How to spend 48 hours in Paris | Best activities & things to do

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48 hours in Paris is a perfect time to get a flavour of the French capital How does one spend a weekend in the most stylish and romantic city in Europe though?

What are the best things to do in Paris though? Paris is full of iconic landmarks, historical architecture, cosmopolitan cafes and boho streets.

There’s so much to do that planning 2 days in Paris can seem frankly overwhelming.

Luckily I have created a guide to 48 hours in Paris, to help you make the most out of your next weekend break there.

How to spend 48 hours in Paris

2 days in Paris

2 days in Paris is an ideal length of time for a Paris weekend break. It should give you enough time to see some of the major Paris attractions as well as a few off-beat places in Paris.

My bumper Paris itinerary is full of everything you need for the perfect 2-day visit to Paris.

Whilst it wouldn’t be possible to do all the activities listed in this guide, I’ve included a wide selection of things to do in Paris, so that you can pick and choose what you would like to do.

I’ve included rough times for activities so that you can tailor your own Paris city break itinerary.

We talk more about travel planning on my weekly travel podcast – Travel Goals. If you love listening to travel podcasts, then make sure to subscribe to the Travel Goals podcast.

You’ll learn what’s new in the travel industry on this show. There’s also travel hacks, destination inspiration and stories of travel adventures from around the world.

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View Paris from the the Montparnasse observation deck

Enjoy a panoramic view of Paris from the Montparnasse observation deck.

Located in the Montparnasse Tower, the observation deck offers stunning views of Paris from a dizzying height of over 200m. You also have spectacular 360° views of the French capital.

You can even see the Eiffel Tower from the Tour Montparnasse, which is an incredible sight, especially at night.

View Paris from above with their two viewing levels, the 56th floor and the open-air panoramic terrace.

Both viewing levels offer amazing Paris skyline photo opportunities, so you can have the most enviable Instagrams around.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

Montparnasse observation deck tickets

There is also a bar on the 56th floor, meaning you can sip a glass of fizz as the sun goes down. One does not simply view Paris from above without a glass of champagne darling.

It’s definitely one of the best places to see Paris at night for sure. I would recommend buying your Montparnasse observation deck tickets in advance online.

This is because it is a popular experience and you want to make sure you secure your tickets. You’ll need around 1 hour at the Montparnasse observation deck.

Explore Canal Saint-Martin area

Head to northeast Paris to discover the delightful boho area of Canal Saint-Martin.

This area has iron footbridges crossing over the waterways, an 1885 hydraulic lift bridge and splashes of street art, making it a funky little area to mooch about in.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

Canal Saint-Martin neighbourhood

Simply walking around the Canal Saint-Martin area and taking in the sights is a great way to keep costs down in Paris. Perfect if you are trying to have a weekend in Paris on a budget.

Here, chic Parisians will sip coffee outside achingly hip boulangeries, you will also find thrift stores, market stalls selling fresh fruit and veg and impromptu picnics in Canal Saint-Martin.

You could spend a whole day here hunting down fashionable boutiques, street art, cool cafes and Instagrammable spots in what has become one of the most fashionable areas of the city.

I would recommend spending 2-3 hours exploring Canal Saint-Martin, including a lunch or a quick coffee stop.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

Best things to do in Canal Saint-Martin

Here are a few Canal Saint-Martin highlights to get you started:

  • Admire portrait photography at Galerie Madé
  • Have a drink on the terrace at À la Folie Bar
  • Shop for gifts at the Pop Market Boutique
  • Have a hearty brunch at Holybelly
  • Go to a gig at the art deco L’Alhambra convert hall

See Paris from a rooftop bar

With dreamy architecture and iconic landmarks, Paris is definitely best viewed best from above.

There are several rooftop bars in Paris offering delightful views over the French capital. Here are some of the best rooftop bars in Paris to try out:

You’ll need around an hour at a rooftop bar and the best time to go to a rooftop bar in Paris would be around sunset.

