You could stay a month in Paris and not run out of top-notch attractions. But if you only have a week, we’ll show you the best way to spend 7 days in Paris. This itinerary is perfect for a first time visit to Paris, and includes all the top sights and activities.
Tip: Save time and money with the Paris Museum Pass. Many of the museums and attractions in this itinerary are included in the Museum Pass, so you’ll save a fair amount of money, but more importantly, save time not waiting in ticketing lines. We recommend getting your pass at the central Paris Tourist Office when you arrive; alternatively they can be purchased at the participating museums. If you’re doing this full itinerary, get the 6-day pass (2-day and 4-day passes are also available).
Day 1 – Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées and Tuilerie Gardens
The Eiffel Tower, constructed for the 1889 World’s Fair, is quintessential Paris. So start your visit with an up-close view.
It’s framed one one side by the Champ de Mars park. Start your visit visit here for a beautiful, unobstructed vantage point. Make your way towards the tower base to see the details of the iron structure.
Don’t bother paying to access the viewing decks. It’s busy and expensive. There are more interesting ways to get a birds-eye view of Paris (continue reading!).
Cross the Seine river to the Jardins du Trocadéro park for another stunning view of the Eiffel Tower.
Arc de Triomphe
After you’ve gotten your fix of the Eiffel Tower, you’re less than a 30 minute walk to the Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe is a triumphal arc honouring those who fought and died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Construction began in 1806. It stands in the centre of a large roundabout with 12 roads that radiate out.
The Arc de Triomphe is access by 2 pedestrian underpasses under the roundabout.
Go to the viewing deck at the top (included in the Paris Museum Pass) for a great view of the city. Although not the tallest viewing deck in Paris, it’s location provides a great view of the Eiffel Tower, and down the Champs-Élysées to the Louvre.
Afterwards, stroll down the Champs Élysées avenue, famous for its theatres, cafés and luxury shops. If you’re up for a bit of a walk (taking coffee breaks), it’s about a 45 minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre, going through the Tuilerie Gardens.
Day 2 – Notre-Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle, Île de la Cité and Île St-Louis
Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral
Notre-Dame Cathedral, while it gets busy, is a must-do attraction in Paris. Construction on the cathedral began in 1163 and took over 170 years to complete.
The best part of visiting Notre-Dame is climbing the bell towers (included in the Museum Pass). The entrance to the towers is along rue du Cloître at the base of the left bell tower. Line ups form along rue du Cloître and it’s best to get here first thing in the morning.
The view from the top offers impressive views of Paris, and close-up photo opportunities of the cathedral’s famous gargoyles and chimera. You also get to see the bell towers up close.
Afterwards, explore the interior of the cathedral, and take some time walking around the exterior to admire the elegant flying buttresses.
The Sainte-Chapelle (included in the Museum Pass) is a bit of a hidden gem in Paris, just minutes away from Notre-Dame. It was commissioned in King Louis IX and construction began in 1238 within the then-residences of the Kings of France on Île de la Cité.
You enter the beautiful, but relatively underwhelming lower chapel. It’s when you get to the upper chapel that you will be amazed by the soaring stained glass. There’s nothing quite like this in the world.
After your visit of Sainte-Chapelle, make your way past Notre-Dame, and cross Pont Saint-Louis bridge to the other island in the Seine, Île Saint-Louis. The main road that dissects the island (Saint-Louis en l’Île) is lined with unique boutiques, restaurants, cafés and bars. Check out Berthillon Glacier for gourmet ice creams and sorbets.
Day 3 – The Louvre
Whether or not you’re an art lover, it’s worth visiting the Louvre Museum. Housed in the Louvre Palace, the building is just as impressive as the art it contains. It’s included in the Paris Museum Pass.
The building started as the Louvre Castle built by King Philip II around 1200, later demolished and built up into the Louvre Palace for later kings of France, until they moved to Versailles. (The foundations of the medieval castle can be visited as part of the museum.)
The art at the Louvre includes something for everybody, from just enjoying the palace grounds, to historic artefacts, to sculpture, to classic and modern art. Beyond paintings (including the Mona Lisa), there’s an impressive collection of Egyptian antiquities, famous sculptures including the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace (2nd century BCE), and restored Louvre Palace rooms including Napoleon III’s apartments.
Day 4 – Day trip to Versailles
The Palace of Versailles was the main royal residence of the Kings of France from 1682 with Louis XIV until the French revolution in 1789. The Palace and gardens are so extensive that a visit easily fills a full day.
It can be easily accessed from Paris by train. The standard entrance is included in the Paris Museum Pass.
Day 5 – Catacombs, Luxembourg Gardens and the Panthéon
Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris is a unique (and popular) attraction. Start your day here, because the line-ups get long, and towards the end of the day it will be too long to get in before closing time.
Preparation for the catacombs began around 1774 when the city’s cemeteries were overflowing. They contain the remains of more than 6 million people.
While a bit creepy, you’ll be amazed at the artful arrange of the bones in many locations.
Jardins du Luxembourg
After the catacombs, freshen up with a visit to the Luxembourg Gardens. Created in 1612 by Marie de Medici, widow of King Henry IV, for her new residence, the Luxembourg Palace (now the seat of the French Senate).
Just a few blocks away is the Panthéon (included in Museum Pass). Originally built as a church, it’s now a secular mausoleum for distinguished people of France. The front facade is modelled after the Pantheon of Rome.
A large pendulum hangs inside the dome of the Panthéon. It was originally installed in 1851 by physicist Léon Foucault to demonstrate the rotation of the earth.
Day 6 – Musée Rodin and Les Invalides
The Rodin Museum contains most of Rodin’s significant creations. Part is indoors in the Hôtel Biron that Rodin used as his workshop, and part is outdoors in the manicured gardens. Access is included in the Paris Museum Pass.
Directly across the street is Les Invalides. The complex is dominated by a former church with a large gilded dome. In 1840 it was designated to house Napoleon’s tomb.
Day 7 – Live like a Parisian
Enjoy the Parisian lifestyle before you catch your return flight home. That means lots of croissants or pain au chocolat from a bakery or street market. Or gourmet ice cream at Bertillon on Île Saint-Louis.
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Paris. This list includes the best-of-the-best. If you have more time in Paris, if you’re returning for a second visit, or you want to mix things up a bit, check out our itinerary (Another) 5 Days in Paris.
Have you visited these attractions or tried this itinerary for your 7 days in Paris? Let us know what you thought in the comments!