It’s always exciting to discover an incredible destination, but sometimes the masses of tourists have already beaten you to it! Every country has monuments and natural wonders that are internationally recognizable – and with that recognizability, naturally, come the 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 that every traveler should experience. Sure, it might be a bit of a cliche to take a picture of yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower, but there’s still something powerful about finally seeing a famous landmark in person rather than 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 that comes to mind when you think of Paris. The crowds and queues are formidable – an average of 25,000 visitors flock here every day – and finding the best way to approach a visit to the Eiffel Tower has become a challenge. As you surely don’t want to waste your day waiting in line, here are some tips to avoid the crowds and get the most out of your trip.
The Eiffel Tower is made up of three levels: the first floor, the second floor and the summit. The first level includes museum exhibits, a glass floor, temporary exhibitions, souvenir shops and restaurants. The second has more restaurants and shops, the Jules Verne restaurant and a viewing area. The summit is primarily a viewing area, 905 feet above the ground, making it the highest viewing platform in Europe. The top floor is split over two levels, and you’ll also find a champagne bar and a recreation of Gustave Eiffel’s office.
The waiting time will depend on several factors; namely the time of day, time of year, if you have pre-booked tickets or a tour, how high you want to go and whether you want to take the elevator or the stairs.
Tips for beating the crowds
1. Know the best days and times
The best months to visit the Eiffel Tower are from October to March. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9am to 11am and 8pm to 10pm are the best times. This is usually when the crowds are smaller and the lines shorter.
2. Buy your tickets in advance
The most popular way to climb the tower is to use one of its pillar lifts. The north, east and west pillars all have elevators that will take you to the first and second floors from the ground floor. Keep in mind that due to its popularity, elevator wait times are usually 1-2 hours – and that’s after going through the ticket queue. You can shorten your wait by purchasing a ticket in advance.
Anyone can buy tickets through the official Eiffel Tower website up to 2 months in advance. You pick a specific time and decide if you want to go all the way to the top or just to the second floor. Buying a ticket in advance allows you to skip the line.
There is a downside, however. You commit to a date and time. What happens if you arrive at the specified time and it is raining or the tower is shrouded in fog? Personally, I would be tempted to choose the pre-purchase option only if my time in Paris was short and I had no choice of the day of visit.
Pro Tip: Be aware that if you are more than 30 minutes late for your time slot, you will lose your place.
3. Eat a meal
Nestled in the Eiffel Tower, three culinary stars: 58 Tour Eiffel, Le Jules Verne and the Bar à Champagne. With fabulous views, these restaurants all offer diners the rare opportunity to dine atop a world-leading landmark. Booking a meal in one of these restaurants has a huge advantage: you avoid the long queue! The restaurants have their own elevator, reserved only for restaurant customers. Dinner reservations guarantee skip-the-line access.
Pro tip: Meal prices range from $48 to $260, but a more economical way to spend an evening is the Bar á Champagne, where a glass of champagne costs $16 to $25.
4. Buy a Pass via the Paris Tourist Office
Paris is a very walkable city full of charms and hidden sights, but it can feel a bit overwhelming when planning an itinerary. With this in mind, the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau has created the Paris Passlib available for 1, 2, 3 or 5 days. The package includes things like a boat cruise, bus tour, bike rental and access to monuments and museums – and if you select the right package you also have access to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower without waiting . Packages start at $45.
Pro Tip: You must still reserve the date and time of your visit to the Eiffel Tower in advance.
5. Book a visit
Booking a guided tour can help you skip the queues. Companies like GetYourGuide offer complete tours where a visit to the Eiffel Tower without queuing is included. Discover their Eiffel Tower: direct access with host to the summit by elevator or perhaps their Paris: direct access ticket to the Eiffel Tower with audio guide visit.
Pro Tip: Even with direct access, you will have to queue for security and for the elevators. In high season, the waiting time to access the second floor can be up to 25 minutes. Summit ticket holders will also need to queue on the second floor to access the summit elevators, which in high season can take an additional 20 minutes.
6. Take the stairs
If you are fit enough, I recommend buying tickets for the stairs. You will 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 top by purchasing a ticket for the elevator). If you take the stairs, you will still have to wait in line, but this one will be much shorter! The stairs are not cluttered. Plus, you get a great view of how the tower is put together. You can climb the tower in around 20 or 30 minutes depending on how long you spend on each level. Last bonus, stair tickets are much cheaper!
Pro Tip: Stair tickets are available online 7 days in advance. Please note that this is not recommended for people with limited mobility 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 stairs closing time if you wish to visit in the evening.
Visitors with disabilities or reduced mobility
The Eiffel Tower offers discounts to disabled customers with proper ID. The Eiffel Tower was not built with wheelchair accessibility in mind, but modifications have been made to make it more accessible. For people with reduced mobility, all floors are accessible by lift. Wheelchair visitors can visit the first and second floor by elevator, but wheelchair users, unfortunately, are not allowed to visit the top floor for safety reasons.
A worthwhile journey
Climbing the Eiffel Tower is one of the best travel experiences in Europe. Yes, it’s crowded and expensive, and other places in Paris probably have better views. But once up and down, you will be part of the “club” of some 250 million people who have made the Eiffel Tower one of the most visited monuments in the world.
For more things to do in the enchanting country of France, consider: