As the biggest city in France, the capital and a city famed for its cuisine, culture and romance, 4 to 5 days in Paris will be just enough to experience la vie parisienne. Read our Paris itinerary for a complete guide to everything you need to see in the big city and for all of the best tips when planning a trip to Paris.
You can spend a lifetime in Paris and not visit every gallery or museum and walk in every park, so how many days to spend in Paris is a valid and complex question.
That’s why we’ve taken all the highlights and must-see attractions and listed them in the closest proximity so you can spend a whole day enjoying the sights and sounds of the streets, galleries and restaurants rather than the screech of the metro. We’ve also listed the closest metro stations to the Paris itinerary stops so if you’re pushed for time or less mobile, you can still easily get around the capital.
Most of the museums and galleries are huge places that you could spend a whole day if you desired, and they cost to enter, so if you’re visiting Paris on a budget or don’t have so much time, you can choose which places to visit and admire their beautiful exteriors, even if you choose not to go in.
Have a look through our Paris itinerary and select which are the easiest points to get to from your accommodation, which interests you more, and which will give you the best or cheapest viewpoint of the city.
Over a long romantic weekend or 3 days in Paris, you can see the main attractions listed on the first day of our itinerary that fit your schedule, and enjoy the food and drink, culture and ambience of the lively city, rather than rushing around.
However, if you’re spending 4 days in Paris, you’ll have the opportunity to see the main attractions as well as the more obscure sights that only the locals and francophiles know about.
Over 5 days in Paris, you can spend as much time as you wish visiting the numerous excellent museums such as the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay or Rodin Museum, and even add a day trip from Paris, for example to the awe-inspiring Palace of Versailles or Epernay and Reims in the Champagne region.
As the tenth largest city in Europe in terms of population, with just over 2 million inhabitants, and the second most visited city in Europe, with over 19 million tourists each year, Paris is a major European destination and is very well connected.
It has many train stations, although the main ones are Gare de Nord, Gare de l’Est, Gare de Lyon and Montparnasse Hall. You can get connections to these stations from every main station across France and neighbouring European cities such as Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin and Luxembourg City. You can view train schedules here.
You can also arrive by train from central London’s St Pancras International Station, into Paris Gare de Nord via the Eurostar in just 2 hours and 20 minutes. It’s more comfortable and eco-friendly than flying and makes much more sense if you’re travelling from the English capital.
There is also the option of flying into Paris, with Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris-Orly Airport and Beauvais Airport all surrounding Paris and serving major destinations all over the world. There are buses connecting the airports to the city centre or private taxis to take you directly to your accommodation. You can also pre-book a transfer here.
Within Paris itself, there is an excellent public transportation system, and, as with most big cities, renting a car is not just not ideal, it’s not recommended. Rather than spending half of your trip trying to find a parking space and quarrelling with French road users, it’s much more advisable to use the Paris metro or buses.
There are 14 metro lines, 12 tramways and many bus routes covering the whole city, so any and every destination within Paris is accessible through the public transport system. You can buy a day pass for unlimited travel on all transport systems.
Planning Your Paris Trip
Since some of the museums are free on certain evenings or days of the month, you can plan your trip to Paris according to what you’d most like to see so you can save yourself the ticket price.
If you plan on visiting a number of different museums and attractions and want to reduce your costs in Paris, it can also be cost-effective to purchase a city pass. For instance, the Paris Museum Pass includes skip-the-line entry into some of the city’s top museums – like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay – for a nominal fee.
Alternatively, the Paris Pass includes entry into attractions and places to see in Paris like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame along with some other perks.
However, if you’re looking for a relaxed time in Paris, be wary of the major events that take part in the city when planning your trip, such as Bastille Day on 14 July, or the final day of the Tour de France towards the end of July, as these events can cause significant disruption to transportation in the city and may not be the best time to visit Paris.
Equally, if you want to experience the buzz in the streets on these days, plan your trip to Paris in advance to ensure you have suitable accommodation.
4 to 5 Days in Paris Itinerary
Pick and mix which locations you’d most like to see or follow our Paris itinerary to the T; you won’t be short of things to do in 4 to 5 days in Paris.
Many of the tourist attractions of Paris lie close to the banks of the Seine in the city centre, so day 1 of our Paris itinerary takes you to all the must-see stops within a 5 km area.
Whether you go inside or not, you can’t visit Paris without setting eyes on the incredible Arc de Triomphe in Place Charles de Gaulle. Finished in 1836, this monument to the armies of the French Revolution and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI is one of the most iconic structures in Paris.
