Best Time to Visit Eiffel Tower - Avoid Queues
Parisians will tell you it’s a tourist trap that has nothing at all to do with the city’s true romantic spirit, but that’s not going to stop you wanting to visit the Eiffel Tower, am I right? Say what you like about it, this iron icon of the Paris skyline is a must-see. There’s a mind-boggling variety of ways to experience it, too: admire it from afar at some of the city’s best viewpoints, or get right up close on a thrilling/terrifying elevator ride to the top. But what are the best times to visit the Eiffel Tower and beat the dreaded queues? Read on to find out…
A Short History of the Eiffel Tower
France’s most recognized cultural emblem bar none, the Eiffel Tower was built as the centerpiece of the 1889 Paris Exposition, a world’s fair that attracted some 32 million visitors. People flocked from around the globe, eager to see this architectural masterpiece of wrought-iron latticework close up, though their enthusiasm wasn’t necessarily shared by sniffy French artists and intellectuals of the day.
The tower is named after Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built it between 1887 and 1889. The same company also designed and built the internal framework for the Statue of Liberty, fact fans. At 984 feet (300 meters), the Eiffel Tower was, at the time, the tallest man made structure on the planet, and remained so for more than 40 years before being toppled from its perch by the Empire State Building.
Today, France’s very own Iron Lady is perhaps the most recognized monument on the planet and is widely lauded as one of the world’s finest pieces of structural art, far from the ‘useless and monstrous black smokestack’ and ‘hateful column of bolted sheet metal’ it was seen as at the time. As well as visiting the thing, it’s also yours to own in a dizzying array of different formats – fridge magnet, snow globe, keychain, cuddly toy, socks, jam – available everywhere from kitsch souvenir booths and street stalls to high-end jewelry stores on the Champs-Élysées as well as, of course, the shop at the Eiffel Tower itself.
The Eiffel Tower in Numbers
Trivia fans, this lot is for you…
- Currently attracting somewhere in the region of seven million people every year, the Eiffel Tower is the most popular paid monument in the world. It’s thought that the tower has had around 300 million visitors since it opened in 1889.
- The Eiffel Tower stands 983 feet tall, or 1,083 feet if you include the antennas. It’s 410 feet wide at the base.
- It was originally intended to last only 20 years, but was saved by the advent of radio technology and telecommunications at the turn of the century.
- The structure weighs over 10,000 tons and comprises 18,038 iron parts. A whopping 2.5 million rivets mean it ain’t going to fall apart any time soon.
- There are three floors, at 187 feet, 377 feet and 906 feet. You can climb the steps (all 674 of them) to the second floor.
Best Time to Visit The Eiffel Tower and Avoid Queues
The Eiffel Tower is never not busy, but fear not, for there are some times of day that are a little less hectic than others. How long you’ll have to queue also depends on what type of ticket you have. Going all the way to the top? Expect to wait in line. On the other hand, taking the stairs – all 674 of them – to the second floor is (perhaps understandably) less popular, meaning you’re unlikely to have to wait for long. Let’s break it down…
The Eiffel Tower is at its busiest during peak season (June-September) when, especially on weekends, you’re just going to have to grit your teeth and wait your turn. Between October and May, waiting times are far more palatable, especially mid-week before 10.30am and after 5pm.
So, as a rule of thumb, hit up the Iron Lady on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in early morning, late afternoon or evening for the shortest waiting times. Evening is perhaps especially magical, as the whole structure sparkles in golden light for five minutes every hour on the hour light show, and a great search beam sweeps across the city from the top of the tower. It’s also, almost without fail, as uncrowded as it gets.
The official Eiffel Tower website carries even more granular information on the best times to visit and avoid queues, and is always worth checking before planning your trip.
There’s also a quite bewildering array of ticket types available on the Eiffel Tower website, including lunch packages, champagne packages, take the stairs, don’t take the stairs, and so on. The main thing is that you book your ticket online in advance to avoid yet more queuing on the day. You can also speed up your access to the lifts by booking with a private tour provider. Sure, you’ll pay a premium for it, but you’ll also get to the action faster.
Alternatively, treat yourself to a Paris Pass for entry to dozens of Paris attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and more. It might not get you up the tower any faster but, if you’re planning to visit a few bucket-listers while you’re in town, it’s sure to save you a few euros. And, in Paris, more spare cash = more croissants and macarons. You’re welcome.
The Eiffel Tower: Top Tips
- Sure, the views from the Eiffel Tower are something else. But, crucially, and for fairly obvious reasons, they don’t actually include the Eiffel Tower itself! Bag the best Iron Lady panoramas from the Tour Montparnasse (also included with the Paris Pass, natch), or from the steps of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in atmospheric Montmartre. You could even plunder the local food markets for an al fresco picnic in the beautiful Champs de Mars park right next to the Eiffel Tower – coincidentally creating the kind of iconic picnic selfie opportunity from which Instagram dreams are made.
- Mid-to-late-evening is pretty much the best time to visit the Eiffel Tower if you want to beat the queues. It’s open until 11PM daily.
- You’ll probably want to give yourself about 90 minutes to enjoy the first and second floors, and add an extra hour if you’re going all teh way to the top.
- Need a little Dutch courage? You’re in luck. There’s a champagne bar on the top floor. You’ll find several places to eat, including the famous Jules Verne restaurant, on the first and second floors.