1 Day in Paris: Complete Itinerary

So, you’re heading off to Paris, but you only have a single day. Keep reading to see my top recommendations for spending 1 day in Paris.

Perhaps you have a 24-hour layover before you travel to see other cities in Europe or farther east. Whatever the reason, I’m glad you’re taking the time to enjoy a visit to the City of Lights.

There are so many things to do that a week in Paris is ideal, but a day in Paris is still a treat. You’re in PARIS after all. Enjoy just being there.

Arc de Triomphe in Paris with tourists and cars
Photo: Plan, Ready, Go

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Paris One-day Itinerary Summary 

Morning: The Louvre Museum, Musée d’Orsay  
Afternoon: Tuileries, Musée de l’Orangerie, Champs Élysées, Arc de Triomphe 
Evening: Sunset at the Eiffel Tower 

This itinerary is a little heavy on art. If that’s not your thing, there are other historical sites you could use to fill your day in Paris such as: 

  • The Conciergerie: King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were held prisoner here before their execution at what is now Place de la Concorde. It’s one of the great hidden gems in Paris.
  • Sainte-Chapelle: This cathedral was built to hold the Crown of Thorns relic and is famous for its stunning stained-glass windows. 
  • Sacre-Coeur: The large Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Montmartre sits at the highest point in Paris. In addition to offering sweeping views, it’s also free to enter—great for those who want to tour Paris on a budget

Most of the sites in this itinerary do have entrance fees. My guest post on World by Isa—24 Hours in Paris: Free Things to Do in Paris in One Day—details how you can spend a full day in Paris for free. 


Full One-Day Paris Itinerary 

The Louvre Museum

Rue de Rivoli, 75001 | Metro stops: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (lines 1, 7) and Pyramides (line 14) | Allow 1–2 hours (potentially longer if you’re a serious art lover | closed on Tuesdays

Start your day at the ultra-famous Louvre Museum for a glimpse of the most famous painting in the world. If they are not already, the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo sculpture should be on your art bucket list.

To have the only realistic chance of seeing the Mona Lisa with less than a huge crowd around you, plan to get to the museum well before they open at 9 a.m. They recommend booking an entrance time.

Purchase your Louvre museum tickets ahead of time online or book a skip-the-line tour

TIP: Keep track of all of your important travel details with a digital travel planner like this.

Glass pyramid in front of the Louvre Palace
With 1 day in Paris, you can see several of the city’s top cultural attractions…like the Louvre Museum.
Photo: Plan, Ready, Go

A guided tour is a great option to see a thorough overview of the museum’s collection.

If you really want to get in and out quickly, I recommend you just hit the top three pieces at the Louvre: the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory.

If you have time, take a spin through the Michelangelo Gallery in the Denon Wing. Yay, Renaissance sculpture! 

Optional: drop Musée d’Orsay from your itinerary if you’d rather spend more time at The Louvre. 

Central sculpture gallery of Musee d'Orsay from the mezzanine with the clock on the wall in the background.
Musée d’Orsay was once a train station. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go

Musée d’Orsay

1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 | Metro stop: Musée d’Orsay (RER line C) | Allow 1–2 hours | closed on Mondays 

Musée d’Orsay is home to undoubtedly the greatest collection of Impressionist masterworks in the world.

While perhaps not as famous a museum as the Louvre, I find it far more enjoyable of a museum to tour. You can purchase entrance ahead of your trip here.

The museum building was once Gare d’Orsay, a train station that closed decades ago, but then converted into the museum which opened in 1986. The original (and still functioning) station clock still hangs on the wall overlooking the museum’s central hall. 

Renoir's Bal du moulin de la Galette on display at Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France.
Enjoy stunning art during your Paris day trip. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Lunch Recommendations 


69 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 | Metro stop: Rue du Bac (line 12) 

By now you’re undoubtedly quite hungry. Take a 10-minute walk from Musée d’Orsay to NoGlu—my top recommendation for lunch—for a wonderful and completely gluten-free lunch.

They also offer a nice variety of gluten-free desserts and pastries (some also vegan). 

Carrousel du Louvre Food Court 

99 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 | Metro stop: Palais Royal Musee du Louvre (lines 1, 7), Pyramides (line 14) 

If you choose to extend your visit to The Louvre and not visit Musée d’Orsay on your day in Paris, consider grabbing a bite at the food court in the Carrousel du Louvre underground shopping mall.

You can exit into the Carrousel du Louvre directly from the main museum entrance hall. When we were there, they had decent gluten-free and vegetarian options. We also liked that we didn’t have to wander too far to find a bite to eat.

Green metal chairs around a large fountain basin in a large park.
Enjoy some peace and quiet at the Tuileries. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go

Jardin des Tuileries 

Place de la Concorde, 75001 | Metro Stops: Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12) and Tuileries (line 1) | Allow 30 minutes 

After your lunch, head to the beautiful Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries) adjacent to the Louvre. It’s virtually next door to the Louvre or a 15-minute walk from NoGlu, just on the other side of the Seine from Musée d’Orsay. 

Created by Catherine de’ Medici for the Tuileries Palace (no longer there) in the 16th century, it’s now a public park that stretches from the Louvre Museum to Place de la Concorde.

From the east end of the park, you can also walk downstairs to the Louvre du Carrousel shopping area with its own entrance to the museum.

Take a stroll through the large park and pull up one of the green chairs around the Grand Bassin Rond or the Bassin Octagonal. The Tuileries is a beautiful park that’s perfect for people watching and soaking up the Paris atmosphere. It’s a great way to relax in Paris

Monet's Water Lilies at Musee de l'Orangerie with just a few people seated in the room.
If you truly love art, you owe it to yourself to visit the Musée de l’Orangerie. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go

Musée de l’Orangerie 

Jardin Tuileries, 75001 | Metro Stop: Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12) | Allow 30–60 minutes | Closed Tuesdays

If you love Monet, I highly recommend you take a few minutes to pop into Musée de l’Orangerie to see Monet’s famous Water Lilies.

The museum is within the grounds of the Tuileries, and it doesn’t take long to view the two rooms of Monet murals.  

The rest of the museum’s lovely collection is underground and worth a visit as well, but if you’re pressed for time, the Water Lilies alone are worth the price of admission.

You can book a guided tour here


Okay, I’m not going to pull punches here. You don’t need to see the Champs-Élysées. In my opinion, it’s just a long, wide street full of stores and shops for tourists.

But if you have always longed to walk down the Champs, then by all means do this, but consider walking it in only one direction to save time. 

You can walk straight to the Arc de Triomphe from Place de la Concorde just beyond the Tuileries and Musée de l’Orangerie.

To save time take metro line 1, 2, or 6 or RER line A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile. Metro line 1 has a stop at Concorde very near Musée de l’Orangerie/Tuileries. 

Underside of the Arc de Triomphe
You can get up close and personal with the Arc de Triomphe for free. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go

Arc de Triomphe 

Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 | Metro stops: Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile (lines 1, 2, 6), RER: Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile (line A) | Allow 30 minutes (longer if you want to go up to the terrace for the view) 

Next to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe is undoubtedly the most recognized Paris landmark and a hugely important historical monument.

It was Napoleon who wanted the triumphal arch built, but it was not dedicated until 1836 by King Louis Philippe…15 years after Napoleon’s death. When his remains were returned to France in 1840, they passed under the Arc de Triomphe before he was laid to rest under the dome at Invalides. 

It’s totally free to explore the area around and under the Arc de Triomphe, but there is a fee to go up inside.

If you want to go up to the Arc de Triomphe for a view of Paris, book your ticket ahead of time online to reserve your time slot.   

When approaching the Arc, do not under any circumstances attempt to cross the insane traffic on Place Charles de Gaulle (the traffic circle around the arch).

Instead, use the underground pedestrian walkway (near the metro station) to get safely from the top of the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. 

view of the Eiffel Tower from below with a bright blue sky
Save time during the day for other sites then visit the Eiffel Tower at the end of your day in Paris. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Eiffel Tower  

Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 | Closest metro stops: Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower (RER C), Bir-Hakeim (line 6) | Most picturesque Metro stop: Tracadero (lines 6, 9) | Allow up to 3 hours  

For a great end to your day, pay a visit to the Eiffel Tower in the evening. If you time it right, you can see the sunset from the tower then head down to Parc du Champs de Mars to enjoy the tower’s twinkling lights. 

If you don’t fancy heights or don’t want to pay the money to up into the tower itself, you can still get a great Eiffel Tower experience from the ground. Grab a section of lawn at the Parc du Champ de Mar and wait for sunset.

Then the tower will be completely lit up and you can enjoy the sparking lights that start every hour on the hour after that. 

view of the Eiffel Tower with a bright blue sky
View of the Eiffel Tower from Place du Trocadéro. Photo: David Vierow

More than 1 day in Paris?

If you only have one day in Paris, there are plenty of things to see and do. But if you have more time, there are even more possibilities. If you can spend a full two days in Paris, check out my weekend in Paris itinerary for more ideas for what to do with your time in the City of Lights.

The bottom line 

From art to important historical monuments, you can cover a lot of ground with one day in Paris.

No matter what you choose to do, even if it’s just grabbing a coffee and pulling up a chair at the Tuileries or talking a walk along the Seine, you’re in for a great day. 

And while we’re on the subject, don’t let anyone put you off from spending only one day in Paris. It’s an amazing city that’s totally worth it. Maybe today you can only go for one day, but maybe someday you can go back and stay longer. (P.S. I recommend a week if you can do it.)

More articles to help you plan your trip to Paris

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Eiffel Tower lit up at night from below with text overlay that says 1 perfect day in Paris.
See the best of Paris in just one day

1 Day in Paris: Complete Itinerary

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