The Best Things to Do in 4 Days in Paris, France
- 1 The Best Things to Do in 4 Days in Paris, France
- 2 Paris Travel Information
- 3 4-Day Itinerary Paris
- 3.1 Visit the Eiffel Tower
- 3.2 Stroll the Seine
- 3.3 Admire the Bridges
- 3.4 Picnic by the Seine
- 3.5 See Notre Dame
- 3.6 Explore the Louvre
- 3.7 Stroll Back from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower – in the Dark
- 3.8 Rest at Jardin des Tuilieres
- 3.9 Stroll Avenue des Champs-Élysées (Champs-Élysées)
- 3.10 Learn About History at Arc de Triomphe
- 3.11 Visit Versailles
- 3.12 Seine River Cruise
- 3.13 Explore Montmatre and Sacré-Cœur
- 3.14 Rest at Jardin du Luxembourg
- 3.15 Dine at Montparnasse Tower and Enjoy the Views
No, it wasn’t love at first sight – but now, it is true love.
If you have not been to Paris yet, my top tip is to not expect too much; but once you arrive, embrace its beauty to the fullest.
You can see all of the mentioned “top places to see in Paris,“ though it will mean that you cannot sleep in, and partake in long pampering spa sessions or shopping excursions – in Paris, it is all about the sightseeing!
Though, I have visited Paris about ten times, I have never spent more than three or four days there. Of course, I don’t do the same things over and over again, and I try out new activities and visit new places. So, this list is a compilation, carefully curated, of my tips on the best places to go in Paris.
Paris Travel Information
When to Go
I have always visited Paris in the summer – or between May and September to be more precise – and except for once, the weather has always been lovely. It is not too hot (like Italy in summer), which is great because Paris has to be experienced outdoors.
While many places, like museums can be visited at any time of year, I suggest visiting between April and early November.
After all, most of the mentioned activities are outdoors, and let’s face it: Paris on a gray day loses, like most other places, a bit of its charm.
There are also many events, like the Tour de France and Fashion Week, that make prices for accommodations even more expensive. So, if you aren’t visiting for one of those events, try avoiding those times.
How to Get Around
Paris is best explored by foot. In Paris, I actually broke my walking record of 30 km of walking in one day.
The city is geographically small, and many tourist attractions are quiet close to each other.
And public transportation is pretty great. Take the metro to get around, or buses. It is easy, fast, and affordable.
There is no Oyster Card, like in London, so you could either buy single tickets or plan in advance and buy multi-tickets to save a bit of money.
Hop-on and hop-off buses are also a great option, and you get a discount on several popular tourist attractions in Paris.
On one of my previous trips, I discovered new areas of Paris by bike. It was a lot of fun, but they were mostly less famous and busy arrondissements (neighborhoods) that I cycled around. Call me chicken, but traffic in Paris is crazy and I wouldn’t ride in the busy places of Paris because Parisian (or maybe all French) car drivers drive a bit… crazy (and that is putting it nicely). You can rent a bike from the bike share system.
Taxis and Ubers are available, but probably hardly needed in a small city like Paris with so many beautiful sights along the way (and which you would miss out on in a taxi).
French. And only French. Okay, some people speak English, especially in the hotels. But I have also met staff in restaurants at the Champs-Élysées (and other touristy spots) that don’t speak (or don’t want to speak) any English.
I learned French at school and still have some very basic French knowledge that helped me. Download an (offline) app that helps you translate, if needed.
Be prepared for people who will not help you if you ask for directions or how to get somewhere (so, it is best to download maps, etc. in advance, so you don’t depend on Parisians for support). Either learn some basic French or hope you will meet some nice Parisians.
After about ten visits, I can say this: I don’t come to Paris for its people. If you are from Berlin you might not be shocked, if you are from London or a place where people are overly friendly, you might experience some negative surprises. Just keep that in mind when visiting Paris.
Where to Stay
You can find all kinds of accommodations in Paris – from luxury hotel chains and beautiful boutique hotels, to mid-range and budget hotels.
While the standard of accommodation is not very high (a 3-star hotel can be quite shabby), you aren’t in Paris for its hotels.
4-Day Itinerary Paris
Day 1 in Paris
Visit the Eiffel Tower
Luckily, opinions can be changed! The Eiffel Tower was only meant to stay for a short duration (during a world exhibition), but later, it was agreed that it should be kept as a permanent sight. Now, it is probably one of the three most famous sights in the world.
Also, my opinion has changed drastically. At first, I thought it was an old, rusty, weird-shaped thingy, but later, I realized how unique this icon is. SO, what I want to say is that even if you don’t get what all the fuss is about, you will – especially at night, when the Eiffel Tower is illuminated and wears its most pretty dress.
But even during the day, it is great to be around. There are some meadows in front of it where you can rest and chill, oryou can climb the stairs and get on top. Whatever you do, make sure to plan enough time for seeing the Eiffel Tower from different perspectives.
It is ideally located next to the Seine, so it is a great way to start your day and/or end it.
I recommend heading there early in the morning, while most people are still sleeping. You have the area almost all to yourself and can just stroll around.
The Eiffel Tower opens to visitors at 9:30 am, so if you use the time before to stroll around the area, you can be one of the first people to visit. But you can go in until midnight, if you prefer to get there later the day.
I recommend getting there early, and you can enjoy great night views (that also include great views of the Eiffel Tower) from other vintage points, which I will mention later in this post.
Prices: Prices depend on whether you take the lift or climb the stairs to get to the top or the second floor. Young people are discounted – ages 12-24 pay half and under 12 pay even less. Prices for adults (second floor) start from 10€ but if you like to skip the lines, check out the Hop-on and hop-off buses
Stroll the Seine
The Seine River is hard to miss. You will stumble upon it and it is actually a great guide. Stroll the Seine and look to the left and right. You will see beautiful little places along the way, so plan in some time for detours. If you walk from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, you will always have this great view.
There are benches, so you can also take a seat to soak in the beauty. I recommend this walk twice – once in the daytime and once at night.
For the first day, I suggest walking all the way to the next main Paris attraction.
Admire the Bridges
You will also pass some pretty bridges, the most beautiful one being – in my opinion Pont Alexandre III. This extravagant opened in 1900 and has probably been a tourist magnet ever since then. Great views of the Eiffel Tower and more gorgeous surroundings included.
But keep an eye on other detailed-oriented bridges – there are numerous in Paris and they are all pretty!
Picnic by the Seine
I hardly give suggestions for restaurants – mostly because I am a vegetarian and I have a hard time in France with all that food (I miss the hipster places, with their fresh juices and vegan menus, that we have in all other big cities in Europe), so I often buy food and have snacks, or am just happy if I see vegetarian food offered.
So my suggestion is the following: Bring your own snacks and drinks and just sit by the Seine and have a picnic. I love just sitting and resting there.
See Notre Dame
Notre Dame is one of the most iconic sights and located right next to the Seine River. The Cathedral is the Gothic style and took about 200 years to complete (construction started in the 12th century).
Its architectural details are impressive. You can visit inside (entry to the church is free), and you can even go to the top (for a fee).The views are apparently amazing (see picture below). But please be aware that lines are crazy. Okay, I know this is common in Paris, but this scared me off and so I have never been on the inside. Click here to check out prices “skip the lines-tickets”
There are benches outside, so if you don’t want to stand in line, you can do it as I do: Just stroll around and then enjoy the views from a bench.
From the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame, it is about 5 km, so you are probably tired by now, and with the stops along the way, it is probably afternoon.
I recommend heading to the Louvre from here. Even if you don’t want to visit the inside, you will have two of Paris‘ best things coming up on your way.
Explore the Louvre
Everyone knows the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci – the Mona Lisa. If you have ever wondered where she calls home, the answer is the Palais du Louvre in Paris. You can even pay her a visit.
The museum has, of course, more art pieces and attracts about ten million visitors each year! As you can imagine, it is busy at almost any time of the year. Book tickets in advance to skip the lines and see art pieces from all around the world.
If you don’t want to visit inside, you should still add it to your Paris itinerary, as the area is so pretty!
Of course, it depends on how much time you will need for each activity, etc., but if you arrive in the late afternoon, you have time to go inside the Louvre.
The best, however, is to be there in the “dark“ – the beautiful glass pyramid is probably the most distinctive feature – and strolling around is a must-do for Paris, especially in the evening when it looks absolutely lovely!
Stroll Back from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower – in the Dark
I am not a party person or night owl, but strolling through Paris at night is my personal top-top-top tip. No other city is as beautiful at night as Paris.
The City of Lights deserves its name and all the illuminated buildings (and some sights) make Paris the most beautiful city at night! If in Paris, plan to sleep a few hours less than regular, so you can spend at least two of three nights (or at least late evenings) outdoors. You will not regret it! That I can say for sure.
End your day at the Eiffel Tower. I am like a child, amazed by illuminated buildings and especially by their beauty. For a few minutes, at the top of the hour, it even sparkles! Yes, it is amazing, and ending your day there, buying a snack, and sitting outside is just beyond perfection.
Day 2 in Paris
If you didn’t make it inside the Louvre the day before, you could start your day there. If you did make it, start your day with some time at the park.
Rest at Jardin des Tuilieres
After all the walking and exploring, the second day can start slowly, and why not in the lovely Jardin des Tuilieres, which is next to the Louvre?
It has seating options and looks absolutely lovely. So, this is the first choice when you like to start the day quietly.
The garden opens at 7 am and is open until around 9 pm (11 pm in the summer). Some days, it is closed and entry is free.
From there, you can head to the next attraction, which is easily accessible on foot from the garden.
Stroll Avenue des Champs-Élysées (Champs-Élysées)
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous tourist spots in Paris – and there is a reason fr that. This almost-two-kilometer-long magnificent avenue is home to many shops, restaurants, and cafes, and you could spend hours and hours here.
It starts at the Place de la Concorde (which is, by the way, another interesting place to see, but it probably won‘t take much time to check out) and ends at Place Charles-de-Gaulle. It is also a beautiful place to visit at night.
At the end of the avenue, you will see another main Paris point of interest:
Learn About History at Arc de Triomphe
This famous Parisian monument is located on the western end of the even-more-famous shopping street I mentioned above, the Champs-Élysées.
It is in the middle of a roundabout (probably one of the busiest ones in Paris, and here you will understand why driving in Paris sounds like a crazy idea).
To get there, you need to use an underground tunnel, and if you get closer to it, you´ll notice the amazing little details that tell you the whole story.
From the panoramic terrace, you have a great view of Paris – especially at night. This view is one of a kind. Opening hours are from around 10 am to 10:30 pm (11 pm in the summer) and costs about 12€ (free access for people under 26, or Paris Museum Pass Card holders). Again, you can buy “skip the lines-ticket” to save yourself some valuable time in Paris.
The Arc de Triomphe was built to honor the dead soldiers during the time of Napoleon in the 19th century. You can learn more about this during a self-guided or guided tour.
Day 3 in Paris
If in Paris, you need to plan a trip to Versailles. Versailles is a small town outside of Paris, and most famous for its grand Palace of Versailles, which used to be the residence of the French kings, including the infamous Louis XIV.
The palace is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best places to see in Paris during a four-day visit (though, it is not really located in Paris).
You can either just visit the gardens (which come with shorter lines) or visit the gardens and the palace, which spreads over 800 hectares.
Outdoors, you can enjoy the extremely neat meadow and the fountains, or you can enter the even more impressive and opulent interior and learn about the history of France and Versailles.
Though your 4-day Paris itinerary might be busy and you don’t feel like leaving the beautiful city, this trip should be on everyone’s list.
If you plan your trip on your own, you could probably finish it in about five hours (including travel time), but I recommend scheduling in at least 6-8 hours, so you are not overly stressed. Getting there early is the best way to avoid the crazy lines (yes, here are the crazy lines again), so try to be there at 9 am sharp.
I went there twice, but always booked a guided tour. Here are some tours that you can check out.
If you want to do an independent tour, you can get there by train (one-way tickets are around 7€ from the city center and it takes about one hour). If you like to skip lines – i know, it is getting repetitive :), buy tickets in advance.Click here to get the best prices for skipping the lines at Versailles.
For the afternoon, I would not plan too much and just see what you feel like (I always like to give myself some “free time“ to just do what I want, so I recommend the same for you).
In the evening, however, I recommend a Seine river boat cruise.
Seine River Cruise
No trip to any place with a river, lake, etc. would be complete without a boat cruise – at least to me. And when in Paris, I recommend going on an evening river cruise.
Boat stations are close to the Notre Dame, so if you want to visit this area again, why not spend your afternoon here before hopping on a boat?
Of course, you can do it in daytime, too, but as mentioned above, Paris at night is like a different world and a River Cruise at night is one of the best things to experience in Paris.
This is also a nice way to end your day 3 in Paris.
Day 4 in Paris
Explore Montmatre and Sacré-Cœur
Another stop to make in Paris is the lovely artist neighborhood, Montmartre, and the famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which sits on a hill – and thus, is a great vantage point! But, of course, it looks absolutely beautiful inside as well.
But there is so much more going on in this Parisian neighborhood that is one of my favorites (or arrondissement, as it is called here) – artists, shops, cafes & restaurants, cobblestone lanes, and cute buildings make this area very charming. There is no excuse not to visit when you are spending three days in Paris.
I would suggest going there in the morning, when Paris is still sleeping or slowly waking, and after lunch, heading to the next beautiful place in Paris.
I explored it by myself (or friends and family) but there are also guided walking tours available, which you can check out here.
Rest at Jardin du Luxembourg
Okay, these two places aren’t really close to each other (about five kilometers apart), but just hop on a metro or bus and head to my favorite park in Paris: Jardin du Luxembourg.
After exploring Montmartre on foot, it is time to give your feet a rest. And what place would be better suited than this lovely garden? Okay, admittedly the garden is so big and there is so much to see that you will probably also walk a lot here, but eventually you can rest and enjoy the last few hours of your Paris trip.
The former royal garden covers 25 hectares and offers a lot of seating options, and some snack stalls. Lovely statues are situated throughout the park. The Medici Fountain and the Pavillion Davioud are just some of the sights to see here.
Entrance is free, and while the park opens early in the summer (7:30-8:15 am, depending on the season), it also closes quite early, between 4:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
From the garden, the next stop is not too far.
Dine at Montparnasse Tower and Enjoy the Views
I mentioned that there are better view points than the Eiffel Tower and here is another one: Montparnasse Tower – the second highest skyscraper in Paris.
There are two options to enjoy the best views (especially in the evening). You can buy tickets to the 56th floor (no worries, you can use the lift when booking a ticket) and there are normally NO long lines.
Or you can make a reservation for the Ciel de Paris Restaurant and enjoy the view from the restaurant. (I did both.)
The food is exquisite (they even had some vegetarian dishes) and so was the view, which is probably one of the best ones I have had in a city.
Personally, I think it is an amazing way to end your Paris trip. You will remember the view over Paris and the Eiffel Tower, illuminated at night, and I, personally, could not ask for more!