What to do in Paris? We list here a selection of the 25 main tourist attractions in Paris, that everyone should visit.
We include obvious attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but also places less known by tourists, which we think are unmissable. By going beyond the standard tourist circuit, you will have the chance to visit the places loved by Parisians and thus experience the true charm of the City of Lights.
If you cannot spend many days in Paris, you probably won’t have time to visit all the points below. Not too bad – you’ll have an excuse to go back here!
Map of Paris attractions
To help you get oriented, we have prepared the map below with all the tourist points listed in this post. In addition, the map can help you to choose the region of Paris where you would like to find your accommodation.
Yellow: main monuments
Green: gardens, squares and bridges
Red: main museums
Top Paris attractions: main monuments
Eiffel Tower, Paris’ most famous tourist spot
The Eiffel Tower needs no introduction. We have prepared an informative report with some curiosities about the tower.
Being the most famous tourist destination in Paris (and in the world!), it is not easy to visit the tower. The queues are huge, the tickets are sold out quickly, the security control is extremely slow. To enjoy a stress-free visit, here are some important tips:
- Buy your tickets in advance – You can do it through the Eiffel Tower official website
- If you only have a few days in Paris, you don’t have to go to the top of the Eiffel tower! Even buying the tickets in advance, it takes time to climb up the tower. Visit it from the bottom, it’s nice as well. Or just climb on other monuments such as the Arc de Triomphe or the Montparnasse Tower (see below) to enjoy a magnificent view.
2. Arc de Triomphe
Built in the early 19th century by Napoleon in honor of the French Armed Forces, the Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph) is one of the most majestic and famous monuments in Paris.
From the top of its 50 meters, the view of Paris is breathtaking. And buying your ticket in advance (click here for the official website), you won’t need to queue up. However, you must know that the top is only reachable by stairs… and there are 284 steps!
The Arc is at the beginning of the Champs-Élysées, the most famous avenue in Paris. When visiting the monument, take the opportunity to walk in one of the most well-known and fashionable streets in the world.
3. Notre Dame
Even after being partially damaged in the tragic fire of 2019, Notre Dame must be in your itinerary.
Currently, the interior visit to the church towers is closed, but you can appreciate its beautiful façade, which is 70 meters high. Notice the richness of the details of the façade and the Rosácea, the round stained-glass window over the doors with a diameter of 13 meters. Begun in 1163, its construction has spanned more than two centuries.
Near Notre Dame, you can find the Sainte-Chapelle (“Holy Chapel”), considered by many the most beautiful church in France. As it is hidden inside the Palace of Justice of France, it is hardly noticed by many tourists.
Its monumental stained-glass windows, the great attraction of this chapel, feature 1,113 scenes from the Bible, from the book of Genesis to the Apocalypse. There are 15 sets of stained-glass windows, each approximately 15 meters high.
For more information and for tickets, visit the website.
5. Basilique du Sacré-Cœur
Perched on a hilltop, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) can be spotted from several parts of the city. Built between 1875 and 1919, it is the second most visited free monument in Paris (the first is the Cathedral of Notre Dame) – it counts more than 10 million visits a year!
The interior of the basilica is astonishing, and the view of the city is breathtaking. Moreover, we suggest taking a stroll through Montmartre, the super charming neighborhood where the basilica is located.
6. Opera Garnier
Opera Garnier is not only the great theatre of Paris, but also an impressive building. If you wish to enjoy one of the shows on display during your stay in Paris, we suggest to look at the program and buy a ticket on their website.
If you can’t, don’t despair. During the day, the Opera is open to visitors and it is possible to admire its interior.
The Pantheon of Paris hosts the tombs of some of France’s eminent personalities: among others, Saint Exupéry, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Zola, André Malraux, Voltaire are buried here.
But it is the building itself, especially its interior, that makes the Pantheon one of the most beautiful tourist spots in Paris. Make sure to notice the paintings and frescoes on the walls, narrating the life of Saint Genoveva, patroness of Paris.
Click here to discover more and buy tickets
8. Montparnasse Tower
The Parisians are unanimous in saying: it is more worth climbing the Montparnasse Tower than the Eiffel Tower. Why? It’s simple: from the top of its 56 floors, you will have the most beautiful view of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower right in front of you. Additionally, you won’t see the Montparnasse Tower itself, considered one of the less appealing buildings in Paris.
