Visiting The Eiffel Tower For The First Time



Ground view of the Eiffel Tower Where Are Those Morgans

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. It’s without a doubt one of the best things you can do when visiting Paris for the very first time. However, that means everyone else will want to climb the Eiffel Tower too. To make the most of your visit, you’ll want to do a little planning so you’re not stuck in long lines wasting the precious time you have in the city.

In this guide, we’ll show exactly what to expect on each floor of the tower including important tips for your visit. During the peak season of summer, tickets can sell out extremely quickly, but there are a few other options if you can’t get tickets.

Our Paris Experience

Two people visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris France
Mark and Kristen at the second floor of the Eiffel Tower

We’ve visited Paris numerous times over the years. The first trip we took in 2018 during our 18 month honeymoon and our most recent trip lasted an amazing 8-days in November 2023 with several trips in between. We’ve also climbed the Eiffel Tower twice, once during midday and once during sunset which both times have pros and cons. Read more about us.

No matter when you visit Paris, you can expect the crowds at the Eiffel Tower to be very large. Both times we visited, we pre-booked our tickets online to avoid the long lines and we highly recommend you do the same, especially if visiting in the summer season. But the good news is there are multiple ticket options so you can visit quite cheaply if you’re on a tight budget.

Interesting Facts About The Eiffel Tower

Numerous boats along the Seine River in Paris, France
Eiffel Tower as seen from the Seine River

The Eiffel Tower stands 1,083 ft tall (1,024ft without antennas) within the Champs de Mars in Paris, France. But the height is not exactly fixed because the iron structure expands or constricts with changes in temperature, growing in the summer and then shrinking in the winter.

It’s named after Gustav Eiffel, the engineer who oversaw it’s construction for the 1889 World’s Fair to showcase France’s industrial power. At the time of completion, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world, surpassing the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. The Eiffel Tower held this title until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was completed in New York City.

Originally, the Eiffel Tower was meant to be torn down after 20 years, but Eiffel included a radio antenna and wireless telegraph transmitter which proved to be very helpful to the government. So it was not destroyed and has now become a valuable radiotelegraph station still in use today as well as an important tourist site.

When the tower was built, it was not very popular. A group known as the Committee of Three Hundred, strongly opposed it and launched an official protest calling it “a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack.” Little did they know, it would become one of the most recognizable structures inspiring buildings all around the globe including the Tokyo Tower.

During our last trip, we learned the Eiffel Tower is repainted by hand every 7 years by 50 painters to prevent rust and damage from pollution. It’s changed colors over the years originally showcasing a reddish brown, then yellow-ochre, then back to brownish-red. But it’s current color, known as “Eiffel Tower Brown” has been used since 1968.

In 1991, the famous structure was officially made a UNESCO World Heritage Site included in “Paris, Banks of the Seine.” Over 6 million people visited the Eiffel Tower in 2023, making it one of the most visited paid monuments in the world.

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Visitor Information

The Eiffel Tower is open every day of the week beginning at 9:00am or 9:30am depending on the time of year. From mid-June to early September, it’s open from 9:00am to 12:45am. For the rest of the year, it’s open from 9:30am to 11:00pm.

There are two entrances to the Esplanade where you’ll start your visit no matter what ticket you buy. Entrance 1 is located on the south corner, while Entrance 2 is one the east corner and tends to be a little less crowded. We’ve entered through both and preferred Entrance 2 due to the smaller crowds.

At both entrances, you’ll pass through a security check which is set up just like an airport. After security, you can then enter the Esplanade to head to the stairs or elevator entrance depending on the ticket type you purchased.

The best time to visit the Eiffel Tower is about one hour for sunset. This way you can see Paris lit up by the sun as well as the city lit up at night. At dusk, the Eiffel Tower sparkles on the top of every hour for 5 minutes. When we visited midday, it was great to see the city illuminated by the sun, but the position of the sun high in the sky made it difficult to take good photographs.

