Paris is a huge city. I don’t think that should come as a surprise to anyone. Heck, you could easily spend a week or so exploring all of Paris‘ nooks and crannies. But what if you only have two days in the City of Lights? I’m here to tell you that yes, it is possible to see Paris in two days! You just have to travel smart. If you are short on time and money, this self-guided itinerary will show you the best way to easily see Paris in two days, without feeling too rushed.
What is the best way to see Paris in two days?
While exploring the city by foot will provide you with a far more immersed, local experience and the opportunity to discover some hidden gems, if you want to see as much as possible, the metro is your best bet. Regardless, be sure to pack a pair of comfortable trainers because you’re certainly going to be racking your step count up in Paris.
The cheapest and easiest way to travel by metro is to each invest in a strip of ten t+ tickets. You can buy these from any metro station in Paris. The ten tickets will set you back 14,90€, a 25% saving on buying the tickets individually. These tickets allow you to travel by bus, metro, tram, and RER within Paris, and on the Montmartre funicular. Although we spent two days in Paris, we didn’t even use all ten of our tickets. So it might be worth buying only one strip between two of you, then purchasing more later if necessary.
How to get to the Louvre: From where we stayed centrally at Hotel Baby Paris, you can either walk 19 minutes to the Louvre via Google Maps, or you can get a 5-minute M4 metro from Strasbourg – Saint-Denis to Châtelet, and a second 2-minute metro from Châtelet to Palais Royal Musée du Louvre.
A central landmark of the city, the Louvre is the world’s largest and most visited art museum. Most tourists flock in from far and wide to marvel at the lady herself, the Mona Lisa. However, the rest of the Louvre’s collections are just as impressive and span several thousands of years and many continents.
If you want to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit the museum is in the early morning. That’s why it is first on this itinerary for seeing Paris in two days! Entrance is only 15€ for adults. But 18 to 25-year-old residents of the EU can enjoy free admission to the museum year-round. So if you are an art lover or a history buff, the Louvre is a must-see in Paris.
How to get to the Notre-Dame: From the Louvre, you can either walk 18 minutes to the Notre-Dame via Google Maps, or you can get a 4-minute M1 metro from Palais Royal Musée du Louvre to Hôtel de Ville, then walk a further 8 minutes.
Sadly, our trip to Paris was incredibly bittersweet as we were actually in the city the day the Notre-Dame sadly burnt. I took the photo above just a few short hours before the cathedral began to burn. And I feel incredibly privileged to have been there to see the cathedral in its former state. While the 13th-century cathedral will probably be closed for the foreseeable future, any trip to Paris would be incomplete without a visit to this iconic monument.
Notre-Dame carries the title of the most-visited monument in the whole of Europe. I mean, it really is no surprise. It featured in Victor Hugo’s famous novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’ and the subsequent Disney film adaptation, for goodness sake! When the cathedral eventually reopens, I would recommend travelling down to the crypts below and climbing up the tower for epic views across the city. However, for the moment, you must simply appreciate its beautiful French Gothic architectural design from the outside.
Shakespeare and Company Bookshop and Abbey Bookshop
How to get to Shakespeare and Company Bookshop and Abbey Bookshop: Shakespeare and Company is visible from the Notre-Dame. All you have to do is walk 3 minutes to the Left bank of the Seine, and voila, you’re there! The Abbey Bookshop is only a 4-minute walk away from Shakespeare and Company. Just pop it into Google Maps and you’ll be there in no time!
Calling all bookworms and bibliophiles! Inspired by the original Shakespeare and Company store created by Sylvia Beach, Shakespeare and Company first opened its doors back in 1951 where it became a hub for ex-pats living in France. Follow in the footsteps of Joyce, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Eliot and Pound as you discover every single literary genre known to mankind. I basically had to be dragged away by my feet to stop me spending all my money.
While it didn’t steal my heart in quite the same way that Shakespeare and Company did, Abbey Bookshop absolutely warrants a visit. Slide into the narrow bookshop and find yourself lost in a literary world beyond your wildest imaginations. Although it sells second-hand books and has a rather rundown and rustic aesthetic, Abbey Bookshop is definitely on the pricier side. Its wide selection of books spills over every single inch of the store, from the floor to the ceiling. So be warned: one wrong move could mean hundreds of books falling on top of you!
How to get to the Panthéon: From Abbey Bookshop, walk 11 minutes to the Pantheon via Google Maps.
Born from a desire to out-do the churches of St Peter’s in Rome and St Paul’s in London, the Panthéon is one of Paris’ most beautiful attractions. The intricacies of the architecture will take your breath away completely. One of my favourite parts of visiting the Panthéon was venturing down to the crypts below where many of France’s great thinkers, such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Victor Hugo, are buried.
Entrance is free for 18 to 25-year-old residents of the EU, but the full price is 9€ for those older or not from the EU. Top tip: Pay extra for a 45-minute guided tour to ascend the Panthéon’s dome for incredible views across the city!
Palais du Luxembourg
How to get to Palais du Luxembourg: From the Pantheon, walk 11 minutes down Rue Cujas, a straight road leading directly to Palais du Luxembourg. To get back to Hotel Baby Paris in the evening, get a direct 9-minute M4 metro from Odéon to Strasbourg – Saint-Denis.
After a busy day exploring Paris, there was nothing we craved more than sitting back in a park under the sun with a gelato in hand. A go-to spot for lounging locals, Jardim du Luxembourg is one of Paris’ most charming parks, especially during spring. Inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence, the gardens were constructed by Queen Marie de Medici in the 15th-century.
With 25 hectares of French and English gardens and a large pond in the centre of the park, it is a wonderful place to stroll or cycle. The palace itself is open only by guided visits as it houses the French parliament’s upper house, the Sénat. Instead, you can learn more about the palace’s history at Musée du Luxembourg!
Climb the steps to Sacré-Cœur Basilica
How to get to Sacré-Cœur Basilica: From Hotel Baby Paris, get a 7-minute M4 metro from Strasbourg – Saint-Denis to Château Rouge, and follow the tourists on the 11-minute walk uphill to Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
At the summit of Montmartre Hill sits the beautiful Sacré-Cœur Basilica. A visit here is one of my favourite things to do in Paris. Unlike many of Paris’ famous buildings, the Roman Catholic Basilica is relatively new, with construction being completed in 1914. However, in that time, the basilica’s famous white domes have wonderfully merged into the city’s skyline. Montmartre Hill is the highest summit in the city. This means the hill promises not only an excellent view of the Basilica but of the city too.
Entry to the Sacré-Cœur is free; however, even in the off-peak season, the queues to get in are very long. Do keep this in mind when planning your two day Paris itinerary. We sadly decided against waiting in the queue to have a peak inside because we didn’t have too much time. The views from the Dome of the Sacré-Cœur are also supposed to be stunning, but these require an admission charge.
See the Sinking House of Montmartre
How to get to the Sinking House of Montmartre: You can find this optical illusion halfway up the steps to the Sacré-Cœur, on the right-hand grassy bank. However, if you are still confused about where to find it, you can read this in-depth guide on how to achieve that Instagram-worthy shot.
Into optical illusions or perhaps you are simply an avid Instagrammer? Before leaving the Sacré-Cœur, be sure not to miss Paris’ famous optical illusion: the Sinking House of Montmartre. Whilst at first glance, the house may not appear to be sinking at all, tilt your camera to one side… And voila, you have a sinking house! Pretty neat, huh?
How to get to Montmartre: Once you are at the top of the hill at Sacré-Cœur, turn left and you will wander straight into Montmartre.
If you fancy visiting somewhere that seems a little more authentic and quintessentially Parisian, Montmartre is your mate. This whimsical little neighbourhood boasts a plethora of narrow cobbled lanes, secret passageways, and colourful, historic houses. It is also home to a selection of lovely cafes – a great opportunity to grab an early afternoon snack – such as the famously picturesque Le Consulat and La Maison Rose.
Although tourism in the 18th arrondissement has grown exponentially in the past few years, there are still slices of Montmartre where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the tourists. Just keep walking away from the Sacré-Cœur! If you have a little more time on your hands, must-see sights in Montmartre include Musée de Montmartre and Dalí Paris.
Visit Arc de Triomphe
How to get to Arc de Triomphe: From Montmartre, get an 11-minute M2 metro from Anvers to Charles de Gaulle – Étoile. There is then an underground tunnel that leads you to the arch, to avoid being hit by an onslaught of vehicles.
When you think of Paris attractions, aside from the obvious Eiffel Tower, your mind will probably wander to Arc de Triomphe. Situated at the top of the Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe is a national symbol that honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The names of all the French victories and generals are inscribed on the arc’s inner and outer surfaces. Setting you back only 12€ for a full ticket, or free for 18 to 25-year-old residents of the EU, Arc de Triomphe is well-worth a visit during your two days in Paris.
Climb Arc de Triomphe for panoramic views
How to get to the top of Arc de Triomphe: On one of the columns of Arc de Triomphe, there is a glass booth with a full body scanner that leads you through to a spiral staircase to take you up to the top of Arc de Triomphe.
For one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower, head to Arc de Triomphe. Boasting stunning 360° panoramic views, there is truly no better place to get a bird’s eye view of the city than from its large rooftop viewing platform. The spiral staircase also leads you to an exhibition where you can learn more about French history and the monument. This is great for those, like me, who are pretty clueless on all things French history!
Head to Parvis de Trocadéro at sunset for an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower
How to get to Parvis de Trocadéro: From Arc de Triomphe, get a 4-minute M6 metro from Charles de Gaulle – Étoile to Trocadéro.
So we’re coming to the end of seeing Paris in two days, and yet we still haven’t seen the Eiffel Tower. Last but certainly by no means least, we have the Iron Lady herself! To catch one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower, join the tourists at Parvis de Trocadéro.
At this point, you could also choose to ascend the Eiffel Tower. Although it is the most iconic monument in Paris – and, well, heck, the entire world – I believe the views from Arc de Triomphe are far superior to the views from the Eiffel Tower. So if you are short on money or time, I would give the Eiffel Tower a miss.
However, if you are keen to climb the tower, I would recommend booking your tickets in advance online. This will save you queueing for donkey’s years at the ticket offices. There are different types of tickets depending on how high you want to go. But I say go hard or go home. By which I mean, you’ve got to go to the top floor!
So have you ever visited the City of Lights? Do you think you would be able to see Paris in two days, or would you need more time? Whilst we could have easily spent a couple more days in Paris, we also left satisfied knowing that we had seen all the major sights and had a lovely time whilst doing so!