Paris Itinerary 4 Days

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Explore the City of Love with our detailed Paris itinerary for 4 days, filled with tips to enjoy the best sights, food, and experiences Paris has to offer.

Paris is a massive metro city with hundreds of years of history and culture. Fitting that all into four days is impossible. Fitting that into four years is impossible. This itinerary is not that. Instead, it’s a slower pace where you sit and people-watch, have picnics on the grass, stroll aimlessly, and get lost. 

You will actually get to ENJOY Paris, not just see Paris with this itinerary. Be sure to take our outline and make it your own, whether that’s more time in more museums or adding twenty more restaurants.

We’ll cover our detailed Paris itinerary, the best time to travel to Paris, how to get around Paris, where to stay in Paris and more!

Paris itinerary 4 days

This post is all about our Paris itinerary 4 days with all our top tips.

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1 Month Europe Itinerary

These four days could be part of an even bigger one-month itinerary through Europe. There is so much to see all over Europe, so we chose a few countries and traveled them over one month. We share our ideal itinerary for the one month in Europe and all the costs associated with our one month in Europe.

Paris Itinerary 4 Days:

Paris is a massive metro city with hundreds of years of history and culture. Fitting that all into four days is impossible. Fitting that into four years is impossible. This itinerary is not that. Instead, it’s a slower pace where you sit and people-watch, have picnics on the grass, stroll aimlessly, and get lost. You get to ENJOY Paris, not just see Paris with this itinerary. Be sure to take our outline and make it your own, whether that’s more time in more museums or adding twenty more restaurants.

Day 1: iconic paris

how many days in paris
paris itinerary

The first day is going to be a classic, iconic Paris day. Even if you’ve been to Paris, can sitting under the Eiffel Tower actually get old? I don’t think so. 

Breakfast

This will be on repeat for the rest of the trip, but one of my favorite things to do in Europe is to stop at a cafe for breakfast. You’ll eat a croissant and drink a cappuccino on an outdoor patio, and you won’t stop smiling, I promise. Find an outdoor cafe near your hotel and make it your spot for the rest of the week, or find a new one every day. We love becoming a “regular” over a short period and visiting the same place daily. It makes us kind of, sort of feel like locals.

Eiffel Tower

Now, we’ll spend the rest of our morning at the Eiffel Tower because why not? This is an architectural gem to look at and, with all the visitors, a great people-watching spot. If you have already been or are trying to stick to a budget, you can simply admire the Eiffel Tower from below. You can get great photos from the Champ de Mars and Palais de Chaillot for free. The Esplanade (the area between the four pillars, directly beneath the tower) is also free to visit.

You can also head up the Eiffel Tower. You’ll be able to admire the wrought iron work up close and get the best view in Paris (since the Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris). You can visit the First Floor, where there is a restaurant, a gift shop, and an outdoor cafe. The Second Floor has a large observation deck with a macaroon bar. There is also a Michelin-starred restaurant offering five to six-course meals for a pretty penny. You can also visit the Summit as an add on. Here you’ll find indoor and outdoor platforms, a recreation of Gustave Eiffel’s office, and a champagne bar at 297 m high!

Lunch

The Champ de Mars is a great spot for a picnic lunch. Be sure to grab some snacks at a few local shops—a bakery for baguettes, Formaggio for cheese, a wine shop for wine, and a produce stand for fruits and veggies. This travel blanket is always in our backpack so we can sit on the grass comfortably!

This is also the perfect place to read for a bit. There are so many classics set in Paris, but I recommend these pretty copies of Les Misérables or The Count of Monte Cristo since they are also written by French authors!

We traveled during winter, so we couldn’t make the most of outdoor picnics. We instead went down the street to Gusto Italia for a cozy, warm meal inside.

Arc de Triumph

After a healthy lunch on the grass by the Eiffel Tower or at a neighboring restaurant, it’s time to head to the Arc de Triumph. This hulking mass of stone sits in the middle of a very busy traffic circle. You actually have to go through a tunnel underneath the traffic circle to get to it. You can visit the area below the Arc for free. They also have a ceremony every day at 6:30 pm to rekindle the eternal flame. This is also free and a unique experience to witness at the base of the Arc.

If you want to head to the top of the Arc de Triumph, you’ll have to climb 284 steps, but it’s worth it. This view is amazing since you can see directly down the Champs-Elyses and the Eiffel Tower (rather than being on the Eiffel Tower).

Champs-Elysees

This is the famous shopping street in Paris. Personally, I love a good shop, but even if you don’t, this is still a must-see spot. The street is so well-manicured, and the walking is just gorgeous. We didn’t even buy anything here but loved aimlessly wandering up the massive street. Many high-end brands are here, so it’s not for the small wallet (like us). However, it just feels very Paris. Also, it’s lit up at night during Christmas; it is just gorgeous with the Arc in the background.

Dinner

If you are looking for a typical touristy sit-down French meal, you are in the right area. There are tons of nice restaurants that will be pretty expensive due to the location. I would recommend heading away from the main tourist spots to a small restaurant, bistro, or cafe on a less frequented street. There are actually thousands of amazing restaurants in Paris, so take your pick. We usually check TripAdvisor for the top restaurants and look at Google Reviews for restaurants in a certain area.

Eiffel Tower Light Show

After dinner, head back towards the Eiffel Tower to see it sparkle. Every hour on the hour after dark, the tower will put on an elegant light show for around five minutes. To see it up close, head back to the Champ de Mars. It’s also a good view to see the show from the top of the Arc de Triumph.

Day 2: Get Cultured

two days in paris
4 days in paris itinerary

Today, we’ll have a few stops all centered around the arts and culture of Paris. These are all good to do together in one day since they are generally near each other. I recommend riding a bike to get around or of course, the Metro!

LouvRe Paris

The Louvre Paris is massive and has one of the largest collections of art in the world (including the Mona Lisa). You could easily spend all four days in Paris here and not see everything. I would recommend dedicating the first half of your day to the museum. There are guided audio tours or guided small-group tours you can take. You can also explore the Louvre on your own. Or if you are really up for an adventure, you can try this Louvre Treasure Hunt

Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame Cathedral is known around the world and is definitely worth a visit. When we visited, it was still closed due to the 2019 fires. You can still see the outside of the cathedral, but you cannot visit the inside. They also had a walkway along the north side outlining the effects of the fire and their efforts to restore it, which we found really interesting.

It’s also located right along the river (it’s actually on an island on the river) and is a good spot to sit and read The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Just a 20 minute walk away is the massive and gorgeous Luxembourg Gardens. The best part is, it’s free to enter! You can easily spend the rest of your day here wandering around. You get a great view of the Eiffel Tower from the gardens. There are plenty of small cafes and stalls selling ice cream or mulled wine. And tons of cute metal seats to sit and enjoy. There is also a palace,an art museum, and cute tiny sailboats on the pond.

Seine River Dinner Cruise

To end your second day, you can book one of the many river cruises on the Seine. There are many different options depending on your budget and preferences. One thing is certain: you’ll get gorgeous and unique views of Paris from the Seine River.

Day 3: Unique Paris

We’ll spend the day find a few of the more unique things to do in Paris. You’ll admire the Catacombs and wander in the Montmartre neighborhood.

Paris Catacombs

The Paris Catacombs have a unique story and have evolved over the centuries to now become a gorgeous artistic walk through millions of bones. It seems grim but it really has a powerful story. You can take an audio tour through the Catacombs to learn about the history and see the gorgeous displays up close. It’s hauntingly beautiful, and I highly recommend it.

You can purchase a skip-the-line ticket if you are visiting in the peak season. Otherwise, I would recommend purchasing directly through the Catacombs site for the cheapest rate. 

Montmartre

The Montmartre neighborhood is a very popular village of Paris, and for good reason. This area is an incredibly charming neighborhood with pink restaurants and greenery covered buildings. It’s a lovely place to wander the cobblestoned streets and pop into a bistro or two. 

