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Visiting the Eiffel Tower

While arguably the most recognized monument in the world, the Eiffel Tower hardly survived the 1889 World's Fair. Few tourists today realize that, as the tower was constructed for the event, the city planned to tear down the tower in the days following the fair. Good thing that they never got around to it, because these days everyone wants a piece of the Dame de Fer (Iron Lady).

Planning your visit to Paris' most famous attraction? Here are a few tips to make your visit as enjoyable as possible:

Eiffel Tower

Buy your tickets in advance! Photo: John Kroll

Advance tickets

One of our most important suggestions is to plan ahead and buy your tickets ahead of time on the Eiffel Tower's Web site. Not only will this save you the time of waiting in line, but it can help out in unexpected ways.

For example, it can avoid headaches when an elevator breaks down, like in spring 2012 when only one elevator was functioning for weeks. At least it made the wait shorter than those who came without a reservation.

If you do book ahead, make sure to print out your tickets, or be prepared to show your confirmation email on your smartphone when you arrive at the Tower. Also, make sure to show up at the time you booked. If you show up late, your tickets may not be accepted.

Ticket prices

The Eiffel Tower sells tickets to the second floor observation deck and to the top. You may also purchase a ticket to climb the stairs to the second floor (but not to the top!). Ticket prices are as follows:

Elevator to the 2nd floor: €8.50 (adult), €7 (12-24 years old), €4 (4-11 year old).

Stairs to the 2nd floor: €5 (adult), €3.50 (12-24), €3 (4-11).

Elevator to the top: €14 (adult), €12.50 (12-24), €9.50 (4-11).

Guided tours

Another option for advance booking is to take a guided tour of the Tower, including the old radio bunkers and a backstage look at the elevators. Your guide will whisk you to the second floor with VIP access, making the ascent to the tippy top much more pleasant should you decide to go for it.

It sounds expensive, but at €19.50 per person, it’s a steal for an excellent tour.

Hours

The Eiffel Tower is open every day of the year, including major holidays. Hours are as follows:

June 15 - September 1: Open from 9 a.m. to midnight. (Last elevator at midnight.)

From September 2 - June 14: Open from 9:30 a.m. to 11 pm. (Last elevator at 11 p.m.)

Time of day to go

Everyone has a favorite time to head up the tower, but the evening time, right around sunset, is one of the most stunning. If you time it right, you’ll be watching the sun set over Paris while the twinkling lights below start to pop alive. By the time you reach the summit, you’ll have the best possible view of the city at its finest.

Walking it

As long as you’re not wearing heels, you may opt to walk up to the tower’s second level to catch the elevator to the very top. This ticket saves you €3.50, or a well-deserved glass of wine at a café afterwards. Taking the elevator down usually doesn’t present much difficulty.

What to wear

It gets windy at the top of the tower, so it's a good idea to dress accordingly, especially during the cooler months. You'll be much more comfortable at the top if you have a little something extra to wrap around yourself.

Alternative Towers

In the end, there are no real tricks to visiting the tower. If there’s a huge line, there’s a huge line. But no one is forcing you to wait.

If simply seeing the tower is enough, consider going up the Tour Montparnasse, that big ugly skyscraper in the south of the city. From the top of this building you get a bird’s eye view of everything with less fuss. There’s also a bar up top – win-win situation?

Getting there

The Metro line 6 will drop you off at Bir Hakeim, the closest station. For better views while arriving at the tower, lines 6 and 9 at the station Trocadéro is a stunning way to introduce yourself to Eiffel’s masterpiece with just a short walk across the river afterwards. Line 8 at Ecole Militaire is also a short walk through the Champs de Mars, offering great views of the tower as well.

In the area

Around the Eiffel Tower there aren’t too many cute cafés, bakeries, or bathrooms. The best bet for food or rest is to head to the overly-cute rue Cler for a break. It will feel a bit kitschy, but take it in stride.

Hotels near the Eiffel Tower

If you're looking for budget hotels nearby, be sure to read our hotel recommendations near the Eiffel Tower. Our editors have visited and reviewed these properties, and will help you find the best deal.

About the author: Bryan Pirolli is the Paris-based correspondent for EuroCheapo.com.

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