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12 Things to Do in Paris For First-Time Visitors

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.

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The Ultimate Venice Guide: What to Do in Venice

Nestled in the heart of the Venetian Lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, Venice is a city full of rich history. Plan your trip to Venice with ease, read through our Ultimate Venice Guide to see what to do, where to stay and what to expect!

Built upon a network of canals, this 5th century city is an architectural marvel with its intricate palaces, vibrant piazzas, and iconic bridges. The city’s unique charm is heightened by its lack of roads, replaced by a web of waterways navigated by gondolas and vaporettos. 

Visit Venice to stroll through narrow alleyways, take in the sights from historic bridges, and wander through St. Mark’s Square as you explore this enchanting city. Our trip to Venice was a dream, and definitely a bucket list destination that we were eager to cross off! Here’s everything you need to know about the Floating City.

Jump To:
Basic Information
What to Do in Venice
What Should I Know Before Visiting Venice?
Where to Stay in Venice
Where to Eat in Venice
How to Spend 1 Day in Venice
Travel Essentials

Basic Information

Currency: Euros, though credit cards were accepted everywhere we went. We only ended up needing euros to pay the local tourism tax that our Airbnb host collected upon arrival.

Languages: Italian & English. We had no issue speaking English all throughout Venice – though, we wish we would’ve picked up some Italian, it sounded so beautiful!

Climate: Humid subtropical climate with influences from the Mediterranean Sea. Summers can be quite warm with the humidity, and in the late fall/winter you can expect cool temperatures, wind and lots of rain. We visited at the very end of October and it was cold, windy, and rainy – not our favorite climate for exploring! Also keep in mind, Venice floods several times each year, usually during fall and winter.

What to Do in Venice

Read: 10 Best Things to Do in Venice For First-Time Visitors

Whether you’re in Venice for a day or for a few, there are 10 absolute must-see spots you should have on your list to experience in the beautiful Floating City. Check out our post  10 Best Things to Do in Venice For First-Time Visitors to help you plan an unforgettable trip to Venice (and ensure you don’t miss a thing)!

What Should I Know Before Visiting Venice?

Read: 9 Mistakes Tourists Always Make Their First Time in Venice

Venice is a city unlike any other, don’t make these common mistakes on your first visit like so many other tourists do! Be prepared and learn the ropes before you go with our 9 Mistakes Tourists Always Make Their First Time in Venice, and learn what to do instead to make your trip as easy and seamless as possible.

Where to Stay in Venice

Because Venice doesn’t have any roads, getting around the city can be a bit difficult. While you can take a water taxi to various stops throughout Venice, we recommend staying close to the train station so you don’t have to drag your bags too far into the city. We stayed at an Airbnb that was very central in Venice, a few feet from the Museo di Storia Naturale and while it made walking all across Venice a breeze, it was a pain in the butt getting our bags to and from it! 

Before realizing we could take a water taxi, my poor husband lugged our two enormous suitcases across 4 bridges, including the enormous one you see when you enter Venice. Even with the water taxi, it required some walking and maneuvering with the suitcases from the taxi stop. It was doable but if we return to Venice, I plan on staying much closer to the train and bus station so we can drop our bags at the rental property and then explore on foot.

One more consideration for where to stay in Venice, if it’s in a part of the city that floods several times per year, I’d recommend you try to stay on the second floor or above. Whether or not there’s flooding when you’re visiting, if you’re sensitive to mildew or any of that, I would imagine you might have some issues with any ground floor units. Just walking around Venice in October, we saw water lines on the buildings in some areas that had previously flooded and it was a good foot or so high!

Where to Eat in Venice

While for the most part, you probably can’t go wrong with where to eat in Venice, we did have a couple of stand out experiences. 

La Corte 1642

While out exploring Cannaregio, we stumbled across La Corte 1642 in a back alleyway. There was a small private party there when we arrived so we couldn’t have dinner, but they let us sit and have wine and appetizers. They didn’t give us a menu, just asked us what we liked and created a giant plate full of cheeses, meats and crackers for us to enjoy with our Tuscan wine. It was absolutely delicious and the workers were so kind, we really enjoyed every minute of being there! It definitely seemed like a place that was really popular with the locals as well.

Grom Gelato

Finding the best gelato in Venice became my personal mission while we were there. Having a big sweet tooth and a love for ice cream, I know great gelato when I taste it! The Grom gelato shop tucked away into the Dorsoduro neighborhood was absolutely delicious and we really enjoyed exploring this area of Venice. It was much less busy and still had lots to see!

