16 Epic Things to Do in Paris as a Tourist

Steve Cummings

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Paris, France

Paris, one of the most romantic cities in the world, known as the City of Lights, is a great place to visit. However, as magnificent as the French capital city is, it can also be overwhelming if you are heading there for vacation for the first time.

How do you figure out what places to go and which to avoid? It depends on the vacation type you are planning.

Whether you love food, art, architecture, or beautiful scenery, there is something for you here. That is why we put together this guide, to help show some of the great things to do in Paris, with many frugal options. We have tried to include many of the most popular and some of the more intriguing sights and attractions around the city.

1. The Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower, Paris France
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

One of the best things to do in Paris is also one of the most obvious – the Eiffel Tower. Few buildings around the world hold the same status as the most iconic landmark in Paris' skyline. So, even if it is an obvious inclusion, it's still worthy. If you've never been to the Eiffel Tower, the structure has three levels: the first, second, and top floors. You can access the first and second floors by climbing or taking the elevator. However, the only way to the top floor was by taking the elevator.

Interestingly, if you are looking for a frugal tip to enjoy the experience of visiting the Tower and taking in those stunning city views, you should take the stairs. There are shorter lines, which is cheaper because fewer people want to tackle the stairs. It also means you can take the stairs to the first and second floors and use the elevator to get to the top.

Another great tip is to book the tickets in advance to avoid the wait to get into the Tower, which can take as much as three hours.

2. The Musee du Louvre

Musee du Louvre
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Another obvious inclusion in our list of things to see in Paris is one of the most famous art museums in the world. Musee du Louvre has around 35,000 pieces, which means you would need nine months to see everything. So, it's a good idea to look at what's on display there and ensure you have a list of the pieces you want to look at before you go to ensure you are satisfied. There are also great treasure hunts set up by ThatMuse that plan a great way to find your way around the museum.

While you may want to drink in the mastery of “Dying Slave” by Michelangelo or “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo Di Vinci, you will have more time if you plan on visiting the less overcrowded pieces of work in the many rooms found throughout the stunning building, which itself is a work of art on its own.

3. Arc De Triomphe

Arc De Triomphe
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Yet another obvious choice in our guide to top things to do in Paris is the Arc De Triomphe. Standing at 50 meters high (164 feet), the Roman-styled arch that commemorates Napoleon's victory in 1805 at Austerlitz has a viewing platform that is not nearly as busy or popular as the Eiffel Tower but offers even more awe-inspiring vistas of the city.

This is the best way to drink in the fantastic sight of the city's Axe Historique (Historical Axis), the lone of historical landmarks that form a sublime axis that runs east to west across central Paris. You can see the Camps-Elysees, the Grande Arche de la Defense, the Place de la Concorde, and the Louvre.

4. Take in a Show at Moulin Rouge

One of the most fun things to do in Paris if you want to unwind with a bit of light-hearted entertainment after a day of sightseeing in the evening is a visit to arguably the most famous cabaret venue in the world, the fabulous Moulin Rouge. A colorful troupe of talented and vibrant can-can dancers takes to the stage every night. There are shows routinely at 7 pm, 9 pm, and 11 pm.

5. Parc Asterix

Parc Asterix
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Although it is not the most frugal travel choice, if you are looking for things to do in Paris with kids and don't want to or can't get tickets to Disneyland Paris, Parc Asterix is even better in some ways. With five distinct zones – the Gaulish Village, Egypt, the Land of the Vikings, the Roman Empire, and Ancient Greece, there are plenty of gravity-defying and thrilling rides like the Goudurix rollercoaster. Not an adrenaline junkie? That's fine, there are some great attractions for younger children, like the Grand Splatch log flume.

6. Menagerie du Jardin Des Plantes

If wildlife is more your scene, one of the best things to see in Paris is the Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes. It may be smaller than other zoos in Paris or France, but it is child-friendly, easier to get to, and more frugal than other options. Expect to see red pandas, plenty of big cats, and a primate house featuring fun and intriguing apes and monkeys.

7. Love Wall, Montmartre

Love Wall
Credit: Depositphotos

One of the best, free things to do in Paris, especially if you feel a little romantic, is visiting the Love Wall in Montmartre. As Paris is famous as the city of love, it should be no surprise that a giant wall in Paris features hundreds of different versions of the words “I Love You” written in various languages. It was created by Frederic Baron, who started collecting the “I love you” messages in 1992 and then collaborated with famed calligrapher and artist Claire Kito, who drew the vibrant mural.

You can kill two free birds with one stone by taking in the Love Wall and heading to the bright white Sacre-Coeur Basilica, another iconic landmark in Paris.

8. Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral
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One of the most unique things to do in Paris that is worth visiting is the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. It is important to note, though, that the Cathedral, as you may or may not have seen mentioned in the news at the time, was devastated by fire in 2019. There are plans for it to be reopened towards the end of 2024. Notre Dame is a huge tourist attraction because it is among the world's grandest and oldest cathedrals. You need to head inside to experience the sights of the beautiful stained glass windows and the nave. However, the main attraction is the Gargoyle's view of the city from the uppermost point of the building.

9. Pont Neuf

Pont Neuf
Credit: Depositphotos

Pont Neuf is high on the list of the must-see things in Paris. Paris' oldest bridge connects Lle de la Cite and Right Bank. You can take in some delightful views of the stunning Seine River, the Eiffel Tower in the close distance, and the equally impressive bridge next to the river, Pont des Arts.

10. Jardin du Luxembourg

Jardin du Luxembourg
Credit: Depositphotos

Are you heading to the city of love as a couple and looking for romantic things to do in Paris? There isn't much better than the frugal option of strolling around the Jardin du Luxembourg most of the day. A sprawling city park, although it is the second biggest in the city, the garden for a French senate, the landscaped garden was first established during the 17th century. It featured many fountains, monuments, statues, and the original model of Frederic Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty.

Ideally situated, it is a short stroll from the main sites and attractions of the city. It is excellent for taking in the sights and scents of the beautiful flora, getting some delicious food, stopping for a picnic, or sitting.

11. Pompidou Centre

There are plenty of great museums and art galleries in and around Paris, but of all the cool things to do in Paris for art lovers, a trip to the striking and intriguing Pompidou Centre is among the best. It is the largest European modern art museum and has a unique design that includes all of the building's pipework and plumbing sitting to the exterior of the building in bright and striking colors.

Along with some fantastic modern art pieces, you can take the many elevators to the top level of the building to get some of the city's best views. For frugal travelers, 5 Euros is all you need to spend to take in the breathtaking Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Sacre-Coeur vistas. Meaning it's great even if you're not interested in art.

12. Go On a Food Tour

One of the must-do things in Paris, regardless of your budget, is to sample some of the city's spectacular cuisine. You can take a curated food tour if you find it overwhelming to pick out the best restaurants and cafes. There are several options for these solutions to tasting Paris on a tight budget and short timeframes, such as Paris by Mouth and Secret Food Tour.

Want some crepes? Many small stands around the city sell freshly baked crepes. It's like hot dogs in New York. Krugen, Creperie le Petit Josselin, and Breizh Café are among the best options.

13. Le Marais

For an exciting spot in Paris, why not visit Le Marais, one of the most curious neighborhoods in the city? A frugal meal can be at the world-famous falafel restaurant L'As du Falafel or along the pretty Rue de Rosiers. This is definitely one of the most romantic things to do in Paris.

14. Musee d'Orsay

Musee d'Orsay
Credit: Depositphotos

Is impressionist art more your thing? Then, you need to head to the coveted Musee d'Orsay, which has the world's most extensive collection of Impressionist art. One of the top things to do in Paris. This is the place to visit for the best of Gaugin, Van Gogh, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, Manet, and Monet. Like many of the best buildings in the city, though, it more than holds art; the building is a piece of art itself. Before it was renovated and transformed into a stunning impressionist art museum, it was known as Gare d'Orsay, a train station.

15. Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles
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Although it is not found within the city's boundaries, one of the most popular trips with tourists and one of the best things to do in Paris is a trip to the magnificent Palace of Versailles. Louis XIV constructed it as a beautiful summer residency for the royals. The seat of government was moved to the Palace from the Louvre in 1682, and for more than 100 years, French kings ruled and lived there until the 1789 French Revolution.

16. Place de la Concorde

What is a massive roundabout between Champse-Elysees and Tuileries Garden? One of the best things to do in Paris for a real insight into French history is the Place de la Concorde. The heritage of this place, although only sometimes very bright and cheery, makes it essential and worthy of a visit. For example, it was the site where the guillotine executed Robespierre, Marie Antoinette, and King Louis XVI during the French Revolution.

At the center of this critical landmark stands the Luxor Obelisk, one of two obelisks that are more than 3,000 years old. Gifted to France during the 1830s, the other obelisk in the pair can be found at the front of the stunning Luxor Temple in Egypt.

Final Thoughts

There are many great things to do in Paris, whether you have a frugal budget or can afford to spend a little. Although known as a romantic city and the city of love, it is also a brilliant place to take children, with great food and fun activities.

We have tried to make this list as good as possible and include as many great locations as possible, but if you feel we need to include something, please let us know in the comments. We are happy to update and edit it to give the best guide to great things to see and do in Paris.

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