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When we decide to take a road trip through Scotland with the “final destination” being Isle of Skye we also plan on seeing some Outlander filming locations. While we’re at it… And of course, as a fan of the popular STARZ series, it’s nice to see a few filming locations in real life.
Television series Outlander
In Outlander, we follow the life of English woman Claire Randall. She takes a honeymoon with her husband Frank through Scotland shortly after the end of World War II, during which she worked as a nurse in the British Army. Frank is a historian and partly for this reason they delve extra deeply into Scotland’s history. Mysteriously, while visiting the standing stones of Craigh na Dun, she is thrown back in time, finding herself in 1743. A Scottish warrior rescues her from the arms of Jonathan Randall, better known as Black Jack Randall. Jack Randall turns out to be an ancestor of her husband Frank (and also appears to be speaking) but does not have her best interests at heart. To stay out of Jack Randall’s hands, she marries Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser.
The television series is based on a book series written by Diana Gabaldon. Meanwhile, the Traveler series 8 books and 5 books have been filmed. In the Netherlands, seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 can be seen on Netflix, Ziggo owns the rights to season 5. The filming of season 5 is almost completed and in all likelihood, season 5 will be viewable on Ziggo starting in mid-February.
Outlander behind the scenes
For true Outlander fans who are also curious to get a behind-the-scenes look at the series, The Making of Outlander books may be a must. In the books, Tara Bennett takes you into the world of Outlander during the filming of the series. The books contain beautiful photos taken during the filming of the various seasons. Actors, producers and various crew members responsible for scenery and costumes are featured in these books. The filming locations also receive attention, of course. Available are: The Making of Outlander 1 & 2, The Making of Outlander 3 & 4, Outlander’s Scotland (nice reference work wrt the Outlander film locations). The books are also available as audiobook and as E-book.
Where are all these Outlander filming locations?
So I go in search of various Outlander filming locations and I am surprised to find that many of them are close to Edinburgh and not in the remote highlands, which you might expect. This is also the reason that from Edinburgh there are many Outlander tours are organized: visiting about 4 or 5 locations in 1 day. During our stay, we see quite a few of these vans driving around. We hear in several places that tourism has increased considerably since the filming of the first season.
We fly to Edinburgh and pick up the rental car. We rent it at Sunny Cars; ideal because of the all-in formula. With this you are insured for everything, even your excess is paid back in case of damage. With a good feeling we drive to our first stop. The first night we stay at Hopetoun Estate, where shots were made for the series at 2 different locations: Midhope Castle (Lallybroch) and Hopetoun House. We sleep in Parkhead House B&B near Lallybroch, a beautiful accommodation.
See the map of Outlander locations at the bottom of this article
Combining Outlander filming locations with other attractions in Scotland
Want to see a lot more in Scotland than just Outlander movie locations? Then see if it’s possible to go for a few days to Isle of Skye drive. Edinburgh is a city you really can’t skip when visiting Scotland. Here you will find more than 20 attractions in Edinburgh. No idea how to properly explore the highlands from Edinburgh and the surrounding area? Maybe these day trips to the Scottish highlands from Edinburgh and environs.
Midhope Castle – “Lallybroch” / “Broch Tuarach”
Midhope Castle functions in Outlander as Lallybroch(Broch Tuarach) which lies on the Frasers’ estate. After the death of his father, Jamie inherited the small estate which includes the village of Broch Mordha.
Midhope Castle is located on Hopetoun Estate, a private estate in South Queensferry. From Edinburgh airport, it is about a 20-minute drive. You can visit Midhope Castle by car, for this you need to buy a parking pass at the Hopetoun estate store on the edge of the estate. As the castle is on farmland there are days/periods in the year when a visit is not possible, due to work on the land. We sleep in Parkhead House B&B on the estate itself so we can walk there, a nice way to see something of the area.
One scene where women might rewind is the scene where Jamie hides (naked) in the water from the red coats (Englishmen). This scene was shot at Preston Mill, a water mill in the village of East Linton. Inside the water mill is an exhibition hall that was turned into a courthouse. In season 1, Geillis and Claire were executed at this site during the witch trial.
Hopetoun House – “Residence of Duke of Sandringham”
Also on Hopetoun Estate is Hopetoun house, a beautiful mansion that was used in the series for various shootings. For example, several rooms in the mansion function as the Duke of Sandringham’s residence. Some of the streets behind the mansion were used as a backdrop for the streets of Paris and part of Jamie and Claire’s apartment in Paris was located in this mansion. The stables were also used for filming season 3, in which they act as Helwater’s stables. Unfortunately, we do not see the mansion. We want to walk past it but it is raining quite hard and we would also like to visit Culross and West Kirk on this day.
Drummond Castle gardens – “Versailles”
The beautiful gardens of Drummond Castle were used as the setting for the gardens of Versailles in Outlander (season 2). The castle itself is not open to the public, but in the gardens you will run out of time to see everything. The 1.6-kilometer driveway alone will take you a while!
