We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.

“The World's First True Penetentiary”

Eastern State Penitentiary
Book In Advance
More Info
and up
Philadelphia 3-Combo Tour: Hop-on Hop-off, Eastern State Penitentiary, and...
Ranked #3 of 437 things to do in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Tours today include the cellblocks, solitary punishment cells, Al Capone’s Cell, and Death Row.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Audubon, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
78 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“The World's First True Penetentiary”
Reviewed March 2, 2014

The self- guided audio tour was good, but the second time opted to have a guide-led tour, which is much better for a group of people who need to keep the same pace. I really was amazed with the creepy feeling that comes over you in certain corners of this prison. I noticed it more with the self guided tour than the guided tour. A tour includes the solitary punishment cells, Al Capone’s Cell, and Death Row. The architecture is amazing, 30 foot high walls dating from the mid 1800's. The prison hasn't been in use since 1970 and many areas are crumbling. Wear r sturdy shoes like sneakers and don't wear sandals because some of the walking is on flaking uneven concrete and small pebbles will get in your sandals. Seriously creepy and fascinating even on a warm summer day.

Visited August 2013
Thank genkathy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

4,454 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Finnish first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Bronxville, New York
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Awesome for Photographers”
Reviewed March 1, 2014

Walking through the penitentiary takes you back in time. While the cells have been empty for a very long time, you can still experience what the inmates have felt each day they spent at this facility. The architecture and details are magnificent, but the penitentiary still feels very intimidating and eerie. A lot of photo opportunities for all photographers. I highly recommend making a stop here if you are visiting Philly.

Visited February 2014
Thank Kei K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
221 reviews
100 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
“Do not miss this opportunity”
Reviewed March 1, 2014

This is one of the most interesting prisons that we've had the pleasure of visiting. A MUST SEE.
After admission we chose the audio tour which comes with an mp3 player and headset to guide you on your tour. Each section has a number which you enter on your mp3 player to get the historical information on that specific location. You can tour at your own pace which is very nice. It's a bit creepy in some locations but well worth the experience.
We would go back to visit whenever in the area again.

Visited July 2013
Thank Leamer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rutherford, New Jersey
Level Contributor
3 reviews
“Cold wintery day with warm guide”
Reviewed February 27, 2014

We were the last group to go for the day. The staff was very friends and knowledgeable. The prison itself is falling apart but that's part of the reason you go. They have redone a few cells and the temple. You get a great idea of what it was like when it was open.

Visited February 2014
Thank Julya25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
12 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Great tour but wrap up warm!”
Reviewed February 26, 2014 via mobile

This is a little bit out of the way from the other main attractions in Philadelphia, but it's well worth the tram ride or $10 in a cab. The tour is brilliant, we got a really knowledgable guide who you could tell was really into this as his job. It's a bit creepy but really interesting. We went in February and it was SO COLD, a lot of the tour is outside and the inside bits are even colder, so make sure you wrap up!

Thank Sara2202
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Eastern State Penitentiary also viewed


Been to Eastern State Penitentiary? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing