Discover the best of Paris in 2 days with our definitive, carefully crafted Paris itinerary to make the most of your short time in the French capital.
‘A trip to Paris is the worst idea,’- said no one ever.
Paris is always a good idea and whether you have just 2 days or a full week, you’ll be able to experience its elegance, glamour and that Parisian joie de vivre. While 2 days might not nearly be enough for a city like Paris, it certainly is enough time to break the ice and get a taste of what the French capital has to offer.
With iconic landmarks, some of the best museums in the world, so much history, great food, amazing shopping and photography opportunities and much more, Paris is a city that really is difficult to beat. On a short trip to Paris in 2 days, you’ll be able to sample some of the best French food, see the iconic sights, wander some of the most beautiful and vibey neighbourhoods and see some world-class art.
Keep reading for my unique Paris in two days itinerary and make the most of your 48 hours in Paris.
*This ‘Paris in 2 days’ post contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with top-quality content for free.
BEST TIME TO VISIT PARIS
When is the best time to visit Paris? This really is the million-dollar question. With variable weather at all times of the year, in Paris, you never know what you’re going to get and with just 2 days in Paris, it can be a bit of a gamble.
In general, however, the best time to visit Paris is in the summer months of June, July and August. There are the hottest months where temperatures can reach about 30°C/85°F or even more but generally, you’re most likely to see an average temperature of about 20°C/68°F or 22°C/71°F. In summer you’re more likely to see much fewer rainy and cloudy days too giving you more time to explore outside.
Another pro of visiting Paris in the summer is the long daylight hours and with sunlight from about 5 am until 10 pm in the summertime, it gives you plenty more time to explore, especially if you only have 2 days in Paris.
Summer however is the most crowded time so you will be sharing the streets and iconic sights with far more people. For this reason, always try to start your day as early as possible and book tickets to major attractions ahead of time.
The months of May and September, the shoulder season, are also great times to visit.
In winter, Paris, like many other northern European cities can be quite cold, rainy and grey. Daylight hours are also much shorter so if you’re planning to visit in winter I highly recommend extending your itinerary to 3 or 4 days in Paris instead of trying to do Paris in 2 days.
Public Transport – The Paris Metro is, hands-down the best way to get around Paris. The extensive network serves the centre of Paris as well as, the outskirts and almost all the destinations in this guide and beyond are served by the metro. The metro is fast, cheap, easy to use and it’s efficient.
Buying tickets for the metro is easy and can be done from the machines at the station. Depending on how much you decide to use the metro, you can buy individual, single tickets which cost €1.90 per trip or you can buy a 1-day or 2-day metro pass for your entire stay. If you’re going to take the metro more than 5 times per day, it’s worth buying the day pass.
Paris also has a vast bus network but buses often succumb to the intense Paris traffic. Personally, I chose to avoid them as the metro is much faster, especially in the city centre.
Ride Shares– Uber and Bolt are popular in Paris like any other major city around the world. They are good for short journeys around town especially if you find yourself not too close to a metro station. They are also a great option at night when public transport no longer works.
Uber in Paris is quite expensive, however, so, if you’re travelling on a budget you’ll want to limit moving around the city through ride-sharing apps especially when the metro is available.
Walking – There’s nothing quite like strolling around a city to get a feel of it and Paris is very, very walkable. You’ll no doubt do a lot of walking (I averaged 28,000 steps per day) so make sure to bring comfortable footwear.
Sometimes it’s actually faster and more direct to walk from one place to another than taking any other means of transportation. To make walking around Paris easier, make sure to download the Paris Map on Google Maps for offline use.
WHERE TO STAY
Paris has so many great neighbourhoods and areas to stay in with easy access to most of the city’s sights. Where you’ll stay will depend on your budget, your trip priorities and also what you look for in an area.
If it’s your first time in Paris, you’ll soon realize that Paris is split into arrondissements or administrative districts. There are 20 of them all numbered between 1 and 20. The written short-hand for arrondissements is arr. and this is what Parisians are referring to when they talk about ‘the 8th’ or the ’16th’.
Most travellers stay in the most central parts of town such as around Champs-Élysée, Opera, Île de la Cité and the Louvre, in the 8th and 1st Arr but these are also the most expensive as they are the most centrally located. My personal favourite areas to stay in are Montmartre (18th arr) and Le Marais (3rd arr). These can be more affordable (especially Montmartre) yet they are great places to explore in their own right and have many dining options for dinner and breakfast.
I recommend using the map below to discover what hotels and vacation rentals are available in Paris in each area for your specific dates.
Le Pavillon de la Reine & Spa – Small Luxury Hotels of the World – If you’re looking for 5-star luxury in Paris consider this fantastic hotel option. An oasis of calm in the center of Paris, very close to Le Marais, Le Pavillon offers exquisite, royal suites, a fitness center, a hot tub and a hammam to enjoy after a day of exploring. There are also many beautiful gardens and corners to explore around this property. Check rates and availability here.
Hôtel D’Aubusson – For a luxury, boutique experience try this converted 17th -Century private mansion just a stone’s throw from Île de la Cité. Rooms feature original beams, antique furniture and cosy fireplaces. Some rooms also feature pleasant courtyards views and four-poster beds. This is quite easily one of the best luxury, small hotels in Paris and an excellent place to stay in Paris in 2 days. Check rates and availability here.
Apartments Du Louvre – Le Marais – If you prefer to stay in an apartment rather than a hotel for your time in Paris, make sure to check out Apartments du Louvre. They have several locations throughout Paris but this one in Le Marais has a great location and fantastic features. You’ll find a private, well-equipped kitchen, living and TV area, private bathroom and bedroom in your apartment. There are studio, one-bedroom and up to 3 bedroom options depending on your party size. Check rates and availability here.
Hotel du College de France – If you’re looking for something a little more budget-friendly, this is a great option in the Latin Quarter. With lovely, simple, clean rooms with balconies and windows overlooking the Parisian rooftops, this is a perfect option for those looking for a great location, a solid place to stay with a good breakfast and friendly staff. Check rates and availability here.
Hotel Elysees Opera – Another great budget option, this hotel is located in the Opera area not far from all of Paris’ major sights. With warm and inviting rooms, great balcony views and a typical Parisian breakfast included in your stay. The staff are great and it’s clean and comfortable- a great base from which to explore the city. Check rates and availability here.
If you prefer to rent a stunning luxury apartment in Paris over a hotel, make sure to check out the Plum Guide. You’ll be able to find the perfect, expert-vetted, service-orientated apartment rental for your stay. Check out all the Paris listings on the Plum Guide here.
WHERE TO EAT
Patisseries & Cafes
Land & Monkeys – One of the first and best vegan French patisseries in Paris. Here you’ll find all the French classics like croissants, pain au chocolat, madeleines, cakes and danishes, all delicious and all 100% plant-based which is actually hard to come by in Paris. If you’re vegan make sure not to miss this incredible bakery. 86 boulevard Beaumarchais
Wild & The Moon – A healthy, LA-style cafe with a few different locations around Paris. Come here for organic, freshly pressed juices, mushroom spiked coffee, turmeric lattes, salads, snacks and daily mains. This is a superb spot for a healthy breakfast or lunch. 55 Rue Charlot and 19 Pl. du Marché Saint-Honoré
Maisie Cafe – Another great, healthy plant-based option in the Concorde area, Maisie Cafe sells some amazing fresh salads, juices, desserts and a special of the day. There’s also a lot of coffee and sweets to go. A great option to pop into for lunch after the Louvre. 32 Rue du Mont Thabor
Cafe Kitsuné– You’ve probably already seen this modern, French cafe all over Instagram. Not only are they extremely photogenic, but they also do some of the best coffee I tasted in Paris. Also, make sure not to miss their matcha lattes. They are fantastic. 2 Pl. André Malraux and many other locations
Veggie Tasty– Simple, plant-based and healthy bowls with a variety of flavour combinations and ingredients. Great for a quick lunch. 78 Rue La Fayette
Le Potager de Charlotte – An Incredible plant-based restaurant for a delicious, sophisticated meal in Paris. They pride themselves on using local, seasonal ingredients and the food here is classy, delicious and healthy. Make sure not to miss a meal here. Open for dinner only and it’s also best to make a reservation in advance. 12 Rue Louise-Emilie de la Tour d’Auvergne and also another branch in the 17th ar.
Abattoir Végétal – One of the best restaurants in Paris for plant-based food, don’t miss this healthy bistro when in Paris. With spins on classic french dishes made vegan, there’s grilled cheese, steak and flan as well as some other Arabic classics too. There’s also a superb wine and cocktail list. 9 Rue Guisard
Le Potager du Marais – The best place to come from classic French dishes made plant-based. Come here for the classic French onion soup, Bourguignon without the beef, hearty stews and to finish, plant-based crème brûlée or Tarte Tatin. All food here is homemade and there are many gluten-free options too. 26 rue Saint Paul
PARIS IN 2 DAYS ITINERARY: THINGS TO DO
It going to be pretty difficult to see everything Paris has to offer in 2 days and I really don’t suggest you try. But, 2 days is enough to visit quite a few of the main sights, get a feel of the main neighborhoods and eat some pretty amazing French food in the process.
If you have only 2 days in Paris, I highly recommend getting up early to make the most of your time there. It’s a big city with lots to do and it will take you a while to get around. If you want to take good photos without the crowds too, this is another reason to start your day early.
Palais Royal & Colonnes de Buren
Start your day at the Palais Royal, a former palace built for Cardinal Richelieu back in the 1600s that now serves as the home of the Ministry of Culture, Constitutional Council and the Conseil d’Etat. As part of the Palais Royal, you’ll also find the Gardens of the Palais Royal and the famed Courtyard of Honor which contains the Colonnes de Buren, a popular Instagram photo spot in Paris.
While today, it’s not possible to go into and visit the many rooms that once made up the Palais Royal, you can visit the many shops and arcades on the ground floor, the garden and the courtyard to admire the beautiful architecture from the outside. It really is a lovely building as I recommend walking around and through it.
Inside the Courtyard of Honor you’ll also find the now famed photo spot in Paris, Colonnes de Buren, a sculptural installation by french artist Daniel Buren that consists of black and white columns of all different sizes arranged across the courtyard. The idea here was to create a space of two virtual platforms, one coinciding with the existing columns of the gallery and another ‘floating’ platform suggested by the other shorter columns.
Whether you’re a lover of conceptual art or not, it’s definitely a spot worth checking out and of course for taking some photos.
The Palais Royal and the Courtyard open at 8 am and I suggest coming here at that time in order to experience it without the crowds.
Jardin des Tuileries
From Palais Royal, it’s just a short walk to Jardin des Tuileries, one of Paris’ most famed gardens. These perfectly manicured gardens consist of classical fountains, duck ponds, manicured lawns, stone benches and romantic stone paths flanked by ficus trees.
One of the best things to do in Jardin des Tuileries, apart from just strolling through is to take one of the public green chairs and find a spot in the sun to relax for a while; a perfect spot for a morning coffee. Just note that you aren’t allowed to sit on the grass here even on a lovely summer’s day- the green chairs and the stone benches are the only options for relaxing.
Next on your Paris in 2 days itinerary is the most famous art museum in the world, the Louvre. Whether you’re an art lover or it’s just your first time in Paris, a stroll through the Louvres galleries is a must.
As the largest and most visited art museum in the world, famed for DaVinci’s Mona Lisa and the classical sculpture Venus de Milo, the Louvre is packed full of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, Renaissance painting and French classics from the French Revolution artist David to Monet and the Impressionists. (However, if it’s French Impressionist painting you really want to see the Musee d’Orsay is much better).
The Louvre is so big you could quite easily spend the whole day inside but if you only have 2 days in Paris, I’d highly recommend trying to limit your visit down to 2 or 3 hours. A guided tour is great for this because they are normally limited to 2 or 3 hours and you’ll be able to get the most out of your time there too with a knowledgeable guide.
Ticket lines to the Louvre are always really long as you can imagine and nowadays you also need to book your time slot to visit. Make sure to skip the queues and book your Louvre entrance ticket in advance here.
If you prefer to skip the line and buy your Louvre entrance ticket which also includes a 2-hour guided tour (highly recommended) that includes the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milos click here.
Notre Dame de Paris
After a quick lunch in the area, (Maisie Cafe and Wild & the Moon are both closeby), head to Île de la Cité, the famous island on the Seine that contains some of Paris’ most notable sights. One of the most beautiful, the Notre Dame Cathedral is a stunning building and one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture.
Originally a medieval, Romanesque-style church, the cathedral has witnessed an abundance of change in its lifetime and is now famed for its enormous rose windows and abundance of sculptural decorations; look closely and you’ll notice all the famed gargoyles on the outside structure.
In April 2019, Notre Dame suffered a devastating fire and most of the central roof including the timber spirelet was destroyed. Restoration works are now well on their way with hopes that everything will be completed for the spring of 2024.
In the meantime, the Notre Dame remains closed to visitors but you can still admire the outside of the facade from a distance. If you’re visiting Paris during the Notre Dame restoration period, it’s still worth walking past it and checking out the facade- it’s still so impressive even from the outside.
Just a stone’s throw away from Notre Dame, you’ll find Sainte Chapelle which certainly makes up for not being able to enter Notre Dame. Île de la Cité was actually the residence of the Kings of France up until the 14th Century and this was the royal chapel.
Saint Chapelle is a French gothic masterpiece, famed for its floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows and stain-glass collections from the 13th Century that are the most extensive in the world. During the French Revolution Saint-Chapelle was secularised and to this day it no longer operates as a church.
As you visit make sure to pay attention to the amazing gilded ceiling of the Lower Chapel and the exquisite stained glass windows of the Upper Chapel.
As with most other popular Paris landmarks, you’ll want to get your ticket online before you visit to avoid the queues. After all, if you only have 2 days in Paris you don’t want to spend a big chunk of time in a queue.
Once you’ve had a wander about Ile de la Cite make your way back to the north banks of the Seine along Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge in Paris. The bridge connects the Western parts of the Ile de la Cite with the left and the right bank and is classed as an official ‘historic monument’ in the city.
From Pont Neuf, you’ll also get some pretty great views of the spires of Saint Chapelle, Notre Dame and the Seine river.
Le Marais Neighbourhood
Next, head straight up to Le Marais, one of Paris’ best neighbourhoods. Exploring Le Marais is one of the best things to do to get a real feel of Paris vibes and Parisian life. Full of unique french boutiques, bakeries and patisseries, delis, florists, cafes and restaurants it’s one of the best places to get lost in, shop in and eat in.
While in Le Marais, make sure to check out Land & Monkey’s, Paris’ best plant-based bakery, the lovely little Jardin Anne Frank and the gorgeous Musee des Archives Nationales. Apart from that the best thing to do is just walk around and take in all the cute corner cafes, the ivy-covered facades and the lovely shop windows. It’s easy to spend the whole day in Le Marias but try not to as more awaits when visiting Paris in 2 days.
If the Louvre wasn’t quite enough in terms of art and culture for the day, you might want to also explore Paris’ most modern art museum, the Centre Pompidou. The center also houses the vast Public Information Library and a center for music research.