Another advantage: much less queue, especially if you buy your ticket in advance (here).
Top Paris attractions: gardens, squares and bridges
9. Jardin des Tuileries
Before visiting the Louvre, do not forget to pass by the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden), which is right in front of the museum’s Pyramid. Designed by the famous landscape architect André le Notre, the Tuileries is considered the most beautiful garden in Paris.
French-style gardens, a beautiful merry-go-round, a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine: the Tuileries is literally an open-air museum!
10. Place de la Concorde
The Tuileries Gardens extend from Louvre to Place de la Concorde, the largest square in Paris.
From this square, you can spot some of the most beautiful monuments in Paris:
- Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées avenue
- Eiffel Tower and Seine River
- Madeleine Church
- Jardin des Tuileries and Louvre Museum
11. Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens), situated right in front of the Pantheon, is less famous and touristic than the Tuileries Garden, but equally enchanting.
Take some time to walk around the French-style gardens (regular and geometric) and the English-style gardens (irregular and organic), and observe the Parisian life.
12. Pont Alexandre III
Alexander III bridge is not only one of the most beautiful bridges, but also one of the top tourist spots in Paris. Built in 1900, the bridge was a gift from the Tsar of Russia Alexander III to the French people. Considered the most extravagant bridge in Paris, it is entirely adorned with winged horse sculptures covered with gold leaves and cherubs.
The bridge, with its unbeatable view of the River Seine and the Eiffel Tower, is the ideal setting for photo shootings.
Special tip: during the warm months, the banks of the Seine near the bridge become a picnic area. Come at the end of the day with your baguette, cheese and wine to admire the sunset.
13. Place Vendôme
Symbol of Parisian luxury, Place Vendôme concentrates the world’s most famous jewelry brands. It also hosts the Ritz, the palace hotel where Cocô Chanel spent the last years of her life. You can enjoy an afternoon tea or an aperitif in the famous bar frequented by Hemingway.
Admire the simplicity and architectural symmetry of this square, a marvel of classical urban design.
The central column was built with the metal of the enemy cannons confiscated at the battle of Austerlitz. At the top of the column there is a statue of Napoleon in Roman dress.
14. Palais Royal Garden
The Palais Royal, which is next to the Louvre, is an ancient palace that has been home to the royal family at different times in history. Its garden is a hidden pearl – not well known by tourists, but loved by the Parisians.
The entrance, next to Comédie Française, is a bit hidden. The first thing that will catch your attention will be Les Colonnes, which is columns painted with white and black stripes by the French artist Daniel Buren: a funny playground for children and grown-ups.
Then stroll through the garden, an oasis of peace in the heart of Paris. And don’t forget to admire the shop windows under the arcades.
15. Place des Vosges
Built in 1612, Place des Vosges is one of the oldest squares in Paris, and also one of the most beautiful. Observe its architectural uniqueness: all buildings are identical, built with red bricks and stone.
Stroll under the arches and, if the weather is good, sit on one of its benches. If it’s a sunny Sunday, you’ll be part of a typical Parisian program.
16. Père Lachaise Cemetery
It may sound strange, but Père Lachaise is the most visited necropolis in the world and one of the most visited sites in Paris. It is the permanent resting place of major figures belonging not only to French history but to the whole world, including Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Chopin, Marcel Proust, Moliere, Eugène Delacroix.
To simplify the visit, take the map with the plan of the tombs of the greatest celebrities at the entrance.
The Père Lachaise Cemetery is located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, a district seldom visited by tourists.
Top Paris attractions: main museums
17. Louvre Museum
The Louvre is one of the largest, most famous and most visited museums in the world. Like the Eiffel Tower, it’s always full of visitors.
One thing is sure: visiting the Louvre may not be easy, but it’s definitely worth it — after all, you don’t always have the chance to admire some of humanity’s main masterpieces in the same place.
The tip is: buy your ticket in advance and plan your visit!
To learn more, read our post with all suggestions to prepare your visit without stress!
18. Orsay Museum
After the Louvre, Orsay is the second most visited museum in Paris. Set in an old railway station on the banks of the River Seine, the building itself is already worth a visit.
Although it hosts works from various artistic movements, realized from 1848 to 1916, Orsay’s big stars are the impressionists.
The impressionists’ gallery is located on the 5th floor of the building. It’s here that you will find some of the masterpieces of world art history: Manet’s “Luncheon on the Grass”, Renoir’s “Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette”, Monet’s “Rouen Cathedral series”.
Buy your ticket in advance to avoid lines.
19. Rodin Museum
Small and not so crowded, this is one of the most beautiful museums in Paris. Set in the house where Rodin lived and worked, the museum includes the most famous artworks of the sculptor: The Kiss, The Thinker, The Gates of Hell. The artist’s masterpieces are exhibited not only in the interior of the beautiful mansion, but also in its magnificent gardens.
The museum visit doesn’t usually last more than an hour.
Buy your ticket here.
20. Picasso Museum
This is the most complete museum dedicated to Picasso in the world, including more than 5,000 works from all the artist’s various phases. The museum’s collection was passed on to the French State by Picasso’s heirs in the 1970s. Despite being born in Spain, Picasso lived his entire life in France, between Paris and the Côte d’Azur.
The museum is situated in a beautiful mansion in the heart of the Marais district. Although it is big, the museum can be visited quickly. Check here for more information and tickets.
21. Pompidou Centre
The Pompidou Centre, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, is a museum of modern and contemporary art, one of the largest in the world. It also hosts temporary exhibitions (among the most popular in the city), a public library and areas dedicated to music and cinema.
It’s immediately recognizable by its exterior escalators and enormous colored tubing; due to its futuristic and high-tech architecture, it has often been victim of criticism since its inauguration in 1977.
Located in the Marais district, it is definitely worth a visit – not only to admire the exhibitions, but also to climb the escalators and enjoy the view from the top floor.
Find out more on the official website.
22. Orangerie Museum
Situated in the Tuileries Garden, this small museum can be visited in half an hour. The Orangerie is famous for housing Les Nymphéas (Water Lilies), the immense canvases in which the impressionist painter Claude Monet portrayed the gardens surrounding his home.
The water gardens of the artist’s home were his greatest inspiration during the last years of his life. The set exhibited at Orangerie includes eight monumental paintings, which cover the entire length of the walls. Donated by Monet to France after the end of the Second World War, it is displayed as originally planned by the artist.
Make sure to visit also Giverny (see the 25th point of our list), including Monet’s house and garden.
23. Invalides Museum
The Dôme des Invalides, a gold-domed building now used as a burial site for a number of the country’s war heroes, doesn’t go unnoticed. It is one of the first buildings that you will spot when you are on top of the Eiffel Tower or the Montparnasse Tower. It’s an old hospital built in the 17th century to take care of soldiers – hence its name: Les Invalides.
Today, the site houses the museum of the French Armed Forces. Located under the golden dome, you will find the tomb of Emperor Napoleon Ist. And if you are keen on military history, the museum witnesses the wars experienced by France from the Middle Ages to the two world wars. A nice way to let kids be intrigued by history.
Even if this subject is not of your interest, the beautiful building, with its golden dome, is worth enjoying. In addition, during the warmer months the green field in front of the building becomes a great picnic spot.
Top attractions in Paris’ surroundings
The two attractions below are located in the surroundings of Paris – you will need at least half a day to visit each one. So, if this is your first trip to Paris and you have limited time, we recommend that you postpone the following tours at a later opportunity.
24. Versailles Palace
Last residence of the French kings, and major symbol of the richness of the French court, the palace will impress you in all its aspects: the geometric perfection of its gardens, the richness of details in its decorations, the size of the building and the surrounding property…
Just like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles is one of Paris’ main attractions. Therefore, it is necessary to plan your visit and to buy your tickets in advance.
25. Giverny Gardens
The impressionist painter Claude Monet lived in Giverny (a village 75 km from Paris) from 1883 until his death in 1926, and personally invested a lot of energy, time and money in the creation of these gardens.
Walking through Monet’s house and gardens you can still admire the floral composition and waterlilies that were his greatest source of inspiration.
A good idea is to visit the gardens after going to the Orangerie Museum (see item 22 above).