St Paul’s Cathedral vs St Peter’s Basilica- Which is the Best?

By Harshitha Jagathiesh

St Paul’s Cathedral and St Peter’s Basilica are among the biggest and most famous churches in Europe and the world.

St Peter’s Basilica, the living testament of Michelangelo’s and Renaissance’s beautiful imagination, is one of the most beautiful churches in the world.

On the other hand, stands St Paul’s Cathedral, the remnant of the vision of Sit Wren and his mastery of architecture.

Visitors often feel torn about St Paul’s Cathedral vs St Peter’s Basilica. Read ahead to find out which is the best and plan your visit. 

St Paul’s Cathedral vs St Peter’s Basilica – Our Recommendation

Our Recommendation
image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

St Paul’s Cathedral in London and St Peter’s Basilica in Rome are iconic and essential churches in their own right, so making a St Paul’s Cathedral vs St Peters Basi is difficult.

We recommend exploring both of these on your Europe trip, but it is understandable that some visitors may only be able to explore one.

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is one of the largest churches in Europe and is a significant and iconic feature of London’s skyline.

It is known for its architectural excellence, resilience since The Great Fire of London, and rich history.

On the other hand, St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is the largest church in Christendom.

The basilica is adorned with craftsmanship and detailed work of artists like Michelangelo. 

Known for its grandeur and historical and religious significance, St Peter’s Basilica attracts over 10 million visitors daily, meaning about 40 to 50 thousand visitors daily.

If you are still confused about which church to visit, read ahead as we compare St Peter’s Basilica and St Paul’s Cathedral on various criteria. 

Ticket Prices

St Paul’s Cathedral and St Peter’s Basilica are free for religious visitors.

However, those wishing to tour the churches must purchase a ticket. 

St Paul’s Entry Ticket costs around £25 (€29) for adults. 

The ticket price for children between six and 17 years is £10, for seniors above 65 years, and students with IDs aged between 18 and 64 years need to pay £23.

Infants aged five and under get in for free at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Visitors to St Peter’s Basilica need a dome ticket to enter the dome of the Basilica and view the Vatican’s Necropolis.

St Peter’s Basilica Dome Ticket costs around €29 (£25) per adult.

AttractionsTicket Prices for Adults
St Paul’s Cathedral£25 (€29) 
St Peter’s Basilica£25 (€29) 

Features of St Paul’s Cathedral

Features of St Paul’s Cathedral in
image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

St Paul’s Cathedral offers jaw-dropping views of London from its iconic Dome.

The landmark in London boasts elements of Neoclassical, Gothic, and Baroque architectural styles.

The cathedral also has several galleries and a world-famous fresco.

Let’s learn more about the features of St Paul’s Cathedral to see which one emerges as the winner in the St Paul’s Cathedral vs St Peter’s Basilica banter.

Dome

The Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral attracts the attention of tourists and architects due to its architectural beauty and magnificence.

It is also famous for housing three galleries and offering breathtaking views of the beautiful city of London.

The Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is also the largest in London.

Whispering Gallery

The Whispering Gallery is one of the most unique and popular features of the St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The Gallery is known for its unique acoustics and ability to transfer even the quietest whispers from one end to the other, thus naming it so.

Stone Gallery 

The Stone Gallery is an outdoor balcony at the Dome’s base, offering incredible panoramic city views.

Visitors must climb several steps to reach the Stone Gallery, but the view is worth it.

Golden Gallery

The Golden Gallery is also located in the dome above the Stone Gallery.

It is accessible by climbing beyond the Stone Gallery and offers even better city views due to its higher position or height.

The Light of the World Fresco by Hunt

One of the dome’s most prominent and popular features is The Light of the World Fresco, painted by the noted artist William Holman Hunt.

The Fresco is also in the Dome of the St Paul’s Cathedral and depicts Jesus Christ as the light of the world.

Prominent Events

St Paul’s Cathedral is also famous for hosting certain prominent events.

The significant events at St. Paul’s Cathedral include the wedding of the present His Majesty King Charles III’s wedding to the late Princess Diana.

Another prominent event was a sermon by Martin Luther King.

Features of St Peter’s Basilica

Features of St Peter’s Basilica
image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

St Peter’s Basilica is a magnificent building with bespoke Renaissance architectural elements.

There are also Baroque elements that highlight the architectural work of the building.

Let’s learn more about the features of this historically and religiously significant place.

Domes

Designed by Michelangelo, the St. Peter’s Basilica dome is the tallest in the world. 

The Dome of St Peter’s Basilica stands proudly at the center of the Basilica and, like the Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, offers beautiful views of the Vatican City and Rome.

Facade

St Peter’s Basilica’s front has a grand facade, and a series of columns and statues adorn this facade.

Intricate details and sculptures on the facade depict scenes from the Bible and Saints.

Such fine work does not only depict how religion is central to the Basilica but also the exceptional craftsmanship in the Renaissance times.

Baldachin

The Baldachin is a canopy-like structure over the high altar inside the St Peter’s Basilica.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini crafted the Baldach to symbolize the Catholic Church’s triumph.

The Baldachin also contributes to the grandeur of the Basilica’s interior.

St Peter’s Square

Gian Lorenzo Bernini also designed St Peter’s Square, a vast open space surrounding the Basilica.

St Peter’s Square is bordered by a colonnade, providing a welcoming atmosphere for visitors.

Pieta

The Pieta is one of the most astonishing features of the St Peter’s Basilica, yet again designed by Michelangelo. 

The sculpture is significant for evoking emotional intensity among the visitors as the Pieta depicts the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus Christ. 

St Paul’s Cathedral vs St Peter’s Basilica- Which has better features?

St Paul’s Cathedral and St Peter’s Basilica both have unique features, to say the least.

On the one hand, St Paul’s Cathedral offers amazing panoramic views of the city as opposed to the view of the Vatican City and Rome from St Peter’s Basilica.

Visitors often find the St. Paul’s Cathedral galleries exciting as they can try making and listening to the whispers in the Whispering Gallery.

However, visitors must climb around 530 steps to reach these.

St Peter’s Basilica, on the other hand, is the epitome of delicate and detailed work and skilled craftsmanship, and its grandeur is otherworldly.

Considering the craftsmanship and worth of the art, St Peter’s Basilica has better features than St Paul’s Cathedral. 

However, St Paul’s Cathedral does not fall behind the Roman Basilica. 

St Paul’s Cathedral vs St Peter’s Basilica Dome

Both churches have two of the most famous domes in the world; any comparison would be incomplete without finding which dome is the best. 

St Paul’s Cathedral has the largest dome in London, and it is the execution of the vision of Christopher Wren.

It symbolizes resilience and fighting spirit since its reconstruction after the previous one was destroyed in The Great Fire of London.

The St Paul’s Cathedral Dome is round and adorned with a lantern on the top that allows natural light into the Cathedral.

On the other hand, Michelangelo’s St Peter’s Basilica design features a double-shell structure and is the largest in the world. 

The dome’s interior has marvelous mosaics depicting scenes from the life of Christ and the Saints.

The dome at St Peter’s Basilica exemplifies picturesque, exemplary architecture.

When it comes to the dome, St. Peter’s Basilica clearly wins the round.

Which is More Popular – St Peter’s Basilica or St Paul’s Cathedral?

tickets st pauls cathedral
Image: Stpauls.co.uk

Regarding the popularity of St Paul’s Cathedral vs St Peter’s Basilica, the latter emerges as a clear winner by a considerable margin.

St Paul’s Cathedral in London attracts around 1.7 million visitors annually and can accommodate about 3500 visitors simultaneously.

On the other hand, St Peter’s Basilica has around 10 million visitors annually, making it significantly more popular than St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

St Paul’s Cathedral remains relatively less crowded than St Peter’s Basilica.

St Paul’s Cathedral can be crowded during Lent, Easter, Christmas, and other special occasions.

Meanwhile, St Peter’s Basilica is more crowded; average wait times can be around two hours here.

During peak season, when the basilica is more crowded, the wait times can go up to four hours or more.

The queue is the longest at St Peter’s Basilica, between 10 am and 2 pm.

Location:

St Peter’s Basilica and St Paul’s Cathedral are located in two different locations.

St Peter’s is located in Vatican City, the smallest city on Earth, in Rome, Italy.

St Peter’s Basilica’s address is – Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City. Get Directions.

St Paul’s Cathedral, on the other hand, is in London, donning the London Skyline.

St Paul’s Cathedral’s address is – St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD, United Kingdom. Get Directions.

Opening Hours

The Opening Hours for St Paul’s Cathedral and St Peter’s Basilica differ.

St Paul’s Cathedral is open from Monday to Saturday for sightseeing to the visitors.

The Cathedral usually opens at 8.30 am and closes around 4.30 pm.

The last entry is 30 minutes prior to the closing time, that is, at 4 pm.

On Wednesdays, the Cathedral opens at around 10 am.

St Peter’s Basilica is open from 7 am to 7 pm.

So, St Paul’s Cathedral vs St Peter’s Basilica – Which is the Best?

Choosing one of St Paul’s Cathedral VS St Peter’s Basilica depends on your choice.

If you are in London and want to enjoy the panoramic views of the city and witness the beauty of the skyline from the top, then St Paul’s Cathedral is a good choice.

It is also the appropriate choice for visitors wishing to explore the Galleries at St Paul’s.

If you want to witness the grandeur and excellence of Renaissance architecture, then St Peter’s Basilica is the one for you!

At St Peter’s, you also get to admire the brilliance of the noted Italian painter and sculptor Michelangelo.

Additionally, some areas of the city offer free parking on bank holidays.


If you are planning to visit St Paul’s Cathedral, also read about 


FAQs about St Peter’s Basilica vs St Paul’s Cathedral

1. Which is bigger, St Peter’s or St Paul’s Cathedral?

St Peter’s Basilica in Italy is the biggest church in Christendom, and therefore, St Paul’s Cathedral in London is smaller than St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

2. Is St Paul’s Cathedral the biggest church?

St Paul’s Cathedral is the second-largest church in the United Kingdom, area-wise.

3. Is St Peter’s Basilica the largest church in the world?

Yes, St Peter’s Basilica is the largest and the most significant church in Christendom, making it the biggest church in the world as well.

The Basilica is known for its grandeur and architectural excellence.

4. Why is St Peter’s Basilica so famous?

St Peter’s Basilica is famous for several reasons, such as its grand and bespoke architecture and historical and religious significance.

The Basilica in Rome is Christendom’s biggest church, making it significantly crucial for faith followers.

The Basilica is also famous for its magnificent architecture, beautiful interior and exterior,  mosaics on the Dome, and detailed sculptures.

Featured Image : cathedral Stock photos by Vecteezy

Harshita
About the author

Harshitha’s heart lies where greeny mountains meet stretches of beach. She believes getting lost is the best way to explore