Scale the heights of the Eiffel Tower or catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre - there are hundreds of top things to do in Paris. To help narrow it down, we’ve picked out a top 10. Whether you’re just spending a couple of days in the city or are enjoying a longer break, these are the sights not to miss.
Arc de Triomphe
You can’t visit Paris and miss the Arc de Triomphe - located at the western end of the Champs-Elysees. Built between 1806 and 1836, this huge arch was designed to commemorate those who fought for France during the Napoleonic Wars. Enjoy the spectacle - or climb the 284 steps to the viewing platform, where you'll be greeted with a great view of the surrounding buildings.
Location: Place Charles de Gaulle. Big Bus stop 8. Métro stops Kléber, Argentine, George V & Ternes
The iconic symbol of Paris, and a must-see sight for any visitor to the city. It’s stop 1 on the Big Bus tour, so you can enjoy the sight from the bus, or hop off to get panoramic views across the whole city. Take the lift or climb the 704 steps to the top - either way you’ll be rewarded with some stunning photo opportunities, as well as plenty of shops, restaurants and activities to enjoy on the way up.
Location: Big Bus stop 1. Train stop Champ de Mars - Tour Eiffel & Métro stop Bir-Hakeim.
Another of Paris’ iconic sights, Notre Dame is one of the world’s most beautiful cathedrals, as well as one of the city’s oldest buildings. There’s no entrance charge to visit the cathedral, and it’s open every day of the year. Enjoy guided tours or pick up an audio guide if you want to explore at your own pace.
Location: Île de la Cité. Big Bus stop 6. Métro stop Cité
The Pompidou Centre has established itself as a leading art gallery and cultural hub since its opening in 1977. It houses the Musée National d’Art Moderne, which showcases art from 1905 onwards but there’s plenty of other things to see and do, from the eye-catching architecture to thriving performance spaces.
Location: Place Georges-Pompidou. Big Bus stop 5. Métro stop Rambuteau
Running from the Canal de l’Ourcq to the Seine, the Canal Saint-Martin is a refreshing place to soak up a slice of Parisian life. There are lots of cafes, bars and restaurants dotted along the 2.8 mile (4.5km) canal where you can enjoy a spot of people watching. Or just enjoy a leisurely stroll in a quieter part of the city.
Location: Quai de Valmy. Métro stops Jacques Bonsergent & Château-Landon
Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge across the Seine, built between 1578 and 1607. It’s a great place to soak up some of the city’s medieval history, as well as one of the best spots in the city to snap postcard-perfect pictures of Paris.
Location: 1st arrondissement. Big Bus stops 5 & 6. Métro stop Pont Neuf
Take a walk down this tree-lined boulevard - one of the most famous in the world. It does get busy with tourists, but you can avoid some of the crowds by visiting early in the morning or later at night. Stop for a coffee in one of the street’s many eateries or window shop in the high-end shops.
Location: Big Bus stop 8. Métro stops Franklin D. Roosevelt, George V & Charles de Gaulle - Étoile
If you’re visiting the Notre Dame cathedral, be sure to stop by the Sainte-Chapelle too - just a 5 minute walk away. The chapel is small but makes up for its size with beautiful stained glass windows, one of the most extensive collections in the world – particularly magnificent on a sunny day.
Location: 8 Boulevard du Palais. Big Bus stop 6. Métro stop Cité
One of the world’s most famous opera houses, be sure to hop off at stop 3 on your bus tour to experience the home of The Phantom of the Opera. Choose from standard admission, guided tour or audio guide to explore the public areas of this working theatre and learn all about its long history.
Location: 8 Rue Scribe. Big Bus stop 4. Métro stop Opéra
Take a trip below ground to the Catacombs of Paris, a 1.4 mile (2km) series of underground tunnels lined with skulls and bones. The catacombs are definitely one of the most fascinating places to visit in Paris but they’re not for the faint-hearted – or the claustrophobic. The queues can be huge, so plan your trip well in advance and go early in the day if possible.
Location: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy. Métro stop Saint-Jacques