Magical 3 days in Paris Itinerary for first time visitors
The ‘city of lights’ had been on our bucket list forever. We get it, the moment you book the flights, you are filled with excitement and want to soak in every ounce of it, from Instagrammable photos, amazing accommodation to packing and sightseeing. We want to share our 3 days in Paris itinerary to make that trip even more memorable for you!
We explored Paris for more than 3 days and visited everything listed in this guide. We present all of our favorite spots in an easy to follow format, with the tours and passes – everything we used!
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3 days in Paris itinerary: How to visit Paris in 3 days
Here is a snapshot of the 3 day Paris itinerary, we will follow up with essential travel tips, and FAQ – ‘frequently asked questions’ about planning a trip to France.
- Day 1 of 3 Day Paris Itinerary: Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysse, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre Museum, Seine River Cruise
- Day 2 of 3 Day Paris Itinerary: Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Chapelle, Seine River & bridges, Musée d’Orsay, Montmartre, Sacré Coeur, Moulin Rouge
- Day 3 of 3 Day Paris Itinerary: Day trip to Versailles
This itinerary starts bright and early on day one, which means you arrive a day early. There are three airports in Paris – Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Orly Airport, and Beauvais-Tille Airport.
If traveling from the USA or Canada, you will arrive in Charles de Gaulle. It is located about 45 minutes from the city center, and you can pay 10 Euros ($10 USD) to take the RER train to multiple locations from here. Prefer a transfer? You can always book an airport shuttle
During our trip to Paris, we used the hop-on and hop-off sightseeing tours to save time, and get to places comfortably without renting a car. Click here to book your hop-on and hop-off sightseeing bus tour.
Alternatively, you can also get the 3 day Paris Pass, using which you can get access to over 60 attractions in the city (including Paris museum pass for 2 days access and fast track entry), free public transportation plus 1 day of the hop-on and hop-off tour – mentioned above.
Note that the Paris Pass can be purchased for 2, 3, or 6 days. The free transportation/rides included in the Pass is completely worth the price! Purchase your Paris Pass here
When you are planning your trip, and booking flight tickets, keep in mind that many Paris museums are closed on Mondays, and some on Tuesdays. Certain sites have reduced operating hours during the late fall and winter months and are closed on January 1, May 1, and December 25. We have tried our best to include all the up to date opening and closing details and linked to ticket sites so that you can book them as you go.
We rely on GetYourGuide for all of our Europe travel bookings from tours, tickets, to city passes. Their customer service is the BEST!
Where to stay in Paris, France for the first time?
If you are wondering where to stay in Paris, these tips will come in handy. The city of Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, which are like districts or boroughs. For a first time visitor, we recommend the following areas
- Marais (4th arr.) and Montmartre (18th arr.) – Both districts are vintage Parisian neighborhoods, with good metro access and sightseeing spots. You can find accommodation here for higher-end to mid-range hotels. Check out hotels in Marais here. Browse hotels in Montmartre here.
- 1st and 8th arrondissement – This is the city centre area, where all the tourist spots are just within a few minute’s walk, including quick access to the metro station. Hotels are luxurious, mostly with a higher price tag. Browse hotels in the 1st arrondissement.
- Looking for a hotel with Eiffel Tower views > Book this hotel in the 8th arrondissement
- 15th arrondissement – Trendy neighborhood to stay in Paris. You can find quite a few mid to budget hotels that are clean and good. Metro stations are accessible from here. It is important to note that the commute from here can be long (to get to some of the centre). Check out this mid range hotel in Paris, where we stayed.
Staying for longer, or prefer an Airbnb? Check out apartments & vacation rentals here
Day 1 of 3 Days in Paris Itinerary: Trocadero Gardens, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysse, Galeries Lafayette, Arc de Triomphe, Grand/Petit Museum, Louvre Museum, Seine River Cruise
Day one in Paris is all about checking off your bucket list! Wake up early, and head to the Trocadero Gardens. The Trocadero Gardens will greet you with uninterrupted views of the Eiffel Tower.
Start with the Trocadero Gardens
We were at the site at 7:30 am, and the gardens had a few visitors and photographers already snapping away. So you can imagine how busy the place will be during the day.
The Trocadéro was the site of the Palais de Chaillot, where a palace was set up prior to 1878. Today the complex is home to a number of museums including Musée national de la Marine (naval museum) and the Musée de l’Homme (ethnology). The gardens comprise an area of 93,930 square metres.
After capturing a gazillion photos, we grabbed a Jambon Fromage Sandwich, sat down, and watched the sunrise over the city and La Tour Eiffel – it was magical. Read our guide on best photo spots in Paris
Trocadero is located in the 16th arrondissement, and can be easily reached via taxi or public transportation. The hop on and hop off tours commence at the Trocadero gardens, so you can start exploring from here in style!
From the gardens, head straight to the Eiffel Tower.*scream**yay*
- Hours: 24 hours
- Cost: Gardens are free
- Métro: Trocadéro or Passy
Check off the Eiffel Tower
Get up close and personal to the Iron Lady, the beautiful Eiffel Tower was built over 130 years ago. The tower has been forever associated with Paris, and for us, the tower also represents ‘travel’ (I own like thousands of Eiffel Tower insignia in my house – cosmetic bags, keychains, and office space).
Eiffel Tower is named after Gustave Eiffel, its creator, and it was inaugurated for the 1889 World’s Fair.
Did you know, ‘Parisians originally hated the Eiffel Tower’.
In order to access the tower, there are entry fees. And depending on which floor you wish to visit, the fees may vary. The 1st floor of the tower has a transparent glass floor. The 2nd floor is the most popular one and showcases mesmerizing views of the city of Paris. From here you can check out the sights of the Invalides, Notre Dame, Louvre, Grand Palais, and the Seine river.
There is a restaurant on-site with romantic dining options, and souvenir shops located here as well. You can book your tickets online for the second floor
The summit of the Eiffel tower stands tall at 273 metres high and you can see the whole of Paris below you. You can reach the summit via 2 lifts, and there are viewing areas. There is also a champagne bar and a museum dedicated to Gustave Eiffel on the top floor. Book your summit tour of the Eiffel Tower.
On the internet, you will find ‘skip the lines’ tickets, and they are essentially online tickets (paid for in advance), and it just guarantees your visit for the day (in that time-slot). You still have to arrive about 30 minutes early and go through security checks at the gate.
The ground level is called the Esplanade, where you will find the hydraulic lifts, ticket counters, information desk, souvenir, and other stores. Note that you can view the Eiffel tower or walk the grounds for free.
The Eiffel Tower looks stunning at any time of day. In this Paris 3 day itinerary, we have included a cool way to admire the 20,000 bulbs in the evening, so keep reading!
- Hours: Everyday 09:00 am to 12:45 am
- Cost: Starts at 7 euros (8.60 USD)
- Tickets: Tickets to the 2nd floor, Tickets to the summit, Romantic dining + tickets
- Métro: Closest one is Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel (RER C)
Stroll Champs Elysees, shop at Galeries Lafayette
From the tower grounds make your way to Champs Elysees. Wander the shiny boulevard, which is one of the stunning commercial streets in the world. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, located in the 8th arrondissement, was originally created as an avenue lined with leafy trees, stretching from the Place de la Concorde to Arc de Triomphe/Place Charles de Gaulle.
Today, Champs Elysees is a popular shopping street, where you will find the most Instagrammable Laduree store, the largest Louis Vuitton, Loccitane (including their cafe) and many other fashion labels. Depending on your sightseeing and shopping agenda, you can spend a couple of hours here. If you are looking to buy LV handbags, Paris and Rome have the best prices for them.
If shopping is not on your list, then window shop around here and then grab a bite to eat before heading to the Arc de Triomphe.
For lunch, you can head to the food court at the Galeries Lafayette Champs Elysées or Restaurant Le Sens Unique for fine dining.
- Hours: Open every day. Store hours vary
- Métro: Charles de Gaulle Étoile RER station
Stop by the Arc de Triomphe
A symbol of French Unity, the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is one of the most popular monuments in Paris. You can easily access Arc de Triomphe, as it is located on the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Note that the area is super crowded with people and street artists – be careful and always stay alert.
The Arc de Triomphe was built between 1806 and 1836, on the orders of Napoleon, who wanted to honor the victories of the French troops after the Battle of Austerlitz.
When we visited the site, there was a military ceremony going on at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle. You can walk around the base and under the arches of the Arc de Triomphe for free. However, to head to the top of the momenument you have to pay a fee. Doing so, you can climb 280 stairs to reach the top for stunning views over Paris.
For less than $15 USD, you can capture some amazing views. Book your rooftop access tickets here.
