Things to do in Paris
Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world for its wealth of historical attractions, landmarks and monuments. From the Louvre to Notre Dame Cathedral, there’s art to architecture to be discovered – and everything in between.
The travel experts at The Paris Pass have chosen the best things to do in Paris during your visit. The Paris Pass includes free entry to over 60 popular attractions and experiences, as well as exclusive Fast Track Entry at the busy sites.
The Louvre Museum is the most iconic and recognised art gallery in Paris for its miles of priceless art and world-famous collections, including the enigmatic Mona Lisa and the Liberty Leading the People. Don’t miss its stunning 12th century architecture and the contemporary glass pyramid in the courtyard, either.
On the left bank of the River Seine, the Orsay Museum was once a busy train station until the turn of the 20th century. Now visitors can admire art from some of France’s most prolific painters such as Cezanne, Monet, Renoir and Manet – and still see the original hanging station clock!
Arc de Triomphe
Napoleon commissioned this triumphal arch in the early 1800s however he never lived to see it finished. Standing in the centre of the Etoile it’s now one of the most photographed landmarks on the city’s horizon. Climb to the top to watch the sunset and visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, below the arch.
Notre Dame Cathedral
This 13th century French Gothic cathedral is famed for its gargoyles, chimera and stained glass windows, so a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral is guaranteed to leave you in awe. Did you know that the bell that rings on the hour, every hour is called Emmanuele and weighs 13 tonnes!
Centre Pompidou is one of the most important modern art galleries and exhibition spaces in Europe. Noted for its 50,000 works of art featuring Picasso, Ernst and Miro, the gallery promises to open your mind to the abstract and showcase the very best in modern art.
Palace of Versailles
Once the lavish home of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the Palace of Versailles is one of the most beautiful historic buildings in the world. Its opulence is unmatched and the rococo and Renaissance styles throughout make it one of the most impressive Paris sights. Make a day of it and explores the vast gardens and estate, too.
Paris Opera House
The Paris Opera House is one of the best examples of Beaux Arts architecture in Paris. Its stunning façade, marble staircase and decadent décor make it one of the most impressive buildings in central Paris. It even inspired Gaston Leroux’s hit Phantom of the Opera.
If you like impressionist and post-impressionist art then this is the place to visit. The Orangerie Museum is set in the picturesque Tuileries Garden and filled with masterpieces by Monet, Renoir and Matisse. Did you know it was Monet who founded the museum by donating paintings in a celebration of the end to WWII?
A national monument-come-necropolis, the Pantheon is one of Paris’ most important historic buildings as it contains the tombs of France’s most famous and illustrious figures. This neoclassical landmark dates back to the 18th century, from an idea by King Louis XV.
Paris’ powerhouse, the Conciergerie is the seat of justice and has been for over 1000 years. The site dates back to an old Roman fortress and was an impressive palace in the Middle Ages. This is why its also known as the Palais de le Cite as it’s the oldest royal palace in Paris.
Paris’ second most famous church after Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle is in fact the older of the two. It’s famed for the world’s largest collection of original stained glass windows, dating back to the 13th century, but also for its religious relics. It was once the resting place of Christ’s Crown of Thorns.
Paris Bus Tour
See the Paris sights the easy way – a Paris Bus tour is a great way to experience Paris and familiarise yourself with the city. Sit on the top deck and pass the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe and hop on and off as you choose.
Bateaux River Cruise
Experiencing Paris by river is a magical experience and a river cruise along the Seine will open your eyes to a side of Paris you won’t have seen. See the Notre Dame, pass under the love lock bridge and past the Orsay Museum clock.
Wine Tasting Experience
At O Chateau, you can enjoy an introductory wine tasting experience from the experts! Be taught by trained sommeliers, sample different French wines and even learn to pair them with the right cheese. There’s no better place to learn about wine than in Paris!
Brush up on your French history and learn about the civilization of Paris as a city at Paris Story, an interactive museum that will teach you about the history of Paris from the Roman times up to the present day.
Grevin Wax Museum
Meet your music idol, shake hands with your sporting icon – at Grevin Wax Museum you’ll be shocked at these life-like waxwork creations. From Madonna to Michael Jackson, see historical figures and celebrities brought to life.
Montparnasse Tower is Paris’ only skyscraper so you’re guaranteed the best uninterrupted panoramas over Paris. Up on the 53rd viewing platform you can enjoy 360 degree views across the city – and up to 40kms away on a clear day!
Petit Train de Montmartre
Montmartre is one of Paris’ most quirky districts and was once home to the bohemian artists of the early 1900s. Explore this unique area with the Petit Train de Montmartre, and climb to the summit of the hill for views over Paris before winding your way back down the old cobbled streets.
The Dali Exhibition is one of the lesser-known galleries in Paris, but it is home to the a large body of sketches and sculptures. If you’re a fan of this eccentric 19th century artist then the Dali Exhibition is worth a visit – plus it’s the only exhibition dedicated solely to Dali in France!
National Archaeology Museum
The National Archaeology Muesum can be found in the stunning Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a 12th century royal residence which was turned into a museum by Napoleon III in 1862. It now contains a range of artefacts dating back to the early settlements of France.
National Navy Museum
Dedicated to the history of the French Navy, the National Navy Museum is considered one of the best Maritime Museums in the world. The museum features maritime-themed art, as well as delicate model ships and artefacts.
Gustave Moreau Museum
Step back in time into the world of prolific painter, Gustave Moreau. He designed the museum himself over 100 years ago and the apartment in which he lived has not been touched since. See his personal effects, portraits and collectables for a true insight into this Parisian artist.
Maurice Denis Museum
Maurice Denis was a French symbolist painter and member of the Nabi school of theory. A visit to this museum, dedicated to the life and works of Maurice Denis, will open your eyes to the intellectual movement and those who were also part of it, including works by Ranson, Bonnard and Paul Gaugin.
Abbaye Royale De Chaalis
The Abbay Royale de Chaalis was once a former abbey until it was converted into a resplendent chateau the 18th century. Housing a personal art collection, the chateau now boasts priceless works of art, as well as fine Renissance interiors – not to mention a beautiful rose garden and surrounding countryside.
Museum of the Asian Arts
The Museum of Asian Arts is a stunning collection of arts from the Asian continent as well as centre of knowledge. It’s a centre renowned globally for its objects and artefacts, some of which date over seven millennia. A visit to this museum is a must for those fascinated by Asia and it’s heritage.
Museum of Decorative Arts
Dedicated solely to French craftsmanship and artists, the Museum of Decorative Arts showcases the best pieces representing the French Art of Living. It’s an all-encompassing collection with items from stained glass, to wallpaper, as well as dolls houses and other fascinating works.
Nissim De Camondo Museum
Step inside the world of the rich and famous, Nissim de Camondo Museum was the private mansion of the super-wealthy Moise de Camondo, a banker and art collector. This house-turned-museum has been fully preserved and displays objects d’art from the 18th century including elaborate chandeliers, silverwear and porcelain…
National Museum Of Eugéne Delacroix
A national French hero and the epitomy of romanticism, Delacroix is one of the most famous painters in French history. The National Museum of Eugéne Delacroix is dedicated to the life and works of this great artist and showcases much of his early work, personal effects and letters from his contemporaries.
National Museum of the Renaissance
Celebrate one of the most impactful movements in history; the Renaissance. The National Museum of the Renaissance is housed in the stunning Chateau d’Ecouen, one of the major accomplishments of the Renaissance itself, both within and without, so it can’t fail to disappoint.
The Army Museum
The Army Museum, at Les Invalides, was once a hospital and home for disabled soldiers. Now, it contains over 500,000 objects of war from weapons and uniforms, to armour and artillery. Visitors to the museum can also see the impressive Tomb of Napoleon, designed by the architect Visconti.
House of Auguste Rodin at Meudon
Just outside Paris, the House of August Rodin is a true testament to Auguste Rodin’s artistic achievements. Once his own home, a stunning Louis XVIII style mansion, the museum now features many of his neoclassical works, including The Kiss and The Thinker.
Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis
Perhaps one of the most important historic buildings in Paris, the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis is a necropolis of French royalty. Here you’ll find beautiful sculptures, tombs and mausoleums – as well as the desiccated heart of Louis XVIII.
Archaeological Crypt of Notre-Dame
Underneath the Notre Dame Cathedral are the archeological crypt where you’ll find artefacts dating back to the Gallo-Roman times and old Paris settlements. It’s a small exhibition highlighting the original civilizations of Paris, over 2000 years ago.
National Museum of Port-Royal de Champs
The National Museum of Port-Royal de Champs is intrinsically linked both politically and religiously to France’s history. Here you can learn about this ruined abbey and the role it played as the centre of Jansenism in the Middle Ages.
This stunning feat of 20th century architecture is a statement in its own right. Designed by controversial architect Le Corbusier, he paved the way for modern thinking towards architecture and a more pragmatic living space through its functionality – and you can certainly see that at Villa Savoye !
Paris Science Museum
Boasting the title of the biggest science museum in Europe, the Cite des Sciences will keep you entertained for hours in all manner of science, industry, space and technology - it even has a planetarium and IMAX, too.
Museum of Air and Space
Want to see the prototype for the Concorde, rockets and air balloons? Well you can at the Museum of Air and Space in a hanger, outside Paris. A fascinating museum that displays everything aviation-related from the 16th century to today.
Museum of the Arts and Invention
If you like collectables and are inspired by weird and wonderful scientific objects, then the Museum of the Arts and Invention will have you hooked. Full of exhibits from Pascal’s calculator, to Foucault’s pendulum, there’s even a real plane hung from the ceiling and a miniature Statue of Liberty!
Museum of the Cinema
The Museum of the Cinema champions the art of French cinema throughout history and how it has formed and been influenced by its culture. In this museum, you’ll find all matter of cinema-themed objects from posters, to costumes, set designs and video stills. It’s one of a kind and a fascinating look behind-the-scenes.
Museum of Jewish Art & History
Step into this private mansion at Hotel de Saint-Aignan and you’ll find the Museum of Jewish Art and History. It’s an important museum which celebrates Jewish culture and heritage through art, including textiles and manuscripts dating from the Middle Ages, as well as the archives of the Dreyus Affair.
Museum of Arab History
The Museum of Arab History, or the Arab World Institute, is a fascinating look at the cultural and spiritual values of the Arab community around the world. The institute is aimed at supporting and promoting the relationship between France and 18 other Arabic countries and has on display historic artefacts from textiles, to ceramics and bronzes.
From this long list of top Paris sights and different things to do in Paris it’s clear that it’s a city with so much to offer, historically and culturally. There are art galleries, landmarks and monuments to be explored – making Paris one of the most exciting cities to visit!
To make it even easier, we've created some itineraries to help you on your way. If you're spending 3 days in Paris, we've got some great suggestions; and if you're staying for a day longer and are looking for things to see in Paris in 4 days, read on to make the most of your time.
Top 10 Things to Do