Buying time-slot reservation tickets online for top sights in Paris is almost essential to visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the Palace of Versailles.
Although time-slot reservation tickets are officially not required to see many of the top sights in Paris, it is in effect almost impossible to buy tickets on-site for the most popular museums and sites. Specific time-slot tickets are essential to see the Eiffel Tower — although tickets are still sold on-site, almost all tickets are sold online well in advance. Lines are often endless with no guarantee of ascending the tower without skip-the-line tickets. Time-slot reservations tickets for the Louvre Museum also allow visitors priority entrance to shorten the wait in the notoriously long security checkpoint lines. All tickets to enter the Palace of Versailles are for specific timeslots, even if bought at the chateaux, but guided tours are the quickest way to enter the palace on busy days. For these prime sites, the best times to visit are first thing in the morning or late afternoon (but after 20:00 for the Eiffel Tower).
Buy Advance Online Tickets for the Eiffel Tower in Paris
The Eiffel Tower remains a hugely popular site to visit in Paris with queues at the bottom of the tower often mind-numbingly long. Tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower by elevator – either to the second floor or the summit – are best bought online well in advance directly from the Eiffel Tower site itself.
On days when online tickets are no longer available, several further options are possible. Some tickets are still sold on-site, especially for the cheaper stairs climb rather than the elevator ride. Many guided tours include the Eiffel Tower – the cheapest option is nothing more than a walk through to the elevator (or up the stairs) but combining the Eiffel Tower with a Seine cruise or Seine and Louvre may be better value for money.
It is also possible to skip the lines at the Eiffel Tower with a restaurant reservation for one of the better restaurants in the tower – Jules Verne (Alain Ducasse / Michelin star) on the second level for very posh food (and a dress code) or at Madame Brasserie on the first level for much more reasonable prices with lunch significantly cheaper than dinner (but access to higher levels is not included).
See Eiffel Tower Advance Online Ticket Reservations for more details and options.
Buy Online Skip-the-Line Tickets for the Louvre Museum in Paris
Although advance purchase skip-the-line tickets for the Louvre Museum in Paris is not actually obligatory, anyone visiting the Louvre without time-slot tickets is likely to spend a lot of time waiting in the security line regretting not planning a bit in advance.
Almost all tickets for the Louvre are sold online in advance with specific time-slot admission periods. These tickets allow visitors to line up and pass security within a specific half-hour time slot. Visitors without time-slot reservations have to queue until space become available. However, the following half-hour line often starts moving without anyone from the no-ticket queues being allowed. Time-slot reservation tickets are available from Tiqets and GetYourGuide with discounts often offered if buying combination deals.
Admission to the security queues at the Louvre is currently in the following order: time-slot tickets (including Paris Museum Pass and other free admissions with time-slot reservations), other tickets, and lastly visitors without tickets (or free access).
Guided tours are also a good option for fast admission and visitors may stay inside the museum at the end of the tour if desired. On very busy days, late afternoon guided tours are also a pleasant way to see the museum, as it empties rather than getting progressively fuller as with early morning tours.
See Tips on Buying Skip-the-Line Tickets and Guided Tours for the Louvre Museum for more information.
Buy Tickets Online to Visit the Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is the most-popular day-trip destination from Paris. Many, if not most, visitors arrive with advance-purchased skip-the-line tickets with specific time-slot reservations to join the long security queues without waiting.
In 2023, the Chateau de Versailles may only be seen on time-slot tickets. These are mostly sold online but tickets may also be bought at the chateau itself. However, there is no guarantee that visitors buying at the palace will enter the chateau immediately or even at all on a busy day. Versailles time-slot tickets have no surcharge and visitors qualifying for free admission may also make free online time-slot reservations.
Without time-slot tickets, the Palace of Versailles is one sight where a guided tour is a very good option even for travelers generally preferring to go it alone. Guided tours use separate entrances, which saves a lot of time on busy days and some rooms are seen that are not open to individual visitors. The palace itself is still likely to be unpleasantly crowded inside but at least visitors may skip the long queue to get in.
Generally, try to visit the Palace of Versailles early morning, on Wednesday or Thursday, and somewhat surprisingly Saturdays. Avoid school holidays, all summer, Tuesdays and Sundays. (The free gardens are very pleasant on Mondays when the castle and other buildings are closed.)
Guided tours with transportation from central Paris are common. However, it is also easy to abandon the tour in Versailles and spend more time in the gardens and return by train – it is simple and very cheap.
See also Visiting the Château de Versailles for more information.
Purchasing tickets online for major tourist sites in Europe saves time. Even better are time-slot reservations, whether essential at sites such as the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or The Last Supper in Milan or optional for the Louvre and Vatican Museum. The Anne Frank Huis, Van Gogh Museum, and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam only sell tickets online with no option to buy at the museum itself.