- Hours: Opens every day at 10:00 am. Closes at different hours for rooftop access depending on the season (Fall/winter last entry at 09:45 pm. Spring/Summer last entry at 10:15 pm). Without rooftop access, you can explore the base of the monument or photograph it at any time
- Cost: Starts at 12 euros (15 USD) for rooftop access. To explore from the outside is free
- Tickets: Rooftop access tickets
- Métro: Charles de Gaulle Étoile RER station
Museums of choice: Grand Palais or Petit Palais
Now we don’t wish to overload you with museums. Because there are TONS in the city. For a short 3 day itinerary in Paris, you have to prioritize. We highly recommend visiting the Louvre, if you love art. However, if you are a museum geek, then ensure you also cover these 3 – Musee d’Orsay (we set this for day 2), Grand Palais and Petit Palais.
From the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées, Grand Palais and Petit Palais are easily accessible. Grand Palais des Champs-Elysees or the Great Palace is a large historic site with an exhibition hall and a museum. They are open every day except Tuesday and an entry fee costs about 15 euros ($18 USD).
- Hours: Closed on Tuesday. Wednesday 10:00 to 10:00 pm. Thursday to Monday 10:00 am to 08:00 pm
- Cost: Free to visit the permanent exhibition. Temporary and special exhibitions can be accessed via their website
- Métro: Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau, Pont Alexandre III or Franklin-Roosevelt
A smaller, less crowded museum is the Petit Palais. This is also an art museum, and you can easily check out this place in an hour or so. There is a statue of Sir Winston Churchill located at the Petit Palais grounds.
Both Grand and Petit Palais were built as part of the 1900 Universal Exposition. Another stunning structure built during this exhibition was the beautiful Pont Alexandre III (bridge) built over the river Seine. The Pont Alexandre iii is located close to the Grand Palais, so definitely stop by to admire the bridge architecture.
- Hours: Closed on Monday. Open 10:00 am to 06:00 pm rest of the week
- Cost: Free
- Métro: Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau, Pont Alexandre III or Franklin-Roosevelt
Visit the Louvre Museum
The stunning Louvre Museum is next on the list. The museum is located inside the Louvre Palace, which was the royal residence of the French Monarchy once upon a time (before moving to the Palace of Versailles).
The historical elements of the displayed items and the structure come from the royal family (Louvre Palace), the painters, and art history. You can book a comprehensive 3 hour tour of the Louvre
There are more than 350,000 historical and arts items located inside the Louvre along with Leonardo da Vinci’s Monalisa, making it the world’s MOST visited museum. You can easily spend 2-3 hours here, and it is worth heading there in the late afternoon to beat the rush.
We recommend staying here until the museum closes to see the lights on the pyramid, capture photos and then head to the Arc de Triomphe Carrousel to take a stroll in the evening. From the Arc de Triomphe Carrousel, you will see the Eiffel Tower illuminated in all of the night’s glory.
- Hours: Closed on Monday. Open 10:00 am to 06:00 pm rest of the week. Also closed on January 1, May 1, and December 25
- Cost: Starts at 17 euros ($ 21) or free with Paris Pass
- Métro: Palais-Royal – Musée du Louvre
Hop on the Seine River Sightseeing Cruise
You must experience the city of Light under the night lights, and Seine River Cruises make it an easy and unforgettable experience. We love short 1 to 3 hour sightseeing cruises, as it is super relaxing plus you can also dine abroad.
There are many cruise agencies. We recommend starting at the Vedettes du Pont Neuf (located 10 minutes from Louvre) or Bateaux Parisiens (located near the Eiffel Tower Grounds). Note that the Seine River Cruise tickets are FREE with the Paris Pass. You can take this cruise anytime (day or evening), it has a 1 day validity. Here is the one hour sightseeing cruise information.
We prefer doing this in the evening, so we reached there at 08:45 pm. Whatever time of day it is, bring a scarf or a light cardigan, as it could get chilly.
Prefer to dine on board? Consider taking the Seine River dinner cruise 2.5 hours.
- Hours: Everyday 10:30 am to 10:30 pm
- Cost: Starts at 10 euros ($12 USD) or free with Paris Pass
- Métro: Pont Neuf (for Vedettes du Pont Neuf), Trocadéro or Passy (Bateaux Parisiens)
If you only have 3 days in Paris, make your trip hassle-free with the hop on and hop off tour, included in the Paris Pass.
Day 2 of 3 Days in Paris Itinerary: Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Chapelle, Seine River & bridges, Musée d’Orsay, Montmartre, Sacré Coeur, Moulin Rouge
Start day 2, bright and early in Paris with French breakfast in a cafe. Order a buttered baguette, with coffee (I prefer café au lait or milk coffee). You can also add an egg, or a simple bread and butter/jam. To make the most of the day in Paris, head for breakfast by 7:30 am.
