5 Days in Paris Itinerary
You’ll have very little trouble filling a 5-day Paris itinerary, thanks to the City of Love’s swoonsome selection of bucket-list landmarks, must-see museums, gorgeous galleries and romantic river walks. And that’s just for starters! Dive in for our suggestions on how to spend five days in Paris, including:
- The Eiffel Tower
- The Louvre
- Père Lachaise Cemetery
- The Marais
- Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
- The Picasso Museum
- … and much more!
Day 1: Tick Off a Big-Hitter or Two
The Eiffel Tower is hands-down the most famous monument on the planet, so it makes sense to make a beeline for it on your first day in Paris. There are stacks of ways to see this wrought-iron masterpiece of Victorian latticework: you can queue for the elevator to the top, or if you fancy braving the queues (and the climb), you can walk up 674 stairs to the viewing platform on the second floor. If, however, you’d prefer to dodge the crowds and just enjoy the views of this architectural marvel, hit up the Montparnasse Tower – Paris’s only skyscraper – for some of the best in town. You can also catch a glimpse of the Iron Lady at her best from the Jardins du Trocadéro just across the Seine, or from the steps of the glorious Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre.
And, now that you’re in Montmartre, you might as well stick around for the afternoon. Sure, it’s all gone a bit ‘Paris theme park’ up here at the highest point in the city, but that’s all part of the fun. Wander the atmospheric cobbled lanes and scratch your selfie itch in front of the famous red neon sails of the Moulin Rouge windmill, by the Wall of Love and outside (or indeed inside) the café featured in the movie Amélie. Heck, you can even have your best facial features mocked, distorted and exaggerated in perpetuity, thanks to the caricature artists on the picture-postcard Place du Tertre. Now that's what we call a souvenir!
Day 2: A Spot of Culture
City of Love, City of Light, City of Culture… Paris is home to some of the finest galleries and museums on the planet, and no mistake. Be sure to see at least one of ‘the big two’ (i.e. the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay) while you’re here. Can’t decide whether to tick the Mona Lisa or van Gogh’s equally enigmatic Self Portrait off your bucket list? Check out our guide to the best (and worst) of these Paris sightseeing titans here.
Feeling suitably cultured, amble over to the Marais for a decidedly lazy déjeuner before exploring this charming district’s maze of cobbled lanes that lead to enchanting garden squares and oh-so-tempting pâtisseries. Pause at Paris’s oldest planned square, the Place des Vosges, where formal gardens flanked by 17th-century townhouses and atmospheric arcades provide a lovely location to just stop and watch the world go by. If you’re not already all cultured out, hit up the nearby Picasso Museum to ogle thousands of pieces – paintings, sculptures, illustrations, engravings – from one of the all-time greats. Pro-tip: the Picasso gift shop, just next door, boasts some of the coolest souvenirs in town.
Day 3: Picnic and a Walk
Whaddya mean you’re halfway through your 5-day Paris itinerary and you haven’t experienced the sensory joy of a street market yet? Well, now’s the time to rectify that. Make a beeline for one of these foodie meccas – Marché Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement, Marché Raspail in the 6th, and Marché des Enfants Rouge in the Marais are among the very best – and stock up on still-warm baguettes, pungent cheeses, glorious local charcuterie and, heck, maybe even a bottle of fine Bordeaux for a gratuitously decadent pique-nique in the park. Jardin des Tuileries by the Louvre is the vibe if it’s formal gardens, tranquil lakes and sculptures by Mailliol and Rodin that float your boat. Or bag a few #humblebrag snaps as you tuck in on the manicured lawns of the Champs de Mars, where the Eiffel Tower provides that essential picnic-selfie backdrop.
If you want to make a whole day of it, you could do worse than the wooded valleys, secluded hills and colonnaded Temple de la Sybille of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont on the edge of town. Then there’s the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, the city’s largest public parks, which promise relative seclusion and room to roam (and picnic) amid botanical gardens, grottoes, chateaux, boating lakes and more. Heck, you could even consider finding a suitable lunch spot among the permanent residents of Père Lachaise, Paris’s biggest cemetery. This atmospheric stretch of parkland is chock-full of ornate headstones and gothic tombs, including such luminaries of the entertainment world as Oscar Wilde, Édith Piaf, Chopin, and Jim Morrison of The Doors. There’s a great guided tour you can take while you’re there, too!
Day 4: Shop Til You Drop
There are plenty of ways to lighten your wallet in Paris. Why not spend day four of your trip doing precisely that? Bonus: because Paris is so achingly pretty, you can effortlessly combine it with a little sightseeing and a lot of café culture. Hit up the iconic Galeries Lafayette Haussmann where the ornamental galleries and soaring atrium topped by a huuuuge steel-and-glass cupola vie with 65,000 square meters of prime retail space as the star attraction.
You could easily spend a whole day in here, but that would be to overlook Paris’s equally charming 19th-century shopping arcades. These atmospheric throwbacks to a more gentile era are all stained-glass ceilings, old-school wood-fronted stores and intricate mosaic tiling. Some even have iron-and-glass domes and canopies, pure masterclasses of Victorian architecture and engineering. There are around 20 to explore across the city, each promising hip boutiques, antique emporia, old-school watchmakers, jewelers and bookstores, as well as any number of tempting beautiful bistros and cute cafés from which to take it all in over espresso and croissants.
Day 5: Bonus Bucket-Listers
You want your last day in Paris to be as special as the first, am I right? With that in mind, consider the big-ticket items you’ve missed and whether now’s the time to fit them in. Didn’t go to Musée d’Orsay on day 2? Now’s your chance. Been lured Quasimodo-style by the bells of Notre-Dame Cathedral? Get yourself down to Île de la Cité, the tiny island in the middle of the Seine that’s also home to the remarkable Conciergerie and medieval Sainte-Chapelle, as well as a must-visit flower (and sometime bird) market.
Or you could meander around the storied lanes of the Latin Quarter, following in the footsteps of such legendary wordsmiths as Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway. This left bank enclave still exudes literary cool, thanks to hip cafés with book-lined shelves, the unmissable Shakespeare and Company Bookshop, and the army of Bouquinistes (open-air booksellers) that line the banks of the Seine. Or just soak it all in (and much more besides) on a relaxing sightseeing cruise that takes in the Pont Neuf, Jardin des Tuileries, Louvre and Grand Palais.