Sainte-Chapelle in Paris (stained glass windows)

How to Spend One Perfect Day in Paris (Full Guide!)

Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Kelly

Paris is a dream destination, and you could easily spend several weeks seeing all there is to see in the city. But you might be wondering, is it worth visiting Paris for a day trip? Our answer: It’s absolutely worth visiting Paris for one day! I’ve been to Paris many times, and I think it’s definitely worthwhile to spend a day in Paris. In this post, we’ll share our guide for planning a day trip to Paris!

Reasons to Plan a Day Trip to Paris

If you have the opportunity to spend a day in Paris, take it! There are a lot of reasons you might choose to spend just one day in Paris:

  • You have a tight itinerary while backpacking Europe
  • You have a layover in Paris en route to another destination
  • You’re in a bordering country and have a free day to explore
Iron gates next to Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, France
Gilded iron gates adjacent to Sainte-Chapelle

It’s very feasible to take a day trip to Paris from the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, or Belgium. (Just as an example!) 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Here’s some train travel times I was able to find while writing this article between popular European cities and Paris:

  • London to Paris: approximately 2.5 hours by train
  • Luxembourg to Paris: approximately 3 hours by train
  • Brussels to Paris: approximately 1.5 hours by train

TIP: Consider buying the Go City Paris Pass. This pass includes numerous destinations and tours within Paris, so you can bundle and save money!

Girl in Paris in the Latin Quarter

Itinerary for a Day Trip to Paris

We wrote this itinerary for what we think is the perfect day trip itinerary for Paris. This itinerary works well if you have 12 hours to spend in Paris. (Although feel free to modify based on how much time you have!) 

We wrote this itinerary with the assumption that many travelers will arrive at the train station Gare du Nord. Feel free to modify this itinerary to fit the logistics of your trip. We include the map below so you can easily plan out your day. If you’re arriving from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, you can catch a train to the city center or take a taxi and this itinerary will work just fine.


9am: Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre

Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France

Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre in Paris

The Basilica Sacré Coeur is a Roman Catholic Church located in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris. The basilica sits on top of a hill and has excellent views of Paris. It’s known for its large white domes and panoramic views of the city. Because of this, it’s one of the most famous tourist attractions in Paris. The church was built in 1914. Be sure to check out the statue of Joan of Arc on the south facade. 

The basilica is open very early in the morning and has a free entrance. We recommend visiting first-thing in the morning so you can beat the crowds! If you want to visit the dome, though, you’ll need to visit a bit later in the morning when the dome entrance opens. It’s 300 steps to the top and there isn’t an elevator. There is an admission charge to access the dome.

Next, head south approximately 3 kilometers to the Jardin des Tuileries. It’s about a 45 minute walk. If you decide to walk, check out Palais Garnier on the way. If you take the metro, you’ll go from the Abbesses stop to the Concorde stop. You can also take a taxi or a ride share.

11:00am: Place de la Concorde and Jardin des Tuileries

Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, France

Before heading to the Louvre Museum, we recommend that you walk through Place de la Concorde and Jardin des Tuileries. Both sites are right next to the Louvre, so you’ll want to make sure you see them both! 

The Place de la Concorde is the largest public square in the city of Paris. It was first built in 1772.  At the center of the square is the Luxor Obelisk. This obelisk was gifted to France in 1830 from Muhammad Ali Pasha, who was the ruler of Ottoman Egypt. Historians have estimated that the obelisk, which originally was part of a set that framed the Luxor Temple, was constructed around 1300 BC. In exchange for the gift, France gave Egypt the Cairo Citadel Clock.

To the east of Place de la Concorde is the Jardin des Tuileries. The garden was first built in 1564, and it became a public park after the French Revolution. This massive garden contains plenty of green lawn, lots of statues, ponds, and more. One of our favorite memories from our last trip to Paris is strolling through this garden. We bought a beignet, found a bench, and let our feet rest while we enjoyed the landscaping. As you walk further east toward the Louvre, you’ll see the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, which was built in 1809.

Directly adjacent to the Jardin des Tuileries is the entrance to the Louvre.

12:pm: Musée du Louvre

Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France


Tour Information: Book a guided tour of the Louvre with reserved entry included. 

The Louvre Museum in Paris

One of Paris’s most famous attractions is the Louvre Museum, which is the world’s largest museum. You could spend weeks in the Louvre, but if you only have a couple hours, we recommend seeing the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and the Venus de Milo.

