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One of the most popular activities in Paris is to climb The Eiffel Tower steps up to the viewing platform. Walking up the steps was certainly an exhilarating experience and will take your breath away – both in the effort of climbing and with the breathtaking views from the top.
But while it was a highlight of our visit to Paris, it wasn’t as straightforward as we thought it would be. Which is why we have prepared this guide on how to climb the Eiffel Tower steps so you can do it without the headache and chaos that we discovered.
We’ll also delve into the fascinating history of the steps and uncover the secrets hidden within its iron heart, as well as reveal our insider tips and tricks we learned from our own visit.
So, lace up your shoes, channel your inner adventurer, and let’s get started…
- History of The Eiffel Tower Stairs
- Expect a little Confusion and Disorganization
- What is it like Climbing the Eiffel Tower Stairs?
- First Floor Views
- Second Floor Views
- Is it Better to Take the Lift or Stairs?
- Is it worth going to the third floor?
- Restaurants at The Eiffel Tower
- Wine and Ice cream with a View
- Walk Around The Eiffel Tower Base
- Opening Hours and Entrance Fees
- What if the Eiffel Tower has no Availability?
- Tips for Climbing The Eiffel Tower Stairs
- Final Thoughts
History of The Eiffel Tower Stairs
The Eiffel Tower is an architectural marvel that has become one of the most famous monuments, not only in Paris, but the world. It was constructed in 1889, with the spiral staircase being the first way to reach the top. The lifts (elevators for our American audience) opened a few months later.
A total of 1,665 steps have witnessed countless footsteps throughout its rich history, though not all of them are climbable. While there are 1,665 steps, visitors can only climb 674 of them to the second floor, as the top section is not open to the public due to safety concerns.
The staircase has also undergone many renovations over the years, largely to improve safety concerns.
The original staircase was a spiral staircase that featured a single guardrail, but today you will notice the steps are wider, wrap around the entire length of the monument, and are entirely covered with a chain-link fence that you can see through.
The stairs now have wider walkways, landings to take breaks on, and more spots for admiring the views. You can still see a section of the original spiral staircase on the first floor which has kept its original color, but the section from the second floor to the top has now been removed.
Expect a little Confusion and Disorganization
Oh, the Eiffel Tower can be quite the adventure, let me tell you! When we tried to book tickets, it was a bit of a rollercoaster.
At first, we couldn’t find any lift tickets available for the first two months, and the website said we could only get tickets to walk up to the second floor on the day itself.
Then, just two weeks before our trip, the website allowed online booking for those walking tickets, but it was glitchy as can be.
After struggling for a week, we finally managed to snag tickets to walk up to the second floor. There was no availability for the third floor.
But wait, there’s more! The evening before our visit, they sent us an email saying they’d delay the opening time the next day, and our tickets were canceled. Can you believe it? So, back to the website I went, scrambling to book tickets for a later time slot.
When we arrived, it was pure chaos. No clear lines or signs to guide us, and people with timed entry tickets were mixed up in long lines with those who had no tickets at all. It felt like their first opening day all over again!
I asked three attendants for help, but none could give clear instructions. I even joked about having to fight my way through the crowds, and one of them laughed and said, “yes, fight.”
Finally, just two minutes before opening, someone came out to redirect people to the right line, causing even more chaos as everyone shuffled around. It was unbelievable!
All we needed was a simple, permanent lane with a clear sign every day. How hard can that be for one of the top tourist attractions in the world?
Hopefully, they’ll get it sorted out soon, but for now, just be prepared for a little confusion and hope you visit on a good day!
It can also feel a little confusing with all the different ticket options and prices. We’ve done our best to clearly outline it below.
What is it like Climbing the Eiffel Tower Stairs?
Climbing the stairs is not a difficult task and you don’t need to be particularly active to do it.
There are a total of 327 steps taking you to the first platform, where you can stop and admire the views, and then there are a further 347 steps to take you to the second floor.
There are also interspersed landings where you can stop and catch your breath (and the views) as you ascend.
It takes roughly 30 minutes to climb the stairs from the ground floor to the second floor, with breaks to admire the views in between.
It would also take longer if you decide to stop at a restaurant on the first floor for refreshments!
Along the stairs are cute signs encouraging you to have courage and keep going! They’re backed with facts like, “You can do it! It took 2 years, 2 months, and 5 days to build the Eiffel tower”
From the second floor, you have to take a Duolift (elevator) to the top observation deck.
We were one of the first people to climb the stairs for the day, which meant we had a lot of space. We loved being in the open air and having views the whole way up.
Our teens loved this Paris attraction and were excited counting the stairs, stopping to take selfies, and admiring the view.
I also liked how you were much closer to the view from the first and second level. The third level would give you a wider perspective of Paris, but it would be hard to see the beautiful details like in this photo below from the first level.
We looked at the lifts going up several times and said, “How boring!” Our youngest, Savannah (11) was also a little nervous about taking the elevator, so she was happy to skip it and walk, especially when she saw the crowds packed in their like sardines.
As we’re all reasonably fit and did not find the stairs too difficult, we walked all the way up to the second floor first.
We wanted to beat the crowds for that view. We also wanted to visit the first floor last of all so we could relax at the cute cafe with views.
First Floor Views
The First floor is the largest of all the floors on the Eiffel Tower. There is plenty of space to walk around, and it’s where you’ll find the cafes and seating areas. And there were official photographers on the first-floor grabbing people for photos.
Politely decline if you don’t want to purchase them (for a costly price). They just grabbed us and launched straight into photographing us. It was quite fun and a mini-photo shoot with posing, taking sibling photos and couple photos. We didn’t want to buy them, and they were a bit miffed when we said no.
Second Floor Views
As the tower rises the width decreases. So the room on the second floor will be less than the first, but more than the third! There are more open air sections on the second floor for those expansive views and photos.
The second floor is kind of split level, there is a short flight of stairs taking you above the main platform so you can look over it. It will be open air.
Is it Better to Take the Lift or Stairs?
As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to be especially fit to climb the steps, but there are 674 of them so you may find you’re out of breath come the top.
If you aren’t as active, then there are two lifts at the Eiffel Tower; both the original lifts from 1889. The first lift takes you from the ground floor to the second floor where the stairs end, and then there is a Duolift from the second floor to the top.
Everyone will need to take the Duolift to the top if they want to go there!
The stairs provide a better view as you ascend, as you can look out throughout multiple viewpoints along the way, whereas the lift doesn’t have any views until you reach the end.
The steps are also cheaper and have a shorter queue, plus you can stop off at the forecourts and brasserie on the first floor for refreshments if you get tired.
Depending on how comfortable you are with your fitness level, I would argue the steps are better for the views alone, but you can still get great views from the second floor if you take the lift.
I think taking the stairs makes the journey just as wonderful as the destination. It just makes the Eiffel Tower experience more of a memorable adventure.
Is it worth going to the third floor?
I can’t accurately advise whether it’s worth going to the third floor or not. We did not get the chance on this trip to the Eiffel Tower as tickets were all sold out. You can only get there via the lift, so tickets are more restricted. You can climb the stairs and then go up the lift to the third floor.
I believe if you reserve a table at the restaurant that will get you up to the third floor even if tickets are sold out. (it’s likely the restaurant will also be booked up!)
By memory I went to the third floor on my visit in 1998, but I can’t accurately remember. I guess that might be saying something! I just remember a great view.
I’ve heard many others say the view from the third floor is really no different to the second floor, it’s just higher up, but there are also higher barriers, less space, and more haze!
My assumption is that you won’t miss out if you don’t make it to the third floor. We had a terrific time just going to the first and second floor. We loved the stair climbing experience, the views, and relaxing in the cafe.
So, if you want to save money – or you just can’t get third floor tickets – don’t worry as you’ll still really love the Eiffel Tower experience on the first and second floor.
Restaurants at The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower has two restaurants, The Jules Verne, which is a Michelin-starred restaurant on the second floor, and Madame Brasserie which is located on the 1st floor.
There are also forecourts on the 1st and 2nd floor where you can get drinks and snacks. There’s also a macaroon bar on the second floor.
Wine and Ice cream with a View
Oh, let me share a little Eiffel Tower victory with you! Guess what? They’ve got some fantastic €9 French Chardonnay at the first-floor bar.
I couldn’t believe it when I saw the price – it’s absolutely incredible! Back in the USA, I can’t even get a glass of mediocre California wine for anything less than that at my local dive bar.
Trust me, indulging in that lovely French wine with the iconic Eiffel Tower view is an experience you won’t want to miss. It’s definitely one of the best views in Paris.
And the kids do not need to miss out either – or anyone who does not want an alcoholic drink. The cafe also sells ice cream and pastries as well as coffee and non-alcoholic beverages.
There are lovely seating areas with chairs and tables. The earlier you go, the easier it will be to get one. Keep an eagle eye for when people get up and leave, and jump straight in! Five second rule applies.
Walk Around The Eiffel Tower Base
A visit to the Eiffel Tower is not just about climbing the stairs and seeing the view from above. You can also get beautiful views from below.
There’s a fact wall at the base which shares interesting data around the building of the tower and materials used.
There are also pretty gardens. Walk around the entire base for some unique views.
Outside the ticketed area is also the pretty Champ de Mars, the urban park that sits underneath it, is one of the best places to get views of the Eiffel Tower.
Pack a picnic of French baguettes, cured meats and French cheese, pop open a bottle of sauvignon blanc, and admire the beauty of this enormous structure from the closest green space to it.
It’s one of the most popular Instagram photo spots in Paris. This was on our list of things to do in Paris, BUT most of the Champ de Mars was closed off due to an event that either had just happened, or was going to happen.
We were so disappointed as we did not get those beautiful lawn and tower views. It was just a lot of scaffolding and fencing. We did find a few spots though so look hard if you experience the same thing.
You can then walk down to the river and cross the bridge for more Eiffel Tower views. The sun was in a bad spot for photos for us, but it was still pretty to look at. Don’t always make it about the photos. The eyes can behold the beauty better than the camera.
Opening Hours and Entrance Fees
The Eiffel Tower is open daily. The staircase is open from 9.00am until 11.45pm, whereas the elevator is open from 9.00am – Midnight.
You can start buying your admission tickets from the ticket office from 8.45am, and you must leave the monument by 00.45am.
There are many different ticket options available for visiting The Eiffel Tower, with some tickets including a champagne drink at the top, plus the option to take a guided tour.
Whatever you do, make sure you purchase your tickets in advance to avoid the long queues that can see wait times of up to 2 hours. You should also note there are two entrances, both from the gardens below.
- The East entrance is only for those taking the lift. If you have pre-booked a ticket, look for the queue marked with a green flag.
- If you do not have a pre-booked ticket, choose the queue with the yellow flag.
- For those wishing to climb the stairs, visit the South Entrance. There is a blue flag to indicate this is the right queue.
You can pre-book tickets on the official website. It can get confusing and may show no availability. In that case, try booking via Get Your Guide. We’ve put the links beside each ticket class below so it’s easy to find. Be sure to also ready our section below on availability and alternative booking methods.
The ticket prices for visiting The Eiffel Tower are as follows:
- Ticket with lift to the second floor – €18.10 for adults, €9 for ages 12-24, €4.5 for ages 4-11 – pre book tickets here.
- Ticket with lift to the second floor and the top – €28.30 for adults, €14.10 for ages 12-24, €7.10 for ages 4-11 – pre book tickets here.
- Ticket with steps to the second floor – €11.30 for adults, €5.60 for ages 12-24, €2.80 for ages 4-11 – pre book tickets here.
- Tickets with steps to the second floor and lift to the top – €21.50 for adults, €10.70 for ages 12-24, €5.40 for ages 4-11 – pre-book tickets here.
- Guided tour to the top – €48.30 for adults, €34.10 for ages 12-24, €21.10 for ages 4-11 – pre book tickets here.
- Guided tour to the second floor – €38.10 for adults, €29.00 for ages 12-24, €24.50 for ages 4-11 – pre book tickets here.
Be sure to always check those prices as they may have changed since publishing this post.
What if the Eiffel Tower has no Availability?
The Eiffel Tower is one of the world’s most popular attractions. As mentioned, it was booked out months in advance of our arrival. The further in advance you book, the more likelihood you’ll get a ticket.
If not, keep trying for last minute tickets, or take the chance by lining up on the day. Arrive first thing in the morning, pack your patience, and allow for waiting time in your schedule. It might not be as bad in the quieter off-peak travel months (i.e. Winter)
Alternatively, you can join one of the guided tours of the Eiffel Tower if they have space. You’ll often find one that does. They pre-book a certain number of entrance tickets, so you have better odds of making it.
The downside is that a guided tour is a lot more expensive. It depends on your budget and how badly you want to climb the tower. For us, it was worth it as we had the cheaper tickets. I’m not sure it would be paying a lot more.
I know our girls really wanted to go up so I may have paid for it and cut the budget in other places. If you’re only paying for one ticket it might be more manageable for your budget.
If you are with kids, and want to purchase tickets through Get Your Guide, check carefully for the kid’s price. The way some of their guided tour tickets work is kids pay full adult price. The difference may not be too much more, but kid’s do have a cheaper official entrance fee.
Tour Companies Worth Joining
While in Europe, we did several tours with Take Walks and LivTours. We loved both of them for their small-group sizes, focus on local culture and history, and interesting tours. You may want to consider the following, which include a skip the line visit to the Eiffel Tower. I think combining it with other star Paris attractions in a tour like this might be worthwhile and more cost-effective. But do book in advance and they have discounted rates for children.
- TAKE WALKS: Paris in a Day with Skip-the-Line Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay Guided Tour, City Walk & Seine River Cruise
- LIVTOURS: Paris in a Day Tour with River Cruise or if your budget allows, you can do a private Paris in a Day tour version.
Tips for Climbing The Eiffel Tower Stairs
If you’re planning to climb the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, here are some tips to make your experience enjoyable and memorable…
- Wear comfortable footwear as you’ll be climbing a significant number of stairs. Opt for sneakers or sturdy walking shoes that provide good support. We absolutely love our Chacos.
- Dress appropriately. Check the weather forecast before you visit and be sure to layer your clothing as the temperatures can change throughout the day. Consider wearing lightweight, breathable fabrics during warmer months and bring a light jacket or sweater for cooler weather.
- Stay hydrated. Climbing the Eiffel Tower can be physically demanding, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you and drink plenty of fluids throughout your ascent. You can also visit the coffee shop on the way up for refreshments.
- Take breaks. Pace yourself and take short breaks whenever you need to catch your breath or rest your legs. There are platforms at each level where you can pause, enjoy the view, and take photos.
- Plan your timing! The Eiffel Tower can get crowded, particularly during peak tourist seasons (the summer). Consider visiting early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid long queues and enjoy a more tranquil experience.
- Capture the moment. Don’t forget to bring a camera or your smartphone to capture the incredible views of Paris from different vantage points. Take your time to soak in the beauty and snap memorable photos along the way.
- Enjoy the journey! Climbing the Eiffel Tower is not just about reaching the top; it’s also about the journey itself. Take the time to appreciate the intricate ironwork, the architecture, and the historical significance of this iconic landmark.
- Be mindful of others while climbing the stairs and be considerate of other visitors. Maintain a steady pace and allow space for people to pass if needed. Remember, everyone is there to enjoy the experience, so be respectful of their journey too.
- Safety first. Follow the safety guidelines provided by the Eiffel Tower staff. Pay attention to any signage or instructions and be mindful of your surroundings.
Climbing the Eiffel Tower steps is one of the most memorable experiences in Paris and is certainly more budget friendly than the elevator (which in a city as expensive as Paris, is certainly a reason to brave the steps!).
It also provides ample opportunities to capture stunning photographs from different viewpoints and angles, as well as be able to walk in the footsteps of thousands of other travelers before you in the last century.
We hope this guide helped you plan how you want to visit The Eiffel Tower and gave you some insight into what it’s like to climb it.
We also have other guides on Paris, you may find helpful. Please share them with friends, on your socials, or Pin for later on Pinterest.
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