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Best things to do in Paris in 2 days – The Best Paris Itinerary

Looking for a weekend getaway into the City of Lights? What can you do in 2 days? Thankfully, it’s possible to see the best of the city in this Paris itinerary: everything you need to see in Paris in 2 days!

Traveling to Paris has been my lifelong dream. The city of lights is known for its grandiose and classic architecture, rich history, amazing food, and lots of different things. I also had to experience the beauty of French language which was like music to my ears. Please tell me I’m not alone!

Paris in 2 days. How to explore paris in 2 days
Going old school: the Map of Paris’ train system is a life-saver

Back home, most of my friends, like most people who dreamed of visiting Paris, are limited in time. Here are their most common questions about traveling to Paris:

Is it possible to do Paris in 2 days?

Paris is a big city with 20 districts, almost a hundred landmarks and tourist attractions, and tons of things to do. You’ll probably need weeks to visit all the landmarks and truly experience Paris. Even then, the day to day itinerary would still be jam-packed. Luckily, the more famous tourist attractions in Paris can be visited in 2 days, just be sure to ready your feet to a hectic day of walking nonstop and getting on and off buses and trains.

How to explore Paris in 2 days?

I am usually a long-term traveler, exploring by myself, and I avoid tours when I can. However, I only had 2 days to spare for Paris when I went on my Euro trip. Doing bus tours seem to be the more convenient way of exploring Paris. The day pass only costs 30 euros and it will get you to the most popular tourist attractions in Paris. Using the train and subway would probably cost less but many of these attractions are not on the way and you might have to walk quite a bit, and taxis are crazy expensive in the city. Bus tours stop directly at the tourist spots and they let you off to explore on your own. When you are ready to go to the next stop, just wait and hop on to the next the bus to take you there.

Things to do in Paris in 2 days – sample itinerary

Day 1 Itinerary for Best things to do in Paris

The following destinations can be visited by availing the Hop on Hop off bus or just simply hopping on the train station. The genius of Paris railway system will enable you to visit its popular landmarks.

1. Eiffel Tower and Champs de Mars

You haven’t been to Paris if you didn’t go visit Eiffel Tower. Spend at most an hour walking around the Eiffel tower and maybe eat your baguette while sitting on fresh grass, marveling at the view on the grounds of Champs de Mars.

The morning is also the best time to go up the tower since the queue is usually shorter than the rest of the day. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend going up as the view from above isn’t the prettiest anyway.

The most iconic landmark in Paris and perhaps in the whole world is easily accessible by train. It is also the first stop of the Big Bus tours. The tour will start at 9:30am.

Eiffel tower - best things to do in paris in 2 days
Eiffel Tower, need i say more?

2. Les Invalides

Les Invalides is a complex of buildings that houses several military museums, tombs of high-ranking military officials, as well as a hospital and retirement home for war veterans or the invalids, hence the name. Perhaps Les Invalides is most famous for being the resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte, once France’s emperor.

Les Invalides is definitely a must-visit especially for war history buffs. The ornate design of the building paired by the rich history that it holds with regards to the military history of France is something that should not be missed when visiting Paris.

3. Notre Dame

The old church built on an island in the middle of Seine river is one of the most popular landmarks in the world, made-famous by the classic Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Notre Dame is a magnificent structure adorned by stained glass windows, buttresses, and gargoyles looking out on the Seine.

Update: a fire has ravaged Notre Dame recently but it is now under reconstruction. People can still go visit the site.

4. Garnier Opera

Another must-see place in Paris especially for those who have the taste for the art of the opera is Garnier Opera House or the Palais Garnier, also known as the Paris Opera House. If you have extra time in Paris, be sure to catch ballet shows and operas. If not, admire the impressive and unique Grand Staircase, massive chandeliers, and intricately design mirrors and mosaics.

5. Champs Elysee and the Arc de Triomphe

Champs Elysee is perhaps one of the best-known avenues in the world lined with designer stores, fancy restaurants, and high end and very expensive apartments. Shopping and dining in Champs Elysee will definitely cost a fortune. Most Parisians agree though that the avenue has catered to tourists more and therefore doesn’t give you that authentic Paris in terms of food and overall French experience anymore.

Champs Elysee- best things to do in paris in 2 days
Champs Elysee is filled with high-end shops and restaurants.

 At the end of the avenue at Place Charles de Gaulle is another iconic structure, the Arc de Triomphe. The imposing monument was built to honor people who fought during the French revolution and the wars during the Napoleonic era. For a fee, you can climb up the Arc de Triomphe to get a view of the Champs Elysee all the way to its other end, the Obelisk of Luxor at Place de la Concorde.

