Okay, first things first: 30 days in Paris isn't nearly enough to experience everything the city has to offer. Then again, a lifetime wouldn't be enough for that either. If you only have a limited time, you're going to need to be smart about what you see and do if you want to fit in even a tiny sample of what the city has to offer with only 3 days in Paris.
Paris is one of the world's most visited cities for a reason, and the French capital is overflowing with must-visit attractions like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, the Place de la Concorde, and the Louvre Museum. Not visiting at least a couple of the city's famous art museums and the Eiffel Tower would be like not visiting Paris at all.
At the same time, you don't necessarily want to do what everyone else is doing, especially if you're not a fan of crowds. Plus, a huge part of the charm of the city only becomes apparent when you discover Paris for yourself. You need to see all the major sites when you visit Paris, but you also need to create time in your Paris itinerary to just wander the beautiful streets and take in the unique atmosphere of one of the world's great cities.
If you're pressed for time, here's a 3 days in Paris itinerary that can give you some guidance as to where to go and what to do. But as anyone who has visited Paris knows, the city rewards exploration. Take this Paris itinerary as a suggestion for your own exploration, and you'll discover your own version of Paris that doesn't have to be anybody else's. Store your bags safely in Paris, then head out to explore everything that the City of Light has to offer.
Paris Itinerary: Day One
The first thing to understand about Paris is that it is very big, and you're going to do plenty of walking with this 3 days in Paris itinerary. To fit everything in, you'll want to make extensive use of the Paris Metro, so you may as well buy yourself a three-day Metro pass from a ticketing machine in any train station so you don't have to worry about making sure you have a valid ticket. If you're a big fan of art, you can also get transit tickets that include a Paris museum pass that can help you save money on admission to some of the major attractions in the city.
So you've just woken up on your first morning in the French capital. You have a busy 3 days in Paris ahead of you, so there's no time to waste. Start your first day by heading to the Eiffel Tower. It's probably the most famous landmark in Paris, and it would be a crime not to go. That being said, everyone wants to go to the Eiffel Tower, so it can be quite crowded.
If you want to avoid some of the crowds (and you don't mind spending a little extra money), you can buy tickets in advance that will allow you to skip the line and head straight to the elevator that will take you up to the top of the tower. If you don't want to spend the money or if you're unable to get tickets in advance, there's no need to worry. The lines at the Eiffel Tower move pretty quickly, and you'll be able to enjoy one of the best views in Paris in no time.
Once you're done at the Eiffel Tower, it's time for a classic Parisian breakfast. Head to a nearby cafe and order yourself a croissant and a cup of coffee. If you want something a little heartier, you can also order eggs or an omelet. Once you're fueled up and ready to go, it's time to explore some more of the city.
While you're in the area, you can take a 30-minute walk or a quick Paris Metro ride to see another icon of the city, the Arc de Triomphe. This triumphal arch is an impressive monument to France's proud military history, but it also won't take too long to visit. If you want to maximize your time, you can climb to the top of the monument. Or you can just get a quick photo and continue with your day.
From the Arc de Triomphe, you can head down the legendary Champs Elysees. This famous street is one of the world's best for luxury shopping and high-end brands, but it's not a cheap place to visit. If you love to shop and want to enjoy the best shopping in Paris, you could easily spend the whole day here, but if you don't, it might be better to give it a miss.
Heading down the Champs Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe will bring you finally to the architecturally beautiful Place de la Concorde and the Jardin des Tuileries. If you skipped breakfast, this could be a great place to enjoy a picnic. Alternatively, you could grab bread, cheese, and wine and head back to the Champs de Mars to enjoy a picnic with an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower. This is a good way to save money in one of the most expensive areas of this pricey city.
If you'd prefer a good sit-down meal, there's no end of bistros and restaurants in this area. Check out Epicure for fine dining with a full complement of Michelin stars, or visit Cafe des Marrioners for a far more casual atmosphere.
Fueled up, you'll be ready to visit a legendary art museum which is one of the best museums in Paris, and therefore in the world. The Musee d'Orsay holds a priceless collection of paintings and other artwork by mostly French artists like Monet, Manet, and Van Gogh. It's impossible to see everything in the d'Orsay in one visit, so make sure you research what you want to see before you go.
After a full day of sightseeing, it might be time to relax a bit. Head back to your hotel and take a quick nap or just put your feet up for a bit. Once you're rested, it will be time for dinner.
