Scotland On Screen

Think outside the box set

Scotland's verdant scenery and magnificent buildings have long taken centre stage in film and television: it’s one of the many reasons visitors flock to the country in the first place, hoping to see these famous spots through a new lens – their own.

In celebration of the seventh season of ultimate Scottish smash hit Outlander, we’ve let ourselves get swept up in the romance of it all and pulled together a list of iconic settings as seen on screen, with some local Luxury Scotland hotels to retreat to after a day of sightseeing.

Glen Nevis
At the foot of the mighty Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain, you’ll find Glen Nevis, one of the most beautiful and enigmatic valleys in Scotland. Here, soaring peaks and gushing waterfalls meet complete tranquillity. Understandably, it's one of the most popular filming destinations, featuring in Braveheart, Highlander, Rob Roy and the first two Harry Potter movies.

Image: Glen Nevis.

Nearby hotels include: 
Inverlochy Castle Hotel: Approximately 12 minutes' drive.
Glencoe House: Approximately 30 minutes' drive.
Airds Hotel: Approximately 1 hour's drive.
Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa and Island: Approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes' drive.

Glen Etive
A spectacular glen that encapsulates the rugged remoteness of the Scottish Highlands, the single-track road to Loch Etive has made an appearance in many blockbusters, most notably James Bond movie Skyfall, where 007 and his superior M stop to survey the meandering River Etive. This sensational backdrop also appears in Thor: The Dark World, Gladiator, Sherlock Holmes, Braveheart and The 39 Steps.

Image: Glen Etive.

Nearby hotels include:
Glencoe House: Approximately 50 minutes' drive.
Airds Hotel: Approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes' drive.
Inverlochy Castle Hotel: Approximately 1 hour, 20 minutes' drive.

Eilean Donan Castle
This ancient 13th century stronghold, whimsically perched on a weather-beaten island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, is arguably one of Scotland's most iconic settings and an important slice of history. Located in Dornie, by the picturesque Kyle of Lochalsh, you’ll catch its instantly recognisable façade in films such as The New Avengers, Highlander, Loch Ness and The World is Not Enough.

Image: Eilean Donan Castle.

Nearby hotels include:
Kinloch Lodge: Approximately 1 hour's drive.
The Torridon Resort: Approximately 1 hour, 30 minutes' drive.
Inverlochy Castle Hotel: Approximately 1 hour, 30 minutes' drive.

Glenfinnan Viaduct
As well as a classic piece of railway infrastructure and the longest mass concrete rail bridge in Scotland, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is strikingly cinematic in appearance, its rugged stone cutting through the lush greenery. Each summer, it attracts thousands of visitors a week, eager for a glimpse of the Jacobite steam train, which runs from Fort William to Mallaig on the West Highland Line. It has been used as a location in several films and television series, including Ring of Bright Water, Charlotte Gray, Monarch of the Glen, Stone of Destiny and, most famously, four of the Harry Potter films. Show up as early as you can to avoid the rush.

Image: Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Nearby hotels include: 
Inverlochy Castle Hotel: Approximately 30 minutes' drive.
Glencoe House: Approximately 1 hour's drive.
Airds Hotel: Approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes' drive.

With its mountainous backdrop, rare beauty and haunting history, Glencoe is situated in the very heart of the Highlands. Eight Munros, or mountains, frame the glen, making for a dramatic, magnetic landscape that attracts cinematographers left, right and centre: it served as the location of Hagrid’s hut and the Hogwarts covered bridge in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, as well as appearing in Braveheart, Rob Roy and Mary Queen of Scots.

Image: Glencoe.

Nearby hotels include
Glencoe House: On the doorstep.
Inverlochy Castle Hotel: Approximately 30 minutes' drive.
Airds Hotel: Approximately 30 minutes' drive.
Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa and Island: Approximately 45 minutes' drive.
Crinan Hotel: Approximately 1 hour, 50 minutes' drive.

Central Scotland 
A scenic strip that lies north of Glasgow and Edinburgh and south of the Highlands, this area has played a starring role in many of Scotland’s key historic events. Its diverse landscape, with swathes of woodlands and waterfalls, distant mountain peaks and a coastline dotted with fishing villages and sweeping sandy beaches, has not gone unnoticed by the film industry. One of the most well-loved movies of all times, Chariots of Fire, used the West Sands in St Andrews for the seminal running sequence, while Doune Castle in Perthshire (pictured below) was the main outdoor location for Outlander, as well as appearing in Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

Nearby hotels include:
Murrayshall Estate 

East Lothian 
East Lothian’s rural scenery, golden beaches and historic buildings has made it an easy win for filmmakers in recent years. This stunning stretch of countryside on Scotland's east coast, just a short drive from Edinburgh, has provided the backdrop for a whole host of films and television shows, such as The Railway Man, Mary Queen of Scots, Outlander, The Awakening, House of Mirth and The BFG.

Image: North Berwick, where part of The Railway Man was filmed.

Nearby hotels include:
Greywalls Hotel

Scotland’s capital is renowned for its history, architecture, scenery and cultural attractions. Recognised as one of the most characterful cities in the world, it’s little wonder that Edinburgh has clocked up an impressive list of movie credits, like Chariots of Fire, Sunshine on Leith, Trainspotting, One Day, Young Adam and Rebus.

Image: Edinburgh's The Mound, where scenes from Sunshine on Leith were shot.

Nearby hotels include
The Roseate Edinburgh
Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa Edinburgh

Flanking the River Clyde, 42 miles west of Edinburgh, Glasgow is Scotland's largest city and a real hub for style and sustenance. Its abundance of gothic architecture, winding cobbled streets and lively, cosmopolitan atmosphere certainly qualify the city as a filming hot-spot, welcoming crews responsible for The Batman, 1917, Outlander, Trainspotting, Succession, World War Z, Fast and Furious 6, The Wife and Cloud Atlas.

Image: Glasgow Cathedral, where parts of Outlander were filmed.

Nearby hotels include:
Crossbasket Castle: Approximately 20 minutes' drive.

Scottish Borders
A largely rural area, the Borders is no stranger to Hollywood, punctuated as it is by peaceful woodlands, rolling hills and craggy coastlines that really shine on camera. It boasts an array of quaint market towns, historic houses, sensitively restored castles and glorious gardens, many of which feature prominently in movies, such as North and South, partly shot in Selkirk, Almost Heavenly in Peebles, Mrs Brown in Duns Castle, Shoebox Zoo in Melrose Abbey, Mary Queen of Scots in Hermitage Castle and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, captured at Floors Castle.

Image: Floors Castle, where Greystoke – the legend of Tarzan was filmed.

Nearby hotels include:

SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course

Ready for a main-character moment? Follow in the tracks of 007 with Licensed to Thrill, our ultimate guide to the Scotland made famous by James Bond.

First published 17 June 2020 and updated in June 2023. Information correct at time of going to press.