Arc de triomphe - best things to do in Paris in 2 days
Arc de Triomphe

6. Grand Palais

Grand Palais is an expression of an art movement in Paris, called the Beaux Art movement, showcasing the use of stone fascades, innovative vaulted roofs made with glass, iron and steel lighting up the main space. Truly, the Grand Palais is easily recognizable  along Champs Elysee because of its uniqueness from other surrounding buildings. Grand Palais houses different art and science exhibits.

7. Trocadero

Before ending the trip at Eiffel tower, the bus will make a stop at Trocadero. A lot of tourists go here for better photography opportunities of the famous tower, perhaps even better than photos taken from Champs de Mars. Many of the Instragam photos of influencers are taken from Trocadero.

Trocadero - best things to do in Paris in 2 days
Get your insta-worthy selfies here at Trocadero

8. Eiffel Tower at night

I decided to walk around Paris at night to discover how it is, afterall, it’s the city of lights. I also had a taste of some crepes sold on the streets just outside the tower. So for first time Paris visitors, I was amazed to know that light shows actually decorate the Eiffel tower at night! The light show starts at around 6 and comes on every 30 minutes. I sat there for a while until a group of men followed me around. They cat called me all the time even when I pretended I was in a group. It was such a scary experience that i ended up going home early.

Eiffel Tower at night - best things to do in Paris in 2 days
I truly believe Eiffel tower is more beautiful at night

Day 2 Itinerary for Best things to do in Paris

1. Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum is a huge museum housing 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres (782,910 square feet) according to wikipedia. The most popular display is the world-renowned Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. You probably need a day or 2 to see most of the museum.

Louvre Museum - best things to do in Paris in 2 days
Louvre Museum

On my second day, i decided to check out of my hostel early. I took the train direct to Louvre and just queued up for the ticket. You can also buy tickets online but i figured since it’s winter, there won’t be a lot of people that will be lining up for the museum. The queue was short when i went during the winter season.

Inside the louvre museum - best things to do in Paris in 2 days
Inside the Loure are a swarm of tourists. I was told that this “non crowded” at all since it is still winter. I wonder how it is in high season.

After a long search through the Louvre’s magnificent hallways, I finally found Mona Lisa in person which i thought in the beginning was a big painting! You’ll have to see it for yourself.

Mona Lisa - best things to do in Paris in 2 days
There she is, the most visited girl in the world, Mona Lisa. I was surprised by the size of the painting but still awed at Da Vinci’s creation that captivated the world.

2. Sacre Couer and Monmartre

Perhaps my most favorite part of Paris is Monmartre. It is a romantic district with quaint buildings and cobblestone roads that has inspired great artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso. At night, some parts of the district come alive with cabaret shows and clubs. It is where the long-standing Moulin Rouge still enjoys it’s popularity.

monmartre - best things to do in Paris in 2 days
The beautiful streets of Montmartre
moulin rouge - best things to do in Paris in 2 days
Voulez vous coucher avec moi?

And on top of the hill over looking most of Paris is the white-domed Sacre Couer Basilica. I had the pleasure of admiring Paris from the stairs of Sacre Couer. A better way to end the afternoon is to watch the lights go on all over Paris as the night come ans see why it’s called the City of Lights.

Sacre Coeur - best things to do in Paris in 2 days
Sitting on the stairs of Sacre Couer and just staring at the city and it’s people is probably one of the best things to do in Paris for me, until a creepy Frenchman ruins the mood. I’ll tell you the story in another blog post.

Should you do the Seine River Cruise?

On my second day in Paris, I did the Seine River cruise ( i bought the package bus + river cruise the day before) which lasted around an hour before i went to the Louvre Museum. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend doing the river cruise if you’ve already done the bus tour. You will see the same thing, only from a different perspective (and a different vehicle ;))

Seine River Cruise- best things to do in Paris in 2 days
Seine River Cruise

How to Join a Paris Hop on Hop Off Bus Tours

Hop on Hop off buses pick up and drop off passengers to different popular sights of Paris. From my hostel in Montparnasse, I took the train going to Eiffel Tower. From there, I noticed some guys wearing jackets with Hop on Hop off signs on their hands. I signed up and paid 42 euros for a 2-day pass to include a Seine River Cruise. The ticket costs 30 euros for a 1-day pass. There are various companies that offer these kind of bus tours so you can opt for a cheap one if you plan ahead. Alternatively, you can book them online where it can be cheaper. 

I just waited for the next bus which comes and goes every 15 minutes. The bus goes through a lot of popular spots in Paris. On the bus, I was given headphones which I can attach to the seats where you can choose the language of your audio guide.

You can choose to stop at any designated spots in the city and have your own tour of the city’s highlights. When you’re done, just come back to the same stop and wait for the bus to take you to another tourist spot.

Paris can be intimidating for first time, weekend warriors but thankfully, Paris’ amazing train system and convenient bus tours makes possible to do the best things to do in Paris in 2 days!

Best things to do in Paris in 2 days
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