We all know there are a ton of things to do in Paris. After all, it is one of Europe’s top travel destinations.
Whether you’re into shopping, art, history, architecture, music, religion, fine dining or something else, chances are high you’ll find plenty to do.
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Table of contents
- Rent a bike
- See a ballet
- Go to a cabaret show
- Visit the Shakespeare and Company bookstore
- Stroll through the cemeteries
- Tour the Catacombs
- Pay your respects at the Panthéon
- Browse the elaborate churches
- Shop the Christmas markets
- Ride the ferris wheel
- Run around Disneyland in Paris
- Taste all the Parisian food and wine
- Learn to cook French food
- Visit the best museums in Paris
- Explore Parisian neighborhoods
- See Paris on a Hop on Hop off bus
- Take a walking tour of Paris
- Visit palaces and châteaus in France
- Hang out in the best parks in Paris
- Schedule a photo shoot
- Go on a scavenger hunt
- Cruise along the Seine River
- Go shopping in Paris
- Hunt for street art
- Listen to live music
- Seek out the best views of Paris
- Embark on a day trip
- What are your favorite things to do in Paris?
Rent a bike
Explore the city via bicycle using its bike rental service, Vélib’.
Vélib’ offers 1-day and 7-day rental passes and 3 monthly subscription options, with over 1,200 locations around the city.
See a ballet
See the world-renowned Paris Opéra Ballet in its home city. They perform classic and original pieces, with a new repertoire of ballets each year.
Go to a cabaret show
Enjoy dinner and drinks while taking in a Parisian cabaret performance.
Visit the Shakespeare and Company bookstore
Open since 1951, Shakespeare & Company is an English language bookshop known for letting up-and-coming artists, writers and thinkers sleep in its store.
In exchange for this setup, they must work a few hours a day at the shop, read a book, and write 1 page about themselves.
Many who have stayed or frequented Shakespeare & Company are well-known today, such as Ethan Hawke, Allen Ginsberg, Geoffrey Rush, and Kate Grenville.
Stroll through the cemeteries
Speaking of cemeteries, Paris has some hauntingly beautiful cemeteries, many of which are worth an afternoon stroll.
Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris and perhaps its most famous.
A number of famous people are buried there, such as Frédéric Chopin, Jim Morrison, and Oscar Wilde.
Tour the Catacombs
The Catacombs of Paris, known as the World’s Largest Grave, is an underground tunnel lined with the bones of more than 6 million people.
It may sound like the hideout of a serial killer, but the Catacombs was actually born out of necessity in the late 1700s.
Cemeteries were too full and mass graves were causing damage to the buildings next to them. Remains were moved to empty mines to help reinforce them so that they did not collapse.
Pay your respects at the Panthéon
The Panthéon is a mausoleum where many famous French citizens are buried, such as Voltaire, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Marie Curie.
Browse the elaborate churches
The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is one of the world’s most well-known churches.
The main area of the Notre-Dame is free to visit, but be ready to wait in line, even during the low crowd seasons.
Shop the Christmas markets
If you visit during the months surrounding the Winter holidays, you’ll likely find outdoor Christmas markets around the city.
Even the famed Avenue des Champs-Élysées gets in on the fun, hosting a large Christmas market with tons of fair-type food, mulled wine, gifts, ornaments and plenty of entertainment.
When I visited the city of Love in January 2017, I visited the Christmas market on Avenue des Champs-Élysées twice.
One of the more interesting finds at this market was a cheesy ride with a zombie theme à la Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Ride the ferris wheel
The Roue de Paris ferris wheel is a temporary fixture. It originally popped up in 2000 to celebrate the new millennium.
The past few years it has popped up nearby the entrance to the Christmas Market on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées during the Winter holidays.
The ferris wheel is popular with tourists, but allegedly not so much with residents.
So if it happens to be there when you visit, take a ride because it might be gone soon!
Run around Disneyland in Paris
Yes, you read that right! There is a Disneyland just outside the city limits. It features 2 parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios.
If you prefer a shorter commute to the parks, Disneyland Paris offers 7 hotels and also has a partnership with 8 more.
If you’re a Disney fan or traveling with kids, I recommend adding Disneyland Paris to your list of things to do.
Taste all the Parisian food and wine
Paris is chock full of fine dining and delicious bakeries, as well as some of the best wine you’ll ever taste.
You’re sorely missing out if you rush your meals or only eat fast food.
Make time for at least 1 fancy meal, attend a French wine tasting, savor the buttery, flaky croissants at breakfast and definitely make a few pit stops for macarons or other baked goods.
Learn to cook French food
If you enjoy trying new food or consider yourself a fine dining connoisseur, set aside time for a French baking or cooking class.
Whether it be a full meal or learning to bake macarons, you’re sure to learn from the best!
Visit the best museums in Paris
There are over 100 museums in Paris, so you’ll definitely find at least 1 that piques your interest.
I love to visit art art history museums, so I had no problem finding a handful to see on my last visit.
The Louvre is Paris’ largest and oldest museum and it’s also perhaps the world’s most famous art museum.
The Louvre is gigantic and impossible to see all of its collections in a single day, but it is home to some of the most well-known artwork, such as the Mona Lisa.
Palais Galliera, also known as Musée de la Mode, is a must for all fashionistas. It features a rotating set of fashion exhibition.
Nothing at the Palais Galliera is permanent, which means chances are high you’ll have a completely new experience each time you visit!
Musée de l’Armée is a fascinating look at the history of the French military, as well as wars and conflict around the world.
Explore Parisian neighborhoods
Spend a day exploring one of Paris’ unique neighborhoods, such as artsy Montmarte, historic Le Marais, or shopping paradise Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
If you’re after a more leisurely vacation, definitely add this to your list of the things to do.
See Paris on a Hop on Hop off bus
As cheesy as the touristy hop-on-hop-off buses are, they are often a great way to get a sense of a city’s layout.
If you choose to do one of these tours, I recommend doing them on your first day for this very reason.
After a hop-on hop-off tour, you’ll know where you might want to spend more time exploring.
Plus, you might even find a neighborhood you weren’t planning to visit and you’ll be able to hop off to do so.
Take a walking tour of Paris
Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours aren’t the only way to see the Paris!
Walking tours are one of my favorite things to do in Paris because they allow you to get a more intimate and informed view of select areas.
Localers offers a variety of walking tours, all led by Parisian experts.
I did a World War II walking tour through Localers. It was a fascinating and informative tour that focused on what life was like in Paris during World War II, especially for the Jewish population.
For more fun tour ideas, check out my post about the best tours in Paris.
Visit palaces and châteaus in France
Many of France’s historic royal palaces still stand today, many of which are converted to museums. Château de Versailles can be done in a day, but is best done over at least 2.
The Paris Museum Pass offers entry into more than a dozen, including Château de Fontainebleau, Conciergerie, Château de Chantilly, and The Louvre.
Hang out in the best parks in Paris
Paris may be a city, but it is still full of lovely parks and gardens throughout.
Visit in the morning for quiet solitude among beautiful scenery, have a picnic lunch or simply take a stroll.
Champ de Mars, along the Eiffel Tower, Jardin du Luxembourg, outside the Luxembourg Palace, and Jardin du Tulleries, along the Louvre, are among the most popular options for visitors and residents.
Schedule a photo shoot
Make like a French model and get your picture taken by a professional in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Flytographer is an established business that offers such a service (and not just in Paris!). Flytographer can help coordinate a photo shoot or book a photographer follow you as you explore the city for more candid shots.
A Parisian photo shoot is at the top of my list of things to do in Paris on a return trip.
Go on a scavenger hunt
THATMuse offers scavenger hunts at The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Les Marais, and the Latin Quarter.
THATMuse is a great way to learn more about the museums or neighborhoods and makes a great activity for group travelers.
Cruise along the Seine River
Take in Paris’ beautiful sites on a leisurely cruise through the Seine River.
There are a number of tour operators offering cruises on the Seine, but Bateaux Parisiens stands out due to its open-air rooftop seating, as well as its dinner cruise option.
On my last trip to Paris, I did an evening river cruise with Beateaux Parisiens on my first night and it was a great way to get an idea of where I wanted to go the rest of my trip.
Go shopping in Paris
Stroll along Avenue des Champs-Élysées for a mix of high-end and affordable fashion.
Visit Les Halles if you prefer a mall-like experience. Comb for antiques and vintage items at one of Paris’ flea markets.
Hunt for street art
Paris is known for its historic buildings and architecture, but you can also find some pretty sick street art, too!
Street art tours are one of those things to do in Paris that you can do on repeat visits and have a completely different experience than the last time!
Listen to live music
From Opera and the Philharmonic to Rock, Jazz, and Hip Hop, Paris is full of venues featuring performances of many musical genres.
Catch a popular artist at one of Paris’ stadiums, experience a classic Opera performance, or perhaps visit during one of Paris’ several Jazz festivals.
Another option for music lovers would be crate digging at a record store, such as Lucky Records, which specializes in Madonna collectibles.
Seek out the best views of Paris
There are a handful of places in Paris where you can catch absolutely amazing views of the city.
The Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Montparnasse Tower, and Sacre-Couer Basilica are 4 amazing spots to get a bird’s-eye view in Paris.
Embark on a day trip
Paris isn’t the only happening place in France. I highly recommend setting aside at least 1 day to take a day trip outside the city.
For more ideas on where to go on a day trip, check out my post on this very topic!
What are your favorite things to do in Paris?
This post was originally published in February 2017. It was most recently updated on March 12, 2019.