What to Do and See in 48 Hours in Paris - Itinerary

A city of ancient art and a great place to travel, Paris has one of the oldest and the most enriched history and a beautiful culture. Once you start composing your own list of things to do in Paris, you are going to notice one thing. Namely, you will only have a limited amount of time and a lot of things that need to be done. But that's okay!

That just means you won't spend a dull moment in Paris. And with a bit of good planning and organization, you will be able to find enough time for all the items from our list. Also known as the city of light, Paris is undoubtedly one of the world's cultural centers and one of the most visited cities in the world. We do not doubt that, once you see the City of Light, you will want to return.

If you are thinking of what more there is in store for you, Paris plays a host to many festivals throughout the year and in case you are short of time, it's one of our most sincere travel tips that you take the time to visit them.

But Paris is much more than just impressive architecture and incredible people. It's a unique feeling and atmosphere that can be felt only when walking down the Parisian streets. And, try walking as much as you can. A lot of the charm you’ll find in Paris has much more to do with things that are not tourist traps/destinations.

Cafes, shopping in the Marais and cultural treasures at every street corner - Paris never goes out of style. It also kept many world events - did you know that one of the world's largest marathon held here? Paris hosts around 50,000 runners who Champs Elysees, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

The capital city, along the Seine River, is among the most visited tourist destinations in the world. Lovestruck couples, fashionistas, master chefs, history buffs, and artists from all over the world throng this metropolis in all seasons. It has the Eiffel Tower, Disneyland, Pantheon, and landscaped gardens, museums, and churches.

The city has many attractions, which include the Palace of Versailles, Champs-Elysees, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre museum. In the art galleries here, one gets to see famous works of legends like Leonarda Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Monet, Pissarro, etc.

things to do in paris

The next time you visit Paris, keep these best things to do in Paris in mind.

A lot of people fall in love with this Parisian landmark that they decide to make Paris their permanent home. And if you are preparing for your move to Europe from America, from South Asia to France or really any other location, it will certainly help to know that you will be moving to a place that has left many an artist impressed and stunned.

The city can be covered on foot, just wear some comfortable shoes and that’ll be it. Every corner is beautiful and Instagrammable in Paris. However, the city is very well connected with public transportation. M6 is one of the metro lines that goes above the ground and has a magnificent view of the tower. You could buy a day pass or a weekly pass and has unlimited trips for bus, train, metro and trams.

When passing the gates, pass the luggage BEFORE you or the door will close on it. Parisians get easily bored with slow people. If you don’t know where you’re going, step aside and let them pass. Parisians spend 1 or 2 hours commuting per day and they don’t like it: they’re not rude, they’re in pain. Most people in Paris are super nice (except during commuting time of course). Smile, say Bonjour monsieur, Merci and Au revoir, you’ll see a change on their face.

Don’t buy tickets from random people, it’s a scam. Tickets are bought in legit booths and vending machines.

Keep your phone and wallet in your inner pockets and your bag safe and closed. Pickpockets are here and they don’t aim at locals, they’re here for you! Paris has one of the most dense metro network, which means most of the time, it’s faster and more enjoyable to walk from 1 place to another than using public transport. Because of that, don’t rush on a daily pass: they’re expensive and if you will most likely pay more than a few tickets per day.

Are you in Paris for the first time and want have a great memory of your first encounter with the Old Lady? Don’t get out of the metro station Bir-Hakeim - Tour Eiffel. Instead, stop at Trocadero (line 6 and 9). You will have a stunning view of the tower and the city, a nice walk through a park and across the Seine. But remember that for Parisians, they are places to avoid absolutely. Prices are crazy high, there is no good place to eat or have a drink. So if you want to see the authentic Paris, run away from there!

BUSES! use buses! they go fast (too fast, hang on!), and you get to see the city.

Check for the last metro at night. After that, taxis are impossible to catch, Uber get really expensive and night buses are full of drunk people. If you arrive from Roissy Charles De Gaulle airport, you will probably take the train RER B. The train will go through the saddest, poorest suburbs and your first stop will be Gare du Nord, which is sad and dirty as well. So, brace yourself, don’t stop there for too long and enjoy the rest of the city!

The weekly pass is valid from Monday till Sunday. If you’re arriving via flight, you can buy your pass at the CDG airport itself and take the train to get to the city. It makes more sense because a one way ticket from the airport to the city can cost you around 10 euros, while the weekly pass costs 25 euros for the whole week. Alternatively, you can also buy a bunch of 10 tickets as a book.

Tombstone tourism is big in Paris. Only the cemeteries itself is incredibly beautiful, and many famous musicians are buried here. You will find, for example the singer Edith Piaf and rock star Jim Morisson in the Pere Lachaise cemetery. Among the things to do in Paris with teenagers, Disneyland Paris is one of the best amusement parks to visit in Europe. End the day at Disneyland Paris that has a lot of attractions and is an incredible experience.

Book your tickets directly on the website to get cheaper tickets for weekdays. They have mini/magic packs. It has two parks: Disneyland and Walt Disney studios. You can get three fast passes per park or 1 per 2 hours to skip the queue, so use it wisely.

