Moulin Rouge - one of the places to see in a one day Paris itinerary
France,  Guides and Itineraries

One Day Paris Itinerary Perfect for First-Time Visitors

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Ahhh… Paris. “The City of Love” is one of the most charming cities in Europe. With its stunning landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Louvre, vibrant culture, and delicious pastries — it’s hard not to fall in love with this city! Some people have been here a few times and still discover something new every time. Ideally, you need a few days to explore the city, but if you’re only here for a layover, then take this guide to make the most of your one day Paris itinerary.

How to get around

Paris is a walkable city. In fact, some of its highlights are only 15-20 min of walking distance from one another, but other sites are much further. So map out your itinerary and depending on where you want to go, plan on whether you’re going on foot or using the public transport.

If you plan to explore the city by foot, you’ll be doing several hours of walking. So wear good shoes!

On the other hand, if you plan to utilize the public transport, the best options are the metro and buses. The metro is a popular way to get around Paris and offers single-ride passes or more cost-effective single-day passes called the Paris Visite Pass.

You might also consider going on a hop-on hop-off bus. Hop-on hop-off bus tours have an undeserved reputation. They are a convenient way to sightsee the best tourist attractions in a city, especially if you only have a limited time. If you’re visiting Paris with kids, getting on the tour bus is also recommended. Another thing that you should consider is looking for a tour agency specializing in Paris tour packages that fit your schedule.

Other options for getting around Paris include renting an electric scooter or an electric tuk-tuk or just hailing a cab.

Scooters in Paris

This one day itinerary in Paris is a walking tour. So wear comfortable clothes and shoes and bring a reusable travel bottle.

Tips to enjoy Paris in a day

Is one day enough in Paris? Truthfully, no. But it’s still possible to see the highlights of the city in a day. Focus on the best attractions in the city — the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. Or make your own custom one day itinerary in Paris by visiting other museums, galleries, or churches. When planning about the places you want to see, it’s important to be realistic and flexible in your itinerary.

If you’re planning for a proper vacation, allot 4-5 days in Paris. This is enough time to see the classics and even discover the hidden gems in Paris, including its own Statue of Liberty!

Try so speak French, even if it’s just Bonjour. Better yet, learn some essential French phrases so you can easily approach locals especially if you have questions.

Skip the lines. As a general rule, it’s best to purchase your tickets in advance especially in popular attractions to avoid wasting time getting in line. You can purchase tickets in advance if you plan on going up the Eiffel Tower or visiting Louvre and Sainte Chapelle. The same goes through when eating out — consider researching where you want to eat and making a reservation.

Paris is notorious for pickpockets. So make sure to always watch your belongings. It’s also recommended to wear a crossbody bag or other thief-proof bags to keep your valuables safe.

One Day Paris Itinerary

Here’s a suggested Paris in one day itinerary that will take you to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Included in each section are tips on how you can enjoy each location the best.

Eiffel Tower

Whether it’s your first time visiting Paris or you’re a returning tourist, visiting the Eiffel Tower is a must-do!

Eiffel Tower in Paris
The Eiffel Tower.

Built in 1887-1889 by Gustave Eiffel, a French civil engineer, the tower was a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. At the time of its completion, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world, surpassing even the Washington Monument in the USA. Interestingly, Parisians initially viewed the tower as an eyesore, but over the years it has gained acceptance and became a symbol of French innovation and engineering prowess.

If you’re getting off at the metro, you can find stunning views of Eiffel Tower across the Trocadero Gardens! From there, walk along the Seine River to the Champs de Mars, a beautiful green space located at the foot of Eiffel Tower. Sit down and relax, take a leisurely stroll, and of course take endless photos of the tower.

Eiffel Tower in one day
People at Eiffel Tower

Have you had your breakfast yet? If not, then this space is perfect for breakfasts! Bring your own packed lunch, or pastry and coffee take out, and enjoy the view of the tower while eating. You can also go to one of the many trendy breakfast restaurants around the Eiffel Tower for that Parisian vibe.

