Love. Art. Romance.
Get these three tangled up and you’d see Paris staring right at you. From the jaw-dropping Eiffel Tower to the dazzling Louvre Museum, travelers flock to the top tourist attractions in Paris to find love, celebrate life, and feed their wanderlust. Call it a dream destination or an addictive stimulant–Paris answers back with a big YES! So if you’re ready to put your best OOTDs on, here’s a full guide on the best attractions in Paris.
What to Expect When You Travel to Paris
Currency: Euro (€)
Language: French is the national language in Paris. But since it is a top tourist destination, most restaurants, shops, and hotels use English to communicate with tourists.
Transportation: Paris flaunts an efficient public transport system. The metro subway system, which is cost-efficient from a traveler’s standpoint, is fairly safe and convenient to use. Other popular transport means in the city include buses, trains, taxis, and RER (suburban express railway). You can also hire a bicycle or a boat, but if you have time, traveling around on foot is a rewarding experience.
Time Zone: Central European Standard Time (GMT+1)
Socket: Type C and Type E
Weather: The year-round weather in Paris is generally mild, with highs and lows usually ranging between 46°F and 77°F. January to February mark the winter season in the city, where days are shorter and the nighttime brings in the crisp chilly air. Spring starts from March to May, with high temperatures at an average of 54°F. The next three months signal the beginning and end of the summer season, so expect a daily high of about 83°F. Autumn, on the other hand, runs from September to December, where temperatures range between 46°F to 62°F.
Best Travel Times: Paris is beautiful, day in and day out. You’d find endless opportunities to explore the city regardless of the season, especially since extreme weather conditions are rare here. Peak travel times run between June to August and September to early November. But if you want to save up, traveling between December to February is the best way to go. The winter season discourages travelers who want to visit the top tourist attractions in Paris and overall travel costs are cheaper during these months, too.
Traveling Expenses When Visiting the Best Attractions in Paris
A romantic dinner, an eclectic music scene, and a luxurious shopping experience–combine all these and you’d find yourself wandering around the top tourist attractions in Paris. Just like the prime city that it is, visiting Paris can be quite expensive, but it doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer to the cash-strapped traveler. Here’s a breakdown of some of the travel expenditures when you travel around the city:
Food: Paris is popular for its exceptional culinary scene. As you can expect, dining out here can be pretty expensive. Luckily, many Paris hotels offer free breakfast meals, so that’s one thing you can scratch off your travel expenses. Typically, lunch and dinner meals range between €8 to €20. You can also buy €5 crepes and kebabs from street vendors. If you want to grab a bottle of beer or wine, expect to pay around €3 to €8 per bottle or pint.
Paris hotels: Paris hotels can be as luxurious as it can get. If you’re on the lookout for a luxury suite that comes with free passes to exclusive spas, designer shops, and all the royalty-like amenities, it’s easy to spot one. An overnight stay at top luxury Paris hotels ranges between €1000 to €3000. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for budget Paris hotels, the price usually starts at €70 per night. There are also Paris budget hostels that charge €2 per night per person. But if you’re traveling in groups, you can save a lot by looking for a traveling apartment. Complete with a kitchen and other household amenities, an overnight rate for apartments start at €75. Not to mention, getting an apartment can help you save up on food since you can buy fresh goods straight from the market.
Transportation: Paris’ glitz and glamour is best explored on foot for two reasons: the city is extremely walkable and traveling on foot will save you money, especially if you’re planning a week-long stay. The two popular modes of transport in Paris, namely the Metro and the Paris city buses, accept the same ticket. A single one-way ticket costs €1.90/passenger, while a ticket pack (10 one-way tickets) costs €14.90. Our tip: buy the pack so you can conveniently travel around the best attractions in Paris while cutting ticket costs.
Must-See Sites: Top Tourist Attractions in Paris
Ever seen a city so beautiful, it’s hard to nit-pick top sites? As a major world destination, Paris promises to give you the perfect blend of art, food, music, and romance. Whether you’re planning a short or lengthy stay, here are some of the unmissable attractions in the city:
Ticket rates: Lift (second floor) – €16.70/adult; €4.20/child (4-11 years old)
Lift (top) – €26.10/adult; €6.60/child
Stairs (second floor) – €10.50/adult; €2.60/child
Stairs (second floor) and lift (top) – €19.90/adult; €5/child
Admit it. Every time Paris gets into the conversation, a picture of an iconic tower pops into your head. That tower, AKA the Eiffel Tower, has long been a visual representation of not just Paris, but France as a whole. A product of Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel’s ingenious design, the Eiffel Tower’s blueprint was first unveiled in the Paris Exhibition of 1889.
Considered as an architectural masterpiece and a national emblem, the Eiffel Tower boasts about 18,000 iron sections joined by millions of rivets. At 324 meters tall, the tower was once the tallest building in the world just before the construction of the Empire State Building. Perfect in every angle, the Eiffel Tower’s height offers great picture opportunities if you’re in nearby sites.
