10 Top Paris Tourist Attractions To Add To Your Paris Itinerary
This Paris tourist attractions post has been written in collaboration with Sally from LifeLoving who writes about travel and days out. Sally has written about some of her favourite Paris tourist attractions and we have added a few of our own for good measure.
There is so much to see and do in Paris, including lots of fabulous Paris tourist attractions. If you mix the food, the Parisians and the atmosphere with the culture on offer, you have the perfect recipe for a city break whether you are visiting Paris on a romantic break or visiting Paris with kids.
But with so many top tourist attractions in Paris, where do you start? If you only have a short time in Paris, you will want to see Paris’ main attractions.
We have included a map of Paris tourist attractions at the end of the post to help you get your bearings and make the most of your Paris sightseeing. We’ve also included some tips for visiting Paris at the end, including how to see some of the top 10 Paris attractions for free.
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If you are looking to book any tickets for the below attractions, we can recommend GetYourGuide.
These are the top 10 Paris tourist attractions you should not miss…
1. The Eiffel Tower
La Tour Eiffel is undoubtedly the most famous of all of the Paris tourist attractions. It was designed and built by Gustave Eiffel between 1887 and 1889 and is one of the most iconic structures in the world.
Unless you’ve already been up the Eiffel Tower, you really can’t come to Paris without a trip to the top. You may find that you have to queue for quite a while, especially in the summer, but it’s well worth the wait. Make sure to book your Eiffel Tower tickets in advance so as not to be disappointed.
If you don’t want to wait for the lifts, you can take the stairs to the second floor, but be aware there are 704 of them to climb. If you have already visited Paris and been up the Eiffel Tower, you could go at a different time of day, perhaps at nightfall or sunset as the views will be somewhat different to daytime visits.
Not many people know that hidden within the structure of the Eiffel Tower is Gustav Eiffel’s secret apartment. It is one of the more unusual things to do in Paris.
Nearest métro to Eiffel Tower: Bir Hakeim on Line 6 or Ecole Militaire on Line 8.
2. Montparnasse Tower
If you have visited Paris before and taken in the views from the Eiffel Tower, you could try a different view, this time from the Montparnasse Tower.
The Montparnasse Tower gives you panoramic views of Paris including looking at the Eiffel Tower itself. Buying your tickets in advance is highly recommended, as you won’t need to queue when you reach the tower.
You can visit during the day or once the sun has set. If you are planning a couple of days in Paris, there is a 2-day ticket option where you can take in the day time views one day and the evening views the following day (or the other way round).
It is one of the less well known tourist attractions in Paris and if you can’t manage to get tickets for the Eiffel Tower, this is a great alternative if you are looking for views.
Nearest métro to the Montparnasse Tower: Edgar Quinet on Line 6
3. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
The construction of Notre-Dame began in 1163 and was completed in 1260 and it has been a top Paris tourist attraction for many years. But this famous medieval cathedral hit the headlines in April 2019 when it suffered from a catastrophic fire that led to its closure.
The cathedral is being restored to its former glory and will be reopening in stages. It’s still well worth a visit to take in the amazing structure and see the restoration work. Parts of the Notre Dame are re-opening to the public, with the full restoration pressing ahead.
Here’s hoping it will be back on top of the main attractions in Paris before too long.
Nearest métro to Notre-Dame: Maubert-Mutualité on Line 10 or Cité on Line 4.
4. Arc de Triomphe
Paris’ iconic Arc de Triomphe was ordered by Napoleon to honour those who fought for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It was built between 1806 and 1836 and houses the Tomb оf thе Unknown Soldier and the memorial flame.
Located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées on one of the busiest roundabouts in Paris, Place Charles de Gaulle, you’ll be well advised to use the subway underneath to gain access.
You can wander around the base of the Arc de Triomphe or pay a fee to climb the 280 steps to the top for wonderful views over Paris.
Nearest métro to the Arc de Triomphe: George V on Line 1 or Kléber on Line 6.
5. The Louvre Gallery
The Louvre Gallery is a bit of a marmite topic. Many people have been and feel overwhelmed and others rave about all the amazing artwork in the gallery.
Your best bet is to do your research in advance and work out what you want to see and get a plan in place. You should also get up early to miss the crowds. That way you can ensure you see the famous Mona Lisa, as well as everything else you planned to take in during your visit.
The Louvre is included in the list of museums and galleries that offer free entrance on the first Sunday of every month. See our ‘tips for visiting Paris’ section at the end for the full list. It is one of the best free things to do in Paris if you get your timing right.
Nearest métro to the Louvre: Louvre-Rivoli on Line 1.
6. Jardin des Tuileries
The 22-hectare formal gardens separate the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde. They were created in their current form back in 1664 by André Le Nôtre, architect of the gardens at Versailles and gardener to King Louis XIV.
If you are visiting Paris on a pleasant, sunny day, you should definitely carve out time to take a walk through the gardens and enjoy the spectacle. If you are nearby at lunchtime, the Jardin de Tuileries is a perfect spot for a picnic whilst enjoying the views of the Louvre and the distant Eiffel Tower. The gardens are free to visit and one of the best free things to do in Paris if you enjoy gardening.
In the south-west part of the gardens you will find the Musée de l’Orangerie which is home to some of Monet’s artwork.
Nearest métro to the Jardin des Tuileries: Concorde on Lines 1,8 and 12.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, also known as Sacré-Coeur, is the second most visited monument in Paris. It is located at the top of the Butte Montmartre, the highest point in Paris, and is one of the best places to come for incredible views over the city.
Building of the Basilica started in 1875 and was completed in 1914. Entrance to the church is free but if you want to climb the 300 odd steps to the Dome, it will cost EUR 5. If you are considering climbing to the top of Sacré-Coeur, you might want to take the funicular up to the top of Montmartre (see below).
Can’t get there in person? Click here for a panoramic virtual tour of the Sacré-Coeur.
Nearest métro to Sacré-Coeur: Abbesses on Line 12 or Anvers on Line 2.
Since you have made the effort to reach the top of Montmartre, you should have a wander around the streets and watch the famous Montmartre artists at work. There are around 300 licensed artists and you will not find it hard to find someone willing to paint your portrait. It is also a lovely spot to sit at a café and have a drink and people watch.
To reach the summit of Montmartre, you can either climb the steps that you see in the photo below or you can take the funicular. The journey lasts around 90 seconds and costs the same as a Paris metro ride.
Nearest métro to Montmartre: Abbesses on Line 12
9. Pont de l’Archevêché
Not far from the Notre Dame, you can walk across one of the narrowest bridges in Paris, the Pont de l’Archevêché, built in 1828.
For many years, this bridge had been a place where couples would attach a lock as a declaration of their love. However, the weight of the locks were causing the structure of the bridge to fail so the government had to intervene and remove all the locks.
So today it is a normal bridge with beautiful views of the river Seine and the Notre Dame. You are encouraged to take selfies with your loved one on the bridge and in fact, it is now illegal to attach a lock.
Nearest métro to Pont de l’Archevêché: Maubert-Mutualité on Line 10.
Sainte-Chapelle at the heart of Île-de-la-Cité was built in the 13th century by King Louis IX (who later became Saint Louis) originally to house religious relics.
Nowadays, people mostly come to Sainte-Chapelle to be wowed by some of the most incredible stained glass windows in the world. There are 15 stained glass windows depicting 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testament. The sight really is a wonder, especially on a sunny day when the colours burst.
Sainte-Chapelle is free to visit on the first Sunday of the month from November to March and free to under 18s. It is also included in the Paris Pass (see below).
Nearest métro to Sainte-Chapelle: Cité on Line 4.
Tips for visiting Paris
Purchase a city pass
If you intend on visiting some of these Paris tourist attractions (rather than just looking at them), you can save money by purchasing one of these passes:
- The Paris Attractions Pass (or the Paris Pass) gives you free entry to 13 Paris tourist attractions.
- Paris museums pass
- Paris Hop on Hop off bus tour tickets
- If you happen to be visiting Paris on the first Sunday of the month, many of the museums have free entry. See here for the full list.
Seine River Cruises
There are plenty of public transport options to get around and see the best attractions in Paris but for something a little different, you could consider a River Seine boat cruise.
Boat tours across the river Seine are plentiful and there’s one to suit every budget. If you are visiting on a shoe-string budget, you can hop on one of the regular sightseeing cruises or you can take the Batobus. It is a Parisian water taxi and it passes a few of the top Paris tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame but there will be no sightseeing commentary.
If you are splashing out a little, you could book a lunch cruise or dinner cruise. For something really special, perhaps even a champagne tasting cruise. Pay attention to the bridges you pass during the tour. Paris’s bridges are highly decorative and are one of the highlights of Paris’s sightseeing boat tours.
Paris tourist attractions map
This map shows the top Paris attractions as well as some of the attractions near Paris.
Attractions near Paris
If you have a little time and want to venture out of Paris, here are some attractions close to Paris that are worth visiting and can all be done on day trips from Paris by train.
Palace of Versailles – visit the stunning palace and gardens of Versailles which is only 20 minutes by train from Gare du Montparnasse to Chantier station.
Giverny – discover Claude Monet’s home and exquisite gardens and the setting for one of his most famous paintings, The Water Lily Pond. You could combine a visit to Versailles with a visit to Monet’s garden. See tours here.
Château de Chantilly – a beautiful moated château located about 30 miles north of Paris housing the 2nd largest collection of paintings after the Louvre.
Disneyland Paris – if you are travelling with little ones or Disney fans in general, you can’t miss out on a visit to Disneyland Paris which is a short train ride from Paris and easily doable on a day trip.
Mont St Michel – one of the most spectacular castles in France on an island off the north coast of France.
Colmar – if you have more time, read this post on how to spend a weekend in Alsace. It includes information on some of the most beautiful villages in France which were the inspiration for the Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast.