A funny thing happens every time we go to Paris: we tend to cross several things off of our Paris bucket list, only to leave the City of Light with a wish list of things to do in Paris that is even longer than when we started.
That’s the nature of Paris: its layers are so complex, so interwoven, and so interesting, that no one trip or even lifetime is enough to discover all of its secrets.
… which, of course, won’t stop us from trying.
If you’re planning a trip to Paris and are looking for the best Paris attractions and sightseeing ideas, you’ve come to the right place.
Based on a combination of our lived experiences during many trips to the city and our personal gigantic bucket list for Paris, here are the absolute best things to do in Paris!
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After This Paris Bucket List…
Once you finish reading about the best things to do in Paris here, we’d love to help you plan your trip to the City of Light in more detail!
Here on Our Escape Clause, we have more than 20 detailed guides on traveling in Paris–and that’s not even counting our guides about the rest of France!
Other Paris travel guides include tips on the best Paris photo spots, incredible day trips from Paris, how to budget for a trip to Paris, what to do in Paris at night, and tips on where to find hidden gems in Paris.
For the lovebirds out there, we even have a Paris honeymoon guide.
We’ll continue to link detailed guides throughout this Paris blog post, but we also recommend using the search bar in the top right corner of the screen if you’re looking for more information on Paris!
Top Attractions in Paris
Admire the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero Gardens.
If there’s one thing that virtually all visitors to Paris have in common, it’s that seeing the Eiffel Tower is at the top of their bucket list for Paris!
There’s no better first view of the tower to experience than the one from the iconic Trocadero Gardens–bonus points if you can get there for sunrise.
Enjoy the view from the Arc de Triomphe.
Home to one of our personal favorite views of Paris, looking out over Paris from the Arc de Triomphe is an unforgettable experience.
Skip the giant lines and book your tickets for the Arc de Triomphe today!
Explore the Louvre.
From the Mona Lisa to the Winged Victory of Samothrace to Venus de Milo to full apartments used by Napoleon III and so, so much more (it’s truly impossible to appreciate the Louvre in its entirety in one or even ten visits), the largest museum in the world is one of the best Paris attractions for very good reason!
Lines at the Louvre get notoriously long–plan ahead and book your visit to the Louvre today!
Tour the Palais Garnier.
Paris’ legendary opera house is even more beautiful in person, from the gilded Hall of Mirrors to the sweeping staircases and beyond.
And, of course, you don’t need to only tour the opera house during the day–you can also attend a show at night!
Purchase your skip-the-line tickets for the Palais Garnier today!
Stroll along the banks of the Seine.
A walk along the Seine is one of the best things to do in Paris!
For a good starting point, consider walking from Pont Neuf to Notre Dame along the Left Bank, enjoying the views of Il de la Cite along the way.
Admire the stunning Notre Dame.
… and on that note, no Paris sightseeing trip is complete without soaking in views of Notre Dame–even after the tragic fire of April 2019, it’s worth at least admiring the front facade and iconic towers from afar.
Soaring ceilings that reach 15 meters high and walls made almost entirely of intricate stained glass: the upper chapel of Sainte-Chapelle almost defies belief, and it is, in my opinion, one of the most magnificent houses of worship anywhere on the planet.
Built in the 13th century to house an impressive collection of Christian relics (including the Crown of Thorns, which now typically lives at Notre Dame), Sainte-Chapelle is a Gothic masterpiece that should absolutely be on your Parisian bucket list.
Skip the line at Sainte Chapelle and purchase your ticket in advance!
Explore Paris’ covered passages.
Built primarily in the 19th century, the covered passages are home to a delightful array of shops, galleries, restaurants, and more, each with their own personality and focus.
There are around 20 in all these days, but if you’re busy exploring lots of Paris attractions and want a few to put on your radar, we can suggest Passage des Panoramas (it dates to 1799), Galerie Vero-Dodat for an easy-to-access location and lovely interior, and Galerie Vivienne for a downright beautiful space (be sure to stop by the gorgeous Librairie Jousseaume if you visit).
Stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens.
