How to Spend 3 Days in Paris – The Best of Paris Sightseeing

Gorgeous Building in Paris with flowers in bloom

Planning a trip to the most romantic city in the world? We’ve put together the best of Paris sightseeing and a perfect 3 days in Paris itinerary to help you plan the best trip possible.

We cover some of the most iconic of Paris sightseeing, some of the best neighborhoods to explore, and some of the best museums to visit all in 3 days in Paris as well as how to get around Paris and where to stay in the city.

Table of Contents
    1. Day 1 of 3 days in Paris: Iconic Paris Sightseeing
    2. Day 2 of 3 days in Paris: Montmartre & Le Marais
    3. Day 3 of 3 days in Paris: Other Famous Paris Sightseeing Options
    4. Getting Around Paris
    5. Where to Stay in Paris

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Day 1 of 3 days in Paris: Iconic Paris Sightseeing

Megan looking at gorgeous Paris architecture

Start off your 3 days in Paris checking out some of the most iconic places to see in Paris. We have included some of the best places to see in Paris including the most famous monuments and locations as there’s no way to better kickstart your 3 day Paris itinerary then visit the most recognizable areas in the city.

All of these Paris sightseeing options for day 1 are manageable to walk throughout the day. We recommend following this section of our 3 day Paris itinerary in order and taking rests along the way if you need it whether it be on a park bench or a Parisian cafe.

Notre Dame

Megan walking towards Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris France

Besides being one of the most iconic Paris sightseeing spots, Notre Dame Cathedral is arguably one of the most famous cathedrals in the world.

You can’t complete your 3 days in Paris without at least witnessing this majestic cathedral, even if only from the exterior. The church became a pop icon symbol in the 19th century after the author Victor Hugo released his literary classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

This Catholic cathedral is considered to be one of the finest French Gothic architecture structures in the world. Some of Notre Dame’s most notable features include the giant colorful rose stained glass windows, the flying buttresses on the exterior of the cathedral, and rib vaulting that was innovative during medieval times.

Notre Dame cathedral is also home to one of the world’s largest organs and famous giant church bells as well as the seat of the Archdiocese of Paris.

Palais Royale

Megan sitting on the black and white columns at Palais Royal near the Louvre in Paris

After visiting Notre Dame cathedral you can make your way to Palais Royale, another great Paris sightseeing stop for your 3 days in Paris itinerary. 

Palais Royale is located right next to the Louvre and the former royal palace. Besides being a historical point of interest this is also a popular photo location thanks to the Les Colonnes de Buren outdoor installation of black and white striped columns by artist Daniel Buren.

This spot gets very popular, like most of the iconic Paris sightseeing spots, so if you’re wanting to get the perfect snapshot here be sure to schedule in a bit of time for patience as crowds do gather here!

Louvre or Musee d’Orsay

The Louvre Museum in Paris through the shadows

Next up on our 3 day Paris itinerary for your iconic Paris sightseeing day is some of the most famous art museums in the world, the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay. We are recommending picking one for your 3 day in Paris itinerary, however, if you budget your time properly you can fit both in and better yet they aren’t far away from each other either.

The Louvre Museum is the world’s largest and most visited art museum as well as one of the most iconic Paris sightseeing spots for everyone, not just art lovers.

The Louvre could take months to visit and there are over 38,000 pieces of art on display, so you really will have to do your research and plan out your visit if there are specific pieces of art you’d like to see like the ever so popular Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci in the Denon Wing.

While you’re here be sure to also admire the giant glass Grand Louvre Pyramids as well.

As mentioned already, you can easily spend all of your 3 days in Paris in the Louvre even if you’ve already had multiple visits. Another option and another one of the most popular Paris sightseeing options and museums is the Musee d’Orsay.

This former rail station, now museum houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art pieces in the world from paintings, sculptures, to photography.

Some of the most notable artists include Renoir, Degas, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Seurat, and Cézanne to name a few and is considered one of the largest art museums in the world, behind the Louvre of course.

Any art lover or aficionado can easily spend much longer, whether you decide to visit both museums in your 3 days in Paris itinerary or one it will require a bit of planning if there are specific art pieces you want to see, if not we recommend browsing.

Skip the line by pre-booking your tickets for the Louvre or for Musee d’Orsay by booking your ticket in advance in advance. There’s also an option for a guided tour of the Louvre.

Tuileries Garden

Tuileries Garden in bloom with a view of the Louvre in Paris

Easily one of the most beautiful and best places to take a walking break from your Paris sightseeing during your 3 days in Paris itinerary is in Tuileries Garden between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde before Champs Élysees. 

We recommend grabbing a bottle of wine and baguettes for an impromptu picnic lunch here if the weather is permitting as this is one of the most beautiful spots in the heart of Paris to relax after walking around doing some Paris sightseeing.

You’ll notice Parisians and visitors running, relaxing, or having a picnic here among the beautiful manicured gardens and sculptures.

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe in Paris France

Another one of the most iconic Paris sightseeing stops is the Arc de Triomphe, another one of the most recognizable monuments in the city on Champs-Élysées and the perfect place to stroll after visiting the Tuileries Garden after Place de la Concorde.

Along Champs-Élysées you’ll find plenty of restaurants and luxury shopping as well as a few more affordable chains. 

At the end you’re greeted with Arc de Triomphe. The monument was constructed to honor those who lost their lives fighting in the French Revolution and wars under Napoleon and the location of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI.

You can walk around the base or pay a small fee to climb the 200+ stairs to the top for an incredible view of the city as well as Champs-Élysées.

Paris Travel Tip: Avoid Champs-Élysées on Saturdays as this is when the anti-government demonstrations and protesters gather. While it could be a completely peaceful demonstration, many of the protests have turned violent or to riots even destroying storefronts. This is very easy to avoid just by showing up on any day but Saturday.

Skip the lines for the top of Arc de Triomphe by booking your ticket in advance!

See Also:  Our Guide to the Best Beach Bars in Berlin

Eiffel Tower

Megan looking at the Eiffel Tower from a bridge in Paris

Our last stop on your day 1 of 3 days in Paris itinerary and iconic Paris sightseeing stops is the Eiffel Tower. This is easily the most iconic symbol of the city recognized by the world and best places to see Paris from above.

Did you know that the Eiffel Tower was pretty much hated at first? It was designed and constructed for the 1889 World Fair held in Paris. Locals hated it because it was too modern for the city. But as time went on, it became a symbol of the city and is well loved not only by the French but the entire world.

The Eiffel Tower is also where to go if you want a stellar view of the city. There are three different levels accessible to visitors and even restaurants with a view on the first and second levels. The upper platform offers an observation deck. 

Skip the lines by getting your Eiffel Tower entrance ticket in advance.

Sunset River Cruise

View from the Seine River Cruise in Paris

If you still have more time and are looking for a relaxing way to relive all of the best iconic Paris sightseeing spots from a different vantage point consider a one-hour river cruise along the Seine.

There are many options to choose from, we did the sunset cruise with a glass of champagne. We recommend going at night so you can see the Eiffel Tower twinkle at night from the water.

See all the river cruise tour options here.

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Day 2 of 3 days in Paris: Montmartre & Le Marais

an empty Le Consulat Cafe in Montmartre

Our day 2 of 3 days in Paris itinerary takes you to two of the most beautiful neighborhoods for Paris sightseeing outside of the most iconic places to see in Paris mentioned earlier. We are bringing you to the bohemian neighborhood of Paris where some of the world’s best known artists in history like Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse, and Picasso to name a few called home in Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement.

Then we will take you to the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in Le Marais, the former aristocratic district full of gorgeous architecture and museums.

Montmartre

Megan walking to la maison rose in Montmartre Paris

We recommend spending your morning of your day 2 of 3 days in Paris itinerary in Montmartre, or the Mountain of Martyrs. This gorgeous, bohemian neighborhood is located at the highest point in the city offering stunning views of Paris and is rich in history for being the stomping grounds for some of the most famous artists in history who stayed here as well as cabarets. 

Montmartre gets VERY popular among tourists because it offers some of the best photos and Paris sightseeing spots the city has to offer. That is why we recommend coming first thing in the morning to avoid the mid day crowds or to be leaving as the mid day crowds roll in.

Some of the best things to do in Montmartre include exploring the cobbled lanes full of gorgeous ivy covered homes, checking out the view from the top of the Sacré Cœur Basilica, one of the most famous Paris sightseeing spots and best views in the city, witnessing artists at work at Place de Tertre, and visiting the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret.

You won’t find a shortage of beautiful photo opportunities here either so don’t forget your camera.

Learn more by taking a guided tour of Sacré Cœur and the Montmartre neighborhood with an expert guide over two hours learning about the history of the area. Book your tour here.

Le Marais

Megan by Carousel in front of hotel de ville in le marais paris

Continue on your day 2 of 3 days in Paris itinerary by heading to the 3rd and 4th arrondissements known as Le Marais where you’ll find more spectacular Paris sightseeing locations and some of the most beautiful and unique architecture in the city. 

The entire city of Paris was pretty much all reconstructed in the 1800s under Haussmann’s reconstruction of Paris commissioned by Napoleon III, all except for Le Marais. This area remained the same which is why you’ll notice the architecture all looks a bit different here.

Le Marais is also home to some incredible museums including the Pompidou Center and shopping including the mega giant BHV department store.

We recommend exploring Place des Vosges, formerly known as Palace Royale where the aristocrats and most important lived in the city in the 17th and 18th centuries including famed author Victor Hugo who wrote the Hunchback of Notre Dame who also has a museum here in his former home.

Another Paris sightseeing must you don’t want to miss in Le Marais is the Hotel de Ville. This neo-renaissance beauty of a building is the location of the Paris City Hall and is gorgeous inside and out. You may want to ride the gorgeous carousel outside as well.

This area is beautiful to explore and a great place to eat at some local bistros, shop, or stop at any of the many beautiful cafes.

For more things to do in Le Marais be sure to check out our guide.

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Day 3 of 3 days in Paris: Other Famous Paris Sightseeing Options

Megan walking down a gorgeous street in Paris

During our last of our 3 days in Paris itinerary are other famous Paris sightseeing options including the famous Catacombs and the Palace of Versailles located just outside the city and requires at least a half day to enjoy.

If the Catacombs in Paris are a bit too creepy for you then we recommend checking out any additional museums in the city or even go back to the Louvre to explore some of the wings or areas you didn’t have enough time to visit in our day 1 of 3 days in Paris itinerary.

Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles in Paris

The Palace of Versailles, another famous Paris sightseeing location, served as the royal residence of France from 1682 until the French Revolution and is one of the most popular places to visit in the city.

Located 12 miles or 20 kilometers from the city center you will need to take a train to get there and plan for a half a day to fully enjoy the Palace and its gardens.

Versailles most famous features include the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Opera, Marie Antionette’s cottage, and the incredible gardens of Versailles. You can spend an entire day exploring the complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Try to come to Versailles on a weekday to avoid long lines, especially in peak season if this is an option. Even if this requires you to rearrange your 3 days in Paris itinerary as lines get long. If this is not possible we recommend coming first thing in the morning so you can get in first thing and enjoy the grounds before more people arrive.

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You can skip the long lines by booking your Palace of Versailles ticket in advance.

Catacombs

skulls in the catacombs in Paris

One of the more eerie Paris sightseeing spots are the famous Catacombs located under the city. These networks of chambers and tunnels of underground ossuaries are located within 200 miles of underground tunnels where the final remains of more than 6 million people rest.

There is only a small portion that is open to the public and a few areas that are rarely open to the public for special exhibits and events like the orchestra and music concerts held in the section of underground chambers at Green-Wood Cemetery.

Skip the lines by booking your Catacombs entrance ticket in advance.

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Getting Around Paris

pretty cafe in Paris France

Getting around all the best Paris sightseeing on your 3 days in Paris itinerary doesn’t have to be difficult or confusing. There are many methods of transportation which we cover below to help you get from each location to the next in a breeze.

If you plan on solely using public transport like the metro and buses you can check out their multi-day passes instead of buying individual tickets for every ride.

Paris Metro & RER

The Paris metro is the most budget-friendly option and often the fastest way to get around in Paris. There are 16 metro lines and 5 RER lines located throughout the city and you can easily navigate the route and transfers using Google Maps.

Metros run every day, including holidays, from 6 am to around midnight on weekdays and on the weekends run until around 1:45 am.

You can buy your metro tickets at the automatic ticket machines inside the metro station or at the teller for the locations that have people working. 

You can purchase a carnet of tickets, once you pop your ticket in the turnstile be sure to grab it and have it on the train in case you need to prove you have a ticket on the train. 

Bus

Another option for getting around on your 3 days in Paris are the bus lines. There are 64 bus lines that also work within the metro network of transportation. 

The buses operate from Monday – Saturday from 7 am – 8:30 pm with a few options available from 8:30 pm to 12:30 am and some available on Sundays. It’s best to plug in where you want to go on Google Maps at the time you want to leave to see what the quickest option is as they might suggest you transfer to the metro and RER lines.

You can purchase your ticket on the bus in cash or use your metro ticket. You will need to validate your ticket on the bus.

You will also need to push the button next to the doors to indicate you want off at the next stop.

Scooters

Another option for getting around from place to place in Paris includes the little scooters you can rent using your smartphone. The different scooter companies include Lime, Bird, and Wind to name a few. 

We recommend using these for shorter distances.

Taxi

You can always get around your 3 days in Paris by taxi. However, we must warn you that this can be the most costly way to get around and there are illegitimate taxi drivers who’s sole purpose is to drive around ripping off unuspecting tourists. We recommend using a taxi only if you have to and being sure to read this guide by Forbes to find out how to tell if a taxi is legitimate or not.

Ride Share Apps

Our last option and one we like because of accountability are ride share apps like Uber and Lyft. There are a few other ride share apps available in the city but we like to stick to Uber and Lyft typically to avoid downloading another app to our phones. 

We like Uber and Lyft because we can request a ride when we need one and see the price before we commit to this option and avoid feeling ripped off. Also, these feel much safer since you have the accountability of the app for both the driver and passenger.

Make sure to always check that the driver and the license plate on the car match the one in the app before getting in any car.

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Where to Stay in Paris

Megan strolling down the pretty streets in paris

Hotel Mercure Paris Notre Dame Saint Germain des Prés

Great location and price near Notre Dame Cathedral and the trendy area of Saint Germain leave you walking distance to all the best Paris sightseeing including Notre Dame and the Louvre. The rooms are chic and cozy.

Book Now on Booking.com | Compare Prices for Later on Agoda.com | See Prices on Hotels.com

Hotel Atmospheres

This is a great option for where to stay during your 3 days in Paris close to some of the best Paris sightseeing including Notre Dame Cathedral and the Latin Quarter with great dining nearby. The rooms are artsy with unique decor and cozy making the most of a smallish space. 

Book Now on Booking.com | Compare Prices for Later on Agoda.com | See Prices on Hotels.com

Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel

One of the finest options for where to stay during your 3 days in Paris with epic hotel views of the Eiffel Tower. Many of the rooms have balconies with Eiffel Tower views and 4-star amenities. The rooms are contemporary and spacious for Paris accommodation. 

Book Now on Booking.com | Compare Prices for Later on Agoda.com | See Prices on Hotels.com

Shangri-La Hotel

The ultimate luxury and 5-star experience for your 3 days in Paris itinerary. The Shangri-La offers sweeping views of the city including the Eiffel Tower from the outdoor private viewing deck and lounge area as well as luxe rooms and suites. Some rooms even have a private view of the Eiffel Tower.

Book Now on Booking.com | Compare Prices for Later on Agoda.com | See Prices on Hotels.com

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how to spend 3 days in paris itinerary

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