An Ideal Weekend in Paris: See Paris in 2 Days

Can you see Paris in two days? Absolutely. With a weekend in Paris, you can see the best of the best that the City of Lights has to offer. We have the best itinerary for two days in Paris plus great recommendations for where to stay and other essential Paris travel tips. 

view of the Eiffel Tower with a bright blue sky
With a weekend in Paris, you can see the top sites and still have time to wander. Photo: David Vierow

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Weekend in Paris: Day 1 

Your first day in Paris for the weekend, I recommend you plan to cover the big sites. That way if you need to change your plans, you still have a little time to re-arrange things. This will be a full day…so put on some comfortable shoes and buckle up. 

Explore the famous Louvre 

Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 

Metro stops: Metro stops: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (lines 1, 7) and Pyramides (line 14) 

Start your Paris weekend at the amazing 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.   

If you don’t want to purchase a Paris Museum Pass, you can book a skip-the-line ticket here

Louvre pyramid
Don’t miss the Louvre Museum on your 2-day trip to Paris. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

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.

If the weather is especially bad you can likely afford to arrive closer to opening time. Alternatively, you can go later in the day, after most of the early crowds have dispersed.   

Consider booking a guided tour to get an expert-guided and thorough overview of the museum’s collection. 

If you really want to get in and out of the Louvre quickly, use your Paris Museum Pass or skip-the-line ticket and then just hit the top three pieces: the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory.

If you have time, I recommend you also take a spin through the Michelangelo Gallery in the Denon Wing. 

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

the ancient marble Winged Victory sculpture at the Louvre
Winged Victory at the Louvre. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Kick back at The Tuileries 

Address: Place de la Concorde, 75001 

Metro Stops: Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12) and Tuileries (line 1) 

After you’ve had your fill of the Louvre, head outside to the beautiful Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries). It’s virtually next door to the Louvre.  

fountain with green chairs around it in the Tuileries park in Paris
The Tuileries is a great place to put up your feet in Paris. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Originally created by Catherine de’ Medici for the Tuileries Palace (no longer standing) 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, which includes a Louvre Museum entrance. This entrance sometimes has a shorter line than the Pyramid main entrance. 

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 one of my favorite relaxing things to do in Paris

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Optional: see Monet’s Water Lilies at L’Orangerie 

Monet waterlilies painting in a white room
Monet’s Water Lilies at l’Orangerie. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Address: Jardin Tuileries, 75001 

Metro Stops: Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12) and Tuileries (line 1) 

Lovers of Impressionism might want to add a visit to Musée de l’Orangerie to their itinerary so they can see Claude Monet’s Water Lilies (or Nymphéas). Monet’s eight stunning paintings are arranged across several panels in two elliptical rooms designed to allow their viewing with natural light. 

Seated in the center of the room, you can view Monet’s masterpieces while being almost completely surrounded by them.

Monet painted the Water Lilies especially for the museum, but sadly he died before he could see them on display. 

Palais Garnier guided tour 

people take photos on the grand staircase in the Paris Opera House
Palais Garnier. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Address: Pl. de l’Opéra, 75009 

Metro Stops: Opéra (lines 3, 7 and 8), RER line A (Auber station) 

Fans of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera will want to spend some time touring the setting of his famous show. Fans of stunning French architecture should also visit Palais Garnier. 

While you can see the Paris Opera House with a self-guided visit, we highly recommend doing the guided tour. Hubby has done both the guided tour and the self-guided visit and loved the tour. It’s his favorite thing he’s ever done in Paris.  

Read more in our post all about the Paris Opera House Guided tour. 

Experience the Eiffel Tower at sunset 

view of the Eiffel Tower from below with a bright blue sky
Save a visit to the Eiffel Tower for evening so you can see the sun set over Paris from up top. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 

Metro stops: Closest metro stops: Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower (RER line C), Bir-Hakeim (line 6) | Most picturesque Metro stop: Tracadero (lines 6, 9)  

End the first day of your Paris weekend enjoying sunset over Paris from the iconic Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is not covered by the Paris Museum Pass, so make sure to book your tickets ahead of time if you can. 

Plan to spend 2–3 hours at the Eiffel Tower including getting through security, and plan to get in line at security 30 minutes prior to the reservation time on your ticket.  As the sun goes down, you’ll be treated to beautiful views of the city

After sunset the Eiffel Tower is lit up, and then every hour on the hour (until late) there’s a sparkling light show that last about 5 minutes. 

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 from the ground. 

view of a long green park from above in Paris
Enjoy wonderful views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Or view from Parc du Champs de Mar for free

If you have no desire to go up into the Eiffel Tower, then you can still get an amazing view of it at night from the park that stretches out from the base of the tower.

It’s called the Parc du Champs de Mar, and it’s a popular place from which to view the Eiffel Tower. You could even pack a picnic dinner and make a whole night of it. 

More things to do during your two-day Paris trip 

Here are some other popular activities you might like to do on the first day of your weekend in Paris. They all include free 24-hour cancellation. 

To get a good overview of the city, try the popular Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour. You can explore the city at your own pace for 24 or 48 hours. 

Seine river cruises are among the most popular activities in Paris. This 1-hour Seine River cruise includes audio commentary and a crepe tasting. 

Paris weekend itinerary: Day 2 

On day two of the two-day Paris itinerary, we’re going to finish up the top Paris sights, plus see a couple of smaller things and try a “must eat” Paris food. 

Wonder at the beautiful Sainte-Chappelle 

light shining through a wall of tall stained glass windows

Address: 10 Blvd du Palais, 75001 

Metro Stop: Cité (line 4) 

Start the second day of your Paris weekend taking in the 1,133 breathtaking stained-glass windows in the gothic Sainte-Chappelle. The windows depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments plus scenes of world history. 

Sainte-Chappelle is located on Île de la Cité in the Seine River. It was built in only seven years to house relics acquired by Saint Louis, including the crown of thorns. 

Browse at the Bouquinistes 

Location: on the right bank from the Pont Marie to the Quai du Louvre, and on the left bank from the Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire. 

Along both the right and left banks of the Seine, bouquinistes with their uniformly green stalls, sell used books, vintage posters, postcards and other small souvenirs as they have done for hundreds of years.

Take some time to browse. Maybe you’ll find something that you can’t live without. 

You’ll find more than 200 bouquiniste stalls on both sides of the river. The stalls themselves are highly regulated by Paris law (color, height, etc.) and there is a years-long waiting list to get one of the coveted spots.  

Shakespeare and Company 

people browsing books in front of the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris
Book lovers cannot miss visiting Shakespeare and Company, Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Address: 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 

Metro stop: Saint-Michel Notre-Dame (line 4; RER B, C) 

If you’re a book lover, a stop at the English-language Shakespeare and Company book store is probably already on your must-do list for Paris. Yes, it’s full of tourists, but it is also a great book store.

I picked up a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast here, and it’s a lovely souvenir to remind me of my visit to a special place. 

No photography is allowed inside, but outside is okay. (You may have to wait in line behind a couple of Instagrammers.) 

Enjoy classic Parisian crepes 

traditional butter a sugar crepe on a white plate next to a small cup of coffee

Make sure you take time during your Paris weekend trip to enjoy some Parisian crepes. Our favorite place, Culture Crepes, is located in the Latin Quarter. 

They had delicious crepes and galettes with warm and friendly service. We loved Culture Crepes so much that went back a couple of days later. Seriously. It’s just the best.

You can dine in, but they also have a take-out window if you want to save a couple of euros and eat on the go. 

Arc de Triomphe 

Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 

Metro stops: Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile (lines 1, 2, 6), RER: Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile (line A) 

No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Arc de Triomphe of course. And as spectacular as it is to view the Arc from a distance down the Champs-Élysées, I think is even more impressive up close. 

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.  

When approaching the Arc, do not under any circumstances attempted 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. 

tourists milling about at the base of the Arc de Triomphe
Get up close to the Arc de Triomphe during your Paris weekend. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go

Where to stay for two days in Paris 

Paris has no shortage of wonderful places to stay. If you’re only staying for a couple of nights, a hotel might be the best option.

For a longer stay of about a week, we enjoy finding an apartment rental, so that we have a kitchen and can do laundry and things. 

Here are a few popular hotel options: 

Timhotel Montmartre—Stay at affordable accommodations in the heart of Montmartre just a short walk from Sacré-Cœur and less than 5 minutes from the Abbesses metro stop. Book your stay today.  

Hotel Muguet (7th Arrondissement)—Stay in the heart of Paris just a short walk from Hotel des Invalides and 1.5 kilometers from the Eiffel Tower. La Tour Maubourg Metro Station as just a few minutes’ walk away and some of the rooms offer views of the Eiffel Tower. Check out their rates today. 

Hotel Parc Saint Severin – Esprit de France (Latin Quarter)—4-star accommodations in the Latin Quarter. Saint Michel Metro Station is just 3 minutes away. Shakespeare and Company and bookstore is just steps away. Look at room options here. 

Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris (8th Arrondissement) — For the ultimate in a Paris luxury hotel stay, treat yourself to a stay at the George V. The hotel has three restaurants that have earned a total of five Michelin stars. Enjoy stunning views of Paris from your private terrace. Book a weekend at this iconic hotel here. 

Need more help planning your Paris weekend getaway? Check out our list of the essential travel planning resources. 

view of the Louvre museum from the Tuileries
Tuileries. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go

How many days should you spend in Paris? 

As many as you possibly can. Heh. Seriously, though. You could spend simply months in Paris and not exhaust all the amazing things there are to do and see there. 

For a first visit, I’d recommend at least four days on up to a week in Paris or more if you can manage it. But even with one day in Paris or a weekend (as we’ll discuss in this post) you can cover a lot of ground and see the best of the best if you plan well. To find out how, just keep reading! 

When to visit Paris 

You’re probably going to get the most agreeable weather (in terms of temperature) between June and late September.

It can get pretty cool in the late spring, and I believe you can plan on running into a rainy day or two no matter what time of year you visit Paris. Historically, your best of chance of avoiding rain would be to visit in late winter or very early spring, but then it would also be pretty cool. 

Another thing to consider is that you’ll likely encounter the busiest tourist season in Paris in July and August.  

How to get around Paris 

The best ways to get around Paris are to walk or use the metro. We like to walk as much as possible. It saves money and then you also get to see more of Paris. 

It’s easy to get around Paris using public transportation. The affordable RER suburban/commuter trains will get you from Charles de Gaulle (CDG) or Orly (ORY) airport into Paris (and vice versa).

The RER is also convenient for seeing major sites outside Paris such as Versailles and Disneyland.

I highly recommend spending some time on the Paris by Train site to help you with navigating train transportation.  

In Paris for more than a weekend?

If you only have two days in Paris, there are plenty of things to see and do. But if you have more time, even a long weekend, there are even more options.

If you can spend more than three or four days, check out my Paris one week itinerary for more ideas about the best way to spend your time in the City of Lights.

View of the underside of the Louvre pyramid with many museum guests walking around.
The famous Louvre pyramid serves as the main entrance to the museum. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Paris history walking tour

Paris is a big city that begs to be explored on foot, and there are plenty of walking tours to choose from if that’s something you’re interest in. One of the best ways to see Paris is to take a guided tour and learn about the history and culture of the city.

There are many different types of walking tours available, so you can find one that fits your interests and schedule. I think that walking tours are ideal for first time visitors to a city.

Keep in mind that most free walking tours expect the guests to tip the tour guide.

Another option would be to use an audio guide that you can download to your device. The great benefit of doing a self-guided audio tour is that you can start anytime you want and totally go at your own pace.

I like the Rick Steves Historic Paris Walk.

Explore the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank

If you’re looking for a more off-the-beaten-path experience in Paris, head to the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank. This neighborhood is full of winding streets and hidden gems waiting to be explored.

There are plenty of things to see and do in the Latin Quarter, so be sure to set aside enough time to wander around and take it all in. Check out my favorite ideas in my article about the best hidden gems in Paris.

Narrow street in the Paris Latin Quarter full of shops and cafes.
Wandering through the Latin Quarter in Paris is a great joy. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Stop by the Hôtel de Ville

The Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) is a beautiful building located in the heart of Paris’ 4th arrondissement. This historic landmark has been the home of the Paris City Council since 1357. Exhibits in the Hôtel de Ville are open to the public and free for all.

Relax at Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges is a lovely park located in Le Marais neighborhood of Paris. This is one of the best places to relax and enjoy the outdoors, especially on a sunny day. It was originally called Place Royale and is the oldest planned square in Paris.

Or kick back in one of the many other beautiful gardens in Paris such as Luxembourg Gardens.

Take a half-day trip to the Palace of Versailles

View of the Palace of Versailles from the rear
Consider a trip to Versailles if you have more than a couple of days in Paris. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

The Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris. This grand palace is located about 20 miles outside of the French capital, so it’s best to visit on a day trip.

But if you’re short on time and you really want to see it, you can take a half-day trip to the Palace of Versailles. I recommend visiting in the morning so you can explore the palace and grounds at your own pace before heading back to Paris in the afternoon.

Keep in mind that the Palace of Versailles is very popular, so it’s best to buy your tickets in advance to help avoid long lines.

Check out my best tips for visiting Versailles.

Enjoy the view from Sacre Coeur

With its location at the highest point in Paris, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart provides visitors with a great way to get a lovely view of almost the entire city. You can explore Sacré Coeur’s interior free of charge, though you will be asked to keep your voice down and not take photos.

It’s quite a hike up to Sacré Coeur Basilica if you take the 200+ stairs, or you can buy a metro ticket and take the funicular to the top of the hill.

If you have more time after you’ve visited Sacre Coeur, take some time to wander around the rest of the Montmartre neighborhood. This is a great place do some people watching.

The bottom line

With a weekend in Paris you can get such as great taste of the City of Lights. You’ll have time to experience the very best sites, plus eat some great food. 

So, choose one of Paris’ great hotels in one of its iconic neighborhoods like Montmartre or the Latin Quarter or Le Marais, and get exploring! 

More articles to help you plan a trip to Paris 

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2 days in Paris itinerary
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