After breakfast, hop on the Paris Metro and get down to Notre dame Cathedral. Today’s sightseeing agenda is centred around Île de la Cité, and Montmartre. Île de la Cité is the historical centre of Paris. There is a small plaque in front of the iconic Notre Dame that signifies the marking of all distances in the city aka Paris Point Zero.
Admire Notre Dame Cathedral
For many visiting Paris, Notre Dame is a bucket list item. Located in the 4th arrondissement, Notre Dame Cathedral was built between the 12-14th centuries as the seat of Archbishop of Paris.
The cathedral is considered one of the finest Gothic architectural landmarks with its stunning stained glass windows, statues, and bells.
Note: Due to the devastating fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15 2019, the cathedral is currently closed until further notice. Restoration work is currently going on, with hopes of re-opening the Notre Dame in 2024 for the Summer Olympics.
You can walk around the area, and take pictures of the cathedral from a distance. We visited Notre Dame before the fire broke out, and there are quite a few tours and passes available at that time to explore the stunning cathedral. In the past, (before the fire broke out) you could climb up to the cathedral’s belfry tower, and soak in city views from up there!
Getting to Notre Dame Cathedral: St-Michel Notre Dame – RER B Train Line (blue) St-Michel Notre Dame – RER C Train Line (yellow) Cité – Metro Line 4 (fuschia)
Visit Sainte-Chapelle and Conciergerie
Located very close to Notre-Dame is Sainte-Chapelle. And you can enter this chapel and explore it too! The Sainte-Chapelle is a royal chapel built in Gothic style in the 13th century.
The artsy stained glass interiors of Sainte Chapelle has become a curiosity of many travelers. The floor-to-roof glass interiors are absolutely gorgeous. Sainte Chapelle is smaller in size as compared to Notre Dame, but it is worth visiting, and taking 1-2 hour guided tours. Here are the entry tickets
- Hours: Sainte Chapelle is open every day from 09:00 am. Closed from 01:00 am to 2:30 pm. Closing hours from October to March 05:00 pm, and from April to September 07:00 pm. Also closed on January 1, May 1, and December 25
- Cost: 11.50 euros ($14 USD)
- Tickets: Combo ticket with Sainte Chappelle and Conciergerie
- Métro: St-Michel Notre Dame, Cité – Metro Line 4
Both Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle are located by the Seine river banks. The latter is located in the heart of Île de la Cité (within the Palais de la Cite), where medieval Paris was founded.
At the Palais de la Cité, along with Sainte Chapelle, you must explore Conciergerie – this was a prison in the past, where prisoners of war (during the French Revolution) were kept in confinement. We highly recommend taking this combined Sainte Chapelle and Conciergerie tour to visit both and understand their history.
- Hours: Everyday 09:30 am to 06:00 pm except January 1st
- Tickets: Combo ticket with Sainte Chappelle and Conciergerie
- Métro: St-Michel Notre Dame, Cité – Metro Line 4
Seine River and Pont Neuf
After the guided tour, take a walk along the Seine River. We recommend setting aside 20 to 30 minutes here to just enjoy the stroll, take pictures of the beautiful Cité and Pont Neuf. The Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge in Paris. When you walk from Sainte Chapelle to Pont Neuf, it takes about 10 minutes (and is located on the western point of the Île de la Cité).
The Bouquinistes of Paris
From Pont Neuf, make your way to the Latin Quarter. On the way, you will find green colored bookstalls. The Bouquinistes of Paris (aka the green bookstalls) sell used and antiquarian books along the banks of the River Seine. These stalls have been located here since the 16th century, and so the Seine has been also popularly described as the “river between 2 bookshelves”.
Break for lunch at Latin Quarter
We were hungry after the stroll, and so we stopped at a cafe in the Latin Quarter. It will take you 18 – 20 minutes to reach the 5th arrondissement aka Latin Quarter. Latin Quarter is known for multi-cuisine cafes and restaurants and is also home to the Sorbonne University and Luxembourg Gardens or Jardins du Luxembourg.
In the afternoon, you can visit the gardens and relax or if you prefer hit Musee d’Orsay. We like to keep ourselves busy, so the museum was our calling.
Getting to Musee d’Orsay: From the heart of the Latin Quarter to Musee d’Orsay, it takes 30 minutes to walk. Alternatively, you can also ride the metro and arrive in 10 minutes. (Walk for 5 minutes and take RER Yellow line Saint-Michel Notre Dame to Musée d’Orsay)
Explore Musee d’Orsay
The Musée d’Orsay is an art museum located on the Left Bank of the Seine. The beautiful thing about this museum is that it is housed inside a railway station from the 19th century. The building features a gorgeous ornate Beaux-Arts façade, with passenger elevators, and electric rails.
The interiors were designed by Gaetana Aulenti, who created a complex layout of galleries when the railway station was transformed into a museum.
You must visit the museum for its beautiful interiors alone, especially the atrium. And of course, here you will find paintings, sculptures, photos, and French art from 1848 to 1914.
- Hours: Closed on Mondays. Tuesday to Saturday: 09:30 am to 06:00 pm. Thursdays open till 09:30 pm.
- Cost: 16 euros (19.60 USD)
- Tickets: Combo ticket with Seine cruise
- Métro: Musée d’Orsay
Head to Montmartre for the evening
By 3:30 pm, get ready to explore the pretty lanes of Montmartre. Montmartre is located in the 18th arrondissement and is home to gorgeous Parisian cafes and the iconic Sacre Coeur.
Montmartre is located on a large hill, and from the Sacre Coeur, you can view the city as well. Montmartre is all about quintessential Parisian lanes, the red lights of Moulin Rouge, the grandeur of the basilica, quaint cafes, and art.
Getting to Montmartre: From Musee d’ Orsay, ride the green line RER Solferino to Pigalle or Abbesses (18th arrondissement). It takes about 8 to 10 minutes to walk to get to the heart of Montmartre and trust us, it’s all worth it!
Montmartre is best explored by just wandering the lanes. We have included a walking map below to help you plan the late afternoon/evening. Don’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes (cobblestone lanes)
An alternate option is to book a 2 hour Montmartre walking tour to learn about the arrondissement and snap its pretty corners. This recommended tour takes you around and also guides you to the Sacre Coeur.
Before you go exploring, break for a quick bite. We actually stopped at one place for coffee, and another one to try out some sandwiches and croissants.
Coffee and Croissant in Montmartre
The map above takes you to the Place du Tertre, and here you will find plenty of places to eat. Here are some of our favorites (many are Instagrammable and heritage cafes):
- La Bonne Franquette: This 16th-century building houses this cute Parisian restaurant with French cuisines and a quaint atmosphere inside
- La Mere Catherine: This brasserie is the oldest restaurant of its kind, located at Place du Tertre (Art Square). They have an outdoor seating area, and it is perfect to sit down with a milk coffee, and admire the busy neighborhood
- Le Consulat Restaurant: You must have seen gorgeous photos of this cafe on Instagram. Let me warn you, the place gets pretty crowded, but a quick stop is worth it.
- Le Petit Café Montmartre: This cute little place is perfect for drinks after you are done exploring Montmartre. Sit, and enjoy the night in Paris!
Admire artists at work at Place du tertre
Place du Tertre is an artist square in Montmartre. Tertre actually translates to small hill, and place means a public square. Today, as you stroll along the square you will find artists hard at work offering to stretch or paint their subjects. There are a ton of cafes located in and around the square.
Did you know the term, ‘bistro’ was coined here at La Mere Catherine?
From the Place du Tertre you will see Sacre Coeur peeking at you. The iconic cathedral is only a few minutes away. We recommend visiting there in the evening to capture the golden hues in the city of love!
Le Consulat is one of the most photographed cafes in Montmartre. This historic cafe has welcomed great artists for decades from the likes of Van Gogh and Picasso. The cafe is always super crowded, but is worth a stop.
It is just so stunning!
Hours: Open everyday 10:00 am to 11:00 pm.
La Maison Rose
La Maison Rose is another Instagrammable cafe that is located at the end of one of the prettiest roads in Paris. The cafe in pink and green decor is super gorgeous, especially with the cobblestone surroundings. Just like Le Consulat, this cafe has been visited for decades by artists and writers.
Today you can enjoy the vibes of Montmartre and French food in this pretty Parisian café.
Hours: Open everyday 10:00 am to 09:00 pm.
Musée de Montmartre
The Musée de Montmartre is a well-known museum in the 18th arrondissement. It houses some of the finest work of art from many French artists. Not only art, you can explore the historical nuances of Montmartre here as well.
In order to properly visit the museum and the Renoir Gardens, you would need at least 2 hours, so plan to head by 04:30 pm at least.
