The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks, not just in Paris, but in the world. The iron tower is both an amazing feat of engineering and an inspiring symbol of the City of Lights. It’s a must see for all visitors to Paris.
The problem is, everyone else wants to visit the Eiffel Tower too! The Eiffel Tower is the most visited paid monument in the world and receives an average of 25,000 visitors a day! New security screenings can slow down the visiting process even more. If you value your time, you’ll want to do a bit of pre-planning before visiting the Eiffel Tower.
We’ve visited the Eiffel Tower several times and our post has all the information you need to plan your visit to the Eiffel Tower, including how to get there, how to buy tickets, where to get the best views, how to book a guided tour, where to eat, and how to save time and money. We’ll also share tips on where to get the best photographs of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Some Eiffel Tower Facts & History
Before we get started with how to plan your visit to the Eiffel Tower, we thought we’d share a brief history and some interesting facts about this iconic Parisian landmark.
What is the Eiffel Tower?
The Eiffel Tower is a 1,063 foot tall (324 m) wrought iron lattice tower in Paris France. It’s both a marvel of 19th century engineering and a symbol of the city. A popular nickname for the tower is “La Dame de Fer” or “The Iron Lady”.
It is Paris’ most famous and most visited tourist attraction. Every day thousands of visitors flock to the tower to enjoy the marvelous views from the top and the evening light shows.
The Eiffel Tower is composed of three levels, the 1st floor, 2nd floor, and the summit (top level). The first floor has museum exhibits, a glass floor, changing exhibitions, souvenir shops, and restaurants. The second floor has more eateries and shops, the Jules Verne restaurant, and an observation area.
The summit is primarily an observation area that is 276 meters (905 feet) above the ground, making it the highest observation deck in Europe. The top floor is split across two levels and you’ll also find a champagne bar and a recreation of Gustave Eiffel’s office.
In addition to being used as a tourist attraction, the Eiffel Tower has long been used as a communications tower. Today, it is still used to transmit both radio and digital television signals.
Who Built the Eiffel Tower?
The Eiffel Tower takes its name from the primary engineer of the firm who created the design for the structure, Gustave Eiffel. Gustave Eiffel was a French civil engineer who also built the framework for the equally iconic Statue of Liberty in New York City.
Eiffel did not design the tower himself; the design for the tower was created primarily by two of his employees Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier. The design of the tower was inspired by the former wooden Latting Observatory Tower in New York City, but with greater attention paid to both form and beauty.
The Eiffel Tower is made from wrought iron (puddled iron to be more specific) and is the most famous example of a lattice, or free-standing framework, tower. At the time of its construction it was quite a daring design due to its delicate form and economy of design.
Today you can pay homage to Gustave Eiffel by checking out a bronze bust of Eiffel at the base of the north leg of the tower that was created by French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle in 1929. You can also see a restored version of Eiffel’s office with wax figures at the very top of the Eiffel Tower.
Why was the Eiffel Tower built?
The tower was commissioned as a centerpiece of the World’s Fair (Exposition Universelle) of 1889 held in Paris. The design for the Eiffel Tower was selected from over 100 proposals. The tower was not meant to serve any practical purpose, it was merely to impress visitors as they entered the fair and to show off the technological skills of the French.
Construction of the tower began July 1, 1887 and took only 22 months. This was an amazing speed given the building practices of the day. When it opened it had three restaurants and a bar on the first floor. It was initially painted a reddish-brown color.
Originally the tower was only supposed to stand for 20 years, and part of the selection criteria for the building for the Exposition Universelle was that it would be easy to disassemble. However, by 1909 the tower was so well liked and useful for communications that the government decided to keep it.
The Eiffel Tower celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2014!
Why is the Eiffel Tower so popular?
While the tower’s construction was initially controversial, over time it has become the most iconic structure in Paris. In fact, it is one of the most well-known buildings in the entire world.
People flock to the Eiffel Tower to take pictures in front of its classic facade, to enjoy the amazing views from the observation decks inside, and to see its dazzling nightly light shows. It’s also the focal point of many important events, including Paris’ Bastille Day and New Year’s fireworks celebrations.
The Eiffel Tower is not just an important architectural landmark, it’s a cultural symbol that has appeared in hundreds of books, television shows, video games, posters, and movies. It has been used in hundreds of films as a way of letting the audience know that a scene is taking place in the City of Lights without having to state it.
Interesting Facts about the Eiffel Tower?
- At the time of its construction the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world, surpassing the Washington Monument by over 100 meters. It remained the tallest building until 1930, when the Chrysler Building in New York City was completed.
- The Eiffel Tower is composed of over 18,000 metallic parts, including 7,300 tons of iron. It’s held together by 2,500,000 rivets.
- Not everyone has always loved the Eiffel Tower, and a group called The Committee of Three Hundred, composed mainly of French artists, writers, and intellectuals, tried to have its construction stopped. Opponents at the time described it as “monstrous”, “vulgar”, and “useless”, and compared it to a “metal asparagus” and a “black smokestack”.
- Gustave Eiffel built a personal office at the very top of the Eiffel Tower. The apartment has been restored and you can visit it on the top floor of the tower.
- The tower is the most visited paid monument in the world, with approximately 7 million people paying for entrance annually. Since 1889, it has hosted over 300 million visitors!
- The Eiffel Tower has to be repainted by hand about every 7 years to prevent rust and damage by pollution, requiring about 60 tonnes of paint! The initial color of the Eiffel Tower was reddish brown and it changed over the years. The current “Eiffel Tower Brown” paint color has been used since 1968.
- The Eiffel Tower has inspired buildings around the world. There are over a dozen near exact replicas (usually on a much smaller scale) around the world, including in China, Mexico, Russia, and several places in the United States. You can also find its influence in many buildings around the world, including the Tokyo Tower.
- It takes 20,000 light bulbs to illuminate the Eiffel Tower. Originally the tower was lit by gas lamps until electric lights were installed in 1958.
- An American woman, Erika Labrie, took such a love to the Parisian monument during her 2004 visit, that she “married” the Eiffel Tower in a commitment ceremony in 2007. She even changed her name to Erika Eiffel!
Planning your Visit to the Eiffel Tower in Paris
You definitely need a strategy for visiting one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, especially if you plan to visit in summer. Below you will find all the details you need to plan your trip, including how to get to the Eiffel Tower, how much it costs to visit, how to save time, and how to avoid the crowds at the Eiffel Tower.
Where is the Eiffel Tower Located?
The Eiffel Tower is located on the north end of the Champ de Mars, a large public park in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. You can find the tower at the intersection of the Quai Branly and the Pont d’Iéna.
Once you are within walking distance of the tower, it’s pretty hard to miss! In fact, as you explore Paris, you’ll probably find yourself getting glimpses of it from throughout the city.
How to Get to the Eiffel Tower in Paris?
There are a number of ways to reach the Eiffel Tower in Paris, including public transport, car, sightseeing bus, river boat, and day tours.
Eiffel Tower by Public Transport
This is probably the least stressful way to arrive at the Eiffel Tower because you don’t need to worry about parking or time restraints. You can easily get to the tower via Metro, RER commuter rail or public bus.
Eiffel Tower By Metro and RER
There are three metro stops and one RER commuter rail stop within walking distance of the tower:
- Line 6 (Nation – Charles de Gaulle Etoile) stop: Bir-Hakeim (8 minute walk)
- Line 9 (Pont de Sévres – Mairie de Montreuil) stop: Trocadéro (12 minute walk)
- Line 8 (Balard – Créteil) stop: Ecole Militaire (15 minute walk)
- RER Line C stop: Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel (7 minute walk)
Eiffel Tower By Public Bus
There are several bus stops within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower:
- Bus 82, stops: “tour Eiffel” or “Champ de Mars” (5 minute walk)
- Bus 42, stop: “tour Eiffel” (5 minute walk)
- Bus 87, stop: “Champ de Mars” (6 minute walk)
- Bus 69, stop: “Champ de Mars” (6 minute walk)
Eiffel Tower by Sightseeing Bus
If you are planning to take a hop on, hop off bus while in Paris, all of them have routes that include a stop near the Eiffel Tower. Stops are usually noted as either “Eiffel Tower” or “Champ de Mars”. There are several sightseeing bus companies, which include Big Bus and Open Tour.
Note that a 1 day hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus ticket is included for those who have a Paris Pass.
If you are staying at Disneyland Paris, you can also take a hop-on hop-off shuttle that stops at the Eiffel Tower if you want to spend part of day in the city center.
Eiffel Tower by River Boat
You can actually reach the Eiffel Tower by river if you are taking the hop-on, hop-off river cruise on the Batobus. One of the stops and main spots for embarkation is near the Eiffel Tower. It is about a 3 minute walk from the Tour Eiffel stop to the Eiffel Tower.
You can purchase tickets for the Batobus online here in advance or in person once in Paris.
Eiffel Tower by Car
If you are driving, there are several paid parking garages located near the Eiffel Tower:
- Parking Pullman Tour Eiffel (18 avenue de Suffren) – 5 minute walk from Eiffel Tower
- Parking Quai Branly (25 quai Branly) – 6 minute walk from Tower
- Parking Bouvard (443 Avenue Joseph Bouvard) – 6 minute walk from Tower
- Parking Sainte Dominique (133 rue Sainte Dominique) – 10 minute walk from Tower
- Parking Joffre Ecole Militaire (2 place Joffre) – 12 minute walk
If you are going to be driving and parking in Paris, you can read more about parking guidelines and tips on the city’s website here.
Note that we don’t recommend driving in central Paris if it can be avoided. If you have a car while in Paris, you may instead wish to park it (parking garages further outside the city center are less expensive) and take public transportation to get around the city.
Eiffel Tower by Day Tour
If you’re staying outside of central Paris, it’s possible to visit the Eiffel Tower on a day tour into the city. Just be sure to check what is included in your tour and what kind of Eiffel Tower ticket is included (is it to the 1st, 2nd, or summit).
There are several day tours offered from London, for example:
- This tour from London via Eurostar includes a Paris sightseeing bus tour, a champagne lunch at the Eiffel Tower (58 Tour Eiffel, 1st floor), Seine cruise, and optional guided Louvre tour. You can see a similar tour here.
- This full day tour by Eurostar includes guided visit to 2nd floor of Eiffel Tower, guided walking tour, Seine River cruise, and Louvre museum visit.
What is there to See & Do at the Eiffel Tower?
Most people visit the Eiffel Tower because it is a world famous landmark and to get the nice views over Paris. But you may be wondering what else there is to do at the tower.
We’ll give you an overview of the main things to do at the Eiffel Tower to help you plan your visit.
Esplanade of the Eiffel Tower
The esplanade is the area of the ground around the tower which is free to visit although you do need to pass through security to access this area. There are gift shops and fast service food options here, as well as the information center and ticket offices.
If you are on a really tight budget, this is a great place to go to get the free classic view of the Eiffel Tower from below. You can examine the architecture of the structure up close, check out the bronze bust of Gustave Eiffel sculpted by Bourdelle at the base of the north leg of the tower, and peek up at the 19th century lift machines.
First Floor of Eiffel Tower
The first floor of the tower features rotating cultural exhibitions, a cinema projection, a section of the former spiral staircase, a children’s play area, and a unique transparent floor that allows you to see what’s happening below on the esplanade. There are also a variety of gift shops and dining options, including the 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant.
The first floor is accessible by stairs or the elevators. For those visiting by elevator, you will start your journey at the highest level of your ticket (2nd floor or summit) and then you can visit the 1st floor on your way down the tower.
This floor is often skipped by visitors taking the elevator but it is well worth a visit to get a different view and to visit the exhibits here.
Second Floor of Eiffel Tower
The highlight of the second floor of the Eiffel Tower is its large observation deck which provides stunning views over Paris. There are also a variety of gift shops and dining options, including fast service, a macaroon bar, and the Michelin-starred Jules Verne fine dining restaurant.
The 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower is accessible by stairs or the elevators. This is usually the busiest floor of the attraction.
Summit of Eiffel Tower
The summit allows for a bird’s eye view over Paris and is the top floor that can be visited on the tower. There is also a champagne bar and the former office of Gustave Eiffel.
The top floor of the Eiffel Tower is accessible only by elevator, and is not currently accessible to wheelchair users.
Eiffel Tower Ticket Prices?
It is free to visit the Champs de Mars where the Eiffel Tower is located and this gives you a great view of the tower. Security barriers around the tower though prevent you from simply being able to walk up to it as you were able to do in the past.
But it is still free to walk underneath the Eiffel Tower, but you have to go through the barriers and security line to access this area.
If, like most people, you want to actually go up into the Eiffel Tower, there is an entrance fee. There are several tiers of pricing for visiting the Eiffel Tower depending on how high you wish to go and whether you want to take the stairs or the elevator.
Here are the prices (as of February 2019):
- A ticket to the top of the Eiffel Tower with access to the lift is 25,50€ for adults, 12,70€ for ages 12-24, and 6,40€ for children aged 4-11 and disabled visitors with proper ID.
- A ticket to the top of the Eiffel Tower with stair access to the second floor and a lift to the top is 19,40€ for adults, 9,70€ for ages 12-24, and 4,90€ for children aged 4-11 and disabled visitors.
- A ticket to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower with access to the lift is 16,30€ for adults, 8,10€ for ages 12-24, and 4,10€ for children aged 4-11 and disabled visitors.
- A ticket to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower with stair access only is 10,20€ for adults, 5,10€ for ages 12-24, and 2,50€ for children aged 4-11 and disabled visitors.
- Access to all levels is free for children under age 4 accompanied by their parents or guardians, but they still need to collect a free ticket.
Visitors who make a reservation online at one of the Eiffel Tower’s two main restaurants (58 Tour Eiffel or Le Jules Verne) will not need a separate ticket to get to the restaurants as it should be included in your online booking. You just need proof of your restaurant reservation to use the lifts. However, entrance to the restaurant does not include entrance to the rest of the tower, so you will still need to buy a separate ticket to access the upper level(s).
Those with a 58 Tour Eiffel reservation can pick up a 1st floor lift ticket at the Welcome Desk located at the esplanade and can join the priority queue. Le Jules Verne has its own private elevator to the second floor, so those with reservations should use that elevator to access the restaurant.
How to Buy Tickets to the Eiffel Tower?
You can buy tickets to the Eiffel Tower either online or in person at the Eiffel Tower ticket booths (located at the foot of the tower once you pass the barriers and first security checkpoint). Tickets for stair access can only be purchased at the Tower itself and are for same day use only.
The prices online on the Eiffel Tower website and in person at the Eiffel Tower are the same. But buying a timed ticket ahead of time online is the best way to save time and skip long lines. If you plan to use the elevators, we recommend that you pre-purchase your tickets as you’ll be able to skip the ticket lines and join the priority access elevator security lanes.
While there are many websites and businesses in Paris that are happy to resell you tickets to the Eiffel Tower, there is no benefit to buying an individual ticket anywhere but on the official Eiffel Tower website. The prices are the same no matter where you purchase the tickets.
However, if you want to have a guided tour or extra experience, then it may make sense to purchase your ticket elsewhere as these kinds of experiences are not offered by the Tour Eiffel staff. We discuss this in the Guided Tours section below. However, be sure to read all the inclusions so you know what kind of ticket is included with your tour (e.g., do you have access to the 2nd floor, top floor, etc.).
Keep in mind that tickets purchased online must be printed before your arrival on standard white A4 paper, or presented on a mobile phone with a legible bar code (make sure your phone supports this function).
If you pre-purchase a timed Eiffel Tower ticket, be sure to get to the base of the Eiffel Tower for that time. There are entry lines for those with pre-booked tickets. When planning your arrival, be sure to take into account the initial security check which can take 30 minutes or so.
Eiffel Tower tickets often book out well in advance, especially in the summer, holidays, and other peak visitor times. So be sure to book well in advance unless you are flexible with the date and time of your visit.
What to do if Eiffel Tower Tickets are Sold Out Online?
Don’t panic if Eiffel Tower tickets are sold out online on the Eiffel Tower website during the dates of your trip. You can still visit the Eiffel Tower.
First, note that tickets for the stairs are NOT sold online and are only available for in person purchase. So just purchase these on the day in person at the ticket booth.
If you want to access the elevators, here are your options:
- You can purchase tickets in person at the Eiffel Tower for use that day for the elevator. Just note that you’ll have to wait in the general non-priority elevator line which can be long, so I’d recommend visiting at non-peak hours if you want to take the elevators.
- You can book a guided tour of the Eiffel Tower that includes timed entry tickets such as this tour or this tour.
- You can book a walking tour of Paris that includes either Eiffel Tower access or Eiffel Tower tickets such as this one or this one.
- You can book dinner at Jules Verne which gives you private elevator access to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower (but not the summit).
Should I get Tickets to the Second Floor or Summit?
If you want to see the top floor and view from the very top, then you’ll want to book tickets that allow you to go to the summit (very top).
