How to Spend One Day in Paris

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There are dozens of ways to spend one day in Paris. If you’re a first-timer in Paris, your itinerary for the day will probably look quite a bit different from a regular visitor to the city.

There are so many sights to see in Paris. And many travelers spend just one day there because it’s such a major international travel hub. You can’t expect to see all the city has to offer, but you can carve out a manageable piece that’s perfect for your day in Paris.

Are you planning your trip to Paris?

If you’re traveling to Paris, ensure you have lodging and tours booked ahead of time! Below are some of our top picks to help you plan!

Where to Stay in Paris:

  1. Hotel La Tamise – Esprit de France (Express check-in/out; elevator)
  2. Hotel Bel Ami (5-star luxury hotel near Louvre Museum)
  3. citizenM Paris Champs-Élysées (4-star hotel near Champs-Élysées)

Best Tours and Experiences in Paris:

  1. Cruise on the Seine + Louvre Museum (two of Paris’ top attractions!)
  2. Paris City Card (the Louvre, cruise on the Seine, and the Eiffel Tower)
  3. Eiffel Tower – Get Priority Access to the 2nd Floor or Priority Access to the Summit

If your International flight goes through Charles de Galle you will likely find yourself with just a day in Paris to see however much you can. This one-day Paris itinerary is for those who haven’t been to Paris before and want to make the most of their one day to see the top sights. If you’re staying overnight, see where to stay in Paris.

» If you have longer to spend in Paris, check out our 3-day itinerary for first timers. We’ve also created a guide specifically for foodies so you can find all the great foodie things to do in Paris. Going elsewhere in Europe? Here’s our 2-week Europe itinerary.

paris eiffel tower

Need more help with your plans? Check out our Shortcut Travel Guide to Paris, with all the best things to do and see in one spot.

wine and croissants at the eiffel tower

How to Spend One Action-Packed Day in Paris


The first question you will face is how to get around. Paris is absolutely huge and it can easily take 30 minutes to get from any one spot to another, even on the metro. If you choose to visit sights that are far away from each other, you could burn quite a bit of your time on public transportation. 

We always recommend walking as much as possible. However, you can save time in a few spots by taking the metro, so we’ll show you how to incorporate that into your plans below.

From the Airport

If you’re flying into Paris on an international flight, you’ll be landing at Charles De Galle. The fastest and most convenient way to get into the city so you can immediately start your sightseeing is by taking the RER B metro line to Saint-Michel Notre-Dame. The trip takes about 45 minutes.

Coming into Gare du Nord train station instead? You will also take the RER B to the same stop. The journey is only 15 minutes.

Getting Around Town

Walking is the best way to get between the major sites in Paris, so that’s our suggested mode of transportation for a ‘Paris in a day’ whirlwind tour of the main sights. You can also take the hop on hop off bus, if you don’t think you can do all the walking. It does amount to quite a bit of walking, so be properly prepared.

You can also ride local city buses and the metro. You’ll need a single-ride T+ ticket. You can ride the trains, buses and trams with this ticket. It’s 1,90 € for one, or you can buy a booklet of 10 (a carnet) for 16,90 €

Top Sights to See in Paris in 12 Hours

Many of the top tourist sights in Paris are located along the Seine River, in about a 3-mile stretch. You can walk to many of these top tourist attractions easily in just one day. I suggest starting at Notre Dame, then walk across the Pont Neuf Bridge to the Louvre Museum, through the Tuileries Garden, toward the Champs Elysees, to the Arc de Triomphe.

At this point, you’ll need to take the metro to the Eiffel Tower. Then take a Seine River Cruise. Here’s a map of where you’ll get to. Walk fast!

You’re going to want to cap your day off with something extra special. We highly recommend going to a wine tasting dinner at O’Chateau (not far from Notre Dame) or going on the Bustronome Gourmet Bus.

Total walking: approximately 4 miles (6 km)

Stop One: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral (photo by Savored Journeys)

Notre Dame is a great first stop on your itinerary, because it’s so majestic and it instantly makes you feel like you’ve arrived in Paris.

Unfortunately, you can’t currently go into Notre Dame due to the fire that destroyed section of it. But you can still see it from afar. When you leave, walk along the south side of the river to see all the book sellers along the sidewalk.

Stop Two: Pont Neuf Bridge

The Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine. There are numerous bridges that you can use to cross the river, but I particularly like this one.

Stop Three: Louvre Museum

The Louvre in Paris

There are many reasons the Louvre is one of the most visited museums in the world. It’s also the largest art museum. If you want to see the Mona Lisa, plus many other unmissable and iconic pieces such like the Venus de Milo and masterpieces of the Renaissance, you’ll have to save time for a stroll through the Louvre.

>> Book Louvre tickets in advance here.

Stop Four: Tuilleries Garden

Located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, just beyond the Louvre, is the Tuileries Garden, which is packed full of sculpture, trees, pathways and plenty of grass to relax on once you’ve spent time walking through the Louvre. 

The gardens are open until 7:30pm in the winter, and 11pm in the summer.

Stop Five: Champs-Élysées


If you’re a shopper, this is the part you like the  most. The Champs-Élysées is a shopping mecca, with just about every high-end store you’ve ever heard of. You can spend as much or as little time here as you like.

Not sure what to look for? Here are 15 Paris souvenirs you’ll love.

If you’d rather avoid the shopping, you can get to from the Tuileries Garden to the Arc de Triomphe by taking the M1 metro line from the Tuileries stop to the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile stop.  The journey takes 7 minutes.

Stop Six: Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

One of the most recognizable monuments in Paris, the Arch d’Triomphe stands proudly at the center of the Place de l’Étoile, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. You can walk around the monument and see the intricate detail that was carved into it’s exterior, and you can actually climb up inside the Arch too.

There are 40 stairs leading to the top that you can climb to get the view.

Book in Advance: Skip-the-Line Arc de Triomphe.

To get from the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower, you can take the M6 metro line from Charles de Gaulle – Étoile to the Trocadero stop. This puts you at the Tracadero, which has a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower. Then just walk across the street to the tower. The whole trip takes about 30 minutes, plus any time you spend at the Trocadero.

Stop Seven: Tracadero & Eiffel Tower

eiffel tower

One of the main reasons people fall in love with Paris before ever even visiting is the Eiffel Tower. If you want to take the elevator up, that section will have the longest lines. You can also take the stairs up and that line is often much shorter, or even none existent. It’s only 1,710 stairs up to the first platform, after all! 

I say just buy your tickets in advance. You can buy them on the official site for the summit and 2nd floor and you’ll get a timed entrance. If you want to do a guided tour, this is a good deal for a 2nd floor and optional summit guided tour.

Stop Eight: Seine River Cruise

Seine River Cruise

Going on a river cruise will is a fantastic way to see the sites and be introduced to the interesting architecture along the banks of the river. The cruise takes about 1 hour and passes by top sights like The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and many more.

The cruise is round trip, returning to the departure point. You can buy your tickets in advance here.

>>You might like 26 Food and Drinks You Must Try in France.

Tours to Book:

The River Seine

Important Things to Know About Paris

  • Paris is a huge city with many different neighborhoods (called arrondissements). If you’re staying the night, make it easy on yourself and stay near the center of the action in either 1, 2, 5 or 6. We highly recommend the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal.
  • You can expedite your schedule by taking the hop-on-hop-off bus to get to the major attractions.  If you mark the sights you want to see on the map, you can get around the city fairly efficiently on the bus.
  • We recommend purchasing skip-the-line tickets when available. Standing in long lines can really wreck your schedule. If you buy skip the line tickets, you can walk past the crowd and get right in.
  • It’s always best to make reservations for any restaurants you are set on going to. Paris is busy all the time and you don’t want to be disappointed by being turned away.


Most places in Paris accept credit cards, but there are the odd few places that don’t. These are mostly small shops or street food vendors. If you don’t want to get Euros for your one day in Paris, you can easily get away with having no cash, as long as you avoid smaller shops.


It’s pretty easy to navigate around the main tourist sights in Paris because they all lie along the Seine River, mostly on the north side. If you don’t have data on your phone, be sure to download the offline maps for Paris so you can still navigate around.


The weather is often very nice in Paris. You can expect clear skies and mild temperatures in the spring and fall. In the summer, it can get up to 90+ degrees F and it’s rather steamy. In the winter, it rarely below 30 degrees. The best times to visit are April-June and end of September-early November.  It’s always crowded in Paris, but it is especially so during the high seasons.

Where to Stay in Paris

Paris is a huge city with many different neighborhoods, called arrondissements. If you want to make it easy on yourself, stay near the center of the action in either 1, 2, 5 or 6.

We recommend the following Paris hotels.

Hotel La Tamise – Esprit de France

4-star hotel with a bar and free wifi, located in the 1st arrondissement.

Read Reviews | Book a Stay

Lyric Hotel Paris

Comfortable 4-star hotel with and indoor pool and free wifi, located in the 2nd arrondissement.

Read Reviews | Book a Stay

Saint James Paris – Relais et Chateaux

5-star luxury hotel with a spa and free wifi, located in the 16th arrondissement.

Read Reviews | Book a Stay

Quick. Check these necessities off your prep list!

Be Prepared For Travel

Planning is the most important part of any successful trip. Do it the easy way:

🧳 Travel Packing List | ✔️ Why You Need Travel Insurance | ✈️ What to Do Before You Leave Home


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How to Spend One Day in Paris
How to Spend One Day in Paris

2 thoughts on “How to Spend One Day in Paris

  1. constance abodeely says:

    I plan on a trip to London with myself, adult daughter and 3 teenagers. Between May 27-June 5, 2022. The best idea is to fly into Paris, then take speed train into London. No sure about any of this, but do you handle hotel, reasonably prices, tour maybe with car because I are not able to walk very much, and return to London

    • Laura Lynch says:

      We only provide information, not bookings. You’d have to contact a travel agent. We’ve taken the Eurostar train between Paris and London many times. It’s very easy and comfortable.

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