Two days in Paris – how good does that sound?! If you’re planning or dreaming of a couple of days in the City Of Light, you might be wondering what do to. Well, this 2 days Paris itinerary will show you how to make the most of your time in this exciting city.
I’ve been to Paris more than a dozen times and many of those trips were short breaks, so I’m practised at getting a lot out of Paris in a short amount of time. I already wrote a Paris in one day itinerary, so here’s my Paris in two days itinerary.
I’ve included the major landmarks and experiences Paris is famous for, including architectural highlights, world-class art, stunning viewpoints, charming neighbourhoods and French cuisine. I designed this itinerary for first-time visitors to Paris or those for whom it’s been a long time since they visited. If you already know Paris quite well, you might want to check out my post on Paris off the beaten path, which has some less touristy things to do in Paris.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. These are links to products or experiences I recommend and if you were to buy something after clicking on them, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Any earnings go towards the upkeep of this blog, which I appreciate.
Table of Contents
Is 2 Days Enough In Paris?
This might be a question you’re pondering as you plan a trip to Paris: are two days enough in Paris? And if not, how many days do you really need in Paris
There’s no one answer to these questions. I’ll explain…
Two days are not enough to see and do absolutely everything Paris has to offer. It’s a big city with a rich, complex history and a huge variety of attractions and experiences. I’ve been visiting Paris for more than two decades and I still discover new things with each trip. In fact, my last visit was for two weeks and I still came away feeling like I haven’t seen it all!
However, if two days are all the time you have, you can have a really good time in Paris. In two days, you can see most of the big sights, have some great good and get a pretty good feel for the city.
In my opinion, two days in Paris is better than no days in Paris!
2 Days Paris Itinerary – In A Nutshell
Here’s a quick overview of this 2 days Paris itinerary, which I’ve done as two full calendar days (but you can switch things around if your two days are spread over three calendar days).
Day 1: Trocadéro, The Eiffel Tower, Rue Cler, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Du Louvre, Palais Royale, Sacré-Cœur, Montmartre & Moulin Rouge.
Day 2: Le Marais, Place des Vosges, Musée Carnavalet, Hôtel de Ville, Notre Dame & Sainte-Chapelle, The Latin Quarter, Seine River Cruise, Champs-Élysées and the Arc De Triomphe.
2 Days Paris Itinerary – In Detail
Here’s the detail of this 2 days Paris itinerary, including where to eat and how to get about.
Start your first day in Paris early, ideally reaching the first destination before sunrise.
Head to Trocadéro, which is served by Trocadéro station on the Metro lines 6 and 9. Trocadéro is a sort of plaza/viewing platform from which you can get a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower and much of Paris.
Full disclosure: it’s not a ‘hidden gem’ and it’s highly unlikely you will have this place to yourself, even at dawn. There will most likely be many other people here with you. It’s also a popular place for photoshoots, so you might spot people in fancy outfits and photographers calling instructions on how to pose.
But the view is so good, it’s worth it even if it feels a little odd in and amongst the models and wannabe models.
It’s absolutely gorgeous in the morning light as the sun comes up, warm light reflecting off the windows of the mansions along Champs de Mars.
From the Trocadéro viewing platform, head down the steps into Trocadéro Gardens, which are also one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Paris if you’re there in Springtime. The view of the Eiffel Tower is great from the right-hand (south) side of the gardens, especially.
Cross the Seine over Pont d’Iéna and soon you’ll be at the base of Paris’s most famous monument: the 330-metre-tall Eiffel Tower. It’s so iconic now, it’s hard to believe that the tower was ridiculed when it was first built. Leon Bloy called it a ‘truly tragic street lamp’!
If you want to go up the tower, it’s best to book a ticket in advance to minimise queuing. There are different options, including climbing the stairs, elevator access to the second level and summit access. You can also take guided tours.
On my first visit to Paris, I was on an incredibly low budget, so I opted to climb the steps to the first stage only – it was hard work, but I was 18 and full of energy!
On a later visit with my then-boyfriend (now husband), I took the elevator and enjoyed a kiss at the top – I know, such a romantic thing to do in Paris (smug face).
The dream would be to avoid the queues altogether by having a reservation at the Jules Verne restaurant, which has its own private access – but the prices have kept that experience out of my reach so far!
If you’re not going up the tower, you should spend some time in Champ de Mars, the gardens around the tower – and enjoy the sight of it from all angles. On a recent trip, I noticed the names of authors that adorn the first-floor platform of the tower.
I suggest an early lunch on Rue Cler, a pretty market street in the 7th arrondissement.
To get there, I suggest you walk, which gives you a chance to enjoy some of the handsome Haussmann streets along the way. It’s a 15-20 minute walk and if you like Art Nouveau design, en route, stop by Avenue Rapp and have a look at the ornate doorway at number 29. There’s also a pretty private square at Square Rapp.
On Rue Cler, choose from one of the many cafes that line the street at the bottom end – if the weather is good, choose the terrace seating.
After lunch, continue this 2-day itinerary by heading to one of Paris’s world-class museums: Musée d’Orsay.
Walking would take 25 minutes and would take you past the spectacular gold-domed church Les Invalides, or the Metro will take approximately 27 minutes (from École Militaire to Musée d’Orsay, changing trains at Invalides).
Musée d’Orsay is one of my favourite museums. It is in a building that was built to be a grand railway station, and it still has a cavernous main exhibition space. It has an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures.
My favourite section is the collection of impressionist ad post-impressionist paintings on the fifth floor, which includes works by Degas, Monet and Van Gogh. It’s up here that you can also get that unique view of Paris through the clockface windows of the building.
Again, booking tickets for Musée d’Orsay in advance is highly recommended.
Musée d’Orsay is on the River Seine, not far from the Louvre, so I suggest you wander over there next, crossing the river on Pont Royal or Pont du Carrousel. I don’t think you’ll have enough time to explore both museums (or, more precisely, not enough to explore both very thoroughly), so if you particularly want to visit the Louvre, I suggest you skip Musée d’Orsay.
That said, if you’re in Paris in winter, you might want to adjust this itinerary to do less of the outdoor stuff and more of the indoor things, including more museums.
Musée Du Louvre is well-known for exhibiting the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s Renaissance masterpiece. But there’s so so so much more to it than that. The Louvre has a staggeringly huge collection, including sculptures, paintings, drawings, and archaeological finds – from prehistory to the 21st century.
But even if you don’t go into the Louvre, you should definitely explore the exterior: Jardin des Tuileries offer lovely views of the ostentatious Renaissance-style buildings. And of course, you must go into the inner courtyard and see the glass pyramid, which is a perfect contrast to the ornate architecture of the main building.
I particularly like the views of the pyramid through the Passage de Richelieu passageway.
Really close to The Louvre – just across Rue de Rivoli – is Palais Royal, which is a former royal palace, now the seat of the Ministry of Culture, the Conseil d’État and the Constitutional Council. There’s an inner courtyard with an installation of stripey pillars that are popular with kids, and two sculptures of glass balls, Les Boules Argentees.
It’s a nice stroll along the long gardens, and there’s a good coffee place in the left-hand portico if you need some caffeine or a sit down: Café Kitsune.
If you have time, you might want to walk a little further to Galerie Vivienne, one of the most attractive covered passages in Paris.
Now, you’ll want to leave your next destination early enough to give you a few hours of daylight there because there’s plenty to see in Montmartre. To get there, take the Metro from Pyramide to Anvers, changing trains at Madeleine and Pigalle, which should take about 20-25 minutes.
Montmartre is a popular area of Paris due to its artistic bohemian history, its pretty village-like feel and its elevated viewpoints. It’s a lovely area to wander around. There’s plenty to see in Montmartre and you might want to take a Montmartre guided tour to get the most out of your time there.
However, a cheaper option is to use my self-guided walking tour of Montmartre, which will help you explore this historic, artistic and charming place for free!
My route covers all the major landmarks of Montmartre: Basilica of Sacré Cœur de Montmartre, Place du Terte, La Maison Rose, Rue de l’Abreuvoir, Vignes du Clos Montmartre, Escalier du Calvaire, Wall of Love – and more!
As you’re in Montmartre, why not eat dinner at a historic restaurant, captured on canvas by Renoir? In the late 19th century, Moulin de la Galette was popular with artists such as Renoir, van Gogh, and Pissarro and was the setting for Renoir’s famous painting, Bal du Moulin de la Galette, which you might have seen earlier in Musée d’Orsay.
The restaurant’s name comes from an actual windmill, for which the area of Montmartre was once known and which is still there (though no longer in operation).
And on top of this, the food is good, too. I have had French onion soup there twice now – I love it! The steak frites are great, too.
A less ‘on the nose’ alternative for dinner is the small but more laid-back La Boîte aux Lettres, which is on Rue Lepic and serves a creative menu of delicious seasonal food.
Moulin Rouge / Art House Cinema
After dinner, you might want to wander down the hill to the famous Moulin Rouge to see a cabaret show. However, the place has always looked a bit seedy to me, so I’ve never been tempted.