You’ll also want to visit the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur built in the late 1800s and see the largest mosaic in France. From here, you’ll also be able to see the views over Paris from a very different angle. You can climb to the dome’s top for even higher views. These views are especially good for sunset! The Basilica is free to enter and open from 6:30 am – 10:30 pm. 

Moulin Rouge

A trip to the Montmartre neighborhood wouldn’t be complete without at least seeing the famous windmill and sign at the Moulin Rouge. And if you can get tickets, even better! This famous French cabaret show is always sold out, and you’ll have to book well in advance. They have nightly shows at 9 pm and 11 pm.

Day 4: Day Trip

rick steeves paris itinerary
london to paris

Your last day in Paris is the perfect opportunity to head just outside the city center for a day trip. There are a ton of different options to choose from and our two favorites are below.

Disneyland Paris

Another option for a day trip is Disneyland Paris. If you are like us and love theme parks, one day might not be enough for you. But for a casual visitor who wants to experience the magic of Disney, one day is plenty! It’s an hour’s train ride from the city, with a station just at the entrance of the parks. There are two parks – Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios. Walt Disney Studios was easily a half-day park when we visited, but they plan to expand.

Disneyland Paris is beautiful and has a ton of attention to detail. The rides are magical and the castle is next level. However, the food is… not. We were super disappointed by the food, so don’t dedicate too much of your day to eating and you’ll be able to explore plenty of the park.

Versailles

If you love Paris culture and history, you will love visiting Versailles. It’s less than an hour to get to Versailles from Paris via public transit. Once there you can visit the endless gardens and Versailles Palace. Since it is so massive, it’ll take you an entire day to explore this magical land.

You can book a guided tour with transportation to and from Paris. You can also purchase audio guides to help you learn even more. Or you can simply buy entry tickets to roam on your own. There are restaurants and cafes on-site as well. Be sure to plan when you visit accordingly though. On Mondays, the buildings are closed. Most things in Paris are closed on Tuesdays, so it’s very busy here. Weekends are also really busy.

More Information about Paris:

Where to stay in Paris

Since public transit is so good in Paris, you can’t stay in a bad area. We stayed at the gorgeous Hilton Paris Opera and liked its location to see all the sites in our itinerary. Plus, we got free breakfast in the morning, which means extra (and free) coffee! We recommend the Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel if you want to stay in a room with views of the Eiffel Tower!

WHERE TO LAY YOUR HEAD IN...

Getting around in Paris

Public Transportation

This was our main method of getting around town in Paris. The Metro is efficient and has many stops, allowing you to get wherever you need to go. We didn’t know how much we were going to use it, so we ended up buying single-use tickets each time we rode the Metro. You can also buy day or week passes depending on how frequently you use it. Google Maps has accurate information regarding the Metro and allowed us to easily figure out where we were going each time. 

Bike

This was our favorite way to get around Paris. They have bike lanes on most streets, and there are plenty of Vélib rideshare bike racks. Be sure to download the app and set up your account ahead of time. We did run into a few that were full, and we couldn’t park. Once, we had to stop quickly to end the ride and restart it so we didn’t go over the 30-minute ride time, but actually, riding around Paris was much more fun than sitting underground in the Metro.

Rideshare or Taxis

When we needed to get somewhere late at night, we used Uber. It was not cheap but it was convenient and safe. They always have nice cars and there are plenty of drivers that we never had to wait too long.

Rental Car

You can always rent a car while visiting Paris. However, I would not recommend it. Unless you have specific plans that require a car or are starting a road trip from Paris to the countryside, it will be too difficult to drive and park in the Paris city area. Even if you want to visit other towns in France or neighboring countries, the train systems in Europe are incredible and much easier than renting a car.

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via train!

Guided Tours

If you want to learn a ton about everywhere you visit or just want to sit back and not plan a thing, you can always book yourself a guided tour. You can get an entire European Guided Tour package deal with Go Ahead Tours. Or, if you are interested in buying day tours within Paris, you can book a guided bike tour, a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, or this customizable private tour

We knew going into one of the most popular destinations in the world, it was not going to be cheap. That said, we took great efforts to help keep our costs down. The biggest thing we did was live off bread, cheese, and wine. It’s so darn good anyways and so much cheaper than a full course meal. We never felt like we were missing out and who can resist a picnic under the Eiffel Tower? We also traveled during winter months (off-season) so that allowed us to save on accommodations and airfare. Read our entire budget breakdown for all the details of what we spent on our trip to Paris. 

