A weekend in Paris: 3 day itinerary

You’d like to spend a weekend in Paris and use your time there as wisely as possible? Our Paris expert, Meike, will tell you about her tried and tested itinerary for three days in Paris. That way, you can organize your short trip perfectly.

Paris is a fantastic travel destination for a long weekend.

But Paris, jam-packed with sights, museums and history, doesn’t always make it easy for visitors to decide what should go into their own agenda.

If you’d like to take in everything that Paris has to offer, then you’d better spend about three weeks in the city of love.

Since that’s rarely possible though, and instead a long weekend in Paris is more likely to be on the agenda, here you’ll find my recommended itinerary for three days.

I put the itinerary together so that it of course includes the biggest highlights, sprinkled with a few of my favorites, and has the shortest possible, but most desirable, routes in between.

If you’re spending more than three days in Paris: awesome! The longer, the better. Take a look at my article on the 22 best sights in Paris. There, you’ll find a number of recommendations for your fourth, fifth and sixth day in Paris.

You can find an overview of all my Paris articles here

The best preparation for your weekend in Paris

Before I start with the itinerary, I’d like to give you another few tips and info on the preparation for your short trip.

The better you’ve planned everything, the better you can use your time there.

#1 How many days should you plan for your trip to Paris?

A weekend in Paris is the absolute minimum that you should plan. A long weekend would be better, it actually makes a huge difference.

If you live in Nordrhein-Westfalen, you could, for example, take a really early morning Thalys-train, and then you’d be in Paris already a little after ten. It works just like that in Frankfurt too, but with the ICE or TGV.

There are also very early flights from many cities to Paris, which are ideal for a weekend.

For the return trip, there are possibilities of leaving late afternoon or evening.

I’ve coordinated the suggested itinerary here to these travel times, so that you can make the best of your time between the early arrival and late return trip two days later.

My tip: If you have the possibility, extend your weekend by a Monday rather than a Friday. That way you’ll be swimming opposite the current so to say, as there are far fewer tourists in Paris on a Monday than on a Friday.

#2 Accommodation

For a weekend in Paris, I’d recommend that you get an accommodation as central as possible.

If you book a hotel that’s far away, you’ll easily lose too much time on the metro.

Where to stay in Paris? My hotel tips

If you don’t want to read through the article, below you can find three recommendable hotels in a good location that are very suitable for a short trip:

Holiday Inn Paris Notre Dame – Central hotel with a great roof terrace
Hôtel des Arts Montmartre – Cute hotel in the artists’ quarter Montmartre
Le Relais Saint Honoré – Beautiful hotel nearby the Louvre

#3 Buy tickets for attractions and museums beforehand online

On weekends and especially around public holidays, Paris is more than filled with visitors. And then, of course, the top highlights are on nearly everyone’s to-do list.

At the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, for example, wait times of four hours during the summer are not uncommon.

If you order your tickets online ahead of time, you still can’t just march through the doors of the Louvre, but instead of waiting for four hours, you’ll only have to wait for 30 to 60 minutes. So you can rather significantly reduce your time in line with online tickets.

For wherever it’s possible, you’ll find the link to the online tickets in the following itinerary.

In the following table, you can find a quick overview of the tickets that you can book in advance:

 Price per PersonTickets
Eiffel Towerfrom 34 eurosBook here
Arc de Triomphe12 eurosBook here
Tour Montparnasse18 eurosBook here
Sainte Chapelle10 eurosBook here
Opéra Garnier12 eurosBook here
Louvre20 eurosBook here
Musée d'Orsay17 eurosBook here

There are also various city cards for tourists. Financially, such a Paris pass isn’t really worth it for the schedule suggested here. If you’d still like to know what each pass offers you though, take a look at my Paris city pass comparison.

#4 Metro Tickets

For this itinerary, the 10 ticket pack “Carnet” works the best. With it, you’ll buy ten single tickets for 14.90 euros, which you can use little by little across several days.

At the moment, it’s unfortunately still not possible to buy these tickets ahead of time online, they’re only found in the metro stations.

Since the ticket system of the metro was just restructured, and mobile tickets will be available in the near future, it’ll hopefully soon be an option.

My tip: If you travel to Paris with Thalys, and need a metro ticket for the journey to the hotel, you can buy single tickets at the onboard bistro of the Thalys train. This is really practical because the lines for metro tickets at the train station can sometimes feel just as long as the ones for the Eiffel Tower. That way you can go to the hotel right away and then get your Carnet at a different station without the line.