Majer

Right up the “road” from where we were staying (near the Museo di Storia Naturale in central Venice) was a great little cafe that we had coffee and pastries in each morning, as well as a lunch time sandwich. It was delicious every time and the sweet ladies working there were so friendly, and were patient with us when we had no idea how to communicate what we were trying to order (lots of pointing was required)! You could even see them rolling the dough for the pastries and making everything fresh in the back.

Al Bagolo

Again, another option near where we were staying, we really enjoyed Al Bagolo. It had great wine, really friendly staff, and absolutely mouth-watering pizza. We got the capricciosa pizza and another with mushrooms, and both were fabulous. 

How to Spend 1 Day in Venice

Read: Venice in 1 Day Itinerary

Criss-crossed by a network of meandering canals and cobblestone pathways, this beautiful city is one on many people’s bucket list! Spend the day wandering through St. Mark’s square, touring Doge’s palace, and exploring all that Venice has to offer! Our 1 day Venice itinerary ensures you see all of the famous Venetian sites, and fun ideas to make your visit even more memorable. Check it out here.

Travel Essentials for Venice

Cell Phone Power Bank

This is a must-have for any trip abroad, and one that we should have had on our trip to Rome! Using maps and apps on our phones all day severely drained the batteries, and we almost ran out of juice trying to find our way back to our Airbnb apartment! We had no idea where we were and we were running through the city trying to get back before our phones completely died! Don’t be like us, pack a power bank for your phone that you can easily tote around the city. We will never make that mistake again!

Pocket WiFi Device

Say goodbye to crazy roaming charges with a portable WiFi device! Stay in touch with loved ones, look up history or information on the fly, and easily share your pictures and travel adventures on social media. It’s also super handy if you need to do any blogging or work while you’re abroad, you don’t want to have to rely on public Wifi.

Slash-Proof Purse

As a woman traveling, I needed to carry a few things – including my collapsible selfie-stick (see next)! With pickpockets and thieves throughout Rome and the rest of your European travel hot-spots, you want to be very careful with the bag you choose to travel with. I chose a slash-proof purse that had zippers that clipped to the bag, making it more secure and less-likely to be pickpocketed.

When in Rome, I felt someone in a crowd grab at my bag, and was very thankful I had the zippers clipped so no one could quickly grab my wallet or other belongings inside. This is the bag I used and it was the perfect size to carry everything I needed – even a small water bottle! I’ll be taking it on all of my future travels.

Collapsible Selfie-Stick/Tri-Pod

We used this selfie-stick everywhere we went on our travels. You can make it as long or as short as you want, it has a remote that attaches to the base of the stick or you can pull off to make snapping pictures a breeze, and it also is able to be set up as a tripod if you want some further away shots!

Say goodbye to asking strangers to take your picture, you can easily do it on your own with this set-up. And it collapses nice and small so it can fit in your bag!

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page, Italy, Travel Hacks, Uncategorized

The Ultimate Rome Travel Guide: Rome Bucket List

From religious marvels like the Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, to iconic sights like the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum, Rome is one travel destination that has something for everyone. In addition to incredible landmarks and architecture, you’ll also fall in love with Roma’s cuisine and food-scene.

As one of Europe’s hottest tourism destinations, Rome doesn’t disappoint. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this beautiful city, as well as our recommendations on where to stay, eat, and see the sights – especially our favorite (secret) spot to see all the Roman Forum has to offer without paying for tickets!

Jump To:
What You Need to Know Before Visiting Rome
How Do You Get Around Rome? | Rome Transportation
What’s the Best Route For a Walking Tour of Rome?
What Are the Best Things to Do in Rome?
What Are the Top Tourist Sights in Rome?
What Tourist Mistakes Should You Avoid in Rome?
What Free Activities Are in Rome?
Are There Christmas Markets in Rome?
What Are the Most Important Rome Travel Tips to Know?
Where to Stay in Rome
Travel Essentials for Rome

While Rome is so stunning, you can easily find something exciting around every corner, it’s a large, tourist-filled city that is easier to see with a little planning! That’s why we’re writing the Ultimate Rome Travel Guide, to make your amazing Rome adventure just a little smoother and make sure you don’t miss out on any of the sights. 

Rather than cram all of this information into one post (and there’s a lot!), we’ve divided it into several posts covering different aspects of the city in-depth and compiled into this guide for easy reading. From food and photo spots, to tourist mistakes, this guide will cover everything you need to know about beautiful Roma! 

