We've just returned from another magical visit to Paris to refresh our destination guide. If you’ve perused the Compass & Key itineraries for wandering Paris, you know that they each range from a few hours to a full day and cover a variety of neighborhoods, or arrondissements. To help piece them together, we’ve created this 3-Day Paris Vacation Guide with some of our favorite sites, shops and restaurants. You’ll see how easy it is to craft your own itinerary to fit your energy level, travel style and time available.
Some Paris museums, shops, restaurants, and markets are closed on Sundays, Mondays, or Tuesdays. To avoid any closing times, this guide assumes arrival on a Wednesday, followed by three full days in the City of Light. Don’t let that stop you from visiting earlier in the week, as it’s relatively easy to work around closing times with a little planning (our Paris Museums & Markets infographic can help).
ARRIVAL DAY - WEDNESDAY
If you’ve chosen an overnight flight to reach Paris, the odds are that you will feel groggy upon arrival in the morning. Drop off luggage at your hotel and beat jet lag with some fresh air and a little exercise. Compass & Key recommends a Fat Tire bike tour to get you oriented to the city while cruising the wide promenades and stunning parks. If this is a repeat trip, skip the bike tour and wander one of the many beautiful parks for an afternoon, like Bois de Vincennes or Bois de Boulogne. Take a quick nap before dinner, then experience exceptional city views from the rooftop at Institut du Monde Arab and dinner at Le Zyriab.
DAY 1 – THURSDAY
Sleep-in as needed to adjust to the time, but try and head out by 10 am to explore the Latin Quarter with our itinerary Notre Dame and its Neighbor, which gives you plenty of options. Grab a croissant and wander the stalls of Marché Maubert, admire the gothic architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral, or learn about the city’s medieval history at the Musée de Cluny.
Break for a long lunch at Compass & Key favorite ChantAirelle, or pick up supplies from a Carrefour or Monoprix grocery store to picnic at Jardin du Luxembourg. After lunch, enjoy a well-earned nap back at your hotel.
Head to the hills to walk in the footsteps of Paris’ artists with destinations from our Montmartre & Moreau itinerary. Spend an hour at Musée Gustave Moreau or Musée de Montmartre (last admission 5pm and 6:15pm respectively), then pay homage to those artists at the Montmartre Cemetery, popping in some shops along the way. One hour before sunset, head to Sacré Coeur for its famous views over Paris. End your evening with dinner at Le Moulin de la Galette beneath one of the few surviving windmills in the area.
DAY 2 – FRIDAY
After breakfast, follow our Paris, Elevated itinerary. Mingle with locals at La Promenade Plantée, Paris’s famous high line, an elevated railway-turned-park. Watch artists at work and seek out unique souvenirs at the shops below, Les Viaduc des Arts. Then walk to famed Marché Aligre, one of the oldest and largest markets in Paris and favored by many a chef.
Enjoy lunch at the market, or head to a historic bistro led by famous Paris chef Cyril Lignac, Restaurant Le Chardenaux. Your afternoon is free, so continue exploring the area or perhaps wander the nearby Père Lachaise cemetery. Leave time for a nap if that suits you.
Escape the crowds and visit the crown jewel of art museums with our Evening at the Louvre itinerary, designed for the Louvre’s late hours on Wednesdays and Fridays. With three hours you can see most of the highlights or simply wander at your own pace. You’ll never be able to see all of the Louvre’s treasures in one visit, so just enjoy the beauty of some of the most exquisite art in the world.
Give your feet a rest with a late dinner reservation at Café Marly, overlooking PEI’s grand pyramid at the Louvre. Linger with a bottle of wine and the lovely views from the terrace, both of the Louvre palace and the people strolling along. If you’re looking for late night amusement, head back to the Latin Quarter.
DAY 3 – SATURDAY
Armed with our Relax with Rodin itinerary, explore the wonders of the 7th Arrondissement. Begin your day with fresh fruit and a croissant at Marché Saxe-Breteuil, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Stroll the lavish gardens and priceless sculptures at Musée Rodin, and if time allows, explore the museum itself, which served as Rodin’s home and workshop.
Walk to Le Bon Marché and its indoor market, La Grande Epicerie. Choose your treats (and some wine) to take to-go for an afternoon picnic in our favorite secret garden, Jardin Catherine Labouré.
Head to the 6th Arrondissement to search for souvenirs and gifts with our Impressions of St. Germain itinerary. Independent artists showcase their work at boutique Gab & Jo, art supplies of every kind can be found at Sennelier, while Ladurée provides glamorous treats with their famous macarons. Leave time to peruse the stalls of the bouquinistes along the Seine. If shopping isn’t on your list, visit the impeccable Impressionist art at Musée d’Orsay and admire the soaring columns of Saint Sulpice church. Drop off any shopping bags at your hotel and relax a bit before your evening begins.
Spend your last evening with a special dinner. There is no shortage of exceptional cuisine in Paris. For the gourmand, visit the area around Marché Aligre with its highly rated restaurants like Le Cotte Rôti, Tondo, or Will. Enjoy exceptional views of the Eiffel Tower in the 16th Arrondissement at Monsieur Bleu, the restaurant at the Palais de Tokyo hotel. Or mingle with the locals at Vivant Cave in the 10th Arrondissement.
- Hotel check-in times are typically in the afternoon, so if you arrive before your room is ready, you can always check your bags with the front desk.
- Restaurant reservations, particularly for dinner, are always encouraged.
- Consider a multi-day Paris Museum Pass, which includes access to many of the major museums and, most importantly, allows you to skip the lines. You can purchase them at most of the included museum sites or at kiosks around the city.
- Public transportation is a great way to get around Paris. The Metro isn’t the cleanest, but it’s certainly fast, or consider the Velib bike share system.
- If rain is in the forecast, opt for spending time in the many museums and save the parks for a sunny day.
- Looking for a place to stay? Check out the Compass & Key Hotel List.
- If you like someone guiding you around, checking out the many small group walking tours available through Context Travel.