’s nothing quite like admiring Paris and its many gorgeous monuments from the water.

Add in the possibility of a sunset, and the view is even better.

travelers admiring views of notre dame from a seine river cruise during a few days in paris france

Many Seine river cruises leave from very close to the base of the Eiffel Tower, too, making taking one an easy addition to this 3 day Paris itinerary!

Want to splurge a bit for your first night in Paris?

You can even sign up for a full dinner cruise if a standard one-hour cruise doesn’t sound like quite enough time on the Seine.

Book your Seine river cruise today!

travelers on a seine river cruise with a bridge in the distance

Day 2: The Elegant Side of Paris

Begin your day at the Arc de Triomphe.

What better way to kick off your second day in the City of Light than by admiring one of the best views in Paris?

Climb (all 284 steps of) the Arc de Triomphe for great views over Paris, including views of the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, La Defense, Montmartre, and more.

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If you would like to zoom in (especially on faraway spots like Montmartre) it would be a great idea to pack travel binoculars so you don’t miss out on the details.

Be sure to stroll under the Arc de Triomphe as well–it is ornate and beautiful in a way that is hard to pick up from a distance.

Like most of Paris’ most famous attractions, the line to climb the Arc de Triomphe gets very long.

We love using skip-the-line tickets to walk right in–and there’s no extra charge for booking ahead!

Buy tickets to climb the Arc de Triomphe today!

selfie of kate storm and jeremy storm after climb the arc de triomphe paris with eiffel tower in the background

Stroll down the Champs-Élysées.

The famous Champs-Élysées dead-ends into the Arc de Triomphe, so after snapping photos both from the top of the monument and of the arch itself, continue your morning by heading down one of the most famous shopping streets in the world.

If you have time in your Paris itinerary (ie, depending on how early in the morning you got started!), consider continuing all the way to the Place de la Concorde before heading outside the city to enjoy one of the most iconic day trips from Paris!

visit arc de triomphe paris france as seen from champs elysees with foliage on surrounding trees

Jump on the RER and spend most of the day at Versailles.

A day trip to Versailles is a perfect addition to 3 days in Paris: while some people do spend a whole day there, when trying to see Paris in 3 days, it makes more sense to squeeze in the Arc de Triomphe first.

(If you have no desire to visit the Arc de Triomphe, though, feel free to head right to Versailles after breakfast).

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While at Versailles, be sure to tour the palace itself (be sure to book tickets in advance if you’re not taking a tour), and then head outside to the gardens for a long stroll.

Bear in mind that the property is the largest royal domain in the world and it is therefore predictably difficult to see absolutely everything!

Visiting Versailles: Hall of Mirrors

The gardens alone take up 230 acres, and that’s without even considering attractions like Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, and the Queen’s Hamlet.

Booking a tour is a great way to get a thorough oversight on your first visit!

After seeing the popular main gardens near the palace, which boast the opulent fountains of Versailles seen in so many photos, consider taking a 25-minute walk through the gardens to visit the other palaces on site (plus Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, of course).

Visiting Versailles: The Queen's Hamlet
How to Get to Versailles from Paris

To get to Versailles from Paris, take the RER C line to Versailles.

Transit takes less than an hour, and bear in mind that the RER is separate from the metro.

You’ll need to purchase an RER ticket to head to Versailles.

Be sure to validate your ticket before you travel!

Book your timed entry skip-the-line tickets or guided tour of Versailles today!

Visiting Versailles: Exterior of the Palace

Day 3: Parisian Food, Art, and Grit

Start your morning with a Parisian food tour.

It’s no secret that French food is some of the most delicious in the world–and before leaving Paris, it’s a great idea to take some time to learn all about it!

We absolutely loved our experience on the Paris Ultimate Food Tour with Devour Tours, which focuses on the trendy La Marais neighborhood.

Taste award-winning pastries and macarons, delectable meats and cheeses, a memorable soup, and much more on this delicious (and extremely filling) food tour.

fresh fruits and vegetables for sale on a paris food tour

Devour Tours is one of our favorite food tour companies in Europe, and one of the many reasons for that is the history and culture that is woven into every tour.

The fight for the survival of long-standing traditional markets, the history of the Jewish community in Le Marais, and how French food gets its various designations are just a few details that made their way into our tour, and we walked away very satisfied with the experience.

(As is usual for us, we paid our own way for this tour and told no one we were travel bloggers while there).

Book the Paris food tour we loved today!

interior of cured meat shop in le marais paris
We stopped in so many small shops, bakeries, and restaurants as part of this tour!

Choose Your Own Parisian Adventure: Catacombs vs. the Musée d’Orsay

As your 3 days in Paris rapidly come to a close, it’s incredibly ambitious to try to fit both the catacombs and Musée d’Orsay into the itinerary, especially as they’re quite far apart!

For that reason, I’ll leave your next stop up to you.

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Travelers looking for something funky, offbeat, and unusual will love the catacombs.

Art lovers (especially impressionist lovers) will delight in the Musée d’Orsay.

Here’s what to love about each!

view from inside the musee d orsay during an itinerary paris france
The views from inside the Musée d’Orsay are lovely.
Option 1: See a different side of Paris at the Catacombs.

50-minute walk or 25-minute metro ride from the end of the Paris Ultimate Food Tour.

Technically an ossuary and not catacombs, this Paris highlight is a bit spooky and unusual, but a fascinating place to visit while in Paris for 3 days (unless you get freaked out by bones, that is).

Skip-the-line tickets are essential here, or you can even sign up for a guided tour to learn more about the (absolutely wild) history.

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Set in Paris’ former quarries, the catacombs hold millions of former Parisians… but they didn’t start their time in the afterlife there.

From the late 18th to the mid-19th century, many of Paris’ cemeteries were emptied out due to health concerns, and the skeletons were relocated to the catacombs.

Artfully arranged and complete with cemetery-appropriate art (Bible verses and such, but also a sign saying “Stop! This is the empire of the dead” over the entrance, so, there’s that), the catacombs are a bizarre mix of fascinating, creepy, historical, and artistic.

Interior of the catacombs in Paris with a gravestone on the left side of the photo

The catacombs themselves go on for over 200 miles/320 kilometers, and we have loved each of our visits–and also loved staring down the dark paths that are not intended for tourists to visit.

Fair warning: it’s easy to get lost down there and people have died by breaking in and then getting too lost to find their way out. Stick to the path!

Even during our January visit, the line for the catacombs was still more than 2 hours long!

Book your skip-the-line tickets here or epic in-depth guided tour here!

3 skulls in the Paris catacombs that are surrounding by other bones
Option 2: Enjoy Paris’ second-most-famous art museum, the Musée d’Orsay.

40-minute walk or 25-minute metro ride from the end of the Paris Ultimate Food Tour.

Many first-time visitors to Paris walk away saying that the Musée d’Orsay, not the Louvre, is their favorite museum in Paris.

We wouldn’t go quite that far (we love both too much), but it’s easy to see what draws people in.

Not only is the Musée d’Orsay home to some incredible art, including iconic works by Monet and Van Gogh, but the building itself is a bit of an attraction.

Interior of Musee d'Orsay museum from above

The Musée d’Orsay is set in a gorgeous former train station built at the end of the 19th century, complete with the famous clock on the top floor that provides a unique view of Paris.

In addition, the Musée d’Orsay is much smaller than the Louvre, and therefore less overwhelming and easier to visit without getting turned around.

Book your timed entry skip the line ticket for the Musée d’Orsay today!

Kate Storm in a black tank stop standing in front of the clock in Musee d'Orsay, an excellent part of any 3 days in Paris France!

Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in Montmartre.

25-minute metro ride from the Paris catacombs or 20-minute metro ride from the Musée d’Orsay.

Your last afternoon and evening in Paris are dedicated to a neighborhood that’s not quite as old or as stately as some Parisian neighborhoods… but it is delightfully fun and very well known.

Montmartre is home to Sacré Coeur, the Moulin Rouge, the famous Place du Tertre, and some incredibly adorable streets, squares, bakeries, cafes, and bars.

Once the haunt of artists and Bohemians, and today the haunt of travelers seeking out some of the prettiest streets and best views in Paris, Montmartre is a beloved favorite among Parisian neighborhoods for good reason.

This area is great for taking iconic Parisian photos, we take our Sony a7R III along with us and end up using it constantly.

Kate Storm in a red dress in front of La Consulat cafe in Montmartre, one of the most instagrammable places in Paris

While you’re there, be sure to visit Sacré Coeur (though don’t feel pressured to climb it if you don’t want to–three monuments in three days in Paris might be a bit much), see the artists at the Place du Tertre, and duck into the art shops along the nearby side streets.

The steps of Sacré Coeur are one of the most popular sunset spots in Paris, and a wonderful place to watch the light disappear from your last full day in Paris.

If you feel like sticking around for the evening, Montmartre is the perfect place to find nightlife in Paris, too.

Whether you want to go crazy and see a show at the Moulin Rouge or find a quieter bar to settle down at, you’ll have plenty of options.

Shop tickets to shows at the Moulin Rouge!

sunset from the top of sacre coeur with eiffel tower in the background
If you do happen to have one more climb in you, though, the view from the top of the basilica is even better than from the steps.

Say goodbye to Paris.

Three days in Paris go by so fast: it’s already time to say goodbye.

As you head back to your hotel on your last night in Paris, you may be able to squeeze in one more experience off your Paris wish list.

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There are a million worthy options, but one reliably magical one is to grab a warm street crepe and admire the Eiffel Tower twinkling at night.

In our opinion, there’s no better image to end your trip to Paris with than that one.

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Where To Stay in Paris

Budget

Hotel Bellevue Montmartre — We chose to base ourselves in Montmartre for one of our more budget-friendly trips to Paris, and were completely satisfied with our choice!

The room itself was clean and unremarkable, but the real benefit of Hotel Bellevue Montmartre (other than the price tag) is what you find when you step outside the door: though the hotel is set on a quiet street, it’s a mere 5-minute walk from Sacre Coeur and a 10-minute walk from a metro that is ready and willing to whisk you away to anywhere you wish to go in Paris, and you can’t ask for a better location for the price.

While it’s not quite as easy for this 2 days in Paris itinerary as staying closer, it will allow you to save a bit of cash and also to be near all the beautiful things to see in Montmartre!

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Bellevue Montmartre!

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Mid-range

Hotel Abbatial Saint Germain — We loved, loved, loved this cute boutique hotel in Paris, mostly because of its truly unbeatable location less than a 10-minute walk from Notre Dame and therefore an easy walk away from much of the attractions of Il de la Cite (and a metro stop, of course).

Despite the super central location, the streets outside were still quiet at night, a huge benefit, and the views during the day lovely.

The customer service was excellent, the bed cozy, and the room, while still very small by global standards, was a bit roomy compared to what we’ve gotten used to in Paris.

We’d be happy to stay again!

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Abbatial Saint Germain!

Photo of a Parisian Street looking out a window at Hotel Abbatial Saint Germain with red flowers in the foreground--this is a great pick if you're looking for somewhere to spend your weekend in Paris!
View from our window at Hotel Abbatial Saint Germain.

Le Clos Medicis — Located on a beautiful, quiet street just a 5-minute walk from the Pantheon and Luxembourg Gardens (plus a metro stop that connects directly to the RER B line), Le Clos Medicis is an excellent mid-range hotel option in the perfect Paris location.

While the rooms are the typical small rooms of Paris, the hotel was extremely comfortable, the customer service lovely, and did I mention the location? Being so well-located in Paris has spoiled us for future trips.

One small quirk? They don’t allow any food in the rooms. It wasn’t a big deal for us, but if you’re planning on buying any groceries or takeout during your 3 days in Paris, this might not be the hotel for you.

Check rates & book your stay at Le Clos Medicis!

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Luxury

Relais Christine — For opulent luxury in the heart of the city, consider a stay at Relais Christine for your few days in Paris!

Located in a 17th-century mansion just a short walk away from Notre Dame and boasting beautiful decor, you couldn’t ask for a better location to be pampered like Parisian royalty.

Check rates & book your stay at Relais Christine!

Honeymoon in Paris: Flowers near Notre Dame

More than 3 days in Paris, France?

Paris is a city that can occupy a lifetime and still not be fully discovered–no matter how much time you have in Paris, you will never leave feeling that you’ve unturned every stone.

After about 10 trips to Paris and counting, we still find ourselves discovering new gems every time we visit!

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A few things to consider adding to your Paris itinerary if you have longer than three days in the city include a visit to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, or heading to the top of Montparnasse Tower (this tower is generally reviled for disrupting Paris’ beautiful skyline, but it does have quite the view at the top!).

You could also splurge on a Michelin Star meal, take a class on learning how to bake macarons or croissants (we did the macarons and adored it!), tour the Paris Opera House, duck into a smaller museum like the Musée de l’Orangerie (one of our favorites)… you get the picture.

3 Days in Paris Itinerary: Baking Macarons Le Foodist

Our gigantic Paris bucket list and/or our guide to the hidden gems of Paris are great blog posts to peruse if you’re looking for fun ideas to round out your itinerary for Paris!

There are plenty of hidden gems in Paris that lurk in plain sight, from the former home of Nicholas Flamel to lesser-known but interesting churches like the Church of Saint Sulpice to fascinating flea markets, all of which are worth seeking out if you have more than a few days in Paris.

If you’re looking to head out of town on one of your additional days in Paris, popular day trips other than Versailles include the town of Rouen, the castle of Fontainebleau, and Giverny to experience the water gardens that inspired Monet.

kate storm in the musee de l'orangerie with monet water lilies, one of the best small museums in paris visit

Getting Around During Your 3 Day Paris Itinerary

Paris is a large city, but it is surprisingly easy to get around.

The city is made up of 20 arrondissements, or districts, starting with the 1st in the center (this is where you’ll find the Louvre), and spiraling outward from there.

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When deciding where to stay in Paris, try not to put too much stock in being near any particular attraction.

Paris’ main sights are spread far and wide in its arrondissements (a few examples: the Eiffel Tower is in the 7th, the Louvre in the 1st, Montmartre in the 18th, and Notre Dame in the 4th), and wherever you end up staying, you’ll be traveling through the city during your stay.

Here’s how to get around during your itinerary for 3 days in Paris!

ranger storm sitting on a ledge in paris france with the eiffel tower in the background

The Metro

Paris’ metro system is extremely dense and developed.

Other than walking, we recommend using it as your main method of transportation while in Paris.

The easiest way to purchase tickets is as a carnet, or group of 10 tickets at a time, and replenish as you run out.

However, if you happen to purchase the Paris Pass, access to the bus, metro, and RER systems are all included, so you won’t need to purchase separate tickets.

Taxis & Uber

Taxis and Uber are both prevalent in the city, though high prices and heavy traffic make them a less attractive option than the metro. Lyft is not available in Paris.

Photo of a pink and white train in a station in Paris. You can see the Eiffel Tower in the top right of the photo. If you follow this 3 day Paris itinerary, you might take this train to Versailles.

Walking

Walking is our absolute favorite way to get around Paris, which is part of why this 3 days in Paris itinerary includes the option to walk so much.

Not only do you save money and work off the copious amounts of pain au chocolat you’re probably consuming, but you also get to discover Paris at its very best: adorable side streets, cute cafes, gorgeous buildings, enormous dog population, and all.

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Do not rent a car in Paris.

Parking is an expensive nightmare, driving is difficult and traffic-laden, and the metro system is extensive and functional.

Renting a car in Paris is far more trouble than it is worth, and that’s without even including the cost of doing so as a factor. Just don’t do it.

Paris Itinerary 3 Days: Getting Around Paris

The Paris Pass & Paris Museum Pass: Worth the Money?

If you follow this 3 days in Paris itinerary, a full Paris Pass likely won’t be worth the money unless you are going to be using a lot of transportation.

If you want access to benefits like a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour, you may want to consider it.

The Paris Museum Pass, though a better fit for this 3 day Paris itinerary than the Paris Pass is, still isn’t likely to be worth the money as compared to buying tickets individually.

