Since entry lines to visit the Eiffel Tower are notoriously long — with normal wait times of one to two hours — we strongly recommend getting an advance ticket as soon as your Paris dates are set.
Tickets with a reserved time slot are sold online through the official Eiffel Tower ticket office at no extra cost, and are available up to three months in advance.
Unfortunately, these are often quickly snapped up, sometimes within hours of going on sale. If this happens, don't panic: You can always simply show up at the tower and wait it out to buy a ticket without a reservation. But to avoid a frustratingly long wait, consider booking a Fat Tire tour, or heading to Montparnasse instead.
Tour Packages: If advance tickets aren't available when you need them, you can essentially pay for a reservation by joining one of Fat Tire Tours' "Skip the Line" Eiffel Tower tours (which include a reserved Eiffel Tower ticket). These tours are not cheap, but as a Rick Steves tour member you can save 10 percent by entering "2020RICKSTEVES" in the Promotional Code field at checkout.
Montparnasse Tower Alternative: If your heart isn't set on going inside the Eiffel Tower itself, remember that you can enjoy a spectacular Paris view (most Parisians prefer it to the Eiffel's) from atop the Montparnasse Tower — where the Eiffel Tower is part of the vista (and the ugly Montparnasse Tower isn't). The visit is both cheaper and less crowded — no need to reserve.
When to Visit: If you're on a Rick Steves tour that begins or ends in Paris, the best time to visit the Eiffel Tower is right before or after your tour. During your tour's time in Paris, here are your best "free time" windows for an Eiffel or Montparnasse escape:
- Best of Paris: Day 1 before noon or after 10:30 p.m., Day 2 after 7:00 p.m., Day 5 after 5:30 p.m., and Day 6 after 10:30 p.m.
- Paris & the Heart of France: Day 1 before noon or after 10:00 p.m., Day 2, and Day 3 after 4:00 p.m.
- My Way: France: Any time; just don't miss your tour meeting on Day 1 at 5:00 p.m.
- Best of Europe in 21 Days: Day 19 after 7 p.m. and Day 20 between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. and after 10 p.m.
- Best of Europe in 14 Days: Day 2 after 5:00 p.m.
- Family Europe: London to Florence: Day 4 after 2:00 p.m.
Note: Tour-itinerary specifics are always subject to change, and in rare cases there may be an activity planned during these times.
See Rick's detailed tips on visiting the Eiffel Tower for more advice on avoiding lines and enjoying your visit.