Love Durham Cathedral?Donate now

Enjoy spectacular views of Durham and its surroundings at the top of the tower. Photograph: Nick Martin.

Make a climb up the cathedral tower the high point of your visit

Conquer the 325 steps and enjoy unrivalled views over the historic city of Durham and see recently-completed restoration work up close.

What to know

The tower closes for weather and special events

The central tower may close at short notice for bad weather (including strong wind) or large special services or events. 

If the tower is closed when you have booked a ticket to climb, you'll get a full refund or exchange.

Safety restrictions

A reasonable level of fitness is needed to climb the tower's 325 steps, and we require visitors to wear suitable shoes for the climb. More important information is below.

Prices

  • £5.50 adult
  • £2.50 child (8-16 years)
  • Companions and carers are free

Tower climb times

  • Monday-Saturday: 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm
  • Sunday: 1pm, 2pm

How to book tower tickets

Book tickets to climb the cathedral's central tower online, or get them from the visitor desk when you arrive.

Book online

Important information - Climbing the Cathedral Tower

Please note: Our tower has the steepest and most narrow spiral of any Cathedral in England and Wales (the last third being added in the 15th century). The top of the tower is 218ft / 66.45m high and there are 325 spiral steps, some are uneven and the tower becomes very narrow near the top.  

  • The tower is not suitable for anyone frightened by heights or confined spaces.
  • The tower is not suitable if you have a medical condition such as a heart or respiratory disorder which may be exacerbated by climbing stairs.
  • If you feel unwell or uncomfortable at any time please descend as soon as possible. There is an intercom at the top if you need to call for help in an emergency.
  • Pregnant visitors are strongly advised not to climb the tower.
  • Children must be 8 years old or over and accompanied by an adult over 18 years of age, as stipulated by our insurance company.
  • No smoking in or at the top of the tower.
  • Suitable footwear is required in the interests of safety. Visitors can not wear high heels, flip-flops, platforms, backless shoes, ‘heelys’ or have bare or stockinged feet.
  • No food or drink may be taken up the tower.
  • Large bags, including some large handbags, are not permitted.
  • It is advisable to have both hands free for your own safety.
  • Beware that floor length dresses could be a potential tripping hazard.
  • There are no toilet facilities in the tower.
  • There is a rest point with seating half way up the tower, but there is no seating at the top.
  • Photography is allowed in the tower.
  • As we do share the space with some resident pigeons, we advise that you refrain from putting your hands near your face and that you wash your hands afterwards, especially before eating.
  • Durham Cathedral is not responsible for the loss of or damage to clothing or personal possessions.
The Chapter of Durham reserves the right to refuse entry to the tower at any time.

 

A history of ups and downs

Durham Cathedral's towers have changed much in appearance over the centuries.

Restoration and renewal

A major three-year conservation project on the central tower finished in late 2018. The restoration work conserved and replaced weathered stone on the upper part of the central tower, completed entirely by our in-house team of around 8 stonemasons.

The fast-weathering sandstone used to build the towers means repair work has been common over the centuries. The central tower was rebuilt in the fifteenth century after lightning strikes, and victorian architects added a parapet to the central tower in the nineteenth century.

Ringing the changes

In 1553 there were four bells in the north west tower. However these were moved later in the 16th century to join the three bells in the central tower. Today the central tower houses 10 bells, which are regularly rung by our volunteer bellringers.