Filming locations in Scotland

Days out

Posted by Ed Roberts on 4th October 2020

film locations

Scotland is a classic filming location and it has been drawing in actors and directors since the invention of the medium over 100 years ago. With so much unspoilt countryside, mountains, glens, lochs, forests and a seriously impressive wild coastline, the imagination has no limits. Scotland has enough legends and stories to inspire enough films to keep Hollywood in business until the end of time. And that’s why the country is used repeatedly as a backdrop for films that appeal to everybody.

We have found films set in Scotland to satisfy all tastes and some of the locations are rather surprising too. This guide has been largely divided up by region with the exception of a handful of blockbusters at the start to get the ball rolling. Find out where your favourite films were shot and even visit a few of the former sites. Stay in a holiday cottage close to some of the best filming spots so you can get a sense of the scale and geography of these fine locations.

Some of our properties are equipped with home cinemas and top of the range AV equipment so you can indulge in revisiting some of your favourite films in comfort. Scotland is also home to some very quirky independent cinemas including a mobile cinema that tours the islands! 

Jump to: 


Blockbusters

Some films are designed to wow and amaze and by using the peaks and lochs of Scotland as a canvas that’s a major part of their remit answered! So, grab some popcorn and let us take you on a wild ride through some of the best-known film locations used in some of Scotland’s biggest and best-known movies.


Harry Potter (2000s - 2010s)

It goes without saying that the boy wizard, Harry Potter’s films would be shot in Scotland; the first books on which they are based were written in Edinburgh!

Locations:

  • Glenfinnan Viaduct on the West Highland Line – this viaduct featured in a few of the films as Harry and his pals head out to Hogwarts!
  • Rannoch Moor near Fort William – where the Death Eaters boarded the Hogwarts train in Deathly Hallows, part one.
  • Steall Falls – the wooded dell where Harry met the dragon in The Goblet of Fire.

James Bond (1960s - )

James Bond

One of the best actors to tackle the enigmatic international spy James Bond, is a Scotsman, Sean Connery, and Scotland has also appeared in quite a few movies since the series began back in the 1960s. Scotland has even featured in three of the most recent Bond films starring Daniel Craig – including No Time to Die. As far as homegrown blockbusters go, there’s no bigger British produced film than the James Bond movies. Starting with Dr No, there have been 25 official films to date and six different actors to play James Bond – can you name them all?

Locations:

  • Glencoe – the Bond family seat Skyfall, appeared in the film of the same title. The set was located at the fantastically stark Glencoe and nearby Glen Etive. The driving sequences were filmed on the A82 near the hills of Buachaille Etive Beag and Etive Mor.
  • Gare Loch –  HM Naval Base Clyde on Gare Loch featured briefly in The Spy Who Loved Me as the submarine base.
  • Eilean Donan Castle – this gorgeous castle has been used a few times in the movies. In The World Is Not Enough, it featured as the Scottish HQ for MI6!
  • Loch Craignish – Loch Craignish doubled as Turkey during the boat chase in From Russia With Love.

Highlander (1980s - 1990s)

Eilean Donan Castle

Those who grew up in the 1980s will remember just how big Highlander was. This tale of an immortal clansman that enters a tournament to be the last of his kind spawned three films and a sprawling TV series – there’s even talk of a reboot! Starring the distinctly French actor Christopher Lambert as the titular Scotsman, and the Scottish Sean Connery as his Spanish sidekick Ramirez, it made up for its lack of casting logic with thrills and beautiful Scottish locations.

Locations:

  • Eilean Donan Castle – This beautiful castle is where the Clan McLeod lived during the film’s early scenes.
  • Buachaille Etive Beag, Glencoe – This peak provided the backdrop for the battle between the warring tribes.
  • Refuge Bay, Curtaig – This is the lakeside where Highlander first experiences The Quickening.
  • Cuillin Hills, Isle of Skye – These picturesque hills are where Ramirez taught the Highlander swordplay.

Browse cottages in Scotland


Top films shot in Glasgow

Glasgow is known for its long avenues of sandstone buildings and city squares. It’s perhaps no surprise then that the city has doubled for its American counterparts quite a few times, this may be because cities built on a block system are very uncommon in the UK. Glasgow has frequently enjoyed being a destination for huge blockbusters and their filmmakers looking for attractive tax breaks to shoot cool action sequences on the city’s streets.


Under the Skin (2013)

Some scenes in Jonathan Glazer’s icy-cool sci-fi/horror, Under the Skin, were shot guerrilla-style on the streets of central Glasgow. Starring Scarlett Johansson, the shoot took place at Tantallon Castle in East Lothian, Rowchoish Bothy near Loch Lomond, and Port Glasgow. The unforgettable scenes with the swimmers were captured at Auchmithie Beach which is close to Montrose and Arbroath.


