What to see in Paris
The 22 best sights in Paris: All the important tips & information
Are you planning a city trip to Paris and definitely want to see all the main sights in Paris? Excellent! Paris has a lot to offer, so you can quickly lose track of things. Our Paris expert Meike gives you an overview of all the important sights in Paris that you should definitely see!
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Paris has so much to offer. To really see everything, you would have to easily spend a few weeks in the city.
Unfortunately, this is rarely possible, which is why I have summarized the 22 most important sights for you here.
Here you will not only find out what you should definitely do and see in Paris, but also how you can plan your visit to the individual sights in the most stress-free way.
And of course there is some information about each attraction, everything you need to know such as prices, opening times and directions, as well as the best ticket options.
Also read our other articles on Paris
General tips on Paris attractions
But before I introduce you to my 22 top highlights in Paris, I'll give you a few general tips for visiting the sights in a nutshell. This way you can optimally prepare and use your time in Paris.
Tip # 1: buy tickets beforehand
If possible, buy your tickets online in advance. So you can at least save the time at the cash register and go straight to the entrance.
The following sights are always well visited. Here it is worth buying tickets in advance:
Tip # 2: Avoid the peak hours
In general, there is a lot less going on from Monday to Thursday than from Friday to Sunday.
Lunch, around 1 p.m., is also recommended. The first swing of visitors is then already through and the late swing is at lunch. It doesn't always work, but it's worth a try.
Tip # 3: Plan the order wisely
When planning your Paris, take a look at the map to see which sights are close together. Especially in the center, the highlights are often only a few meters away from each other. So you can save a lot of time and many journeys.
If you are planning a long weekend in Paris, take a look at my suggested program:
A weekend in Paris: program for 3 days
Tip # 4: Free entry for under 26s
Entry to many sights is free for everyone under 26 with a European identity card or passport! For all the sights that are listed here, I have written to you whether this is the case.
Tip # 5: A Paris Pass can be worth it
If you are sure that you want to visit many sights, a Paris Pass is worthwhile for you. I recommend the Paris Turbo Pass, which includes entry to many of the attractions listed here. You can also use it to use local public transport.
You can go directly to the turbo pass here
There are a total of four discount passes for Paris. In a detailed comparison, I have written down the advantages and disadvantages of the individual passes:
To the Paris Pass comparison
Tip # 6: a special city tour
Regardless of whether you are in Paris for the first time or have been there several times, a tour through Paris can be worthwhile to get a good overview of the most important sights or to get to know Paris from a completely new perspective.
I've put together 11 special tours in Paris, there is guaranteed to be something for everyone. So you get a good overview of the most important sights or get to know a whole new side of Paris.
To the 11 special city tours in Paris
If you don't feel like reading the whole article, I'll link you to 3 classic tours here. You can't go wrong with them.
Private tour with a local guide
Exploration tour by night in a vintage car
Paris Highlights: 3-Hour Bike Tour
So, now all the information about the sights!
The main attractions on a map
Since orientation in Paris is not always that easy at first, you will find the most important sights drawn again on this map.
This gives you a rough overview of where in Paris which sight is located and allows you to plan your visit even better.
You can also download the map as a PDF here
# 1 Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower has dominated the Paris skyline since 1889. It is often simply ignored by the locals as an ugly steel part.
But it is a magical attraction for every visitor. Personally, I think that you have to have been to the Eiffel Tower at least once in your life. And if so, then of course at the top.
The most convenient and quickest way (not the cheapest) is an online ticket with an ascent to the top. You can avoid the queues at the ticket counters.
But you will have to queue for the security check and elevator, there is unfortunately no way around it.
My advice: I recommend you to go to Trocadero station. There you stand directly on the platform from which you can best see the Eiffel Tower. Perfect for photos! You can walk to the tower in a few minutes.
Daily 9:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. (last entry 10:30 p.m.)
End of June to beginning of September: 9:00 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. (last entry 11:00 p.m.)
from 29 euros on-site (very long queues), online approx. 69 euros
Overall, however, there are so many different options and ticket options to visit the Eiffel Tower that you quickly lose the desire to bother with it at all.
So that that doesn't happen, I wrote it all down for you in a very clear and structured way in a separate article.