River Seine boat trip

Glide through Paris aboard a boating vessel and see some of the most iconic sites starboard side.

There are so many boat trips to choose from in Paris. There are daily boat tours, illumination boat trips and dinner cruises on offer,  you will be spoiled for choice.

Paris boat trips

You can book many Paris boat trips online, this is a great way to secure Paris boat trip tickets in advance. You don’t want to find your preferred boat trip is sold out, do you?

We took a day boat trip and learnt more about the historic architecture as we passed underneath romantic bridges and passed historic monuments.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

River Seine boat trip

The best part about our boat trip was that we were able to board our boat clutching cups of hot wine to warm ourselves against the winter chill.

One of the many reasons I love Paris is their extremely caviler attitude towards daytime drinking on boats.

Our tour was approximately one hour long and we purchased our tickets on the day from a ticket office near Pont Neuf.

Whilst it was a little chilly it was a really lovely way of exploring Paris and we managed to get some rather lovely shots of the city.

Most Paris boat trips last around 45-mins to an hour, if you do a seine dinner cruise, these tend to last 2-3 hours.

Wander the pretty streets of Montmartre

Montmartre is a large hill in Paris’s 18th arrondissement and is an uber-cool neighbourhood full of street artists.

The best way to explore this chic part of Paris is to walk around the narrow cobblestone streets and bourgeois apartments.

Montmartre walking tour

If you only have 2 days in Paris and want to save a bit of time, you can always book a 2 hour Montmartre walking tour.

There are many reasonably priced tours of the area starting from as little as £14.

A decent tour guide will take you around all the Montmartre highlights including Sacré Coeur, Van Gogh’s House, Moulin Rouge and Picasso’s Studio.

A top Paris tip is to avoid the Montmartre tourist train like the plague. This is an easily identifiable white and gold vehicle that charges €6 for 40 minutes of sheer tourist hell and poor views of Montmartre. Discover the neighbourhood on foot instead.

Place du Tertre Montmartre

Art is all around you in Montmartre. You frankly cannot move for aspiring artists painting tourists or homages to famous artworks.

You are not only surrounded by beautiful bohemian architecture but you can walk in the footsteps of Picasso as you discover a love of art.

Wander around Place du Tertre Montmartre and browse the vibrant artist stalls, the streets are full of them.

The whole place seems to function as an open-air art gallery amongst historic 18th-century buildings.

Soak up the artsy atmosphere from one of the lively cafes or feast on a crepe from one of the many street vendors.

I would spend 2-3 hours in Montmartre including a short lunch stop, or coffee stop.

Montmartre highlights

Here are a few of the Montmartre highlights to get you started:

  • Visit the ‘I Love You Wall’, you can find it 50 metres from the Metro station
  • Watch artists at Place du Tertre
  • Catch a show at the most famous cabaret in the world, the Moulin Rouge.
  • Discover lesser-known Dali art pieces at the Espace Dali Gallery
  • Try a macaron making class in Montmartre

Learn to make French Macaroons with a Parisian Chef

If you are looking for cooking classes in Paris, why not consider a Macaroon class with a Parisian chef?

You can spend a few delicious hours learning how to make authentic, and tasty French macaroons.

These are popular French pastries that can be found in bakeries across Paris.

Typical French macaroon flavours include:

  • Chocolate
  • Lemon
  • Raspberry
  • Coconut
  • Coffee

Most quality Maracroon classes will provide you with a copy of the recipe, so you can impress friends back home with your new-found baking skills.

A Paris macaroon baking class typically lasts for around 3 hours.

Golden Versailles Palace

The gorgeous Golden Versailles Palace is a royal château located in Versailles, the Île-de-France region of France, around 15 miles southwest of Paris.

Many visitors to Paris don’t realise that that Versailles is located just outside of Paris, meaning you have to navigate French public transport if you want to see it.

I would recommend booking a Versailles Palace Skip-the-Line Audio Tour from Paris.

