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BEST of Paris in One Day: Most Complete Itinerary (+Map & Tips)

BEST of Paris in One Day: Most Complete Itinerary (+Map & Tips)

Are you planning to visit Paris for a day and wondering what you can see and do in such a short time? In this guide, we share a suggested 1-day Paris itinerary that will bring you to all the must-see spots and help you make the most out of your time. Find out!

Paris, France, is a fascinating city that has a lot more to offer than you could ever see in a week, let alone in a day. So figuring out an itinerary that allows you to see the best of Paris in one day can be overwhelming. But – with some advance planning and preparation – it’s definitely possible.

Below, you can find our recommended itinerary that allows you to see many of the ‘musts’ in Paris in one day. We also share a map as well as useful information and our experience-based tips to help you plan your first visit to this fascinating city.

Keep in mind that there is not one ‘best’ itinerary to follow for a day trip to Paris. So this is just one of many possibilities. The aim of this itinerary is to show you what’s possible and how you could plan your time if this is your first time in the city and you want to experience the very best of Paris in one day. Take a look!

Top Experiences in Paris:

Eiffel Tower and Carrousel - Paris, France
Eiffel Tower and one of the famous Parisian Carrousels.
 

Some planning tips and info to make the most out of your day in Paris:

Further below, you will find a detailed itinerary indicating what to see, plus approximate hours based on the time that you need in order to get to and visit the places. Please note that these are only meant for your reference, to give you a better idea of how it all could fit together and how to help you plan your time and pre-book time slots for all the sights.

Good to know: If you are exploring Paris on your own, you will need to book timed-entry tickets for all the attractions that you want to visit!!!

For this itinerary, you will need tickets to Saint-Chapelle, either the Louvre OR d’Orsay Museum, the Eiffel Tower, the Seine cruise, and also Arc de Triomphe. If you decide to see the show at the famous Moulin Rouge, you will need to reserve that asap too!

TIP 1: Depending on which museum you ultimately decide to see, this digital Paris City Card can be a very good deal for a day in Paris. It includes 3 of the top attractions mentioned in our itinerary and lets you book timed tickets for them in one go. You can then book separate tickets for the additional attractions which we recommend visiting.

TIP 2: If you find it all too overwhelming to plan on your own, take a look at this highly-rated 1-day guided tour. It takes you to many of the best spots in Paris in a day and you don’t have to worry about tickets or timing and how to make it all fit together. It’s a great option if you are short on time and want to make the most of it without having to stress about anything. This tour has a somewhat similar itinerary as the one described below and ends at the Eiffel Tower. So you could easily visit the places that we recommend in the evening after doing this tour as well.

And now, let’s take a look at what your day in Paris could look like – see below!

Mona Lisa Painting at the Louvre in Paris France
Mona Lisa painting at the Louvre.
 

This is our recommended Paris itinerary for one day:

Montmartre & Sacre-Coeur Basilica (Optional)

7-8.30 am

If you want to make the utmost out of your day in Paris, start with a visit to Montmartre. This is one of the most charming neighborhoods in the city and you could easily spend a day here alone. But even if you just come for an hour, you can see the best parts!

Start by taking the metro from your hotel to Abbesses station. Check out the Wall of Love (Le Mur des Je t’aime), and then take the stairs or funicular to the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. The church is usually open from 6.30 am so you can even visit inside (it’s free).

Enjoy the stunning city views from the stairs in front of the church, then turn right, and walk to Place du Tertre. This charming square is the heart of the Montmartre.

During the day, it’s very lively, full of local artists and tourists. In the morning, you will likely find it very quiet, so the atmosphere won’t be the same, but it’s worth visiting either way. You will also find many cafes and restaurants here. Many of them are open from early morning, so this could be a nice place for a coffee or breakfast.

Depending on how much time you have, you could explore a bit more of the neighborhood. For more tips on what to see, take a look at our detailed guide to this neighborhood via the link below.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Montmartre

Next, take a metro to the Cité station in the center or a taxi/Uber straight to your next destination – Sainte-Chapelle.

Good to know: We indicate this as optional because we realize that not everybody will be able/want to start their day this early. Plus, Montmartre is quite out of the way from all the main attractions in the city center. But if you want to get the maximum out of your day in Paris and see different facets of the city, then definitely consider a short visit here.

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris (Sacre Coeur)
Sacre-Coeur Basilica.
Place du Tertre in Montmartre, Paris
Place du Tertre in Montmartre.
 

Île de la Cité: Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame

9-11 am

Île de la Cité is the heart of Paris. This little island on the Seine River is best known as home to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, but there is so much more to see here!

With just a day in Paris, you will have to be selective, however. So we recommend just focusing on the two main landmarks – Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle.

TIP: Book the earliest possible time slot for Sainte Chapelle and head there first (reserve timed-entry tickets here asap!). This Gothic masterpiece with 1113 stained glass windows will take your breath away! It’s the most impressive church to see in Paris, and I promise you, it will be one of the highlights of your day!

Then walk to Notre Dame to admire its impressive exterior. Keep in mind that the church is closed for restoration after the devastating fire, so you cannot visit it inside. The opening was foreseen for the Paris Olympics in the summer of 2024, but it looks like it will be postponed again.

Sainte Chapelle stained windows - must see in Paris in a day
Sainte Chapelle is really not to be missed, even if you only have 1 day in Paris!
Lower Chapel at Sainte Chapelle in Paris
The Lower Chapel of Sainte Chapelle is impressive too.
 

Early Lunch

Now it could be a good time to find something for lunch. There are many cafés on Île de la Cité, or you could just grab a crêpe (French pancake) on the go.

You could stop by the restaurant called Aux Vieux Paris d’Arcole (it’s quite famous for its Instagrammable exterior). But it looks more charming in the photos than in reality, and quite frankly, there are better price/quality places nearby.

Recently, we had a very good low-key lunch at the nearby café Sur le Pouce. But both of these cafes are a bit out of the way for this itinerary.

Anyway, you will find many other good places in this area too. There are a few nice crêperies on the way to the Louvre which would probably fit this itinerary the best. We indicated all these places on our map further below.

French crepe pancake
French crepe pancake.
 

Louvre Museum OR Musée d’Orsay

12-2.30 pm.

Next, you could visit one of the most famous museums in Paris – either the Louvre or d’Orsay Museum.

The Louvre is somewhat closer by, about 15 minutes walk, and the d’Orsay Museum is on the opposite side of the river, about 30 minutes walk from Notre Dame.

If you go to the Louvre, you could also see the Hôtel de Ville (the City Hall of Paris) and Pont Neuf on your way there. This iconic bridge can also be seen on the way to the d’Orsay Museum. 

No matter which museum you choose, a walk to get there along the shores of the Seine is really nice. You will pass the famous green Parisian Bouquinistes kiosks selling old books, posters, and postcards. Often, you will also see street vendors selling roasted chestnuts (one of the traditional French foods you should try in Paris!)

Paris Seine riverside Bouquinistes book stalls
Riverside Bouquinistes book stalls in Paris.
 

Musee d’Orsay is located inside an old train station and the interior is stunning. It also has an incredible art collection. The must-see here is the Impressionist section with some of the best works by Monet, Renoir, Manet, and many others. You can also see some masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh.

At the Louvre, you can see the famous Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, and countless other famous masterpieces. In addition, you will see the famous Louvre pyramids. 

Considering all this and its location, for this itinerary, I think I would recommend choosing the Louvre, especially if this is your first time in Paris. On the other hand, d’Orsay Museum is usually a bit less crowded. But both are among the most popular Paris attractions, so it will be very busy either way.

Important! If you want to visit any of the museums, count to spend about 2 hours inside (or you won’t have much time left for the other places). Also, you absolutely have to reserve timed-entry tickets in advance! Here you can book tickets for the Louvre and here – for d’Orsay Museum.

If you decide to visit the Louvre, below, you can find a link to our detailed guide with useful tips (such as which entrance to take in order to avoid the biggest crowds).

LEARN MORE: Tips for Visiting the Louvre Museum

Musee d'Orsay in Paris France
Museum d’Orsay.
Louvre Museum - Paris 1 day itinerary
The Louvre.
 

Jardins de Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, Pont Alexandre III (Optional)

2.30-3.30 pm.

Located just next to the Louvre is the famous Tuileries Garden (Jardins de Tuileries), one of the most beautiful parks in Paris. You can also easily get here from d’Orsay Museum – just cross the bridge to the other side of the river.

If you are coming here from the Louvre, you will also pass Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. This triumphal arch was built earlier, before the famous Arc de Triomphe de Etoile which you can see in the distance from here (and can visit in the evening – see further).

Next, you will pass Place de la Concorde, one of the biggest squares in Paris. In the center, you can see an ancient Egyptian Obelisk, and there is a really nice fountain here too.

Walking towards the river, you will arrive at Pont Alexandre III, the most decorative bridge in Paris.

Good to know: I indicate these places as optional since visiting them all adds quite a bit of walking to this itinerary (about 1.8 km (1.1 miles) – at least 20 minutes of walking time). You could also skip these places to save time, or just walk through the garden and then take a metro from Concorde station.

Next, make your way to the Eiffel Tower. A walk from the Alexandre III bridge is another 1.6 km (1 mile). The distances may not look big, but it all adds up throughout the day, also in terms of time… So you may want to take a taxi or a metro.

Tuileries Garden and the Louvre - Paris, France
Tuileries Garden and the Louvre.
Place de la Concorde fountain and obelisk in Paris France
Place de la Concorde.
Alexandre III bridge in Paris France
Pont Alexandre III – the most impressive bridge in Paris.
 

Eiffel Tower

4 – 5.30 pm.

No trip to Paris would be complete without visiting the Eiffel Tower! You can just walk around admiring its impressive structure, but you’ll probably also want to go up and see the views from the top.

In that case, you really have to reserve timed-entry tickets in advance!!! And you have to choose which levels you’ll visit in advance when booking your ticket.

Good to know: Eiffel Tower has three levels that you can visit: Level 1, Level 2, and the Summit. Level 2 tickets include levels 1 and 2, and the Summit tickets include all levels. In addition, for the first part – up to level 2, you can choose between taking the elevator or the stairs. The summit can only be reached by a separate elevator from the second level.

While going all the way to the summit is a very unique experience, the city views are probably somewhat better from the second level. From the top, you can see much further, of course; it’s just a different perspective really.

Also, it takes much more time to visit the top since the queues for the elevator can be really long. Realistically, you need about 1.5 hours for levels 1 and 2, and 2.5 hours if you visit the summit.

So with just a day in Paris and limited time, visiting level 2 is probably a better option. But if standing at the summit of the Eiffel Tower is high on your bucket list, then definitely go for it! In that case, you’ll probably need to skip something else from this itinerary.

Good to know: You can book Eiffel Tower tickets on their website and also on sites like GetYourGuide or Tiqets. Depending on how long in advance you book, often, Summit tickets on the official site might not be available anymore, but you can still find them on these other sites, sometimes in combination with e.g. a Seine Cruise or other popular attractions. Tickets for the second level are easier to get, but also there, if you want to be able to choose the best time slot, try to book asap!

TIP: As already mentioned, this digital Paris City Card includes Eiffel Tower tickets (2nd level), the Louvre, the Seine Cruise, etc. Alternatively, you could also opt for this Eiffel Summit + Seine Cruise ticket combo. Keep in mind that you’ll need to foresee extra time if you go to the summit.

Paris view from Eiffel Tower Level 2
Views from Level 2.
 

Seine River Cruise

6 – 7 pm.

Next, take a scenic cruise on the Seine River. It’s a great way to see more of Paris and at the same time rest your legs a bit after all the walking and sightseeing. A river cruise is something that should be on any Paris bucket list, so don’t miss it!

There are many cruise options departing from various locations. Depending on your preferences, for example, if you get the earlier-mentioned Paris City Card, you could also do a cruise in the morning, before going to the museum (the cruise included with that card that starts close to Notre Dame).

For this itinerary, exactly as described here, you could take this sightseeing cruise. It starts near the Eiffel Tower and has regular departures throughout the day. The ticket is valid for any boat on the selected day (more info via the booking link above). Or, as said earlier, get this Eiffel Tower + Seine Cruise combination ticket.

TIP: If you feel like this itinerary is already full enough as it is and would like to call it a day after this, opt for a Seine Cruise with dinner!

If you are determined to make the most out of your day in Paris, next, make your way to Arc de Triomphe. You can walk there from the Eiffel Tower, take a metro, or get a taxi/Uber. If you walk, you can enjoy nice views of the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero Gardens on the other side of the river. If you are visiting in winter when it gets dark early, you might be lucky to catch a sunset and/or see how the Eiffel Tower sparkles in the dark. 

Good to know: Eiffel Tower lits up a few minutes after sunset. In addition, the tower ‘sparkles’ for 5 minutes on the hour every hour, between dusk and 11 pm.

Seine river cruise and the Eiffel Tower, Paris
All river cruises pass the Eiffel Tower!
 

Arc de Triomphe

8 pm.

The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is one of the most iconic landmarks of Paris and needs no introduction. You probably have seen it in countless movies, usually in a scene involving cars trying to navigate the 12-fork roundabout around the Arch.

Also here, you have two options. You can simply admire the Arch from the outside or you can go all the way to the rooftop to enjoy some amazing views of Paris. Inside, you will also find a small museum. And on the outside, you can see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The 360° views from the top of the Arch are amazing. It’s one of the most impressive viewpoints in Paris! Just below, you can see the iconic Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The view of the Eiffel Tower is great too and in the distance, you can see the modern La Défense district, Montmartre and Sacre Coeur Basilica, and many other landmarks of Paris.

Good to know: Arc de Triomphe is extremely popular at sunset. The views can be magical indeed, but it’s also crazy busy… Depending on the season when you visit, it’s possible that you will be here around sunset, but with just a day in Paris, I wouldn’t time your visit just for that. You’ll have difficulties squeezing in all the top sights in a day already, so just come here when it suits your itinerary the best.

The views are really nice in the dark as well, and the Arch stays open until late (usually around 10.30 pm).

TIP: If you want to go up, we also highly recommend booking your tickets in advance. At the moment, they are not timed (so are valid at any time during the day of your choice), but purchasing them online saves you a long queue at the ticket desk. You’ll still have to queue at the security check, but that can’t be avoided anywhere.

Paris sunset view from Arc de Triomphe
Sunset view from Arc de Triomphe.
 

Champs-Élysées & Dinner

9-10.30 pm.

End your day in Paris at the city’s most famous boulevard – Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

This street is a few miles long, but the nicest and the liveliest part is right at the Triumph Arch. Here you will find many famous fashion designer stores and this area also has tons of restaurants.

If you are visiting on a weekend or want to dine at a specific place at a specific time, be sure to reserve in advance. Otherwise, it should be possible to find something on the go. 

TIP: Restaurants on Champs-Élysées are very expensive and price/quality-wise not always the best. But in the side streets, you can often find much better value for your money. Despite the touristy location, we had a really good dinner at La Flamme, just 5 minutes walk from the Triumph Arch. I indicated it on our map below.

Alternatively, if you are heading to Moulin-Rouge, you can find some very good restaurants in that area (more local and much cheaper too).

Arc de Triomphe - Paris 1 day itinerary
Arc de Triomphe as seen from Champs-Élysées.
 

Moulin Rouge (optional)

11 pm.

If you want to experience the very best of Paris in a day and think that you’ll still have some energy left, we highly recommend seeing a cabaret show at the iconic Moulin Rouge.

It’s a very professional show with fantastic artists, dazzling acts, colorful costumes, and great music. Furthermore, a traditional Parisian cabaret is something that you can only experience in Paris! It’s an experience you won’t quickly forget!

Good to know: You’ll need to take a taxi/Uber to get here. There are two shows here every evening – at around 9 pm and at 11 pm. The Moulin Rouge show tickets usually sell out at least a few weeks in advance, so you really have to book them asap (see here for the availability and to book).

They also have a dinner + show combo, but dinner starts at 7 pm already and these tickets usually sell out at least a month in advance.

TIP: If Moulin Rouge tickets are sold out, check if there is availability at other cabarets in Paris. While the Moulin Rouge is the most iconic and best known, many others – like Paradis Latin or Crazy Horse are just as good.

Moulin Rouge - a perfect addition to any Paris itinerary
Moulin Rouge is a perfect addition to any Paris itinerary!
 

1-Day Paris Itinerary – Overview

Based on the recommendations above, here is an overview of our recommended Paris itinerary for one day. 

As you can see, this is a very full itinerary that starts very early in the morning and ends late at night. We did our best to create a very complete itinerary that shows you as much as possible in a day.

If you feel like this is way too much for you, you can easily adjust this itinerary to suit your interests. For example, skip the places/activities that are marked as optional. Not interested in spending 2 hours inside a museum? Just see the architecture of the Louvre from the outside. Not interested in the sightseeing river cruise? Head straight to the Eiffel Tower, etc.

But this gives you a good idea of what can be done in Paris in a day, which places are worth it the most on the first visit, and how to plan your time.

Here is our recommended Paris 1-day itinerary in a nutshell:

  • 7-8.30 am: Montmartre & Sacre-Coeur Basilica (optional).
  • Metro.
  • 9-11.30 am: Île de la Cité (Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame, early lunch).
  • Walk.
  • 12-3 pm: The Louvre or Musée d’Orsay.
  • Jardins de Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, Pont Alexandre III (optional).
  • Walk, taxi, or metro.
  • 4 – 5.30 pm: Eiffel Tower*.
  • 6-7 pm: Seine Cruise.
  • Walk, taxi, or metro.
  • 8 pm: Arc de Triomphe.
  • Evening: Champs-Élysées and dinner.
  • Metro or taxi to Moulin Rouge or back to your hotel.
  • 11 pm: Moulin Rouge (optional).