All information and tickets for the Eiffel Tower visit
# 2 Arc de Triomphe
The triumphal arch built by Napoleon sits enthroned at the top of the Champs Élysées and seems to watch over the center. The monument is simply part of a visit to Paris.
You should definitely not cross the infamous roundabout around you.
At the top of the Champs Élysées and in the street just opposite there are accesses to the underpasses that lead to the Arc de Triomphe.
You can also go up to the roof, from here you have a fantastic view of the city.
But be careful: There is no elevator. You can only get to the roof via the stone spiral staircase inside the triumphal arch.
You can walk around for free under the triumphal arch. If you want to go to the roof, you can either buy tickets in the underpass below or order them online beforehand.
Daily 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Charles de Gaulle - Étoile
from 12 €
€ 0 for EU citizens under 26 years of age
# 3 Opéra Garnier
In the middle of the center, very close to the Louvre, you will find an often overlooked delicacy.
The Opéra Garnier is not that high on the to-do list for most visitors, but it is clearly a highlight. For me it is one of my absolute favorite buildings.
Even at first glance, the opera looks very impressive. But if you take the time to take a closer look at the outside and inside, you will discover fantastic details.
The only thing you are not allowed to enter is box number five. This is the box of the Phantom of the Opera, it is not open to anyone!
You can explore the Opéra Garnier on your own or with a guided tour. The tours are only possible in English and French, but offer you a lot of interesting information about the opera house.
The entrance for visits and guided tours can be found on the back of the building. From the main entrance, walk along the building to the left, then you can't miss the visitor entrance.
Of course there are also performances in the opera. Mainly ballet performances and classical concerts take place here, but sometimes hip hop battles as well.
There are hardly any operas here. Most of the opera performances today take place in the new Opéra Bastille, which is not nearly as beautiful as the Opéra Garnier.
My advice: A very special souvenir: you can find honey in the Opéra Garnier's souvenir shop. This honey comes from the beehives on the roof of the opera. Harvested by the opera's own beekeeper!
Here you can book online tickets for a viewing
And here a guided tour in English or French in the evening
You can find information and tickets for the performances in the opera here
Sept to Jul: daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (last entry 4:30 p.m.)
Aug. daily 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (last entry 5:30 p.m.)
Visits from € 12
Guided tour: from € 17
# 4 Champs Élysées and Place de la Concorde
The Champs Élysées is France's grand boulevard! From the triumphal arch at the top to the Champs Élysées to the Place de la Concorde, France celebrates everything there is to celebrate here. There is no way around this for the big parades and celebrations.
Along the Champs Élysées, you will find everything that has rank and name in addition to Cartier and Louis Vuitton. With shops like Zara and H&M, there is also something for the non-Cartier-friendly budget.
Even if you don't want to shop, a stroll over the Champs Élysées is very nice, especially when the weather is nice. Many cafés are ideal for a break during your walk.
At the bottom of the 80 meter wide street you will find the Place de la Concorde with the obelisk in the middle.
Since the Champs Élysées is mainly a street, you don't have to pay any admission here.
Every first Sunday of the month, the Champs Élysées is closed to cars and converted into a promenade. On these days, bag checks are carried out at the entrances to the street.
Metro stations: Charles de Gaulle - Étoile, George V, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Champs Élysées Clemenceau, Concorde
# 5 Pont Alexandre III
The most beautiful bridge in town! Just a stone's throw from the Champs Élysées, the Pont Alexandre III leads across the Seine to the Invalidenhotel.
The bridge itself is a gem from 1900, and with the Eiffel Tower in the background, you can take great photos here.
At night the bridge is illuminated by beautiful lanterns. Today these are no longer original gas lanterns, but they cleverly pretend they are gas lanterns.
If you're around in the dark, you should definitely pay a visit to the bridge.
My advice: Below the bridge you will find various options for a coffee or cocktail on the banks of the Seine.
Metro stations: Champs Élysées - Clemenceau or Invalides
# 6 Tour Montparnasse
After the Eiffel Tower, the Tower (French Tour) Montparnasse is the tallest building in Paris and also the only skyscraper in the center.
The Tour Montparnasse is mainly an office building. The 56th floor is reserved for visitors. An elevator will take you up in a few seconds. From here you have a great view of Paris while you sip a coffee or champagne at the bar.
A staircase also leads up to the roof terrace, so that you stand 210 meters above the roofs of Paris in the open air.