- Hours: Open every day from 10:00 am to 06:00 pm. The last entry is 05:15 pm
- Cost: 7 – 10 euros ($12.26)
Visit the Sacre Coeur for sunset views
Sacre Coeur is located at the summit of Montmartre hill. So you can expect stunning views from its towers. During the day (especially warm summer days) the gardens in front of the basilica are bustling with activities, and often crowded by picnic goers.
Although access to the basilica is completely free, and they are open from 06:30 am to 10:30 pm, you do have to pay a fee to get to the top of Sacre Coeur to soak in those sunset views.
- Hours: Open every day from 06:30 am to 10:30 pm.
- Cost: Free
- Tickets: 5 euros ($6) to get to the top of the basilica
- Métro: Abbesses or Anvers
End the night dining at one of the cafes in Montmartre or at Moulin Rouge
If you have Moulin Rouge on your list, you must add it to your itinerary today. Moulin Rouge is perfect for the evening. Using this ticket, you can experience one of the most famous cabaret shows where a troupe of 60 artists perform the famous “Féerie” show. You can grab your tickets here
For dining, with so many options in Montmartre, you will definitely find a place to eat and drink here. We recommend stopping at Le Cabanon de la Butte/French cuisine.
Day 3 of 3 Day Paris Itinerary: Day trip to Versailles + Montparnasse
Half day tour to Versailles
On day 3 of your Paris itinerary, venture outside the city for half a day, and explore the stunning Palace of Versailles. We have written a detailed guide on how to make the trip there via train, tour, or private transfer from Paris to Versailles here
Here are some options,
- Drive: Paris to Versailles is 30 minutes drive away
- Train: The train ride is about an hour and it will cost you 7 euros round trip. Head to Versailles Château Rive Gauche by the metro. From the station, you can either take a cab (4 minutes), train (12 minutes ride – RER C train zone 4), or walk (12 minutes) to reach the palace grounds. Check out train tickets at Rail Europe
- Half day tour: In this tour, you will explore the Palace and the gardens in the morning, and return by noon. They also have an afternoon tour option. This is a great option if you have only 2.5 days in the city, and have to leave half-day early
- Full day tour: This is a full-day tour combining Versailles and Giverny.
- Private tour: If you would like a private tour to Versailles, here is a great option. You will be arriving in Versailles in an AC car and will be provided with a guided tour of the palace and gardens.
We took a day tour from Paris to Versailles and we HIGHLY recommend you take a guided tour as well. This half-day tour allowed us to explore the palace on a guided history tour, and return to Paris in the afternoon to explore more of the city.
The palace of Versailles is ONE of the busiest and most visited palaces in Europe, and queues to the site are super long. Don’t waste your precious time in Paris by standing in a queue.
We arrived at the palace grounds by 08:30 am and waited for our guide to get us the tickets and we were led inside. Without a guided tour, we would be waiting FOREVER.
You will be in a small group where the guide will provide you with a brief history of each room, the architecture, and other stories of the French royalty. This is where you will learn about the history of Louis IX, his rise, the construction of the palace, and events leading to the French Revolution.
After the guided tour of the palace, you will have some free time at the palace gardens (Jardins du Château de Versailles). They are stunningly manicured, and perfect for Insta-shots.
At Versailles itself, you can also take wine tours or explore some lesser-known estates like the Grand Trianon and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate. Here is a full day tour of Versailles with palace guided tour and visit to the Estates and lunch
Exploring Montparnasse or shopping in Paris for the rest of the day
If you are returning from Versailles in the afternoon, use the second half of the day exploring one of the neighbourhoods – Montparnasse or Marais. For those wanting to shop, this is your day.
Shopping Options in Paris
- Boulevard Saint Germain: Chic clothing
- Champs Elysees: High labels (from LV to Gucci), Galeries Lafayette
- Montmartre: Antiques, art, souvenirs
- Shakespeare And Company: Books
Montparnasse is a popular neighborhood in Paris (14th arrondissement). They are known for the catacombs that were discovered a few years ago. The Montparnasse Tower is another attraction in the area that pulls tourists. And in case you missed the gorgeous sunset in Paris in the past 2 days, you must visit the observation tower on day three, to capture the same.
But first, let’s eat some crepes
Crêpes at Rue du Montparnasse
Cafes in Montparnasse serve the best crepes. And after a busy morning, you deserve delicious crepes. Just stop at a café in Rue du Montparnasse (we don’t remember the name of the cafe, we just picked one we liked!)
Visit Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries (rooms where bones of dead people are kept) in the Montparnasse neighborhood. They housed the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network. In the late 18th century, many cemeteries were out of commission, and there was an urgent need to dispose of the dead bodies.
That’s how and why the ossuaries were set up as part of town planning. These underground graves were almost forgotten, until recent excavations.
- Hours: Closed on Mondays. Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 am to 08:30 pm.
- Cost: Catacombs + Exhibition is 12-14 euros ($17) Coupled tickets Catacombs of Paris + Archaeological Crypt is 14-17 euros ($21)
- Tickets: 2 hour tour with a guide
- Métro: Denfert Rochereau Metro
Head to the Montparnasse cemetery
Montparnasse cemetery is really a popular site in Paris. Now I will be a bit overwhelmed visiting the Catacombs and the cemetery on the same day. But the Cemetery is actually very smoothing – great for a light in the evening.
While Montparnasse cemetery is located in the east end of the city, the largest cemetery Paris is situated in the north end. That’s the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, in the 20th arrondissement and is the resting ground for well-known personalities like Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison.
Finish the day at Montparnasse Tower
Visit the Montparnasse tower (skyscraper with an observation platform) for some amazing photo opportunities of the city. There are 2 levels at the tower – one is on the 56th floor (with glass windows) and the rooftop observation terrace. Grab your tickets here
The tower is located 5- 15 minutes away from the Catacombs.
For dinner and drinks, head to The Bistrot des Campagnes or the Gallery Lounge (international cuisine).
Exploring more of France? Visit one of these destinations as weekend trips from Paris by train or car
Sightseeing Map: Paris 3 day trip attractions
How many days do you need in Paris? Are 3 days in Paris enough?
Ideally, 4 days in Paris are perfect to leisurely enjoy the city of love. But as you can see above, you can cover quite a few highlights in 3 days too. First-time travelers should try to plan for at least 3 nights and 4 days.
Planning Your Trip to Paris
Travel Documents for your Paris Trip
France is located in Europe and is part of the Schengen agreement. If you require a visa to travel to the 28 Schengen countries, then you will need to apply for a Schengen travel visa before arrival. Learn more about the Schengen Visa process.
Citizens of the USA and Canada can travel to France and stay for 90 days without a visa, right now. Starting 2022, all the Schengen nations require visa exempt countries to apply for an ETIAS – European Travel Information and Authorization System, requires US and Canadian passport holders to apply for an ETIAS (electronic travel authorization) to travel to France and other Schengen countries.
If this is your first trip to Europe, read our detailed Europe travel planning guide
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Paris City Pass & Paris Museum Pass: Which one to buy?
We used the Paris Pass for the 3 day itinerary in Paris. It is a great value for money with attractions passes, unlimited public transportation rides, one day hop on and hop off tour, plus Seine River Cruise.
It is more expensive than the Paris Museum Pass as it includes admission to all the same museums/monuments listed in this pass plus transportation and a few extras! It is available for 3 days for a fee of 174 euros ($212 USD) for adults.
- 2 Days: €139 ($170 USD)
- 3 Days: €174 ($212 USD)
- 4 Days: €209 ($255 USD)
- 6 Days: €259 ($316 USD)
The Paris Museum Pass, on the other hand only includes passes and tickets to museums and monuments (and no transportation rides, bus, or Seine river tour). If you have transportation taken care of, and only want museum access, then this pass is for you. They are available for 2, 4, or 6 days (not for 3 days)
- 2 Days: €48 ($59 USD)
- 4 Days: €62 ($75 USD)
- 6 Days: €74 ($90 USD)
Grab the Paris Museum Pass here
Budget for Paris 3 day itinerary
Not including flight tickets, here is what you can expect to pay or budget for one traveler (based on double occupancy in a mid range hotel/airbnb close to a central location)
- Accommodation: $75 per night x 3 ($150 per night hotel room)
- Food: $40 x 3
- Sightseeing: 3 day Paris City Pass $214 (€174)
$187 USD daily budget (no flights, or shopping) or $561 USD for 3 days in Paris trip
What is the cheapest month to go to Paris? Paris Trip Savings
January is the cheapest month to travel to Paris. Flight tickets are cheaper, and accommodation is also relatively below average than peak months. January is an off-season too, so museums and tourist attractions will have fewer visitors.
January is still wintertime in Paris (also a great month to score after-holiday sales), so dressing warmly is key to enjoy the city, wandering through the cobblestoned lanes.
Best time to visit: Paris Itinerary 3 days
Paris is always a good idea!
We have written a detailed guide on when to go to Paris, with monthly events and activities list. In short, the best time to visit Paris to beat the crowds, save money is from September to October. The weather during this time is mild and enjoyable, with fewer crowds as compared to summer.
From June to August the weather in Paris is also perfect for picnics, and festivals. These are summer months so museums will be crowded, and accommodation slightly expensive.
Packing for three days in Paris itinerary
Whether you are traveling in summer or winters, here are some essential packing items for Paris.
- Carry a waterproof warm/light jacket (all season), or winter parka for winters
- Wear comfortable walking shoes, they are perfect for exploring city centres and traveling in public transportation
- Backpack: 45 L backpack which is carry-on friendly, plus a cute anti-theft daypack or convertible purse
- Travel Insurance
- Don’t forget your camera and universal adaptor for charging your electronics
If you LOVE wearing dresses, beret and faux leather jackets pack them in too. I was able to carry all of my dresses, tops featured in this post in my 45 L backpack for our 2 week Europe trip.
What to eat in Paris?
Here are some of the foods to try in Paris!
- Croissants: Nothing like eating an all butter croissant in Paris from a Parisian bakery!
- Macarons: My favorite. Try them at Laduree!
- Jambon-beurre: Affordable Parisian street food
- French Onion Soup
Tipping in Paris
There are no tipping rules in France. If you liked the service, you may leave a tip between 10-15 percent, like we normally do in North America.
What to bring back from Paris, France? Paris Souvenir Ideas
When in Paris, there are a lot of shiny things that will want your attention. When we visited Montmartre I pretty much loved everything I saw and wanted to bring back everything. *Sigh, we only travel with a carry-on*
So here are some of the MOST popular souvenir items to bring back home
- French macarons. Laduree is my favorite place to shop for macarons and you can safely fly with it. I also got a laduree key-chain with macarons home!
- Beret or hats made in France
- Eiffel Tower Decor pieces or any knick knacks like fridge magnets, keychains
- Stamped Book from Shakespeare & Company
- High end/luxury brands from outlet stores or from flagship stores. Who loves a ‘made in France LV handbag?’
- French cosmetics: From perfumes, creams and soaps, you can get pretty good cosmetics and make up (at a decent price minus VAT). The collection at L’Occitane en Provence in Paris was mind blowing!
- Vintage items – small or big to decorate your house
- Pieces of art, (or get a portrait made at Place du Tertre in Montmartre), postcards
Need instant Parisian glamour at home, check out our guide on best Paris themed gifts!
Learn a few French phrases
The official language of France is French. So it is nice to know a few words in French to communicate.
- Bonjour = Hello, Good morning.
- Au revoir = Goodbye.
- Oui = Yes.
- Non = No.
- Merci = Thank you.
- Merci beaucoup = Thank you very much.
- Café au lait = Milk Coffee
At the hotel, tour guides, stores, and restaurant service providers spoke both English and French. You can download Google Translate or Duolingo to communicate with Parisians.
We hope you enjoyed our list of things to do in Paris in 3 days. We had such a great time in Paris and we can’t wait to go back.
“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” – says Thomas Jefferson
Need more Paris guides? Check Lonely Planet Travel Guides – Paris
Please join my new awesome Facebook group where we discuss all things travel, culture, and trip planning. Let’s build a tribe together ✈️ Join Here.
Paris and France Trip Planning:
- Paris Day Tours: Guide to the best day tours from Paris
- Private Tours in Paris: Top Private Tours in Paris
- South of France: Visit the beautiful places in the south of France
- Europe Itineraries: Grab 7 days in Europe itinerary samples
- Unexplored places in Europe: Best Hidden Gems in Europe
- Europe Winter Destinations: Best places to visit in Europe in winter
Hi Mayuri & Salil,
This has been very helpful in our planning. We are off to Paris for a 5 day trip and have based our planning mostly off of your post with some customizations as we are travelling with a 5 year old.
One thing I guess that may help is if you can add a few lines as to how how would one go about getting a public transit ticket in Paris. I understand it is different from London where you can use an Oyster or a contact less card. I am continuing my research on that!
This has been very helpful though…..actually really helpful over and above the other posts in Tripadvisor forums!
Thank you so much Debojit! I am glad 🙂
So, for the tickets. You can buy metro/transit tickets at the airport, RER stations, etc. Metro stations also take in cash and credit cards where you can purchase a ticket prior to your ride.
There are savings card available (for 1-5 days) for transit rides only, and they can be purchased online on the Paris Info website. More information here
Happy Travels! 🙂