Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page, Uncategorized

12 Things to Do in Paris For First-Time Visitors

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you. 

If you’re visiting Paris for the first time, there are a few sights you absolutely must see. From the Eiffel Tower to the trendiest Parisian neighborhoods, we’ve compiled the 12 things to do in Paris for first time visitors to help you plan the best trip possible to the City of Light!

Paris is such a dreamy city. The Eiffel Tower in the distance, charming cobblestone streets and picturesque shops and eateries lining the streets, Paris has so much to offer.

With iconic landmarks sprinkled throughout this bustling city, to fabulous day-trip options that allow you to explore so much of this region in so little time, to some of the best cuisine in Europe, there’s something for everyone in Paris.

While many say you’ll have to go back and visit the city again, these are the top 12 things to do in Paris the first go around!

You May Also Like: Travel Guide to Paris in November

1. Eiffel Tower

As the most popular tourist attraction in Paris, it’s no wonder the Eiffel Tower is number one on our list of the top things to do you first time in Paris! The Eiffel Tower is Paris. Admire the enormous tower from the Champs de Mars, then get a ticket to go up to the very top of the tower. Up here, you’ll see panoramic views of the city!

2. Visit the Arc de Triomphe

Another iconic sight in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe is a must-see monument on your list. Built in 1806, the Arc was built by Napoleon as a symbol of French strength. View it from Champs Elysees (the famous street leading up to it), or you climb up to the very top (all 284 steps of it) to see spectacular views of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the distance. 

3. Louvre Museum

Boasting a rich history that dates back to the 12th century, the Louvre’s majestic palace itself is a masterpiece, and within its walls lies an extensive collection that spans millennia. Home to iconic works such as the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Louvre houses an extraordinary array of art. It also serves as a living testament to the architectural and cultural tapestry of France.

4. Tuileries Garden

Tucked in between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde, these meticulously manicured gardens offer an oasis of tranquility in the middle of a bustling city. Originally designed in the 17th century, the Tuileries Garden boasts a timeless elegance with its perfectly aligned pathways, symmetrical flowerbeds, and iconic statues. 

5. Musée d’Orsay

Located in a former railway station, the Musée d’Orsay features an impressive collection of art and cultural artifacts from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here, you’ll find works by renowned artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, and Renoir, as well as sculptures, decorative arts, and photography. The museum’s atmosphere is enriched by the natural light streaming through its iconic clock windows, creating the perfect ambience for viewing all of the art and history housed here.

6. Palais Garnier

Visit this 19th century opera house, known for its gilded interiors and magnificent Baroque architecture. Legend has it, the Phantom of the Opera novel (and later, Broadway musical) was inspired by events that took place at this opera house. The novel tells the story of a physically deformed genius who terrorizes the Opera Garnier in Paris and finds the love of his life, while living beneath the Opera. 

Take a tour of this beautiful opera house, we recommend this one!

7. Cathédrale Notre-Dame

When you think of Paris, you probably think of the Eiffel Tower and the Notre-Dame. This iconic cathedral is a French Gothic architectural masterpiece, built all the way back in the 12th century. It’s served as the backdrop for many events in Paris and has been seen by millions of its visitors before suffering damage from a catastrophic fire back in 2019. It is not being rebuilt and revived, and you will not be able to tour the inside of it any time soon. However, you can still admire this landmark from outside.

8. Palace of Versailles

A visit to the Palace of Versailles is like a step back in time. This estate is the epitome of opulence and grandeur, and touring it is truly a one of a kind experience. Located just outside Paris, this historic palace served as the principal residence of Louis XIV. Its Hall of Mirrors witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, marking the end of World War I. 

The sheer scale and magnificence of the palace, adorned with intricate details, gilded ceilings, and stunning Baroque architecture, makes it a must-see when visiting Paris! Explore the palace and its perfectly landscaped gardens on your own, or even better, on a guided tour.

9. Montmartre

Nestled on the city’s highest hill, Montmartre is full of charming, winding streets and artistic ambiance. This bohemian neighborhood in Paris carries a rich history as a hub for artists, writers, and intellectuals, and that legacy is palpable in every cobblestone and every corner cafe. Visit Montmartre’s Place du Tertre, a lively square filled with artists and performers, then indulge in French cuisine at local bistros.

You May Also Like: 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris

10. Basilique du Sacre Coeur

This 19th-century basilica in the Montmartre area of Paris was built by the French government and features a large medieval dome that provides beautiful views of the city. This popular landmark is also a great place to watch the sunset, and you’ll find many tourists and locals doing just that on any given evening.

11. Luxembourg Gardens

An oasis of greenery in the heart of busy Paris, the Luxembourg Gardens feature 55 acres of beautiful, manicured gardens. Take a break from your site seeing and unwind in the peaceful atmosphere of this park.

12. Seine River

Stroll alongside this famous river (it has amazing Eiffel Tower views from across the way) or hop on a river cruise to explore Paris from a whole new vantage point. Flowing right through Paris, separating its left and right banks, it’s a beautiful spot to relax and admire the views in an otherwise bustling city.