Architecturally it’s one of the most innovative and modern buildings in Paris and based on a notion of ‘inside out’ architecture; you notice that the main escalators and walkways are outside the building not in it as so is the plumbing. This gives the building a real unique, industrial look.
Inside you find the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris as well as many other temporary exhibitions that vary throughout the year.
The Rooftop of Galleries Lafayette Haussman
When the often unpredictable Parisian weather co-operates, Paris turns into a truly magical place at sunset.
One of the best places and views to watch the sunset is from the rooftop of the Galleries Lafayette Haussman department store in the Opera neighbourhood. Make your way into this incredible store- probably one of the grandest and most splendid department stores in the world and admire the glass-domed ceiling and Rococo architecture on your way up to the rooftop.
From the rooftop, which is free to access, you have a brilliant view of the back of the Opera, the Eiffel Tower and many other famous Parisian landmarks. If you don’t manage to make it for sunset, don’t worry there is still an amazing view to be had at all times of the day.
Finish the day with a wander around the 9th Arr, particularly around Rue des Martyrs, just north of Galleries Lafayette Haussman a lovely street with cafes, restaurants, delis, wine stores and bakeries that’ll set your culinary soul on fire.
If you’re in the area make sure to make a reservation for dinner at Le Potager du Charlotte, one of the best and most sophisticated plant-based restaurants in Paris, which is also in the 9th Arr.
Make the most of your second day in Paris by starting early at Paris’ most iconic landmark, the Eiffel tower. After all, no Paris in 2 days itinerary is really complete without taking in this grand landmark. Sunrise at the Eiffel Tower is just magical so if you can, make your way to Jardins du Trocadero for a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower as early as possible.
If you’d like to get some good photos there are many spots around Jardins du Trocadero with amazing Eiffel Tower views but there are a few things you should know.
Right by the Jardins du Trocadero, there was once a stone platform and stairs that were pretty popular photo spots. This has now been cornered off and closed so there really isn’t much point in heading up there. Also, to take photos without the crowds you’ll need to get here super early. Even at 7 am there are already tonnes of people around taking photos but there is plenty of space around to get creative and find some good angles.
Other photo opportunities in the area of the Eiffel Tower include Avenue de Camoens, the Eiffel Tower Carousel, Pont d’Iéna, Pont de Bir Hakeim, Rue de Buenos Aires and Rue de L’Universite.
Once the Eiffel Tower opens you’ll also want to go up for some of the most amazing views of Paris from the top. The Eiffel Tower opens at 9 am or 9. 30 am depending on the time of year with the last admission at 10.45 pm. Ticket prices depend on how many levels you want to go up.
Make sure to book your Eiffel Tower entry tickets well in advance as time slots tend to sell out pretty quickly at popular times. Queues for the Eiffel Tower can be pretty long so make sure you don’t leave buying them until the last minute.
Pont Alexandre III
Make sure not to miss one of the best and most extravagant of all Paris bridges, Pont Alexandre III. With its gold winged horses guarding the entrances on either end, art nouveau lamps, cherubs and nymphs this bridge was built in 1896 in the same style as the Grand Palais nearby.
From this splendid bridge, there are also some really great photo opportunities. You can see the Eiffel Tower really well from here as well as the Seine river and many other historic bridges as the river carves its way through the city.
If you make your way down to the banks of the Seine here, you can take a seat alongside the river and relax for a while with a coffee and croissant.
Arc de Triomphe & Champs- Elysees
A short metro ride away you find two more iconic Parisian sights, the Arc de Triomphe and the exclusive but somewhat touristy Champs-Elysees. While these two sights are so crowded during the day, especially in high season, it is still worth having a look, especially if it’s your first time in Paris.
Arc de Triomphe stands mighty in the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, the meeting point of 12 avenues radiating out from around it. The Victory Arch commemorates those who fought for France during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Beneath the arc, you’ll also find the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, an eternal flame and tomb dedicated to those who were never identified from both World Wars. Inside there is a small museum dedicated to the history of the arch.
