Iconic Scottish Movie Locations: A Cinematic Journey

Here, we discuss Scottish filming locations you must see.

If a movie is set in Scotland, you would probably expect it to be filmed there. What you may not realise is that filmmakers often choose Scottish filming locations, even for settings that are decidedly not Scottish. And why not? This part of the world is incredibly photogenic, featuring diverse landscapes, picturesque towns, and urban centres that make it an extremely versatile option for filming. Everything from period dramas to science fiction films has been made in Scotland, and once you realise how many famous Scottish filming locations you have already fallen in love with, because of the beauty of Scotland’s lush greenery, stunning beaches, rolling hills, and rugged mountains, you will want to see some of this glorious countryside for yourself. Here, we discuss Scottish filming locations you must see, should you have the opportunity to visit this gorgeous country. 

Highland Adventures and Epic Landscapes

Of all the movies using Scottish filming locations, Harry Potter movies have settings that are the among the most memorable. In fact, whenever you see a beautiful landscape in the film, with jagged mountains or rolling hills, it is probably a location in the Highlands. There are several different Harry Potter filming locations in the Highlands, including, Loch Arkaig, Clachaig Gully, and Glencoe. 

  • The Glenfinnan Viaduct is arguably the most exceptional location used in the films, though. A stunning railway viaduct where the Hogwarts Express ran in several scenes throughout the series. If you would like to ride the real train, it is called the Jacobite Express and runs between Fort William and Mallaig. 
  • Rannoch Moor was also a Harry Potter location, but that’s certainly not the only movie that made the most of this amazing piece of wilderness. Trainspotting chose this spot for its characters’ day out of the city. Glen Nevis is another gorgeous Highland location used in film, and this valley at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, was the location for much of Braveheart. 
  • Plockton, a former fishing village on the Applecross Peninsula, was used for The Wicker Man, a 1960s horror classic. This sleepy village was just one of the locations used in this film, and others include Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart, Kirkcudbright, and Creetown in Dumfries and Galloway, as well as a caravan park in Burrow Head. 
  • Finnich Glen was used as a location in a movie called The Eagle, about the Eagle of the Ninth Legion, which went missing during Roman Times, behind Hadrian’s Wall. The movie starred Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, and Donald Sutherland, and made the most of this wild, isolated, magical spot, full of crevices and water-filled gullies. This glen has also been used in the TV series Outlander, which has led to a massive increase in tourism to this spot. 

  • The Outlander series, a gripping time travel tale, uses several Scottish locations. This is because it’s set in Scotland in the time of the Jacobite uprisings. Midhope Castle, on the Hopetoun Estate between South Queensferry and Linlithgow, serves as the fictional Lallybroch Castle, and many different lochs glens, and castles, including Glen Coe, Culross, and Doune Castle, have also been used. One of the most iconic locations used in the show is Kinloch Rannoch, filling in for the magical site of Craigh na Dun. 
  • Glen Etive and the Glen Coe area were used in the James Bond film SkyfallGlen Etive stood in for James Bond’s ancestral home, the titular Skyfall, where 007 and M hide out while waiting the arrival of a foe. Along the way, there are scenes of the wandering River Etive, the glen’s valley, and the rugged surrounding terrain.
  • Braveheart also used Glen Coe, among other locations. It is not surprising that the wild, rocky Highlands were used to tell the story of Scottish national hero William Wallace, because those stunning landscapes cannot be faked. Loch Leven, Glen Nevis, and the interior of Edinburgh Council Chamber.
  • Highlander is another film with distinctly Scottish locations. Buachaille Etive Beag, a striking conical peak in Glencoe, is used for a battle scene, and the film also features Refuge Bay, Curtaig, and Cloch in the Cuillin Hills, on the Isle of Skye. 

Historic Castles and Timeless Tales

Scotland has a wealth of historic castles, and many have great cinematic significance. 