#5 Gear

The indisputable number one rule for a visit to Paris: comfortable shoes! It’s best to take two pairs of comfy shoes with you, that way you can trick your feet into another few kilometers.

On my tours in Paris, I always have guests with pedometers. The current record is 28 kilometers in one day. That’s actually a lot though, normally you’d walk closer to 15 kilometers a day, which is also not a little.

Apart from that, you should have a little umbrella or rain poncho, sunscreen, your pre-booked tickets, your personal ID and a bottle of water in your daypack. Even during the summer, a cardigan or something similar wouldn’t hurt for the evening hours.

Attention: leave your pocket knife at home, no matter how practical it is. There’s security control at almost all museums and attractions, where your Swiss army knife will be taken away if you want to get inside. It won’t be stored until you come out again, but will instead end up in the trash.

You’re now perfectly prepared for your weekend in Paris. Now, we’ll take a look at the three day itinerary.

Itinerary for three days in Paris on a map

For a first overview, you can find all the itinerary points for each day neatly shown on a map.

You can also download the map onto your phone or save it to your computer.

Click here to download the map for the Paris itinerary as a PDF

Weekend in Paris on a map
All the highlights of your weekend in Paris on a map.

Day 1

After you’ve taken the first train or flight to Paris, you should be at your hotel latest by early afternoon.

The rooms usually still aren’t available that early, so make sure when booking that you can store your luggage at the hotel so that you can start with your agenda right away.

A good place to stay for this itinerary is the Holiday Inn Notre Dame. This hotel is easy to reach both by train or by plane, as the Saint-Michel metro station is only a few meters away from the hotel’s door.

To get to Saint-Michel, you can take the line 4 metro from Gare du Nord or from Gare de l’Est without transferring.

Overview of all itinerary items for the first day:

  1. Sainte-Chapelle
  2. Bouquinistes
  3. Hotel de Ville
  4. Notre Dame
  5. Roof terrace of Montparnasse Tower

First though, we’ll start with a pit stop: since you’re probably hungry, swing by the Boulangerie Saint-Michel (31 Rue de la Huchette). At this bakery, you can get baguette sandwiches or toasted paninis. Ideal for a snack in between.

Strengthened, let the sightseeing finally begin.

#1 Sainte-Chapelle

The Gothic masterpiece, with its huge, stained glass windows, is only some 400 meters away from the hotel. An extremely special atmosphere awaits you inside this hidden church.

From the street, you can’t see the church at first, only the security control. Look out for the sign “Sainte-Chapelle.” After security you’ll be standing in the courtyard right in front of the gothic beauty. When you first step into the church, you’ll need your ticket. It’s worth it here to get your ticket in advance online.

You should plan around 60 to 90 minutes for Sainte-Chapelle.

Buy tickets for Sainte-Chapelle online

Sainte Chapelle Paris
View of the inside of Sainte Chapelle

Coffee break:

When you’re standing on the street again after your visit to Sainte-Chapelle and look left, you’ll see on the corner of the other side of the street the Café Le deux Palais.

For a café creme break and to experience the Parisian café flair for the first time, it’s an excellent place. Food here is unfortunately very expensive, but you should still be somewhat full from the baguette before.

#2 Bouquinistes

From the café, keep going across the bridge Pont au Change to the other bank of the Seine. Then take a right and meander along the Bouquinistes in the direction of Hôtel de Ville.

The Bouquinistes are the antiquarian book sellers, who’ve had their stands on the bank of the Seine for centuries. With them, you can stock up on the slightly more alternative souvenirs from Paris.

Alongside the antique books, you can find, for example, cute reprints of the poster from the opening of the Eiffel Tower.

Boutiquinistes
The stands of the boutiquinistes invite to rummage and explore.

#3 Hôtel de Ville

The city hall is one of the most beautiful buildings in this quarter. You unfortunately can’t visit it, since work is actually going on there. Even so, the city hall makes for a great photo!

On the square in front of the city hall, something is always on offer for the visitors and locals. Sometimes there are exhibitions, in winter you can find an ice rink there and in summer the square is filled with sand and beach volleyball tournaments take place.

#4 Notre Dame

If you’re looking at the city hall and turn to the right, you’ll walk right to the bridge that leads you to Notre Dame.

After the fire on April 14, 2019, the interior of the cathedral won’t be open to visitors for a long time. You can still of course see it from the outside though. It’s definitely worth a visit!

