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Paris Bucket List – What to Do in Paris for first-timers


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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If you’re like most travelers, then Paris is probably close to the top of your travel list. That means that you probably have a Paris bucket list that you’re looking to tick off.

Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the French capital has it all. It boasts centuries of history, amazing food, incredible architecture, and a romantic vibe that few other cities can match. If you’re planning your first trip to Paris, you’ll probably be overwhelmed with the number of things to do, see, drink, and eat.

In July and August 2024, Paris will host the Summer Olympics, so it’s the perfect excuse to discover or re-discover the city. If you are wondering what to do in Paris, go on reading. This article lists the top things to do in Paris for first-timers.

Are You Planning a Trip to Paris Last Minute?

Below are our must-guides, top tours, hotels, and more:

» Book your flight tickets with Omio; book your train tickets with Omio

Book your transfer from the airport to the city with Welcome Pickups.

» Where to Stay: Best Districts to Stay in Paris

  1. Le Pavillon de la Reine (historical 5-star hotel in Le Marais)
  2. Hotel La Comtesse (mid-range hotel with Eiffel Tower view from all the rooms!)
  3. Hotel Ducs de Bourgogne (super central 4-star hotel near the Louvre)

» Top-Rated Paris Tours & Tickets:

  1. Louvre Museum Skip-the-Line Ticket
  2. Eiffel Tower Summit Access Ticket
  3. Seine River Night Cruise
  4. Catacombs Skip-the-line tour with VIP access to restricted areas

Want skip-the-line access at museums & attractions in Paris? Get your hands on a Paris Museum Pass!

» Don’t leave without travel insurance! Compare plans and prices amongst the world’s leading programs with Travel Insurance Master

Top Things to Do in Paris

To help with this, here’s a list of the best things to do in Paris for every type of traveler. This bucket list Paris is perfect for first-timers as it is a great introduction to the City of Light.

1. Climb up to the Eiffel Tower for the Best Views

The Eiffel Tower is absolutely iconic and is at the top of any good list of the best things to see in Paris. The best way to get the full experience is to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower so you can see the city from its embrace.

You can walk up to the first floor of the tower or take the elevator to the top Click here for all the ticket options. The view is awesome during the day and at night when the tower lights up with thousands of light bulbs.

2.Visit the Louvre Museum

You absolutely must visit the Louvre Museum while you’re in Paris. This museum is one of the best in the world, so it’s on almost everyone’s Paris bucket list. The Louvre features artwork ranging from Egyptian mummy tombs to the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.

One of the top historical places in Europe to visit, the Louvre sees around nine million visitors a year, so it gets extremely crowded. For the best experience, check out these Louvre skip-the-line tips and buy your tickets to the Louvre online in advance.

3. Stroll Around Medieval Ile de la Cité

The Ile de la Cité is on every list of what to see in Paris, and for lots of reasons. It’s one of the islands in the Seine River in central Paris and is where you’ll find attractions like the Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Conciergerie.

Filled with thousands of years of history and culture, this is the heart of medieval Paris. It’s always busy, but a stroll around the medieval Ile de la Cité is still a truly immersive experience.

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4. Admire the Stunning Glass Windows of the Sainte Chapelle

Located in the heart of Paris on the Ile de la Cité, this chapel was specially built in the 13th century to house Christian relics like the Crown of Thorns.

The chapel is best seen on sunny days when the sunlight shines through the stained-glass windows. The Sainte Chapelle’s stained-glass windows are considered to be some of the best in all of Paris and contain 1,113 scenes depicting biblical stories. Their beauty and intricacy make these windows an essential sight in Paris for first-timers. Click here to buy your tickets to Sainte-Chapelle.

5. Watch a Parisian Cabaret Show

There are more cabaret clubs in Paris than in almost any other city in the world, which is why watching a Parisian Cabaret Show must be on your list of what to do in Paris. Bright, glamorous, and often very funny, these clubs showcase some of the best musical talents in the city along with beautiful costumes and immersive stories.

The Moulin Rouge is, of course, the most famous cabaret club in the city, but there are lots of other venues Click here for the best cabarets in Paris. So, just find a show you’re interested in and prepare yourself for an unforgettable night.

6.Try the Local Cuisine

If you want to visit Paris, then eating the local cuisine is probably at the top of your bucket list. Paris is considered to be one of the best food destinations in the world, known equally for its cakes and pastries and its haute cuisine.

Some of the famous foods in Paris that you should try are croissants, onion soup, and snails, but there’s a huge variety of dishes available. To make sure that you eat as much local food as possible while you’re there, read this Paris food guide, with the best of food and drinks in Paris.

7. Visit the Bohemian Neighborhood of Montmartre

Montmartre is in the northern part of the city, perched on top of a hill. This neighborhood is very different from the rest of the city, with a small-town feel that attracts tourists of all kinds. That’s why visiting the bohemian neighborhood of Montmartre is an ideal activity for your first time in Paris.

With this map of Montmartre, you’ll be able to see famous attractions like the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur and the Montmartre Cemetery but also explore some hidden gems. If you want to get the most from your visit, then this self-guided Montmartre walking tour will help.

8. French Apéritif in a Rooftop Bar

Paris is known for its elegance and style. This is why drinking a French Apéritif in a rooftop bar should be a staple on any Paris bucket list.

There are many rooftop bars in Paris that offer panoramic views of the city. You’ll often find the locals there, impeccably dressed and sipping on complicated cocktails or famous French drinks that are meant to stimulate the appetite before dinner.

The tradition of a drink before dinner begins in Paris around 18:00 or an hour before you eat. The drinks are usually slightly bitter, to clear the palate, and taken with friends, as this is a very social activity.

9. Night Seine River Cruise

Paris is a truly beautiful city, but sometimes this beauty can be hard to see from the street level. Taking a Night Seine River Cruise will let you see the magic of Paris as it’s meant to be seen, complete with twinkling lights and champagne bottles.

There are numerous Seine cruises along the river for all budgets and tastes. Some include food and drinks while other cruises like this best-seller 1-Hour Illuminations River Cruise are shorter and focus on the views and the amazing atmosphere of Paris at night.

10. Take a Day Trip to Versailles

Palace of Versailles

A day trip to Versailles is a must-do entry on your Paris bucket list Click here for all the ticket options. One of the world’s most famous palaces, it’s just 21km from Paris and one of the easiest day trips from Paris by train.

A stunning example of French Baroque architecture, the Palace of Versailles is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the perfect destination for an excursion out of Paris. 

Once home to the tragic and controversial Queen Marie-Antoinette, Versailles is filled with extravagant rooms and stunning artwork. The 2,000 hectares of rare flowers and greenery that make up the Versailles Gardens are also a particular favorite. Make sure you visit during the summer if you can to see the grand fountain water shows held every evening.

And there you have it, the ultimate Paris bucket list with the top things to do in Paris for first-timers. Have you tried any of our favorites?

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