What You Need to Know Before Visiting Rome

When visiting Rome, you will typically arrive by train, bus or plane. There are many bus stations and several train stops throughout the city so you can find the one that is best suited for where you are staying. Rome also has two airports, which is surprising for a city of this geographical size, both a 30-40 minute drive depending on where your hotel/rental is. The most popular airport being the Rome Fiumicino International Airport, which you will likely be using if you plan to jump to another country from Rome.

Currency:

Like most of Europe, Rome uses the Euro. Credit cards are very widely accepted (we only had one instance where we had to use cash because their credit card reader wasn’t working). There are plenty of ATM’s throughout the city and it’s wise to have some euros handy, should your card not be accepted or there’s an issue on their part, as was our case. As a rule of thumb, we always had at least 50 euros on us in case we had a meal and there was an issue taking our card.

Climate:

Rome has a Mediterranean climate, meaning it has mild, rainy winters, and very hot, sunny summers. If you’re visiting in the summer, make sure your hotel or rental has air conditioning! We visited at the very beginning of November and it was still somewhat warm on sunny days, as well as many rain showers that moved out as quickly as they moved in.

If you’re visiting in the fall or winter, we recommend packing a rain coat or umbrella – it will not be uncommon for you to see the majority of people walking around with umbrellas for these somewhat-spontaneous rain showers the city gets periodically drenched in, in the fall months.

Languages:

Italian and English. Rome is an international city that is very accustomed to interacting with tourists from all over the world. Everywhere we went, we had no trouble speaking English and it being well-understood.

The only time it seemed to be slightly difficult to communicate was with our Airbnb hosts as they spoke some English but not as well as other places we frequented in the city like restaurants, transportation hubs, and tourist sights.

How Do You Get Around Rome? | Rome Transportation

No matter where you are in Rome, or where you want to go, there’s a bus for that. While we chose to walk everywhere (one day walking over 12 miles!), we saw many people riding the buses throughout the city.

The bus lines run everywhere you would need to go and can really save your feet from the walking. It’s not a very large city when considering the major tourist attraction locations, but it is congested, and you can expect it to take at least 20 minutes to get completely across it by bus. 

Another option for those who don’t walk to walk everywhere is the metro subway system. This underground subway is currently the smallest metro system in Europe, and we really didn’t see people taking it much. However, it is an option if you wanted to get from Prati all the way to the Colosseum in just a few minutes!

Lastly, you can take Ubers, private shuttles and taxis very easily in Rome. However, this is the most expensive option on the list! The bus system and metro system are much more economical, but I will say it was very nice just taking a taxi to the airport when it was time for our trip to end.

Direct and smooth, with no stops was our preferred way to stay on time for a flight! That being said, you could have easily taken a bus for the 40-minute ride to the airport.

What’s the Best Route For a Walking Tour of Rome?

Read: Rome Bucket List: A Self Guided Walking Tour of Rome

As I mentioned above, we exclusively walked in Rome. It was by far our favorite city to walk around because there was a beautiful fountain, sculpture, monument, or otherwise stunning building facade around every corner! We had never seen so much beauty and I feel like we would have missed a lot of the little sights if we were taking public transportation.

The best way to see Rome is by walking, at least as much as you can. It is mostly flat with some gentle hills sprinkled throughout, so it is not a strenuous walk at all. While you can join a paid walking tour, we recommend you follow our tour or create your own. Not joining a group is a great way to experience the city at your own pace, and allows you to stop into a shop or cafe along the way if you see something that grabs your attention! We loved touring the city on foot and then popping into a restaurant for lunch or just a mid-day Aperol Spritz!

See Rome at your own pace and don’t miss any of the best sights (and lesser known spots) by following our self-guided walking tour of Rome here!

What Are the Best Things to Do in Rome?

Read: 11 Best Things to Do in Rome (For First-Time Visitors)

There’s so much to do and see in Rome, it can feel overwhelming trying to make sure you don’t miss a thing! From shopping (local vendors and designer) to taking in the sights, to exploring the food scene, there are so many options. Read our top 11 things to do in Rome for first-time visitors here so you can make sure you enjoy all this beautiful city has to offer!

What Are the Top Tourist Sights in Rome?

Read: 15 Can’t-Miss Tourist Sights in Rome

Rome has many iconic tourist sights, and some stunning, but lesser known ones that are still very much worth a visit. To name a few, in Rome you have:

  • Vatican City
  • The Colosseum
  • Trevi Fountain
  • The Pantheon
  • Spanish Steps

Read our post the 15 Can’t-Miss Tourist Sights in Rome for more!

What Tourist Mistakes Should You Avoid in Rome?