  • The Eilean Donan Castle is extremely recognisable, in part because it has been featured in a number of films. This popular tourist attraction has used in the romantic comedy Made of Honor, in the classic Highlander, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, the 1996 film Loch Ness, and in the James Bond film, The World is Not Enough. It was also used in older films, including Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948) and The Master of Ballantrae (1953), and was even the setting for a fantasy number in the Hindi romance Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
  • Doune Castle was featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was the setting for the famous ‘English pig-dogs’ scene. Of course, as mentioned earlier, this castle has also been used for Outlander
  • Aberdeenshire contains 263 castles, many of which have been used for movies. Dunnottar Castle was the inspiration for the castle in the animated feature Brave, was featured in Mel Gibson’s Hamlet, and was an eerie setting for Victor Frankenstein. Cluny Castle and Castle Fraser were both used as locations for The Queen, and Slains Castle was used for The Crown as well as Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • Linlithgow Palace was a location for Outlaw King, the Netflix saga following Robert the Bruce in his fight to regain control of Scotland. The ruins of this residence of 15th and 16th century kings of Scotland, and has also been used in Outlander. It sits beside Linlithgow Loch, and is a popular site for visitors. 
  • It is not a castle, but Rosslyn Chapel is an ornate, mysterious, magical place. It was the location for the finale of The Da Vinci Code, chosen in part because of the ornate stonework carvings that cover almost every surface. 

Quaint Villages and Coastal Charms:

Many of Scotland’s picturesque villages and coastal towns have graced the silver screen, including Portree on the Isle of Skye, featured in The BFG, and the seaside village of Pennan, made famous by Local Hero. In Pennan, there is an iconic red public phone box featured prominently in many scenes of Local Hero, and the movie brought attention to Pennan and the northeastern Highlands coast as potential movie locations. The Quiraing, in Skye, was used in the most recent adaptation of Macbeth. And the Cuillin in Skye were used in the opening scenes of Prometheus, the prequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien. Portree, with its colourful harbour, lies at the base of The Cuillin. The picturesque harbour at Portsoy is used in the crime drama Peaky Blinders

Urban Landscapes and Modern Marvels

When you think of movies set in Scotland, filming locations that feature ancient castles and storybook villages are probably the first thing that comes to mind. Scotland is so much more than that, though, and with vibrant cities and modern landmarks, it is a natural choice for films with a more urban aesthetic. Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johanssen, made use of locations in the centre of Glasgow, including Argyle Street, Sauchiehall Street, and Buchanan Street. The film also used Auchmithie Beach, Tantallon Castle, Port of Glasgow, and Rowchoish Bothy. It might surprise you to learn that Trainspotting, while set in Edinburgh, was primarily filmed in Glasgow. Shots in Edinburgh were only used in the film’s opening scenes. 

Hidden Gems and Insider Tips

If you are interested in exploring Scottish movie locations, you will have your choice of many guided tours. Outlander tours are available, as are Harry Potter tours. If you would prefer to go it on your own, it is easy to find itineraries designed to help you explore various filming locations. For those interested in feeling like they are starring in a film of their own, or who want to feel a part of the romance of Outlander, beautiful Linlithgow Palace is available for weddings. 

Have Your Own Silver Screen Adventure with Together Travel

From the misty Highlands to the bustling streets of Edinburgh, Scotland's diverse landscapes and historic landmarks have left an indelible mark on the silver screen. With this guide, readers can embark on their own cinematic adventure, discovering the magic of Scottish movie locations and reliving their favourite film moments in real life. Looking for outstanding accommodations for your Scottish adventure? Together Travel has got you covered. Many of these amazing film locations are within an easy drive of our property at Loch Lomond. This space in Ardlui features a house and eight lodges, some of the best accommodations Loch Lomond has to offer, all with access to onsite water sports, including jet ski, kayak, and paddle board hire, a shared BBQ hut, mooring facilities, and gym facilities. If you would like to stay in a castle rather than just visiting them, consider our property in Stornoway, the gorgeous, gothic-revival style Lews Castle, built in the mid-1800s, towering above blue waters below an ancient slope. Modern amenities and luxurious creature comforts within the halls of a castle, with sweeping views of the harbour make this the perfect place for a memorable holiday. We also offer luxurious self-catering apartments and lodges in John O’Groats, with every comfort you could desire. The “Inn” building, which houses bespoke self-catering apartments, each uniquely designed and appointed, was once the original John O’Groats hotel, built in 1875. Carefully restored and given a new Norse style extension, the inn now gives a distinctive and dramatic pop of colour to the wild, coastal landscape. A mixture of old and new styling greets guests inside, with all the luxurious, high-quality facilities you would expect from Together Travel. If you prefer a lodge, we offer 3-bedroom sea view lodges, each with spectacular views, extensive glass wall frontage, and a large wooden deck with outdoor furniture perfect for watching the Aurora Borealis. When you are ready to visit stunning Scotland, Together Travel Co. is here to bring your holiday dreams to life, with luxurious, comfortable, unique properties located wherever you want to be. Find out how we can make your trip amazing by contacting our expert concierge team at +44(0)1625 416430 or emailing us for more information.