My tip: From the bank of the Seine right next to Notre Dame, you have an excellent view of the 800 year old rose window, which miraculously survived the fire unscathed. It’s best to go down to the embankment, from there you can take the nicest photos.

Notre Dame
Notre Dame at the blue hour.

Pit stop: dinner

Next to Notre Dame, in the area around Saint-Michel, there’s a concentration of narrow streets lined with one restaurant after the next.

This area is super touristy and the restaurants vary a lot in quality. Some are really just bad.

I can absolutely recommend one restaurant though: Le Marmiton de Lutèce at 6 Rue Saint-Séverin.

There’re classic French dishes here, like Boeuf Bourguignon, as well as Fondue and Raclette, in a rustic ambiance. The value for money is great, especially if you order a set menu.

#5 Roof terrace of Montparnasse Tower

If you’re still not falling off your chair from tiredness, you can still enjoy Paris by night from above.

From Saint-Michel, you can get to the Montparnasse Tower in a few minutes on the metro without transferring. The metro station is called Montparnasse-Bienvenüe.

During summer the tower is open until 11:30 pm, in winter until 10:30 pm. Last entrance is always half an hour before.

Standing 210 meters high on the roof terrace of this high-rise, you’ll have a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower at night. An excellent end to the first day.

Order tickets for the Tour Montparnasse online

View Tour Monteparnasse
View on the rooftop of the Tour Monteparnasse

Day 2

Hopefully you’ve slept well and ate a tasty breakfast, and are now ready for your second day in Paris.

Overview of all itinerary items for the second day:

  1. Eiffel Tower
  2. Boat ride on the Seine
  3. Trocadero
  4. Arc de Triomphe
  5. Montmartre

#1 Eiffel Tower

Let’s get started right away with the quintessential landmark of Paris: the Eiffel Tower.

If you want to spend as little time in line as possible, then you should get up early. The Eiffel Tower opens at 9:00 am in summer and at 9:30 am in winter.

You should definitely buy tickets ahead of time because the lines are often very, very long.

There are different ticket options. I would best recommend the guided tour to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. With a German speaking guide, you’ll climb up the stairs of the tower.

The tour ends on the second floor, and then, if you’ve also booked this option, you can continue on your own to the top. In the summer, the tours often start already at 8:45 am, which is great because it still won’t be so crowded.

Attention: If you don’t book the option to go to the top, there isn’t a possibility to book it later on. You have to decide while buying tickets whether you’d like to go all the way up or only to the second level.

Buy tickets for the Eiffel Tower online

Three to four hours should give you enough time to explore the Eiffel Tower extensively.

Take a look at my more detailed article about visiting the Eiffel Tower. There you’ll find a lot more important information about visiting the steel lady and further ticket options.

Info and tips on visiting the Eiffel Tower

View on the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe
View on the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe

#2 Boat ride with Vedettes de Paris

Right at the bridge at the Eiffel Tower, you’ll find the stairs down to the boat docks.

I’d recommend going down towards the left, with the Eiffel Tower facing your back.

There you can find the boat tour operator Vedettes de Paris, which in my opinion has the nicer boats.

Since you’ve probably spent a lot of time on the Eiffel Tower, it’s probably time for a snack again.

On the boat docks, there’s luckily a stall with crêpes, paninis and pizza.

Now you’re well fueled up for the one hour cruise on the Seine. The tour ends after an hour back where you boarded.

#3 Trocadero

After the boat ride, go across the bridge away from the Eiffel Tower and straight up towards Trocadero. You have the best view of all of the Eiffel Tower and the city from this platform.

Photo tip: large, golden statues stand on the sides of the platform, which make for gorgeous photos with the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower
View on the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero

#4 Arc de Triomphe

It’s only 1.5 kilometers along the Rue Kleber from the Trocadero to the Arc de Triomphe.

Alternatively, you can also take the line 6 metro three stations to Charles de Gaulle – Étoile, which takes about five minutes.

The Arc de Triomphe is rather impressive even when you’re just standing under it. Under no circumstances though should you try to get to the Arc de Triomphe by crossing the eight lane traffic circle. Instead, use the underpasses. You can find them on the corners, where the Champs-Élysées meets the traffic circle and on the street opposite.

You can wander around below the Arc de Triomphe for free. To climb up the Arc de Triomphe via the stone spiral staircase inside, you need a ticket. Like so often, it makes sense here to buy a ticket beforehand online.