Travel Tip: The Eiffel Tower will be open during the 2024 Olympic Games except on July 26 so plan accordingly.

What To See At The Eiffel Tower

When you visit the Eiffel Tower, there are three different floors as well as multiple places to eat and shop. We’ll show you what you can do and where to go so you know how to spend your time. If you take the elevators, you’ll start at the highest level (2nd or 3rd floor) and then you’ll be able to visit the other floors on the way down. If you take the stairs, you have a bit more flexibility.

1. Esplanade

Visitors waiting in lines for the elevators at the esplanade
Visitors waiting in line for the elevators at the esplanade

The esplanade is the free area at the base of the tower; however, you’ll need to pass through security to access it. Last time we visited, there were two lines, one for visitors with tickets (green flag) and another unmarked line for visitors without tickets. Pickpockets are common because it’s a very high tourist area so always keep an close eye on your belongings.

Once in the esplanade, you can access the entrance for both the stairs and the elevator. Head to the east or west pillar if you have a ticket for the elevator or head to the south pillar for the stairs option. You can also purchase tickets onsite at booths in the Esplanade, but we highly recommend you buy them online prior to visiting to avoid waiting in the long lines.

There is a visitor information desk in the west pillar and a collection of snack shops including the Rendez-vous boutique with popular Tower souvenirs. Many visitors also like to see the golden bust of Gustave Eiffel by sculptor Antoine Bourdelle in the north pillar or the restored hydraulic machines from the 1899 elevators.

Travel Tip: If you’re on a budget, the Esplanade is the best place to go for the classic view underneath the Eiffel Tower that won’t cost you a penny. We love looking up and seeing the famous structure from below.

2. First Floor

Woman looking out through a silver telescope on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Kristen enjoying the exhibits on the first floor

The first floor is the largest level of the Eiffel Tower and it’s accessible by stairs or elevator. On this level, you’ll find a large outdoor terrace with glass bottom floor, boutique souvenir shops and an outer passageway filled with displays about the structure. We love the interactive display comparing the heights of the tallest buildings in the world.

Madame Brasserie is a popular cocktail bar and restaurant located on the 1st floor. You can book in for lunch (12:00am or 1:30pm) or dinner (6:30pm or 9:00pm) with set meal with prices ranging from about €100,00 to 200,00. Reservations will include your first floor accent ticket, but you can’t visit the other floors of the Eiffel Tower unless you purchase an additional ticket. Breakfast is also available from 100:00am to 12:00pm without reservation.

Personally, we thought the prices in Madame Brasserie were a bit steep because you have to pay quite a bit more for a window seat, but it’s a popular spot for first time visitors and those celebrating a special occasion.

If you’re visiting by elevator, you’ll head to 2nd floor to begin your visit. Once you’ve completed your visit on this level, you can then ride the elevator to the 3rd or 1st floor. Many visitors tend to skip the 1st level and while we think the views are better on the 2nd level, it’s still worth visiting because it’s a larger floor so it doesn’t feel as crowded compared to the other levels.

Travel Tp: Look for a small section of a red spiral staircase on the 1st floor. It was originally used by Gustave Eiffel to climb between the 2nd and 3rd floor so he could reach his office at the top of the tower.

3. Second Floor

Aerial view of the Trocadéro Square in Paris
Paris city views as seen from the second floor

You can access the second floor of the Eiffel Tower by stairs or elevator. It’s a busy floor with a large observation deck, but you can eat at The Buffet or Macaron Bar as well as shop in multiple souvenir shops. We think the second floor offers the best views because you’re high enough to see Paris, but not too high everything appears very small.

On this floor, Jules Verne, a Michelin-starred restaurant serves contemporary French dishes via an exclusive elevator. This restaurant is often regarded as the Eiffel Tower’s best dining experience. Formal attire is required, and you can book a reservation here.

4. Third Floor

Woman looking out through metal fencing at the third floor of the Eiffel Tower
Kristen in the open air section of the third floor

The 3rd floor is the summit of the Eiffel Tower. It features a 360° view with an open-air platform so you can see the city from every angle. However, you can only access the 3rd floor by elevator on the 2nd level and the lines can be very long ranging from a few minutes to over an hour depending on the number of visitors.

This is the most crowded floor because it’s the smallest level. It also requires an additional fee from the standard ticket which we’ll discuss later in our guide. Unfortunately, the 3rd level can occasionally close due to bad weather conditions or elevator malfunctions so try to plan your visit on a day when the weather looks the best. If the 3rd floor closes, you will be refunded if you’ve already paid for your ticket.

Tourist pointing to a city sign at the summit of the Eiffel Tower
Kristen on the lower level of the 3rd floor (pointing to a sign for New York City)

At the top of the tower, there are two “sections” you can visit. The lower level is fully enclosed in large glass windows showcasing panoramic maps with geographic locations of various world cities. The upper level is open with metal fencing so if you want to take better photos, head to the upper level because you can easily stick your phone or camera lens through the breaks in the fence.

There is also a Champagne Bar and the former office of Gustave Eiffel. If you visit the 3rd floor, make sure you don’t miss Gustave’s office because it’s a cool piece of history with a very famous visitor inside.

5. The Gardens

The Eiffel Tower as seen from the gardens below
The Eiffel Tower as seen from the gardens

Finished in 2018, the gardens lead you around different sections highlights various trees, ponds, belvederes and even a cave with a small waterfall. In the ponds, you can see common carp, koi carp, mallard ducks, and gull. We even saw a heron during our visit!

The gardens are located with a secure perimeter at the bottom of the Tower, but they are free to visit. Our favorite part about the gardens are the unique views you’ll see of the Eiffel Tower. And since we visited before sunset, we watched the tower light up at night directly from the gardens. It was such a magical experience and one we highly recommend if you choose to visit later in the evening.

Travel Tip: Look for a historic chimney in the garden made of brick near exit 2. It originally helped to evacuate steam from the machinery that powered the elevators.

How To Get To The Eiffel Tower

Signs helping tourists know where to go on the esplanade
Directional signs in the esplanade
  • Address: Av. Gustave Eiffel, 75007 Paris, France
  • Location: Google maps

The best way to get to the Eiffel Tower is by public transport including the Metro, RER commuter rail or public bus. We think public transport is the least stressful option because you won’t have to worry about parking and it’s environmentally friendly.

Located in the heart of Paris within the 7th arrondissement, the Eiffel Tower has three metro stations close by as well as one RER commuter rail stop within walking distance. Use these lines for your visit:

  • Line 6: Stop – Bir-Hakeim (less than 10 minute walk)
  • Line 9: Stop – Trocadéro (about a 15 minute walk)
  • Line 8: Stop – Ecole Militaire (about a 15 minute walk)
  • RER Line C: Stop – Champ de Mars or Tour Eiffel (7 minute walk)

You can also use the public bus because there are several stops within walking distance of the tower:

  • Bus 30 + 42: Stop – Tour Eiffel (about a 5 minute walk)
  • Bus 82: Stop – Tour Eiffel or Champ de Mars (about a 5 minute walk)
  • Bus 69 + 86: Stop – Champ de Mars (about a 6 minute walk)

Another option is the hop on hop off bus which includes routes with stops near the Eiffel Tower. Look for “Eiffel Tower” or “Champ de Mars” with companies such as Big Bus and TootBus.

Eiffel Tower Ticket Options

South pillar entrance for the stairs up the Eiffel Tower
No one was in line for the stairs when we visited in November (but the elevators had a long line)

You can buy tickets for the Eiffel Tower onsite in the Esplanade. But the lines to purchase tickets can be extremely long, we’re talking 1-2 hours so it’s best to purchase your tickets online prior to visiting.

Here are the 4 ticket options for the Eiffel Tower (adult prices shown):

  • 2nd floor via the stairs – Access to the 1st + 2nd floor using the stairs. It’s the cheapest option at €11.80 with 674 stairs in total.
  • 2nd floor via the lift – Access to the 1st + 2nd floor using the elevator. Tickets cost €18.80.
  • 3rd floor via the stairs and lift – Access to the 1st + 2nd floor using the stairs, then elevator to 3rd floor. Tickets cost €22.40.
  • 3rd floor via the lift – Access to all 3 floors using the elevator. Tickets cost €29.40.

When you buy a ticket, the important thing to consider is what floor you want to visit. But you should only purchase through the reputable websites we list below and you’ll need to choose a timed entry slot on the day of your visit.

We recommend avoiding the long ticket line on site and booking your ticket online in advance. There are many platforms you can purchase a ticket from including:

During our last visit to Paris, we used 3 different Paris attraction passes, but paid for our own Eiffel Tower tickets because we chose the stair and elevator combination as it was relatively cheap. We saved our expensive attractions for the passes.

However, if you only want to visit a few of the top attractions, a Tiqet’s Paris City Card might be a good option. It includes a visit to the Eiffel Tower or Montparnasse Tower, Louvre and a sightseeing cruise. You can reserve a timed entry reservation for all 3 attractions on the Tiqets website and it’s often a little cheaper than buying all the attractions individually.

Even with a timed entry ticket, you’ll have to wait in a line with all of the other visitors who have the same time slot. This line is unavoidable, but we found it moved quite quickly, especially in November. If you visit in summer, you may have a little bit of a wait at each elevator, especially for the 3rd floor.

Travel Tip: For the best chance of getting your tickets online, be ready to purchase at midnight in Paris 60 days from the day of your visit. CEST (Central European Summer Time) UTC/GMT +2 hours is the time zone for Paris.

What If You Can’t Get Tickets?

Woman walking up the stairs to the Eiffel Tower in November
Kristen climbing the stairs to the Eiffel Tower

Tickets for the Eiffel Tower typically go on sale about 60 days in advance on the official website, but tickets can sell out and they often do in the summer months. However, don’t panic because there are still a few ways you can visit the Eiffel Tower. Here are a few tricks to securing tickets for both the stair or elevator ascents:

  • Stair tickets rarely sell out. These tickets are not as limited compared to the elevator tickets so use the stairs if possible (and purchase access to the summit if you want to visit the 3rd floor).
  • Book a guided climb of the Eiffel Tower. This tour is highly rated with many positive reviews.
  • Use a Paris Pass to visit the Eiffel Tower. The Go City Paris Pass has a guided Eiffel Tower climb on both the Explorer and All-Inclusive pass.

If you want to use the elevator for your visit to the Eiffel Tower, you have a few different options:

  • Tickets can be bought onsite at the monument ticket office if they are sold out online. But you might have to wait in a very long ticketing line so we don’t recommend this option. Visit at non-peak hours to avoid the large crowds.
  • Book a walking tour of Paris with Eiffel Tower elevator access. This is a popular tour here or you can consider this one too.
  • Enjoy a brunch at Madame Brasserie. This ticket includes access to all 3 floors via elevator or a general reservation will give you access to the 1st floor.
  • Purchase the elevator ticket with glass of champagne. This ticket is a more expensive option, but it’ll give you access to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Make a reservation at Jules Verne. You’ll use a private elevator to access the 2nd floor (ask for a window seat).

Which Paris Passes Cover The Eiffel Tower?

Eiffel Tower and Paris city view with lights on at night
View of the Eiffel Tower at night

If you’re consider purchasing an attraction Pass for Paris, we highly recommend you read our guide comparing all the Paris passes here. We did the research and used 3 popular passes in the city during our last visit so we tell you what we liked and didn’t like.

Here’s a high level overview of the Eiffel Tower options on each pass:

  • Tiqets Paris City Card – Includes access to the 2nd and 3rd floor along with the Lourve and sightseeing cruise.
  • Go City Paris – Eiffel Tower Guided Climb on both the Explorer and All-Inclusive Pass (2nd floor access with tour guide). You can also use the Paris Pass run by Go City for the same experience.
  • Paris Museum Pass – Museums and monuments only, Eiffel Tower not included.

We wouldn’t recommend other Paris pass options because we have not used them ourselves and users often complain about difficulty booking attractions.

Tips For Visiting

After visiting ourselves, we compiled a small list of helpful tips to help you make the most of your trip to the Eiffel Tower.

  • Buy tickets in advance online. The official website is typically the cheapest option unless you want to take a guided tour or book multiple attractions.
  • Skip the 3rd floor if you’re on a budget or a time crunch. Views are the best from the 2nd floor and you can use an elevator or the stairs.
  • Wear good shoes if you opt for the stairs. There are 674 steps up in total to visit the 2nd level so make sure your feet are comfortable.
  • Don’t miss the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night. Starting at dusk, the Tower lights up for 5 minutes at the beginning of every hour.
  • The Paris Museum Pass does not include the Eiffel Tower. But all other pass options will include it.
  • Use the stairs to avoid the elevator lines. We love climbing up the stairs for cool views of Paris from inside the Tower plus you don’t have to wait in extra elevator lines (unless visiting the 3rd floor).
  • Plan to spend 1-3 hours at the Eiffel Tower. Add more time if you booked in at one of the two restaurants.
  • Elevator tickets skip the 1st level and head to the 2nd floor first. If you have a ticket for the 3rd floor visit that first, then head to the 1st floor on the way down.
  • Arrive about 15 minutes early if you have a ticket. This will give you enough time to get through security and find the correct line for entry.

Best Places To See The Eiffel Tower

View of the Eiffel Tower from Avenue de la Bourdonnais
Try to find unique vantage points of the Eiffel Tower during your trip to Paris!

After you visit the Eiffel Tower, you may be inspired to see the tower from a different vantage point. We highly recommend the gardens and the esplanade for close up views, but here are a few more photography locations:

  • Parc du Champ-de-Mars – This is the popular grassy park with a wide-open view of the tower, but it can be muddy in the off seasons.
  • Place Du Trocadero – Located across the Seine River with stunning panoramic views.
  • Pont de Bir-Hakeim – You can frame the tower within the bridge for a unique perspective.
  • Promenade Marie de Roumanie – Views from a walking path on the Seine’s Left Bank.
  • Rue De Buenos Aires or Rue De L’Université – Stunning street views of the Eiffel Tower.

Our Eiffel Tower Photos

We love climbing the Eiffel Tower and took many photos. Here are a few of our favorites:

Woman posing for a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower at night
Kristen standing in front of the tower at night
Paris city view as seen from the third floor of the Eiffel Tower
Paris city views as seen from the summit
Gustave Eiffel's office on the third floor of the Eiffel Tower
The inside of Gustave Eiffel’s office
View of the Eiffel Tower from the esplanade
View underneath the tower as seen from the esplanade
Entrance to the famous Michelin star restaurant, Le Jules Verne
Swanky entrance to Jules Verne special elevator
Entrance to popular restaurant, Madame Brasserie
Entrance to Madame Brasserie
Basilique du Sacré-Cœur dome views of the Eiffel Tower
View of the tower as seen from the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur dome
An old restored hydraulic machine
See if you can find the old hydraulics in the tower!
Tourist pinching the top of the Eiffel Tower
Kristen pinching the top of the tower

More Paris Guides

Want more France content? Head over to our France Travel Guides to explore Paris and beyond.

We hope our guide to visiting the Eiffel Tower for the first time helps you with planning your trip!

Please let us know if you have any questions about climbing the Eiffel Tower in the comments below.

Happy Summiting,

Mark and Kristen

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