My advice: Go up the tower just before sunset. The chances of excellent sunset photos with the Eiffel Tower are good. Stay up there until it's really dark, the view of Paris at night is super beautiful!
Daily 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Fri and Sat until 11:00 p.m.)
# 7 Grand Palais and Petit Palais
The large palace and the small palace stand on the edge of the Champs Élysées and look at each other. Both opened in 1900 and even if they somehow belong together, they are very different.
The Grand Palais impresses with its roof. It is made entirely of glass and some steel, which is why you have a fantastic light inside.
It is used for changing exhibitions or for fashion shows during Fashion Week. The Tour de France cyclists have also ridden through the Grand Palais.
Before your tour to Paris, just check the Grand Palais website to see what's going on. Maybe worth a visit.
To the Grand Palais website
As the name suggests, the Petit Palais is smaller than the Grand Palais and a more classic structure. Here you will find the Museum of Fine Arts permanently.
A wide range of the French and Italian Renaissance is on display in the beautiful palace. Last but not least, works by Monet, Renoir, Delacroix and Toulouse-Lautrec await you here.
In the inner courtyard you will find a great garden with a small café - a perfect place for a break in summer!
The permanent exhibition and access to the café are free. However, you have to pay admission for the temporary exhibitions. You can check which exhibitions are taking place and when on the Petit Palais website.
Since the Petit Palais is one of the museums with far fewer visitors, you can simply go here without a pre-ordered ticket. But if you are like me and prefer to be on the safe side, we recommend buying a ticket without queuing in advance.
Tue-Sun: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
(The ticket office and the café close at 5:00 p.m.)
Closed on Mondays and on public holidays
Champs Élysées - Clemenceau
# 8 Louvre
The Louvre is not just any museum, but describes the huge building complex that used to be the royal palace. The Musée du Louvre is housed within this palace.
The amount of works of art exhibited in the Musée du Louvre is gigantic. In no other museum in the world will you find such a large number of outstanding individual works.
The most famous piece is definitely the Mona Lisa. There is no getting around the Louvre for anyone interested in art.
Even if you don't want to visit the museum, a detour to the Louvre is worthwhile. In the courtyard of the historic building, the glass pyramid awaits you, which is now one of the city's younger landmarks.
You can even find a small shopping center in the underground part of the Louvre.
You can explore the courtyards, the pyramid and the shopping center without a ticket or entrance fee. Only when you go to the actual museum do you need a ticket, which you should definitely buy beforehand:
Buy tickets to the Louvre
For a visit to the Louvre you will also find a detailed article with all information about the visit, tickets and highlights:
All information about visiting the Louvre
Mon-Sun: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. *
Closed on Tuesdays
Palais Royal - Musee du Louvre
from 17 €
€ 0 for EU citizens under 26 years of age
* The museum remains open until 9.45 p.m. on different days of the week. It is best to check again before your visit to see when that is exactly.
To the Louvre website
# 9 Center Pompidou
You will already notice it from the outside: the Center Pompidou is not like other museums. In short, the “innards” of the building were turned inside out.
All pipes, ventilation shafts, stairs and elevators are attached to the outside and are each color-coded. This gives the building a unique look. If you're a style breaker, it's worth a visit for that alone.
In the Center Pompidou you will find the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe. With many works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Dalí and Andy Warhol, the museum is a highlight for those interested in art.
You will also find a café on the roof with a wonderful view of the city. The roof terrace is already included in the museum ticket.
You can go up on the roof terrace without visiting the museum. Entrance to the terrace without a museum ticket costs five euros.
You can buy the ticket for the museum online in advance and save yourself time at the ticket office. You can buy tickets for entry to the roof terrace without visiting the museum for five euros on site.
Wed-Mon: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (ticket office until 8:00 p.m.)
Closed Tuesdays and May 1st
# 10 Musée d'Orsay
For those interested in art, the Musée d’Orsay is a must. The works of the great impressionists have found an absolutely worthy setting in the former station building. The building alone is a work of art in itself.
Right on the Seine, across from the Louvre, you will find the impressive collection of art from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Over 4000 exhibits in the form of paintings, sculptures, graphics, architecture and handicrafts are exhibited here.
