A visit to the Eiffel Tower is probably at the very top of your Paris bucket list, and that’s absolutely where it should be. After all, it’s impossible to visit the City of Light and not catch a glimpse of her most popular monument.
But it’s actually the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower itself that really showcases the beauty of Paris.
Standing 300 meters high, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in all of Paris. Which means that from the top, you’ll be treated to a seemingly endless array of visual delights stretching out in every direction. From the Sacré-Coeur to the Grand Palais, here’s a guide to everything you can see from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Located directly to the north of the tower across the Seine are the Trocadéro square and gardens, flanked by the Palais Chaillot and its museums. The architecture here is stunning. A beautiful fountain is lined on both sides by grassy knolls, leading up to a grand staircase on either side. This setup makes for a beautiful and unique photo composition — it’s another angle of Paris.
And directly to the south you’ll spot the Champs de Mars. A half-mile long grassy field nearly a half-mile long right under the Eiffel Tower? No wonder this is a favorite picnic spot for visitors and locals alike. It’s hard to beat the views – from the top of the tower or even from the ground!
Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre
Perched high atop the Butte Montmartre in the northern part of Paris is the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Besides being an active church, it’s one of the city’s most visited monuments. Due to its position overlooking the city, this is one monument it’s best to see from high up — which makes the top of Eiffel Tower the perfect viewpoint.
Local tip: I’d recommend trying to get there during golden hour, just before sunset. At dusk, the city lights come on, and the Cathedral is backlit and even more spectacular.
The golden dome of Les Invalides is one of the most recognizable monuments in the city, especially from the top of the Eiffel Tower. This beautiful building was constructed to be the final resting place of Napoleon, and true to his style, everything about the building is ornate and over-the-top. This is also the location of Paris’ expansive military and war museum, a must-visit if you’re a history buff.
Arc de Triomphe
Located at the end of the famous Avenue des Champs-Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe is one of the most recognizable monuments you can see from the top of the Eiffel Tower. If it’s a clear day, you should also be able to spot the skyscrapers of La Défense (the Parisian business district) in the distance.
Standing over 160 feet high, the arch took a whopping 30 years to construct, and serves as a reminder of French military victories.
Local tip: The Arc de Triomphe is also home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and you can see the changing of the guard here daily.
Designed to resemble a train station, the Grand Palais was built as an exhibition venue for the 1900 world’s fair. Today the Grand Palais is mainly a museum, though it does host events during fashion week and is usually transformed into a giant ice skating rink come Christmas.
The palace’s beautiful glass-domed roof makes it easy to spot from the top of the Eiffel Tower — and if you can make it for sunset you’ll be in for a real treat. The sunlight’s reflections on the roof is spectacular, and if you’re snapping some pictures, it adds a special interest to your photos.
The Seine River
The Seine effortlessly winds way through Paris, separating the city into its iconic left and right banks. The river is the lifeline of the city, and the Eiffel Tower provides some of the best views of the Seine from above.
You’ll be able to see the lively river cruise boats pass by, lovers strolling the tree-lined riverbanks, and of course, life unfolding across some of the city’s beautiful bridges. Perhaps most notably, you can admire the Pont Bir-Hakeim, which you might recognize from its feature in the movie “Inception.”
The city beneath your feet: The first floor
But wait — there’s more! Along with what you can see from the top of the Eiffel Tower, you can enjoy different views at each level.
There are three different levels (or floors) of the Eiffel Tower, and each one has something unique to offer in terms of vistas and activities.
Pro tip: The first two floors are accessible by foot. If you’re not afraid of a few stairs, going on foot is definitely an unforgettable experience — and you’ll get plenty of extra photo ops during the climb, too!
The first floor is the largest of the three and certainly worth a stop. Here, you’ll find the Ferrié Pavillon, which has a restaurant, bar, gift shop, and even an interactive play space for kids. In the middle of the floor, there’s a huge green space with plenty of seating options for you to relax and enjoy the view — which is especially welcome if you decided to take the stairs. But my favorite aspect of the first floor is the section with transparent flooring. You can literally watch Paris pass by beneath you.
Getting higher: What to do on Level 2
Accessible by stairs or by elevator, the second level of the Eiffel Tower is where you can really treat yourself if the mood strikes you. Remember, you’re in Paris after all.
Here, you’ll find Le Jules Verne, the tower’s very own Michelin-starred restaurant, as well as some more upscale gift boutiques, and even a macaron bar.
What to love about the second level: At over 370 feet high, the second floor is the perfect in-between viewpoint. You’re still high above the city, but not so far in the clouds that you miss out on any of the detail. This is also where the views start to get seriously impressive and you’ll see the places we listed above, so don’t forget your camera.
A bird’s eye view: What to see from the summit
Now that you’ve seen the second floor, it’s time to head to the very top of the Eiffel Tower. You’ll be whisked over 900 feet up to the summit in a glass-walled elevator, so you won’t miss a second of the stunning views.
On the top floor, you can visit a historical reconstruction of the former office of Gustave Eiffel, who created the tower. The office is complete with original furniture and lifelike wax sculptures. And now there’s nothing left to do besides take in some seriously breathtaking vistas of Paris below — and maybe enjoy a glass of bubbly from the 3rd floor Champagne bar.
The Eiffel Tower wasn’t always so popular
While I think we can all agree that the Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic monuments in the world (partially thanks to its incredible views), this wasn’t always the case.
This may be hard to believe, but during the tower’s construction — and even for decades following — Parisians complained incessantly about this iron monstrosity taking over their city. The tower was originally meant to be a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World’s Fair, but ended up taking up permanent residence in the City of Light, even becoming the international symbol of Paris.
Views for days and memories for a lifetime
Luckily, the Eiffel Tower remained and nowadays offers some of the most impressive panoramas of Paris. So whether you choose to climb the tower on your own two feet or speed things up by taking an elevator, you know you’ll be rewarded once you reach the top.
Want to see more amazing sights in Paris? Check out our guide to five architectural must-sees in Paris (that aren’t the Eiffel Tower). One thing I can promise — this city always has more to explore.