Free Entry to St. Paul’s Cathedral
This post discusses how you can visit the cathedral, both with a paid ticket and for free as well as a tip to get a great view of the building. Dominating the London skyline for centuries, St. Paul’s Cathedral has remained a beautiful landmark on the capital’s horizon to this day. With a varied history spanning back to 1666, and playing host to many important events in the United Kingdom’s history (including the iconic wedding of Lady Diana Spencer to Charles, Prince of Wales), St. Paul’s acts as a site of worship, a tourist attraction, and a top-of-the-agenda item for visitors from all over the world.
WHERE IS ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL?
St. Paul’s Cathedral is located within the City of London. It’s central location means that you can reach it by various London Underground stations as well as bus lines. 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). Bus Nos. 4, 11, 15, 23, 25, 26, 100, 242 all stop at or near the cathedral.
We recommend using this map for directions to St. Paul’s Cathedral from anywhere in the London area. Be sure to read our post on navigating the London Underground. If you are considering a hop-on, hop-off bus ticket during your stay in London, keep in mind that all the major companies stop here. Read our London bus tour comparison page.
ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL TICKET PRICES
Tickets will allow you to experience the entire Cathedral. Visitors are given a multimedia guide as well as access to the Whispering, Stone and Golden Galleries – which means you can climb to the very top of the church and take in some breathtaking views! Be sure to inquire about skip-the-line tickets.
- Adult – £16
- Concession – £14
- Children (age 6 – 17) – £8
- Families (2 adult + 2 child) – £39
- Under 5’s – Free
- For more information and to purchase (skip-the-line) tickets.
- These are online prices. Prices are higher for walk-ups.
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 £16.00 online and have a whole year’s worth of sightseeing entry. The lead into this is the Gift Aid scheme but even those not eligible to make a Gift Aid declaration (i.e. non UK tax payers) can opt in for the same annual pass benefit. Learn more.
Opening Hours for Visitors
- Monday to Saturday 8:30– 16:00 (last entry)
- [Please note that this can vary depending on service and event programmes]
TIP FOR FREE ENTRY
As a house of worship, St. Paul’s Cathedral holds daily services. For those who wish to use the church for worship purposes, there is no fee to enter, providing guests arrive in time for the service.
Attending a service at St. Paul’s means you will NOT be allowed 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.
Opening Hours for Worshipers
- Daily Services at: 7:30, 8:00, 12:30 and 17:00*
- Sunday Services at: 8:00, 11:00, 15:15*, 16:45, 18:00
- [++Margaret’s Tip++ – The 17:00 weekday services and the 15:15 Sunday service contain the Choral Evensong. These services are sung by boys and gentlemen’s choirs that feature some of the most enchanting, haunting and impressive church performances in the world!]
(IMAGE) – to the right shows the spectacular view of St. Paul’s Cathedral that you can get (for FREE) at the New Change Building next door. Read our post on free views of London.
THE BUILDING OF ST. PAUL’S
Built by our country’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 our current St. Paul’s stands on today. Wren’s version started life shortly after the Great Fire of London burned the Medieval St. Paul’s to the ground in 1666.
Backed by King Charles II (who gave Wren – his favourite architect – official royal approval to build the church however he so choose…a move unpopular with the clergy who were based there), 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! Visit St. Paul’s website for more information on the history of the structure.
Today it is hard for people to imagine anything more English than St. Paul’s – but this was not always the case. Opinion was very much divided on St. Paul’s when it was first visible to the public. From praise, such as that by James Wright: “…without, within, below, above, the eye is filled with unrestrained delight.” to derision, such as the thought that the Cathedral had ‘an air of Popery…’ and was ‘un-English.’
Even Queen Victoria herself was not a fan of the Cathedral. She called St. Paul’s, “dark and dingy” and actually refused to go inside the building! A service was planned for Victoria’s diamond Jubilee, to take place at St. Paul’s. But the ceremony had to be moved outside the Cathedral (taking place near the front steps) because the Queen refused to leave her carriage to get near the church!
Note: Keep an eye out for a plaque commemorating this event at the base of the front steps today.
As the centuries have passed, praise and admiration for St. Paul’s have grown and it is now generally agreed that it is, indeed, a real masterpiece. Oh – and for what it is worth, our current queen, Elizabeth II, attended her Diamond Jubilee service inside St. Paul’s!
Today the Cathedral is still an important Anglican building. In addition to the main naive there are a number of smaller chapels attached, including the American Memorial Chapel which commemorates the 28,000 US soldiers who were killed on the way to or whilst stationed in the United Kingdom during World War II. Ceremonies and services are still head in the church all year ‘round.
St. Paul’s also has played host to numerous funerals and contains the burial tombs and some 200 memorials for many extremely recognisable names; Wellington, Nelson, Turner, Nightingale, and Johnson just to name a few! Wren himself is buried inside the Cathedral, as well.