But if you want to get the most out of your trip to Paris, you can also get up-close and personal with this amazing structure. You can either take a lift or walk the tower’s stairs to reach its 1st and 2nd levels. Taking the stairs is more cost-effective, but you’d need to walk 360 and 344 steps to reach levels 1 and 2, respectively. The views from these platforms are amazing, so make sure to get your cameras ready. You can also grab a gourmet meal at Jules Verne Restaurant, which is located on the tower’s 2nd floor. A hearty meal combined with panoramic views of the best attractions in Paris? Why not!
If you don’t mind taking the adventure up a thousand notch, you can also book the lift, which takes you to the tower’s top-most section. Exciting but no less nerve-wracking, the trip to the top is one of the most unforgettable experiences in Paris.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Ticket rates: General Admission – Free
The tower – €8.50
The crypt – €6
Note: Entrance to both these structures are included in the Paris Pass. However, the interiors are closed to the public due to massive reconstruction following a fire that destroyed the cathedral’s attic, roofing, and other internal structures.
Undeniably one of the top tourist attractions in Paris, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, also called Notre-Dame Cathedral, mixes architectural beauty and antiquity. This Gothic cathedral, which is located east of the Île de la Cité, is hard to miss, thanks to its size and remarkable structure.
Even from the outside, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris already tells a long-standing history. In 1163, King Louis IX and Bishop Maurice de Sully laid the groundwork for the cathedral, which took more than 150 years to construct. Since its development, Notre-Dame has met reconstructions that led to its transition from Early to High Gothic architecture.
Some of the points of interest in the Cathédrale Notre-Dame include its century-old sculptures, which immediately greats visitors heading to the facade. Its doors flaunt early Gothic carvings and beautiful figures that represent the kings of the Old Testament. Its rose windows are also made up of 13th-century glass, which is a highlight on its own. The rose window, located in the north transept, showcases 80 scenes revolving around the Old Testament.
From the doorway to the sanctuary to the chapels and porches, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame is one of the most remarkable mid-aged Gothic cathedrals to date. Even better, the cathedral is close to some of the best attractions in Paris, making it convenient to walk around the site.
Ticket rates: Free for visitors under 18 years old; free on Friday evenings for visitors under 26 years old
Visitors not eligible for free passes: €15/entry
Art enthusiast or not, no trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Louvre Museum. Locally Musee de Louvre, this world-renowned site is impressive right from its glass pyramid entrance, which is already a tourist magnet. With over 15,000 visitors per day, it’s not surprising that the queue in the pyramid can take about an hour.
Luckily, there are four other entryways–the Porte des Lions, the Arc du Carousel, the Rue de Rivoli, or straight from the Metro station Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre. You’d miss out on the pyramid, but you’d significantly cut queue times. Either way, visiting the museum is always a win-win. Plus, some of the finest Paris hotels are also nearby, so if you’re staying in one, you won’t find it hard to walk to the museum.
Now, to set things straight, it’s hard to explore the entire building in one day. After all, it’s not one of the top tourist attractions in Paris for nothing. Once home to the kings of France, this palace-turned-museum houses about 35,000 artworks and 380,000 articles. This includes the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the Wedding Feast at Cana, and the Victory of Samothrace, to name a few.
The Louvre Museum’s massive size is enough to keep you marveling around for a day without pulling a stop to enjoy iconic art collections. And that’s not what you want to do. Instead of walking endlessly from gallery to gallery, booking a guided tour can help you filter sections and pick the ones that suit your preferences.
Guided tours are available for first-time visitors and seasoned art collectors. Also worth sharing, they sometimes move iconic masterpieces to different galleries, so checking the museum’s website before your visit can help you maximize your trip.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées
The top tourist attractions in Paris are just around Avenue des Champs-Élysées’ corners, making it one of the most-visited avenues in the city. Call it the boulevard of endless dreams and possibilities, Champs-Elysées can meet, if not supersede, your expectations.
A stretch that goes as long as 1.17 miles, Champs-Elysées was once a deserted field before André Le Nôtre designed its landscape at the turn of the 17th century. One century later, the avenue paved its way to becoming a world destination when Baron Haussman dressed it up with sophisticated buildings.
From fine dining to a luxurious shopping experience, the avenue gives you a taste of royalty. It is divided into two parts: the lower and the upper sections. The lower section is home to the Petit Palais museum, the Jardin des Champs-Élysées, and lush greenery. Moving on to the upper section, you’d see designer shops, theaters, and restaurants, along with the best Paris hotels.
A famous street that boasts Michelin-star restaurants and upscale boutiques such as Louis-Vuitton and Tiffany & Co., Champs-Elysées proves that it has something even for the budget traveler. Photo-op aside, you can also spot fast-food chains and budget-friendly boutiques here. Regardless of your daily travel budget, feel free to visit this popular avenue to see why it is one of the best attractions in Paris.
Palais Garnier, Opéra National de Paris
Ticket rates: Free for children under 12
Full rate for self-guided tours – €14 (€12 if outside exhibition periods)
Reduced rate for self-guided tours: €10 (€8 if outside exhibition periods)
Proof that the love for poetry, arts, and music deserves to be celebrated, the Palais Garnier, Opéra National de Paris, otherwise called Paris Opera House, is a masterpiece in its own right. Its intricate Baroque-style architecture, let alone its amazing theatrical shows, makes it one of the top tourist attractions in Paris.
It was in the 1860s when Napoleon started commissioning the Palais Garnier Opera House. Its construction took around 13 years to complete. And soon after, it became an important symbolism for Napoleon’s regime.
The Palais Garnier is amazing inside and out. Visitors are greeted by a classical facade made with columns and sculptures that symbolize different forms of art. Inside the opera house is a magnificent double staircase called the Grand Escalier, which is embellished with ornate gilded lamps. At the bottom part of the marble staircase are two female allegorical figures holding torches. Quite a warm (and grand) welcome, you might say.
But, of course, the grandeur doesn’t stop there. Once you enter Palais Garnier’s horse-shoe shaped auditorium, it’s hard not to be amazed by its massive ceiling, which wears Marc Chagall’s intricate painting. The ceiling is complemented by crystal chandeliers and curtains that are inspired by Philippe Chaperon’s and Auguste Rube’s iconic paintings. This, along with other ornaments and arts, create the perfect backdrop for the most well-celebrated theatrical performances.
Ticket rates: Full rate – €16/adult
Concession rate – €13/adult
Free admission – Visitors under 18/Paris Pass holders
When it comes to the top tourist attractions in Paris, it’s hard to bump off Musée d’Orsay, thanks to its wonderful art collection and architecture. Back in 1986, the Belle Époque Orsay train station was converted into a museum. It was designed to house Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artworks–a museum now famously called Musée d’Orsay.
A vast space that is now a resting place of century-old artworks, the Musée d’Orsay gives you a better understanding of Impressionist art. Here, you can see some of the iconic works of great artists such as Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, and Toulouse-Lautrec. From different brush strokes to 19th-century sculptures, the Musée d’Orsay can unleash the sleeping artist in you.
Also worth mentioning is its cafes and restaurant, which showcases chandeliers and gilded ceilings. The gourmet meals are quite a splurge. If you have the extra budget for it, it won’t hurt to savor a hearty meal inside the museum. But if you’re a coffee-lover, don’t miss out on its submarine-themed cafe, which was designed by the great Campana brothers.
Jardin des Tuileries
Ticket rates: Free
If the best things in life are free, the Jardin des Tuileries is one of them. As if designed to give tourists a break from architecture and shopping, the Jardin des Tuileries is a perfectly-manicured park that gets you closer to nature.
Nestled between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre Museum, the park is made remarkable by graveled walkways and a lovely floral display. It was originally designed by André Le Nôtre, who envisioned a French garden filled with stunning vistas, terraces, and ponds. The garden was meant to be kept private until the Tuileries Palace was burned to the ground. This signaled the expansion of the Jardin des Tuileries, which eventually became open to the public.
Aside from enjoying the views, the park gives you a glimpse of contemporary sculptures by Giacometti, Moore, Laurens, and Ernst. You can also grab a gourmet meal inside the park since it is home to French restaurants including Café des Marronniers and La Terrasse de Pomone.
Arc de Triomphe
Ticket rates: €12/adult
Free admission – Visitors under 18
Built to commemorate French soldiers who fought for their nation’s glory and honor. The Arc de Triomphe is a symbol of bravery and heroism. In 1806, Napoleon commissioned the structure, but it was only in 1836 when the structure met its completion. 50-meter-tall arc, the Arc de Triomphe symbolizes brave departures, glorious triumphs, and honorable returns of the French army.
Engraved in the arch’s surface are the names of 660 generals, along with the battles they fought. It also pays homage to the French troops via François Rude’s bas-relief, named The Marseillaise.
The uppermost part of the structure serves as a viewing platform. You can see top tourist attractions in Paris such as the Champs-Elysées, the Louvre Museum, and even the Eiffel Tower. At its foot, on the other hand, is where you’ll find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This structure dedicated to anonymous soldiers who fought and died during WWI.
Seine River Cruise
Ticket rates: €15/adult; €7/children (aged 4 to 11); Free for children under 4
Note: Rates may vary depending on the company/cruise ship package.
What better way is there to end our list than to hop aboard a lovely boat ride? A river cruise may not be your cup of tea, but this can change once you’re in a city as scenic as Paris. From the Cathédrale Notre-Dame, it’s easy to pop over to the Seine River, which offers you amazing views of the top tourist attractions in Paris.
The river, the sun, and the stars all create an atmosphere perfect for a mix of sight-seeing and romance. But this isn’t just for the love birds out there. The Seine River Cruise is the best way to cap off your trip when you’re down to your last day in Paris. From the boat, you can relax and enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame, and the Seine River Bridge. Day and evening trips offer a different experience but are equally magical, to say the least.
Aside from a one-hour boat ride, other companies offer a four-hour cruise complete with a gourmet meal. Whether you’re riding a cruise to pop the magic question or you simply want to see Paris at a different angle, booking a cruise at the Seine River is a great way to make your trip extra memorable.