It’s always exciting to discover an amazing destination, but sometimes the masses of tourists have already beaten you to it! Every country has landmarks and natural wonders that are internationally recognizable — and with that recognizability, naturally, comes crowds.
So should you skip the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy? Machu Picchu in Peru? The Eiffel Tower in France? No. These are all places every traveler should experience. Sure, it might be a little bit cliché to snap a photo of yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower, but there’s still something powerful about finally seeing a famous landmark in person instead of on a postcard or Instagram. Iconic tourist attractions are popular for a reason.
The iconic steel structure, at 1,083 feet tall, is probably the first thing to come to your mind when you think of Paris. The crowds and lines are formidable — every day, an average of 25,000 visitors flock here — and figuring out the best way to tackle an Eiffel Tower visit has become a challenge. As you surely don’t want to waste your day standing in line, here are a few tips on how to beat the crowds and get the most out of your trip.
The Eiffel Tower is composed of three levels: the first floor, the second floor, and the summit. The first level has museum exhibits, a glass floor, changing exhibitions, souvenir shops, and restaurants. The second has more eateries and shops, the Jules Verne restaurant, and an observation area. The summit is primarily an observation area, 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 reconstruction of Gustave Eiffel’s office.
The time you’ll wait in line will depend on several factors; namely the time of day, time of year, whether you’ve pre-booked tickets or a tour, how high you wish to go, and whether you want to take the elevator or the stairs.
Tips To Beat The Crowds
1. Know The Best Days And Times
The best months to visit the Eiffel Tower are October through March. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 9–11 a.m. and 8–10 p.m. are the best times. That’s generally when the crowds are crowds are smaller and the lines shorter.
2. Buy Tickets In Advance
The most popular way of scaling the tower is by one of the elevators in its pillars. The north, east, and west pillars all have elevators that will take you to the first and second floors from the ground floor. Bear and mind that, due to its popularity, the waiting time at the elevators usually ranges from 1–2 hours — and that’s after you’ve made it through the ticket queue. You can shorten your wait by purchasing a ticket in advance.
Anyone can purchase tickets via the official Eiffel Tower website up to 2 months in advance. You choose a specific time and decide if you want to go all the way to the summit or just to the second floor. Purchasing a ticket in advance allows you to skip the ticket line.
There’s a downside, though. You’re committed to a date and time. What happens if you get there at the appointed hour and it turns out to be raining, or the tower is shrouded in fog? Personally, I’d be tempted to choose the pre-purchase option only if my time in Paris was short and I had no choice of day to visit.
Pro Tip: Be aware that if you’re more than 30 minutes late for your ticketed time slot, you’ll lose your spot.
3. Eat A Meal
Ensconced in the Eiffel Tower are three culinary stars: 58 Tour Eiffel, Le Jules Verne, and the Bar á Champagne. With fabulous views, these eateries all provide guests with the rare opportunity to dine on top of a premier world landmark. Booking a meal at one of these restaurants comes with a huge perk: You get to skip the long entry line! The restaurants have their own elevator, reserved only for restaurant guests. Dinner reservations guarantee skip-the-line access.
Pro Tip: Meal prices range from $48 to $260, but a more budget-friendly way of spending an evening is the Bar á Champagne, where a glass of champagne costs from $16 to $25.
4. Buy A Pass Through The Paris Tourism Office
Paris is a very walkable city full of hidden charms and sights, but it can feel a bit overwhelming when planning an itinerary. With this in mind, the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau created the Paris Passlib available for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days. The package includes things like a boat cruise, a bus tour, bike rental, and access to monuments and museums — and if you select the right package, you also get access to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower without the wait. Packages start at $45.
Pro Tip: You still need to reserve the date and time of your Eiffel Tower visit in advance.
5. Book A Tour
Booking a guided tour can help you skip the lines. Companies like GetYourGuide offer comprehensive tours where a visit to the Eiffel Tower without waiting in line is included. Check out their Eiffel Tower: Direct Access with Host to Summit by Elevator tour or perhaps their Paris: Direct Access Eiffel Tower Ticket with Audioguide tour.
Pro Tip: Even with direct access, you’ll have to wait in line for security and for the elevators. In high season, the wait time to access the second floor can be up to 25 minutes. Summit ticket holders will also have to wait in line on the second floor to access the summit’s elevators, which in high season can be an additional 20 minutes.
6. Take The Stairs
If you are fit enough, I’d like to recommend buying tickets for the stairs. You’ll climb 328 steps to the first floor and then 674 steps to the second floor (once on the second floor, you can only access the summit by purchasing a ticket for the lift). If you are taking the stairs, you’ll still have to wait in line, but it will be a much shorter one! The stairs aren’t crowded. Plus you get amazing views of how the tower is put together. You can scale the tower in around 20 or 30 minutes depending on how long you spend on each level. As a final bonus, stair tickets are much less expensive!
Pro Tip: Staircase tickets are available online 7 days in advance. Please note this is not recommended for those with mobility issues or those with young children/babies. Also note that if you are visiting outside of the summer, the stairs close earlier than the elevators, so be sure to check the closing time for the stairs if you want to visit in the evening.
Visitors With Disabilities Or Mobility Issues
The Eiffel Tower does offer discounts to those disabled patrons with proper identification. The Eiffel Tower was not built with wheelchair accessibility in mind, but modifications have been made to make it more accessible. For those with mobility issues, all floors can be accessed via elevator. Visitors with wheelchairs can visit the first and second floor via lift, but wheelchair users, unfortunately, are prohibited from visiting the top floor for safety reasons.
A Worthwhile Journey
Going up the Eiffel Tower is one of the great travel experiences in Europe. Yes, it’s crowded and expensive, and other spots in Paris probably offer better views. But once you’ve gotten to the top and back down again, you’ll be part of the “club” of some 250 million people who’ve made the Eiffel Tower one of the most visited monuments in the world.
For more to do in the enchanting country of France, consider: