A trip to Beijing isn’t complete if you don’t walk the Great Wall; a jaunt to Cairo is insufficient without a trek out to the pyramids; and a visit to Paris, well… Without a climb to the tip of the Eiffel Tower, can you really say you’ve seen the City of Love?
As a French resident who managed to avoid climbing the Iron Lady the first two times I visited Paris, I feel qualified in answering: yes, you have visited Paris, even if you haven’t looked out over the city from the balconies of the Tour Eiffel. But no matter your taste in travel, visiting the Eiffel Tower is a timeless way to experience Paris.
As any holistic traveler will tell you, there’s no wrong way to visit a city, only the right way for you.
So is it worth visiting the Eiffel Tower? Read on to discover how you can experience the Eiffel Tower on your terms.
1. What to consider
Before you can start planning your Eiffel Tower visit, you need to take inventory of current travel conditions and your own preferences. Here are a few factors to consider.
Price: Frugal student? Large family with a budget? Set a maximum budget for yourself to help determine which visit is best for you.
Time of year: The Eiffel Tower is a heartthrob destination for many travelers — around 7 million per year — so it’s vital to know whether you’re visiting during peak tourist season so you can reserve tickets ahead of time or plan for longer lines.
Weather: Climbing 1,665 stairs is thrilling and picturesque in the coolness of autumn or springtime, but an elevator-assisted visit might be in order during summer heat waves or in the dead of winter.
Your physical endurance: For many, ascending the tower’s spiraling staircases is part of the romance of the Eiffel Tower, but climbing is not required! Ask yourself if a generous dose of cardio is appealing, or if you’d prefer a visit that doesn’t require scaling the Iron Lady’s (admittedly lanky) legs.
Your agenda: Unfortunately, winding lines of tourists don’t advance to fit your schedule, so be sure to pencil in a generous time block for your visit, or book a tour in advance if you have a strict schedule.
Your hopes and dreams: Do you want to gaze dramatically upon Paris from the summit of the Eiffel Tower? Or are you more concerned with the picnic you’re planning in the tower’s gardens than the climb itself? Make note of these dreams so you can fulfill them.
2. Review your options
Once you know what you’re looking for from your Eiffel Tower experience, you can start reviewing your options. To find the best fit for you, take into account all the factors that influence your trip.
Here’s a few ways you can tailor your Eiffel Tower visit to your liking.
- Self-guided climb. The cheapest option available, this visit takes you to the first and second floor of the Eiffel Tower.
- Guided climb. For travelers who want the most “authentic” experience. This tour offers the chance to explore the Eiffel Tower, on foot, accompanied by a local tour guide who can tell you all the tower’s secrets.
- Self-guided elevator visit. A self-guided elevator visit is great if you prefer to explore the tower on your own and don’t feel like dealing with stairs.
- Guided elevator tour. For the curious and climbing-averse among us, allow a local guide to shepherd you through the Eiffel Tower’s storied history with a comfortable ride up to the second floor.
You can always add on a visit to the summit. There’s an extra cost, but for some people, going to the summit is a bucket list item. If this is you, make sure to do it. Plus, you can toast all of Paris thanks to the champagne bar at the summit.
3. Other Eiffel experiences
Whether it’s an unexpected schedule change or just too many other things you want to see while you’re in Paris, you may find that you need to tweak your Eiffel Tower plans. But take it from someone who’s twice fumbled their tower plans: you can always find a special way to visit the Iron Lady.
Keep these backup ideas at the ready in the case you need them:
- Picnic in the gardens. When my first attempt to climb the Eiffel Tower was thwarted by snaking lines of tourists, my travel companions suggested we nab a packet of pains au chocolat and graze in the tower’s gardens. I still remember that as one of the most picturesque French picnics I’ve ever had.
- Take a ride on the Eiffel Tower carousel. It’s right by the tower, but the line isn’t nearly as long. It’s also a fun place to snap photos and great for families.
- Share a coffee with the Iron Lady. When my painstakingly researched and reserved walking tour of the Eiffel Tower was canceled due to lightning storms, my consolation prize was treating myself to a coffee at Bistrot de la Tour Eiffel. From the cafe, you can see the tower and she’s especially breathtaking in the rain.
- Late-night rendez-vous. For travelers on a tight timetable, especially those trying to see the city during a jetlagged layover, consider visiting the Eiffel Tower at night to avoid conflicts with the rest of your schedule. The tower’s lights twinkle from dusk to 1 a.m., so you have ample time to experience the nocturnal version of the monument.
Discovering the Eiffel Tower with a local
These are just a handful of the many ways that you can personalize your Eiffel Tower experience. Whether you’re a history buff keen on juicing your guide for every detail, a romantic who daydreams about sipping champagne at the summit, or just one of the many travelers excited to see the best of Paris, there’s an ideal Eiffel Tower visit waiting for you.
Or keep exploring our site to find more ways to experience this beautiful landmark, such as the best places to take photos of the Eiffel Tower.