Obviously, the Luxembourg Gardens are most impressive in the spring and summer, but they’re worth visiting regardless of the 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.
Tour the Musee d’Orsay.
Housed in the former Gare d’Orsay train station, Musee d’Orsay is known for its large collection of impressionist work.
It’s also, indisputably, one of the best art museums in Paris.
Reserve tickets for a visit to the Musee d’Orsay today!
Cross the Pont Alexandre III.
Considered the most beautiful bridge in Paris, this opulent work of art is best admired up close.
Take a walk down the Champs-Elysses.
Quite honestly, the Champs-Elysses is far from my personal favorite place in Paris–it’s generally extremely crowded with both people and vehicle traffic–but there’s no denying that it’s one of the most popular attractions in Paris!
Regardless of whether you want to shop, though, it’s still worth stopping by for one very important reason: the Arc de Triomphe!
See the artists at work in Montmartre’s Place du Tertre.
Touristy or not, there’s something incredibly fun about seeing painters busy at work in the Place du Tertre, and a stop here deserves to be on your bucket list for Paris.
… and wander over to Sacre-Coeur.
Of course, no trip to Montmartre could fail to include a visit to the stunning Sacre-Coeur.
If you’re up for even more of a climb once you read it, head to the top for one of the best views of Paris!
Interesting Paris Sightseeing Experiences
Browse the bouquinistes.
These outdoor sellers of books, oddities, antiques, and (these days) souvenirs are such an integral part of the Parisian culture that they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Check out the Colonnes de Buren.
Located only a short walk from the Louvre, this popular art installation dates from the 1980s and is quite controversial–one person’s quirky space is another person’s blight on the city.
No matter what your opinion is, it’s worth stopping by to see these unusual columns in person.
Track down Paris’ prettiest carousels.
Paris is full of gorgeous carousels, all of which are worth photographing.
Some of the most popular (and easiest to find) are the Trocadero Carousel, the Eiffel Tower Carousel, and the Sacre-Coeur Carousel.
Discover a Parisian neighborhood through a food tour.
Paris’ neighborhoods are a large part of its magic, and each one has a distinct flavor–sometimes literally!
Dive deep into a neighborhood of your choice–popular options include Marais, the Latin Quarter, and Montmartre–through one of the best and most endlessly entertaining ways to explore a culture: food.
This Marais food tour explores one of Paris’ prettiest neighborhoods and is a fabulous option!
Spend an evening on bustling Rue Montorgueil.
Packed with bars, restaurants, cafes, and shops, popular Rue Montorgueil (located in both the 1e and 2e) is the perfect place to sample several different spots in Paris at night.
Perhaps start with a pastry from the oldest bakery in Paris at Stohrer (it closes at 8:30 PM), then head to a nearby cafe for a glass of wine, and then on to a restaurant for dinner, while enjoying the hectic atmosphere of countless Parisians and tourists alike out for a fun night in Paris along the way.
Step inside Shakespeare & Co.
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: 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.
Here’s why to visit today: it’s delightful and beautiful, they’ll stamp any books you buy with their seal on the title page (great souvenirs!), there’s a cat who lives upstairs, and the view from the second-floor window over the Seine and toward Notre Dame is divine.
… and The Abbey Bookshop.
Located just a short walk away from the more-famous Shakespeare & Co. in the Latin Quarter, the dizzyingly packed shelves and cramped corridors of The Abbey Bookshop (another English-language bookstore in Paris) make it an incredibly fun Paris bucket list destination for bibliophiles.
Check out Paris’ most famous optical illusion.
If you stand on the hill while climbing up to Sacre Coeur and look to the right, you’ll see a red brick building jutting out into the view.
With a twist of the camera, this spot becomes the famous sinking house of Montmartre–which is, of course, not actually sinking at all.
Explore the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
Shaded and utterly beautiful, the Pere Lachaise Cemetery feels, in some ways, like a peaceful park… just one that happens to be covered in ornate mausoleums.
Though a bit out of the way for many people with a limited time for sightseeing in Paris, the Pere Lachaise Cemetery is an interesting place to visit. It is also home to several famous graves, including those of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde.
Seek out the picturesque cafes of Montmartre.
Paris is covered in idyllic cafes, of course, but two of the most famous–Le Consulat and La Maison Rose–are mere steps away from each other in Montmartre.
Seasonal Things to Do in Paris
Admire the Christmas tree at the Galeries Lafayette.
The Galeries Lafayette department store is worth visiting year-round, but there is no better time to see than during Christmas when a gigantic Christmas tree is suspended from the ceiling in its stained-glass dome.
The decor and theme change from year to year, ensuring that this is one Paris bucket list item that never gets old!
Go ice-skating with Eiffel Tower views.
Is there any more iconic place to go ice skating that when overlooked by the Iron Lady?
Enjoy the Christmas markets.
Admire the cherry blossoms.
From roughly mid-March to mid-April each year, Paris is treated to a positively explosive show of pink in the form of gorgeous cherry blossoms that bloom throughout the city.
… and the wisteria.
The short (often only weeks-long) wisteria season in Paris quickly follows the cherry blossom season, generally appearing from late-April to early-May.
Those weeks, though, are an absolute delight for those who love seeking out beautiful blooms in Paris.
More Fun Things to Do in Paris
Enjoy the view from the Galeries Lafayette rooftop.
This free view of the Paris skyline boasts not only the Eiffel Tower but an up-close view of the Palais Garnier!
Take a day trip to Versailles.
Of all the possible day trips from Paris, none is more iconic than the over-the-top Palace of Versailles, known for its incredible garden, iconic Hall of Mirrors, and for being a symbol of the power and wealth of the monarchy during a time when that became absolutely untenable to the French people.
Today, visitors can visit several royal residences on the property, as well as tour the expansive gardens.
We have a full guide to visiting Versailles to help you make the most of your day!
Book your skip-the-line tickets to Versailles today!
Learn to bake macarons.
One of the most memorable Paris experiences we’ve ever had was spending an afternoon learning to bake macarons!
We spent an afternoon learning how to make beautiful, delicate, and delicious macarons with Le Foodist, and we can’t recommend the class (or the resulting leftovers) enough.
Another consequence? We appreciate the work that goes into each and every macaron we eat in Paris even more now.
Book your macaron baking class with Le Foodist!
Get lost in Paris’ many beautiful neighborhoods.
Wandering through Paris’ beautiful and idyllic neighborhoods and watching the atmosphere and architecture change as you move between them will always be one of the best things to do in Paris.
If you’re hoping to stroll a bit aimlessly through a beautiful part of Paris during your trip, the Latin Quarter, Marais, Il de la Cite, and Montmartre are all gorgeous places to start that feel distinctly different from each other.
Stop by the oldest clock in Paris.
Located on Il de la Cite, take a look at the Tour de l’Horloge on the side of the Conciergerie when sightseeing in Paris.
Here you’ll be able to take a peek at the oldest clock in the city, which was installed in the 14th century, is still ticking along to this day, and also happens to be incredibly beautiful.
Admire the view from Montparnasse Tower.
The Montparnasse Tower just may be the ugliest building in Paris… but there’s no denying that it has an absolutely magnificent view of the city (plus, as a bonus, you can’t see the tower in your photos).
Explore the Great Mosque of Paris.
Built in a Spanish-Moorish style, the Great Mosque of Paris is not only a beautiful place to visit in the city, it’s a place with plenty to do: want to visit a hammam, check out a library, or sip a mint tea?
You can do all of that here–in between admiring the beautiful mosaics and minaret, of course.
Enjoy a crepe.
Ordering a crepe from a street vendor and enjoying it with a beautiful view is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Paris!
Step inside La Conciergerie.
Though it is located on Il de la Cite with so many iconic Parisian buildings, La Conciergerie flies under the radar of Paris tourism as compared to its neighbors Sainte-Chapelle (which is part of the same complex) and, of course, Notre Dame.
La Conciergerie has served many purposes over the centuries, including as a medieval palace, but it is perhaps best known these days for its use as a prison.
During France’s Reign of Terror, thousands of people were held inside the dungeons of Conciergerie, including Marie Antoinette.
Enjoy a day at Disneyland Paris.
… because there’s no better way to feel like a kid again than by taking a trip to Disney!
Book your tickets for Disneyland Paris today!
Take a Parisian perfume workshop!
Curious about what goes into Paris’ world-famous perfumes?
Consider taking a perfume workshop to learn all about the science behind those lovely scents (and maybe take a perfume or two home yourself, too).
Learn all about perfume making (and even take home your own bottle!) with this Parisian perfume workshop!
Enjoy a wine tasting in the city.
Don’t have the time or inclination to take a day trip to wine country? That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some delicious French wine and cheese!
Try an indoor tasting at a wine cellar in Paris to experience some wonderful wines while staying in the heart of the city.
Wine, cheese, and lunch: this wine class is a fantastic way to enjoy an afternoon in Paris.
See a classic movie in Paris.
Paris is dotted with classic movie theatres dating back to the first third of the 20th century, complete with stunning interiors and opulent decor–and several of them are still open for business!
In many, vintage movies are shown, and typically in their original language.
Grab a treat at the oldest patisserie in Paris.
Welcome to Stohrer, which was founded by King Louis XV’s pastry chef himself–Nicholas Stohrer.
The patisserie dates back to 1730, and while it has a few locations now, the historic shop at 51 Rue Montorgueil is the one to head to when exploring the best things to see in Paris!
Take a cruise on the Seine.
Touristy? Yes. Lots of fun? Also yes!
If you’re looking to rest your feet while continuing to soak in beautiful views of Paris, you can’t beat a Seine river cruise.
This well-reviewed Seine River Cruise is a great option that includes dinner!
Marvel at the Church of Saint-Sulpice.
As the second-largest church in Paris (after Notre Dame, of course), the Church of Saint Sulpice is a quiet respite from the crowds of Paris’ most popular churches, while also being stunningly beautiful and free to visit.
Be sure to check out the interesting gnomon, which was built to help determine astrological events based on the position of the sun, and is best noticed today by the brass line cutting across part of the floor of the church.
Cross the Pont des Arts.
This Parisian bridge may not be as beautiful as the Pont Alexandre III, but it boasts a fantastic view: if you stand in the center of the Pont des Arts, you’ll have a picture-perfect view of the tip of Il de la Cite.
Browse a Parisian flea market.
On the hunt for a unique, vintage souvenir? Add a flea market to your bucket list for Paris!
The most famous option is the overwhelmingly gigantic Les Puces (“the fleas”) at Clignancourt, but there are other options such as the Vanves Flea Market as well.
See a cabaret show.
Paris’ cabaret shows are legendary–just look at the enduring fame of the Moulin Rouge for proof–and while they are often considered a bit touristy these days, isn’t that part of the fun of visiting Paris?
If you’ve always dreamed of seeing a Parisian cabaret show (or just spent a lot of afternoons binging Moulin Rouge as a teenager), consider adding a cabaret show to your list of what to do in Paris!
Book a night out in Paris at the Moulin Rouge today!
Prefer a bigger night out?
This popular tour not only includes the Moulin Rouge, but also a 3-course dinner, a Seine river cruise and views from the Eiffel Tower!
See a different side of Paris at the catacombs.
Technically an ossuary and not catacombs, this Paris highlight is a bit spooky and unusual, but an absolute must-do in Paris (unless you get freaked out by bones, that is).
Set in Paris’ former quarries, the catacombs hold millions of former Parisians… but they didn’t start their time in the afterlife there.
Enjoy breakfast the French way.
Explore the Museum of Counterfeiting.
Among all the tiny, offbeat, secret Paris museums (and there are many), the Museum of Counterfeiting just may have the most interesting concept.
Made up of a collection of over 500 pieces of counterfeit merchandise, from pharmaceuticals to handbags, the Museum of Counterfeiting is a fascinating look into the fake.
While many items are donated, others are (legally) acquired from the police or customs, making this growing collection quite the quirky one.