4 Tips for Climbing the Eiffel Tower with Kids

Last month, before we flew to Rome, we stayed in Paris for couple of days. While we were there, we went to the top of the Eiffel Tower with the kids for the first time! I thought I’d share a few helpful tips for any of you with an Eiffel Tower climb in your future. (I hope it’s lots of you!)

Tip 1: Take the stairs.

The lines for the elevator can be crazy long, so I highly recommend buying tickets for the stairs instead. You’ll probably still have a line, but it will be much shorter. The climb isn’t too difficult and the stairs aren’t crowded. Plus you get amazing views of how the tower is put together, and you’ll feel cool breezes if it’s a hot day. For a final bonus, stair tickets are less expensive. Hooray!

The staircase option is actually half stairs, half elevator. You climb to the first the level, then you take an elevator to the top.

Tip 2: Take a rest.

Plan on spending a most of your time on the first level. It’s much bigger than the upper level, so there’s more room to move around and it’s less crowded. You can buy water bottles there if you’re worn out from the climb, or you can even buy a sandwich or snack. There are displays and exhibits to study, and of course, the views are incredible!

Tip 3: Take a snack.

After you’ve had your fill of the first level, it’s time to stand in line again. Everyone — both stair ticket holders and elevator ticket holders — will need to queue up to take the elevator to the top level. The line here can feel long, especially if you weren’t expecting it, so pulling out a favorite treat will help keep kids in good spirits while you wait your turn.

Be aware: the elevators will be packed. So if you’re claustrophobic, make sure you’re by a window. Bonus: you’ll be rewarded with amazing views on your way up!

Tip 4: Beat the clock.

Unless you’ve made dinner reservations, you probably won’t need to spend much time on the top level. It’s crowded! Here’s what I recommend: walk the circumference, identify a few of your favorite Paris landmarks, take a peek through the window at Gustave Eiffel’s office (he has an American visitor!), and snap a few photos.

If it feels like a bummer to start the trip down, make a game of it. We set the timers on our phone for 10 minutes and did our best to beat the clock.

Plan on 2-3 hours for the entire adventure, from getting in line to buy tickets to arriving back down on the ground.

Have you ever been to the top? Was it daytime or evening? Any other tips you’d add?

P.S. — Baby June was tired that day, so she napped at my sister’s house while the rest of us climbed. Also, the image of the Eiffel Tower at night is by Wendy of Blue Lily. Did you know that when it’s dark, the tower sparkles for 3 minutes on the hour. It’s a must see!

33 thoughts on “4 Tips for Climbing the Eiffel Tower with Kids”

  1. My grandpa is 85 and his wish is to see the Eiffel Tower. He’s been to France but never to Paris. I’m not sure when/if he’s going to make it but I’d like to take him!

    1. I just heard of Wish of a Lifetime on NPR. It’s kind of like Make a Wish, but to fulfill lifetime dreams of seniors. It sounds like a wonderful program and maybe a perfect fit for your grandfather.

  2. We went to Paris this past Christmas and it was magical! My husband and I accidentally managed to take the stairs while my family went up the elevator. It was nice to have a little getaway time in the most romantic city with my love while huffing and puffing up the Eiffel Tower stairs. It kind of felt surreal. And while it does take a little while longer (or at least more effort) than the lift, I definitely recommend anyone who’s going to take the stairs!

  3. Great advice. I just learned recently that the Eiffel Tower is the most visited landmark in the world; when you think about that, the 2-3 hour trip doesn’t seem so bad!

    The one chance I had to see the tower myself was at night in the dead of winter, so there weren’t any lines (hey, it’s a great time to visit if you want to beat the crowds!); we ended up taking the elevator straight to the top. I don’t have any pictures, but I remember it being windy and slightly disorienting at the top…and utterly, utterly beautiful. I would love to go back during daylight hours someday and spend more time exploring the structure itself!

  4. If you can’t do the stairs for some reason (I was 32 weeks pregnant when I visited and the stairs were not happening!), it’s worth it to buy your ticket ahead of time. You have to choose a time to be there, but it’s TOTALLY worth the inconvienience of scheduling this to skip the ticket line.

    There is a bathroom at the top.

    Be prepared to stand in line to take the elevator back down.

  5. We took the stairs! The line was so long for the elevator, so we opted for the stairs. We didn’t wait in line at all for the stairs. We just started right up. It does take awhile to get there but it was nice to take a break on the first level. We went in early evening in September 2010.

  6. we went years ago during the weekly “skate night” (i doubt they have them anymore – it was a big thing in big cities 10-15 years ago) – so the tower was empty…not a person in sight, as all the people in town seemed to be lining the roads. it happened to be my first time up and it was magical – all the quiet, the breeze, the lights everywhere…pure magic.

    1. Ah! I was there on a skate night too! It was 1998 and I was just 16 when I went. We climbed at night, which our tour guide (we were in a school group) told us was very dangerous and refused to go with us. She missed out! We had a great time. Oh, and that was back in the day when they were doing the “Countdown to 2000” on the tower. Aw, memories. :)

  7. I’m in Paris right now and climbed to the 2nd level of the eiffel tower just yesterday. Almost 700 stairs!

  8. I’ll never forget the day we saw the tower. I was in 2nd grade, on a spring break trip. We were tooling around Paris and my mom stopped us at a corner. She said something to the effect of a big surprise being around the corner, and told us to go check it out. I remember stopping in my tracks the moment I saw it. I just stood there drop-jawed for a good couple of minutes, just amazed that we were really there. We made it to the top and got to take a fantastic replica of a photo my grandfather made in WWII, looking down to the street. An amazing experience. Can’t wait to be able to show my own kids some day.

  9. My husband and I went to the Eiffel Tower last September. I had missed going on previous trips to Paris so I was determined to go this time. I took the advice of a travel book and made a dinner reservation at the Jules Verne restaurant at the top, which meant we got to skate right past everyone waiting in those awful lines and zip right up in the special restaurant elevator.

    The food was so expensive that we felt violated when we saw the bill and my husband was immediately sick to his stomach — physically! It was something insane like $700 US dollars for lunch for two people. But we managed to get in and up the tower quickly, and since we were there on business and squeezing in this excursion it was the only way we had time to go. After we left the restaurant, we were swept along in the crowds of others on the viewing decks, and came down in the same jam-packed elevators that you did.

    But I love the Eiffel Tower! It was the Louvre Pyramid of its day, with half of Paris complaining that it was ugly and spoiled the beauty of the city and the other half welcoming its fresh innovation and modern spirit. I’m glad your family had a nice visit!

  10. I have had the good fortune of traveling to Paris twice in the past 25 years but I have never actually been in/on the Eiffel Tower. My first trip, just after college, I didn’t think I could afford the, what I considered, hefty admission price. So, I was satisfied standing on the ground admiring its beauty and grandeur. Truthfully, I wasn’t heartbroken. I know I must have felt that I most certainly would be back. It took more than 2 decades, but imagine my utter disappointment when last year, on my second trip to France, an electrical workers’ strike shut down the Eiffel Tower. It was closed during our entire 3-day stay in Paris! I am certain a third trip is in order!

  11. My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Paris and Rome in May 2009. To avoid the lines for the elevator, we walked up the two levels.
    What I did not know then, was that I was pregnant at the time, we found out a week later in Rome. Had I known, I probably would have taken the elevator, so that was good.

  12. That last picture looks so awesome – and so scary! Are any of your kids (or you!) afraid of heights? I already have jelly legs just thinking about it :-)

  13. we took our kids a few weeks ago…got in by train around 9pm, dropped off our stuff at our apt. a few blocks from the eiffel tower, and got tickets. it was a friday night and no lines at the ticket counter. my kids (5, 7, & 9) were so excited to see the tower sparkle on the hour. there were lines at the elavators, but my kids were so tired/excited that it was fine. my hubby & i had to take turns holding our 5 yr. old on the way back. but she was sooo excited to be on the tippy top of tower at when it sparkled (at midnight). we recently took another vacation to spain & my youngest commented that paris was much better because she was on top of the tower when it sparkled, and daddy gave her lots of piggy back rides. :)

  14. and i love the beautiful night time photos i took -i completely understand now why paris is called the city of lights. i highly recommend it!

  15. We went up twice, the first time when my husband proposed (he wrote his proposal in permanent marker on the railing at the top!) and the second time a year later on our honeymoon (we looked for the proposal but it had been painted over!). The first time it was afternoon and by the time we went back down it was dark. The second time was morning and both times it was FREEZING. The third time we took our daughter with us but we didn’t go up as I was pregnant and very sick all the time so next time we’ll be braving the stairs with two kids in tow. :-)

  16. My husband and I went to the tower when we visited Paris 4 years ago. We took the elevator (I wouldn’t have been able to do the stairs). It was lovely! We went at dusk and stayed until it was really dark. It was gorgeous! Though a bit crowded at times. Just last night my son asked for us to take him there. He knows it was a special place for me and my husband and I can’t wait to visit as a family.

  17. When we took our daughter there.my husband got up really early to stand in line for us.that saved her 2 hrs anderen When she was excited about the other people and the beggars and sellers ..actually I let her buy 5 eiffeltowerkeychains for 1 Euro…for her friends.
    When i went up for my 1st time it was late afternoon, no lines…but actually I prefer watching the sparkles from the other side of the seine. ;-) with the daily load of happy watchers.
    i once took a evening boat trip with dinner …the view was nice, the food terrible and no chance of taking pictures(shaky)…

  18. I visited Paris 18 yrs ago this week, when I was 17. We walked up. It was amazing. I would love to revisit with my husband and kids. It changed my world. Looking at these pictures brings back so many memories!

  19. We went 7.5 years ago for our honeymoon. It was the second week of September and there were NO LINES!!! for anything! We walked right into the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Versaille, the boat tour. Oh, and we went to the tower at night, when it sparkled. Our plan is to go back for our 10 year anniversary / second honeymoon. I also visited 11 years ago when I studied abroad in college in the month of May, and again, no lines for anything. I’m such a lucky girl to have gone twice, but really, who gets tired of Paris???

  20. My husband and I are taking our two children, 13 & 9 the first week of October 2012, however, because of renovation work, there is only one elevator working. I also heard that one could not go to the 3rd level. Is this true?

    I’m confused when people say the top level but seem to mean the 2nd level.

    I believe construction started at the beginning of 2012 and will continue until mid 2013.

    Has anyone been to the 3rd level this year?

    Thank you!

  21. Thanx for the tips. we are planning to paris the next week of this month with our kid. It would be a very helpful for us.

  22. Hello

    our daughter is 16 months old and we are pure vegetarians will u pls tell me, what all foods we need to carry and other necessary things for her.

    1. Hi! It is fantastic for you to be able to travel with your little one. You will not have any trouble finding food for any of you. There are so many shops for wonderful fresh food as you walk down the streets.

      I do suggest you bring your own formula if she is drinking that – could be hard to find that.

      Visit http://www.theeducationaltourist.com for tips on traveling with the kids.

  23. What a wonderful journey for your family! Paris is a must see city for everyone – and WITH the kids! Love your post.

    What a wonderful city for a family trip! Visit http://www.theeducationaltourist.com for tips on visiting the City of Light with kids! See the $3 downloads for visiting the Louvre and France with children. These downloads will help keep the kids engaged and remember their trip!

    Thanks for sharing your Eiffel Tower ideas!

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