top things to do in paris, France

10 Top Things To Do In Paris – Free + Budget Activities

Paris, ‘The city of love’, is hard to surpass if you’re wanting to visit one of the world’s most desired destinations.

From the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur to the Latin Quarter, Paris vibrance rich cultural and architectural heritage remains unparalleled, even by many of the other top European cities and capitals.

But the thing which is not going with Paris is its budget price tag!

It’s quite fair to say that all those top things to do in Paris certainly come at a price, and that’s needless to mention the cost of food and accommodation too, which can turn your budget out of control soon.

But don’t worry! On my last trip to Paris, I have devoted myself to exploring the best of the things to see in Paris on a budget and I’m pleased to report it is still achievable.

So, for those of us who want to discover things to do in Paris in 2 days, without spending too much of their savings, here’s the list of top 10 things to do in Paris, which still discover this place at its best.

Top 10 Things to Do in Paris

#1 Stroll Around the Jardin du Luxembourg

Paris is a green city with tons of beautiful gardens and parks to choose from.

However, the best has to be the gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg, situated near the Saint-Germain-Des-Pres area in the 6th arrondissement.

Jardin du Luxembourg, top things to do in paris
Panoramic view of Jardin du Luxembourg with Palais du Luxembourg

You can stroll around here for some time to escape from the chaos of the city, or else can sit and relax on one of the many free wrought-iron chairs with your favorite book or novel, like the locals. Unlike parks in your hometown, sitting on the grass is prohibited, except in a few designated areas.

The most stunning structure in the garden is the Palais du Luxembourg, which is now the home of the French Senate.

#2 Be Amazed at Cathedral of Notre-Dame

Undoubtedly one of the most recognizable icons in Paris, the cathedral of Notre Dame takes some special mention when it comes to exploring the city’s historic side.

Clicking photos of this marvelous Gothic church from the square outside is a pleasure in itself, but if you’ve got some time, I’d definitely recommend queueing up to enter the Cathedral as well.

And guess what! Admission to this beautiful cathedral is free and there are informative guided one-hour tours in different languages around all day. If you prefer a self-guided tour, an audio guide and brochure can be excellent options.

Cathedral’s three ancient stained-glass windows, its infamous peering gargoyles, and the colossal Emmanuel bell with a fascinating history make the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris the most visited monument in France.

best free things to do in Paris
Cathedral of Notre-Dame

Despite the massive fire that almost ruined it in 2019, visiting this fabulous cathedral which won’t cost you a penny, is still one the best free things to do in Paris.

#3 Climb Up to the Sacre-Coeur Basilica

Next on the list is another of Paris’ great cathedrals, which is worth checking out.

Located in the Montmartre district of the city, lays at the top of Paris’ tallest hill, the Sacre-Coeur, which is also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris.

Going inside Sacre-Coeur to see the largest mosaic in France, particularly which makes up part of the huge ceiling is a must do thing in Paris.

top things to do in paris, sacre-coeur
Sacre-Coeur Basilica in the Montmartre district

the Sacre-Coeur basilica is the most visited church in France after the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The entry for the basilica is free, however, if you want to visit the dome to enjoy a spectacular view over Paris, you have to buy the tickets on-site. The magnificent church offers one of the most amazing views over Paris and is one of the top things to do in Paris.

#4 Walk Around the Avenue of Champs-Élysées

Back in the center of Paris, wandering this world-famous avenue of Champs-Élysées is definitely one of the top things to see and one of the best free things to do in Paris.

This famous location is also home to various luxury brands. You don’t have to worry, if you’re on a budget, this avenue also has plenty of budget-friendly, ready-to-wear and sports brands, like Zara, Sephora, Nike, Gap, and the official PSG store (selling popular football merchandising). Even if you can’t afford to buy anything, admiring window shopping, and the tree-lined splendor of the avenue, is so typically Parisian, you can’t afford to miss it.

Foodies will find many delicacies to sample on a wander along the Champs-Élysées, like ‘Ladurée’, the shop is known worldwide for mouth-watering French macarons. I insist to taste this for sure once you are in Paris.

Taking in the view of the Arc de Triomphe at the end is one Paris photograph you should not miss!

#5 Head Right Up at The Arc de Triomphe

Once you’ve got your long shot of the Arc de Triomphe, try to climb about 280 stairs to the top of this monument for the view over Paris, if you have got time. This is going to be one of the best things to do in Paris.

Even if you have to pay for getting some splendid view from the top of the world’s tallest archway, roaming around the bottom is totally free and still allows you to appreciate the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the Great War, as well as the intricacies of the structure and just how big it is!

best things to do in paris, Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe during sunset

Visiting at sunset or after dark is perhaps even more beautiful when the lights around the Arc de Triomphe make it feel even magnificent.

#6 View the Eiffel Tower at Night

A visit to Paris is not complete without going to the Eiffel Tower, as it’s the most iconic landmark of the city as well as Europe. And if you’re after some best things to do in Paris at night, then it’s hard to ignore the view of the Eiffel Tower lit up as well.

Incredible at any time of the day, it is perhaps after dark that this iconic tower of France really is at its most spectacular. This well-known iron lady lit up every day from sunset to 1 AM (2 AM during summer), during which it twinkles for 5 minutes every hour.

things to do in paris at night, eiffel tower
Twinkling Eiffel Tower during the nighttime

Again, if you’re not keen on forking out the Euros to climb up the tower, why not take in the best view for free by heading to the nearby Trocadéro or climb the Montparnasse Tower. These places offering unparalleled views of the Eiffel Tower, and are also perfect for a nighttime shot, else just pack a basket filled with some delicious food and wine and have a picnic in the adjacent park.

Whatever you are planning to do near this iron lady, you’ll surely be going to enjoy your time the most during your trip to Paris. Else, if you can pour few Euros, you can buy a ticket to ascend the Eiffel Tower. It will definitely be going to be your most memorable and magical experience!

Get the Eiffel Tower tickets online here, in advance, to skip the long queues.

#7 Eat at a Pavement Cafés

While walking around Paris you will notice that there is no shortage of pavement cafes. From delicious bakeries with the most elegant sweet treats in the windows to coffee shops, take-aways, and fine French cuisine.

The best part of sidewalk cafes is watching the daily life of Parisians go by. If the weather is nice, then pull up a chair at a pavement café faces out at the world, order something delicious, and gaze out at the city bustle happening in front of you. It’s the best entertainment there is!

#8 Visit the Père-Lachaise Cemetery

Visiting a cemetery might seem like an unusual thing to do when you’re on a holiday trip, but visiting the first garden cemetery Père Lachaise, located in the 20th arrondissement really is one of the top things to do in Paris without spending anything.

Spreading over 43 hectares, this cemetery is the city’s largest resting ground. Lush green pathways rub shoulders with the graves of some very famous people including Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Jim Morrison, making for a delightful free afternoon.

#9 Boat Trips on the Seine and Canal

There’s nothing great like seeing Paris from a boat on the river Seine, adding a whole new sight to the city. Boats are abundant, and all offering similar kinds of tours up and down the Seine while showing the most famous landmarks of Paris.

fun things to do in paris
Boat ride tour down the river Seine in Paris

The collection of top and fun things to do in Paris would not be complete without a Boat Tour. With a boat trip, you can explore the 40 kms waterways of the Canal Saint Martin, the Canal de l’Ourcq, and the Bassin de la Villette. To explore the waterways of the north-eastern part of the city you can rent an electric boat from Marin d’Eau Douce and spend a few hours with your loved ones, and enjoy some amazing and unique trips around Paris.

That is a super cool thing to do in Paris!

Boats can accommodate 5 to 10 people depending on which one you are choosing for rent, and the larger sizes have removable tables to have a picnic on the boat!

This might consider as one of the most popular things to do in Paris.

#10 It’s Time for Some unusual things to do in Paris

Finally, there are some unusual stuffs like visiting catacombs, viaducts, and neighborhoods that tourists don’t choose for their travel list. I believe in discovering those parts for some adventure lovers out there.

So, now this one is serious fun, and it’s also one of the unusual things to do in Paris!

An old city like Paris has many old and isolated places, whose relics have become fun places to explore. The Petite Ceinture (little belt) encircled Paris between 1852 and 1934, which is an abandoned railroad line that was reopened to the public beginning in 2007. It’s a fascinating and calm place to go for a stroll – while there, you won’t feel like you’re in Paris anymore!

unusual things to do in paris
A section of The Petite Ceinture (little belt)

Read More: Ultimate Europe Travel Planner – Pro Tips in 5 Easy Steps!

So, my advice is to first visit the top attractions (the usual top things to do in Paris mentioned above) and then find your path through to the more hidden destinations.

So, there you have it, my list of the top 10 things to do in Paris.

Even without spending much of your buck, they still show ‘the city of love’ Paris at its best!

Have you enjoyed a budget trip to Paris?

What was your favorite thing to do there?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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