With this tour, you can skip the lines at Golden Versailles Palace and also enjoy an interesting audio-guided tour of the palace.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

Versailles Palace tickets

The other benefit of a Versailles tour from Paris is that you will travel by air-conditioned bus from Paris. This means you don’t have to negotiate public transport to the Golden Versailles Palace.

You’ll save yourself the embarrassment of asking “is this the right station?’ in a comedy French accent, whilst gesticulating wildly. You don’t want to be that tourist right?

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

Versailles history

The palace was built in the 17th century for King Louis XIV and was almost destroyed during the French revolution.

The palace has incredible architecture as well as stunning interior including stained glass, a hall of mirrors and a vaulted ceiling.  It’s a definite ‘must-see’ place when you come to Paris.

Most Versailles Palaces tours from Paris  last around 4- 5 hours.

Fashion Tour with Parisian Style Guide

Ever wondered how you can emulate that stylish Parisian look? Find out the secret behind Paris’s best-dressed fashionistas with a Paris fashion tour.

Hit the streets of Le Marais with your very own style guru and start creating that effortlessly chic look that so many Parisian ladies pull off.

Le Marais is a great little quartier that is known for amazing little boutiques, incredible food an arty vibes. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon of shopping in Paris.

You can also get a sneak peek into where the freshest designs are created in local fashion studios.

Most Paris fashion tours last around 2-3 hours.

Love locks at Pont Neuf

The Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge across the river Seine and is filled with love locks of romantics who have pledged their eternal love to each other in Paris.

Like other locations in Paris, lovesick tourists have been attaching personalised padlocks to the railing or the grate on the side of the bridge.

Then romantically casting the key into the Seine river below. Paris does tend to inspire a sense of urgency to be fair.

Pont Neuf Paris

As to how long this romantic phenomenon will be sustained is anyone’s guess? French officials were forced to remove the love locks at Paris’s Pont des Arts as their weight was damaging the structure.

This means that you should go an take some snaps of the locks whilst you can, do make for ridiculously romantic Instagrams!

If you aren’t inclined to attach a padlock to a bridge you will find plenty of patisseries, bars and cafés lining the Seine near Pont Neuf.

I would spend around 30 minutes getting some snaps at Pont Neuf and around an hour if you want to grab a coffee at a nearby cafe.

Orsay Museum

The charming Orsay Museum is the second visited museum in Paris. This utterly Instagrammable museum is housed in a renovated former train station and faces the River Seine.

If you only have two days in Paris, then I would endeavour to visit the Lourve and the Orsay Museum.

This way you’ll get to see some of the best artworks in Paris, even if you are short on time.

It has an absolutely stellar collection of Impressionists and Post-Impressionists artwork, including Renoir and Van Gogh. You’ll also find dazzling works by Pissarro, Monet, Renoir and Manet here.

One of the best Instagram spots in Paris can also be found at the Orsay Museum, a giant clock window facing the Seine. It’s the perfect place to get a sexy silhouette shot.

Orsay museum tickets

The Orsay Museum is incredibly popular and you can end up in a huge queue to enter the museum. Why not explore the museum at your own pace with a reserved access day admission ticket to the Musée d’Orsay?

This way you can avoid the lengthy lines and the hassle of ticket counters and spend more time at one of the world’s best art galleries. I would spend around 2 hours at the Musée d’Orsay.

Go underground at the Paris Catacombs

Take a break from gazing at your beloved by taking a tour of the creepiest place in Paris.

The underground Catacombs of Paris are a network of old caves, quarries and tunnels holding the remains of more than six million people.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

The catacombs came about after huge cemetery overcrowding forced the Fench government to address the situation.

In 1786, the former quarries were blessed and consecrated and the bones of the dead were slowly transported to what we now know as the Paris catacombs.

Paris Catacombs tour

Why not skip the line and have a guided tour of the darker side of Paris? Book a Paris Catacombs tour in advance online.

The advantage of taking small group tours is that they are led by expert guides who are passionate about Paris.

You will even get to skip the queue, waiting in line is for suckers right?  A tour will also give you a lot of historical context and information as you explore the solemn and hauntingly beautiful catacombs in Paris.

Most Paris Catacombs tours last around 2 hours.

Shop for French produce at local markets

To get a slice of Parisian life you have to go shopping at a local Paris market. You can mingle with locals and also pick up some high-quality local produce as well as more international offerings. 

French people take gastronomy seriously and this is reflected in the fresh produce that is sold in markets.

Definitely try and pick up bread, cheese and fresh vegetables whilst browsing a Paris Market. You won’t regret it.

I would spend around an hour exploring a local Paris Market. Add more time if you are having lunch or a coffee stop.

Some of the best markets in Paris include:

  • Marché Biologique des Batignolles,
  • Le Marché des Enfants Rouges
  • Belleville Market
  • Marché des Enfants Rouges
  • Marché d’Aligre

Visit The Louvre

No trip to Paris is complete without gazing upon the face of the Mona Lisa, the ridiculously famous portrait painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. It’s one of the most viewed paintings in the world.

The Louvre is always crazy busy with huge lines of snap-happy tourists just itching to get a selfie with the lady with the enigmatic smile.

I would recommend buying a skip the queue Lourve ticket to beat the queues and explore this incredible museum at your own pace.

How much time needed to see the Lourve?

How much time needed to see the Lourve really depends how in-depth you want to see the Louvre?

There are over 38,000 pieces of art in the Louvre, so you could spend a whole week seeing it all.

Most tours last around 2-3 hours, so I would recommend around 3 hours if you are exploring the Lourve by yourself.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

Louvre Tickets

View over 38,000 amazing works of art as you make your way to the iconic Mona Lisa on a small group tour.

You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the world’s most impressive and wildly popular museum.

Louvre tour

I always enjoy having an expert guide for art galleries and museums. I find it helps to have some historical context and expert knowledge so that I can fully understand the pieces I am viewing.

For example, did you know Leonardo was one of the first painters to use aerial perspective?

Thought not. Trust me, take a Louvre tour and learn interesting art facts. You’ll soon be passing yourself off as an up-and-coming art historian in no time.

Experience the Champs Elysées at night

The Champs Elysées is surely one of the most beautiful avenues in the world? This wide, tree-lined avenue is the main thoroughfare in Paris, linking the Arc de Triomphe landmark to the Place de la Concorde.

Despite a grandiose appearance and a handful of designer stores, it’s now mostly a tourist trap with high street stores and overpriced restaurants.

I personally think it’s an area best avoided by day in favour of an evening stroll.

Journey through the avenue after hours and admire the illuminations of the Champs-Elysées.

If you are visiting Paris at Christmas, you’ll be treated to twinkling Christmas decorations on the Champs-Elysées.

I would spend around an hour on Champs-Elysées evening walk. Add more time if you will also be going for a drink or dinner on the Champs-Elysées.

Things to do in Champs-Élysées at night

Here are some of the things you can do Champs-Élysées at night:

Visit the Eiffel Tower

Ok, so the Eiffel tower is probably the most touristy thing you can do in Paris and the most obvious thing in this Paris weekend guide, but honestly, have you even been to Paris if you don’t go up this iconic tower?

It’s one of the most popular attractions in the world with 7 million visitors every year.

The Eiffel tower really is one of the star attractions in Paris and it does provide some of the best views of the city.

If you only have a weekend in Paris, you simply must set aside some time to experience the wrought-iron wonder.

Eiffel tower tickets

For the best chance of seeing the Eiffel Tower without the horrendous queues, you need to book your Eiffel Tower top floor ticket and timeslot in advance.

There are several options for visiting the Eiffel tower, you can choose to go to the second floor of the Eiffel tower, or you can visit the second floor and the top of the Eiffel tower.

