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Paris is a place that many people dream of one day visiting – which is probably why it’s such a popular city in Europe. In fact, it’s second only after London in terms of the most-visited cities in Europe.

Paris is romantic. It’s historic. It’s fashionable. It’s stunning in so many ways. But Paris is also really big. It has a reputation for not always being friendly. And there’s SO MUCH to see/do that planning a trip there can seem overwhelming.

How much time should you spend in Paris? What are the absolute must-do things? How do you get around, and where should you stay? I’ll answer all of these questions and more in this 5-day Paris itinerary, which I think is perfect for a first visit to the City of Light.

Rooftop and Eiffel Tower views
Exploring Montmartre

5 days in Paris itinerary you can steal

Seriously, please feel free to use this itinerary to help you plan your own Paris trip! It’s written from personal experience after planning a few Paris trips of my own, and is designed for first-time visitors.

It’s written with a late spring/early summer visit in mind, though of course can be used throughout the summer and fall, too, without many tweaks.

Where to stay in Paris

First up, let’s talk about where to stay on your first trip to Paris!

Narrowing down where to stay in Paris is hard – partly because there are more than 1,500 hotels in Paris to choose from! I’m not going to inundate you with hundreds of suggestions, though. Instead, here are a couple dozen hotel options, roughly organized by where in Paris they’re located.

Amanda on a cute balcony in Paris

Keep in mind that Paris’ neighborhoods are called arrondissements, and are numbered in a spiraling pattern starting in the center of the city. There are 20 arrondissements in total.

I personally have stayed in the 9th, 18th, and 16th arrondissements, and have enjoyed them all! The most popular neighborhoods to stay in for tourists are usually the 4th, 5th, and 6th.

  • Saint-Germain hotels (6th arr.) – Hotel Relais Saint-Germain, Hotel Le Six, Hotel d’Aubusson, Relais Christine
  • Latin Quarter hotels (5th arr.) – Hotel Monge, Hotel Abbatial, Hôtel Les Dames du Panthéon, Hotel du College de France
  • Montmartre hotels (18th arr.) – Terrass” Hotel, Mom’Art Hotel, Hotel le Chat Noir
  • Élysée hotels (8th arr.) – Hotel Astoria – Asotel, Le Belleval, La Villa Haussmann, La Demeure Montaigne
  • Opera hotels (9th arr.) – Lyric Hotel Paris*, Hotel 34B – Astotel, Hotel Prelude Opera, Hôtel Saint-Pétersbourg Opéra & Spa, Hotel Chopin, Quartier Libre Saint Georges (apartment hotel)
  • Other Paris hotels – Grand Hôtel Du Palais Royal (1st), Hotel Cambon (1st), Hotel des Grands Boulevards (2nd), Hotel Malte – Astotel (2nd) (top-rated Paris hotel on TripAdvisor), Hotel Britannique (3rd), Cler Hotel (7th), 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord (10th), Hotel Le Milie Rose (10th), Hotel Maison FL* (16th), Saint James Paris (16th), Passy Eiffel (16th)
  • Paris hotels with Eiffel Tower Views: Hotel Le Walt (7th), Rayz Eiffel (7th), Citadines Tour Eiffel Paris (15th), Le Parisis Paris Tour Eiffel (15th), Hôtel Plaza Étoile (17th)
  • Best Paris luxury hotels: Shangri-La Paris (16th), The Peninsula Paris (16th), Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris (8th), Mandarin Oriental Paris (1st)
Lyric Hotel Paris Opera in the 9th

Some things to consider when booking a Paris hotel include:

  • location (i.e. which arrondissement and how close it is to a Metro station)
  • whether the hotel allows smoking in the rooms (yes, lots of people still smoke in France)
  • whether the hotel has things like air conditioning and an elevator (not all do)
  • what’s included in the nightly rate (like wifi and breakfast)
  • size of the room (but be aware that the average hotel room in Paris is quite small!)

And now for the itinerary!

Day 1: Famous Paris sights

Highlights of Day 1 include: Arrival to Paris, Arc de Triomphe, the Seine river, and the Eiffel Tower

1. Arrival to Paris

Today is arrival day in Paris, France. Most likely you’ll be on an overnight flight arriving in to Charles de Gaulle Airport in the morning, but you could also be arriving via train (like on the Eurostar) if you’re combining your trip to Paris with time in another city like London or Amsterdam. (I highly recommend this! Check out my 10-day London and Paris itinerary.)

If you arrive to Paris via air, you have a few different choices to get to the city center. You *could* take a suburban train (the RER B line runs from Charles de Gaulle) into the center and then use the Metro or grab a taxi from there. This is the cheapest option, but it can be daunting if it’s your first trip (and doubly so when you have luggage in tow).

It’s probably easier to get a taxi or to pre-book an airport transfer like this one for your arrival in Paris. These options are more expensive, yes, but much less stressful!

You can enjoy Paris street scenes like this.

If you do opt to take a taxi or book a transfer, it will likely take you anywhere from 35-60 minutes to get downtown, depending on traffic.

You probably won’t be able to check into your hotel yet if you arrive in the morning, but you can drop your luggage off and get exploring!

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