Trainspotting (1996)

Trainspotting is still the most successful film based on an Irvine Welsh book. Launching the international careers of director Danny Boyle, Ewan McGregor and his co-stars Trainspotting still stands tall as one of the best British films of all time. Although the film is set in Edinburgh, virtually every scene was lensed in Glasgow. The opening charge took place down Princes Street. Visit Rouken Glen Park in Giffnock where Sickboy and Renton discuss the merits of various Sean Connery performances. Corrour Railway Station, where the day trip to the country was shot, is 151 miles north of Glasgow (near Fort William); the Munro in the background is Leum Uilleim, T2 Trainspotting, a sequel was released in 2017 – again Glasgow ‘performed the stunts’ for Edinburgh.


Perfect Sense (2011)

This peculiar end of the world film, Perfect Sense, makes great use of its Glasgow locations. The city provides the backdrop for a story about a couple that begins a relationship as the world ends. Everybody on Earth begins to lose their senses one by one, smell, taste, hearing, touch then finally, sight. The scenes were set in the city centre, West End, and Kelvingrove Park. The film stars Ewan McGregor and Eva Green.


Also filmed in Glasgow:

Glasgow was used as a substitute for London, New York City and Gotham City in some massive Hollywood films such as The Dark Knight Rises, Cloud Atlas, Avengers – Infinity War, World War Z, Beyond (2017), Hobbs & Shaw, and Fast & Furious 6.  

Also: Beats, Red Road, Hallam Foe, Churchill, God Help the Girl, The Legend of Barney Thompson, Red Road, and Orphans.

Stay nearby: Argyll Bank | Sleeps: 2 guests plus 1 dog

Glasgow cottages


Top films set in Edinburgh

Over 100 films have been shot in Edinburgh, and it would seem to be the movie-making capital of the country. It’s such an attractive city that it easily lends its winding streets, and historic sites to the world of moviemaking. Some of Scotland’s most famous films were made there.


Chariots of Fire (1982)

Telling the true story of runners Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, who competed in the 1924 Olympics, Chariots of Fire is one of the few British films to sweep the Oscars, winning seven awards including the Best Film accolade. The scenes where Liddell (played by Ian Charleson) announces that he wants to become a missionary were shot in Holyrood Park with Arthur’s Seat in the background.


The Illusionist (2010)

This fantastic Jacques Tati-inspired animated feature is set in Edinburgh and the photo-real effects are amazing. The Illusionist is a true love letter to the city and the lost talents of the revue shows that were once commonplace in the city and other places like it. One of our favourite lesser-known films set in Scotland, but it is, in fact, a French film by director Sylvain Chomet.


Shallow Grave (1994)

This well-wrought thriller put Scottish cinema firmly on the map when it was first released in the mid-1990s. Shallow Grave was Danny Boyle’s cinematic debut and featured an early leading role for Ewan McGregor. Making great use of the upmarket urban streets around Kelvingrove Park, some of this film was shot in Glasgow too.


Also filmed in Edinburgh

The 39 Steps (all three versions), 16 Years of Alcohol, The Acid House, Filth, Burke & Hare, Hallam Foe, Jude, Greyfriars Bobby, Mary Queen of Scots (2018), The Railway Man, Neds, Outcast, Small Faces, Sunshine on Leith, Tommy’s Honour, The Wife, and Young Adam.

Stay nearby: St Bernards Row | Sleeps: 2 guests

Edinburgh cottages


Selected viewing for your Scottish trip

We have selected a watch-list of 10 great films set around the rest of Scotland, out in the Munros, glens and forests of the wilderness! From romantic comedies and historical epics, to black comedies and hair-raising horror flicks we hope there's something in our selected viewing list to attract you.


The Angel’s Share (2012) - Stirling

Stirling

Directed by Ken Loach, The Angel's Share is a funny comedy about some young lads who try their hand at stealing some of the world’s rarest and most expensive whisky was shot in Deanston Distillery near Stirling and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, as well as central Glasgow and Edinburgh locations. It’s very funny!

Stay nearby: Barn Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests


The Eagle (2011) – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

Loch Lomond

The Eagle, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell, was based on Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel about the disappearance of the 9th Roman Legion in Scotland. It was predominantly shot in Hungary, although some scenes were filmed in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. It’s a great action film with lots of excellent battle scenes.

Stay nearby: Scott Cottage | Sleeps: 5 guests plus 1 dog


Gregory’s Girl (1981) – Falkirk

Falkirk Circles

One of the UK’s biggest films of the 1980s was filmed in Cumbernauld, just outside Falkirk and that was Gregory’s Girl, which saw John Gordon Sinclair’s Gregory fall head over heels with the girl (Dee Hepburn) that bags his place on the school football team. Full of charm, this was a massive hit around the world and it's hardly dated beyond the dodgy hairstyles!

Stay nearby: Carriber Lochside | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 1 dog


Tommy’s Honour (2017) – West Lothian and Fife

St Andrews Links

Directed by Jason Connery (son of Sean), Tommy's Honour tells the true story of the founding father and son of the game of golf – Tommy Morris senior and junior. It was filmed in no less than 50 different locations across West Lothian and Fife in places as diverse as Gilmerton House, Gosford House, and various golf courses at Musselburgh (the Old Course), Castle Course (St Andrews) and Winterfield. Also visit Largo Bay, Dalkeith St Marys and various locations in St Andrews including the harbour and Cathedral. The film starred Jack Lowden, Peter Mullan, Ophelia Lovibond, and Sam Neill.

Stay nearby: Bruntshiels Byre | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 2 dogs


Prometheus (2012) – Isle of Skye

Old Man of Storr

This prequel to Alien, Prometheus, has an interesting prologue set on the Isle of Skye. The main characters discover a star map painted onto the walls of a cave under the Old Man of Storr. It’s a striking landscape that kicks the terrifying story off into orbit. The Old Man of Storr can be reached via one of the most famous walking trails on the Isle of Skye. It forms a focal point of the ancient Trotternish Ridge and the trail is relatively short (2.5 miles) so bring your walking boots.

Stay nearby: An Gleann | Sleeps: 4 guests


Braveheart (1995) – Fort William

Loch Leven

Even though you can probably find more historical accuracy in an episode of The Simpsons when compared to Mel Gibson’s historical biopic of William Wallace, Braveheart is still one heck of an entertaining movie. Bellow freedom at the top of your voice as you visit some of the film’s premiere Highland locations. Many of the battle scenes were filmed in Ireland, however, the village where Wallace was brought up was constructed in the Glen Nevis Valley. The Mamores, a string of ten Munros close to Fort William and Glencoe by Loch Leven and Glen Nevis were also used in early scenes. To learn about the real William Wallace, in less time than it takes to watch the epic film, head to Stirling to visit the William Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle.

Stay nearby: Lochside House | Sleeps: 6 guests 


The Party’s Just Beginning (2019) - Inverness

Inverness

Ex-Doctor Who star Karen Gillan wrote, directed and starred in this Inverness-set black comedy, The Party's Just Beginning. The actress had long wanted to see her hometown depicted on the big screen as she was sure it hadn’t been captured before. So, if you are staying near Inverness check out this unusual wee film, which also co-stars Lee Pace, who played her father, Ronan the Accuser in her biggest hit, Guardians of the Galaxy.

Stay nearby: 22a Douglas Row | Sleeps: 2 guests plus 2 dogs


 Loch Ness (1996) – Loch Ness

Loch Ness

This forgotten family film revolves around a hunt for (you guessed it), the Loch Ness monster. Largely shot on location, Loch Ness is something of a forgotten family gem, overshadowed by newer films like Harry Potter. The film starred Ted Danson and Joely Richardson and features the Loch in all its full glory as well as the settlement of Drumnadrochit ever so briefly.

Stay nearby: Strone Castle Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests 


The Wicker Man (1973) – Ross-shire and Galloway

Plockton

The Wicker Man is probably one of the most potent yet strange Scottish horror films ever made. Blending folklore with slow-burn terror, this has to be seen if you are into scary movies. Shot exclusively in a number of locations in Ross-shire and Galloway, including the small towns of Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbright, Plockton, and Creetown – most of them look the same as they did when the film was made in the early 1970s. Starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward, once seen you’ll never forget The Wicker Man. Mind you if you accidentally see the remake starring Nicolas Cage, you’ll never forget having seen it for all the wrong reasons.

Stay nearby: The Vital Spark | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog


Local Hero (1983) – Aberdeenshire

Pennan

One of the best-loved films of the early 80s, along with Gregory’s Girl, Local Hero continues to pop up on the TV schedules all these years later. Set in the fictional village of Ferness, the actual location is Pennan on the Aberdeenshire coast. The telephone box which features throughout this fun fish-out-of-water comedy is still in situ along the seafront.

Stay nearby: Balai House | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog


Other films made in Scotland:

Young Adam, Run, For Those in Peril, Let Us Prey, Running in Traffic, Outcast, Outpost 3 – Rise of Speznatz, Sawney Bean – Flesh of Man, Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar, My Name Is Joe, Ae Fond Kiss, The Near Room, Love Bites, Island, A Lonely Place To Die, Macbeth (2015), The Match, Schemers, Edie, Dear Frankie, The Railway Man, Whisky Galore! (both versions), Sunset Song, Outlaw King, Valhalla Rising, You Instead, What We Did On Our Holidays (and dozens more!)


More inspiration

Escape to beautiful Scotland and find more places to go and things to do while you are on your holidays. From sandy beaches to wonderful walks, you're sure to have an unforgettable retreat! Read some more of our inspirational Scottish guides.


Map to Scotland's film locations


Stay in Scotland

Book one of our Scotland properties to explore the country. Our accommodation can include such features as alluring hot tubs and saunas. Book a large cottage for the whole family or spend quality time with your partner at one of our romantic hideaways. Bring the dog too, as many of our properties in the national parks welcome pets. Where will you stay?

Browse Scottish cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.