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Visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris — A Complete Guide

Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower is a quintessential bucket list item for anyone visiting Paris. However, long lines, crowded observation decks and sold-out tickets can make the excursion seem like more of a chore than the romantic experience it’s made out to be.

Don’t let these things deter you. With a little bit of planning and flexibility, you can have a truly magical trip to the Eiffel Tower summit.

This post will guide you through a perfect visit to the Eiffel Tower. We’ll break down how to get tickets (even if online tickets are sold out), explain the layout of the tower and ensure you know exactly what to expect when you arrive. We’ve filled this post with all of our best tips for reducing wait times, too, so you can have the most enjoyable time with the Iron Lady of Paris.

Let’s get started!

In this Post

Here’s what we’re covering in this post. We invite you to read the full guide or jump ahead to the section you’re most interested in.

About the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris. It was designed and built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World’s Fair. A cool 7 million people visit the Eiffel Tower annually, making it the most visited monument with an entrance fee in the world.

You can go inside the Eiffel Tower and visit three floors open to the public.

The first floor of the Eiffel Tower sits at 187 feet above ground. On this level you will find quick-service dining, gift shops and spacious, open-air seating with views overlooking Champ de Mars.

Also on the first floor is Madame Brasserie, which opened in June 2022. This restaurant is billed as contemporary cuisine with a rotating, seasonal menu. Reservations are recommended, but not required.

The second floor is the largest observation deck at the Eiffel Tower, showcasing 360-degree views of Paris. The second floor is 377 feet high, which is roughly 34 stories. Central Paris doesn’t have many other skyscrapers, so the views from here are uninterrupted and expansive.

On the second floor, there is a quick-service cafe and bar, macaron shop and gift shop. The Michelin-starred restaurant, Jules Verne, is also located on the second floor. Reservations for the restaurant are required and can be made online up to 90 days in advance.

The Eiffel Tower reaches 1,083 feet at its tallest point, but the highest publicly accessible floor sits just below that at 906 feet. The observation deck at the top of the Eiffel Tour offers a birds-eye view of the City of Lights.

The top of the Eiffel Tower comprises both indoor and outdoor (fenced-in) observation decks. There’s  a small bar at the top of the Eiffel Tower that sells Champagne, caviar and macarons. Also at the top of the Eiffel Tour is a restored replica of Gustave Eiffel’s office.

Getting Around the Eiffel Tower — Stairs vs Elevators

Each of the three public levels at the Eiffel Tower can be accessed by stairs and/or elevators (lifts).

Let’s start with stairs. You can take the stairs between the ground, first and second levels of the Eiffel Tower. You cannot take the stairs all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

From the ground to the first floor is 327 steps, and from the first floor to the second floor is 347 steps. That’s a total of 674 steps from the ground to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. That’s roughly the same as taking the stairs to the 35th floor of a building. It takes about 30 – 45 minutes to climb the stairs to the second floor at the Eiffel Tower.

If stairs don’t appeal to you, there are two primary elevators that run in both directions between the ground floor and the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. There is a separate, single elevator that runs between the second floor and the summit.

Navigating the first floor via elevator is a bit more complicated. You can only get to the first floor on the elevator by coming down from the second floor. There is not standard elevator access from the ground level to level one or from level one up to level two. If you’re taking the elevator, it’s best to visit the first floor last on your way down.

It’s also worth noting that the second floor and top floor of the Eiffel Tower actually have two floors each. Even if you take the lift to these floors, there is a single flight of stairs required to access the primary observation deck and amenities on that floor.

Lastly, restaurant patrons at either Madame Brasserie or Jules Verne can take a separate elevator directly to the restaurants. These restaurants have special check-in locations on the ground level at the base of the Eiffel Tower.

How much does it cost to visit the Eiffel Tower?

Tickets to the Eiffel Tower vary in price based on how high you go and how you get up there.

It costs 26.80€ to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower via the elevator. This requires taking one elevator from the ground floor to the 2nd floor, and then switching to a different elevator from the second floor to the summit.

If you want to visit the summit and save a bit of money, you can select the stairs and elevator option. For 20.40€, you can take the stairs from the base of the Eiffel Tower to the second floor (674 steps), and then take the elevator from the second floor to the summit.

You can save even more money by skipping the summit completely. It costs 17.10€ to visit the second floor of the Eiffel Tower via elevator and only 10,70€ if you take the stairs.

Ticket prices for all levels of the Eiffel Tower include access to that level and all lower levels. There are also reduced ticket prices for children and visitors with disabilities. Do note that individuals with reduced mobility, including wheelchairs, are unable to access to the summit.

How to Purchase Eiffel Tower Tickets

There are two main ways to purchase tickets to go inside the Eiffel Tower.

The first option is to buy Eiffel Tower tickets online in advance. These advance tickets are often called eTickets, priority tickets or skip the line tickets.  Advance tickets for the Eiffel Tower are limited and sell out very quickly, especially tickets for the summit.

If you purchase Eiffel Tower tickets in advance, you will need to select a specific date and time for your visit. Guests with advance eTickets will have access to an expedited security queue and will be able to skip the line at the Eiffel Tower ticket office.