An alternative could be seeing a movie (they have English language films, don’t worry) at the independent art house cinema Studio 28.
Start the second day of this Paris 2-day itinerary exploring the upmarket area of Le Marais, which was once where the aristocracy lived – and remains a fashionable, stylish area.
Place De Vosges
One of the gems of Le Marais is Place De Vosges. It’s a 17th-century square with lawns, trees, statues and fountains. It was originally a place for the nobility to meet and socialise. These days, it’s a popular place to picnic or play petanque.
What’s most impressive about it are the buildings that surround it: handsome red brick mansions with blue slate rooves. In the shady porticoes that run all the way around the square, there are some high-end restaurants and cafes.
If you want to get to know the history of Paris, Musée Carnavalet has a very comprehensive exhibition tracking the history from Roman times to recent years. There’s a lot to see, including some spectacular 17th century (check) room sets – but you can pick & choose which periods of history to focus on if you don’t want to be in there for hours.
And, as a bonus for those looking to spend their 2 days in Paris on a budget, it’s free!
I recommend grabbing an early lunch on the right bank, as there are fewer good options in the area I have planned for the afternoon.
For an elevated lunch, literally, you could book a table at Georges, which is an elegant restaurant at the top of the Pompidou Centre, with wonderful views across Paris.
For something traditional and mid-range in budget, Les Philosophes is a great little bistro on Rue Vieille-du-Temple.
For something far more budget, grab a falafel sandwich at one of the middle eastern food joints on Rue des Rosiers – they’re so good!
Hôtel de Ville
Close to the Seine is an ostentatious Renaissance-style building with steep rooves, a spire and lots of fancy chimneys. This is Paris’s City Hall, Hôtel de Ville, headquarters of the municipality of Paris since 1357!
There’s not much to do at Hôtel de Ville unless you come in December when the square in front hosts a Christmas market. So check that out if you’re in Paris in winter – it’s one of my favourite Paris Christmas Markets.
Île de la Cité
Cross the Seine on Pont d’Arcole and you’ll reach Île de la Cité, which is among the oldest areas of Paris. Here you’ll find some of the best examples of Gothic architecture in Paris – and also one of the prettiest cafes, Au Vieux d’Arcole, which is on Rue Chanoinesse.
Notre Dame & Sainte-Chapelle
The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is, of course, a world-famous landmark that most people want to visit on their first time in Paris.
Its two towers and rose window are iconic. At the time of writing, it’s still undergoing reconstruction after the fire in 2019 but is said to be on track to re-open in December 2024. For now, you can only admire it from the outside. There’s some raised seating outside the cathedral for this purpose.
For a gothic church where you can see the interior, you won’t be disappointed with Sainte-Chappelle, which was built in 1248 to house the relic of Christ’s Crown of Thorns and is famous for its glorious stain-glass windows.
If there’s one church to pay to go into, it’s this one! The spectacular stained-glass windows and deep blue ceiling strewn with gold stars make this my favourite church in Paris. Buy Sainte-Chapelle tickets here.
Left Bank & The Latin Quarter
Heading further south, cross over Petit Pont Cardinal Lustiger to the famed Left Bank of Paris. The area close to Île de la Cité is known as the Latin Quarter, named for the language taught in schools here in the middle ages. But it is also known for its lively atmosphere and narrow, cobbled streets, including Rue Mouffetard, which is a long road with lots of great places to eat.
In the Latin Quarter, you’ll find Sorbonne University, which was founded in the 13th century and The Pantheon, a church that houses the remains of author Victor Hugo.
However, as you only have two days in Paris and I’m already jam-packing this itinerary, you won’t have time to explore the Latin Quarter very thoroughly. But there are some popular establishments close to the river that are popular, including the super-pretty Shakespeare & Company bookshop and Odette cafe (which serves sublime choux buns). Square René Viviani is a nice little spot to sit if you need a rest.
There are also some Bouquinistes along the river, which are a perfectly Parisian way to shop for souvenirs, like art prints.
Seine River Cruise
Now, at this point in this Paris 2-day itinerary, you’ve crossed the Seine a couple of times, but you haven’t been on it. Let’s remedy that!
From the river bank near Notre Dame, there’s one of the nine Batobus Paris stops. This is a hop-on-hop-off river bus service that allows you to see Paris from the river. It does a fixed anti-clockwise route of the river and stops at nine popular spots along the way. A full circuit takes nearly two hours and you can buy a ticket in advance – and simply show your ticket to get onto the boat.
