Religious Sites Walking Tour, Edinburgh (Self Guided)

Edinburgh is an enchanting city and home to numerous places of worship. The city is open to all religions and features magnificent Presbyterian and Catholic churches, the main two religions in Scotland; as well as Jewish synagogues and Islamic mosques, and even Buddhist centers. Check out this tour and visit some of Edinburgh’s beautiful religious sites.
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Religious Sites Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Religious Sites Walking Tour
Guide Location: Scotland » Edinburgh (See other walking tours in Edinburgh)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 km
Author: Helen
Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation

1) Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation

Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation is a Jewish cultural center where visitors can learn more about Jewish history, their religious principles and practice. The Hebrew Congregation organizes the Edinburgh Festival of Spirituality and Peace during the month of August. People can participate in different activities, public talks, panel events and film screenings.
Buddhist Centre

2) Buddhist Centre

The Buddhist Centre is located on Melville Terrace. It offers different activities that involves its visitors in a friendly and comfortable environment. They offer interesting courses to learn about meditation and the practice of Buddhism.
Barclay Viewforth Church of Scotland

3) Barclay Viewforth Church of Scotland

While in Edinburgh don’t miss a visit to the Barclay Viewforth Church of Scotland, which you will find in the Tollcross are of the city.

This beautiful church is a fine example of the Gothic Revival style that characterizes the ancient buildings in Scotland. It was built by Frederick Thomas Pilkington in 1864 and its 76 metre-high spire is one of the tallest in Edinburgh.

The ground floor of the building has seating around a heart-shaped auditorium and there are two tiers of galleries overhead. In all the church seats up to 1200 people. The pulpit is made of marble and is placed under the organ pipes.

Construction was funded by Mrs Mary Barclay who left money in her will to the parish. Until 1900 the church was part of the Free Church of Scotland. With the unity of the churches it became part of the Church of Scotland.

The morning services are traditional with a sermon and a choir, but in the evenings the services are more modern and the music is often Gospel-Rock. A crèche has been added to look after small children whilst their parents are attending services. The church also has a film club, which meets once a month to show a film and hold a discussion about it afterwards.
Mosque and Islamic Centre

4) Mosque and Islamic Centre

Edinburgh is a multi-religion city and you will find the Mosque and Islamic Centre on Potterrow.

The mosque was designed by Basil Al-Bayati and opened in 1998. The exterior has traditional Islamic features, but also touches of the Scot Baronial/Gothic Revival style. The main hall is large and sparsely decorated, with two chandeliers, a carpet and chairs for the elderly and disabled. It has two side entrances and the women’s galleries above overlook the hall. Out of respect for the religion, the main hall and galleries are not open to non-Muslims.

The main hall is used for Jumu’ah and Salah. A second, smaller hall is mainly used as a storage area, but is cleared out for special events. The centre also has an extensive library where you can either borrow or buy Islamic books. There is also a long table and seating area where Arabic and Koran classes are held and where lively discussions take place.

The ablution rooms are off to one side, and are separate for men and women. Another, newer ablution room is where the traditional washing and enshrouding of the dead takes place before burial.

The Mosque Kitchen is open to the public and you can either buy a takeaway or enjoy your meal at one of the outdoor tables. The food is, of course, halal and you can choose between Southern and Middle-Eastern Asian menus.
The Apostolic Church

5) The Apostolic Church

The Apostolic Church offers many activities, such as Alpha course, Kidzone, Inspiration Gospel Choir, Women's event, Men's breakfast, Prayer nights, Life classes and Housegroups. This beautiful Pentecostal church was founded in 1931 and it has recently changed its name to Life Church. It is best known for its large murals depicting archangels, angels, choirs, saints, martyrs and evangelists.
St. Anthony's Chapel (ruins)

6) St. Anthony's Chapel (ruins)

Edinburgh is an ancient city, but a busy, crowded one. Sometimes it’s good to get out of the hub and walk in the hills to clear your head. While you are out on a walk, you’ll probably see St Anthony’s Chapel on top of a hill and you’ll want to get closer to have a look at it.

The chapel overlooks St Margaret’s Loch and is perched on top of a rather steep hill, so you’ll have to have rather a lot of stamina and curiosity to get to the top.

Sadly, there are no definite records to date the construction of the chapel, but it was probably built during the 14th century. There is a short mention of it in the early 15th century, when Pope Martin V granted a small sum of money to repair the chapel.

Today, only the north wall remains, and you can see some of the original vaulting which suggests that the chapel had three bays. In keeping with the era, the building was probably rectangular with a three storey tower.

It is possible that it was built as an additional chapel serving Holyrood Abbey at the foot of the hill, and used by visitors on their yearly pilgrimage to the area. A beacon lit at the top of the tower would have served as a focal point for pilgrims arriving in the Firth of Forth.

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

Create Your Own Walk in Edinburgh

Create Your Own Walk in Edinburgh

Creating your own self-guided walk in Edinburgh is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Kids Entertainment Tour

Kids Entertainment Tour

Edinburgh is a city with a thousand and one things for children to enjoy. There are many sources of amusement for children of all ages, from tots to teens, such as playgrounds, toy stores, children's museums, sweet-shops, and wonderful ice cream stores to keep them happy. Take this tour and discover the best kids entertainment venues in Edinburgh!

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 km
Museums & Galleries, Old Town

Museums & Galleries, Old Town

Popular for its rich cultural heritage, Edinburgh attracts a large number of tourists towards its numerous history and science museums that tell the compelling story of Scotland. Edinburgh is also a city where many locals spend their free time visiting galleries and attending art events. You can find amazing collections of original artwork in the many exhibitions around town. Take this tour and...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Edinburgh without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Edinburgh, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Old and New Town Best Pubs

Old and New Town Best Pubs

Edinburgh is known for its sheer number of pubs, old and new, that offer various events, and provide the best drinks and food to their visitors. Many of them have live music performances that attract both locals and tourists, and although most traditional pubs are laid back and offer a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, some do have dance floors and double as nightclubs. Take this self-guided tour to...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Royal Mile Walking Tour

Royal Mile Walking Tour

The Royal Mile is not in fact a street, but the name given to a succession of streets forming a thoroughfare at the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. The thoroughfare is about a mile long and runs between the famed Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrood Palace. The Mile is home to the Courts, St. Giles Cathedral, the City Chambers, John Knox's house, and also numerous shops and restaurants. Take...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 km
Cannongate Walking Tour

Cannongate Walking Tour

The Canongate district takes its name from the main street called the "Canongate" and forms the lower, eastern half of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh's historic Old Town. It contains some other notable public buildings, including Huntly House (now the Museum of Edinburgh) and the historic Canongate Tolbooth (now housing the People's Story Museum), as well as the Canongate Kirk and...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Top 12 Pubs On and Around Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Top 12 Pubs On and Around Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a vibrant city with abundant nightlife and no shortage of places to go after dusk. The Royal Mile alone, in the very heart of Edinburgh, is laden with character spots craving to be discovered by the first time visitors to the city. This is the highlight of some of the most notable bars...
19 Best Pubs in New Town, Edinburgh

19 Best Pubs in New Town, Edinburgh

A guide to the pubs that make up the area that is called Edinburgh's New Town. A description about what you can expect from each of the locations in the directory. A fantastic directory if you are a tourist or even a...
Scottish Souvenirs: 15 Authentic Scottish Things to Buy in Edinburgh

Scottish Souvenirs: 15 Authentic Scottish Things to Buy in Edinburgh

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Edinburgh for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Edinburgh has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Edinburgh's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass and Edinburgh City Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Edinburgh's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Edinburgh hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Radisson Collection Hotel - Royal Mile Edinburgh, Royal Mile Suites by the Castle, Grassmarket Hotel.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Edinburgh, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Edinburgh typically costs somewhere between US$15 and US$40 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Edinburgh from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs).

- No sightseeing of Edinburgh is imaginable without a visit to the imposing Edinburgh Castle dominating the city skyline from atop a hill that was once a volcano. A 2-hour tour of the castle will give you an insider’s view of Edinburgh's no.1 attraction, revealing some of its secrets and wicked stories.

- Join a guided walk led by a highly knowledgeable local resident to explore the cultural, historical and architectural treasures of Edinburgh learning, en route, the secrets of its past, stories of its famous personalities and other interesting facts presented in a rather entertaining and witty manner.

- Summon your bravery and curiosity to explore the ghastly side of Edinburgh on a ghost walk set to reveal the stories of treason and torture, bring light to the darkest corners of the Scottish capital and prepare you to hear the tales of its supernatural past and present.

- Come see the places that once inspired J.K. Rowling to write her world-famous Harry Potter series on a Harry Potter tour of Edinburgh visiting the prototype of the Hogwarts school of magic and other locations closely associated with the witches and wizards of Edinburgh.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Edinburgh, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Loch Ness and the Highlands, West Highlands, St Andrews and Fife, Rosslyn Chapel and Stirling Castle, or the Da Vinci Code places and Scottish Borders. For as little as circa US$40+ to US$60+ per person you will get a chance to step inside a nature documentary, relive a history show, and explore the postcard-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage sights comprising breathtaking medieval ruins, misty castles, sparkling lochs, quaint coastal villages with sweeping views, heather-clad mountains, and other impressive and mysterious locations. For any of these tours you will be picked up straight from your hotel in Edinburgh and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach/minibus to the destination of your choice and back again.