You can also buy tickets for the Eiffel Tower on the day of your visit from the ticket offices located at the base of the tower. Same-day tickets are for immediate entry and will not have a return time. There are two ticket office locations, one near each of the two entrances.

Please note, same-day Eiffel Tour summit tickets are limited and can sell out midday if capacity is reached.

One final way to get a ticket to the top of the Eiffel Tower is to take a paid tour. Several tour companies, such as Tripadvisor or Viator, offer tours of the Eiffel Tower. These tours are more expensive than the standard ticket pricing, and include added commentary.

If you choose to do a paid tour, do your research first. Not all tours include summit access.

How to Get Advance Tickets to the Eiffel Tower

There are a limited number of advance tickets for the Eiffel Tower available for purchase each day. Each advance ticket is for a specific date and time, which you must select when purchasing the ticket and cannot be modified.

Advance tickets for the Eiffel Tower are released 60 days in advance. Summit tickets can sell out within a few days of being released, and time slots can become limited within hours. Second floor only tickets remain available for purchase much longer.

For the best chance of getting summit tickets and the best selection of entrance times, check for tickets 60 days before your visit. Tickets are usually released around 9 AM Paris local time, so that’s the best time to snag your ideal entrance time.

The price of an advance eTicket to the Eiffel Tower is the same as tickets purchased same-day at the ticket office.

Skip the Line Tickets for the Eiffel Tower

Advance eTickets for the Eiffel Tower are sometimes called “skip the line” tickets, but that’s not exactly accurate. There are no true “skip the line” tickets for the Eiffel Tower, just “skip some of the lines” tickets.

Guests with advance eTickets can go through expedited security and skip the queue at the ticket office. However, all guests regardless of ticket type, will have to wait in the same queue for the elevator to the summit and back.

Summit elevator queues at 11:20 AM on a June Monday morning

For that reason, we suggest selecting an early morning time for your advance eTicket if possible. While advance tickets will save you time getting to the second floor, you’ll have to wait in lines for all subsequent elevators just like everyone else. These lines will be shortest early in the day.

If you want to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night, try selecting a time after 8 PM for the shortest evening lines.

Pros & Cons of Advance eTickets to the Eiffel Tower

Advance eTickets for the Eiffel Tower are appealing for two reasons: they guarantee entry and eliminate wait times at the ticket office. This is important because day-off tickets to the summit of the Eiffel Tower can sell out midday if they hit capacity.

For guests who want to visit the Eiffel Tower in the evening, advance tickets make this experience substantially more pleasant. There is no stress of summit tickets selling our or multi-hour queues at the ticket office.

The down side to advance tickets, though, is that it illuminates flexibility. Advance eTickets for the Eiffel Tower are for a specific date and time. If there are changes to your travel plans or the weather doesn’t cooperate, you’re out of luck.

All this to say, advance eTickets are overall good to have, but don’t panic if you can’t get them.

How to Avoid Lines at the Eiffel Tower

If you want to avoid long queues at the Eiffel Tower, the answer might surprise you. The trick isn’t getting advance eTickets; it’s simply arriving early.

While an advance eTicket will reduce wait times at security and the ticket office, arriving early is the best way to reduce wait times at all elevator queues. How early you need to arrive at the Eiffel Tower will vary based on when you visit.

If you’re visiting the Eiffel Tower on a weekday, we suggest arriving at the scheduled open time (typically 9 AM). If your schedule in Paris requires a weekend visit to the Eiffel Tower, it’s best to arrive 30-60 minutes before it opens.

Eiffel Tower Ticket Office queue at 1 PM on a Monday in June

The Eiffel Tower is the most crowded during the summer months of June, July and August. During these months, expect wait times to get longer, faster. Even if you arrive early and get to the summit quickly, you may still experience waits for descending elevators. The waits will still be shorter earlier in the day than later.

Weather can also impact wait times. If the weather is less than ideal, you can comfortably plan to arrive within the first hour of opening and still experience minimal waits. (NOTE: The tower doesn’t typically close for poor weather, but extreme weather can cause disruptions and occasional closures.)

In our personal experience, we arrived one hour after open on a cloudy Monday in June and barely waited in any lines. However, by the time we were leaving, lines for the elevator to the summit were already quite long.

The official Eiffel Tower website has great crowd information which can help you plan for and avoid busy times. There’s also a handy live crowded tracker on their homepage.

Plan Your Visit

As your Paris travel plans begin to take shape, start thinking about how your visit to the Eiffel Tower will fit into your itinerary.

In this section, we’ll breeze through some planning questions to help you pick the best month, day and time to visit the Eiffel Tower.

When is the Eiffel Tour Open?

The Eiffel Tower is open every day of the year except one — the Eiffel Tower is closed on Bastille Day on July 14. Unlike most museums in Paris that close on Tuesdays, the Eiffel Tower is open every day of the week.

On most days of the year, the Eiffel Tower opens at 9 AM. During parts of May and June it opens at 9:30 AM, so be sure to check the official hours before your visit.

What’s the best time to visit the Eiffel Tour?

