Paris’ 10 Best Activities

Our guide to 10 of the best things to do in Paris, France

May 19, 2023
Gargoyle statue with view of Paris at duskGargoyle statue with view of Paris at dusk

Paris is a city of beautiful architecture. Of art museums, and cultural landmarks. Of fashion, and exquisite cuisine. More than anything, it’s a city that charms you. Many who come here know they’ll love it, others don’t. Either way, it wins you over in the end. As well as the pomp and grandeur, there's something so cute about Paris, so Parisienne, you just can’t help it.

Crafting a short list of things to do while you’re here isn’t easy. There’s so much, that you really need to live here long term, and have a much longer list. For those who don’t have that luxury, we’ve picked out 10 of the absolute best things, that you need to experience however long you stay.

French town restaurant with cobblestone streets

First, some general advice: several of our activities can involve hours of queueing if you don’t plan right. If you’re here for a while, the best way to avoid this is visit the major attractions very early, or late, and buy tickets in advance when possible. This doesn’t really help if you’re trying to cram everything into a long weekend though. In that case, we really recommend a skip-the-line attractions pass. Various companies offer them, and you can choose how long it lasts. Without further ado then, here's our top 10:

1. Take a Boat Cruise on the Seine

Starting off with a tour along the river is a lovely way to familiarize yourself with Paris. So many of the city’s main attractions are on, or close to the river, such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Many of the river’s bridges are also works of art. So a cruise helps to learn the layout of the city, while also making for a wonderful experience. There are various providers, and you can decide how long, and whether to include a meal. For sightseeing it’s best to go during the day, but the evening option is more romantic.

Boats on the Seine with a view

2. Climb the Eiffel Tower at Night

The most famous monument in Paris. Its size and location mean you’ll have plenty of opportunities to marvel at the majestic, wrought-iron tower. You’ll want to climb it at least once though, and you should go when it’s dark, to see this spectacular city lit up. You can reach the first two floors via the stairs, which saves on waiting time. The top is amazing though- so get a ticket for the elevator, order a glass from the champagne bar at the top, and enjoy Paris in all its glory.

Eiffel tower lit up at night

3. See some Art

To nobody’s surprise, there's lots of art to see in Paris. How deep you choose to delve into the city’s defining penchant will depend on your tastes. For art fans, there are around 130 to visit, so you’ll need to spend a few months here. For the rest, and those on a tighter schedule, here are three you really mustn’t miss:

The Louvre

The largest art museum in the world is probably its most famous. The Louvre is home to a vast and diverse collection of art and artifacts, spanning over 9,000 years of human history. Some of the most famous on display include Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Code of Hammurabi. The Louvre also has extensive collections of Egyptian antiquities, Greek, Roman, and Islamic art. One way to cut down on queueing time is to join a tour. This can save time, be informative, and help direct you through the vast labyrinth of masterpieces.

the louvre pyramid and buildings in background

Orsay Museum

The Musée d'Orsay is Paris’ second most popular, known for its extensive collection of French art from the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s collection features works by some of the most prominent artists of the time, including Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, and Renoir. It also includes a large collection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco objects, furniture, and decorative arts from the period.

The building itself is also worth noting. Originally constructed as a railway station, it was later repurposed as a museum. The vast, central nave, with its expansive glass roof and ironwork structure, provides a unique and impressive setting for the artwork on display.

The Pompidou Center

The Centre Georges Pompidou is a modern art museum which holds the largest collection in Europe- around 120,000 pieces. It’s worth visiting for the outside alone. The bold, colorful exterior, featuring exposed pipes and ducts, gives it a unique, industrial appearance.

Holds works by Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, and Pollock, as well as many other lesser-known, but equally talented artists. The temporary exhibitions can be superb, so have a look what’s on while you’re here. Also home to a library, research center, cinema, and several performance spaces, making it a vibrant cultural hub.

Centre Pompidou outside

4. Gaze at City Island

Île de la Cité, near the Louvre, contains some of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. The best known is Notre Dame. The medieval cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture. A magnificent building, known for its intricate sculptures, stained glass windows, and flying buttresses. The 2019 fire caused significant damage to the roof and spire. However, restoration efforts are underway, and many priceless artifacts survived. 

Notre Dame church

The second you have to see is arguably even more beautiful, certainly on the inside. Sainte-Chapelle is a stunning chapel built to house important religious relics, including the Crown of Thorns. The stained glass windows are breathtaking, measuring over 600 square meters in total. A true masterpiece of Gothic architecture. 

Sainte-chappelle inside

The final one to mention is the Conciergerie, just next door. One of the oldest remaining buildings from the medieval period in Paris, it’s now open as a museum. Originally constructed as a palace, during the French Revolution it was repurposed as a prison for those awaiting trial and execution, including Marie Antoinette.

5. Creep yourself out in the Catacombs

As well as the globally known landmarks of Paris, there are a ton of lesser known things that are worth seeing. We can’t mention everything, but a visit to Les Catacombes is not something you’ll forget in a hurry. Created as a solution to overflowing cemeteries, they’re filled with neatly stacked bones, often in decorative patterns. It’s an eerie and claustrophobic experience, but a popular one, with many tourists coming for a taste of the macabre. Bring a jumper, it's cold down there.

