If you’re visiting Paris for the first time and find yourself with just 48 hours to spare, this guide is tailor-made for you! Paris is incredible, but it can be overwhelming to know what to see, especially if you have limited time and have never been before.
Paris, also known as the City of Light, is a captivating destination that beckons travelers from around the world with the allure of art, romance, and timeless beauty.
From the iconic landmarks that grace the skyline to the quaint streets that whisper tales of bygone eras, Paris presents a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered.
With this 48 hours in Paris itinerary, you’ll be able to maximize your time to see some of the major highlights that make the city so famous, as well as some hidden gems. So, fasten your seatbelts and let the magic of Paris sweep you off your feet!
Skip to a section
Notre Dame, Saint-Chapelle and Conciergerie
You really start to appreciate Paris when you know a thing or two about its history. The Île de la Cité is the birthplace of Paris, making it the best place to start off your weekend.
This island is home to the medieval cathedral of Notre Dame, one of the most popular attractions in Paris, even though it was tragically damaged by fire in 2019. You can see the reconstruction work going on here from outside, which is due to be completed in 2024.
After seeing Notre Dame, head to Saint-Chapelle, another stunning Paris church. The 13th-century Sainte-Chapelle was built as part of the Palais. It contains some of the most mesmerizing stained glass in the world!
This combined ticket will take you through Saint-Chapelle and the Conciergerie, which was the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century. The Conciergerie went from a Gothic palace in medieval times to a prison fortress during the revolution. Here you’ll find Europe’s largest medieval hall and Marie Antoinette’s prison cell.
🌟Insider Tip: Walk across Pont Neuf, a stunning stone bridge opened in 1607, to get to your next destination and admire the gorgeous views of the Seine as you go. You’ll also pass Pont Des Arts, a famous bridge that connects the Institut de France with the Louvre. Fortify yourself for exploring the Louvre by having lunch at one of the cafés overlooking the famous glass pyramid. There’s also a Ladureé macaron shop here for some delicious French treats!
Musée de Louvre
If there’s one place you can’t miss in Paris, it’s the Louvre. This gigantic palace is home to some time-tested works (Mona Lisa, anyone?) of history’s greatest – think Da Vinci, Rembrandt, or Rubens.
Housing the world’s largest art collection (and probably the world’s best too), this is the mecca of art. And then there are the queues, which might be the world’s longest. Get a skip-the-line ticket to the Louvre and save a few of your precious 48 hours in Paris. After all, the world’s biggest museum (yes, it holds that record too) takes a while to explore!
🌟Insider Tip: If you need a rest after viewing all the amazing art at the Louvre, head outside and spend some time relaxing in the Jardin des Tuileries. This is a 17th-century formal garden dotted with statues that’s right next door. If you walk to the opposite end you can also look out over Place de la Concorde where there’s an ancient Egyptian obelisk, fountains, and statues. If you are still not tired of art, the Musée de l’Orangerie is located within the Jardin des Tuileries and is home to some of Monet’s famous water lily paintings.
Romantic Dinner Cruise on the Seine
For an incredible dining experience for your first night, a gourmet dinner cruise on the Seine is the best way to go. After all, Paris is most romantic when seen from the river at night!
After a day spent walking and looking at art, this is a nice way to rest those weary feet, while still getting to see many of the most beautiful sites in Paris from the water. You’ll also get to enjoy a delicious three-course meal (with champagne) as the lights come on over Paris!
🌟Insider Tip: If you have the energy, you could also check out the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret show after dinner. The dinner cruise departs and returns near the Assemblée Nationale metro stop, which will take you to Pigalle within a couple of stops. From here you can walk up the road to the Moulin Rouge or change lines and get off at the Blanche metro stop, which is just one stop away from Pigalle!
Palace of Versailles or Catacombs of Paris
For your second day in Paris, we have two options to choose from. If you’ve always wanted to visit the awe-inspiring palace and gardens of Versailles, then you could join this guided tour which includes transport to and from Paris.
The Palace of Versailles, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the epitome of opulence and grandeur that embodies the magnificence of the French monarchy. This legendary palace served as the seat of power for Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI, dazzling visitors with its lavish architecture, meticulously designed gardens, and exquisite interiors.
If you’ve already seen Versailles or are more interested in seeing something a bit more off-beat, then you might prefer to explore the Paris Catacombs instead.
Initially created as limestone quarries, the Catacombs were transformed into an underground ossuary in the late 18th century to address the issue of overcrowded cemeteries.
Descending into this eerie realm. Visitors are confronted with a mesmerizing display of neatly arranged bones, forming intricate patterns and macabre sculptures that evoke both fascination and contemplation.
And if you have more than two days in Paris then you might also like to check out the best day trips from Paris.
🌟Insider Tip: If you visited the Paris Catacombs then you could easily visit Tour Montparnasse on the way to your next destination. Montparnasse Tower offers up some of the best views of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower which you can’t see when you’re on it!
For your second afternoon, join an expert guide and take a tour of the Invalides complex, including visits to Napoleon’s Tomb and the Army Museum. Here you’ll learn about the many chapters of French military history, from medieval knights to Napoleon’s European conquests, and the World Wars of the 20th century.
The Invalides, also known as Hôtel National des Invalides, is an iconic landmark in Paris that holds historical, architectural, and cultural significance. Built during the 17th century under the orders of King Louis XIV, this grand complex was originally intended as a home for war veterans, providing them with housing, healthcare, and support.
🌟Insider Tip: Have lunch on your way to the Invalides from Montparnasse Tower. There are a number of excellent restaurants along the Esplanade Jacques Chaban-Delmas, as well as bakeries and an express Carre-Four if you just want to have a picnic in the park before your next stop.
Dinner at Madame Brasserie – Eiffel Tower
There’s no finer way to say goodbye to Paris than dinner up high in the Eiffel Tower! With this experience, you’ll get priority access to the Eiffel Tower to admire the views, along with a delicious French dinner at Madame Brasserie.
This restaurant features an elegant, Parisian-style interior, with classic French artwork on the walls, and large windows offering breathtaking views of the City of Light below. The food is, of course, simply superb, with French caviar, Niçoise-style tuna, and profiteroles just a small sample of the menu options.
🌟Insider Tip: If you’re leaving late (or early in the morning) and want a couple of cocktails for your last night in Paris, head to Le Gatsby which is in between Champ de Mars (the park behind the Eiffel Tower) and The Invalides, right by École Militaire metro station. Le Gatsby is exactly what you would expect with such a name, a cozy bar with a roaring 20s theme and a menu featuring fancy cocktails that Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald would have loved!
🚊 How to get around Paris
We’ve deliberately organized this Paris 48 hours itinerary in such a way that you should be able to easily walk between many of the attractions.
If you’re not up for that much walking then you could purchase a hop-on hop-off bus ticket for either Tootbus or Big Bus to travel between most of the main attractions.
Both of these can be booked for 48 hours and stop off at the major sights we’ve mentioned, aside from Tour Montparnasse, the Paris Catacombs, and the Moulin Rouge. For those three you can still easily travel via the Paris metro.
📍 What are the best areas to stay in Paris?
When it comes to choosing the best arrondissement to stay in Paris, arrondissements 1 and 2 stand out as equally good choices. These central districts offer a prime location that puts you in the heart of the city’s iconic landmarks, cultural treasures, and vibrant atmosphere.
Arrondissement 1 encompasses the historic core of Paris, housing world-renowned attractions such as the Louvre Museum, the Tuileries Gardens, and the Palais Royal. It’s a paradise for art lovers and history enthusiasts, with easy access to exquisite architecture and the Seine River.
Next to it, Arrondissement 2 offers a mix of old-world charm and modern buzz, plus it’s very close to the main train station if you are arriving and/or leaving Paris by rail.
☀️ When’s the best time to visit Paris?
The best time of year to visit Paris largely depends on your preferences and what you hope to experience during your trip.
Spring is often regarded as one of the most enchanting seasons in Paris. The city blooms with vibrant flowers, and the weather is generally mild, perfect for leisurely strolls along the streets and the Seine River.
Fall is another delightful period to explore Paris, as the city is painted with warm hues and enjoys a comfortable climate.
However, if you’re fond of festive celebrations and a vibrant ambiance, consider visiting during the summer months of July and August. Although it can be crowded, this is when the city buzzes with lively street festivals, outdoor events, and a vibrant atmosphere.
Additionally, winter in Paris offers a unique charm with its festive Christmas markets, cozy cafes, and the opportunity to witness the city adorned with holiday lights.