The summer months and weekends are the most popular times at the Eiffel Tower. According to their website, the Eiffel Tower is the busiest from late June through early September. It’s more crowded on weekends versus weekdays, and it reaches its peak daily crowds between 11 AM – 5 PM.

If you’re looking to avoid some of the peak crowds, try targeting shoulder season in April/May and September/October. You do face a greater chance of poor weather during the spring and fall months, though. Be sure to set your expectations accordingly.

When considering specific days, we suggest visiting the Eiffel Tower on a Tuesday if possible. Most other museums are closed on Tuesdays, so it’s a great way to fill an otherwise quiet tourism day in the city. It’s also one of the least crowded days at the Eiffel Tower.

I personally believe that nothing beats Paris in the Fall. The weather is crisp, the foliage is delightful, and the fashion is on point. I would suggest visiting the Eiffel Tower on a Tuesday morning in early October for the ideal visit.

Should you go to the Eiffel Tower during the day or at night?

Day and night at the Eiffel Tower are two completely different experiences. Daytime at the Eiffel Tower will offer the clearest views of the city, but they don’t call Paris the City of Lights for nothing. The evening view from the top of the Eiffel Tower can be spectacular, too.

Personally, we would recommend daytime at the Eiffel Tower. Specifically, we recommend visiting in the early morning. The daylight allows you to find Paris landmarks around the city and appreciate the pops of color from the parks around town.

Of course the Eiffel Tower at night is magical, too. From sundown till 1 AM, the Eiffel Tower lights up with a sparkling light show. The best way to appreciate the glistening Eiffel Tower at night, though, is from the ground, not inside the tower.

If you want to see the Eiffel Tower at night, we suggest finding a spot at Trocadero Gardens at dusk. It has the best view of the tower and is the perfect place to relax after a long day in Paris.

How long does it take to visit the Eiffel Tower?

Depending on when you visit and how high up you go, a trip to the Eiffel Tower can take anywhere from 2 – 4 hours.

We suggest spending 30-60 minutes at the summit and another 30 minutes each on the second and first floors. If you’re planning on dining, we suggest eating on the first floor for the shortest waits. Lunch can take another 30-60 minutes.

In a perfect world, we’d spend two hours at the Eiffel Tower, but that does not account for wait times. Buffer in an extra 1-2 hours for queues at the ticket office and elevators.

To be safe, we would recommend blocking off 4-5 hours in your day for a leisurely visit to the Eiffel Tower. It might not take that long, but you don’t want to be rushing through it.

Tips for Visiting the Eiffel Tower

  • Visit the Eiffel Tower from top to bottom. If you have a summit ticket, start by going all the way to the top and working your way down. This will help ensure you have the shortest waits and least crowded experience on each floor. It’s also the easiest way to access all of the floors via elevator.
  • Take the stairs down from the second floor. The lines to take the elevator down can be long, but the waits for the stairs are usually low or non-existent. Even if you have an elevator ticket, you’re still allowed to take the stairs down if you choose. If you’re able to take the stairs, it’s a great way to cut out a few lines.
  • Buy souvenirs and food on the first floor. There are souvenir shops on the first and second levels, and a coin press at the summit. The store on the first floor is the least crowded and has mostly the same items available as the upper floors, even the summit souvenir coin. Cafe lines are also much shorter on the first floor and the options are similar.
  • Take advantage of imperfect weather. Don’t be deterred if it’s a little cloudy on the day you visit the Eiffel Tower. In fact, it will keep crowds down and might actually be better! We visited on a cloudy day and the views were still incredible.
  • Buy your tickets from the ticket office near Entrance 2. There are two entrances at the Eiffel Tower, each with a ticket office nearby. The ticket office near Entrance 1 (south pillar) is more crowded, because that’s the more popular entrance. Head to the ticket office near the eastern pillar by Entrance 2 for a shorter line.

Closing Thoughts

I’m not going to lie, I was not excited about visiting the Eiffel Tower. Reports of huge crowds and long lines made it sound awful. I also like my views of Paris to include the Eiffel Tower, which I wasn’t going to get from the Eiffel Tower.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by my Eiffel Tower experience. With an early arrival and weekday visit, the crowds were very low. This made the our visit low stress and super easy.

The open air observation deck at the summit feels like you’re at the top of the world. I’ve been to the top of a lot of tall buildings, but nothing quite compares to standing on that tiny observation deck at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

While I didn’t expect to love a Paris view without the Eiffel Tower in it, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed. The sweeping views highlight the sheer size of the city of Paris and it’s fun to hunt down all the other icons.

The view from the second floor was way better than I expected, too. Some things (like Montmartre) were even more impressive from the second floor than from the top.

It was a real bucket-list moment that I didn’t expect to love, but did. I definitely don’t think I’d have loved it as much if I had to wait in line for 3 hours, though.

At the end of the day, I would say that a visit to the Eiffel Tower is absolutely worth it. It’s definitely something worth doing once in a lifetime in the City of Lights. I’m not sure I’ll do it again, but I’m glad I did it once.

Want even more great views of Paris, including a great view of the Eiffel Tower herself? Consider a visit to the top of Montparnasse Tower, too!