Read: 10 Rome Tourist Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs

When you’re visiting Rome for the first time, there are definitely a few mistakes to avoid. There are many tourist traps in this city, as well as the very real threat of pickpocketing in crowded public areas (I felt someone try to grab my bag in a crowd in Rome). Be mindful and prepared for the city by reading our post on 10 Rome Tourist Mistakes and things to know before traveling!

What Free Activities Are in Rome?

Read: 21 Free Things to Do In Rome

Rome is such a beautiful, walkable city, and offers so much culture and experience just by walking around, looking at the sights! While you’ll have to pay for tickets if you’d like to go into any of the sights, viewing them from outside is completely free. There are also opportunities for free entrance to some of the museums and sights on certain days of the month, and we break that down in our post: 21 Free Things to Do In Rome

You can absolutely enjoy and experience Rome without breaking the bank!

Are There Christmas Markets in Rome?

Like many cities across Europe, Rome does have Christmas markets. The most popular Rome Christmas market is at Piazza Navona from December 1 until January 6 in 2023. This market was not held in years prior because of the pandemic, so it’s very exciting that it will be back in full swing this year!  You can expect lots of stands selling Christmas ornaments and trinkets, delicious food stands, and even a carousel in the Piazza Navona.

What Are the Most Important Rome Travel Tips to Know?

Read: 20 Essential Tips For Your First Visit to Rome

If you’re a first-time visitor to Rome, there are a few things to know to make sure your trip is as smooth sailing and enjoyable as possible! Prepare for your first trip to the Eternal City with the 20 essential tips we outlined in this post.

Where to Stay in Rome

If you’re looking to be in the heart of Rome and walk most places, we can’t recommend enough staying near the Trevi Fountain or Pantheon. This is the best, most central location that allows you to walk everywhere or easily access public transportation. There’s also loads of amazing restaurants (our favorite here was Il Chianti Vineria), cafes, and shopping here, so you have everything you could need!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

U-Visionary Roma Hotel

4-star hotel offering room service, a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage for guests and free WiFi. This hotel also boasts air-conditioned rooms with a closet, a coffee machine, a minibar, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. Some rooms even have city views, and the hotel receives a rating of 9.1 out of 10 on Booking.com!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

I Tre Moschettieri – D’Artagnan

An elegant building near the Trevi Fountain, offering free Wi-Fi and large, modern rooms with parquet floors, private bathrooms, and air conditioning. In the lobby, you’ll find it uniquely decorated with antiques!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

Casa Fabbrini Fancy Suites

With air-conditioned rooms in the Spagna district of Rome, this hotel is just a 2-minute walk from the Spanish Steps. Rated 9.1 by guests on Booking.com, this hotel features private bathrooms, beautiful interior design, and an A+ location.

Travel Essentials for Rome

Cell Phone Power Bank

This is a must-have for any trip abroad, and one that we should have had on our trip to Rome! Using maps and apps on our phones all day severely drained the batteries, and we almost ran out of juice trying to find our way back to our Airbnb apartment! We had no idea where we were and we were running through the city trying to get back before our phones completely died! Don’t be like us, pack a power bank for your phone that you can easily tote around the city. We will never make that mistake again!

Pocket WiFi Device

Say goodbye to crazy roaming charges with a portable WiFi device! Stay in touch with loved ones, look up history or information on the fly, and easily share your pictures and travel adventures on social media. It’s also super handy if you need to do any blogging or work while you’re abroad, you don’t want to have to rely on public Wifi.

Slash-Proof Purse

As a woman traveling, I needed to carry a few things – including my collapsible selfie-stick (see next)! With pickpockets and thieves throughout Rome and the rest of your European travel hot-spots, you want to be very careful with the bag you choose to travel with. I chose a slash-proof purse that had zippers that clipped to the bag, making it more secure and less-likely to be pickpocketed.

When in Rome, I felt someone in a crowd grab at my bag, and was very thankful I had the zippers clipped so no one could quickly grab my wallet or other belongings inside. This is the bag I used and it was the perfect size to carry everything I needed – even a small water bottle! I’ll be taking it on all of my future travels.

Collapsible Selfie-Stick/Tri-Pod

We used this selfie-stick everywhere we went on our travels. You can make it as long or as short as you want, it has a remote that attaches to the base of the stick or you can pull off to make snapping pictures a breeze, and it also is able to be set up as a tripod if you want some further away shots!

Say goodbye to asking strangers to take your picture, you can easily do it on your own with this set-up. And it collapses nice and small so it can fit in your bag!