I’ve visited the Louvre several times over the years, and it’s very easy to find your way to the Mona Lisa. (Mostly you just follow the crowds, but there’s also plenty of signs.) When you arrive to the room in which the painting is kept, you’ll almost always see a large crowd and a long line to see the painting. If you want to see the painting up close, you’ll have to wait in the queue. During my last visit, I was satisfied just seeing it from a distance.

If you hate crowds and seeing the Mona Lisa isn’t high on your list, then I highly recommend exploring some of the Louvre’s other galleries. There are many galleries that are much more quiet and contain some pretty magnificent artwork!

We also recommend that you save some time to explore the exterior of the Louvre, which was originally a fortress. In the central courtyard, you’ll see the iconic I.M. Pei Pyramid. The Louvre actually has a total of 5 glass pyramids (one of them is inverted within the Louvre itself). Make sure to take some photos of the glass pyramids before you leave.

2pm: Lunch

After visiting the Louvre, find a spot to sit down and have lunch. We had a meal at Cafe de Paris, which was less than a 5-minute walk from the Louvre. We enjoyed a Croque Madame, French Onion Soup, and Sparkling Champagne. 

A glass of French champagne at Cafe de Paris
A glass of champagne at Cafe de Paris
After lunch, head to the Île de la Cité, which is an island within the Seine River. From the Louvre, it’s about a 10-15 minute walk.

3:30pm: Île de la Cité

The Île de la Cité is one of the most important tourist attractions in Paris. On this small island, you’ll find two important places to visit: Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame.


Sainte-Chapelle in Paris (What to see in Paris for a day)

Visiting Sainte-Chapelle was one of my favorite things from our trip to Paris. It often gets overshadowed by its neighbor, Notre Dame, but Sainte-Chapelle is a spectacular church. Although I’ve been to Paris numerous times, it was only until my most recent visit that I finally visited Sainte-Chapelle. I was sorry I had waited so long! I’d definitely recommend that you visit Sainte-Chapelle on your first visit to Paris.

Sainte-Chapelle is especially famous for its stained glass windows. The church has a total of 1,113 stained glass windows. The church was completed in 1248 and used to house several important Christian relics, including the remains of the crown of thorns (which is now stored within the treasury of Notre-Dame).

Notre Dame

Notre Dame after the 2019 fire in Paris

Currently the Cathedral of Notre Dame is temporarily closed. The cathedral is still being restored following the fire in 2019 that damaged much of the building. It’s estimated that it will re-open in December of 2024. However, you should absolutely walk over and see the exterior of the building.

It’s definitely still worth walking over to see Notre Dame in-person! We walked over right after seeing Sainte-Chapelle, and it was still an impressive sight. I’ve been inside Notre Dame several times on prior trips to Paris, so I’m looking forward to it re-opening back to its original splendor.

Directly south of the Île de la Cité is the Latin Quarter. It’s a short walk!

5pm: Latin Quarter

Odette in Paris (best spot for cream puffs)

Paris’s Latin Quarter has tons of amazing things to see! This is the oldest neighborhood in Paris, so it’s steeped in history. There are lots of things to do in the Latin Quarter, you could easily spend an entire day in exploring this neighborhood. (We wrote a full post about things to do in the Latin Quarter, linked here!)

If you just have a couple hours in the Latin Quarter, we recommend that you see Fontaine Saint-Michel, Saint Severin Church, and Shakespeare & Company. Also be sure to grab a cream puff at Odette! If you have a little more time, you might be able to squeeze in a quick look at either the Sorbonne, the Pantheon, or the Luxembourg Garden. (Your choice!)

Next, head to the Eiffel Tower. If you choose to walk, expect it to take about an hour. (The Eiffel Tower is about 4 kilometers away from the Latin Quarter). There’s also the option to take the metro or grab a taxi. 

8pm: Eiffel Tower

Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Av. Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France

Tour information: Click here for several tour options. 

Important Information: Be sure to book your tickets in advance. You can book directly through the official website, by clicking here. This is our recommendation, unless you prefer a tour.

How to spend 2 days in Paris

This one-day itinerary ends at the Eiffel Tower. Depending on the season you visit, you might make it in time for sunset.

The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 and is 1,083 feet tall. Although it’s an iconic symbol of Paris, most Parisians hated the structure, which they deemed ugly.

If you want to go up the Eiffel Tower, you’ll have to purchase a ticket. You can choose to visit either the Second Level or the Summit. I’ve done both, and I recommend going to the summit if you’re able to do so. There’s a Champagne Bar at the summit, and it’s pretty amazing to have a glass of champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower! If you can’t make it to the top, though, the views from the Second Level are also amazing! 

