When visiting a city for the first time it can be hard to determine how long to spend there. After all, you don’t want to miss out on major attractions and experiences because you didn’t book for long enough, nor do you want to be sat in the hotel room looking for new things to do (often without going over budget).
Nowhere is this more true than in a city with so much to experience like Paris.
However, based on a number of trips to Paris myself, and some calculations as to budgets, international travel durations etc. I’ve found that the majority of people should look to spend between 3 and 7 nights in Paris as a first time visitor.
If you’re coming from within Europe, then a minimum of three days is advised and if you’re travelling on a long haul flight to the city then I’d advise a minimum of five days (as this gives you enough time to get over the jetlag and other negative effects of a long haul flight).
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How Much A Trip To Paris Costs
Many of us plan our trips based on two primary factors; our budget, and the amount of time we have off work (or equivalent) to travel.
I’ve found the most restrictive when visiting any city around the world is often the budget. The majority of major cities can be experienced within 3 – 5 days, which is often reasonable when planning time off work.
However, it’s the cost difference between those 3 and 5 days which can often dictate how long people plan to visit a city for.
If you’re a backpacker or a budget traveller then I’ve found one day in Paris generally sets you back around €135 per person a day.
Hostel / Budget Hotel – €25 (price per bed or €50 for a budget hotel room)
Food – €25
Internal Travel – €5
Attractions – €80
If you’re a family or a couple looking to experience a few added luxuries during your trip to Paris then I’ve found one day often averages out at around €400 for a couple or €620 for a family of four (2 adults two children)
Mid-Range / Family Friendly Hotel – €180 (per room)
Food – €25
Internal Travel – €5
Attractions – €80 (although children prices may be cheaper)
If you’re looking for a luxurious experience when visiting Paris then you can expect one day in the city to cost €1,180 per couple on average.
Luxury Hotel – €400 (per room)
Food – €150
Internal Travel – €40
Attractions – €200
Of course, these are just guidelines. There are certain attractions that many of us see as a ‘must-do’ when in Pairs which may push the average cost per day over what I’ve estimated above.
As a result, three days for a budget backpacker is likely to cost around €405 (excluding international flights), however five days will set you back €675.
Meanwhile, a family’s three day trip to Paris is likely to cost somewhere around €1,860 (excluding international flights) however, five nights will cost approximately €3,100.
The Minimum Amount Of Time To Spend In Paris As A First Time Visitor
If you’re travelling from outside of Europe then, in my opinion, the minimum amount of time you need to spend in Paris is 5 days.
This gives you around 1.5 days to get over the jetlag that long haul flights often come with, 3 days to explore and half a day back at the airport to check-in for your return flight.
If you’re travelling from within Europe and therefore have a short-haul flight or within France maybe as part of an Interrail or backpacking trip then I believe the minimum amount of time you need in Paris is 3 days.
3 Days In Paris – A Basic Itinerary
Here’s a rough guide as to what 3 days in Paris looks like;
Day One: Notre-Dame Cathedral, Sainte Chapelle, Champs Elysée, Arc de Triomphe.
Day Two: Louvre, Garnier Palace, Sacré-Coeur, Moulin Rouge.
Day Three: Seine River Cruise, Eiffel Tower, Catacombs, Montparnasse Tower.
This basic itinerary covers all of the most popular attractions in the city that any tourist would most likely want to see during their first visit to Paris.
Things To See & Do During Additional Days In Paris
Being one of the most popular cities for tourists in the world, it should come as no surprise that there’s a lot you can do during your trip to Paris. Which is why you’ll often see people book up to a week in the city, or return year after year.
Some of my favourite things to do during additional days / free time in Paris include;
- Strolling along the Promenade Plantée and Viaduc des Arts
- Going on a Paris street art tour
- Head to Disneyland Paris
- Explore Bois de Boulogne
- Visit Buttes Chaumont Park
- Explore Abbey Bookshop
- Shop at L’Objet Qui Parle
- Head to the Paris Christmas Markets
- Follow in the footsteps of famous films shot in Paris
- Explore a quirky museum such as Musée Grevin
- Take a day trip out of the city
Of course, these additional days come at a price (of which is likely to depend on the level of luxury you’d like to experience when visiting the city alongside the specific attractions you’d like to visit).
Personally, I always like to allow for an additional day or two in a city where possible. It provides us with a chance to spend longer at different attractions, allows for things to go wrong (which happens a lot!) and allows us to go off the beaten track rather than worry about an itinerary.
How Many Days To Spend In Paris As A First Time Visitor
In conclusion, I believe that anything from three to five days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Paris as a first time visitor.
Depending on your personal travel style and the attractions you’d like to experience during your visit to the city you may want to go towards the higher end or even beyond, to seven days in the city. Again, this is just to be used as a guide.
I’d definitely encourage you to add in your personal experiences, travel styles and passions.