What to See Inside St. Paul's Cathedral

Updated: 26 septiembre 2023

This post details how to get tickets to St. Paul's Cathedral, the best ways to save money on admission, and tours that are available to ticket holders.


St. Paul's Cathedral inside

As you enter St. Paul's Cathedral, you'll be awestruck by its majestic interior.

The soaring nave, adorned with magnificent dome vaults, guides your gaze toward the imposing West Door.

Throughout the cathedral, intricate mosaics, sculptural masterpieces, and captivating chapels showcase artistic brilliance.

Climb the galleries to witness breathtaking vistas and delve into the cathedral's fascinating history.

A true marvel of architecture and art awaits your exploration.

Later in this article, we will discuss the Hotel near St. Paul's Cathedral and a few must-visit attractions.


GALLERIES AND ATTRACTIONS

In this section, we will provide details about each of the galleries you can visit at St. Paul’s Cathedral, as well as some of the more notable attractions in the church.

To learn about the history of the building itself, see below.


Whispering Gallery

You’ll find this gallery by climbing 259 narrow steps to the second floor of the building.

The Whispering Gallery is named as such because the architectural design allows you to hear a whisper from across the room.

This is also a great place to see the floor of the cathedral from above.


Divination Staircase (Geometric Squares)

St. Paul’s Cathedral, renowned for tales ranging from Winston Churchill's powerful speeches to the graceful visits of Lady Diana Spencer, houses several architectural masterpieces.

A notable highlight is the Dean's Staircase, which Harry Potter fans would instantly recognize.

Geometric Staircase St. Pauls Cathedral Harry Potter

But within the hallowed walls of the Cathedral, it's known as the Geometric Squares.

The exquisite staircase, intricately adorned with evangelists' carvings, showcases the architectural genius of Sir Christopher Wren.

The Cathedral’s cinematic allure extends beyond the wizarding world.

It has lent its majestic backdrop to classics like Sherlock Holmes and Lawrence of Arabia.

Beyond its film credits, scheduled tours offer insights into the life of the Archbishop of Canterbury and other historic figures.

For enthusiasts keen to walk in the shadows of wizards, our GPS-led Harry Potter London audio tour is worth considering or read up on more Harry Potter locations in London.


Stone Gallery

This is essentially the third floor of the building, and it’s 378 steps from the ground floor – and entirely worth the effort.

The Stone Gallery is an outside area around the dome, which allows you to enjoy fantastic views of the city from 52 metres (160 ft) above.

If you’re looking for a great observation deck that is free to visit, this is an excellent alternative to some of the other locations in London – and it gets even better at the Golden Gallery!


Golden Gallery

Located at the top of the cathedral, the third gallery is 528 steps up and a total of 85 metres (280 ft) from the ground floor.

This is the smallest gallery, encircling the highest point outside the dome.

Views from this floor are often considered to be even more impressive than from any other gallery at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Visitors can expect to see landmarks such as the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and the River Thames.


The Ball and Lantern

This is the ball and cross located at the very top of the cathedral. It is approximately 7 meters (23 ft) high and weighs in at approximately 7 tonnes.

Although the original ball and cross were erected in 1708, it was replaced in 1821 with the current design.

This ball and lantern were designed by the Surveyor to the Fabric, C.R. Cockerell.


The Crypt

St. Paul’s Cathedral has a crypt where you will find the tombs of several notable historical figures.

One of the most notable tombs is that of Sir Christopher Wren, who was the architect of the cathedral.

This is also the site of the tomb of Lord Nelson, who fought in the Battle of Trafalgar.

You can also visit Wellington’s tomb, otherwise known as the Iron Duke.

He also left behind an interesting number of namesakes, such as Wellington Boots, Beef Wellington, and more.


Oculus: An Eye Into St. Paul’s

within the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral, the Oculus presents a captivating 270° film experience.

Encompassing over 1,400 years, this cinematic journey offers a deep dive into the storied past of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Rather than a singular presentation, the Oculus provides viewers with three meticulously crafted films.

"Life of the Cathedral" allows visitors to discover the daily life, rituals, and essence of this iconic Cathedral throughout various epochs.

"Resurgam, I Will Rise Again" gives an evocative look into the resilience and indomitable spirit of the Cathedral as it withstood adversities over the centuries.

Lastly, "Virtual Access, the Dome" offers a breathtaking virtual journey, allowing audiences to witness the splendor of the Cathedral’s Dome in an unprecedented manner.

For those keen on an immersive understanding of St. Paul’s historical and cultural significance, the Oculus is an indispensable experience.


The American Memorial Chapel

Standing solemnly within St. Paul's, the American Memorial Chapel is a testament to the intertwined histories of the UK and the US.

It stands as a memorial to the valor and sacrifices of the American soldiers who fought during World War II.

As one gazes upon its intricately designed stained glass, it becomes clear that every inch of it is steeped in tales of bravery, sacrifice, and the unyielding bond between two nations.


Wellington's Monument

An imposing structure within the Cathedral, Wellington's Monument salutes the strategic genius and leadership of the Duke of Wellington.

Crafted from rich marble and detailed craftsmanship, it symbolizes more than just the man—it captures the spirit of an era where strategy and valor shaped empires.


The South Aisle

Walking along the South Aisle is akin to stepping back in time.

Each step is a reminder of those who once trod these same paths, including royals like Queen Victoria.

Its walls, adorned with artworks and carvings, narrate tales spanning centuries, from the maritime prowess of Admiral Lord Nelson to events that shaped modern Britain.


North Transept

The North Transept of St. Paul's is where sound and silence find a harmonious blend.

Here, the Cathedral's renowned acoustics resonate, turning whispers into echoes that dance around the grand pillars.

This space, marked by its unique sound and beauty, also serves as a silent witness to the centuries-long spiritual leadership of the seat of the bishop of London.


High Altar

At the heart of St. Paul's lies the High Altar, a sacred spot that has seen a myriad of moments, both somber and joyous.

From the solemn funerals of towering figures like Margaret Thatcher to celebratory events that echoed with laughter and joy, it's a place that beckons visitors to pause, reflect, and connect with the Cathedral's rich tapestry of history.


ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL TICKETS

Admission to this historic church includes an introductory talk, a multimedia tour, an audio tour, and a guided tour of the structure.

You'll also receive access to all of the galleries, tombs, domes, and other attractions that are typically off-limits for visitors attending mass and other services.

Tickets (online price)

TIP: Entry into St. Paul's Cathedral is free with the purchase of either the GoCity's Explorer Pass or the GoCity London Pass.

Be sure to see our Discounts section to find out how you can save money on tickets.

For information about how to get here, what to wear, mass times, and more, please read our visitor's guide to St. Paul's Cathedral.

Also, check out our post on how to save on popular London tourist attractions.


DISCOUNTS

There are a couple of discounts available on tickets for St. Paul's Cathedral.

London Walking Tours

Tourist Attraction Discount Passes

If you plan on seeing more than one attraction in London (and you most likely do), you should consider purchasing a tourist pass, as just about all include St. Paul's.

These passes bundle together tickets to popular London attractions and tours all for one price.

They can save you between 20-55% off the retail prices. 

Entry into St. Paul's Cathedral is free with the purchase of either the GoCity's Explorer Pass or the GoCity London Pass.

They can also save you time with skip-the-ticket privileges, including at St. Paul's.

Here are a few more popular attractions that are included at no extra cost with at least one major tourist pass:

  • Tower Bridge
  • Windsor Castle
  • Tower of London
  • Kensington Palace
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • View From The Shard
  • Churchill War Rooms
  • And more!

See our post on London Tourist Passes to see which pass, if any, is right for you. 


Discount Sites

Websites such as Groupon frequently offer discounts of 10% - 25% off local activities, and that includes admission to St. Paul's Cathedral!

This could be a good way to save money on the activity if you're not interested in any other opportunities.


St. Paul's Cathedral Tickets 2 for 1 Deal

Entrance to St. Paul's Cathedral is included in this great deal which saves you money on hundreds of attractions. You get 2 tickets for the price of 1.

It's a bit tricky to get the deal, but it may be worth it. Find out how here


St. Paul's Cathedral Free Annual Pass 

When buying admission tickets at the gate or in advance at the online rates, you can opt-in to have your ticket valid for a year as opposed to that one day, and it’s at no additional cost.

In essence, at present, an adult could pay £18.00 online and have a whole year’s worth of sightseeing entry. 

At the moment, this is the best way to get St. Paul's Cathedral free entry.

TIP: Be sure to also read our post on the 50+ free things to do in London for visitors.


Visiting St. Paul's Cathedral for free

If you're wondering whether or not you can visit St. Paul's Cathedral for free, the answer is technically yes.

Since this is a functioning church, visitors are allowed to attend a service and enter St. Paul's without paying a dime.

Unfortunately, if you're planning to attend mass or another service, you won't have access to the galleries, domes, and tombs of this historic attraction.

In order to see these locations, you'll need to pay for a ticket. For more details about how to get in for free, check our post covering St. Paul's Cathedral free entry.


TOURS OF ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL

Below the video, we describe both free tours and paid tours of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Yet, we have mentioned some of the famous Hotels near St. Paul's Cathedral and Nearby Attractions so you can have more fun on your tour.

Hotels near St. Paul's Cathedral

Vintry & Mercer
Cheval Calico House
Bankside Hotel Autograph Collection

Nearby Attractions

London Mithreaum
Tate Modern
Tower Bridge
Tower of London
Sky Garden


FREE TOURS OF ST. PAUL'S

This section will cover all of the free tours available at St. Paul’s Cathedral and what is included with each experience.

All of these services are included in the price of admission. Read below or visit the cathedral's tours page.


Multimedia Guides

Use high-resolution touch screens to fly through the galleries and get a close-up view of the more intricate details in the domes.

Also included are interviews and commentary from experts who have studied the Cathedral and members of the congregation.

These guides are available in 9 languages including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean.

There are also family multimedia guides which include quizzes, interactive games and other activities for children and their parents.


Audio Description Guides

These audio tours are only available in English currently, but they are an excellent opportunity to get closer to some of the artwork.

Listeners are encouraged to touch sculptures and carvings while listening to wonderful music from the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir.

There will also be commentary and interviews from experts with a lot of knowledge about the landmark.


Introductory Talk

This is a 15-20 minute introduction to both the architecture and historical significance of St. Paul’s Cathedral provided by a professional tour guide.

Introductory Talks are offered regularly throughout the day – all you have to do is ask about it at the guiding desk when you arrive.

If you want to learn the basics about this location from a live guide, this is one of the quickest and most readily available options.


Free Guided Tours

Take a free 60-minute tour with a professional guide who will cover all the significant areas of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

This tour includes details about the Cathedral Floor, the Crypt, the Chapel of St. Michael & St. George, the Geometric Staircase, and the Quire – some of which are not usually open to visitors.

Tours are available between 11:00 am and 15:00 (3 pm) each day.

Note that you are not guaranteed a place on the guided tour as there is limited availability. Advance reservations are not available. 

If you want to ensure a place, go straight to the guiding desk when you arrive at the cathedral and let them know you want to take the tour.


PAID TOURS OF ST. PAUL'S

Below are tours offered by St. Paul’s Cathedral for an additional fee.

These tours are only £5-£10 extra, and it may be worth it to you to have an extra special experience


Private Group Guided Tours

If you want to avoid missing out on a free public tour, cathedral guides are willing to provide the same tour to private groups for only £8 per person.

You will require a minimum of at least 10 people in your group in order to qualify for this option.

All private group guided tours must be booked ahead of time, and they usually start at 10:15, 11:15, 13:15 (1:15 pm) and 14:15 (2:15 pm)

It is recommended to contact admissions@stpaulscathedral.org.uk at least two weeks in advance to secure the next available private group guided tour.


Triforium Tour

This one-hour tour covers several locations that are usually off-limits to visitors, and it’s only available publicly on specific days each year.

A professional guide will introduce you to areas such as the library, the Geometric Staircase, the Great Model, and more.

The Triforium Tour also features a great view down the nave from over the Great West Doors.

You should contact admissions@stpaulscathedral.org.uk well ahead of time to book your spot in this otherwise rare tour. Tickets are £10 per person.

This tour can also be booked privately for a party of at least 5 people, with a maximum of 20 guests admitted. Tickets for the private tour are still only £8 per person.


What is the best day to visit St. Paul's Cathedral?

To experience St. Paul's in its entirety, from the Saturday masses to daily rituals, consider weekdays for a visit.

How long does it take to see everything?

Devote 2 to 3 hours to explore, from the North Transept to the South Aisle.

Do you need to book tickets in advance?

For a seamless experience, especially when the London Eye casts its gaze on this monument, book in advance.

London Travel Tips and Hacks

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: septiembre 26th, 2023
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