You might not have time to do a whole circuit (depending on how long you’ve spent exploring Ile de la Cite and the Latin Quarter), but you can at least take the boat to either Place de la Concorde (on the right bank) or, if you want to stay on the boat a little longer to see the Eiffel Tower again, Invalides (on the left bank).
Next, head to the Petit Palais. If you get off the boat at Invalides, you’ll need to cross the river over Pont Alexandre III, one of the fanciest bridges, with gold statues of mythical figures guarding it.
The Petit Palais is another free museum – there aren’t many free of them, so it’s good to know where they are if you want to spend 2 days in Paris on a budget!
It contains an exhibition of the fine arts, and there’s a pretty courtyard in the middle of the building. It’s also another good place to see cherry blossoms in Paris.
From the Petit Palais, head west along the Champs-Élysées, Paris’s most famous shopping street.
I’m personally not much of a shopper, so the best thing about Champs-Élysées in my mind is the dramatic view all the way to the Arc De Triomphe at the far end of it, which is actually the final destination for this Paris 2-day itinerary.
But if you want to shop in Paris, many of the designer and luxury brands have a presence on this street, along with some more high street brands.
Arc De Triomphe
The final destination for your two days in Paris is Napoleon’s monument those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
The Arc De Triomphe is surrounded by a roundabout, from which runs 12 avenues in all directions. You can admire it from the street level for free, but my suggestion is you get tickets to go inside and climb to the rooftop, where there’s a viewing platform with panoramic views of Paris. From here you get great views of the Eiffel Tower, and can also see out to Sacre-Coeur and La Defense.
My strong recommendation is to get tickets to go up to the viewing platform and to time them for just before sunset – maybe 30-60 minutes before. It’s a real treat to watch the sky change colour over Paris and to see the city lights come on – especially the dazzling light display from the Eiffel Tower.
What a showstopper end to your two days in Paris!
For dinner, the best restaurant I know near the Arc De Triomphe is L’Oiseau Blanc.
It’s in a very upmarket hotel, The Peninsula, on Avenue Kléber and was renovated in early 2022, so it looks pristine. The food and service are amazing, but I should warn you that the price tag is also ‘elite’. If you can stretch to it, it could be a real treat with which to end your time in Paris.
Map: 2 Days Paris Itinerary
Here’s a map with the key things to do and places to eat that I recommend for your 2 days Paris itinerary:
How To Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left-hand corner of the map to view the layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each one. If you click the star next to the map’s title, it will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu, go to ‘Your Places’ or ‘Saved’, then click Maps and you will see this map in your list.
When To Visit Paris
I’ve been to Paris in all seasons, and my favourites are Spring and Autumn (Fall).
This is because the temperatures are milder than in summer. I’d rather deal with the chance of showers than the baking heat. And the seasonal colours add a lovely filter to the city. In Paris in Spring, there are flowers, blossoms and vibrant greens. In Autumn, the changing leaves are gorgeous warm tones. It is also generally less crowded in these shoulder seasons.
I also like Paris in Winter: the trees are bare and it’s cold, but it’s the only time when you can explore with so few visitors around. And Paris at Christmas is really special: the lights and Christmas Markets are excellent! However, you should know that opening hours can be reduced in winter.
For example, on my last trip to Paris in January, some of the cafes in Montmartre didn’t open between Sunday and Wednesday and the Batobus wasn’t running.
I have long avoided Paris in the summer months: it’s just too hot and crowded for me!
Where To Stay In Paris
These are the best hotels I’ve stayed at myself recently (in the last two years):
La Finca Hôtel & Spa (formerly called the Hotel Auberge Flora) is a 3-star near the Bastille area. Rooms are small but perfectly comfortable; the staff are friendly and the hotel has everything you need. They have a bar downstairs and offer a simple, affordable breakfast in the morning (the standard bread & coffee you get in most places).
In Montmartre, the 4-star Terrass” Hotel is very comfortable and has some wonderful views across Paris to the Eiffel Tower, including from its top-floor restaurant and bar. Some of the rooms also have Eiffel Tower views.
Another 4-star option is Hôtel Diva Opéra, which is a boutique hotel in Fauberg-Montmartre. The central location is very convenient and it is close to several of the best covered passages, some great restaurants and cafes and also Boulevard Haussman.
The luxury 5-star Hotel Regina Louvre has a prestigious spot next to the Louvre. It is traditional and elegant, with some lovely Art Nouveau design features. The rooms are super-comfortable and some have views of the Eiffel Tower.
For more options, check Booking.com, which is my go-to site for hotels:
Should You Buy The Paris Pass / Paris Museum Pass?
The Paris Museum Pass offers access to a wide range of Museums over a 4 or 6-day period for a fixed price. And the Paris Pass is also available for 2 or 3 days.
However, if you follow this 2 days Paris itinerary to the letter, there are only 2-3 attractions you’ll pay for (Eiffel Tower, Musee D’Orsay &/or Musee du Louvre and Arc De Triomphe) – and not all of these are covered by the 2-day Paris Pass.
For this reason, I don’t think that it’s beneficial to purchase a pass. And even if you plan to visit other museums or attractions during your two days in Paris, I would urge you to check the specific inclusions of each pass before purchasing, as some museums are not included in the 2 or 3-day passes.
How To Get Around Paris
I recommend the CityMapper app, which I’ve used in cities all around the world, including Paris, for years.
It lets you plan a route across Paris via public transport and walking. If you know where you’re heading, it will give you a full end-to-end journey plan, including the route to the bus or metro station, any connections/changes, and how long it will take. It even has alerts for delays on the trains (although I have found sometimes the info on these is in French).
Google Maps also do something similar to Citymapper now.
Using The Metro
Paris’s Metro system can be daunting if you’re not used to an underground train network like it. But it’s OK if you take it slow. Before starting any journey, follow these steps:
- Check the name of the station you’re starting from and getting off at
- Check the maps or use CityMapper to help you work out whether one line will take you all the way, or whether you will need to change lines.
- Check the destination of the train you take for each leg of the journey. This is how the stations signpost which direction the train is going in. They won’t say ‘downtown’, or ‘eastbound’ – they will simply say the name of the final stop
Metro (or bus or tram) tickets can be bought as a single for €2.10. If you plan to use public transport often, you can save by buying a longer pass, eg 2 days. However, you should know a two-day pass will be valid the day you buy it and the next day, but not for 48 hours from when you buy it. And these are only likely to be good value for money if you use the Metro a lot in that period of time.
Uber operates in Paris and there are also taxis which you can hail in the street or from taxi ranks. These have green lights.
Travel Tips For Visiting Paris
I write some extensive tips in my post on visiting Paris for the first time, so do check that out.
In short, though, these are some useful travel tips for visiting Paris:
- Manage Your Expectations: some people have such an elevated expectation of Paris that it can’t ever live up to the image in their heads. This leads to disappointment, so learn how to avoid Paris Syndrome.
- Book Ahead: Paris is popular, so it’s wise to book hotels and also tickets and some restaurants in advance
- Learn A Little French: many people speak English in Paris, but a little politeness in French goes a long way
- Avoid Scams: there are unfortunately people who may try to take advantage of you in Paris, so keep hold of your belongings and be aware of your surroundings at all times – and don’t be talked into doing anything that seems suspicious or too good to be true
- Check Opening Times For Museums & Restaurants: some attractions are not open seven days a week – it’s not uncommon for Sundays, Mondays or even Tuesdays to have closures.
- Wear Comfy Shoes: don’t fall for the false idea that Paris is all about high fashion – Parisians tend to wear appropriate shoes for a busy city. And this itinerary has a lot of walking in it!
- Carry Water: when you’re exploring a big city like Paris, you need to stay hydrated!
- Use Toilets (Bathrooms) When You Can: there aren’t many (nice) public toilets in Paris and many charge a euro or two, so use the toilet whenever you can, even if you don’t feel like it, to avoid getting caught short later.
Things To Do In Paris On A Rainy Day
If it rains during your trip, you might want to adjust this 2 days Paris itinerary to avoid getting wet and miserable.
I wrote a whole post on things to do in Paris in winter, when it’s cold and can be wet, so most of these ideas are also relevant for a rainy day in any season.
Paris Travel Resources
Getting there: If you’re flying, try Skyscanner for flight deals. They’re my ‘go-to’ flight checker.
Staying there: Booking.com is a good resource for finding a place to stay – and they have a loyalty scheme, which is good for regular users.
Experiences: I tend to book excursions and experiences through Get Your Guide – you can pay in your currency and get digital tickets, which are convenient.
The Last Word
I hope this 2 days Paris itinerary has given you some inspiration for how to make the most of your time in Paris.
If, after reading this, you feel like you want more time in Paris, I also have an itinerary for 4 days in Paris. And if you end up staying more than two days, you might also be interested in taking day trips from Paris.
If you need any other Paris inspiration, check out my guide to romantic things to do in Paris for couples and also my guide to travelling to Paris solo. I’ve also written about Paris Syndrome and how to avoid disappointment in Paris by managing your expectations in advance.