Scotland On the Big Screen

People walk out of a castle.

When it comes to enchanting stories set among magnificent castles and dramatic landscapes, Scotland draws swarms of travelers every year for its bigger-than-life role in some of Hollywood’s biggest films and TV shows. Scotland is a must-see destination for fans of Outlander, The Da Vinci Code, and Trainspotting, just to name a few. From The Da Vinci Code‘s real-life Rosslyn Chapel to the breathtaking Highland scenery of Harry Potter, Skyfall, Outlander, and The Crown, Scotland is a hit.

This seven-day itinerary will take you along Scotland’s iconic film trail and to the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, to ancient castles and rugged mountains, and to pristine glens and storybook villages. Film buff or not, you’re sure to be a huge fan of Scotland—and its films—when the trip wraps.

William Kiburz of Coronet Travel, a member of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council, is ready to help you book a picture-perfect trip to Scotland.

A train crosses a bridge


Jacobite Steam Train's West Highland Line

Take a ride aboard the train that played the Hogwarts Express on the big screen, the Jacobite Steam Train’s West Highland Line, which makes a cinematically scenic 82-mile roundtrip journey from Fort William.
A Purple Flower-like Logo



VisitScotland, Scotland’s national tourist board, works to ensure that visitors experience the very best of Scotland—its famous sites and best hotels, resorts, restaurants, and more. The organization provides information and inspiration to travelers ready to discover Scotland’s unique music, language, dance, culture, and cuisine. Whether you want to walk in the footsteps of famous Scots—from Rabbie Burns to Macbeth—as you explore historic castles, stone circles, and other landmarks, or experience the best of contemporary Scotland, VisitScotland will help you plan an unforgettable visit.
Shops on a Street in Edinburgh

DAY 1Edinburgh

Did you know J.K. Rowling was inspired to write Harry Potter after she moved to Edinburgh? Scotland’s capital city has long inspired writers—and filmmakers. The city’s magnificent architecture, cobblestoned character, and medieval fortress have probably starred in more of your favorite films and TV shows than you know.

On the first day of your film tour, wander down Edinburgh’s fantastical Victoria Street—thought to have been the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. Next, walk the iconic Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, then it’s a short jaunt to the 640-acre Royal Park. The park’s highest point is Arthur’s Seat; if the view is familiar, it’s probably because the films One Day, Chariots of Fire, and The Illusionist were shot here. Next, it’s over to bustling Princes Street and Calton Road (Trainspotting was filmed at both), and then to Calton Hill, where One Day was shot.

You’ll spend the next two nights at the modern and elegant Sheraton Grand Hotel, located in the heart of the city and overlooking Edinburgh Castle.
A chapel in the countryside

DAY 2Rosslyn Chapel

Seven miles south of Edinburgh, on the edge of the village of Roslin, sits one of Scotland’s most remarkable buildings, Rosslyn Chapel. Built in the mid-15th century, the chapel’s ornate interior has symbolic imagery that’s led some researchers to believe it’s a secret Templar repository. The hidden vaults beneath the chapel have been thought to hold anything from the Holy Grail to the body of Christ himself.

If Rosslyn’s story sounds like a movie plot—it is. The chapel inspired author Dan Brown to write the book The Da Vinci Code, and many scenes for the subsequent film were shot here.
Colorful houses on a hill road.

DAY 3Culross & Linlithgow Palace

Stepping into the Fife town of Culross is like stepping back in time—or rather, into an episode of Outlander. Fans of the show will instantly recognize Culross as season one’s fictional town of Cranesmuir. The town was painted grey for filming, which has since been reverted to the original white, but there’s no mistaking it and the Culross Palace.

Next, drive about half an hour south to Linlithgow Palace. Not only is this where Mary, Queen of Scots was born, it’s also where several scenes of Outlaw King were filmed. Fans of the film will recognize the ornate fountain at the center of the courtyard.

Finish off the evening with a trip back to Edinburgh City to stay at Tigerlily, an award-winning boutique hotel located in vibrant George Street.
A castle on a cliff by the sea.

DAY 4Ardverikie Estate & Dunnottar Castle

From the royal residence of Balmoral Estate to Castle of Mey, the story of the royal family—and the TV series, The Crown—would not be complete without Scotland. On your fourth morning, visit Ardverikie Estate near Newtonmore in the Highlands, which plays Balmoral Estate in The Crown. Today the estate offers overnight accommodations in a variety of cottages, lodges, and even in a tiny fairytale caste.

Later, it’s off to Aberdeenshire and Dunnottar Castle, which inspired the animators of Brave. Initially, the animators were planning on setting the film’s castle against a loch, but after seeing Dunnottar Castle, they decided to set it on an outpost by the sea. Filming for Mary Queen of Scots also took place in the Aberdeenshire village of Strathdon.
A train drives around a bend on a raised bridge

DAY 5Glenfinnan Viaduct

Get a front-row seat to the cinematic scenery straight out of eight blockbuster films on the Jacobite Steam Train’s West Highland Line. This tourist steam train had a starring on-screen role as the fictional Hogwarts Express, but you’ll travel on a very real, 82-mile roundtrip from Fort William and over the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct—an unmistakable landmark for Harry Potter fans—and on to Mallaig, and then back to Fort William again.

Spend the night at the Limetree, a historic 1850 building where rooms are lined with paintings by Scottish artist David Wilson and offer views of the loch.
A man crouches on a rock overlooking a large lake. Round snow-capped mountains are seen in the background

DAY 6Glen Etive

Also located in The Highlands, Glen Etive is a picturesque glen that was featured in the James Bond film, Skyfall. Here, you can follow 007’s driving route by taking a scenic tour along the Etive River. Start at the Buachaille Etive Mor mountain and go along a single-track road that takes you down Glen Etive and to the head of Loch Etive, roughly 12 miles later. The river Etive forms numerous pools and waterfalls on its way to the sea, and you might spot a golden eagle or two.

Choose from two hotels that look like they are ready for their turn on the big screen: Glencoe House is a luxury hotel in a Victorian mansion built for Lord Strachcona. The more budget-friendly Loch Leven hotel is a 17th-century coaching inn still providing warm beds and meals for weary travelers.
A tall building across a sweeping lawn

DAY 7Glasgow

On the seventh day of your adventure, travel south from the vast Highlands and to the bustling city of Glasgow. Full of character, Glasgow has been a stunning backdrop for movies such as Trainspotting, World War Z, and Cloud Atlas. After you check into the Doubletree by Hilton Glasgow Central Hotel, located near many of the city’s most famous shooting locations, spend the day browsing the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and shopping in the city center. Keep your eyes peeled for locations from the first Trainspotting film—apart from the film’s opening chase scene down Edinburgh’s Princes Street, almost all the other locations were in Glasgow. World War Z was also filmed here, although the city was disguised to look like Philadelphia.

Regardless of where you wander in this fascinating city, the perfect place to end your tour is at the legendary Cafe D’Jaconelli. The artisan ice cream is regarded as the best in Glasgow, so share a milkshake here (just as the characters did in Trainspotting), and recount your most notable Scotland adventures, on- and off-screen.
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