Next head down to Concorde along the Champs- Elysees, Paris’ most famous street. Most of the shopping here is luxury goods but a couple of interesting finds to note are L’Occitane X Pierre Hermé for the best macaroons in Paris and L’Occitane cosmetics and Galleries Lafayette Champs Elysees. If you’re in Paris for 2 days to shop, make sure not to miss this area.
You’ll also want to check out Sephora and their clean beauty range of brands if you don’t have a Sephora in your home country- hello Brits.
From here jump over the river to the Musee d’Orsay, to check out France’s most famous art. Housed in the former Gare d’Orsay train station, even if you’re not quite up for another museum, the building itself is worth seeing- a beautiful, flamboyant building that’ll transport you back in time.
Inside the Musee d’Orsay, you’ll find many works of (mainly) French art from 1848-1914 including works by Renoir, Cezanne, Sisley, Gauguin, Monet, Manet and Degas. If you’re an art or history lover make sure not to miss this one-of-a-kind museum that’s truly worth a wander through for a couple of hours.
To save time you’ll want to pre-book your Musee d’Orsay entry tickets online to avoid the queues.
In the afternoon, head up to explore Montmartre, one of Paris’ most amazing neighbourhoods. Occupying a privileged hilltop location with incredible views of the city, Montmartre oozes history, style and Parisian vibes.
You’ll soon find yourself lost amid all the tiny streets and alleyways, sipping wine from one of the many great street cafes or heading up the million stairs to get to Sacre Coeur, Montmartre’s iconic basilica.
Here are some of the best things to do in Montmartre:
- Ride de Funiculaire de Montmartre and check out Sacre-Coeur and the views.
- Visit the Montmartre Museum
- Check out the Vignes du Clos Montmartre- the areas last working vineyard
- Photograph Rue de l’Abreuvoir, Paris’ prettiest street.
- Relax at Marcel Bleustein Blanchet Square and get a great view of Sacre Coeur.
- Walk the small streets, alleys and squares including Rue Saint-Rustique and Place du Tertre
Finish your day with a glass of wine at a Montmartre cafe and a classic French dinner.
Wellness and Beauty in Paris
While you probably won’t have too much time for wellness, self-care and beauty on a Paris in 2 days itinerary, if you do decide to stay longer here are some of my all-time favourites to check out for beauty buys, treatments and urban spas in Paris.
For all you wellness-focused travellers in need of a bit of detox and ‘me’ time in the city, or for those looking to purchase some unique French beauty products from clean brands make sure to check out the below.
Oh my cream! – The best place for cosmetics, make-up and beauty buys. Featuring all-natural, vegan and clean brands, both international and French, this is the place to visit to stock up on beauty and cosmetics. Find boutiques all over town, check their website here for more.
KShanti Yoga – A beautiful yoga studio in an old church, take a yoga class here to slow down a little during your time in Paris. The instructors here specialise in many different types of yoga so this studio is a great way to try something new. Check their website here for more.
The Chanel Spa at the Ritz Paris – The Ritz is easily Paris’ most opulent hotel and the Chanel Spa is probably one of the best and most unique wellness experiences Paris can offer. Coco Chanel actually lived at the Ritz hotel for over 30 years and here glamour and elegance no doubt translate through the hotel’s fabulous on-site spa.
It’s the only spa in the world that’s been crafted around Coco Chanel’s elegance and legacy. Opt for a facial and body massage that’ll leave your skin feeling clean, soft and renewed or the complete, unmatched experience of Le Grand Soin, the ultimate skincare experience according to Chanel. Check out their spa menu here.
Ready to plan your Paris in 2 days itinerary? Let me know your questions and comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
Planning a trip right now? These are just some of my favourite websites I use to book everything from hotels to rental cars!
Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals worldwide
Booking.com for great deals on hotels
Agoda also for great deals on hotels
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