If you’d like to climb to the roof of the Arc de Triomphe, you should give yourself 60 to 90 minutes for this visit.

Book tickets for the Arc de Triomphe online

Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe at dusk

#5 Montmartre

For the evening hours, a visit to the artists’ quarter Montmartre is on offer.

With the line 2 metro, you can go from the Arc de Triomphe to Blanche without changing. There, you’ll be right in front of the Moulin Rouge. A photo of the red windmill can’t be missed.

Then take a right from Moulin Rouge up Rue Lepic, into the middle of the artists’ quarter.

Since it’s surely time to eat again, head towards Le relais Gascon (13 Rue Joseph de Maistre).

The relais Gascon is situated a little outside of the major tourist bustle and is also pretty popular amongst locals, which is always a very good sign. Besides that, you can sit outside here when the weather’s nice.

There’s French cuisine and above all, giant salads that are also called that: Salade Géantes. I can definitely recommend the Salade du Bernaise. Delicious!

Then you can walk by the I Love You Wall on Place des Abbesses and then head up the hill a little further to Place Émile-Goudeau.

On this idyllic spot of land you’ll find a café with a terrace, where you can have a great view of Paris while drinking a glass of wine.

Then take a short walk across the Place du Tertre with its artists, before you make your way to Sacre Coeur.

From May to September the basilica is open until 10:30 pm, and in winter unfortunately only until 5:00 pm. Admission is free, you just have to go through security before you can enter the basilica.

On the stairs in front of Sacre Coeur, you can end the evening with a view of the city.

Sacre Coeur
The basilica Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre.

Day 3

And already the last day of your weekend in Paris begins.

Overview of all itinerary items for the third day:

  1. Louvre
  2. Petit Palais
  3. Champs-Élysées

So that you don’t have to interrupt your day to tidy up your hotel room, it’s best to check out in the morning and keep your luggage back with reception.

#1 Louvre Museum

The Louvre opens in the morning at 9:00. If you could organize your trip to Paris so that your last day is on a Monday, then you don’t necessarily have to get up so early.

But if your third day falls on the weekend, I’d recommend planning the Louvre for as early as possible on your agenda. On Saturdays and Sundays, starting from 10:00, the Louvre is really crowded.

No matter what, you should definitely buy your tickets online ahead of time, especially with a set time slot. You should get to the Louvre half an hour before the given time.

You should give yourself at least three hours for your visit to the Louvre.

Buy tickets for the Louvre online

Louvre
Louvre museum and the glass pyramid.

#2 Petit Palais

After so much art it’ll be time for a coffee and a snack.

Walk from the Louvre through the Tuileries Garden and across the Place de la Concorde to the Champs-Élysées.

After about 400 meters, you’ll see the Petit Palais on the left.

The City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts is located in the Petit Palais, and admission is free.

I’m not recommending the Petit Palais to you because of that though, but instead because a surprisingly affordable café is hidden in the inner courtyard of the palace.

This small, green oasis is the perfect place for a break!

If you still haven’t had enough of art after visiting the Louvre, you can of course take a spin through the museum.

#3 Champs-Élysées

No matter if you only want to take a walk, or would like to do a round of shopping at Sephora, Louis Vuitton, H&M or Adidas, a stroll down France’s grand boulevard can’t be missed to conclude your journey.

Pretty high up, shortly before the Arc de Triomphe, you’ll find Brioche Dorée on the right side of the street. Here you can get a baguette sandwich and many other treats.

Unfortunately, it’s feeling all too soon to think about your journey home. But who cares, Paris isn’t that far away. Just come back again.

Champs Elysees
From the Arc de Triumph you have a wonderful view on the Champs Elysees

Conclusion and further information

This itinerary for 3 days in Paris is primarily designed for a first visit to the city of love.

If you’ve already been there, and have already visited the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, then just replace these points with other sights, or even an insider tip.

You shouldn’t pack more items into your day though than what’s in my suggested schedule. Otherwise your trip will be really stressful.

I hope that you now have a good overview of what you can do in Paris in this amount of time. I only need to say one more thing: Bon Voyage!

You can take a look at my other articles about Paris, where you can find even more info and tips for a short trip to Paris:

Overview of all tips and articles about Paris
A comparison of all Paris passes
The 22 best sights in Paris
My hotel tips for Paris

Do you still have questions about your short trip to Paris? Or maybe you yourself have a few good tips for a weekend in Paris? We look forward to your comments.