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St. Paul's Cathedral Free Entry | How to Attend a Mass Service

Updated: April 11, 2024
 By Margaret

This post covers how to visit St. Paul's Cathedral for free, tours you can take, when they hold mass, and what you will see on your visit.

As a London tour guide and resident, I can tell you that the majestic St. Paul Cathedral is a popular attraction for good reason.

I've taken many of my own guests there and directed many Free Tours By Foot tour guests there.

To help write this particular post, I've used some of my and my fellow guides' experiences visiting the cathedral.

People like you, travelers, who have joined our London Travel Tips Facebook group, have helped to create some of this content as well.

The group has almost 165,000 members so it's a great place to look for answers to questions and learn more about London.

Here's to an enjoyable visit to what is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world!


Here are details you will need to know ahead of your visit, including how to visit St. Paul's Cathedral for free.

Since this is a functioning church, it is free to attend a service. But to experience all of St. Paul's glory, including its historic galleries, tombs, and domes, you must buy tickets. We go over the ticket options below.

Visitor Hours

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday | 8:30 – 16:00 (last entry).
  • Wednesday |10 am – 16:00 (last entry).
  • Sunday | closed to visitors, except for worshippers.

Note that these are subject to change for special events or services.

For those who plan to enjoy free entry to St. Paul's Cathedral, skip ahead to our section covering Mass times.

How to Get There

St. Paul's Cathedral is located within the City of London.

Its central location means that you can reach it by various London Underground stations as well as bus lines.

Regardless of how you get here, we recommend using this Google Maps link for directions to the cathedral

The nearest Underground station is St. Paul's (Central line). 

The cathedral is also within walking distance from Mansion House (Circle + District lines) and Barbican (Circle, Hammersmith, and City and Metropolitan lines).  

Be sure to read our tips on navigating the London Underground.

Public bus #'s: 4, 11, 15, 23, 25, 26, 100, 242 all stop at or near the cathedral.

Also, all major hop-on-hop-off bus tours make stops at the cathedral.

We also come here on several of our walking tours, including the following:

  • City of London Tour (also available as an audio tour)
  • Harry Potter Tour (also available as an audio tour)
  • World War 2 Blitz Tour

See our full schedule of tours.

Dress Code

St. Paul's does not require visitors to follow a strict dress code, so you can wear pretty much whatever you want (within reason).

Just keep in mind that this is a church and moderate dress is expected, even if it isn't required.

Amount of Time Needed

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

While it is recommended to set aside at least 2 hours, the amount of time required always depends on how much you want to see and experience.

Nearby Attractions

Hotels near St. Paul's Cathedral

Should you want to stay nearby here are some options.

Vintry & Mercer
Cheval Calico House
Bankside Hotel Autograph Collection


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

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 Ways to Save section below to find out how you can find deals on tickets.

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


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

Tourist Attraction 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 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. 

Money-Saving Websites

Websites such as Groupon frequently offer deals of 10% - 25% off local activities, including 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 after the first visit.

TIP: Looking for more ways to save in London? See our 50+ free things to do in London for visitors.


As a house of worship, St. Paul’s Cathedral holds daily services. 

For those who wish to worship there, there is no fee to enter, providing guests arrive in time for the service.

Note that attending a service does not give you permission to explore the building, tombs, memorials, and domes. These areas are blocked off during hours of worship.

However, you will get to sit inside the church and enjoy its majesty, size, and beauty, all whilst taking in services steeped in centuries of historic tradition.

St. Paul's Cathedral Mass Times

  1. Daily Services | 8:00, 8:30, 12:30 and 17:00
  2. Sunday Services | 8:00, 10:00, 11:15, 15:00, and 17:30
  3. View the up-to-date schedule here

TIP: The weekday and Saturday 17:00 services, and the Sunday 15:00 service, contain the Choral Evensong. It is performed by the exquisite boys' and gentlemen's choirs.


Built by England's most famous architect, Christopher Wren, in the Baroque style, St. Paul’s origins lie centuries ago.

There have been multiple St. Paul’s churches on the site where the current cathedral stands today.

Wren’s version began shortly after the Great Fire of London burned the Medieval St. Paul’s to the ground in 1666.

Backed by King Charles II, it took Wren over 9 years just to design the church and then only around 33 years to build it (which is amazing when you consider all the modern tools and equipment Wren didn’t have!).

St. Paul’s was consecrated in 1708 and at that point, it was the tallest building in London – holding that title until 1962!  


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.

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.

Geometric Staircase St. Pauls Cathedral Harry Potter

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. 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, 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.


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

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 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 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 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.


While we do our best to provide all the information you'll need to plan a successful visit to St. Paul's Cathedral, sometimes you need answers to specific questions related to your personal experience.

As mentioned above, our London Travel Tips Facebook group is a great place to ask a question.

Below are some questions asked and answered by our members as well as other tips that will make the trip most enjoyable.

  1. St. Paul's is not particularly packed throughout the year, but it does tend to get crowded on Fridays and Saturdays. It's also likely to be more quiet closer to opening times.

    2. For those interested in attending a service, one of our members suggests an arrival time and the best place to sit.

    3. For those touring the cathedral, there are a few ways to go about it as the comment below states.

    Also, note that the last entry for sightseeing ends 30 minutes after the last entry time. Be sure the check the opening and closing times on a particular day as the schedule does sometimes change.

    4. Bells ring at the Cathedral before Sunday services at 9:30, 10:45, and 14:30.

    There are also tower bells that ring at 8:00, 8:30, 12:30, and 17.00 during weekdays.

    The schedule will change though if the service times following have to be moved.

    5. Bags above a certain size, 45cm x 30cm x 25cm, cannot be taken into the cathedral. There's no place to store coats or bags so you'll have to carry things with you.

    6. Non-flash photography is welcome in most parts of the complex but it is not allowed in the Whispering Gallery or St. Dunstan's Chapel.

    The cathedral also doesn't allow tripods, selfie sticks, and other equipment. It's best to check the website if you have any questions.

    7. You can find the toilet facilities down in the crypt.


    About The Author


    An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries. Read More...
    Updated: April 11th, 2024
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