This concludes our one-day itinerary for Paris. There’s plenty of amazing sights we didn’t include, so if you have the time, we also recommend seeing the Arc de Triomphe, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris Catacombs, and Musée  Rodin. If you have an extra day, be sure to check out our 2-day itinerary for Paris!

Book a Tour of Paris

If after reading this article you’d rather not stress about planning a day trip to Paris, you can also book a tour. There are a lot of advantages for booking a tour of Paris. You’ll have a guide that can give you background knowledge on each site you visit, your guide will be able to help you with navigation between the sites, and you’ll meet other travelers. If you’re looking for a good day trip tour of Paris, click here. The walking tour will take you to Montmartre, Ile de la Cite, Louvre Museum, Trocadéro Plaza, and the Eiffel Tower.


Is it worth going to Paris for a day?

It’s definitely worth going to Paris, even if you have just one day. Paris is one of the most famous cities in the entire world, and even seeing just a glimpse of it is worth it. Even though one day might not sound like a lot, you can actually see quite a bit with just one day in Paris! You could easily fit in the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Latin Quarter, Notre Dame, and more. Although you won’t be able to see everything the city offers, you’ll certainly be able to see a lot of the most famous sites!

Is one day in Paris enough?

With just one day in Paris, you’ll be able to see several of its most popular tourist attractions. Because Paris is such an amazing city, one day will probably not feel like “enough”, but it will definitely feel worth it! You can easily see the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum in one day, and it will give you motivation to come back to Paris.

Celing of the Louvre
Detail shot of a ceiling in the Louvre

What to Pack with You for a Trip to Paris

Here’s a few things that we recommend that you add to your packing list as you prepare for a trip to Paris:

  • Portable Power Bank: You’ll be relying on your phone for navigation and for photography. Make sure you don’t run out of battery while you’re out exploring the city! You can charge this power bank and then easily carry it with you. When you’re low on battery, just plug your phone in. 
  • Travel Adapter and Voltage Converter: If you’re traveling from the United States, make sure you pack a travel adapter and voltage converter. That way, you’ll be able to use your electronics abroad.
  • Theft-Proof Backpack: Explore the city in peace knowing that your valuables are safe. The backpack features lockable zippers and cut-proof materials.
  • Water Bottle: Stay hydrated as you explore the city. We have an Iron Flask water bottle, and it’s worked great so far!
  • Travel Guide: As you prepare for your trip, read all about the City of Light.

Hotel Recommendations for Paris  

Luxury Hotel

The hotels that have the highest level of luxury in the city of Paris have Palace designation. We recommend that you stay at Hotel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel. One of the most beautiful aspects of this hotel is its swimming pool, which consists of thousands of gold tiles. Numerous celebrities have stayed at this hotel, all the way from Benjamin Franklin to Jennifer Lopez!

5-Star Hotel

We personally stayed at the Hotel du Louvre, and we would highly recommend it to others. The hotel is centrally located (we could walk to almost everything), and we absolutely loved its classic French elegance, excellent service, and historical significance. You can read our full review of the Hotel du Louvre by clicking here.


The Westin Paris – Vendôme is centrally located across from the Jardin des Tuileries. The 4-star hotel has numerous amenities and beautifully-styled rooms. 


For a more affordable option, check out the Libertel Gare du Nord Suede. The hotel is located about 2.5 kilometers north of the Louvre Museum. 


I stayed at a hostel during my first and second visit to Paris years ago. I can’t remember the name of the hostels that I stayed at, but I found it to be an affordable way to visit the city. (Especially when I was a college kid backpacking around Europe!) The hostel St. Cristopher’s Inn Paris – Gare du Nord is conveniently located right by the train station. Perfect for backpackers visiting multiple cities!

Summary: What You Can See During One Day in Paris

If you have the opportunity to spend a day in Paris, we hope that you take it! Here’s our itinerary for spending one day in Paris: 

  • Basilica Sacré Coeur is a Roman Catholic Church
  • Place de la Concorde
  • Jardin des Tuileries
  • Musée du Louvre
  • Île de la Cité
  • Sainte-Chapelle
  • Notre Dame
  • Latin Quarter
  • Eiffel Tower

During our last trip to Paris, we had one day in Paris when we first landed in Europe, and then we had a second day in Paris on our way out of Europe. We found that we could cover a lot of ground with our one-day excursions in the city, and I hope you do too! 

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Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information.

Hi, I’m Kelly!

After studying abroad in Spain, I became passionate about international travel. Since then, I’ve traveled to 6 continents and 36 states within the United States. When I’m not travel blogging, you can find me hiking, reading books in Spanish, or playing cribbage. I hope my blog inspires you to see the world!