When someone hears of Paris, they cannot help think of the Eiffel Tower. If you are going to Paris for the first time, let me provide you vital tips on how to plan your Eiffel Tower visit in Paris so you don’t walk away from your solo trip to Paris with any regrets.
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The Eiffel Tower
Undoubtedly, the Eiffel Tower is the modern icon of Paris and France as a whole.
The Eiffel Tower attracts almost 7 million visitors a year, now reaching a whopping 300 million visitors total since it opened to the public for the 1889 World’s Fair. It’s the most visited architectural structure in the world.
Designed by architect and engineer, French Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, who also re-designed and built the Statue of Liberty in New York City, the Eiffel Tower was the modern representation for France to join its place in a changing world.
Located at one end of the Parc du Champ-de-Mars where Parisians picnic and soak up the sun, the Eiffel Tower dominates this part of Paris and awes at night with its twinkling lights and hourly light show.
Making your way to the Eiffel Tower is easy. You can’t miss it! For best views approaching the tower, take the metro to the Trocadéro station. It’s a short walk from there.
How Much Time is Needed to Visit the Eiffel Tower?
This really depends on time of day and year of your visit, how much time you have, and how many levels you wish to visit. If you make reservations in advance, which is advised, it’s possible you could go all the way to the top and back in an hour if all you wish to see is sweeping views and take great pictures.
The Eiffel Tower, however, offers more than just the views from the top! The Eiffel Tower is 324 meters tall (81 stories) with multiple viewing levels: the Esplanade, first floor terrace, second floor terrace, and the top (third terrace).
If you wish to take it slow and take in all of the different scenic options, plan on at least 2 to 3 hours for your visit if you have a pre-purchased ticket.
How long could you stand in line if you don’t have a pre-purchased ticket? When I last visited Paris, I did not purchase my ticket in advance because I wanted to play my visit by ear around the weather. It was April.
That said, it took me 2 hours from entering the first security check point to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower. This included purchasing my ticket in the Esplanade, waiting in the lift line, going through the second security checkpoint at the lift, and riding the lift to the top (see links to my videos below!).
I spent about an hour at the top. I spent more time in line than at top, but it was well worth it because it was the best weather day I had in Paris. The timing of the visit also helped me see more of Paris in my remaining days.
When you’re solo, you won’t have anyone to hold your place in line. Whether you have a pre-purchased ticket or not, make sure to visit a restroom before you enter the first security checkpoint at the Esplanade.
The Best Way to See the Eiffel Tower?
How adventurous, physically fit and time-constraint you are will likely dictate how you plan your Eiffel Tower visit. It could also depend on the weather. The Eiffel Tower is open every day but going to the top is best reserved for clearer weather.
After passing through the first security checkpoint, you’ll find yourself on the Esplanade with the tower looming above. Enjoy multiple opportunities for pictures and sample the buffets that dot the Esplanade.
Due to two security check points, and the number of tourists visiting daily, please be considerate and not bring a lot with you on your visit. Stick to a small bag with only the necessities so you don’t cause delays or risk having any items confiscated. Think airport security.
When you’re ready to move upward, you have a few options.
The first floor terrace is 57 meters above the Esplanade. You can walk from the Esplanade to the first terrace – over 300 steps. Stop for the views, learn more about the tower, and pop into the bars or shops to visit.
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The second floor terrace is about 116 meters above the Esplanade. You can also walk to this level – 674 steps total. From the Esplanade, it can take 30 – 45 minutes to climb. Views, of course, are worth it from this level, along with shops or a visit to the Michelin-starred Jules Verne restaurant.
If you wish to head to the top observation terrace (276 meters), note you cannot walk to the top from the second level terrace, but you can take the lift. Otherwise, just take the lift directly from the Esplanade.
It is highly advised that no one walk to any of the tower’s levels with small children, babies, or poor health. Since you’re over 40 and solo, just make sure you’re physically fit, or take your time, and you’ll be fine.
The top observation area is the pièce de résistance of the tower. There are two levels – one open and one enclosed. Learn more about the tower with panoramic maps and Gustave Eiffel’s office (with wax figures), and be dazzled by the sparkling night lights while sipping sparkly champagne at the champagne bar.
It can be quite windy at the top, and chilly. I recommend dressing in layers. I tried to stick it out for the entire sunset but it got too cold for me in April.
Whether you take the steps, ride the lift, or both, tickets must be purchased. If you take the lift, know there is a note security check before you board the lift.
As a high tourist spot, be mindful of your belongings. Keep them close to you to avoid any pick pocketing or theft. Don’t put things in your pockets. If you can’t wear a money belt with your ID and other necessities, ensure your bag is securely on you without opened pockets.
Is it Worth Going to the Top of Eiffel Tower?
Uh, yah! It’s the Eiffel Tower! No other structure in Paris will allow you to see such sweeping views of Paris.
You can go to the top of the Arc de Triumph, for sure. The views are lovely but will not compare to the scope of Paris you see from the Eiffel Tower.
Still not convinced you should include the top in your Eiffel Tower visit? Take a quick video ride to the top and see for yourself why 300 million tourists and counting can’t be wrong.
If you can’t swing the time to visit the top (sommet), don’t despair. The second floor is well worth the visit and less expensive (if you’re on a budget).
To make your tower visit last longer, you can take the lift down to the second level and walk the rest of the way to the Esplanade.
Best Time of Day to Visit the Eiffel Tower
The time of day, and the day, you visit will depend on your Paris schedule. With a relaxed schedule, it’s up to you on if you do day or night visiting. If you really have a relaxed schedule, do both.
If time is limited, it’s best to visit in the mornings before 11am or in the evenings after 8pm, especially in the high season (June and July), and visit on a weekday. There will be less tourists.
If the weather is nice and warm, do a night visit to bask in the expansive glow of the “City of Lights”. If it’s colder, you’ll want to keep your visit to during the day. Trust me.
Like I said, my visit was in the late afternoon in April. The weather was magnificent during the day, but when the sun starting going down, boy it got cold.
Cost to Tour the Eiffel Tower
Multiple tower levels, and walking vs riding the lift, give you pricing options for your self-guided Eiffel Tower visit. If you want a guided tour of the tower, you have multiple pricing options here, too!
As I noted above, it is advised to purchase your ticket in advance to minimize your time in line, especially if you are visiting during high season and/or peak day visitation times. Eiffel Tower tickets can be bought online.
If you have a relaxed schedule, consider purchasing the ticket to walk to the second level with a lift ticket to the summit (“sommet”). It costs less than going straight to the summit.
After purchase, it is recommended you download your ticket with barcode on your smartphone, but also plan to bring a printed ticket as a backup.
Even if your visit isn’t during high season, still be prepared for influx of tourists (student groups can be seen year-round) and pre-purchase your ticket. Pre-purchased tickets are for designated times and cannot be refunded, so arrive to the first security checkpoint at least an hour before your lift time and be in appropriate lift line (different colors will designate ticket type) at least 15 minutes before the lift departs.
Target purchasing your ticket a few weeks in advance if possible.
Do not fear if you cannot get your ticket in advance. Just allow extra time in line to purchase a ticket and go during the off-times for smaller lines.
Want more of a personal touch, or be pampered, during your solo Eiffel Tower visit? I don’t blame you.
There are a number of guided tours you can choose from. I’ve provided you some options below to get you started.
Dining Around the Eiffel Tower
Didn’t dine at the Eiffel Tower? Not to worry! This is Paris and bistros and cafes abound nearby. Try some of these Parisian dining options when your feet are firmly on the ground.
What Time Does the Eiffel Tower Sparkle?
The Eiffel Tower lights up when the sun goes down.
Starting at the top of the hour, the Eiffel Tower performs its spectacular, twinkly light show that lasts 5 minutes.
The Eiffel Tower is in the 7th arrondissement. As long as you are within view of the tower in this arrondissement, or in the surrounding 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, or 16th arrondissements, you should still have a lovely view of the light show.
Watch the Eiffel Tower Sparkle
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if this helps you plan your Eiffel Tower visit in Paris. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!