Wonders of Paris in 24 Hours | A Perfect One Day Paris Itinerary

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If you are keen to explore a city that boasts rich history, diverse culture, and plenty of attractions, Paris, France is one of the best places to visit. The city is known for its great food and romantic vibe. It is also a destination with a variety of exciting activities to indulge in as well as numerous iconic landmarks and world-famous attractions to discover. But if you only have a short time in the City of Love, we’ve laid out the perfect itinerary to see the famous sites of Paris in 24 hours.

Every year, travelers from around the world head to Paris to enjoy the wonderful sights and the charming atmosphere. When you come to this vibrant city, you will never run out of things to do, with everything from fantastic shopping and entertainment to uncovering its rich history and culture.

This guide to 24 hours in Paris, France includes a one day Paris itinerary, the best things to do in Paris in 24 hours, ideas for places to eat and places to stay. 

Why You Should Visit the City of Love Even if You Only have 24 Hours in Paris

There are a million reasons why people flock to Paris for a vacation or a short break. One of the most celebrated cities in the world, Paris is a bucket list destination for many people. Before we get into all the things to do in Paris in 24 hours, here are a few of the top reasons to visit the City of Love.

Iconic Monuments and Famous Landmarks

One of the main reasons to visit Paris is to see the world-famous sites, such as the magnificent Eiffel Tower and the historic Arc de Triomphe. You may admire sights like these from the ground, but the best way to appreciate them is to take a tour to the top, where you will be treated to amazing scenery and an exhilarating experience. You can also go to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, which isn’t exactly a monument but is well-known for being the final resting place of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde.

Arc de Triomphe
Paris is full of famous landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe. You can visit many of the landmarks of Paris in 24 hour on a whirlwind visit.

Other great attractions you can look forward to in this city are the wonderful Louvre Museum, which contains some of the most famous European sculptures and paintings, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Palace of Versailles, and the famous Catacombs of Paris to name but a few. 

Fun Attractions for Families

If you’re traveling with kids, Paris offers plenty of fun, family-friendly attractions. If you spend more than just 24 hours in Paris, you can enjoy a fun day out at Disneyland Paris, which is sure to be a memorable adventure for children and adults alike. But even within the heart of the city, you’ll find plenty of fun activities for kids in Paris. Adjacent to Paris’ most famous landmark, you can take a spin on the Eiffel Tower Carousel, or pack a picnic and enjoy lunch with an iconic view of the Eiffel Tower before attempting to climb the wrought-iron symbol of the city.

Incredible Shopping

Another great reason Paris is a popular destination for travelers is because it offers world-class shopping particularly if you are a fan of the latest fashions. Like Milan is to Italy or New York City is to the United States, Paris is the fashion capital of France. From the designer boutiques to big department stores, you will find all sorts of shopping establishments amongst the many shops lining the famous and posh Champs Elysees. Don’t fret, as you will also find plenty of smaller boutiques and antique shops packed with treasures.

Paris is a Memorable Vacation Experience 

One thing is certain when you visit Paris: you will have a memorable and fabulous vacation experience. There is something for everyone to enjoy in this city. Even the superb food and nightlife just simply add thrill to your visit. With so many places to see, you’ll be able to plan a thorough and diverse itinerary, and you don’t have to worry about being bored and disappointed. There are also plenty of accommodations to choose from, allowing you to find one in the area that best suits your needs in terms of local attractions and sites.

Where to Stay in Paris for 24 Hours

If your plan is to see as much of Paris in 24 hours as you can, you’ll want to choose a hotel in a centrally located area to save time and cut down on commuting.

There are four centrally located districts that are great for visitors who only have a short amount of time to spend in the French capital. There are two districts north of the Seine River, The 1st Arrondissement and Le Marais that are great base areas for travelers, and two south of the Seine, Saint Germain and the 7th Arrondissement.

the best places to stay in Paris with the districts highlighted and divided
There are four main areas that are best to stay in if you are wanting to see a lot of Paris in 24 hours.

The 1st Arrondissement 

Home to the Louvre, Sainte Chapelle, and Pont Neuf, one of the most famous bridges in Europe, this central Parisian district runs adjacent to the Seine on the river’s north banks. A convenient place to stay, the 1st Arrondissement puts you directly between the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe to the west, Notre Dame Cathedral to the east, Montmartre to the north, and the Latin Quarter and Luxembourg Gardens to the south.

Hotels in the 1sts Arrondissement:

Le Marais

If visiting Paris without kids or wanting to experience the best of Paris’ nightlife, Le Marais is one of the best districts to stay in or explore. Once Paris’ Jewish Quarter is now more notable as Paris’ LGBTQ District. This fashionable area is home to trendy boutiques, small galleries, lively gay bars and dance clubs, and great restaurants. 

The 7th Arrondissement

South of the Seine River, the 7th Arrondissement is a popular area of Paris to stay in, particularly among first time visitors. This district is home to the Eiffel Tower, and puts you within a short, scenic walk from Paris’ most famous structure.

Hotels in the 7th Arrondissement:

Saint Germain

A great, centrally located and popular area to stay in Paris for families, Saint Germain is technically the eastern part of the 7th, directly across the Seine River from the Louvre and just north of Luxembourg Gardens. It puts you within walking distance to many of the famous sites you’ll see in Paris in 24 hours, plus close to a few of the main metro and train stations in Paris.

The Paris in 24 Hours Plan

Paris is a city deserving of a long visit, but if you’ve only got 24 hours in Paris, here’s a good plan to get you started. You can always go back for more! This one-day Paris itinerary includes the following sites and some of the most popular districts in Paris. 

  • Panthéon
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral
  • Louvre Museum or Pompidou Centre
  • Sacré-Cœur 
  • Montmartre
  • Catacombs of Paris
  • Luxembourg Gardens 
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Eiffel Tower
  • Le Marais

One Day Paris Itinerary – Hour by Hour

With only 24 hours in Paris, you’ll want to start your day early. Even if visiting Paris with kids, plan for a long day of sightseeing. But don’t worry, this one day in Paris itinerary includes coffee breaks and a little downtime to enjoy the City of Love at your leisure. You’ll likely do a lot of walking, but you can also take the hop-on-hop-off tour bus to many of the centrally located sites.

7:00 am Breakfast – Blé Sucré

Start your morning just east of the famous sites of Paris where you can enjoy a delicious Parisian breakfast at this local bakery that has wowed even the greatest of food critics and been featured in the likes of the New York Times and Conde Nast Traveler.

The powdered sugar from paille and a cup of coffee go well to start your day right. Aside from that, the famous French Macarons, a Tarte Citron, and various viennoiseries will make you feel like a true Parisien while eating on the terrace overlooking Square Trousseau.

8:30 am – 9:30 am – Notre Dame Cathedral and Sainte Chapelle

Feeling all energized, walk up past the Panthéon and Nôtre-Dame Cathedral – one of the most famous churches in Europe. The interior of Notre Dame is currently closed for renovations following a massive fire that engulfed the church in 2019, but it’s worth at least viewing the exterior of this prominent place that inspired a Disney movie and the classic novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Cathedral
The famous Notre Dame Cathedral.

Although you cannot go inside Notre Dame, you can visit one of Paris’ other famous churches, Sainte Chapelle, located on the same small island in the middle of the Seine River. Sainte Chapelle opens at 9:00 a.m. each day, but you’ll want to buy your tickets in advance if you want to see the beautiful church and its incredible stained glass windows.    

10:00 am – 11:30 am – Louvre or Pompidou Centre

After touring Sanite Chapelle, head to the world-renowned Louvre Museum or cross over the Seine River to the Pompidou Centre, which houses the Musée National d’Art Moderne, the largest modern art museum in Europe. 

If you opt for Pompidou Centre rather than the Louvre, be ready to be impressed with the weird architecture of this cool art museum.

But if you decide to check out the Louvre – to see the Mona Lisa or any of the other famous works of art housed in the pyramid-shaped museum, purchase skip-the-line entrance tickets and have a plan and decide what you want to see before you visit. The Louvre is massive, and you could spend hours wandering aimlessly through it. 

The glass pyramid roof at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The iconic pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

If visiting Paris with kids, that won’t be very fun. So plan to spend an hour wandering around either museum before the next ideal stop, Montmartre. You don’t want to linger too long if you are wanting to see the highlights of Paris in 24 hours!  

12:00 pm – 2:30 pm – Lunch and wander the streets in Montmartre and visit Sacre-Coeur

Montmartre, in the northern section of the city is often skipped on most 1-day Paris itineraries, but if you plan your day right, you can fit in this charming neighborhood. With its cobbled streets lined with quaint bistros and its rich artistic history, Montmartre is one of the most famous Parisian districts. Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso all lived in Montmartre at some point during their lives.

The charming streets of Montmartre with Sacre-Coeur in the background.
The charming streets of Montmartre with Sacre-Coeur in the background. | Photo by Bastien Nvs from Unsplash

You’ll want to grab a quick bite to eat at one of the many cafes in Montmartre before climbing the steps to the Sacré-Cœur for the best viewpoint of the cathedral and city’s skyline. To maximize your experience and make sure you stay on schedule, book a one-hour guided walking tour to Sacre-Couer and through the Montmartre village.

To get to Montmartre, take the metro north to this lovely and romantic area of Paris. It takes approximately 30 minutes to get to Montmartre from Central Paris using the metro. You can also take a taxi or Uber, which takes approximately 20 minutes.

3:00pm – 6:00 pm Catacombs of Paris, Tour Montparnasse, and Luxembourg Gardens 

Next take the metro back toward central Paris where you’ll spend the late afternoon, evening and night time hours. Head directly to Montparnasse, where you’ll find the famous Catacombs of Paris, the largest ossuary in Europe. The tour takes roughly 1 hour and requires a timed entrance ticket.

