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St. Giles' Cathedral
Vacation Travel Guide

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See stunning artwork, beautiful chapels, poignant memorials and musical performances at this ancient place of worship.

For more than 600 years, the crowned spire of St. Giles’ Cathedral has been a prominent feature of Edinburgh’s skyline.

St. Giles’ was founded as a Catholic place of worship in 1120 and switched to Protestantism after the Scottish church severed ties with Rome and the pope in 1560. It was recognized as a cathedral from the 17th century. The landmark spire was a late 15th-century addition.

St Giles’ Cathedral is the official Church of Scotland and the Mother Church of Presbyterianism. It’s named after the patron saint of beggars and disabled people.

The most elaborate part of the cathedral is the Thistle Chapel, the spiritual home of The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle. This is an order of chivalry with roots in the Middle Ages. Take your time to study the decorative and highly detailed interior with its oak carvings, ornate stonework and distinctly Scottish features such as angels with bagpipes.

The cathedral has many memorials to distinguished Scots and Scottish soldiers. They include a bronze memorial to the writer Robert Louis Stevenson and a statue to the Protestant reformer John Knox.

Try to time your visit with a musical performance. The cathedral has an extensive schedule of lunchtime concerts, organ recitals and choral pieces. Many are free. Visit the cathedral’s website for details.

Volunteer guides are available to answer questions and can conduct free guided tours on request. If you want to take photographs inside the building you’ll need a permit. These can be obtained for a small fee at the information desks at the Thistle Chapel and the main West Entrance.

St. Giles’ Cathedral is located on The Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town. It’s open to visitors every day of the year except after the mid-morning service on Christmas Day, December 26, and January 1 and 2. There are different opening times at different times of the year; for details check the cathedral’s website.

Top Hotels Close to St. Giles' Cathedral

Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh
Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh
4 out of 5
1-3 Baxters Place, Edinburgh, Scotland
The price is ¥6,457 per night from May 16 to May 16
Located in New Town, this hotel is steps from Omni Centre Edinburgh, Princes Street, and Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre. George Street and Royal Mile are also within ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (660 reviews)
"Very efficient staff"

Reviewed on May 5, 2021

Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh
The Scotsman Hotel
The Scotsman Hotel
4 out of 5
20 North Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland
Free CancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is ¥19,290 per night from May 12 to May 12
Located in Old Town Edinburgh, this boutique hotel is steps from City Art Centre, Princes Street, and Royal Mile. Edinburgh Dungeon and Real Mary King's Close ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (994 reviews)
"Great location! Our room was spacious and comfortable"

Reviewed on Feb 28, 2021

The Scotsman Hotel
Leonardo Royal Edinburgh Haymarket
Leonardo Royal Edinburgh Haymarket
4 out of 5
1 Morrison Link, Midlothian, Edinburgh, Scotland
The price is ¥6,510 per night from May 16 to May 16
Located in Haymarket, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), Princes Street, and Usher Hall. George Street ...
4/5Very Good! (1,018 reviews)
"Nice clean property, room size was good. Only negative was the hardness of the sofa bed in the family room, daughter couldn’t sleep on it so I did and I’m paying for it today with a sore back."

Reviewed on May 9, 2021

Leonardo Royal Edinburgh Haymarket
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Top St. Giles' Cathedral Flight + Hotel Deals

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Reviews of St. Giles' Cathedral

4.5

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
471
5 - Excellent 57.4390243902439%
4 - Good
309
4 - Good 37.68292682926829%
3 - Okay
34
3 - Okay 4.146341463414634%
2 - Disappointing
5
2 - Disappointing 0.6097560975609756%
1 - Terrible
1
1 - Terrible 0.12195121951219512%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Mar 8, 2020

Don't miss the carved bagpiping angels in the Thisle Chapel.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Mar 25, 2019

This is worth seeing, but don't expect it to compare to the great cathedrals of York or others in England or Europe. It is smaller and less opulent, but still very much worth seeing. It has a bakery around the back with very good scones and other items. Stop in for a bite at the bakery and then see the church.

5/5 - Excellent

GavinR

Oct 31, 2018

Best to read about beforehand.

5/5 - Excellent

Ray329

Oct 30, 2018

Highland Explorer Tours for day trips outside of Edinburgh

5/5 - Excellent

Tim

Oct 3, 2018

Attended Sunday service at 10:00 am.  Moving service by Mr. McLeod.  Enjoyed the choice of hymns and the grandeur of this church!

3/5 - Okay

Charlie

Sep 10, 2018

The church asks you to purchase a photo permit before taking pictures, but that doesn't stop people from taking photos anyway with their phones.

Popular places to visit in St. Giles' Cathedral

St. Giles' Cathedral

Best Lodging Options Near St. Giles' Cathedral

Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh
Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh
4 out of 5
1-3 Baxters Place, Edinburgh, Scotland
The price is ¥6,457 per night from May 16 to May 16
Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh
The Scotsman Hotel
The Scotsman Hotel
4 out of 5
20 North Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland
The price is ¥19,290 per night from May 12 to May 12
The Scotsman Hotel
Leonardo Royal Edinburgh Haymarket
Leonardo Royal Edinburgh Haymarket
4 out of 5
1 Morrison Link, Midlothian, Edinburgh, Scotland
The price is ¥6,510 per night from May 16 to May 16
Leonardo Royal Edinburgh Haymarket
DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh City Centre
DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh City Centre
4 out of 5
34 Bread Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
The price is ¥12,123 per night from May 12 to May 12
DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh City Centre
Hilton Edinburgh Carlton
Hilton Edinburgh Carlton
4 out of 5
19 North Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland
The price is ¥10,409 per night from May 13 to May 13
Hilton Edinburgh Carlton
Aparthotel Adagio Edinburgh Royal Mile
Aparthotel Adagio Edinburgh Royal Mile
3.5 out of 5
231 Canongate, Edinburgh, Scotland
The price is ¥8,247 per night from May 16 to May 16
Aparthotel Adagio Edinburgh Royal Mile
ibis Edinburgh Centre Royal Mile – Hunter Square
ibis Edinburgh Centre Royal Mile – Hunter Square
3 out of 5
6 Hunter Square, Edinburgh, Scotland
The price is ¥5,125 per night from May 16 to May 16
ibis Edinburgh Centre Royal Mile – Hunter Square
Motel One Edinburgh-Royal
Motel One Edinburgh-Royal
3.5 out of 5
18-21 Market Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
The price is ¥14,324 per night from May 24 to May 24
Motel One Edinburgh-Royal
Malmaison Edinburgh City
Malmaison Edinburgh City
4 out of 5
Buchan House, 21-22 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, Scotland
The price is ¥10,688 per night from May 23 to May 23
Malmaison Edinburgh City
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.