Four days in Paris go by pretty quickly, so you definitely want to make the most of your time in the beautiful City of Light. As a New York City native, I felt right at home in Paris among the bustling streets, outdoor cafés and tourist-focused street vendors; but all the sights and sounds can get overwhelming for a non-city dweller. There’s so much to see and do in Paris, especially if it’s your first time visiting. Follow my tips for a stress-free Paris vacation!
1. Location is Key
Picking your hotel or Airbnb location is the most important part of planning your trip to Paris. I recommend picking a neighborhood that is central to the top 3 tourist attractions you want to visit. Paris is a walkable city and the metro system is relatively easy to learn, but no one wants to spend the majority of their time commuting. On the same note, check out where the main train stops and junctions are on the metro map. The closer you are to a metro hub where multiple lines cross, the faster you will get to your destination.
2. Research and Conquer
Paris is amazing and there is a ton to see and do. Whether you’re an art major, fashionista, history buff, or somewhere in between, do some research on tourist attractions. Make a list of attractions you want to visit, the hours of operation, and entry fees. Keep in mind that students and adults under the age of 25 may be eligible for special discounted pricing. When I went to Paris with my 18 year-old sister, she was able to get student discounts with her college ID card as long as it showed her age!
3. Plan and Prioritize
After creating a list of attractions, organize them in order of preference and grouped by arrondissement. I highly recommend planing your day by going to the furthest attraction and working back to your home base. Plan to visit your must-see attractions on your first or second day to free up time for impromptu exploring. As you get familiar with the city, you may want to revisit certain neighborhoods and attractions or simply wander in and out of boutique shops lining beautiful cobblestone streets.
4. Leave Wiggle Room
Give yourself 5 to 10 minutes extra travel time to account for train delays and getting lost. It happens to the best of us! Get an early start in the morning and leave the late afternoon and evening for on the fly discoveries, a relaxing lunch, and shopping. Unless you’re really close to your hotel or Airbnb, don’t waste valuable exploring time commuting back to drop off shopping bags midday. Save the shopping spree for after lunch as you work your way back to the hotel.
5. Don't be Afraid to Improvise
One of my favorite experiences in Paris was simply strolling around the neighborhoods of Le Marais and Montemarte taking in all the history, art, and beauty of Parisian life. It’s true some of the best things in life are free and as long as you have the airfare and hotel taken care of, and walking around the picturesque city of Paris is 100% free! My sister and I stumbled upon an amazing exhibit of fashion designer Martin Margiela’s life and work while wandering through the eastern part of the 16th Arrondissement. My sister is a Graphic Design major at the Fashion Institute of Technology, so she was extra excited about our discovery. Leave room to improvise! You never know what you’ll find!
Visiting Paris is incredible, but it can be overwhelming. Blog posts about the top must-see attractions are a great jumping off point, but don’t feel obligated to stick to anyone else’s itinerary. The whole point of a custom itinerary is to customize it to your preferences. Click here to get a free PDF Trip Planning workbook! I hope you find my tips and my workbook for planning the perfect Paris vacation helpful!
Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever been to Paris and what your top vacation planning tip is!
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