A tunnel lined with skulls and bones inside the Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris is the largest ossuary in Europe, and one of the most peculiar things to do in Paris. Photo by Hartmut Kellner from Pixabay

After touring the ossuary set in former mining tunnels, head over to Tour Montparnasse, the second tallest building in Paris. Take the lift up to the viewing deck for an incredible view of Paris. It’s the only place in Paris from which you don’t see the ugly tower itself – because you’re actually in it! If you’re running short on time, you can skip the viewing deck because you’ll get another great view around sunset from the famed Eiffel Tower. 

This would definitely be the best time to refuel and stop for coffee… and maybe a biscuit, as well! Luckily, Hexagone Café is just around the corner from Tour Montparnasse, which makes it a convenient stop. They have one of the most aromatic coffees with the perfect créma plus the area is not too touristy.

Time to take another walk through the nearby Montparnasse Cemetery, then on to the Jardin de Luxembourg for a quick – and free – scenic stroll. End up at Shakespeare & Company, a second-hand English language bookshop by the Seine, opposite Notre-Dame. This is somewhere where you could easily spend a good hour or two, but if you are seeing the wonders of Paris in 24 hours – a quick look through is all the time you’ll have before heading to Paris’ number one claim to fame.

People strolling through the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris - one of the best free things to do in Paris
A stroll through the lovely Jardin de Luxembourg is one of the best free things to do in Paris. | Photo by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay

6:30 pm – 8:00 pm – Eiffel Tower

You’ll likely want to catch the metro to save time and head west a few stops to the most famous structure in Paris. No itinerary for Paris in 24 hours – or any amount of time – would be complete without a stop at the Eiffel Tower. If you time your day right, you’ll be getting to the Eiffel Tower right before sunset. 

If you plan to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower you will need to give yourself at least 2 hours if taking the stairs. You can take a series of lifts or elevators to the top, although there is often a 30-minute wait on the second floor to get on the next elevator. So, if you don’t want to wait for the elevators, or you are in for a cardio workout, you can take the 1665 stairs to the top. 

The Eiffel Tower lit up at night. A must-see on any Paris itinerary
The Eiffel Tower is a great place to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of Paris after the sun sets. It is the number one top attraction on every Paris itinerary!

Another option if visiting with kids who cannot or simply do not want to go all the way to the top of the tower, is to take the stairs or lift only to the second floor or just enjoy the view from below. After the sun sets, stick around and watch the tower twinkle with lights. 

8:00 pm – 8:30 pm Arc de Triomphe and Av. Champs Elysees

By this point in the night, you’ll probably be getting hungry, and your feet may be tired from walking. Catch a cab and ask for a scenic route that will take you by the Arc de Triomphe and down the famous Av. Champs Elysees on your way to dinner. 

8:30 pm – Dinner

Allez manger! Dinner is served at the Des Gars Dans La Cuisine and for sure, you won’t be disappointed. The place has chic decor, stone walls, and soft candlelight. Every course is a delectable and enjoyable degustation, especially the pavlova or the black rice with scallops. 

10:00 pm – Off to bed with the kids or off to the clubs in Le Marais

If you are traveling without kids and would like to experience the best of nightlife in Paris, round off the day in Le Marais, the exquisite Paris gay district which is great for both LGBTQ and straight travelers. Les Souffleurs is an excellent choice to dance the night away in the tune of the eclectic DJ’s music while sipping some cocktails and rum.

illuminated building in Le Marais district in Paris at night
Le Marais is a great district for Paris nightlife. | Photo by Andrei Ianovskii from Unsplash

If traveling with kids, the nightlife in Le Marais or other parts of Paris may have to wait for another trip. But after a whirlwind trip seeing the highlights of Paris in 24 hours, you’ll be longing to return to see more of this special city.

Is 24 hours in Paris enough?

Wait…you know that’s not yet exactly 24 hours in Paris, but of course, after all of those activities you need to go to bed and be ready for another la vie en rose!

You can see some of the top sights of Paris in 24 hours, but to give this incredible city justice you’ll want and need more time. In an ideal world, a minimum of three days in Paris is needed, but understandably there are plenty of instances where a brief visit is all we have time for. In the City of Love, just make sure if you only have 24 hours in Paris that you plan to return someday to see more of the wonders, eat more of the delectable food, and spend more time discovering the hidden gems in Paris.

Have a question or comment about any of the attractions mentioned in this 24 hours in Paris itinerary? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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About the author: This 24 hours in Paris itinerary was crafted by Auston, who runs the blog Two Bad Tourists and is also a freelance writer. His work has been featured in many publications including Attitude Magazine, Edge Media Network, The Houston Chronicle and ManAboutWorld Magazine. 

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