If you would like to deal more intensively with the exhibits and the Musée d’Orsay building, I can warmly recommend the art travel guide Musée d’Orsay Art & Architecture.
You can buy tickets online for the Musée d’Orsay. You can then go directly to entrance C, which is reserved for visitors with tickets.
Unfortunately, the museum's ticket website is only available in French and English. If that's not a problem for you, just book your tickets there.
Click here for the ticket shop of the Musée d’Orsay
If you prefer not to buy the tickets in French or English, you will find a booking option in German including reserved admission for a few euros more:
Book your Musée d’Orsay day ticket in German here
Tue-Sun: 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Thursday extended until 9:45 p.m.)
Closed on Mondays.
from 12.40 €
€ 0 for EU citizens under 26 years of age
# 11 Musée du Quai Branly
My favorite museum!
Located almost next to the Eiffel Tower, you will find a very special world in the Musée du Quai Branly. The museum is entirely dedicated to non-European art and culture.
Here you will find African wooden statues, Mexican costumes from their festival of the dead and Maori works of art and of course a lot more. The whole world with all its traditions is represented here.
If you are interested in foreign cultures, you've come to the right place!
There is also a restaurant on the roof of the museum, from which you can enjoy an excellent view of the Eiffel Tower.
Note: It's often surprisingly cool at the Musée du Quai Branly, so bring something to wear.
Tue-Sun: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
(Thu, Fri and Sat until 9 p.m.)
Closed on Mondays
from 12 €
€ 0 for EU citizens under 26 years of age
# 12 Notre Dame
Danger:On April 15, 2019, a fire destroyed large parts of the famous cathedral. Viewing is currently not possible.
The famous cathedral awaits you on the island Île de la Cité, which is located in the middle of the city in the Seine. With over 800 years, Notre Dame is one of the oldest structures in the city.
As it is considered a Gothic masterpiece and because of its impressive size, you should definitely not miss Notre Dame when visiting Paris.
Entry to the interior of the cathedral is free. That is definitely one of the reasons why Notre Dame is the most visited attraction in the city.
The entrance line is daunting at times, but it moves very quickly. So don't be put off, it's worth it!
Metro station: Cité or Saint-Michel
Notre Dame bell towers
You can also visit the cathedral's bell towers for an admission fee.
422 steps lead to the top, where you can look down on the city between the gargoyles in the footsteps of the bell ringer of Notre Dame. There is no elevator and no toilets either!
If you look at the facade of Notre Dame, you will find the entrance to the towers outside, on the left side of the building.
At the entrance to the towers you will find the machines where you can obtain a ticket for a later time in the day.
If you want to climb the towers, it is best to go to this machine first when you get to Notre Dame.
If your ticket is good for an hour or two later, you can explore the interior of the cathedral in the meantime.
Of course there is also the possibility to visit the towers as part of a guided tour. During the English tour you will learn a lot about the cathedral and the historic alleys around it.
# 13 Sacré-Cœur
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica stands on the highest point of the city, in the middle of Montmartre.
You cannot overlook the cross-domed church built of white stone. It is one of the landmarks of Paris and should not be missed when visiting Montmartre.
If you stand at the foot of the stairs in front of Sacré-Cœur and don't feel like climbing the many steps to the church door, you can also take the cog railway up to the left of the stairs.
It is part of the Paris metro system and you can therefore use it with your day pass or a normal metro ticket.
Entry to the basilica is free. A bag check awaits you in front of the door.
Important: Respectful behavior is very important in the church. If you go in with a cap or something similar, you will quickly be advised to take it off. Inappropriate clothing will also not be tolerated. If you go into the basilica in hot pants that are too short, you may be asked to leave.
Opening hours: 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
The basilica is closed for the first two weeks of January. During this time, regular restoration work is carried out.
You can also visit the dome of the Sacré-Cœur, where of course a stunning view awaits you.
Outside, right in front of the entrance, you will find the entrance. There is no elevator, the dome can only be reached via the 300 steps of the stone spiral staircase.
May to September daily from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
October to April daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
In the turbo passIncludes a tour of the artists' quarter of Montmartre, including a visit to the Sacré-Cœur (without dome)
# 14 Dome of the disabled
You will always notice the golden dome of the Invalides in Paris.
Originally it was a church, but today the Invalides Cathedral serves as the final resting place for Napoleon Bonaparte. This rests in a seven-layer sarcophagus in the cathedral.