For this itinerary, you’ll need the following tickets: Saint-Chapelle, either the Louvre OR d’Orsay Museum, the Eiffel Tower, the Seine cruise, Arc de Triomphe, and potentially also Moulin Rouge.

* Good to know: If you opt to visit the Eiffel Tower summit (instead of just Levels 1 and 2), you’ll need at least 1 hour more, so skip something else and adjust the rest of your itinerary as needed.

One day in Paris
Paris skyline view from the roof of Arc de Triomphe.
 

Map & Getting Around

To give you a better idea of where everything is located and how to plan your time, we created a map indicating all the places mentioned in this article. See below!

If you want to make the most of your day in Paris, it’s best to cover all the biggest distances by metro. For smaller distances, you can walk or take a taxi/Uber.

How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.

 

Where to Stay

Even if you only have just one day in Paris that probably means that you’ll spend at least 1 or 2 nights in the city. 

Since you will be sightseeing all day, the location of your accommodation doesn’t matter that much. Ideally, it’s close to a metro station so that you can easily get to wherever you start/end your sightseeing itinerary.

For this itinerary (if you visit everything), you could stay close to Montmartre/Moulin Rouge. That way, you are close to your hotel in the morning and in the evening too. And if you decide to go to Moulin Rouge in the evening, you could even quickly change clothes before the show.

Here are some highly-rated hotels in this part of Paris:

 

So, this is our recommended itinerary that brings you to all the must-see places in Paris in a day.

I hope that this gives you a better idea of what to expect, what to see, and how it could all fit together.

As you can see, it’s packed, so you may want to adjust it a bit to suit your interests, time, and budget.

Once again, you really have to book timed entry slots for all the main attractions. It’s not just a matter of wasting time at the ticket desk anymore. Without advance reservations, you can’t even expect to visit most places at all, especially in the high season.

Have a great trip!

READ ALSO: Know Before You Go: Paris Travel Tips for First-Time Visitors

More travel inspiration for Paris:

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Paris 1 day itinerary
Best of Paris in 1 day - hour per hour itinerary and tips
 

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koen

Thursday 10th of August 2023

Hello,

i am going to Paris with my 3 kids. I think the most important tip is to plan the entry tickets well in advance. If you want to go to the TOP of the eiffel tower without spending an arm and a leg on fees for tourist agencies or without queuing the day itself, you should buy tickets EXACTLY 2 months before your visit and EXACTLY at midnight 12 pm. Five minutes later, the top-tickets will be sold out.

Jurga

Friday 11th of August 2023

Yes, it is very important to plan ahead nowadays, Koen. I didn't know Eiffel Tower has gotten this crazy this summer. It was not nearly as difficult last fall, so it's likely just in the peak season and hopefully, it gets better again as the summer is over. But yes, if you travel in any major city in Europe and don't think to prebook all your tickets in advance, you won't be able to visit (m)any of the top sights... Btw, we have this and many other useful tips for visiting Paris in this article.

Tim

Tuesday 8th of August 2023

We just returned from Paris and followed this itinerary to the t. It was such a great day. Well thought out and we saw so much. We would have never been able to do all this without you! PS We bought the Paris City Card as you suggested and it was very easy. Moulin Rouge was sold out so we went to Crazy Horse 😊. Thanks, Tim & Tina

Jurga

Wednesday 9th of August 2023

Thanks for sharing your experience, Tim. Glad to hear that you had such a wonderful time in Paris!

Frances

Wednesday 28th of June 2023

What a brilliant itinerary. Thank You! We followed it to the t and had the best time in Paris. Sadly, Moulin Rouge was sold out but we booked a dinner cruise which was amazing.

Jurga

Saturday 1st of July 2023

Glad to hear that, Frances, and appreciate your feedback. Happy travels!

Michael Cicchi

Monday 17th of April 2023

I will make sure to try Sur La pouce and La Flamme restaurants. Musée d'Orsey is on my must do for next Paris visit.👍

Michael Cicchi

Monday 17th of April 2023

@Jurga, Hello again, I was thinking that I could help you make some sponsorship $$ if I followed some of your suggestions.🙂

Jurga

Monday 17th of April 2023

Oh, Michael, there are SO MANY restaurants in Paris! These are just a few that we chose on this particular trip. :) And yes, d'Orsay Museum is absolutely worth a visit next time you are in Paris!

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