Best Paris Pass 2-day or 3-day itineraries for maximum value
Easily among the most beautiful cities in the world, Paris is also loaded with famous and worthwhile attractions and museums. Planning your first visit to the city can feel daunting and overwhelming, but as long as you put in a bit of time before you arrive, you'll have an amazing visit. As you may know, the Paris Pass covers almost all of the famous attractions, so it can be a great way to see a lot in a short time and save money in the process.
If you only have 2 or 3 sightseeing days in Paris, you can still see most of the good stuff using the Paris Pass. The Pass doesn't cover the elevator up the Eiffel Tower, but if you read below you'll see that you might be better off skipping that anyway, or doing it on a non-Paris Pass day.
Scan down the information and list below, and you'll quickly see that you can see the best of the best and save money with your Paris Pass at the same time. If you can get the Paris Pass on a promotional discount, the savings are obviously deeper.
How to get best value out of a 2-Day or 3-Day Paris Pass
The Paris Pass includes entry to over 60 attractions, but since most visitors can only visit perhaps 5 of them on even a busy day, it's important to target only the best ones. On a busy visit with 2 full days for sightseeing, you can experience 7 or 8 of the best places Paris has to offer, and with 3 full days you'll have no trouble experiencing all 10 on the list below.
It's important to plan in advance and get an early start. As long as you are willing to do that, you'll have 2 or 3 of the most amazing sightseeing days of your life. If you get a Paris Pass you can see more than without it because it allows you to skip the long ticket queues at many of the most popular attractions.
2-Day Paris Pass value
- 2-Day Visite Adult Pass: €18.95
- Value of the best 7 of the attractions below: €150
3-Day Paris Pass value
- 3-Day Visite Adult Pass: €25.95
- Value of all 10 of the attractions below: €181
Sometimes Paris Pass offers a promotion that makes the 3-Day Paris Pass only a bit more expensive than the 2-Day version. If you have 3 days in Paris then that is obviously your best bet. But if you only have 2 sightseeing days in Paris, you can still see an amazing amount, and you have most of your evenings free to just wander around.
Discount for Price of Travel readers
The Paris Pass includes an unlimited public transportation card
When calculating whether or not the Paris Pass is good value for you or not, you have to include the price of the included Paris Visite Pass, which is good for unlimited rides on the Metro, RER, buses, and even the Montmartre funicular. The Paris Metro is very efficient and there are stations every few blocks, so there is always one near where you are and one near where you want to go.
Whether you buy a Paris Pass or not, you'll certainly be taking the Metro many times each day if you are sightseeing. And having the unlimited pass means you don't have to buy tickets from the machines, which require a chip and pin credit card.
- 1-Day Visite Adult Pass: €11.65
- 2-Day Visite Adult Pass: €18.95
- 3-Day Visite Adult Pass: €25.95
- 5-Day Visite Adult Pass: €37.25
In other words, if you get a 2-Day or 3-Day Paris Pass, it includes free transportation so you get the value listed just above.
The Eiffel Tower elevator isn't included in the Paris Pass, and you may want to skip it anyway
If you've not yet been to Paris it would be natural to assume that going up the Eiffel Tower either by stairs or elevators is a must-do attraction. It's an interesting experience for sure, but honestly you might be better off skipping it. The ironic thing is that once you are on your way up, you are in the only place in Paris where you CAN'T see or photograph the Eiffel Tower.
It's also worth knowing that the 3rd Floor (the highest one) is so high that photos taken up there are flat and mostly uninteresting. You can take better photos from the 2nd Floor, but you can take even better photos from the top of the Arc De Triomphe or the Montparnasse Tower, and those photos will include the Eiffel Tower and are much easier to get.
Advice on the Eiffel Tower
If you do want to go up in the Eiffel Tower, do it on a separate day if you get a 2-Day Paris Pass.
On a 3-Day or more Paris Pass you'll have time on one of those days, but it's not as good as you'd expect it to be and the crowds make it even harder to enjoy.
Paris Big Bus Tour – €33 (Highest recommendation)
If this is your first visit to Paris, and even if you choose to skip the Paris Pass, I highly recommend doing the hop-on, hop-off bus. The included one is on the Big Bus company, which runs the same route as its two competitors. This is probably the best HOHO bus route in the world, as it takes you by and through the entire stunning area in central Paris, with no wasted time and little chance of getting bogged down in heavy traffic.
Stop number one is on the Seine side of the Eiffel Tower, but there are 9 other stops on the main route, so your hotel should be convenient to at least one of them. The full route lasts about 2.5 hours. If you can get on one of the first buses of the day then you might want to stay on the whole way around, and then do the rest of your sightseeing using the Metro with your included Visite Card. But if the buses aren't overloaded and it looks like you can get a seat if you get off and get back on, then you can do the bus tour a little at a time and hop off at most of the attractions below.
Louvre Museum – €15
Here's the thing about the Louvre. It's so ridiculously huge and filled with art from the 1700s and earlier that it would literally take an entire day to just walk by most of the displayed works, much less appreciate them. It's also really crowded to the point that it's hard to focus on anything or really enjoy it. As a result, you need a strategy. Seriously, it's almost always a mad house in there, and almost everyone gets bored and/or frustrated in a short time.
Since you absolutely have to visit the Louvre on your first visit to Paris, partly just to see the amazing building itself, this is the way to get the most out of a visit in a relatively short amount of time.
Advice on a quick visit to the Louvre
As cliche as it is, obviously you have to see the Mona Lisa, and you are going to want to see the Venus de Milo as well. The good news is that you can see both of those and a few hundred additional paintings and sculptures, and almost half of the inside of the Louvre itself, in about 45 minutes. That will be a long enough visit for most people, but stay as long as you like, of course.
Use your Paris Museum Pass to go into the short security queue rather than the longer public one. Then take the escalator downstairs to the ticket windows. With your included Paris Museum Pass, you can just walk right into Entrance One, letting them scan it as you walk in. Now that you are inside, follow the signs that lead you to the large room where the Mona Lisa hangs. It's up a few flights of stairs and not near the entrance, so you'll be passing by hundreds of other artworks as you go. Enjoy them as you walk, or stop if you are motivated to do so.
The Mona Lisa is always mobbed, but it's a big room and you can get pretty close if you spend a few minutes in there. After you see and photograph the Mona Lisa, head back out and look for the signs for Greek sculptures. They are down a couple of flights of stairs and in another wing. As you walk you'll again see hundreds of other artworks that you can spend time with if you feel like it. As you get close to the Venus de Milo you'll see signs leading you right to it.
By the time you've seen Venus de Milo you'll be fairly exhausted and sick of the crowds. Look for the Exit/Sortie signs, and you'll again pass by hundreds of impressive works on your way out. If you want to enjoy art, we'll do that at the more pleasant and less crowded Museum d'Orsay just across the Seine.
Arc De Triomphe observation deck – €12
The HOHO buses stop for a few minutes right next to the staircase that leads you down into the entrance to the Arc De Triomphe, but you can also get here quickly by Metro, as there is a stop right here. THIS is where you can take the best photos of Paris, partly because it's more central than the Eiffel Tower and partly because you can actually get the Eiffel Tower in the shots.
Go down the stairs and through the tunnel to the Arc itself. Once you come up you'll see the ticket windows and security. If you are young and fit you'll have to climb the stairs to the top of the Arc, but if you aren't you can go up by elevator for the same entry price. Once on top you'll be able to take excellent photos of most of Paris.
French Wine Tasting – €30 (includes a free bottle of wine!)
Les Caves du Louvre is the old Louvre wine cellar, and it's a short walk away from the east edge of the Louvre and also the Louvre-Rivoli Metro stop. Show your Paris Pass at the window and you'll be given a token for a free full-size wine bottle at the shop next door on your way out. Head down two flights of stairs and into the impressive wine cellars.
You'll do a self-guided tour of 6 rooms, with the 6th room being the wine-tasting bar. If you follow the smart phone app or use the iPad they'll lend you, the tour itself is very interesting. The best part before the wine tasting is an area where you can sniff a variety of wooden jars and try to identify exactly what they contain. Then you get to taste some little sample tubes that help illustrate the various components of wine flavors and elements.
Of course, the best part is the stylish bar at the end where the sommelier will pour you 3 different wines as they explain the fascinating story of the different French wine regions and varieties. If you go in a group this is extremely fun and interesting, as you can chat with the expert and get all of your questions answered.
On your way out you take your token to the gift shop next door where you can get a free full-size bottle of wine, or pay around €5 to buy one of the more expensive wines that you just tasted downstairs. The free wine is actually quite good, so don't feel the need to pay for the better ones unless you really feel like it.
The Orsay Museum – €12
If you really want to have an intimate experience with famous art, THIS is the place to do it rather than the overcrowded Louvre. This gorgeous former train station is always far less packed and far more pleasant than the Louvre. It's also far smaller so you can see the highlights in an hour or so if you like.
The Orsay is filled with 19th century art, including many very famous works. American visitors will be thrilled to see how large Whistler's Mother is in real life, and all visitors will appreciate Van Gogh's Starry Night, just to name a couple.
The HOHO bus stops directly in front of the Orsay, and there is an RER station just below as well. You can also easily reach it from the other side of the Seine using the footbridge lined with those “lover's locks”.
If you really think you want to have a cultural moment and spend some time with some art in a lovely setting, this is the place to do it. If you leave it for your last daytime stop of the day, you'll be able to linger until the 6pm (later on Thursdays) closing time.
Bateaux Parisiens River Cruise – €15
These extremely popular cruises leave from a dock just in front of the Eiffel Tower. Especially if you've done the HOHO bus during the day, which you should, then you should absolutely do the river cruise after sunset for a completely different and very magical look at Paris after dark.
The boats move pretty quickly and there is ample seating for everyone to face one direction or the other. It takes about 30 minutes to go past Notre Dame and then turn around for a trip up the other side of the island and then back to the dock. At night, all of the 22 bridges and most of the famous buildings are specially floodlit so they look amazing after dark, and you'll see many things that you'd never notice during the day.
The river cruise is quite romantic as well, and provides you with excellent evening photos opportunities of the Eiffel Tower as you cruise away and then back to it.
They don't sell drinks or anything else on the 1-hour cruise boats, so bring whatever you prefer. They do have several vending machines next to the queues as you are about to board, although they don't sell alcohol in them.
Montparnasse Tower – €15
You should definitely get near the Eiffel Tower to see it and photograph it from the outside, but as mentioned above, you might think twice about actually waiting to go up the stairs or elevators there. One reason is that from inside you obviously can't see the tower, so this nearby skyscraper actually provides the best views and photos of the thing.
There is a busy Metro station and RER station just below this tower, so it's easy to reach from almost anywhere. The Paris Pass is good for an entry to the 56th Floor observation deck, which provide great views of the whole city. Some people like to arrive just before sunset so they can see the daytime view and the night view as the lights come on. That takes a bit of time though, so it might not be worth it if you are using your Paris Pass for 2 or 3 days.
Opera Garnier Guided Tour – €15.50
Not far from the Louvre on the HOHO bus route, you'll encounter one of the most beautiful buildings you've ever seen, which is the Opera Garnier. Twice a day they offer guided tours of the stunning interior of the opera house, and if you plan in advance and arrive on the bus shortly before one of them, it's definitely worthwhile.
The opera house has a very central location so it's easy to reach from many hotels and near other attractions, so it's easy to visit on your non-bus day as well.
Sainte-Chapelle – €10
Only a short walk from Notre Dame Cathedral you'll find this amazing chapel that is far less well known. Once you get inside and take the short staircase to the upper level chapel you'll see why this is one of Paris's top attractions for anyone who has been here. The stained-glass windows here make you feel like you are in a holy laser show.
One particularly nice thing about using the Paris Pass for something like this is that you can honestly really enjoy the chapel in about 15 minutes, but if you paid the normal price for it you'd feel like you had to force yourself to stay longer to get your money's worth. This is also a fairly short walk from one of the HOHO bus stops, so don't miss it because you can be in and out quickly, and you'll love it.
Grevin Wax Museum – €23.50
The Grevin Wax Museum is another attraction that you might not think to visit if you had to pay full price, but with a Paris Pass you can pop in and stay as long as you like with no guilt. Similar to the Madame Tussauds museums, the wax figures here are amazingly realistic. You can stand right next to them and you'll worry that they are about to come to life.
As you might expect, many of the wax figures here are of famous French people, both historical and current stars. But there are plenty of international celebrity figures as well.
The museum is a fairly short walk from the Big Bus office, which is Stop #4 on the HOHO bus tour. The Paris Pass allows you Fast Track Entry, so you can get in quickly and have a look around without committing hours to it. Chances are you'll be so impressed that you'll want to stay an hour or more, but even if you aren't, it's still worth a quick look since it doesn't cost anything extra.