Learn how to have the best trip to the Eiffel Tower and make the most of your time there.

Guide to Visiting the Eiffel Tower: Summer vs Winter

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic monuments in the world and one of Paris’s top attractions. The place for romantic proposals, background for high-stakes chases in movies, and picnicking below. With so many romantic ideas about the Eiffel Tower, it’s no surprise that it’s heaving with people during tourist season.

The Eiffel Tower owes its name to Gustave Eiffel who designed the tower for the World Fair in 1889. This fair also marked 100 years since the French Revolution. In addition to the Eiffel Tower, Gustave Eiffel also designed multiple bridges, train stations, and buildings across Europe. He also contributed to building the Statue of Liberty.

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The Eiffel Tower in summer makes for larger crowds than a winter time visit which is the best time to visit the Eiffel Tower.

At just over 300 m tall, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world when it debuted in 1889 and is currently the tallest structure in Paris. Having endured criticism by many over the years, the Eiffel Tower has over 50 imitators worldwide, including Tokyo and Las Vegas. If anything, it becomes more popular as the years go on, drawing in 7 million visitors a year.

If you’re looking for other activities in Paris, check out my full guide to Paris.

Visiting the Eiffel Tower in Winter

My first visit to the Eiffel Tower was a bit more romantic than my second visit. After getting off the metro it was a run to the base of the tower in the cold drizzle of a December afternoon. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself, there’s nothing romantic about running in the rain to meet a timed ticket deadline.

Eiffel tower at night is one of the best times to visit this top Paris sight

Wandering around a nearly empty tower to see the skyline of Paris was romantic though. As was wandering around the gardens below as the Eiffel Tower lit up. Yes, it was raining, but umbrellas quickly solved the problem and no one else was around. The Eiffel Tower is a beautiful and romantic thing to have to yourself. Visiting the Eiffel Tower at night is my preference for a visit.

Visiting the Eiffel Tower in Summer

Eiffel Tower from the gardens under the tower with the trocadero in the background. A visit in the summer to the Eiffel Tower does mean that things will be busier but you can have a nice picnic.

My experience on my second visit to the Eiffel Tower, and I do not say this lightly but, wowzers. Definitely not magical nor romantic.

Getting off the metro and walking to the Eiffel Tower was like being in a herd of people with one thing on their mind. As I neared the tower, there were sellers desperately shouting out “5 for a euro” trying to entice people into buying Eiffel Tower keychains. Before I could even properly see the tower there was a group of people approaching asking “do you speak English? Sign my petition?” My personal belief is that the petition people are just a distraction tactic for pickpockets but more on this later. After the petition people, it was people trying to tie a bracelet onto my wrist so they could then charge me for this unwanted bracelet. That was just the gauntlet to get close to the tower.

Having been up the tower on my first visit, I didn’t feel a need to revisit the top of the tower. I did, however, want to walk below it and see it.

Security Measures at the Eiffel Tower

On this second visit, I was shocked to discover that the entire base of the tower is fenced and glassed-in. Some sides there is high but decorative, metal fencing to keep out. On other sides there are thick glass walls. To even walk under the Eiffel Tower, everyone must go through a metal detector and put their bag through screening. In the past, screening was only for people going up the tower. While the line moved fairly quickly, I can see it being slow at peak times.

The security glass around the Eiffel Tower. You do have to leave time to go through security to visit the Eiffel Tower, even if you just want to walk under it and dont have tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower.

Once you are under the tower you can look up to see its immense size but otherwise, there’s nothing to do below it. It is nice to get close enough to be able to read the 72 French scientists and engineers on the side of the tower as it is a very nice detail.

While I understand that these safety precautions are necessary, it does detract from the experience. Some of the charm of being able to stroll under the tower is lost.

Pickpockets and Peddlers at the Eiffel Tower

After a quick visit under the tower, I exited the security area to the park around the Eiffel Tower. This is probably the perfect place to people-watch in Paris.

Anyone making a visit to the Eiffel Tower will see multiple peddlers selling metal Eiffel Tower statues on blankets on the sidewalks. There’s a huge number of these young, male sellers, within feet of one another. There’s so many you probably think it’s legal to sell this way. It’s not, and it’s well organized. As soon as there is a signal of approaching police, they immediately pack up their wares and run away. It’s really more of a hurried stroll but it’s definitely fleeing.

Fleeing from the police is when the really interesting stuff happens. I watched as two females walked up to a street seller and emptied money and wallets onto his blanket before he ran off to stash the goods elsewhere. Another seller talked with a homeless man on the bench next to me and paid him money to put his bag in a small suitcase and hide it behind the bench. The homeless man then pulled out a tablet and was watching sports on it. It was kind of a strange turn of events.

It was interesting to watch and I don’t know if I can emphasize this enough but, there are a ton of pickpockets under the Eiffel Tower. While you’re busy admiring the tower and having a great time, they are looking for marks or trying to distract you while someone else pickpockets you. And you cannot stereotype a pickpocket. A pickpocket can be anyone, including someone carrying an expensive camera and looks like a fellow tourist. Do not let people try and distract you, whether it’s to sign a petition or to watch a street performer.

Visiting the Trocadero

After visiting underneath the Eiffel Tower, I did walk to the Trocadero across the river and around the park near the tower, the Champs de Mars. Both are better experiences than getting right under the tower. There is no way to avoid the number of sellers in the area because they are everywhere but you are harrassed slightly less at the Trocadero.

View from the Trocadero towards the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is one of Paris's top tourist sights and a visit is a must for any first time visitor to Paris.

While my second visit to the tower wasn’t as dazzling as the first, a visit to the Eiffel Tower is still well-worth it. It’s still quintessential Paris, but be aware if you go in peak tourist season, it might not live up to your romantic ideals.

How to Visit the Eiffel Tower

While the Eiffel Tower can easily be visited as an independent traveler, if you have a short time in the city you may want to join a tour to be able to maximize your sightseeing. A popular combination is going to the Eiffel Tower and joining a Seine River cruise.

Getting to the Eiffel Tower

The Metro is a great way to get to the Eiffel Tower. Bir-Hakeim station on Line 6 and RER C line stop Champs Mars are the closest stations to the Eiffel Tower. Alternatively, you can use Line 9 to get off at the Trocadero stop though it is more walking.

Buying Tickets to the Eiffel Tower

If you want to go up the Eiffel Tower, I highly recommend buying in advance. While you may be able to purchase tickets on the day of if you decide last minute to go, you may miss out.

View over Paris at sunset from the Eiffel Tower, France

You have a couple of decisions to make before purchasing your ticket. If you will go to the second floor only or all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower and if you want to take the elevator or the stairs. I lean towards recommending the elevator because chances are that you will be doing a lot of walking on your Paris trip. If you are trying to save money, there is a great view from the second floor but if you can I would go to the top. You can’t plan for the weather but on a good day, you can see as far as 7 km. The top offers a great view of Paris from above.

What to Eat at the Eiffel Tower

There are two restaurants in the Eiffel Tower on the first and second levels where you can make a booking for a meal. In addition, there are snacks that you can pick up including macarons. At the very top of the Eiffel Tower is a champagne bar.

If you aren’t going up the Eiffel Tower, around the base of the tower there are various stalls selling food. The most common things I saw were for sale were crepes and hot dogs. The park below the Eiffel Tower, Champs Mars, is a great place to picnic. You can basically walk into any boulangerie and find delicious sandwiches and bread to bring along on your day out. You can also make your own by heading to the grocery store and picking up all the fixings for a picnic. This is definitely the thrifty option but really, no less authentic.

How to Have a Good Visit to the Eiffel Tower

While my second visit to the Eiffel Tower wasn’t the stuff of a romantic movie, I would never tell someone to avoid visiting the tower. It’s worth seeing but there are some ways you can improve your chances of enjoying the tower. If you do decide to skip a visit to the Eiffel Tower, you can rest easy knowing that you can see it as part of the skyline from all over Paris.

Visit Off-Season

If you can, visit Paris in the shoulder season. This is the early spring (April, May) or late fall (End Sept-November) for Paris. Paris is also a wonderful winter-time destination as you get tourist sights basically to yourself and you do not need warm weather to enjoy the beautiful art museums.

Visit the Eiffel Tower in the Morning or at Night

If you do visit in peak tourist season, try to visit either early in the morning or in the evening. The Eiffel Tower is especially magical when it lights up at night. You will avoid crowds by heading out early or late. The Eiffel Tower is open from 9:30-Midnight so you have lots of time if you want to visit the top of the tower in the evening.

I definitely preferred visiting the Eiffel Tower at night when it was all lit up. On the hour there is even a light show where the tower glitters with additional lights.

Be Aware of Common Scams and Theft

Be prepared for pickpockets. Read up on common ways pickpockets target people in Paris before heading on vacation. You may also want to invest in a bag that is resistant to thieves like backpacks you can reverse so all the zippers face inwards towards your back. It’s also a good idea to carry wallets and phones in your front pockets.

Give Yourself Time for Security

Give yourself plenty of time to go through security, especially if you have a timed entry ticket for the Eiffel Tower. On that note, buy your ticket in advance, especially for July or August visits. It probably will only take 10 minutes through security but could be longer. There are entrances on the East and South sides. The East entrance is less busy as it is further from the metro stop

There is no left luggage at the Eiffel Tower so don’t bring suitcases.

Find Great Views

For great views of the Eiffel Tower, head over to the Trocadero. It’s just across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower. The beautiful fountain here also makes for great viewing. If you are traveling with children, there is also a carousel on the walk over that you can stop at.

Find some great views of the Eiffel Tower by walking away from it.

Well Worth A Visit

Overall, the Eiffel Tower is definitely worth a visit, especially for first-time visitors to Paris. I found it more charming in the offseason and evening. If your only opening is noon in mid-July, then I would still go as it is definitely iconic. I love that you can see it from many places in Paris and it makes the Paris skyline one of the most beautiful in the world.

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Visit the Eiffel Tower on your trip to Paris with this full guide to visiting the Eiffel Tower including the best times to visit and tips for having the best visit to the Eiffel Tower. #eiffeltower #paris

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  1. I agree, night time is a great time to go to the Eiffel Tower. Paris at night is always amazing, but the Eiffel Tower especially. I’ve been in summer and winter also and winter beats it if nothing but because of the crowds

  2. I’ve always loved visiting Paris and checking out the Eiffel Tower. It seems those pickpockets and peddlers have been around for YEARS. I remember the first time I visited (about 15 years ago) and they were driving me nuts, haha. However, it’s still a gorgeous area. Great post with useful information!

    1. Pickpockets and peddlers are always going to be around popular places like the Eiffel Tower. I loved exploring the area around the Eiffel Tower. Glad you like the post!

  3. I’m fairly well travelled but have somehow never made it to Paris. It’s my aim to see the sparkly lights they do in the evening, one day soon hopefully! Great tips on the pickpockets, I will be on high alert!

  4. I remember the first time I visited the Eiffel tower – marvelling at the views. These days, after hundreds of visits to Paris, I enjoy not having to visit and deal with the queues and pickpockets! Great tips for newbies to Paris 🙂

  5. I love this guide, I have been to Paris many times and visit the tower twice but probably won’t go again however I always tell people you should do it at least once – your guide is great for first timers!

    1. Thanks Andi! I agree, I likely won’t visit the Eiffel Tower again. I love seeing it as part of the skyline though and definitely agree with you that people should visit at least once.

  6. Wow it’s crazy to hear how much things have changed there. It’s been years since I’ve visited the Eiffel Tower so it’s really helpful to read about visiting it now. Thank you for this useful guide.

  7. This is such a detailed, helpful guide – especially for people who have never been to the tower or even Paris! Great job!

  8. very helpful post. someone on twitter posted a video showing homeless and garbage all around the Eifel tower area. is that real or was he posting a fake doctored video.

    1. Hi Rob, I’m not familiar with the video you mentioned but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was authentic. Earlier this year there was a strike by garbage collectors so garbage did pile up in the streets. As for homeless people, yes there are homeless people around the Eiffel Tower. Hopefully it doesn’t deter you from visiting the Eiffel Tower though, it is nice to see and walk around the area or take a cruise on the Seine. Thanks for your comment!

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