There are plenty of great places to eat in Paris, but if you want something truly special, make a reservation at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. This Michelin starred restaurant is one of the best places to eat in the city, and it's worth splurging for a meal here.
If you're not looking to spend quite so much on dinner, there are still plenty of great options. For a truly Parisian experience, head to Chez Janou for some traditional French fare. Or if you're in the mood for something different, try Le Petit Marché for some delicious Moroccan food.
After dinner, it's time to enjoy one of Paris' world-renowned nightlife scene. Start off at one of the city's many bars or clubs, or enjoy a show at the Moulin Rouge. No matter what you do, you're sure to have a great time in Paris after dark.
Paris Itinerary: Day Two
For something truly special, head to La Maison du Chocolat for some of the best chocolate in the city. Or if you're looking for something a little lighter, enjoy a croissant and coffee at one of the many cafes dotting the streets of Paris.
After breakfast, make your way to the Louvre Museum. This world-renowned art museum is home to some of the most famous paintings in the world, including the Mona Lisa, along with famous sculptures like the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Even if you're not an art lover, the Louvre is worth a visit for its sheer size and scope.
You could easily spend the entire day at the Louvre, but if you'd like to see more of the city, make sure to leave enough time to explore some of the other great museums Paris has to offer. The Musee de l'Orangerie is a great option if you're interested in seeing more of Monet's work, or the Centre Pompidou if you're interested in contemporary art.
If you choose not to spend all day admiring the unbelievable cultural treasures of the Louvre, you could see a completely different side of the city by taking a ride on the metro out to Montmartre. This picturesque area of Paris is home to the Sacre Coeur Basilica, as well as a number of great cafes, restaurants, and bars. It's also a famously artistic area that was home to many of the greatest artists in history, so visiting is a perfect accompaniment to all the art museums you've visited so far. And, this bohemian area is also a good place to try some of the best street food in Paris.
You could also spend the afternoon shopping in one of Paris' many great neighborhoods. The Marais is a great option, as it's home to a number of independent stores selling everything from clothes to books to antiques. Or for a more upscale shopping experience, check out the luxury stores on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore.
If you decided to spend your afternoon in Montmartre, there's really no need to go anywhere else to enjoy your evening. This part of the city really comes alive at night, and the stunning view over Paris will remind you why this place is known as the City of Light.
Montmarte is full of great restaurants to have dinner, like the quaint Taverne de Montmartre or the lively L'Annexe. Afterward, you could check out the wine bars and clubs of this neighborhood, mixing it up with the locals and never running out of new places to explore. The countercultural atmosphere of Montmartre makes it one of the best places to explore in Paris at night.
Paris Itinerary: Day Three
Start your day with a visit to one of Paris' most famous landmarks, the Notre Dame Cathedral. This Gothic masterpiece is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, so it's best to arrive early to avoid the crowds. Although it's no longer possible to go inside this grand church after the devastating fire of 2019, it's still worth admiring Notre Dame from the outside.
Once you've had your fill of sightseeing, it's time for breakfast. If you're in the mood for something sweet, stop by Du pain et des idees for one of the best chocolat chauds in the city. Or, if you're looking for something savory, get your hands on a jambon beurre sandwich at one of the many boulangeries around Paris.
Located on île de la cité, Notre Dame de Paris occupies one of the oldest areas of the city. And just across the river, the Latin Quarter offers a completely different but no less fascinating neighborhood that you should definitely add to your perfect Paris itinerary.
This lively and historic area is home to a number of colleges and universities, so it has a young and vibrant atmosphere. It's also full of great bars and restaurants, as well as some of the best nightlife in Paris.
If you're looking for something to do during the day, the Latin Quarter is home to a number of great museums, like the Cluny Museum and the Sorbonne University Museum. Or you could simply spend some time strolling through this lovely neighborhood, stopping to admire the architecture or people-watch from one of the many cafes.
After a busy day exploring the Latin Quarter, it's time to relax with a glass of wine at one of its many atmospheric wine bars. Le Comptoir Général is a great option, offering a wide selection of wines as well as a relaxed and cozy atmosphere.
If you're looking for something to eat, the Latin Quarter is full of great restaurants, like the Michelin-starred Le Petit Lutetia or the more casual Chez René.
Alternatively, a Seine River cruise offers an incredible way to round off your 3 days in Paris. Traveling along the river will let you see some of the city's most iconic sites and photograph them all lit up at night. It's a fantastic way to take stock of everything you've seen, and will no doubt inspire you to start planning to visit Paris again soon.