Whether you want to get up the Eiffel Tower depends on you. If it’s your first time in Paris, it’s worth visiting the top floor for the panoramic views of the city. Other tourists prefer admiring the tower from other locations in the city.

If you’re going up the tower, you should book your tickets in advance because the line for getting them in person can be long — 30 min to 1 hour during off-season and even up to 2 hours during peak season. There are three floors that are open to the public. You can book tickets to the second floor via lift or stairs and then to the upper floor by lift.

Pro Tip: If you’re taking the stairs, make sure to bring water.


From the Eiffel Tower, head to Champs-Elysees (Elysian Fields) — one of the most famous boulevards worldwide.

Back in the 17th century, this avenue was merely a dirt road connecting the Tuileries Palace to the village of Elysee. Beginning in the mid-18th century, under the direction of the architect Andre Le Notre during the rule of King Louis XV, the area was redesigned into an elegant promenade lined with trees, which was then known as the “Grand Cours” or “Promenade du Roule.”

Take a nice stroll down at this boulevard, which is home to some of the finest shopping in Paris, theaters, cafes, and iconic landmarks. You can find affordable clothing brands such as H&M or Zara or luxurious ones like Louis Vitton or Massiomo Dutti.

Champs-Elysees in Paris

Start at Arc de Triomphe, a monumental arch commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to honor French soldiers. Admire the intricate design of the arc or take a lift to the attic, where you can also enjoy panoramic views of the city. Sometimes, the lift is not accessible, in which case you need to climb 284 steps to get to the terrace.

Go sightsee other attractions including the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, Theatre Marigny and Theatre des Champs-Elysees, and Place de la Concorde.

Take a break for a quick lunch at a nearby café or grab a snack from one of the vendors in the area to get energized for the afternoon itinerary.

Louvre Museum

Paris is home to a lot of art galleries and museums. For this one day itinerary in Paris, we’re choosing to explore the Louvre Museum.

Visiting the Louvre Museum - best things to do in Paris in one day
Louvre Museum.

Located at the heart of Paris City, Louvre Museum is one of the largest and most renowned museums in the world. It has a rich history that dates back several centuries. It was originally built as a fortress in the 12th century and then transformed into a royal palace in the 14th century. Finally, in 1793 during the French Revolution, it became a museum displaying the royal art collection to the public.

An important thing that you should know about the Louvre Museum is that it’s big. Its collection spans over 9,000 years of human history, encompassing artworks from Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia to the Rennaissance and beyond.

If you’re a fan of museums, you can easily spend a day exploring the museum. However, for a one day Paris itinerary, it’s recommended to stay around 2 hours. This is enough time to see the best art pieces including the Mona Lisa — the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Raft of the Medusa, and Liberty Leading the People.

Inside Louvre Museum
Inside Louvre Museum.
Mona Lisa painting
The Mona Lisa.

Pro Tip: Mona Lisa is the most famous art piece in the Louvre. You’d be surprised to know that it is actually rather small and displayed in a distance from the barrier. There are often crowds in front, so it’s almost impossible to have it to yourself. So be content in seeing it from afar or try to squeeze in between the crowds, but don’t waste time waiting for the crowd to disperse because that is unlikely to happen. Rather, wisely spend your time exploring other interesting displays at the museum.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

The Notre-Dame Cathedral (also called Notre-Dame de Paris) is the most famous Gothic cathedral of the Middle Ages and an iconic landmark in Paris City.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
Notre Dame Cathedral (Photo by Leif Linding)

Construction of Notre-Dame began in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and continued for nearly 200 years, with various architects contributing to its design. This cathedral represents an architectural masterpiece of the French Gothic style, known for its impressive stained glass windows, flying buttresses, and intricate stone carvings.

Over the years, the Notre-Dame Cathedral has suffered through deterioration and damages. In 2019, a fire broke out during a restoration campaign. Currently, reconstruction is ongoing and it is set to open in December 2024. In the meanwhile, you can still admire the church’s exterior.

Sainte Chapelle

Just a 5-minute walk from Notre-Dame Cathedral, you will find Sainte Chapelle. It is one of the hidden gems in Paris, and although it isn’t as grand as the Notre-Dame Cathedral, it is just as beautiful and less busy.

