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Things to Do in Edinburgh - page 3

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St. Columba's Bay
2 Tours and Activities

St. Columba’s Bay, on the island of Iona off the coast of Scotland, is a beach of colorful stones that have been polished by the tide. It is known for its scenery and tranquility, with grassy knolls to relax on beside the water. Iona is a spiritual hub for Scotland as it was the center of early Christianity in the country.

Saint Columba is said to have first set foot on Iona landing on this bay in 563 AD, setting up his monastery thereafter. The bay is on a remote area of the island and it can take a bit of a trek to reach it, but the views and calm nature of the area are worth it. Seasonally there are often birds and wildflowers lining to path to the bay. Be on the lookout for the beautiful, small green stones that are known as “St Columba’s tears.”

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Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot
1 Tour and Activity

One of Edinburgh’s most picturesque, yet little visited historic sites, the 18th-century Preston Mill and neighboring Phantassie Doocot have received a surprising boost in tourism recently thanks to their appearance in hit TV show Outlander. The 16th-century mill stands on the banks of the River Tyne and features a Dutch-style conical roof that fans will recognize from Outlander’s 1940s scenes. A working water mill up until 1959, Preston Mill is now open only for tourists, but visitors can still watch the water-wheel and grain milling machinery in action on a tour. A short stroll from the mill, the quirkily named Phantassie Doocot is another photogenic landmark, a beehive-shaped pigeon house that dates back to the 16th century and once housed up to 500 carrier pigeons.

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Newhailes House

Among Scotland’s most notable National Trust properties, the elegant 17th-century villa of Newhailes is most famous for its opulent rococo interiors and much of its original décor and furnishings still remain. Built by architect James Smith, the property was purchased by the Dalrymple family in 1709 and remained under their ownership until 1997.

Visitors to Newhailes can explore the house by guided tour, browsing the huge purpose-built library, the grand Chinese sitting room, the servants' entrance tunnel and the tranquil gardens, which include the remains of an 18th-century teahouse. Look out for the exquisite hand-painted Chinese wallpaper, the Italian marble fireplaces, the gilded eagles in the drawing room and the Chinese silk bed hangings, as well as a series of notable paintings by Allan Ramsay, Jean Baptiste de Medina and William Aikman, before finishing your tour with tea and cake in the onsite café.

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