Eiffel tower tour

You can also book a guided tour of the Eiffel tower if you want to learn more about the history of this famous monument.

If your time in Paris is short, you can cross over to the Right Bank and take in the incredible view of the tower from the Trocadéro. At least you’ll get your Eiffel tower landscape snaps!

You will need around 2 1/2 hours for a visit to the top of the Eiffel tower. Remember, this could be longer during peak season.

Meet Mickey at Disneyland Paris

Surely one cannot be expected to visit Paris for a weekend and not spend one day in the most magical place on earth?

I am a massive Disney fan and I endeavour to visit Disneyland every time I am in Paris.

Visiting Disneyland Paris will take a whole day. So if you have 2 days in Paris, be aware that a visit to Disney will take up one of your days.

48 hours in Paris

Disneyland Paris consists of two parks, hotels, restaurants, rides and attractions.

I recommend buying Disneyland Paris tickets in advance online. This way you’ll have instant confirmation of your tickets and be able to skip the queue.

Getting to Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is located around 20 miles (32kms) outside of Paris. You can get the train to Disneyland Paris from Paris Gare du Nord by taking the RER A train to Marne-la-Vallé Chessy.

The travel time from Gare du Nord to Marne-la-Vallé Chessy is around 1 hour. When buying your Disneyland Paris train tickets from the machine remember to select ‘Round Trip’ for return tickets.

Each adult ticket costs €7.60, making it a cost-effective and easy way to get to the Magic Kingdom!

48 hours in Paris

Disneyland Paris at Christmas time

Release your inner princess and spend a day on rollercoasters, in 3D shows, meeting Mickey & eating all manner of sweet treats.

If you visit Disneyland Paris at Christmas time you will find there are special parades and additional seasonal entertainment.

48 hours in Paris

There is also Disney light and laser nighttime shows and beautiful decorations all around the park.

Disneyland Paris Tickets

Tickets to Disneyland parks can be pricey, especially if you buy on the day. Try and buy your  Disneyland Paris tickets in advance to save some Euros.

Want to beat the ride queues? Make sure you pick up the special Disney FASTPASS.

They are valid for only an hour, so make sure you picking up passes around every two hours or so

. Not all rides are included, so make sure you check what rides are included in the scheme.

48 hours in Paris

Where to eat in Paris

When you think of French food you might imagine it is mostly comprised of frogs legs and snails. This is thanks to reinforced cultural references of France and popular culture ribbing.

When you start eating out in Paris you will find there is so much to discover about French cuisine.

There are many Paris Restaurants serving classic French dishes and there are also many eateries serving a variety of international cuisines.

Where To Find Classic French Food In Paris

There are so many classic French dishes to be found in Paris. Here are some traditional French dishes you might want to try in Paris:

  • Moules Marinières
  • Soupe à L’oignon
  • Steak Tartare
  • Pot-au-feu
  • Baked Camembert
  • Buckwheat Crêpes
  • Macaroons

Many Paris restaurants will serve classic French cuisine as well as modern twists on old favourites. Here are a few recommendations on where to find classic French food in Paris:

How to avoid tourist trap restaurants in Paris

There is such a huge variety of dining options in Paris that you might not know where to begin, or how to avoid tourist trap restaurants?

The trick is to do your research, decide if you want Paris fine dining, cheap eats or street food and go in with a foodie plan in place.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid tourist trap restaurants in Paris:

  • Avoid restaurants that are within 200 meters of a Paris landmark
  • Are the waiters trying to coax you in?
  • Avoid places with huge menus, the shorter the menu is, the better the food will be
  • Does the menu outside have pictures of the food?
  • Are there any local Parisians in the restaurant?

The best restaurants in Paris

When looking for the best restaurants in Paris, ask the locals where they like to eat? Also, make full use of TripAdvisor and high-quality food blogs when making your dining decisions.

Remember, just because a restaurant is ‘Instagrammable’ does not mean that it serves fantastic food.

