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Can Travelers Attend Church Services

I did a bunch of key word searches and really didn't find an answer - so I'm hoping you all could help.

I will be in Paris and London on Sundays. I was wondering if it is okay to attend church services. Last visit I was so busy I didn't even think about it. But this time will be a more relaxing, taking it in kind of trip.

Please let me know if you have done this and/or if it is acceptable and also any churches you recommend.

Thanks, Kelly

Posted by
6898 posts

Most churches readily accept people wanting to attend their religious services. But, unlike here in the U.S., churches in Europe are often tourist attractions. You will see people at many churches to screen out the tourists during religious services but if you are a sincere worshipper, you should be able to get in. Note, however, that you may need to be attired appropriately. Shorts and flip flops may not do it.

Posted by
12045 posts

Attending a church service is always okay. Finding a local church of your faith in Europe is a great way to meet people.

I was at St. Mark's during a mass, they let in people who were there to attend mass only. I'm not Catholic so I don't sneak in. I have attended some masses in Germany when invited by Catholic friends/family (just don't do communion).

Another great experience is visiting Cathedrals during choir or organ practice when the place is near empty.

Posted by
658 posts

No Problems in the UK and in most cases no dress code either.

Posted by
8700 posts

In London I attended a weekday Evensong service at Westminster Abbey and a Sunday morning service at St. Paul's Cathedral. Both were wonderful!

Posted by
808 posts

I don't attend church regularily at home but have been known to catch a service or two while abroad.

I've found that especially if you call ahead or arrive early you will be made feel most welcome! That shows the sincerety of your visit rather than being mistaken for a curious traveller who just wants a better look from the inside.

I remember one time I arrived a few minutes into the service and the Priest noticed our new faces and personally welcomed us upon arrival. A little surprising at first but a lot of people made a point of welcoming us and talking to us after that! We ended up getting a personal tour that many travellers would not.

If you attend a specific Church back home, perhaps your Pastor or Priest(?) could cross reference a sister Church in both Paris and London. I'm sure they have a network abroad to help direct you.

Posted by
25 posts

Actually, I attended an evening service at St. Paul's in London. It was very nice. Though, they were very strict about not looking around and staying in your seat. But since I actually was there for the service, I didn't mind.

Otherwise, as long as you're not there during Christmas or Easter (the time when most of the local parishioners make sure to attend, even if they don't always during the rest of the year, so the church will be full), you should have no trouble attending a service.

Posted by
55 posts

It is OK to attend service. I have been to evensong at West Minster Abbey and have also been to service in Italy. Go and enjoy.

Posted by
215 posts

We have attended services both at St. Pauls
and the Eastern Orthodox Cathedral (don't
remember name) in London on Sundays. Both
were great experiences.

Posted by
5675 posts

Of course you can attend church services. I've attended services in a small church in the Schawbishe Alb, Easter Service in the Amercian Cathedral in Paris, Vespers in York Cathedral, mass in Salzberg and more. It's a strange mixture of the familiar and the new.


Posted by
149 posts

IMO, attending a church service in Europe is better than just visiting an empty church as a tourist. You can enjoy the beautiful music from the pipe organ and choir as it resonates through the building. Besides, it's fun to fumble through hymns in a foreign language and try to guess what the sermon is about.

If you want a closer look at the artwork or architecture, take a look around after the service is over - most likely one of the parishoners will notice your interest and be happy to provide information or answer questions.

P.S. Remember to have some cash at the ready for the offering.

Posted by
105 posts

I have gone to mass in Notre-Dame in Paris, you can even take communion if you are not Catholic. The organ was just amazing. It was an experience I'll never forget. We have also gone to mass at Saint-Sulpice in Paris. They have free organ concerts there that are quite beautiful. From my experience you are welcome in any church in France and Germany and I expect all churches as long as you are quiet and respectful.

Posted by
7350 posts

As long as a huge camera isn't dangling around your neck and you dress appropriately (something we don't do in the states anymore for anything...jeans at a funeral? Wedding? Job interview? Come on!) you can certainly partake in a service. I've partaken in them at Westminster, St. Peter's, St Paul's, Notre Dame and in Brussels, Belfast and Milan.