There are really only two options if you only have 48 hours in Paris. Tick the must-see boxes, or try to capture as much of the “real”, authentic atmosphere of a city as possible in so little time.

Day 1

8:00

Traditional French Breakfast in a café at Place du Trocadéro, where you can enjoy a gorgeous Eiffel Tower view. Eat well - we’ll skip the déjeuner (lunch meal).

9:00

Take the subway Line 6 (bound to “Nation”) until you reach “Montparnasse-Bienvenüe”. This is an aerial subway, the views are magnificient, so make sure you sit near the windows. Exit the station, look for the Montparnasse Tower, and buy your tickets to the observation platform: from there, you will have the best view over the city you can possibly get, and it will help you locate the main landmarks.

10:15

Go back to the subway, look for Line 4. Take the train bound to “Porte de Clignancourt”, from “Montparnasse-Bienvenüe” to “Cité”.

10:45

You are on Île de la Cité, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Paris. Explore the small island: look for Notre-Dame, the Sainte-Chapelle, and do not forget to relax on the bank of the Seine river.

12:00

Take the subway again. Line 4 bound to “Porte de Clignancourt”. Exit à Châtelet, then transfer to Line 1 bound to “La Défense”. Get in at “Châtelet” and get off at “Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile”.

12:30

Walk down the Champs-Elysées until you reach the “Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées”. Great shopping place, and you can then observe a gorgeous Beaux-Arts style expo center, the Grand and Petit Palais. From there, take subway line 1 from “Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau” to “Concorde”.

13:30

Place de la Concorde. Wonderful. Take a look to the South: yes, this is the National Assembly. You’ll see a park looking East: this is the Parc des Tuileries. Enter it, and look around, and walk Eastwards until you reach the Louvre Pyramid.

14:30

Let’s face it, you won’t have time to visit the world’s largest museum. If you find the entrance, you can walk in and observe a few statues for free, that’ll do. Exit the museum, cross the Rue de Rivoli and go North through the Palais Royal gardens. Let’s just have a little pause there.

15:45

Do you have access to Google Maps? Then head to Passage Choiseul, quickly go through and find Métro Quatre-Septembre (typical Art Nouveau subway entrance). Have a glance at the office buildings along Rue du Quatre Septembre, they’re gorgeous.

16:45

Heading Westwards on Rue du Quatre-Septembre to the Opéra building - a Parisian architectural jewel.

17:00

From the Opéra to Galeries Lafayette (about 5 to 10mn walking). Last chance to buy stuff. And take a close look at the impressive Belle Epoque hallway in the main building (Women/Femmes building). You can have a few macarons and other classy French snacks at Lafayette Gourmet.

18:00

About 100 meters North is Métro Notre-Dame-de-Lorette (line 12). Take it to Abesses (“Front-Populaire”-bound).

18:30

Arriving at Abesses. This is Montmartre. Take the trolley or walk to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. The view is gorgeous.

19:45

Go down the Montmartre Hill and look for subway Line 2 “Anvers”. Take the train bound to “Nation”, from Anvers to Belleville. Again an aerial train, the view is nice. Transfer at “Belleville” and take Métro Line 11 bound to Châtelet. Get off at Châtelet.

20:15

Open Google Maps and head to the restaurant “L’Escargot” located on Rue de Montorgueil. On the way to the restaurant, make sure you have a glance at the Tour du Châtelet, the Hôtel de Ville de Paris (city hall) and the Pompidou Center, which are all major landmarks and located a few minutes by foot to each other.

21:00

Arriving at the restaurant (make sure you have a reservation), do not forget to take a look at the Rue de Montorgueil, which is fully pedestrian. “L’Escargot” is a mid-range restaurant serving typical dishes from every region of France, including snails, in a typical Second Empire décor. Enjoy!

Day 2

8:30

Start with a coffee to go at Gare Saint-Lazare, one of the busiest suburban train station in world (and the busiest in Europe). Gare Saint-Lazare is always super busy and it is full of shops and small food venues.

9:00

Walk past the Opéra building (10mn), then turn left on to Rue du Quatre-Septembre. This is the heart of the historical financial district. Observe junior bankers smoking their first cigarette of the day and businesswomen rushing into office. Walk until you reach the Bourse building (stock exchange, you cannot miss it).

Do not hesitate to make a little detour to Réaumur-Sébastopol, or even to the iconic Saint-Eugène-Sainte-Cécile church - in other words, explore this very businessy neighbourhood. Rue Réaumur and Rue du Quatre Septembre are full of iconic office buildings.

10:15

Go back to Bourse, turn South until you reach Place des Victoires and its Statue of Louis XIV. From there, you can go to the corner of Rue Montmartre and Rue Etienne-Marcel. There is a pretty cool neighbourhood with plenty of trendy shops. Kiliwatch is one of them.

11:45

Once you are done exploring, walk West until you reach Le Marais. Le Marais is the Jewish/Gay/Super-Posh/Historical neighbourhood located between Rue de Rivoli, Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Rue des Archives and Rue Pavée (very roughly). Take time to have a pre-lunch drink, explore the shops and art galleries, and have lunch! Plenty of cool Jewish restaurants.