At 50 metres high, 45 metres across and 22 metres wide, it’s not the tallest viewpoint in the city but it is unique, with its ornate decoration and inscriptions as well as the eternal flame that is relit every day at 6.30 pm since it was first lit in 1923.
If you want to be even more wowed by your visit, have a look at Charles Godefroy flying his biplane under the Arc de Triomphe in the 1919 Paris victory parade before you arrive, and marvel at the location of this amazing feat. You can pre-book tickets here.
Nearest Metro stop: Charles de Gaulle – Étoile
Probably the most famous road in the world, and arguably also the most beautiful, the Champs-Élysées is an almost-2 km avenue stretching from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde.
Although primarily the hub of designer shopping and luxury brands, with perfumery Guerlain located here since 1913, the road’s creation began in the 17th century thanks to Louis XIV’s gardener, and today it’s the street with the most cinemas in Paris.
As you walk down from the Arc de Triomphe, you can spot several beautiful theatres that still host plays, the Louis Vuitton shop which also houses a small contemporary art museum, Joël Robuchon’s Michelin-star restaurant L’Atelier Étoile, and the only casino in Paris, the Paris Elysées Club.
Thanks to these attractions as well as the central location and shopping opportunities, almost 300,000 people descend on the Champs-Élysées each day, and the avenue is full of life day and night. It is also home to famous Christmas markets if you’re visiting Paris during winter.
The President’s residence, the enormous Palais de l’Élysée, can be found just off the Champs-Élysées, behind the Jardins de Champs-Élysées, at 55 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, however, it can only be visited on European Heritage Days as it is in regular use.
There is no doubt that strolling along the Champs-Élysée is one of the best things to do in Paris and the perfect addition to an itinerary for your first visit.
Nearest Metro stop: George V or Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau
Any Paris itinerary would be incomplete without the iconic Louvre museum. In the 1st arrondissement of Paris, this national art museum is home to over 600,000 works, including the world-renowned Leonardo da Vinci painting, La Gioconda, a.k.a the Mona Lisa, and the 2,000-year-old Alexandros of Antioch statue, the Venus de Milo.
Construction of the Louvre buildings finished in the 13th century, and it became the primary residence of the French Kings from 1546 until 1682 when Louis XIV moved to the Palace of Versailles, leaving the Louvre to serve as a museum to display the masterful artworks of France.
Over time it’s become the world’s most visited museum and can either serve as an epic adventure of artists, or simply an architectural wonder as you pass on through as part of your 4 to 5 days in Paris.
Nearest Metro stop: Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre, Louvre – Rivoli or Pont Neuf
A short walk away from the Louvre Museum is the conceptual curiosity of the Pompidou Centre.
An avid supporter of the arts, President Georges Pompidou began the creation of a single artistic and cultural centre, containing a modern and contemporary art museum, a public library, an industrial creation centre and a music centre in one building in 1969. You can pre-book tickets here.
Sadly dying 3 years before its completion, the Centre Pompidou opened in 1977 and is an architectural masterpiece in the centre of Paris.
With metal beams, tubes, funnels and bright colours around the exterior, if you’re short on time or have other museums prioritised on your trip, you can simply stop for a few photos rather than going in.
It’s also just around the corner from supposedly the best jambon-beurre joint in Paris – the Caractère du Cochon.
An unassuming exterior, here you can savour the spectacularly simple flavours of this French classic; the crisp outer layer of bread crust contrasting with the fluffy interior, the salt crystals of the butter, the thick sweet ham, the acidity of the cornichon… parfait!
Nearest Metro stop: Rambuteau
Sat on the Île de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, this 13th-century Gothic cathedral looks incredible from every angle, especially in Spring as the flowers bloom on the banks of the Seine.
The Notre Dame de Paris has seen a great deal of destruction since its first stone was laid in 1163 and through the French Revolution until it was dutifully repaired in 1864 following the newfound interest in the cathedral thanks to Victor Hugo’s story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Unfortunately, it remains closed due to the roof burning down at Easter 2019, so you can’t see the alleged historic artefacts from the crucifixion of Jesus, including the crown of thorns. However the exterior of the cathedral is still a wonder, and you can visit the neighbouring 13th-century Sainte-Chapelle with its brightly coloured stained-glass windows.
President Macron hopes for the Notre Dame to be fully repaired by the opening of the Paris Olympics in 2024 and aims for a mass to be held on the 5th anniversary of the fire, however, its official opening date is predicted to be December 2024.
Nearest Metro stop: Cité
Walking back from the Île de la Cité on the south bank of the Seine, you’ll find a row of market stalls selling all kinds of second-hand books, whetting your literary appetite for the next stop on your first day in Paris, the Bibliothèque Mazarine.
The Mazarine library is the oldest in France, having been built in the 17th century and later absorbed by the Palais de L’Institut de France at the request of the creator Mazarine shortly before his death.
It has a beautiful reading room with walls lined with a huge collection of rare books and manuscripts, including the original Gutenberg bible – although a replica is on display. You can also use this opportunity to take a short river cruise along the Seine.
Nearest Metro stop: Saint-Michel Notre-Dame or Pont Neuf
Further West along the south bank of the Seine in a train station built in 1900, is the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist artwork in the world: the Musée d’Orsay.
With works by Cézanne, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Seurat and Van Gogh among many others, this museum is an absolute must-see destination for art lovers visiting Paris.
Nearest Metro stop: Musée d’Orsay
Your second day in Paris takes you around the artistic haunts of the city with fantastic panoramic viewpoints and exceptional architecture.
Day 2 in Paris starts in the Opéra district, at the place that gives the area its name: Palais, or Opéra Garnier. The almost 2,000-seat opera house was built for the Paris Opera in 1875 and is the setting for the famous novel and musical, the Phantom of the Opera, although it now mainly shows ballet.
It’s an amazing building from the exterior, showcasing the architecture of the Napoleon III period, and you can enter or have a guided tour of the magnificent interior. You can pre-book tickets here.
Nearest Metro stop: Opéra
Although no longer exclusive to Paris, the Galerie Lafayette shopping centres are part of the Parisian aesthetic and none more so than Galerie Lafayette Haussman.
Passing luxury brands that fill the building from sparkling floors to glorious colourful domed ceilings, you can go up to the 8th floor where you have spectacular views of Paris, the skyline and close-ups of the neighbouring buildings of the Opéra district.
The restaurant next to the terrace is open from 10 am to 8 pm so start your day here with a café and croissant before heading off to your next stop. You can either take the metro or walk for just over 2 km to Montmartre, via the Moulin Rouge.
Although it looks best when lit up at night, you can still enjoy the building during the daytime for a family-friendly visit, as it is in the Pigalle, the Parisian Red Light District after all.
Nearest Metro stop: Chaussée d’Antin – La Fayette
Arriving in Montmartre on foot, it’s impossible to miss the incredible Basilica of the Sacred Heart atop the historic hill. You can climb the steps or take the funicular from the south side to reach the basilica.
Literally the Mount of the Martyrs, the area got its name due to the many Christians who were persecuted in the area in the 5th century, including Saint-Denis — the first Bishop of Paris — and has been a historically significant place of pilgrimage and worship since.
Now famous for the 20th-century artistic scene, and the classic French film Amelie, the basilica feels like one of the most distinguished buildings in Paris, however, it was only consecrated in 1919.
Made with travertine stone which reacts with rainwater giving it its brilliant white appearance that stands out so wonderfully on the skyline, inside you can find one of the largest mosaics in the world, as well as the century-old Grand Organ that you can hear at Sunday mass.
Nearest Metro stop: Abesses or Anvers
Back down the hill in the narrow cobbled streets of Montmartre, is a private collection of more than 300 original Salvador Dalí works of art and sculptures that take you inside the mind of the bizarre 20th-century surrealist.
As one of the many famous artists to spend time in the area, it’s fitting that the Dalí Paris should be in its location, and you can imagine the life of the artists as you wander the streets and see your surroundings reflected in the artworks on display. You can pre-book tickets here.
Nearest Metro stop: Abesses
Around the corner from the Dalí museum, is the perfect Parisian picture-postcard setting of Place du Tertre. After serving as an abbey courtyard for 500 years, the square was opened to the public in 1635 and from 1800 until 1914 served as the favourite haunt of many creatives in Europe.
Picasso, Renoir, and Toulouse-Lautrec among many others lived in the neighbouring streets and used it as inspiration for their paintings, sculptures, poems and songs.
You can still see artists with their easels in the streets today, basking in the historic space of liberté, créativité and fraternité, so head to a quaint cafe in the classic Parisian square, pick up your notebook and pen, grab a glass of wine or pastis and do as the Parisians do!
Nearest Metro stop: Abesses
One of the most popular restaurants in the area is Pink Mamma, back down towards the Moulin Rouge. Enjoy exquisitely prepared dishes of fresh ingredients in the elegant aesthetic of this 4-story trattoria and marvel at the Moulin Rouge at night, or finish your night in the old cabaret of the Lapin Agile.
Famous due to Picasso’s self-portrait inside the cabaret, the Lapin Agile still has performances of centuries-old French songs and poems, taking you on an incredible journey into the past.
Nearest Metro stop: Abesses, Blanche or Pigalle
There’s much more to Paris than the hustle and bustle of the city streets. Lurking 20 metres beneath the southern part of the city you can explore the famous catacombs and crypts before making your way up to a towering 300 metres to see the city from a different perspective.
The catacombs feel like the stuff of legends – or nightmares – so check if this is your kind of activity before going. They’re an intricate system of tunnels under the city of Paris that was rebuilt in 1774 from quarry tunnels to house the dead as the cemeteries were being overwhelmed.
Known as an ossuary, the human skeletal remains of more than six million people can be seen lining the walls as you walk around the 1.5 km circuit, 20 metres underground, over approximately one hour.
After becoming a peculiar concert venue in the early 1800s, the tunnels were opened to the public in 1874 and served as the location of the French Resistance’s headquarters during WWII, helping in the 1944 Liberation of Paris.
With such a diverse history and spooky appeal, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’ve got 4 days in Paris, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. You can pre-book tickets here.
Nearest Metro stop: Saint-Jacques or Mouton Duvernet
In the Latin Quarter, 2 km from the entrance of the catacombs, a.k.a. The Gates of Hell, is the Panthéon, an enormous church dedicated to the patron saint of Paris, Sainte Genevieve.
Built in 1790, this epic building was designed by Soufflot and converted into a mausoleum just a year after its construction ended.
Now, you can visit the crypt, which houses a small collection of tombs of France’s national heroes, from writer Voltaire to cabaret dancer Joséphine Baker. You can also see Foucault’s pendulum, a device suspended from the ceiling indoors that demonstrates the rotation of the Earth.
Nearest Metro stop: Luxembourg
Next to the amazing Panthéon de Paris is the awe-inspiring 400-year-old Luxembourg Gardens. Over 23 hectares of land, there are the English gardens, French gardens and geometric forest with a pond around the magnificent palace that now belongs to the French Senate.
You can also find an apple orchard, an apiary, a rose garden and a collection of greenhouses filled with orchids, as well as tennis courts and a fountain from 1620.
It’s a wonder to wander around, especially during the spring and summertime, as the sunset gets delayed and the park stays open later, closing at 9.30 pm in the height of summer – and it’s free!
Nearest Metro stop: Luxembourg
Auguste Rodin used to live in the Villa des Brillants just outside of Paris and used the Hôtel Biron on the south bank of the Seine as his workshop, so it’s fitting that the two locations should be turned into museums dedicated to the famed French sculptor.
In the Hôtel Biron and its grounds, you can explore the sculptures of the artist, including his most famous works, the Thinker and the Kiss, as well as his own collection of Van Gogh, Renoir and Monet works.
The museum is located just next to the Army Museum and the Tomb of Napoleon I if you have more time in the area. You can pre-book tickets here.
Nearest Metro stop: Varenne
Designed by Nouvel to house indigenous art from all over the world, this curious-looking building has more than one million artefacts in its collection. The most intriguing feature of the building is the 800 m2 green wall made up of more than 15,000 plants created by Patrick Blanc.
Stop by for some very cool photos en route to the final destination of your third day in Paris, or visit the museum from Tuesday to Sunday.
Nearest Metro stop: Pont de l’Alma
Built in a record-breaking time of just over 2 years, the Eiffel Tower has been one of the most famous monuments in Paris since its construction in 1889. Having originally been a temporary component of an art exhibition at the centenary of the French Revolution, the tower still stands proudly at 300 metres tall in the West of the city.
There are many ticket options to ascend the tower, whether you want to walk or take a lift to the top or the second floor, which you can see on the official website, but the tower is open from 9 am to 10:45 pm daily, so you can take in the outstanding skyline at sunset or even lit up at night. You can pre-book tickets here.
On the first and second floors respectively, you’ll find Madame Brasserie and Michelin-starred restaurant Jules Verne as well as snack bars, while at the top of the tower, you have a champagne bar.
Nearest Metro stop: Champs de Mars – Eiffel Tower
Paris is home to several beautiful parks that look stunning in springtime, as well as one of the most famous cemeteries in the world – but the greenery isn’t limited to the outdoors…
Starting day 4 in Paris at either La Villette or taking a canal ride down the mural-covered tunnel from the Stade de France to La Villette on the Canal Saint-Denis, a trip to the third largest park in Paris is essential if you’re seeing Paris in 4 days or more.
But La Villette isn’t just a park. It’s home to the City of Science and Industry, the Conservatoire de Paris and three popular concert venues. Book an event in advance or amble around the park to see the themed gardens, contemporary sculptures and impromptu street performers; there’s plenty to do in La Villette.
Nearest Metro stop: Porte de la Villette, Corentin de Cariou, Porte de Pantin
A short walk south of La Villette lies Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, built in 1867 for Napoleon III. By no means the largest or most ornate park in Paris, this green space is unique due to its suspended pathways crossing the park as well as the Temple of Sibylle sitting 50 metres above the park’s small lake.
This is a must-see destination in March and April, as the park is filled with cherry trees, whose pale pink blossom looks incredible against the green grasses and grey of the surrounding city.
Nearest Metro stop: Buttes Chaumont or Botzaris
Continuing south for 3 km, or taking metro line 7bis followed by line 2 to Père Lachaise, you’ll arrive at an unusual tourist attraction – Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Arguably the most famous cemetery in the world, this is the resting place for an enormous number of famous people from all over the world, from Chopin, Honoré de Balzac, Moliere and Edith Piaf, to Jim Morrison, Modigliani, Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde. Among the well-known graves, there are also a number of monuments to soldiers, veterans and deportees from French history.
You can take a leaflet at the door or find an online version before you go to easily walk around the cemetery and find the tombs and gravestones which you’d like to visit and pay your respects.
Nearest Metro stop: Père Lachaise
Further south, almost reaching the Seine, is the Place de la Bastille, with the tall Génie de la Liberté monument in the centre commemorating the 1830 revolution.
Now lined with restaurants and bars and the location of many concerts and markets, the square used to be the Bastille prison, which was destroyed in the revolution.
Before enjoying your aperitif, you visit the square’s modern opera house, saunter around the Port de l’Arsenal or use the 3D-Timescope which allows users to see the square as it would have been in 1446.
Nearest Metro stop: Bastille
Food & Drink at Place de la Bastille
Around Place de la Bastille you can find plenty of bistros and brasseries to enjoy a steak au poivre or other classic French dishes for a decent price.
At night, you can either stay in the bars of the square and watch life unfold or head to Amazonas – a bar and jungle combined to give you a unique experience in the city.
Day 5 – Day Trip from Paris
Versailles Day Trip
Just outside of Paris, 40 minutes driving from the centre, or 10 to 45 minutes on the train from Gare Montparnasse to Versailles-Chantiers or La Verrière, is the esteemed Palace of Versailles. There are also guided tours available with transportation.
Originally a small hunting lodge, built for King Louis XIII in 1623, the Palace of Versailles was expanded and became the official residence of the King of France under his son, the Sun King, Louis XIV.
After the French Revolution, the Palace lay largely empty, however, after the restoration of the later 1800s, it’s now one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions thanks to its opulent interior design and exterior architecture as well as ornate gardens and events.
Historically significant from its original construction until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in the magnificent Hall of Mirrors marking the end of the First World War, the Palace is now largely a museum which can be visited daily upon making a reservation online.
If you’re spending the whole day during your day trip to Versailles, buy a ticket that allows access to the palace, estate, gardens and musical fountain show, so you can really make the most of your time there. You can pre-book tickets here.
Where to Stay in Paris
La Planque Hotel – This 3-star hotel is an excellent choice for mid-range visitors looking for a central and comfortable place to stay in Paris. They have a number of modern rooms available along with a great buffet breakfast on offer each morning. Click here to check availability
Hôtel Jardin de Cluny – Luxury travellers will love this chic and sophisticated hotel in the heart of Paris’ Latin Quarter. Situated within easy reach of the French capital’s top sites, they have a range of lovely rooms to choose from and plenty of amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability
My Maison In Paris Montmartre – If you’d like to pretend you’re a local in Paris, then you’re sure to love these fully-furnished holiday flats. Located in the cool Montmartre neighbourhood (one of the best arrondissements to stay in Paris!), there are a number of apartments on offer with everything included you may need for your stay. Click here to check availability
The People Paris Marais – Those visiting Paris on a budget or travelling solo will love this centrally-located hostel. They have both dorms and private rooms available along with a French breakfast available for guests each morning. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Paris hotels!
It’s impossible to see all of Paris in 5 days or less as there is so much to see and so much history and art to delve into across the city’s museums and galleries. But our Paris itinerary will surely give you plenty of options so you can have the best time in the city of love.
Are you planning to visit Paris? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!