Tours last 90 minutes.
Tour start times: 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm.
Book inside at the Guiding Desk.
The guided tour includes visits to areas otherwise unavailable such as the Quire and the geometric staircase. The expert Guides give detailed information about the history of St. Paul's and its architecture as you tour the main Cathedral Floor and the Crypt below. (The tour does not include the galleries in the Dome so climb up after your tour.)
There are also brief (15-20 minutes) talks throughout the day to get you some information about the history and architecture of the building. Ask at the Guiding Desk when you arrive.
Tours last 1.5-2 hours.
Available 09.00 – 15.30.
Collect after entering at no extra charge.
Family multimedia guide available
Languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese Mandarin and Japanese.
Pros and Cons of Guided Tours and Multimedia ToursGuided Tour
Pros: Can ask questions, gain access to the geometric staircase (where you can take photos) and Quire
Cons: Set times, limited numbers, English only
Pros: Available earlier (from 9am), many languages available, independent option
Cons: No access to geometric staircase and Quire
I have tried and enjoyed a Guided Tour and would totally recommend it. I was very impressed by the Guide's knowledge and ability to tailor the tour to the nationalities of the group. Our Guide was entertaining and very capable of answering questions and explaining English history in relation to the Cathedral.
The guided tour includes access to the South Bell Tower with the geometric staircase, also known as the Dean's staircase. You will recognize this from the movies Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Madness of King George. You will see the same ironwork as Titian's Gate at Hampton Court Palace.
Before excelling as an architect, Wren was an astronomer so the tower was built as a zenith telescope. The South Bell Tower has a 9 foot bell which is still rung at 1pm daily.
I am confident I would not have enjoyed my visit as much without this tour. I would have walked around unable to find the 'highlights' listed in my guidebook and would have felt frustrated at paying the entrance fee. With the tour, I left happy and enthused and wishing I had more time to stay longer. (I was at the Cathedral for 3 hours but would recommend a longer visit – you've got all those steps to climb to the dome!)
I have also tried the Multimedia Tour and felt it enhanced my visit too. Whereas an audio tour would have me walking around and often unsure if I was stopping in the right places, the images on the screen helped me check what I was looking for and showed me more such as architectural drawings.
Other specialist tour options are available on certain days or by prior arrangement. See the official website for more details.