But there is a great observation deck and views from the second floor and there are places to eat and get gifts on both the first and second floors. So you can save money by only purchasing a ticket to visit the second floor.
You need to decide whether you want to visit the summit BEFORE you buy your tickets. Once you are headed up the stairs or in the elevator for the second floor, you cannot buy a “summit only ticket” later within the tower.
If you have a ticket for the 2nd floor, and now want to visit the summit it is possible but it will cost you time and money. You will have to return to the ticket booth and purchase a new ticket with summit access.
Are Discounted Eiffel Tower Tickets Available?
The Eiffel Tower offers discounts to disabled patrons with proper identification and to young people under the ages of 12. Children under the age of 4 can visit for free, but they still need to collect a free ticket to access the tower.
The Eiffel Tower does not offer any student discounts or other discounts to any card or pass holders.
The Eiffel Tower does not resell any of its tickets at a discounted price as far as we are aware. So if you find tickets that are discounted, we’d recommend being wary of them. Only purchase tickets from the official website or reputable travel companies.
Which Paris Passes Cover the Eiffel Tower?
Most Paris passes, including the recommended Paris Museum Pass and the Paris Pass, do NOT include entrance to the Eiffel Tower. So if you have one of these passes, you will still need to purchase your Eiffel Tower tickets separately.
The Paris Explorer Pass allows you to visit the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower and provides a guided tour of the tower.
The Paris Passlib’ gives you the option of adding a visit to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, but this does not save you money.
Is there an AudioGuide Available for the Eiffel Tower?
No. The Eiffel Tower used to have an official self-guided tour available via a phone app, but this appears to have been discontinued.
The Eiffel Tower does publish an activity book (in French and English), aimed at children age 6-10, which can be downloaded for free from their website.
Booking a Guided Tour of the Eiffel Tower?
If you are wanting to learn more about the Eiffel Tower and its construction and history, you might want to consider booking a guided tour. Make sure to check the fine print to see what kind of tour you are booking. Almost all such tours include pre-purchased timed tickets for faster entry.
Here are a several options for guided Eiffel Tower tours:
- 1.5 Hour Summit Tour – This 1.5 hour guided tour includes a guided tour of the Eiffel Tower and elevator access to all floors, including the summit. This is a great tour to consider for those who want to use the elevator and have access to the very top.
- 2 Hour Interactive History Tour – This tour focuses on the history of the Eiffel Tower and guests are given headsets and tablets to help bring the history of the Tour Eiffel to life. Includes elevator access to the summit.
- 2 Hour Stairs Tour – This 2-hour guided tour includes access to the second floor via the stairs with a guide. A good value if you don’t mind taking the stairs. You can also add-on the option at booking to have access to the summit elevator if you wish to see the top floor (not accessible by stairs).
- Guided Tour at Night – This 1.5 hours guided tour includes a guided tour of the Eiffel Tower at night and elevator access to the second floor.
What is the Average Queue Time at the Eiffel Tower?
The time you will wait in line depends on a number of factors, primarily the time of day, time of year, if you’ve pre-booked tickets or a tour or not, and if you want to take the elevator or the stairs.
Generally speaking, if you wish to be at the top at a specific time (like sunset), it’s advisable to book your timed entry to the tower about 90 minutes ahead of that time to ensure you get there in plenty of time.
Perimeter Security Line: It is advised to allow 30 minutes to go through the perimeter security, more at peak times. There is no way to skip the security line and even if you are not planning to visit the tower, you still need to go through security to walk underneath the tower. Those with pre-booked tickets may be able to join a fast-track lane.
Ticket Line: You can skip the ticket buying line entirely by purchasing a timed entry ticket online ahead of time or booking a guided tour. You may still have to wait to board the elevators, but at least you won’t be stuck in a long ticket line which can be a 1 hour wait at peak times. Those wishing to take the stairs will need to purchase their tickets here.
Elevator to 2nd Floor Line: The general ticket queues for the elevators from the esplanade to the second floor can be long and can take up to 2 hours (although normally 1 hour or less) during peak times of the year. But if you have a timed ticket, you will have access to a fast-track line that you can join to go through the second set of security and access the elevator.
Stairs Queue: After going through security, there is normally no wait or only a short wait to access the stairs as the line moves quickly and most visitors take the elevator. On average it takes visitors 30 to 40 minutes to walk up the stairs (674 steps to 2nd floor), and a bit less to walk down.
Summit Elevator Line: If you are planning to access the summit, the line during busy times can be up to a 1 hour wait as there is no timed entry. Although this line is normally no longer than 20 to 30 minutes. There are no public stairs to the top floor of the tower, so the elevator is the only access point.
Best Ways to Save Money on Visiting the Eiffel Tower?
Eiffel Tower tickets prices are standardized, so the best way to save money is buying one of the less expensive ticket options. Here are several ways you can save money at the Eiffel Tower:
- Take the stairs. If you are fit enough to take the stairs (there are 674 steps from the esplanade to the 2nd floor), we recommend those to anyone on a tighter budget. In addition to saving you money, it will also save you time by avoiding the long queues for the elevators and is healthy exercise. Note that if you are visiting outside of the summer, the stairs close much earlier than the elevators (around dark) so be sure to check closing time for the stairs if you want to visit in the evening.
- Only go to the 2nd floor. If you are OK with not going to the summit, you can save money by not going to the top floor. Many people feel the best view is from the 2nd floor anyway.
- Bring your own water. Carry a reusable water bottle with you so you can bring your own water as purchasing drinks at Tour Eiffel can be expensive. Note that glass bottles are not allowed through security.
- Eat before or after your visit to the Eiffel Tower. Meal prices at the Eiffel Tower are more expensive than you can find elsewhere in Paris, so you can save money by eating elsewhere. Note that picnics are not allowed within the Eiffel Tower security zone.
Tips for Going Through Security at the Eiffel Tower
In response to recent terror attacks in France, the Eiffel Tower has had a security barrier in place since 2016. Since summer 2018, the Eiffel Tower has been surrounded by a 3 meter high (almost 10 feet) perimeter fence made of bullet proof glass. Anyone trying to access the tower or the area underneath it will need to go through airport style security that includes metal detectors.
The Eiffel Tower website advises giving yourself at least 30 minutes before your timed elevator time to go through security. The best way to get through the security line efficiently is to ensure that you don’t have any objects that are likely to be confiscated.
The following objects are forbidden inside the Eiffel Tower and will be confiscated at security: weapons, knives (including pocket knives), tools like screwdrivers and wrenches, glass bottles or containers any kind, and any sort of canned beverage. “Excessive food or drink” is also prohibited although it appears the definition of this is up to security guards.
Additionally non-folding strollers, bulky luggage, and all animals (aside from guide dogs with documents) are prohibited. There is no left-luggage storage or cloakrooms at the tower, so don’t bring your luggage to the tower.
How to Skip the Security Lines at the Eiffel Tower?
Everyone who visits the tower needs to go through security, and there is no way to skip the security checks. There is a security check to get inside the perimeter barriers and then another security check for those entering the monument via the stairs or elevators.
However, patrons who buy their tickets ahead of time online can save time with fast-track security checks for the elevators. The electronic timed tickets purchased online in advance save you time with fast-track security checks and no need to queue at the Eiffel Tower ticket offices.
If you booked a guided tour of the Eiffel Tower, almost all tours included timed tickets with priority access as well.
Note that even with a pre-booked ticket, there is no guarantee of priority access as security protocol procedures are subject to change at any time.
How to Skip the Entry Queues at the Eiffel Tower?
You can avoid queuing at the ticket booths by buying your ticket ahead of time online. Tickets can currently be purchased up to 60 days in advance and include a pre-booked timed access slot for the lifts. Pre-booked timed tickets include priority line access to the elevators.
There is no such thing as a “skip the line” ticket for the Eiffel Tower. The “priority entrance tickets” that many companies advertise are simply the pre-booked entrance tickets that anyone can buy on the official Eiffel Tower website. They will get you out of waiting in the ticket line, but you will still have to wait in line to board the elevators with the rest of the pre-booked ticket holders.
How Long Is an Average Visit at the Eiffel Tower?
We would recommend planning to be at the Eiffel Tower for at least 1.5 hours if you plan to visit the 2nd floor or 2.5 hours if you also plan to go up to the summit. These are average times of visits for visitors provided by the Eiffel Tower.
You’ll want to allow more time if you are planning to eat here.
Restaurants at the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower has two major restaurants, a champagne bar, and several other self-service eateries and snack bars.
Jules Verne is the gourmet French restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower. It is currently being renovated and is closed until May 2019. When it reopens it will feature a menu created by Frederic Anton and Thierry Marx, who have almost half a dozen Michelin stars between them, and stunning dining views over 400 feet above the ground. Reservations needed.
58 Tour Eiffel is a more casual restaurant on the 1st floor that can be accessed with or without a reservation (if there is availability). It’s lunch specialty is a “chic picnic,” where your meal is served in a metal picnic basket. In the evening the ambiance is more formal, with a wine list and 3 course menu featuring classic French dishes. Reservations recommended.
The Champagne Bar is located on the top floor of the Eiffel Tower. Here visitors can enjoy a glass of bubbly while looking out over Paris. Reservations are not possible here but lines here are generally not long.
The second floor has a macaroon bar that offers a rainbow of macaroon choices. Additionally there are several quick service eateries selling casual sandwiches, meals, and snacks on the 1st and 2nd floors as well as the esplanade (ground) where diners can grab quick meals for eat in or takeaway.
Other Facilities at the Eiffel Tower
There are free restrooms on the esplanade, first, second, and top floors of the Eiffel Tower. There are baby changing facilities on the esplanade, first, and second floors.
You’ll find dining options and gift shops on the esplanade, first floor, and second floor of the Eiffel Tower. There is also the champagne bar at the summit.
The first floor also has a children’s play area.
Accessibility at the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower was not built with accessibility or wheelchairs in mind, but modifications have been made to make the tower more accessible.
For those with mobility issues, all floors can be accessed via elevator. There are 674 steps from the ground to reach the second floor. The stairs are obviously not recommended for those with mobility difficulties.
Visitors with wheelchairs can visit the first and second floor via lift, but wheelchair users are prohibited from visiting the top floor for safety reasons.
Disabled toilets are available on the esplanade (behind the East pillar), first, and second floors. Most of the eateries and shops are wheelchair accessible as well.
Walking Tours Visiting the Eiffel Tower
While many walking tours will take you around the outside of the Eiffel Tower, only a few include tickets and a visit to the Eiffel Tower. Here are a couple of good options:
- This 6 hour highlights tour of Paris includes a fully guided tour of the Eiffel Tower (including access to the summit) as well as a Seine river boat cruise, a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral, and other Paris highlights.
- This full day tour offers an extensive 9 hour full day Paris tour that includes a guided tour of the Louvre, Notre Dame, Montmartre, and Trocadéro Plaza. It also includes entrance tickets to the Eiffel Tour (access to the 2nd floor via elevator) and Seine River cruise tickets. If you only have one day to see the highlights of Paris, we recommend this tour!
Best Time to Visit the Eiffel Tower
We have enjoyed visits to the Eiffel Tower in the morning, afternoon, and evening, and we can say that there is no bad time to visit. In the morning and afternoon you can really take in great views of Paris.
In the evening the tower is illuminated with a beautiful yellowish glow and you can see all the city lit up from above. Sunset is a beautiful, but very popular, time to visit the Eiffel Tower.
If you prefer a quieter and less crowded visit, we recommend visiting either in the morning or the evening after dark. The least busy times are generally 9:00am to 11:00am and 8:00pm to 10:00pm.
The Eiffel Tower is normally open 365 days of the year, but the top observation decks occasionally close for maintenance in the winter and for weather related reasons. Although unusual, it has also shut down several times in recent years for terrorist threats, strikes, and riots.
You can find out about any planned closures on the official Eiffel Tower website.
Best Views from the Eiffel Tower
There are two different main areas in the Eiffel Tower: the 2nd floor observation deck, which is 115 meters (377 feet) above Paris, and the summit observation deck, which is a staggering 276 meters (905 feet) above the city. Opinions vary on which is the better view, and both are well worth seeing.
The second floor gives you a better view of Paris and its landmarks. You are still low enough to see some of the nuances and details of the surrounding buildings and areas. You have a clear view of city landmarks like the Louvre, Montmartre, and Notre Dame Cathedral. This is our preferred viewpoint.
The top floor gives you a bird’s eye of the city. This is the highest viewpoint in the city and all the details below blend together, making it more difficult to make out individual landmarks. The effect can be dizzying!
Timing of the Evening Lights at the Eiffel Tower
Every night 20,000 bulbs twinkle in tandem alongside 336 projector spotlights to create an amazing sparking light show. The light show occurs every night, on the hour, from sunset until 1:00am.
The shimmering display of sparkling lights lasts 5 minutes, except for the last, 1AM show, which is 10 minutes long. The last show of the night is also the most dramatic because the yellow lights that illuminate the tower itself are turned off, giving the twinkling lights a backdrop of darkness.
The best way to view the Eiffel Tower light show is actually at a distance, not from the Eiffel Tower itself. You can watch the show from anywhere in Paris where you can see the Eiffel Tower.
These locations include along the Seine River between Île de la Cité is and the Pont d’Iena, and you will likely catch the lights from any evening Seine river boat cruise. Or you can get a closer view from the Place du Trocadéro or Champs du Mar. You can also get a nice view from the Montparnasse Tower.
How to Avoid the Crowds at the Eiffel Tower
Because it is such a popular attraction, avoiding the crowds at the Eiffel Tower can be tricky. There is almost always a crowd. That said, there are a few things you can do to work around the crowds:
- Purchase your entrance tickets online ahead of time to avoid long lines for the ticket booth and get priority access to the elevator line to the 2nd floor. Or book a guided tour or walking tour that includes timed tickets.
- The peak times to visit the tower are 11:00am to 5:00pm, with 5:00pm to 8:00pm as moderately busy. The quieter times are 9:00am to 11:00am and 8:00pm to 10:30pm. The late evening hours (after 8:00pm) are almost always the quietest and the best if you want to avoid lines if you don’t mind the dark.
- Weekends are busier than weekdays.
- The best time to visit for the least crowds is a weekday in January, February, November, or December (except around Christmas and New Year’s).
- Take the stairs to avoid long elevator waits. Even if you’ve bought tickets for the elevator you can often cut down your waiting around time by taking the stairs back down the tower.
- If budget is not a concern, you can skip the elevator lines almost entirely by booking a meal reservation at the Jules Verne. Those with pre-booked reservations at the restaurant have access to a private elevator (to the 2nd floor).
Where to Stay in Paris Near the Eiffel Tower
The area around the Eiffel Tower can be very pricey, as hotels here are popular and in high demand. Hotel room prices can vary dramatically depending on the time of year. Winter months (with the exception of Christmas, New Years, and Valentine’s day) typically mean drastically lower rates than summer months.
We’ve selected a wide range of options, from budget and good value spots to luxury hotels, for people who want to stay within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.
- Mercure Paris Centre – The 4-star Mercure is one of the closest hotels to the Eiffel Tower. This contemporary hotel has standard style rooms, flat screen TVs, breakfast buffet, fitness center, and on-site restaurant and bar. Great for couples. A 2 minute walk away.
- Résidence Charles Floquet – This luxury Aparthotel is practically next door to the Eiffel Tower and offers everything you might need including a fireplace, satellite TVs, well equipped kitchen, as well as a washing machine and dryer in each residence. They offer multi-bedroom apartments which are great for larger groups. Only a 3 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower.
- Pullman Paris – This 4-star hotel is located right next to the Eiffel Tower and offers great views of the tower. The hotel offers comfortable rooms, flat screen TVs, an on-site bar and restaurant, fitness room, and 24-hour front desk. A 5 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower.
- Hôtel Eiffel Rive Gauche – This 3-star smaller hotel is located in a historical building that used to be a convent. A quirky little hotel that offers a good buffet breakfast and a convenient 24 hours reception desk. Expect small rooms in an older building, but good option for those on a budget who want to be near the Eiffel Tower. Note that the lower priced rooms have shared bathrooms. A 10 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower.
- Résidence Champ de Mars – Studio apartments with kitchenettes just off the Champ de Mars. This place is no frills but it offers well-rated comfortable rooms, an excellent location, and a helpful reception. A 12 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower.
- Hôtel Juliana Paris – This 5-star luxury hotel offers large comfortable rooms with flat screen TVs, bathrobes, and luxury toiletries. The hotel offers a fitness center, hammam, sauna, and 24 hour reception desk. There is a gorgeous rooftop bar with a partial view of the Eiffel Tower. A 12 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower.
- Beatrice et Emmanuel Meublé Eiffel – This aparthotel is a terrific value for the location, offering studio and apartment style rooms with Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and kitchenettes. They book up fast so make sure to make you reservation here early. It is about a 13 minute walk from the tower.
- Au Pacific Hotel – This 2-star hotel in the 15th arrondissement offers good value for the area. The rooms are small but affordable with flat screen TVs and private bathrooms. They also offer larger family size rooms. The hotel is about a 17 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower.
- Hôtel Eiffel Turenne – This popular well-rated 3-star hotel offers comfortable rooms, flat-screen TVs, a bar, and a 24 hour front desk. A 18 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower.
- 3 Ducks Hostel – This well-rated boutique hostel features a shared kitchen, a terrace, a bar, a 24 hour desk, and luggage storage facilities. Most rooms are dormitory style rooms but the hostel also has a few private rooms and family rooms. This is the closest hostel option that we know of and a great place to consider for those on a budget. It is a 22 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower; 2 minute walk to nearest Metro station.
Looking for a room or apartment? Check out these great Paris listings on Airbnb near the Tower.
Other Attractions Near the Eiffel Tower
There are lots of things to see and do within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.
Take a River Cruise (1 minute from Eiffel Tower) – The Eiffel Tower is the most popular spot to catch a Seine River cruise; and we have a ton of tips in our post on how to choose the best Seine cruise for you.
Champ de Mars (1 minute) – The Eiffel Tower is located on the edge of this large green space, which many people neglect to explore. The 60 acre park is a great place for a picnic, stroll, and photos in the shadow of the mighty tower.
Trocadero (8 Minute walk) – The Trocadero is a long garden right across from the Eiffel Tower where the Palais de Chaillot is located. There are a number of museums located here and nearby, including the Musée national de la Marine (maritime museum), the Palais de Tokyo (a contemporary art museum), and the Musée d’Art Moderne (modern art museum).
Musee du Quai Branly (8 minute walk) – The Musee Quai Branly is a museum featuring art and cultural objects from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. It is also known for its living garden that covers parts of the museum. Entry is free for those with a Paris Museum Pass or Paris Pass.
Rue Cler (10 minute walk) – If you’re looking to grab an affordable snack you want to get away from the immediate Eiffel Tower area, Rue Cler is a popular and scenic market street where you can shop for fresh produce, snacks, and souvenirs.
Paris Aquarium (14 minute walk) – The Paris Aquarium is a nice break from history and museums. with over 500 species and 15,000 fish. A popular family attraction, especially on a rainy day. Entry is free for those with a Paris Pass or Paris Explorer Pass.
Rodin Museum (23 minute walk) – The Rodin Museum is a museum dedicated to the life and works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin. It is housed in a 18th century mansion, once the home and studio of Rodin, and here you can see some of his most famous works, like The Thinker, in addition to some beautiful gardens. Entry is free with a Paris Museum Pass or Paris Pass.
Avenue des Champs-Elysées– (25 minutes walk)- The “world’s most beautiful avenue” is full of high-end shops, restaurants, car show rooms, the flagship store for Ladurée macarons, and hotels as well as notable landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe.
Our Experience Visiting the Eiffel Tower
Laurence and I have both visited the Eiffel Tower multiple times. My first experience was visiting the Eiffel Tower when I was 16 years old, my first trip to Europe. I was visiting as part of a tour arranged by a community college and it mainly consisted of college professors and students. We visited the tower and had dinner at the 58 Tour Eiffel on our first night which was an amazing experience.
It is a strange thing to see one of the most famous landmarks in the world in real life. It is something that almost everyone in the world has seen in books, in films, and on posters, so it is both a familiar and an awe-inspiring site.
Each time we come here we seem to notice something new, whether it is an architectural detail, an exhibition, or a new angle. We’ve visited by the stairs (good to do once!) and by elevator. The stairs not only allow you to avoid the elevator lines and buy a less expensive ticket, but they also allow you (and perhaps force you) to get a better sense of the size and pay attention to the architectural details. All those rivets!
The views are the main reason people visit but be sure to walk around and explore what else you can discover on each floor. Make sure to stop at the first floor if you have time as it generally has exhibitions where you can learn more about the tower and you can walk across the transparent floor.
Although the actual structure of the Tour Eiffel has changed relatively little since its creation, security issues have changed the nature of the visit here. During our first visits to the Eiffel Tower, you could simply walk underneath and around the tower without going through any sort of security. On our last visit, we had to wait for over 40 minutes in line just to get through the perimeter security.
If you come here during a particularly busy period without tickets, you could spend 3 hours in various lines before reaching the 2nd floor. So I would definitely book your tickets in advance (if you plan to visit by elevator) to be able to join the priority line for the elevators. Or join a tour or take the stairs. But don’t waste your limited vacation line standing in line here if you can avoid it!
Although we’ve visited a number of times, there are always things we missed and the views of Paris are always a little different. This is why we keep coming back!
Tips for Photographing the Eiffel Tower
Below we provide tips for photographing the Eiffel Tower from both inside the Eiffel Tower as well as from a distance.
Photography from the Eiffel Tower
When you get inside the Eiffel Tower, there are two types of shots to go for: close up shots of the structure and shots of the Paris cityscape from the various levels of the tower.
When you are this close to the tower, you won’t be able to get it all in, so instead focus on the magnificent wrought iron structure, which is a wonderful photography subject. Classic shots are from different angles underneath the structure.
On the 1st level, you can get shots of the structure from a lower level and also see through the transparent floor to the people milling around on the esplanade.
Once you are on the observation decks of the 2nd floor and summit, you can focus on the cityscape shots. Some popular subjects to look out for include the Arc de Triomphe, the curve of the Seine River, and the Sacré-Cœur Basilica perched above Montmartre. On the top floor, details become more fuzzy and you get more of a bird’s eye view of the city.
Whilst tripods are (as of last check) allowed through the security at the Eiffel Tower, they are generally not recommended if you are planning to go up the tower as there is often not much space to set them up on the observation decks.
For the best pictures from the tower you should check the weather before visiting. A cloudy, misty day might look dramatic from the ground, but it will likely just look gray from the viewing platforms. Ideally you will want a clear, haze-free day with perhaps a few puffy white clouds for scale and depth.
Eiffel Tower Photography Tips
The Eiffel Tower can be seen from across Paris, and there are many good spots from which to photograph it. We have three favorite locations which are from the top of Montparnasse Tower, the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and the Place du Trocadéro.
For sunset and blue hour photography, we’d definitely recommend Montparnasse Tower. This tower, found near Montparnasse train station, is one of our favorite photography locations in Paris. The rooftop viewing area affords spectacular views across the city, and at sunset it makes for the perfect place to watch the City of Lights start to light up.
Tripods are allowed up here, and there are cutouts in the glass wall so you can get reflection free photos. There is a fee to visit the Montparnasse Tower although entrance is free with the Paris Pass or Paris Explorer Pass.
Another favorite spot is the Place du Trocadéro. Located just across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower, this location will let you get photos that convey the true sense of the scale of the Eiffel Tower, with the cars and people in the foreground giving your photos a good feeling of perspective.
The Trocadéro is a free spot to access and doesn’t require a ticket.This is a popular location though, so for your best chance at photographing the tower without lots of people outside it, arrive before 9 am.
Finally, we think the view of the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Arc de Triomphe is also excellent. From here, you can see how the Eiffel Tower soars high above the city, and there are some lovely roads leading towards the tower that you can use as leading lines. There is a fee to visit the Arc de Tromphe, although it is included with both the Paris Museum Pass and Paris Pass.
Of course, there are many more great spots and angles for photographing the outside of the Eiffel Tower. Consider staking out shots from the Champ de Mars, along the Seine, or in the surrounding neighborhoods.
In terms of transport, the two best metro stops for photo ops as you are approaching the Eiffel Tower are the very popular Trocadéro stop and across the Seine at the Bir-Hakeim stop.
If you are trying to photograph the tower at night, time it so you can catch the glittering light show at the top of every hour until 1 am. A travel tripod will help you keep your camera steady and avoid blurry shots.
Overall Tips for Visiting the Eiffel Tower
We have tried to include lots of advice and tips for visiting the Eiffel Tower throughout this article. But here are some key points to remember when planning your visit to the Eiffel Tower and trip to Paris.
- Book your tickets ahead of time online to avoid long wait times. We recommend booking your ticket directly via the official website. Or if you want a guided tour, consider tours that include your timed ticket such as this tour or this tour.
- The easiest way to access the tower is by public transportation or on foot. There are multiple bus and metro line stops nearby. Parking can be expensive in this area and driving in central Paris is not recommended if you can avoid it.
- Be prepared for the security checks. Leave any forbidden items like non-folding baby strollers, glass bottles, luggage, or pocketknives at your hotel.
- If you are on a budget, save money by taking the stairs and only buying a ticket to the 2nd floor. Bring a reusable water bottle like this one to avoid purchasing water or drinks at the tower.
- Bring your camera to capture the spectacular city views from the Eiffel Tower. You can also get great views of the Eiffel Tower from places around Paris, check out our Paris photography guide for more photography hot spots.
- It is often windier and cooler than visitors expect, especially at the top, so you may want to bring an extra layer or jacket.
- Try to avoid visiting during peak visitor times which are between 11am and 5pm and around sunset. Holidays and weekends are busier than other days
- If you are planning to access the Eiffel Tower via the stairs, note that the stairs close down much earlier than the elevators for most of the year for safety reasons. For most of the year, you need to start your ascent of the stairs by 18:00/6:00pm. After this, your only option will be to access the tower by lift only. But in the busy summer months (roughly June to August), the stairs are normally open as long as the elevators (usually until midnight). So be sure to check the stairs opening hours if you are planning to visit in the evening.
- If you want to eat a meal at one of the sit-down restaurants (58 Tour Eiffel or Jules Verne) at the Eiffel Tower, we recommend booking your reservation in advance to guarantee a table.
- Have little time in Paris but still want to see all the highlights in only one or two days? You might want to join a local walking tour that includes either a guided Eiffel Tower tour or Eiffel Tower tickets such as this one or this one.
- If you have purchased a Paris Museum Pass or Paris Pass for your visit, the Eiffel Tower entrance is not included and need to be booked separately. Try to visit the Eiffel Tower on a non-pass day or visit in the evening to get the most out of your passes. You can read our Paris Pass review and Paris Museum Pass review for more tips.
- The Eiffel Tower area (including inside the tower) is a popular place for pickpockets and scammers who prey on tourists. Keep track of your valuables and be aware of common Paris scams.
- Allow plenty of time for you visit. It is a busy attraction and the lines, even with pre-booked tickets, can take longer than expected. If you leave yourself plenty of time, you won’t feel rushed and can really enjoy your experience.
- To maximize your time in Paris, consider planning your itinerary to include other nearby attractions before and/or after your visit to the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps a visit to the a nearby museum (e.g., Musee du Quai Branly, Rodin Museum) or attraction (e.g., Paris Aquarium, Arc de Triomphe), book a Seine river cruise, or do some shopping along the famous Champs-Élysées. Or maybe you want to enjoy a Parisian afternoon tea or book a Michelin star lunch.
For most people, visiting the Eiffel Tower is a once in a lifetime experience. By doing just a little bit of planning, you can make your visit far more enjoyable.
If you are planning a trip to the Eiffel Tower, you might want to PIN this article to Pinterest to read later:
Have you been to the Eiffel Tower? What was the experience like for you? Any Eiffel Tower tips we missed?
As always, feel free to ask us any questions you may have about the Eiffel Tower or things to do in Paris.