Walls of the catacombs

6. Stop for a Drink

After all that sightseeing, you’re probably thirsty. Fortunately, Paris is one of the best cities to enjoy a drink at the end of a long day, they've made a real culture of it here. You’ll often hear Parisians refer to the Apéro, short for apéritif. It refers to the drink they have before dinner, and has become a quintessential part of life here. A time to sit down with friends or colleagues, and enjoy a cocktail and a snack before the evening plans take over.

It’s something to partake in all year round, but the best time for the Apéro is once the weather starts to warm up. The streets are lined with tables, there are bars with large terraces, especially along the riverfront. Best of all are Paris’ wonderful selection of rooftop bars. Wherever you choose to take yours, I promise it’s an aspect of Paris life you’ll fall in love with.

Terrace bar at night on the river

7. Browse the Shops

Paris is a global fashion capital- designers and consumers come here in droves for haute couture, and luxury fashion brands. There are excellent places to shop throughout the city, but make sure to peruse these places:


One of the most famous shopping streets in the world. Champs-Élysées is home to flagship stores like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Dior, and a great place to find beauty products, souvenirs, and high-end jewelry. It’s incredibly touristy, and not the place to go in search of a bargain, but must be walked down once at least. While you’re there, don’t forget to climb the Arc De Triomphe, for the eye-catching views from the top.

Champs Elysees aerial view

Les Halles

The official center point of Paris was a market area dubbed “the belly of Paris”. These days Les Halles is a vast shopping complex. Covering an area of over 60,000m2, it’s home to over 150 stores, a cinema, restaurants, and a public garden. The structure is stunning, and also practical, made to provide natural light and ventilation.

Boulevard Haussmann

Haussman is a major shopping street in Paris. Most famous for its huge department stores, including Printemps, and Galeries Lafayette. The latter is an iconic, breathtaking department store, which is an absolute must visit, even if you’re not buying. Both have fantastic rooftop terraces. Haussmann is home to many more interesting stores. There are major brands, and smaller, independent stores- for unique, Parisian finds.

galleries lafayette golden and sparkling interior

Les Puces de Saint-Ouen

One of the largest flea markets in the world, with over 15 markets and over 2,000 shops, Saint-Ouen market covers an area of about 7 hectares. Open every weekend, it’s a hugely popular destination for antique dealers, vintage collectors, and bargain hunters from all over the world. You can find anything, from furniture, clothing, and jewelry to rare books, paintings, and vintage posters.

8. Sample the French Cuisine

Paris is world renowned for its food culture, and there are so many wonderful areas and traditions to get to know. If you’re pushed for time I recommend a food tour, as you can sample a lot in a short period of time. Whether you choose a tour, or to explore on your own, here are some areas you shouldn’t miss.

outdoor diners at a paris restaurant

Le Marais

Historic neighborhood, home to great restaurants, cafes, and bakeries. A popular spot for brunch, with trendy cafes serving fresh croissants, coffee, and other pastries. Also known for its Jewish delis and falafel stands- L’As du Falafel is highly recommended.


Bohemian district, full of traditional French bistros and wine bars. You'll find classic dishes like steak frites and escargots(snails), as well as more modern takes on French cuisine. Don’t miss Sacré-Cœur Basilica while you’re there.

Montmartre neighborhood street in black and white


Upscale area on the Left Bank, known for chic cafes and fine dining restaurants. There are many Michelin-starred restaurants in the area, as well as classic French brasseries and bakeries.

9. Indulge in Le Moulin Rouge

The nightlife in Paris is buzzing, with countless bars, nightclubs, and theaters offering entertainment for all tastes. Possibly the best area for nightlife is Pigalle, which used to be somewhat sleazy, but has been gentrified, and is now really trendy. One place which sums up this transformation perfectly is the Moulin Rouge.

The world-famous cabaret, with its iconic windmill, is known for elaborate performances. Shows involve extravagant costumes, music, and lighting, and are designed to be visually amazing and entertaining. The Féerie is spectacular, so check if it’s on while you’re here. It’s best to get tickets well in advance. You can buy for the show only, or include a meal. The hidden rooftop bar above is excellent.

Moulin Rouge

10. Visit Versailles

Versailles is about 20 kilometers southwest of Paris, and easily accessible by train or bus. It’s best known for the Palace- an extraordinary, UNESCO World Heritage site. The opulent decor includes ornate furnishings, paintings, and sculptures. Visitors can tour the many rooms, including the Hall of Mirrors, which features 357 in total. The grounds are also worth exploring- the sprawling gardens cover over 800 hectares, and feature fountains, sculptures, and beautifully manicured lawns. The city itself has a charming historic center with many shops and restaurants to explore. All in all, Versailles makes for a marvelous day trip.

Versailles outside with statue

Which brings us to the end of our list. Good luck trying to get through it all on a single vacation. Never mind if you can’t though- Ukio will always be here, offering quality accommodation in case you need more time in this incredible city. However long you stay, we’ve no doubt you’ll be seduced by its charms, and we’ll see you back for more very soon!