Paris is not only the capital and largest city in France, but has literally hundreds of places to see. A world-renowned center of art, culture, history, and heritage.
With 2 million residents in Paris proper, and up to 12 million in the surrounding metro area, modern-day Paris retains both old-world charm and new-age energy, as a hub of finance, commerce, fashion, government, and more.
Annually, around 12 million French citizens from outside the Paris region visit Paris, as do slightly more than that number of foreign visitors, for upwards of 24 million annual tourists.
It’s easy to see why – there’s so much to do, see, and experience. The sheer number of places to go in Paris, and things to see in Paris can be a bit overwhelming, and would honestly take weeks or months to fully explore.
In my guide below, I highlight some of the best places to go in Paris, that any visitor simply must experience. The beauty, the culture, art, and history available will enrich any traveler, no matter what your personal interests or tastes may be.
We’ll also look at some of the things to see in Paris, and spend a little time on some of the more unusual things to do in Paris, off the beaten path of the big landmarks and marquee vistas.
With my guide, you’ll be ready with a nearly endless list of places to visit in Paris on your travels. Bon voyage!
Places to Go in Paris and Things to See in Paris
The list of places to go in Paris, or places to visit in Paris, will naturally vary from person to person. There are many staples that are recommended for any visitor, whether it’s their first time in Paris or they are returning travelers.
Where you go beyond that will depend on your interests and how much time (and sometimes money) you have to spend while in Paris. I have tried to provide a bit of a cross-section of places to go in Paris and things to see in Paris in our list below.
There are bound to be many things of interest on the list for individuals, couples, groups, and families, whatever your particular traveling situation may be.
As always, it’s best to research and create your own itinerary, so that you can be sure to get tickets, transportation, and work out other arrangements in advance of your visit.
As a highly sought-after tourist destination, lines and access can sometimes be limited or difficult, especially at the most popular places to go in Paris.
A little advance planning can also help you save money, as many museums and other locations have reduced fee days (that are of course more crowded) and discounts available for the frugal traveler.
Without further ado, let’s look at some of the best places to visit in Paris!
- The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris, and pretty much a “can’t miss” when you’re visiting the city.
- Strolling down the famed Champs-Elysees is also a stereotypical touristy thing to do, but it’s also beautiful and really quintessentially Parisian.
- There are numerous cathedrals and churches in Paris that are not only examples of ancient architecture, but also active houses of worship. The recent fire at Notre Dame Cathedral may have put it out of reach for some time, but there are other places to go in Paris, including the Pantheon, Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre, and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
- The Eiffel Tower is perhaps the most towering (pardon the pun) landmark over the city, and one of the most frequently cited destinations for places to go in Paris on your trip.
- Likewise, the Louvre Museum, with its priceless collection of art from all around the world is surely worthy of at least a day of your trip in Paris, and another of those “can’t miss” places to visit in Paris.
- The Pompidou Center is home to the Public Information Library, as well as the National Museum of Modern Art, along with other facilities.
- The famed Moulin Rouge cabaret is also high on the list of places to visit in Paris for adults and couples.
- Paris has some spectacular gardens spread throughout the city. Some of the most popular include Luxembourg Gardens and the Jardin de Tuileries.
- For families, Disneyland Paris is a no-brainer on the list of best places to visit in Paris.
- The Palace of Versailles, Museum of Natural History, Catacombs of Paris, Musee d’Orsay, City of Science and Industry, and the banks of Seine (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) are also popular places to go in Paris.
- Operas, ballets, symphonies, and theaters are also numerous among the things to see in Paris – whatever your personal preferences may be, there are likely numerous performing arts centers catering to those tastes.
- French cuisine is legendary the world over, and there’s no better place to experience it than while in Paris, at one of the many restaurants and eateries throughout the city.
Some Unusual Things to Do in Paris
Now that we’ve covered some of the most common places to go and things to see in Paris, let’s take a look at some of the more unusual or offbeat attractions.
- Check out one of the unusual and lesser-known museums in the city. The Counterfeit Museum is an excellent choice, or perhaps you’d enjoy the Paris Sewer Museum? These unusual destinations often cost far less for admission than their more big-name counterparts, too – great for something different or travelling on a budget.
- Paris is home to numerous odd and unusual shops, selling all kinds of one-of-a-kind and off-beat items. From taxidermy to butterflies, books to trinkets, there are neat little shops tucked throughout the city.
- There are all kinds of events and festivals that take place throughout the year in Paris. Many represent the ethnic festivals of ex-pat communities living in Paris. You can get a taste of exotic Asian countries and Latin countries at some of their festivals, all without leaving Paris.
- Visiting a cemetery may be quite unusual for a vacation destination, but that’s what this part of our list is all about. The Pere Lachaise Cemetery is home to many famous graves, including those of Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, composer Frederic Chopin, writer Victor Hugo, actress Sarah Bernhardt, musician Jim Morrison, singer Edith Piaf, and many others. It’s not a typical cemetery, either, with well-manicured vegetation, winding paths, flowers, and some ancient and modern tombs alike.
- Why not make your Paris trip a memorable one with a hot air balloon ride? At Parc Andre-Citron, the largest hot air balloon in the world is tethered, giving you a bird’s eye view of all of surrounding Paris.
These can be a great counterpoint to the more tourist-heavy and typical destinations, or new discoveries for those who have visited Paris multiple times.