Visiting Paris for the first time can be a daunting experience because there are a lot of specifics to think about and so much to do. Here’s an accumulation of the aspects of Paris I think are most important for first-time visitors to know.
When to Visit
So far, my favorite time in Paris has been in July/August when most locals are on vacation. This does mean that some places aren’t open, but it also means fewer crowds.
What to Pack
The most important thing to have with you is comfortable shoes. I took the comfiest sandals I’ve ever owned and my converse I wear almost every day. Everyone always says that you “have to wear neutrals and blend in”, but honestly wear whatever makes you happy and comfortable and you’ll be fine. It is easiest if you can mix and match clothes so you don’t have to bring as much. I wrote about everything I packed for a two-week Europe trip, and yes, everything is neutral, but that’s just what I wear all the time anyway.
Where to Stay
I usually recommend staying in an Airbnb over hotels, but if you’re visiting Paris for the first time, hotels have perks that can’t be matched. Read my post about affordable hotels and airbnbs here!
There is always someone at the front to help you with anything you need and hotels usually have packages with discounts to different sights and activities around the city. The main thing to think about is location compared to the sights you want to see.
If you feel an Airbnb is for you, something to consider before the location is safety. Make sure to read reviews of past visitors to understand the situation and see which places are the best for you.
How to Get Around
The Paris metro is actually pretty easy to understand. When visiting for a short amount of time, I recommend getting the pass and zones 1-3. When you’re on the machine getting your ticket, it may be confusing, but there are usually employees around to ask any questions!
Taxis and Ubers
Taxis are everywhere but I still like to use ubers since they just seem safer to me with the app and the driver’s information. Plus, I left my phone in a taxi one time, and if it was an uber I would’ve been able to call them and ask them to bring it back to me.
Where to Go
There are so many things to see in Paris and I made a complete travel guide to all the Paris Arrondissements, but below are the must-see places in Paris that everyone asks about and you will probably regret not going to.
Exploring on your own is nice, but going on tours gives you an inside look at the city and lets you enjoy the sights without stressing about where you’re going. I recommend booking a tour based on your interests, especially if you are a first-time visitor.
I suggest not climbing up unless you think you’ll really regret not being able to say you did it. The thing about being at the top of the Eiffel Tower is the fact that you then can’t see the Eiffel Tower.
Arc de Triomphe
I love climbing up at sunset to see the amazing view along with the twinkling Eiffel Tower. The climb can be a lot since it’s a spiral staircase, so be prepared for that.
I absolutely love Sacré-Cœur inside and out. The views of Paris from outside are amazing and the interior is beautiful. You can also climb it to get an even better view of Paris, but it’s not needed.
Musée du Louvre
Make sure you know what you want to see since there are so many choices. There are also options to organize a tour if you want to have a guide and learn even more about the most important works of art.
Notre-Dame is beautiful, but I personally enjoy Sacré-Cœur much more. the line to enter is usually long, so be prepared. I suggest going in and walking around and not going to the top.
Musée de l’Orangerie
I’m obsessed with everything in Musée de l’Orangerie, especially since I love Monet. The oval rooms with the waterlily paintings surrounding you are amazing. I highly recommend visiting here.
Jardin des Tuileries
In between the Louvre and Musée de l’Orangerie is an amazing garden that doesn’t have many activities, but is a great place to relax and walk around. There are also pop-up carnivals or other events there periodically.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Another wonderful park to walk around, sit, and relax in. There is also a great playground that I played in when I visited as a child. It’s perfect for kids.
Paris Museum Pass
If you’re planning on going to multiple monuments, it may be best to get the Paris Museum Pass to save money on admissions. You can order them online or get them at the Paris Tourist Office.
Whether you’re visiting for 2 days or 20, make sure you research and know what parts of Paris are personally important for you to see. Try to have somewhat of a plan to prevent you from being overwhelmed by the amazing options.