Sainte-Chapelle was commissioned by King Louis IX of France (Saint Louis) in the 13th century to house religious relics, including the Crown of Thorns. It was built in the years of 1241-1248.

The chapel has two levels. The lower chapel is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. From there, you can head up a narrow spiral staircase to the upper chapel — which is the main attraction of Sainte Chapelle.

Stained glass windows of Sainte Chapelle
Stained glass windows of Sainte Chapelle.

The upper chapel is dedicated to Christ and features some of the finest examples of stained glass windows in the world. The stained glass windows depict biblical scenes and stories from the Old and New Testaments. You will find them particularly beautiful when sunlight streams through them, illuminating the interior with a kaleidoscope of colors.

Seine River Cruise

A cruise along the Seine River is the perfect end to a one day Paris itinerary! Take the cruise during sunset, sit back and relax as you pass underneath historic bridges, and enjoy the view  of the famous attractions along the river.

There are different river cruises available, often lasting 1 to 1.5 hour. Some cruises include live or recorded commentary, and some include a meal as well. Usually it’s fine to bring your own drinks, so you can pack a bottle of wine to enjoy while cruising.

Seine river cruise in Paris
Seine river cruise.

Aside from the river cruise, there are plenty of other things to do in Paris at night. You can head to the neighborhood of Montmarte where you can climb the steps to Sacre-Coeur Basilica to enjoy panoramic views of the city at dusk and then have dinner at Place du Tertre, a bustling square known for its artists and outdoor cafes.

Moulin Rouge - one of the places to see in a one day Paris itinerary
At the Moulin Rouge.

If you’re still up for a fun nighlife in Paris, see a Moulin Rouge cabaret show or the Nouvelle Eve for its comedy kits and musical performances.

Plan your own one day itinerary in Paris

The itinerary we provided is a regular route where you can see the best highlights of Paris. It’s ideal especially for first-time tourists in the city. Depending on your preferences, you can easily customize your one day itinerary.

As above, start your Paris day tour at the Eiffel Tower and then the Champs Elysees.

From there, pick one art museum. Aside from Louvre, the best ones are Musee d’Orsay, Rodin Garden and Museum, and Musee de l’Orangerie. These museums are smaller and may offer a more pleasurable visit on a tight schedule compared to Louver.

Then pick one church to see. You can visit Notre-Dame Cathedral and Sainte Chapelle since they are only 5 minute walk away from each other. Another top choice is the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre.

As we said above, choose the places you most want to see beforehand. It’s not possible to see everything and if you make a jam-packed itinerary, you might end up just fast-paced walking through the city and not being able to absorb its beauty.

Where to eat in Paris

Paris is home to beautiful parks and gardens, so you can prepare your own pack of bread, cheese, and wine for a picnic lunch. You’ll also find numerous vegan restaurants and cafes in Paris. Rue Cler, the most beloved market in Paris, is also an excellent choice for its myriad of food options.

The Tuileries Garden is located near the Louvre, with relaxing outdoors, beautiful foliage, and 17th-century sculptures. The Luxembourg Gardens is another great choice for a picnic. Located near the Gothic Quarter, it features a garden inspired by the Bobili Gardens in Florence, notable monuments and statues including the Medici Fountain, and a beekeeping school.

Picnic outdoors

Another great place to enjoy a picnic is down to the Seine riverside especially during sunset.

When looking a place to eat, it’s best to prioritize restaurants that are close to attractions to the attractions you want to see since you are on a limited time. Check Google Maps, TripAdvisor, or the Michelin Guide. Remember that many restaurants in the city are closed outside of meal times, so check the opening times as well.

Don’t forget to try some of the most popular Parisian delights, including macarons and crepes. There are also local restaurants offering classic French dishes, including escargot and onion soup.

This itinerary can help guide you on the best places and things to do in Paris in one day. Do you have personal suggestions on how to go about a one day Paris itinerary? Let us know in the comment section below!

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One Comment

  • Gilian

    Thanks for this. I love the details and the pro-tips. I wonder how much the packages are for a tour like this.

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