Our Total:

$690 for 2 people (3 days)

Daily Total:

$172 per day for 2 people

Value:

Cash vs. Credit Card in Paris

The currency here is the Euro, so if you are visiting Paris as part of a larger trip through Europe, you can use the same money. Luckily, we didn’t really need our cash here. We only used cash for tips and small stalls for snacks or souvenirs (like at the Christmas Markets).

Best Time to Visit Paris

The best time to visit Paris is during the spring (April to June) or fall (September to November) when the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner. The summer months can be hot and crowded, as this is the peak tourist season. Winter in Paris can be chilly and damp, but it’s also quieter, and you can enjoy the city’s indoor attractions without the crowds. However, any time of year can be magical in Paris, depending on what you’re looking to experience.

This particular trip was during the month of December. And it was definitely cold and overcast the entire trip. But accommodations and flights were cheaper. Plus, we were able to visit a lot of tourist attractions without a ton of tourists.

Visa for Paris

Luckily, France is a part of the Schengen Area visa program for US citizens. That means you can enter France without getting a visa before arrival or having to pay any fees (as of this writing). You can stay in the entire Schengen Area for up to 90 days per 180 days for free. Just note that you do need at least a 90-day period outside of the Schengen Area before your 180-day period is reset.

SIM Card in Paris

You can easily get your phone data before even arriving in Paris and make your short stay even more efficient and easy. Use Airalo to either get an e-sim for France from $4.50, or, if you are traveling through more of Europe, get the Europe Regional e-sim starting at $5.00.

Purchase and download your e-sim before you even step foot in the country. Airalo allows you to have data when you land! 

Travel Insurance for Paris

We always highly recommend getting travel insurance for all your trips. A trip to Paris, France, is no exception. Our go-to travel insurance company is SafetyWing. They will cover any medical emergencies or accidents, as well as unexpected cancellations or delays on your trip. You can purchase just for your dates or travel and customize your plan.

For a weekend getaway or a long-term adventure, SafetyWing has you covered. They cover medical accidents, lost luggage, emergency response, and natural disasters. AND it’s affordable!

Is it Safe in Paris?

Paris is a massive metropolitan city. While I wouldn’t call it dangerous by any means, I wouldn’t leave my car unlocked or walk down an alley at night. It’s the same as traveling anywhere: keep your wits about you, and you’ll be fine. Since it is such a popular tourist destination, you should be extra careful with pickpockets. This is especially true in dense crowds like on the Metro, a popular photo spot, or a large crosswalk. I would also be sure to search the news before visiting, as there can be protests or strikes in the city. 

Packing List for Paris

Since we visited in the dead of the off-season, I can only help with what we needed while we were there. These are a few things I would not forget:

  • Sling Bag: They are perfect for staying stylish and keeping your belongings close by (and not in your pockets).
  • Euro Plug Converter: This converter is the only thing you’ll need for your travels. It has a two three-prong US plug and two USB ports so you can charge all your gear in one spot.
  • MagSafe Charger: Between taking 10,000 photos and trying to get directions to each spot, your phone will die quickly. This MagSafe Charger easily connects to your phone to keep it charged without having cords everywhere in your bag.
  • Coat: Everyone is super fashionable here, so bring a nice-looking coat like this mid-length wool one or this extra-long wool coat that keeps you warm.
  • Hand warmers: seriously, these were lifesavers. It can get so cold at night!
  • Waterproof Boots: It might rain or snow while you’re here in winter, so bring a pair of fashionable boots that will keep your toes dry!

This post was all about the ideal Paris Itinerary 4 Days

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We’re Alicia & Nate, a couple that traveled full-time for 3 years straight. We are now living in a cozy little apartment in Albania. We have a passion for exploring new places and trying new foods.

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