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Magical Movie Locations in the Scottish Highlands

Magical movie locations in the Scottish Highlands. The highlands have had their fair share of top Hollywood names and many blockbuster movies are in filmed in Scotland. This should be no surprise when you consider the outstanding scenery, which provides a stunning backdrop for the cameras.  Rugged, unspoiled landscapes, striking castles, fabulous architectural features, such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct, all have had movie goers jaws dropping for decades. I think at this time we are all in need of a little magical escapism and we hope this lifts your day, brings backs memories and perhaps you will visit us later.

Blockbusters Filmed in the Scottish Highlands

Here is a short but amazing list of magical movies that have been filmed in Scotland and the Highlands. Outlander, James Bond the latest being Skyfall, Harry Potter (2001 – 11), The Outlaw, Mary Queen of Scots, Brave, Loch Ness, Braveheart, Rob Roy, Flash Gordon, The Dark Knight Rises, Space Odyssey 2201, The World is not Enough, MacBeth, Local Hero, Whisky Galore and there are more, with more coming soon!

Why are the Highlands so Popular with Hollywood?

If you’ve ever visited the Highlands, then you will have experienced first hand the breath taking beauty of the scenery. The Highlands are a land of ancient landscapes, gruesome history and luckily the Highlands has retained its rugged, stark unspoiled natural beauty. A mix of gorgeous coastline with silver sands common to the Caribbean, lush green forests surrounding intense deep dark glistening lochs and so much more. It’s no wonder that Scotland continues to be a popular choice for many magical movie Hollywood movies.

Explore Some of these Magical Movie Locations

1.Harry Potter  – Fort William, Glenfinnan, Steall Falls

glenfinnan viaduct

Harry Potter, it is no wonder that JK Rowling, a fellow Scot, couldn’t fail to be moved by the beauty of the Highlands.  The stunning Glenfinnan Viaduct, inspiration for the Hogwarts Express, is the most iconic symbol of Scotland’s natural wonders in the movie series. However Harry Potter lovers, can tell you of so many more fabulous locations dotted all over the Highlands which provided the stunning back drop to Harry’s adventures. If you want to experience the Hogwarts Express for yourself then you need to book a journey on the Jacobite Steam Train, which departs Fort William trains station daily.  You too can travel along that gorgeous route, fly by the Glenfinnan monument, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard over the viaduct towards the fishing village of Mallaig.

When you return to Fort William you may want to stretch your legs, you can hike through the Inner gorge to the Steall Falls. This stunning waterfall is featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s a lovely trek, winding your way along narrow paths through the forest, climbing steadily until you open out into the Glen.

Perhaps you can hop on the train to Glasgow from Fort William and take in the stark, striking landscape of Rannoch Moor.  This famous spot is the back drop of the scene where the Death Eaters enter the Hogwarts express!

2. James Bond & Skyfall – Glencoe & Glen Etive

Glencoe, a magical movie location

Even the modern fast moving world of spy James Bond couldn’t resist the temptations of the Scottish Highlands.  It couldn’t be more fitting the such a rugged character would return to his fictional home in the movie Skyfall.  James would return to Skyfall lodge situated in Glencoe.  Glencoe has a long and bloody history its where the MacDonalds were betrayed and has seen much bloodshed over the centuries

Glencoe’s neighbour Glen Etive is also a famous movie location, featuring in Braveheart and Skyfall. Perhaps you didn’t know that Ian Fleming, James Bond creator, owned a family lodge in Glen Etive, it seems appropriate that his character James Bond would return to Glencoe to his home!

3. TV Sensation Outlander – Inverness & the Surrounding Area

Are you an avid Diana Gabaldon reader or do you eagerly wait the next episode of this blockbusting tv series? If yes then you will be hooked on the ancient and mysterious standing stones, the dramatic castles and stunning Scottish scenery.


Inverness is where the scenes set in the 1940s take place: it’s where Claire and Frank visit after their long separation during the second world war and where Frank looks for his missing wife after she is transported to the Jacobite era. Today, Inverness is known as the unofficial capital of the Highlands and is a popular destination for people wanting to experience Highland culture and enjoy the amazing nature that surrounds the city.


Clava Cairns, Outlander Inspiration

The Highlands are the home to the mysterious and magical standing stones of Claire and Jamies’ love story. Claire gets sent back in time after she wanders to Craigh Na Dun, a mystical stone circle that acts as a portal between her own time and the 1700s. While Craigh Na Dun is a fictional place, similar stone circles can be found in many places in the UK. The Clava Cairns are located a few miles outside Inverness, making it the likeliest inspiration for Craigh Na Dun since Claire goes missing while on holiday in Inverness.

The Clava Cairns are a Bronze Age monument used for burials. It comprises of cairns, standing stones and rocks arranged in circles that once housed the dead. Located near Culloden Battlefield, it’s easy to visit both on the same trip. The site is quiet and beautiful, you can sit in the tall grass and spend some time imagining the lives of the people buried here more than 4000 years ago and what the various stone arrangements might have signified to them.


Culloden Moor and Battlefield is just a short drive from Inverness city center and plays an important role in Outlander.  In season one, it’s one of the places Claire and Frank visit on their second honeymoon in 1945. And in the season one finale, it’s where Claire and Jamie say their tearful goodbyes before the bloody Battle of Culloden in 1745 – a battle Claire tried in vain to prevent.

Battle of Culloden

Culloden Battlefield is a popular tourist attraction commemorating the tragic battle that left 1600 men dead – 1500 of them Jacobite rebels loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie. The visitor centre has a 360-degree battle immersion theatre that lets you have an idea of what it would have been like on the battlefield. Guided tours are held on the field to visit the memorial cairn and the graves of the Jacobite soldiers who lost their lives here.


As die-hard fans of the show might already know, Castle Leod is the inspiration behind the fictional Castle Leoch in Outlander. This is where Jamie takes Claire after she is transported to 1743. Both of the fictional castles are home of the Mackenzie clan, though the Mackenzies featured in Outlander are fictional characters. In the show, Doune Castle, located near Stirling, acted as a stand-in for Castle Leoch.

Located 20 miles outside Inverness, Castle Leod is still home to the Mackenzie family. Just like its fictional counterpart, Castle Leoch played an important role in the Jacobite uprising of 1745 and history is everywhere in this well-preserved Highland castle.

Castle Leod is open to visitors for guided tours during a good number of open days organised throughout the year. Some of these are organised by the current Mackenzie Clan Chief, John Mackenzie, Earl of Cromartie himself. The castle is also a popular wedding venue for those who want to feel like true royalty for a day.


The Highland Folk Museum has a small collection of turf-roofed crofts that are replicas of 18th-century originals. This makes it a great filming location for period scenes. It stands for the Mackenzie village that is heavily featured in the fifth episode of season one, as Claire, Jamie and Dougal’s men visit the village to collect rent from its residents.

Most buildings are open to visitors, with furnished interiors, offering a glimpse to how many Highlanders lived from the 1700s all the way up until the 1950s. Located in Newtonmore, the Highland Folk Museum makes for a great stop on a day trip in the Cairngorms National Park. The drive to the open-air museum takes about an hour from Inverness and entry is free.

4. Outlaw King – Cairngorm National Park – 45 Minutes South of Inverness

The new Netflix blockbuster the Outlaw King, brings the Scottish Highlands front and center. You too can visit the Rothiemurchus Estate, this fabulous spot is in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park.  This beautiful location boasts a turbulent history, in the Outlaw King series the estate appears many times, particularly the battle with the MacDougalls. Loch an Eilein (loch of the island) is hidden in the forest, it has been voted the UK’s best picnic spot. It is a stunning place and in the loch sits a little island with 13th century castle ruins.

Just a little south of Rothiemurchus is Glen Feshie by Kincraig.  This beauty spot hosts remanants of the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest. This fabulous landscape is the famed spot where famous artist Sir Edwin Landseer painted his landscape “The Monarch of the Glen”. You will be familiar with this area if you have watched the TV series, the area features as the Great Glen, a highland hill and a highland glen in the Outlaw King.

5. Brave

Brave tells the story of Medieval Scottish princess Merida, a free spirit whose refusal to get married sets in motion a series of events that threaten the peace between the clans. While this beloved Disney Pixar film is animated, many of the backdrops used in the film were inspired by real places in the Highlands.

In particular, Urquhart Castle on the shore of Loch Ness was a massive inspiration to the film creators when they visited Scotland for ideas back in 2006 and 2007. The film was a big hit and went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

loch ness

Planning your own trip to these Magical Movie Locations in the Highlands

The area around Inverness as well as the wider Highlands area offer a huge amount of fascinating places to visit for movie fans. For some more inspiration for planning your trip, check out the Visit Scotland website and our blog Best Books & Films Set in the Highlands, plus our explore pages as lots of suggestion and tips.

Stay with us

Inverness makes for an excellent base for discovering these magical movie locations, plus you can get a real flavour for the turbulent history of Scotland and explore many original historic sights. Outlander fans can discover the real Jacobite history that inspired the Outlander books and TV series. The Palace Hotel & Spa is in Inverness city centre, right on the bank of River Ness with fantastic views of Inverness Castle. Opened in 1890, our hotel is not quite Jacobite, but its castle-inspired towers with conical roofs and overall Baronial style will make you feel like you’re a character in a period drama of your very own.

To book your accommodation for your movie adventure, email Palace or call us on 01463 22 32 43 to #bookdirect

Our Outlander Images is Original Source: Sony Pictures Television many thanks Visit Scotland for sharing


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