Paris is an awesome city to visit, and there is nothing more quintessential for the Paris tourist than visiting the Eiffel Tower. It and Notre Dame are probably the two most iconic places in the City of Lights. The major damage to Notre Dame is absolutely devastating, and I am so glad we got to see it last year.

It is hard for me to decide whether I liked the historic cathedral or the Eiffel Tower more, but my kids vastly preferred the latter. But they weren’t thrilled about one aspect of our visit: my choice to take the stairs. But it is absolutely the best way to experience this signature Paris site. Here’s why:

Why the Stairs Are the Correct Choice

First, it’s the cheapest way to visit the Eiffel Tower. The official Eiffel Tower website sells different types of tickets, depending on the experience you desire. A ticket for just the stairs up to the second level is the cheapest, costing 10.20 euros for adults, 5.10 euros for youth (ages 12-24), and 2.50 euros for kids (ages 4-12). Very little kids are free, in all cases.

Current tickets prices from the Eiffel Tower website.

The prices for lift tickets cost substantially more. For two adults, one youth, and one child taking the stairs to the second level, you’re looking at 28 euros. For lift tickets for the same group, you’re looking at 44.80 euros, which is 60% more. The stairs are by far the cheapest way to visit the Eiffel Tower.


But that isn’t the only reason. Another is that there was a far shorter queue for the stairs. A good number of people were in line, but it moved along reasonably fast. As soon as each group was ticketed, up they went. There was no wait for the next lift to arrive, people to shuffle off, and then group by group to ascend. The line for the lift was much longer.

It is also a character-building exercise for the kids. Sure, they protested. It is a lot of stairs. But we were able to go at our own pace, and we could take breaks frequently. Even so, this didn’t stop all the drama.

He was apparently dying.

While some people might be daunted by climbing hundreds of stairs, it truly provides the best experience. I feel you get a better connection with this marvel of Paris. Rather than take a lift as I’ve done at several observation tower type attractions now, the climb lets you take in the city and tower together. There is also a keen sense of accomplishment when you finally get to the second level.

Content with the Second Level

Yup. We traveled all the way to Paris and didn’t even summit the Eiffel Tower. The stairs only take you to the second level, and if they took you to the top, we almost certainly would have climbed them (okay…maybe I would have relented for the kids’ sake). But that isn’t even an option. If you want to visit the top deck, you have to buy an elevator ticket.

best way to visit the Eiffel Tower

However, in my research, I’d read that the second level is often people’s favorite. The top ends up jam-packed with folks (if the second level isn’t already busy enough). Plus, you’re not too far above everything that some details start to become hard to see. Paris is an old city, and there is nothing in this area of Paris even remotely as tall at the Eiffel Tower. The second level is plenty high. I did not feel we missed a thing not going to the top.

You Get the Elevator Experience, Too!

The cool thing is, once you make it to the second level, you don’t need a ticket to take the elevator down. It’s a one way walk, and probably in the better direction. Descending that many stairs would be killer on the knees. I wasn’t aware of this when I booked. I figured if you hike up, you have to hike down.

My kids were thrilled to ride the Eiffel Tower elevator, even if it was down instead of up. It’s fun, but definitely not as fun as the stairs. At least in my opinion. The stairs are still the best way to experience the Eiffel Tower.

Stairs: The Best Way to Visit the Eiffel Tower

I know that my older two will never forget this experience. Hiking the stairs of the Eiffel Tower sounded horrible to them, but it turned out to be just fine. They survived, drama notwithstanding. For my part, I loved being able to take in the view along the way, and enjoyed ascending one of its legs. Unless you have mobility issues, I don’t see a better way to experience the Eiffel Tower than the stairs.

Have you ascended the Eiffel Tower on foot? Was it as enjoyable an experience as ours?