In 2022, with so many tickets easily available for online purchase in advance, a lot of the convenience of city passes and museum passes has been left behind, leaving only monetary benefit as a reason to buy one.

If you have your heart set on visiting several other small museums in Paris not covered on this itinerary that are included with the pass (check the list carefully, as what is included and excluded can be a bit surprising), you may be able to get a good deal.

Please note that if you do purchase a Paris Museum Pass, you’ll still need to sign up for a timed entry reservation for the Louvre.

exterior of the louvre with ferris wheel in the background

When to Visit Paris for 3 Days

There is no bad time of year to spend 3 days in Paris.

In the spring, you’ll see beautiful flowers (and if you’re lucky, even cherry blossoms!), and get to see the city in full bloom.

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In the summer, Paris is at its sunniest and warmest, and it’s the perfect time of year for long evenings spent outside of adorable cafes.

In the fall, the autumn foliage is stunning.

In the winter, you can experience Paris at its emptiest and with its lowest prices (but it’s all relative–this is still Paris).

2022 galeries lafayette christmas tree hanging under dome in paris france
Galeries Lafayette hangs an astounding Christmas tree each year–this is 2022’s version!

It doesn’t typically snow in Paris, but December does offer the bonus of Christmas decorations and decor!

We’ve now been lucky enough to visit Paris during most months of the year, and haven’t had a bad trip yet.

Whenever you have a chance to visit, go: no matter what time of year it is, it is the perfect time to be in Paris.

Three Days in Paris Itinerary: Pantheon, Latin Quarter

Staying Safe During This Itinerary for Paris

Traveling in Paris is generally a very safe activity, but like in all large cities (and especially large cities crawling with tourists), scams and petty crime run rampant.

Beware anyone approaching you asking you to sign a petition, offering you a rose or “friendship bracelet”, or enticing you to buy a “gold” ring that they “found”.

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In general, keep an eye on your belongings, watch out for pickpockets (especially in crowds), and avoid getting overly intoxicated  (especially alone or late at night).

In other words: use common sense.

Generally speaking, the riskiest places for encountering potential scams or pickpockets are in the areas most dominated by tourists–near the Eiffel Tower, for example, or in front of the Louvre.

Keep your wits about you, but there’s no reason to be overly worried: millions of people safely visit Paris each year, and we’ve never had any trouble.

kate storm and ranger storm standing on the banks of the seine with eiffel tower in the background

An anti-theft purse or backpack can help add a layer of protection from petty theft, though of course you’ll still need to be vigilant.

We’ve happily used this anti-theft backpack for years, and a couple of our friends swear by this one.

If you’re not used to traveling in large cities, you could also consider using a money belt during your Paris vacation.

This is up to you: we no longer use one, and thieves are certainly aware of them, but if you’re more comfortable having your valuables more secure than they are in your pockets while exploring, it’s an option.

We used to use this one and had no complaints. These days, we prefer just to leave valuables in our Pacsafe during the day.

Paris Three Day Itinerary: View of Montmartre

What to Wear in Paris, France

Our general rule of traveling is that we never expect to (or try to) pass as locals, but we aim to look like ex-pats or frequent travelers that at least know what we’re doing… and, okay, in Paris, we want to look somewhat good.

It is Paris, after all.

The big key to blending in and looking fashionable in Paris? Less is more.

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Think lots of dark colors (I swear, 90% of Parisian women we saw on our most recent winter trip were wearing a black coat), fashionable jeans or pants, and cute dresses.

Flats or boots for women depending on the season and casual loafers or boots for men are just fine–much more important than the exact shoe is that they’re very comfortable and well broken in.

For men, think fitted slacks or jeans, and fitted shirts. Not particularly fancy or dressed up, but not sloppy, either.

Kate Storm in a blue and white dress looking away from the camera on a skybridge in Galeries Lafayette, one of the best places for photography in Paris

We generally consider the whole “Europeans don’t wear jeans!” rule to be either complete fiction or at least wildly outdated, but Parisians certainly don’t tend to wear baggy, ill-fitting, or worn-out ones, either.