13:30

It is time for a small digestive walk, in the purest French tradition. Head to the Bastille Place (and do not forget to pass through the Place des Vosges and its art galleries going there). Where you are at Bastille, walk down Rue de Lyon until you reach the entrance of the Coulée Verte.

Coulée Verte is an aerial park using the delineation of a former suburban railway. Parisians love it. You can walk the Coulée Verte up until you reach the subway station “Bel Air” (Line 6). Sometimes at weekends it is pretty packed with joggers, beware.

15:00

At Bel Air, take Line 6 train bound to Charles de Gaulle—Etoile and stop at Place d’Italie.

15:15

From Place d’Italie, walk down Avenue de Choisy and then Avenue d’Ivry. This is Paris’ largest Chinatown, but also many Vietnamese venues. Perfect place for a little refreshment. Why not a bubble tea?

16:00

Butte aux Cailles is as typically Parisian (not in the touristy sense) as you can get. Head west till you reach Rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles (about 10–15mn walk from Chinatown South End). Also, do not miss out the English-style aligned small houses, which the neighbourhood is famous for.

16:45

Head to Parc Montsouris, which is located right at the administrative limit between Paris and what is technically the suburbs. Why Parc Montsouris? Because it is cute, relaxing, beautiful, and most importantly, not touristic at all.

17:45

Time for serious business. Let’s got have a beer in Strasbourg-Saint-Denis. Take the northern exit from the park on to Avenue René-Coty, then turn left on to Rue d’Alésia. Go on until you reach the Gaumont Movie Theaters / Avenue du Général Leclerc (this is a nice 10 minutes walk). At the corner of Rue d’Alésia and Avenue du Général-Leclerc, there is Métro Line 4 “Alésia”. Take the Northbound train to Porte de Clignancourt and stop at Strasbourg—Saint-Denis.

18:30

Strasbourg-Saint-Denis. Exit at Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis. This is a mix of sketchy/punky/gentryfied atmospheres. A mix of cheap beers, halal butchers, methheads, vegan supermarkets and €25-a-drink cocktail bars. It all depends on what you like.

Cheap French café: Le Sully.
Expensive/cool/pretentious cocktails: Le Syndicat.
Laid back beer bar: Le Château d’Eau. Le Château d’Eau is a synonym for cheap happy hours in a cool environment.
Also: free Couscous at Weekends with you beer at Le Tribal Café.

19:45

Time to eat. Take Metro Line 4 at “Château d’Eau”. Northbound train to “Porte de Clignancourt”, stop at “Gare du Nord”. Exit the station and look for Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis (again): you’re in Little India. My favourite, cheap venue is Muniyandy Vilas, located near 207 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis.

Alternatively: if you do not like Indian food, skip this and go directly to the next step. You can also stop at Barbès—Rochechouart instead of Pigalle. Le Barbès is a nice brasserie which serves traditional food and nice wines, it also has got a cool patio. You can even push it further into the 17th arrondissement to Le bouillon Pigalle. Communities from India and Sri Lanka live around Gare du Nord.

20:45

Take Métro Line 2 at La Chapelle, train bound to Dauphine. Exit at Pigalle or Place Clichy. This is a very nice nightlife neighboorhood with bars and theatres. Many cool and typically parisians bars along Rue Condorcet (Le Sans-Soucis, Le Dunkerque, Le Mansart, etc.) and around the Place Clichy, going north (L’Entracte, etc.). It can get a little crowded at peak hour.

00:00

You will find a nightclub that fits your needs. Paris is a large metropolis and it has everything you can imagine. Just ask your bar neighbours - you are at the right place, because Pigalle is a place filled with people who go out and who know where to go. They’ll give you good, insider advice.

Just remember Hello is Bonjour, and Do you speak English is Parlez-vous anglais?. Two magical phrases and any Parisian will be happy to help.

Also, you do not have to tip in restaurants. Most Parisians do not tip, and they feel generous when they leave 1–2 euros per person if they liked what they got (in mid-range restaurants, more in upscale restaurants, but only if you have something to be grateful for). In Paris, a waiter will not check on you every five minutes, because it is considered annoying.

You have to call your waiter if you want something specific after he has taken orders. Likewise, you have to request the bill; it is considered somewhat rude to bring it unsolicited (again, this is true of mid-range restaurants).

Finally, remember that Paris is a major, global city with a metro area of about 12 millions people. This is no Disneyland, so while you should not feel scared anywhere (Paris certainly is not a dangerous city), be cautious and keep an eye on your belongings at all times (like the lady in the Métro will remind you about 15 times a day).

There are so many things to do in Paris that you won't have a dull minute

Last but not the least, the French pastries are one of the best. The macrons, croissants and those cheese cakes are to die for. Definitely try them when you’re here.

It would truly be a shame to miss any of them considering the fact that they are what make Paris one of the most amazing cities in the world. Finally, just have fun! It's not every day that you get to be in Paris, so you use every second of it. We know we would if we were you! The city is beautiful and has so much to offer during every season of the year. Make the best out of your stay!

Au revoir!
Kalyan Panja