For anyone interested in history, a visit to the great general and emperor is certainly inevitable.
Most of the visitors come mainly for Napoleon. In addition, there is also the Invalidenhotel with the Army Museum, which is clearly worth a visit.
Practically: The ticket to the Invalides Cathedral is also valid for the Army Museum.
daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
La Tour - Maubourg
# 15 Panthéon
If you want to visit an exceptionally beautiful building a little off the beaten track, then the Panthéon is just right for you.
With its huge columns at the entrance, it is reminiscent of Roman antiquity or Greek architecture.
The former church is now a place of fame and memorial to the heroes and revolutionaries of France.
The Panthéon is my absolute favorite building in Paris! Inside there is an extraordinary calm and grandeur.
Foucault's pendulum hangs from the dome, with which Jean Bernard Foucault proved at the time that the earth rotates. It is difficult to explain how this works, but when you stand in front of it, you will surely immediately realize it.
Said heroes and revolutionaries are buried in the crypt of the Panthéon. There are Marie and Pierre Curie, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Louis Braille, who invented Braille, among others.
Audio guides are available at the entrance for a surcharge and I can only recommend them. The audio guide tour lasts one and a half hours. That sounds very long at first, but time actually flies!
You can find tickets for the Panthéon here
daily 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (last entry 5:15 p.m.)
Closed on Jan 1st, May 1st & Dec 25th
# 16 Sainte-Chapelle
The Sainte-Chapelle is located on the island of Île de la Cité, very close to Notre Dame. Hidden in the inner courtyard of the Palais de la Cité you will find one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in the world.
The huge, colorful windows and the whole layout inside create a very special atmosphere.
Definitely recommended for architecture and church lovers!
From the street you won't even see that you are already standing in front of it. You will find a security check and maybe a more or less long queue.
Only after the security check, when you enter the courtyard, do you suddenly find yourself in front of this Gothic beauty.
You don't need a ticket to get into this courtyard.
You only need a ticket to enter the chapel, and the easiest way to do this is to buy it online beforehand.
Tue-Sun: 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Closed on Mondays
# 17 catacombs
Not for the faint of heart: the catacombs of Paris!
Almost 250 years ago, the Parisian cemeteries were so overcrowded that the limbs of the deceased protruded from the graves, and the walls in adjacent cellars gave way under the pressure of the many bodies.
Since diseases and epidemics spread rapidly, a solution had to be found quickly. So the corpses were transferred to the disused quarries below Paris.
The bones of the dead were carefully piled up. This newly created realm of the dead was later opened to the public.
During the underground tour, your path will lead you past entire walls made of bones and skulls.
If that description didn't put you off, then a visit to the Catacombs is for you.
However, you should definitely note that it can be very cold in the catacombs even in midsummer. Even if it's 35 degrees outside, it rarely gets warmer than 15 degrees in the 20 meter deep tunnels. So take something to wear with you.
Since the catacombs are a very popular sight, you should definitely order tickets online in advance. Only a limited number of people are allowed into the depths, so there are often long waiting times.
Tue-Sun: 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Closed on Mondays
# 18 Versailles Palace
The Palace of Versailles is just outside Paris. “Versailles” is not only the pompous property of the Sun King Louis XIV, but also a typically French and very charming small town.
The castle is a huge building complex, behind which you will find the even larger castle gardens.
The gardens are free if there are no musically accompanied water games on that day.
To get into the castle, you need a ticket. The most convenient is an online ticket for Versailles and Gardens with audio guide and skip the line.
A local guide will help you with the preferred entry point. Afterwards you can explore the finale and the gardens with an audio guide at your own pace.
With the RER, the local train, you can be in Versailles in around 45 minutes. The train station is only a few meters from the castle. Make sure you take the yellow RER C with the destination Versailles Château - Rive Gauche.
You can find even more information and tips for your visit to Versailles in our detailed article:
Versailles Palace: tickets, directions and tips
Tue-Sun: 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Closed on Mondays
Versailles Château - Left Bank
In the turbo passincluded (without audio guide)
# 19 Disneyland
Disneyland isn't just an amusement park. In fact, there are two parks and the Disney Village, with restaurants, cinemas, shops and cafes. And, conveniently, there are also many hotels around these three.
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