By Jessica Russo
Visiting the Eiffel Tower is the ultimate check off your Paris bucket-list. By visiting this iconic landmark, you'll enter an exclusive society of some 250 million people who have made the same cultural pilgrimage to one of Europe's most breathtaking architectural wonders.
We've gone, we've seen, we've "oohed and aahed," and we are here to share our best tips and tricks to visiting this magical monument. Learn how to save time, how to get there, the best time to visit, and more.
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Book tickets in advance
Let's be real - if you're going to Paris, you're going to the Eiffel Tower. There is no reason not to book tickets in advance! We promise, if you don't, you will say "we should've booked tickets online" when you're standing in a 90-minute entry line. By booking online, you can also reserve a time slot so you can scurry right on in, past all of those poor people who didn't know.
When purchasing tickets online, you'll see there are different ticketing options. We recommend "lift entrance ticket with access to the summit" if you want to ride the elevators to the very top of the tower. If you only want to ride to the second level or take the stairs, there are separate ticketing options for those as well.
Upon arrival at the Eiffel Tower, you must present either a printed version of your ticket or your ticket's bar code on your smartphone. Do not just bring a receipt or confirmation - you will not get in!
Keep a hand on your wallet
As you and other tourists gawk up in awe, eagle-eyed opportunists may also be nearby. We always give the same advice when visiting iconic attractions in any major city: be mindful of your personal items. Make sure your pockets and bags are zipped and never wave valuables around. A little extra caution can go a long way.
Experience the tower from top to bottom
Come on, you're at the Eiffel Tower: the iconic landmark many people will only ever dream about. Who knows when you'll be back?! Make the most of it and experience every inch. This magnificent tower has three observation levels that sit at roughly 200, 400, and 900 feet above ground level. Don't say "I'm tired" or "I'm hungry, let's go eat." Be present and enjoy the views.
Look for the "secret apartment"
While building the tower, Gustave Eiffel actually built himself a little hideout at the top level of the tower! The legendary architect used it as a relaxing retreat for quiet reflection. He welcomed few visitors and refused to rent it out. Today, visitors can peer inside the still-furnished apartment on the top (third) level!
Take the stairs down
Save time on the way down. The Eiffel Tower is breathtaking, but those elevator lines. It is no secret; the tower is notorious for its brutal elevator lines. You'll want to wait them out on the way up, but going down is always easier. It takes about five minutes to walk between each level - much quicker than waiting for a crowded elevator.
Second is the best
The second floor is most people's favorite. Of course, if you have time, we recommend going all the way to the top. If you're tight on time, a trip up to the second floor will definitely satisfy. The middle level is known to have the best views; it's high enough to see the city, but low enough to pick out Paris' iconic landmarks.
Go close to sunset
Our favorite time to visit the Eiffel Tower is during the "golden hour" - you know, when the world turns a warm hue of yellow as the sun begins its early stages of descent. Your goal should be to reach the second floor right before sunset so you can experience the views in daylight and splashed in a colorful sunset. Once night falls, you'll be front row as the tower becomes a spectacular light show against the velvet sky! No matter when you visit, be sure to experience the tower once during the daytime and once at night. While the tower stays lit all night, it only sparkles for five minutes every hour, on the hour. Don't miss it!
If you purchase tickets in advance, research what time the sun generally sets during the month of your visit. This way, you can choose the best time slot for a visit. If you're unsure about the timing, book in the late afternoon just to be safe. You can always linger until sunset.
Budget 3-4 hours
If you book tickets online (which we totally recommend), entry lines won't eat up too much of your time. If you wait to purchase tickets upon arrival, expect at least an hour of waiting, purchasing, security lines - you know the drill.
Once you get through all of the boring stuff, let the fun commence! The length of your visit will depend on how many pictures you want to take and how many observation levels you choose to visit. To be safe, block out at least 3 hours to sightsee, navigate, wait in elevator lines, and um, hit the gift shop.
Eat before you go
Since visiting the Eiffel Tower is one of Paris' most special highlights, we recommend you eat before you go. You don't want your memory of the Eiffel Tower to be that you were starving and couldn't wait to leave. After you've completed your visit, grab some bread and cheese from a nearby shop and picnic at the base of the tower!
Get out at the Trocadéro metro stop
Don't listen to the people who say to get off at the Bir Hakeim stop. Sure, it might be a few blocks closer, but the views you'll experience walking from Trocadéro are unbeatable. Just make sure to save some photos for the actual tower!
Getting off at the Trocadéro stop is like making a grand entrance. Walk through the fountain-filled Trocadéro Gardens as you take in picture-perfect views of the Eiffel Tower. Stroll over the Seine and step right up to one of the world's most magical landmarks.
Take video of the elevator ride
As you glide up through the metal frames of the Eiffel Tower, take a quick phone video of the experience. The architecture is so hard to describe, and photos really do not do it justice. A quick video is a great way to capture what the tower really looks like. We promise, you will show it to everyone once you return home.