48 Hours in Paris – 2 Day itinerary
Paris, the French capital, is often referred to as the city of love, with images of its love-locked bridges featuring the world over. It has a strong reputation for chic boutiques, classic bistros, Michelin-starred cuisine, and endless streets to explore.
Mixed among the cafes and museums, you will find an abundance of art galleries, bookshops, and retro wine bars showing it is a city with many faces – culture, love, history, and so much more. It is easy to see why people want to visit, following in the footsteps of great writers, artists, and fashionistas.
This guide is perfect for those who only have 48 Hours in Paris – A 2 Day Itinerary. We will show you what to do in Paris, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether its a weekend in Paris France or just a quick trip.
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How to get to Paris
Being so central, Paris is one of the more accessible cities to visit, with multiple flights arriving on any given day from any given location, mainly landing at Charles de Gaulle but budget airlines also fly into Orly airport.
From here, the links to the city centre are frequent and accessible to any budget, whether via taxi, Metro, or bus.
For those travelling across France or from the UK, there are several trains a day landing in the city via the Eurostar, a high-speed train connecting England to France and Belgium.
Plus, you also have TGV and SNCF trains operating across the country, with six major train stations in the capital, making Paris one of the most accessible cities in Europe.
Getting around Paris
Once in Paris, the Metro is the fastest way to travel around the city, and if you only have a few days to explore, it is one of the best ways to navigate the many sights, but with its sixteen lines, it can be confusing. Therefore, make sure to pick up a map along with a metro pass to make it both time and cost-efficient.
If, however, it is your first time in the city, you may choose to travel around on one of the many hop-on, hop-off bus services offered or via the Seine river on the Batobus service which provides multiple-day passes with the freedom to jump off at any nine significant river stops.
The best time to visit
This is a city to enjoy at any time of year. Head there in the summer months to enjoy the outdoor cafe culture or wait until the colder months in the hope of seeing the Eiffel Tower rising out of the snow.
As with most of Europe, the city is busy from May to September when it is at its warmest, so for those hoping to miss the crowds look to travel in the off-season (November to April) when all elements of the city can still be enjoyed but at a slightly less chaotic pace.
The nights will be drawing in, which means that you can see the city for all its beauty when the lights turn on, and you will be away from the months known for their oppressive heat and high prices.
Where to stay in the city
If you would like to be close to the E
iffel Tower and within walking distance of all the major attractions, the left bank of the River Seine could be the place for you. It is not the cheapest area, however, if your budget stretches for one or two days in Paris, this is the perfect choice for those wanting to see the sights Paris is famous for.
Consider either the Hotel Moliere, located within walking distance of Place Vendôme, the Louvre, the Jardin de Tuileries, and the Opera Garnier or the Hotel le Lapin Blanc which is perfect for those who enjoy themed accommodation.
The Latin Quarter is home to great wine bars, English language bookshops, and independent boutiques, it is also home to good menu formulas for those travelling on a budget, the mighty Pantheon and the Luxembourg Gardens.
Le Marais is known as the coolest, hippest district in Paris, full of boutique shops and gourmet chocolatiers while having an old Paris feel about being close to the Notre Dame Cathedral.
A stay at the Hotel de Neuve by Happyculture will mean you can also visit Marche de Enfants Rouge, the oldest cover food market in the city, as well as L’As du Fallafel, one of the best Falafel shops in all of France.
Montparnasse and Montmartre are both further out but still offer direct access to the city’s centre and often come up cheaper.
Wandering around Montmartre, you may be forgiven for feeling like you recognise many of the streets if you are an Emily in Paris fan, as it was in this area that much of the filming took place. In keeping with the area close to Moulin Rouge, Maison Souquet is decorated in a Belle Epoque style.
For those looking for cheap, budget-friendly accommodation, the Generator hostel along the Canal Saint Martin offers both dorm and private rooms. This area is up and coming, full of bohemian cafes and food stalls.
48 Hours in Paris Itinerary
With so much to do in this city, for some, even two weeks would not be long enough, but if you have just 48 hours to explore the French capital, here are some of the highlights not to be missed.
It may also be worthwhile purchasing a Paris Pass, which offers access to all the major sights of the city, a scenic Seine River Cruise, entrance to the Louvre museum, and wine tasting within the price; a great deal with tickets running for 2-6 days, helping you to plan your Paris itinerary.
Suggestions for Day 1 In Paris
The Eiffel Tower
For your first stop on your 48 hours in Paris tour, especially if you are visiting Paris for the first time, a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower is a must. Standing 330 metres tall, it is a striking monument. If you decide to climb to the top, book ahead.
Turning up on the day could see you queuing for up to 3 hours to catch the lift, which is not ideal if you have only 2 days in Paris. If you fail to book ahead, the quickest way to get to the top is via the staircase.
After enjoying the Eiffel Tower, wander along the Seine, or jump on the Batobus, towards the Musee D’Orsay. Strange as it may seem, while the Louvre is home to so much, it does not house a single painting by Van Gogh, which is why a visit to the Musee D’Orsay, once the handsome Gare d’Orsay, is worthwhile. Alongside Van Gogh, you will find works by Degas, Jules Breton, and Manet.
The Louvre Museum
In the same area, you will find perhaps the most well-known museum in all of Paris. With 380,000 works of art housed in the Louvre, it is considered by many to be the home of the most incredible collection of art on the planet.
Most people come here to see one tiny painting; however, the Mona Lisa, considered the most famous in the world, painted by Leonardo di Vinci.
With so much to see in one location, spending all day here would not cover everything, but even if you are only in Paris for a short while, you should add this to your itinerary. If you don’t make it inside, be sure to visit the area outside after dark, when the famous Pyramid lights up, turning the courtyard into a beautiful romantic setting.
The Place de Concorde
While in this area and for those interested in history, the Place de Concorde, one of the city’s main squares and at one end of the Champ Elysees, was the main site for executions and where people saw the beheading of both Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI.
Wander the Champs Elysees
Whether or not you have the money to spend in the designer shops that hug this street, taking a stroll down this extremely long thoroughfare will see you pass not only 2km worth of shop fronts but also many theatres, including Crazy Horse and the Lido, both home to world-renowned Cabaret and Burlesque shows.
The Arc de Triomphe
At the opposite end of the Champs Elysees, this monument honours all who died in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Today, you can climb to the top of the arch, 164 feet up, for fantastic views down the world-famous street and across the city.
The best time to head up is after dark when you will get 360-degree views of the city known for its lights, and if you are there as the clock strikes the hour, you will also be treated to a colourful light display from the Eiffel Tower itself.
Once you are all shopped out, head to the Sacre Coeur Basilica, perched on a hill 130 metres up in Montmartre. Contrasting with every other building in Paris and distinctive in design, this large striking white Roman-Byzantine religious structure is visually appealing even on the outside.
Therefore, regardless of your beliefs, visiting here will leave you speechless. Inside is home to an eye-catching mosaic, one of the biggest in the world, and a dome, the second highest point in the city, for those wanting to climb for views across the city. A great way to watch the sun set on your first day in the French capital.
Take a dinner cruise along the Seine River
After a day of sightseeing and museum hopping, enjoy a memorable evening of fine gourmet cuisine while slowly travelling down the river. Floating past notable landmarks, accompanied by music and wine, this is a romantic, once-in-a-lifetime experience to remember.
Suggestions for Day 2 in Paris
Montparnasse observation deck
Another, perhaps less prominent location for spectacular views across the city, the Montparnasse observation deck undeniably has the best view of Paris for anyone who wants to see the Eiffel Tower in the skyline, along with Notre Dame and the Sacre Coeur.
The Jardin du Luxembourg
Located in the 6th arrondissement, this is a 23-hectare masterpiece of flowerbeds and promenades, French and English gardens, and 106 sculptures to wander around and could be the perfect place to stop for a mid-morning coffee.
In the summer months, tourists and locals enjoy picnics on the lawn before taking in the Medici Fountain or playing a game of chess. This is a relaxing oasis in the city’s heart, free for all to enjoy.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Just like the Eiffel Tower,this Gothic Cathedral sitting at the heart of Île de la Cité, an island in the Seine, is one of the world’s most impressive buildings and should not be missed. It inspired Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, has witnessed the coronation of Napoleon I and many state funerals.
This building is the crowning galore of the city both inside and out. While in this area, also make sure to visit Sainte Chapelle, the Royal Chapel, and the Conciergerie, home to the largest Gothic Hall in Europe and where Marie Antoinette was held during the French Revolution.
Don’t forget to wander the left bank of the Seine around this area, taking in the booksellers, many of whom have been there for decades selling both new and beautiful secondhand titles.
Visit the World Famous Shakespeare and Co Bookshop
Named after Sylvia Beach’s bookstore and located close to the Île de la Cité whether you are a literature lover or a culture buff, you will want to visit the bookshop made famous by the likes of Ernst Hemingway and James Joyce.
This independent bookshop has expanded to include new and antique books, a quiet reading room upstairs, and a cafe, perfect for those who love to people-watch and enjoy a relaxing lunch.
Pompidou Art Centre
With seven museums under one roof,this is the place to spend your afternoon. The outside is just as unique as some of the treasures held inside and has been just as controversial as some of the exhibitions housed inside over the years.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery
While morbid for some, this cemetery is home to some of the most spectacular gravestones and tombs you will ever encounter. Many famous people have been interred here, including Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Jim Morrison, and Marcel Proust.
Mentioned in classical literature and appearing in both films and on TV shows, this has become a pilgrimage site for those looking to pay their respects over the years.
A night of Cabaret and Burlesque
Made famous in the 19th century, during the Belle Epoque era, a cabaret show is something worth considering when in Paris.There are many cabaret shows in the city, but the most famous is the Moulin Rouge, considered the home of the modern can-can.
The Red Windmill, situated on the Boulevard de Clichy in Montmartre, is one of the most recognised buildings in Paris and still offers nightly entertainment to tourists and locals.Even if you don’t step inside, when the striking red windmill is lit up at night, it is a sight worth seeing.
If dinner and a show aren’t for you, once you have captured the exterior, consider heading to Le Refuge des Fondues, close to Anvers metro station and still within the Montmartre area, for an evening of fondue and great wine served in baby bottles.
Things to do around Paris
The Palace of Versailles
This former splendid Royal Palace is located around 12 km from Paris and is a noted UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 17th century. The Palace of 2,300 rooms is now home to Louis XIV’s Apartments, Marie Antoinette’s private chambers, and the well-known Hall of Mirrors. There are also extensive gardens to explore and an Orangery to relax in.
The Catacombs of Paris
In the heart of Paris, this labyrinth is home to the largest underground ossuary in the world, holding the remains of millions of Parisians dating back to the 18th century. This consecrated ground has become a macabre site for those intrigued by the city’s history.
If you have more than 48 hours to explore the city and want to do more than sightseeing, a trip to Euro Disney, 32 km from the city, is possible. Disneyland Paris is a theme park full of rides and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. It is a fairytale setting where you can watch parades and shows and enjoy one of the many restaurants with some of Disney’s most loveable characters.
Recommended tours in Paris
- Eiffel Tower Skip the Line Entrance Ticket and Small Group Tour
- Versailles Bike Tour with Palace Timed Entry Ticket & Marie-Antoinette’s Domain
- Louvre Museum Paris – Exclusive Guided Tour (Reserved Entry Included!)
- Paris Montmartre walking tasting tour with Secret Food Tours
- Skip-the-Line: Paris Catacombs Tour with VIP Access to Restricted Areas
- Paris Sightseeing Guided Bike Tour Like a Parisian with a Local Guide
- Skip the Line: Versailles Palace and Gardens Day Trip from Paris by Train
- Louvre Museum Guided Tour (Reserved Entry Included!) – Semi-Private 8ppl Max
- Paris: the Amazing Segway tour (Eiffel Tower and more than 20 other points of interest)
- See 30 Plus Top Paris Sights with a Fun Guide (Walking+Metro Tour)
- Paris Moulin Rouge Cabaret Show with VIP Seating & Champagne