The Eiffel Tower- le Tour Eiffel - symbolizes Paris to the world, and the 7+ million visitors who visit each year prove its enduring popularity.
If you are planning to be among them on your trip to Paris, you've probably heard horror stories about long waits in the ticket lines - up to 4 hours and even longer during the busiest times.
Unfortunately, these stories are true.
Especially if you visit during the summer or on a sunny weekend without a ticket to let you skip the line, you'll swear at least half of those 7 million visitors are waiting to buy tickets on the same day you are.
But don't worry - this is where our list of seven easy ways to see the Eiffel Tower comes in.
Once you know all the ways to avoid waiting in line for tickets, you can choose the best strategy for your visit, and create priceless memories.
Because after all, there's nothing else quite like the thrill of experiencing the Eiffel Tower!
Eiffel Tower Ticket Requirements: A Quick Overview
Let's start with a quick refresher of what you can experience inside the Eiffel Tower, how to get to each of the three floors above ground level, and available ticket types.
As you may already know, the Eiffel Tower has three platforms, or floors, above ground level for you to visit, and each offers unique amenities and of course, its spectacular 360 degree views.
You can reach the 1st and 2nd Levels by either stairs or elevators. Going up, elevators stop only at the 2nd Level, but do stop at the 1st Level on the way down. A ticket is required to access the 1st and 2nd Levels. Several types of tickets are offered, based on whether you want to take the elevator and/or stairs.
You can go up to the 3rd (and highest) Level by elevator only - but it is a different elevator than those going from the Ground Level to the 2nd Level, so to go to the top, you always have to change elevators and must have a separate ticket. If you visited the Eiffel Tower in the past, you may remember how you could buy tickets to the Top Level from yellow ticket machines on the 2nd Level - but they have been removed. Now, if you want to visit the 3rd Level, you must purchase a Summit ticket.
Eiffel Ticket Types
You must have a ticket (or a tour voucher, or Eiffel Tower restaurant reservation confirmation) to enter the Eiffel Tower. Four types of tickets are available based on which floors you want to explore, and whether you want to ride or climb.
Here are your ticket choices:
1. Ticket to 2nd Level by elevator (elevator stops at the 1st Level on the way down)
2. Ticket to the Summit (Top) Level by elevator (elevator goes to the 2nd Level; you change to another elevator to go to the top; on the way down, you get off the elevator on the 2nd Level and change to another that stops at the 1st Level on the way down)
3. Ticket to the 1st and 2nd Level by stairs
4. Ticket to the 1st and 2nd Levels by stairs, and to the Summit (Top) Level by elevator; coming down, you get off the elevator at Level 2 and take the stairs down to the Ground Level (and no, you can't sneak onto the other elevator).
So how do our 7 easy ways to avoid the Eiffel Tower ticket lines help you? Well . . . there are lots of different ways to get your ticket without standing in long lines.
We'll show you the pros and cons of each option - plus a couple of ways to experience the Eiffel Tower without tickets.
Option 1: Buy Your Eiffel Tower Entrance Tickets in Advance
You can choose from a couple of ways to buy your tickets in advance online:
Buy Your Tickets on the Eiffel Tower Website
Go to the Eiffel Tower's website and buy your tickets online for a specific date and time, and print it on your home printer. You'll pay the same price as you would at the Eiffel Tower's ticket window. When you arrive at the Eiffel Tower, you skip the line to buy tickets, although you'll still need to go through a couple of security checks and perhaps wait for the elevator to the 2nd Level.
Sounds good, right? It is - but be aware of these 3 "catches":
Catch #1: Only a limited number of tickets are offered online. They become available about 2-3 months in advance and usually sell out quickly, so to get the best (or any) date/time choice, you need to start looking for tickets as soon as they are available. If you can't get them for the date/time you want, sometimes a few become available later - but they also sell out quickly.
Catch #2: These tickets are non-refundable and cannot be exchanged for another date or time slot. If your plans change for any reason including bad weather, illness, delayed flights, or anything else - or even if you arrive more than half an hour late for your time slot - you forfeit the cost of your tickets.
Catch #3: The Summit occasionally closes due to strong winds or other dicy weather conditions. Less frequently, the entire Eiffel Tower closes due to labor strikes or security precautions. If you have already purchased tickets, getting a refund may be difficult or impossible, as the Eiffel Tower website does not appear to provide a way to do this.
Buy Skip-the-Line Eiffel Tower Tickets through a Tour Company
Tour companies are much more likely to have skip-the-line Eiffel Tower tickets available up until almost the last moment, long after the last time slots get snapped up on the Eiffel Tower's website.
You can choose skip-the-line tickets to the 2nd Level or 2nd Level plus Summit - just like those on the Eiffel Tower's website. Tour companies also sometimes offer stairs-only tickets.
Like the online tickets from the Eiffel Tower's website, skip-the-line tickets through a tour company are generally not refundable and they also typically cost more. However, because you can buy them much closer to your preferred date, you have a much better chance of getting tickets for the date/time you want, and you minimize the risk of not being able to use them.
Option 2: Tour the Eiffel Tower with a Guide
For the fastest and most stress-free access to the Eiffel Tower as well as an enjoyable and informative experience, book a tour with a guide. Your guide will bring you (and a small group of usually 10-20 others) to the Eiffel Tower, expedite your entrance, accompany you onto the elevator up to the 2nd Level, and give you lots of interesting information about the Eiffel Tower. If your chosen tour includes the Summit, you'll either do it on your own or accompanied by your guide, depending on your particular tour.
Here are two of the most popular guided Eiffel Tower tours:
Option 3: Make Lunch or Dinner Reservations at an Eiffel Tower Restaurant
Inside the Eiffel Tower are two wonderful restaurants - 58 Tour Eiffel on the 1st Level serving chic bistro fare at lunch and transforming to a romantic dinner spot at night, and Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne on the 2nd Level offering fabulous haute cuisine for dinner only. They have separate entrances, away from the crowds, and need to be booked in advance.
Reservations to the 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant on the 1st level and Michelin-starred Jules Verne on the 2nd level give you expedited entry through special Ground Level entrances and their own elevators. These reservations give you restaurant access only; if you want to spend time exploring the Eiffel Tower beyond the restaurant, you'll need Eiffel Tower tickets. (In the past, restaurant reservations would get you into the rest of the Eiffel Tower, but that's no longer possible.)
A few special tour packages provide you with lunch or dinner reservations and skip-the-line Eiffel Tower tickets, which can be a great deal as well as timesaver.
Option 4: Get Eiffel Tower Skip-the-Line Tickets or Restaurant Reservations as Part of a Paris Tour Package
If you want to combine an Eiffel Tower visit with sightseeing to other top Paris attractions, look for a combination tour package to make the most of your time.
You'll find a variety of options with skip-the-line Eiffel Tower tickets to choose from, so pick the one you like the best.
Here are several popular tour packages to consider:
Option 5: Stand in Line to Get Your Eiffel Tower Tickets
Standing in line to buy Eiffel Tower admission tickets is a feasible option - but ONLY if there are no crowds. That generally rules out summer, weekends as well as many week days in other months popular with tourists such as May, September, and October, and periods around major events attracting visitors such as the Paris Marathon.
So what does that leave? Bright, sunny (although chilly) days in March and November when the sky is crystal-clear and you can see forever. Those special winter days in January or February when gentle snowfalls transform the city. December evenings when you want an aerial view of the sparkling holiday lights strung along Champs Élysées.
In fairness, at even the busiest times you can occasionally happen by and find shorter lines, especially at night - but you can't count on it, even on chilly rainy days when you might think no one else would be crazy enough to be there. If you're visiting Paris for a short time and don't want to risk the hassle and stress of standing in line for hours, you're far better off getting skip-the-line tickets in advance.
Option 6: Buy Walk-Up Eiffel Tower Tickets - Usually No Line!
If you want a Stairs-Only ticket to the 2nd Level, you have to buy it onsite or through a tour operator because they're not offered on the Eiffel Tour's website. The good news: there is usually a dedicated line for Stairs-only tickets and it usually moves quickly - so this is the one time (other than winter months) when buying your tickets onsite makes sense.
Assuming you're reasonably fit and don't mind heights, climbing the stairs is a wonderful experience because the wonderful views of Paris as well as the Eiffel Tower mechanics you can see as you climb up or down. Stair tickets are a particularly popular choice of families visiting with kids (beyond the toddler stage) and teens.
Option 7: See the Eiffel Tower Without Eiffel Tower Tickets!
This is the easiest of all our 7 Eiffel Ticket ticket options - avoid the need for a ticket altogether.
If you're in Paris for just a short time and want to see the famous "Iron Lady" but not tour it - or maybe you just don't like heights - you'll have plenty of opportunities to get great ground-level (or water-level, if you take a Seine River cruise) views of the famous Paris attraction.
Here are just a few of the many excellent Eiffel Tower viewing locations around the city:
Trocadero, directly across the Seine River
Montparnasse Tower - Observation Tower or even better, the panoramic views from gourmet restaurant Le Ciel de Paris on the Tower's 56th floor