Bottom line? Don’t worry too much about what to wear in Paris–we find that people tend to overthink it.

Pack clothes you’re comfortable in, leaning toward classic, basic styles, and dark colors, and you’ll blend right in (as much as any tourist can).

And hey, if you get there and feel completely out of place in your wardrobe, Paris is a pretty fantastic place to shop!

Photo of a piece of the Eiffel Tower sticking out from behind a tree with a sun flare on the left of the screen--you'll definitely see plenty of the Eiffel Tower during yoru weekend in Paris!

What to Pack for Paris

Travel Insurance — We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen, and this is definitely a case of better safe than sorry. We use and recommend Safety Wing for trips to Paris.

Travel Adaptors for France — If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll definitely need adaptors for your electronics.

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Swiss Army Knife  — AKA, your handy baguette-and-cheese-slicer plus wine bottle opener all in one–it’s a Parisian essential!

Pacsafe  — We bring this with us everywhere these days. Simply place your important belongings inside before you leave for the day, string the safe around the sturdiest thing in the room (the base of the toilet or a pipe under the sink is a good option), and voila! You’re good to go.

cafe in paris france getting ready to open for the day

Travel Journal — I personally love the One Line a Day Journal that covers 5 years–you write one sentence a day, and every date is on the same page through the years (so, for example, you can easily see what you were doing on all the April 18th’s).

I adore the concept (I’m currently on my second volume), and a quick sentence each day is about all I can commit to in a journal!

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Camera — This one comes from personal experience: on our first trip to Paris in late 2013, we took all of our photos on our cell phones, and we definitely regret it.

While phone photography has come a long way in the last decade, if you’re even the tiniest bit into photography as a hobby, definitely bring the camera.

We recently upgraded to our Sony a7R III and absolutely love it, but whatever camera you’re comfortable with works–just make sure you have something with you to preserve your memories! 

Photo from Abbey Bookshop in Paris. There are the tops of spines of books visible in the foreground and a tote bag that says "Abbey Bookshop" in the background.

RuMe Bag — Incredibly light and easy to pack, a RuMe bag can serve as a grocery bag, beach bag, laundry bag, or just about anything else.

They’re incredibly handy and we recommend adding one to your packing list. We’ve been carrying ours for years and it never stops coming in handy!

Reusable Water Bottle — Even in fashionable cities like Paris, we always prefer to keep water with us—it saves both money and plastic as compared to buying water bottles along the way.

hall of mirrors in palais garnier, one of the most romantic places in paris france

Hand Sanitizer — We’ve never been sorry to have this floating around in our day bag.

Money Belt — This is up to you: we no longer use one, but if you’re more comfortable having your passports with you at all times in Paris, you can consider bringing one.

We used to use this one and had no complaints. These days, we prefer just to leave valuables in our Pacsafe during the day.

Your 3 Day Paris Itinerary Map

Take This Map With You! Click each highlight to pull up the name of the destination. To save this map to “Your Places” on Google Maps, click the star to the right of the title. You’ll then be able to find it under the Maps tab of your Google Maps account! To open the map in a new window, click the button on the top right of the map.


3 Days in Paris Itinerary
About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

47 thoughts on “The Ultimate 3 Days in Paris Itinerary”

  1. Your itinerary seems to cover all the major attractions of Paris in a tightly packed schedule. I’m bookmarking this for future reference for whenever I finally manage to make my way down to Paris. Nice photos, I particularly enjoyed the ones taken from the gargoyles’ perch.

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  2. I never say no to a trip to Paris, even though I’ve been many times. Still haven’t seen Saint Chappelle or the Luxembourg Gardens though! Those stained glass windows are stunning. Looks like I have to make it back for trip no. 5!

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  3. That’s a great itinerary for a short trip! I loved all the crepe vendors, I ate one too many banana Nutella crepes while there. Did you have a chance to go to Angelina? Best hot chocolate ever!

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  4. I have never been to Paris so this guide is just perfect for me! You curated the itinerary very thoughtfully. It has a mix of touristy as well as offbeat things to do! I love walking and public transport, so this guide feels like it is tailor made for me!

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  5. I have been to Paris many many times before so i was curious if your list has something that I havent seen yet and indees there are two things! The galery Lafayette although I knew its existence. However, the catacombs is new to me! But if I am not wrong, they made a horror movie about or inspired about this? The title is “Upside…” something.

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    • Ha, yes there is! It’s called “As Above, So Below”. It came out a year or so after we first visited the catacombs, so of course we had to go see it. It was only an okay movie, but the shots of Paris and the catacombs were more than enough to keep us entertained.

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  6. What a fantastic itinerary! I love how you’ve planned each day out. It would be an exhausting three days, but it would be worth it!

    When we were in Paris, we never made it over to Versaillas. I hope to do that next time we’re there, plus visit in the spring for those beautiful cherry blossom in front of the Eiffel Tower pics! 🙂

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    • I hear you on the Eiffel Tower pictures!! Both of our visits have been in winter so far (technically this one was at the beginning of spring, but Paris’ flowers hadn’t bloomed yet), and I want those iconic cherry blossom views!!

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    • Thanks, Sue! I hear you on wanting to return–I think I said “I miss Paris” out loud at least a dozen times while writing this post. 🙂

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  7. This is such a great itinerary for Paris. I made it to several of your suggestions during my visit but missed a few. Seeing you with that crepe made my mouth water. I loved the banana/nutella/strawberry crepes-amazing!!

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    • Haven’t actually tried that combo yet–next time I’ll need to! The one I’m holding is a butter & sugar–so simple and yet so tasty.

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  8. I love Paris!! We visited last May and couldn’t wait to go back again! There are a few spots we missed like Musee d’Orsay and Luxembourg Garden. Definitely need to go back when we’re in the city next time. I don’t know about the catacombs though 😛

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    • Ha, you’re not the only one! Some people aren’t into the whole bones thing… we find it completely fascinating, though. 😛

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  9. This is a perfect itinerary for me. I am keeping it for my future visit to Paris. Wow Paris is still a dream. I am sold on the Sainte-Chapelle. Its such a stunning architecture. Someday I will make to to this destination. I loved your guide for the clothing. Great post.

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  10. We are planning to visit Paris in July. Such a gorgeous place and there is so much to see and do there. can’t wait to explore and take some pretty pictures for sure 🙂

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  11. Excellent guide, I’ve been to Paris twice, the first time I had about 8 days and the 2nd time was only over a weekend so this itinerary would have been helpful! I was there in the middle of summer though and it was stinking hot. I love the French fashion and style but it was hard to dress in style with such heat! Excellent advice in this piece.

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    • I’ve heard the heat can be killer! Hoping to make it in the summer one of these days to feel it for myself–worth it to see all the beautiful gardens in bloom, hopefully. 🙂

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  12. One of the best destination! It’s also known for its French architecture and mouthwatering variety. Thanks for the reminder that it doesn’t matter how long you wait until traveling, just that everybody can start once.

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  13. I stumbled on your site while planning a trip to Italy (Florence and Rome), Monte Carlo, Paris and London in July 2019. I loved all of your itineraries for Florence, Rome and Paris. I’ve been to Paris (but that was 30 years ago), and visited all the spots you mention. That being said, I’m eager to see them all again. Thanks for your suggestions on what to see in 2 or 3 days in each of these cities. You definitely helped me plan out our days so they make the most sense. I cannot wait until we get there!

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    • Thank you so much, Melissa! The detailed trip itineraries are honestly some of my favorite things to write, and nothing makes me happier than hearing that other people found them useful.

      Your trip sounds fantastic–hope that you have an amazing time in July!

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  14. Hi Kate, I, like many others here, stumbled across your site while planning our 1st trip to Paris coming up May 2019. My husband and I will be in Paris for 3.5 days. So this itinerary seems perfect. Since I am a planner and wanting to make sure I can plan and purchase tickets to the museums and such ahead of time, I don’t want to feel so committed as well in case we change our minds or want to see something (like the Eiffel Tower) at night rather than mid day. I certainly do not want to spend hours in lines to purchase tickets and then another hour in line to view the museums. Any suggestions on pre-arrival planning and do some of the tour companies offer cancellations up to a day in advance? Thank you for this great information. I will be using it as a guideline for our trip. We will be headed to Barcelona after… have you been?

    Reply
    • Hi Karen!

      We use Get Your Guide for buying all our tickets and tours in Paris–you can buy skip-the-line passes to things like the Arc de Triomphe through them and then just show the ticket on your phone at any time that day (we just did that one personally last August). In Paris, we normally book our tickets for whatever we want to do that morning before heading out for the day and download them to our phones, so we stay pretty flexible while also having our tickets ready to go and avoiding lines during the day.

      This is perfect for museum entrances, visiting the Palais Garnier and Versailles, etc. Where it becomes an issue is with the Eiffel Tower (which is a special case requiring a time slot) and guided tours–if you’re looking for a guided tour of the Louvre, for example, that will be time-sensitive and we really recommend booking at least a few days in advance (especially in May, which is a popular time to visit Paris).

      What I’d recommend in your case is to book any timed experiences (food tours, Eiffel Tower climb, guided tours) ahead of time and then using those to structure the rest of your trip. Pretty much everything else can be bought day-of, though we definitely still recommend buying skip-the-line tickets online to avoid lines. Cancellation policies will be a company-by-company thing, but I know Get Your Guide usually allows cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.

      We have not been to Barcelona yet, but would love to go soon! We thought about going this April, actually, but getting back to Italy again won out (as it so often does with us).

      Hope you have an amazing trip!

      Reply
  15. I am taking my husband and 2 children to Paris in July 2020. We are also going on to Rome and Florence. I have been to Paris for work. My family has never been. We are thinking 3 days in Paris. Should we go for 4 and reduce our time in Italy, or can we see enough in Paris?

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    • Hi Nicole!

      I would say it depends on how long you have to spend in Rome and Florence. Ideally, I’d say the minimum number of days to spend in each city is 3 days in Paris, 3 in Rome, and 2 in Florence–though you could easily triple the time in any of them and still leave with lots left to do!

      They happen to be 3 of our favorite cities in the entire world–we visit all of them regularly–so in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with extra time in any of them.

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  16. Hello, thank you for the comprehensive and interesting itinerary!

    However, the day that I’m arriving happens to be on a Tuesday, which I heard that Louvre would be closed. May I know how I can switch my itinerary around?

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    • Sure thing! Of course there are a million ways to do so, but the easiest would be to swap the Louvre and Montmartre on your itinerary–so see Montmartre the afternoon of day one and the Louvre the afternoon of day three. 🙂

      Hope you have a great time!

      Reply
  17. Hi,loved your article. I am an armchair traveller and My son is on his first backpacking trip to Europe ,I read through lot of articles and found yours the best,sent him the links and he followed them almost to the the T, except doing Louvre in the evening as after 6 pm,as it’s open for students. Thanks a lot.

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    • Thanks so much, Asiya! So glad your son had a great time–we love visiting the Louvre at night as well, it has such a nice atmosphere in the evenings.

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  18. WOW!! What a great itinerary, practically covered with many, if not all the places you should definitely know if you want to go to Paris, I would love to be able to take my girlfriend for a journey to know Paris, I will definitely take into consideration these places, I would like the idea of being able to visit the catacombs, however she is very scary, so I think she won’t be interested much hehe

    Reply
  19. Hi Kate,
    Your itinerary for Paris is as good as it gets. I am planning a trip to Europe in June 2020 with Paris as the first stop.
    Stay will be for 3 days which is perfect as per the itinerary. However, the only glitch is that our arrival will most probably be at 14:20 LT in Paris. Which means that after checking in at the hotel, we may make it for the evening cruise only. Our arrival will be most probably on 1st June and will leave Paris on 04th June. Will it be enough or should I add one more day?

    Reply
    • Thanks, Sanjeev! To do absolutely everything on this Paris itinerary you might need another day, but if it doesn’t fit into your trip, no worries at all! You can still have a great trip and just either hurry through the sights a bit or cut whichever 1-2 things appeal to you the least–whichever fits your travel preferences more.

      Reply

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