We had a very disappointing dinner at the famous Bouillon Chartier restaurant. Whilst it’s definitely one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in Paris, the food is not up to scratch for the price.

We waited an hour for a table and were presented with tragic looking dishes of overcooked duck and bland steak.

These mediocre dishes were a stark contrast to a beautiful and historic interior. Remember guys, don’t fall into tourist traps, great food is all around you in Paris, you just have to seek it out.

Where to stay in Paris

There is a huge range of Paris hotels and accommodation options. From budget to luxury 5-star hotels, there’s something to suit everyone for a weekend in Paris.

Before you book your Paris hotel you need to first decide what neighbourhood you want to stay in.

Paris is divided into 20 neighbourhoods or arrondissements, each with its own feel and identity whilst maintaining a typical Parisian feel.

Paris Neighbourhoods

Some of the best neighbourhoods in Paris include:

  • South Pigalle
  • Canal Saint-Martin
  • Belleville-Menilmontant
  • Montorgueil
  • Bastille
  • Montmartre

Once you have picked the neighbourhood you want to stay in you can search for hotel deals on HotelsCombined to get the best Paris hotel deal for that area.

Paris accommodation tips

Here are some top tips for choosing accommodation in Paris:

  • Is the area you want to stay safe?
  • Is the hotel near the places you want to visit?
  • How far away from the centre of Paris is your accommodation?
  • Is the hotel or apartment within your budget?

You can find a hotel to suit your budget and length of time by using my recommended travel resources such as and HotelsCombined, to find the best hotel deals.

Getting around Paris

I personally think the best way to explore Paris is on foot but if you only have 2 days in Paris, then you can zip around the city by bus or Metro.

The Paris Metro System is probably the most convenient way of getting around Paris. The metro roughly runs from 5 am to 12:30 am.

Paris Metro Tickets can be bought at the ticket booth in the station one at a time, or buy a block of ten tickets. There is also the option to buy 1-day, 2-day, 3-day and 5-day tickets.

Paris City Pass

If you only have a weekend in Paris then a good option might be to buy a Paris City Pass. With this nifty little pass, you can get free admission to 60 museums, sights, and attractions. It’s a fantastic way to save money on a city break.

You can also travel for free by metro, bus, and train within zones 1-3, which will save you lots of money. Ideal if you are trying to do Paris on a budget.

What is the best way to see Paris in 2 days?

With only 48 hours in Paris, you want to think about how to best spend your time in Paris.  Think about what obvious landmarks you want to visit, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Orsay, Arc de Triomphe etc.

I would pick the ones you want to see the most and then sprinkle in more offbeat neighbourhoods and activities to get a more rounded experience in Paris.

2 days in the city of lights should be just enough time to see some of the Paris highlights and discover some of the more unusual spots in Paris.

With my bumper 2 days in Paris guide, you can pick and choose some of the activities I have suggested and create your very ow Paris Itinerary.

What did you think of my guide to 48 hours in Paris? What are your favourite things to do in the city of lights? Let me know in the comments below!

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Recommended travel resources

Flights: To search for flight deals check out sites such as Skyscanner, Kayak and Travel Supermarket to compare the costs of flights. My top tip to save money is to fly mid-week and take just hand luggage if possible.

Accommodation: I love a nice boutique hotel on my travel and I regularly use as they have fantastic flexibility and cancellation. I also recommend Trip Advisor and hotels combined for hotel browsing. Additionally, I use Airbnb and TrustedHousesitters for homestays.

Travel Insurance: I highly recommend you always get travel insurance for your trips. Check out my Travel Insurance Page to see out why. I recommend World Nomads or Post Office travel Insurance.

Group Tours: I love booking group tours as a cost-effective and convenient way of discovering destinations. I recommend booking a small group tour with G Adventures.

Travel Guides: My favourite travel guide books are Bradt Guides, Lonely Planet and Rough Guides.

For more travel tools, head to my bumper travel resources page now!

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