West Kirk – “Black Kirk”
West Kirk is located just outside the center of Culross and dates back to 1500. Totally dilapidated, overgrown with ivy plants and moss. Sagging and toppled tombstones. With gloomy and windy weather, it’s pretty spooky! So a perfect location to act as Black Kirk, said to be a gathering place of demons. In Outlander, Black Kirk is a place for boys to show off their manhood but many come back deathly ill. “Work of the demons” everyone thinks, but Claire finds out that Lily of the Valley is the culprit. The boys mistake these plants for Woodgarlic and pick the leaves to eat.
Glencorse House & Kirk – “Wedding venue Jamie and Claire”
Glencorse House and Old Kirk is a place we should definitely mention, as it is where Jamie and Claire get married in the series. Any fan who has watched this scene a few times will immediately recognize the church. Located in Milton Bridge, the 17th century church is privately owned and used as a home. Thus, this filming location is not easily accessible to visit. However, if you contact the owner in advance, it is possible to visit the church by appointment. More information can be found on the website of Glencorse House.
Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway
Bo’ness is home to Scotland’s heritage Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway. For the series Outlander, this place was briefly transformed into an English railway station at the time of World War II and this is where Claire and Frank said goodbye to each other. Next to Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway is the Museum of Scottish Railways, a must visit if you have a thing for trains and/or railroads. Another fun idea is to board an old steam train which runs between Bo’ness and Manuel Station. Definitely fun when visiting Scotland with children.
Culross – “Cranesmuir”
You’ll feel yourself going back to the 17th and 18th centuries in Culross, where you’ll find numerous historic cottages as you walk along cobblestone streets. Mercat Cross in the center of Culross functions in Outlander as the village of Cranesmuir, where Geillis lives. It’s probably recognizable by the monument in the middle of the square, where Claire pretended to faint and Jamie, meanwhile, freed a boy who had his ear nailed on.
The Culross Palace, so striking because of its color, was built around 1600 and is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Culross Palace has been used several times as a filming location for Outlander. For example, the kitchen has been used as a tavern and the Withdrawing Room served as Geillis’ parlor. Claire pulled a tooth on someone in the courtyard and Murtagh waited here for Jamie when he had an appointment with Prince Charlie. Jamie’s oath to Prince Charlie took place in the hall of Culross Palace, and the royal room served as Claire and Jamie’s lodging when they were passing through. Behind Culross Palace is a beautiful garden; in the series, this is Claire’s herb garden at Castle Leoch.
Culross is an incredibly nice village to walk through. One building is even older than the other; it is almost like a puppet village. Narrow steps go up between the houses. Once there, you have a nice view of the garden of Culross Palace.
Blackness Castle – “Fort William”
Blackness Castle you will see passed by several times in season 1 of Outlander. Located on the banks of the Firth of Forth, the 15th century castle serves in Outlander as Fort William, the headquarters of Jack Randall. The castle’s courtyard is seen, among other things, in the scenes where Jamie is whipped by Randall. Jack Randall also holds Jamie prisoner here later in season 1. Blackness Castle is beautifully situated by the water. You immediately recognize the wall where Jamie climbs up a rope in the dark to rescue Claire from the hands of Jack Randall. A beautiful place to visit!
Linlithgow Palace – “Wentworth prison”
Linlithgow Palace functions in the 3rd season of Outlander as Wentworth prison, where Jaimie is imprisoned for several years. Linlithgow Palace is also of interest to fans of the Stuarts: Mary Stuart, “Queen of Scots,” was born here. When she was 7 months old, her mother took her to Stirling Castle, after which she left for France at a young age to grow up at the French court. After 20 years, she returned to Linlithgow Palace. Linlithgow is easily reached by train from Edinburgh in just 20 minutes. Nice to combine a visit to the castle with a city break Edinburgh!
Falkland – “Inverness”
Inverness is where it all begins in Outlander, when Claire honeymoons with her husband Frank. In reality, Inverness was not used as the filming location but Falkland: a small picturesque town in Fife. Here too, as in Culross, you will find beautiful little historic houses. One street is even more idyllic than the other!
If the residents of the village are to be believed, it is a veritable invasion when filming takes place. Buildings are painted different colors, window frames are changed and entire storefronts are brought back to 1940s style. I always thought there was a lot of editing during the editing but the opposite appears to be true. I saw in photos that even the little lions on the fountain in the middle of the square were painted gray. Also, the lunchroom Campbell’s previously had a different name. After the whole facade was changed for the filming of Outlander, they decided to leave it as it is and also continue to use the name. Fun facts :-)
You will immediately recognize the B&B where Claire stayed with Frank. In real life this place is called The Covenanter Hotel, so you can really stay there yourself. And also in the room where Claire stood at the window brushing her hair, while Jamie watched her from beside the fountain. At least if you get there quickly, because this place is very popular with many Outlander lovers :-) If not, there are plenty of other nice places to stay in Falkland.
Bakehouse Close – “Alexander Malcolm’s print shop”
A great place to visit in Edinburgh is Bakehouse Close. On this little street, the series features Jamie’s print shop, or rather Alexander Malcolm’s print shop. You will immediately recognize the staircase. The wooden canopy where the print shop’s nameplate hangs in the series you have to think about it for a moment.
In the series, Roger and Brianna drive along this beautiful Loch Katrine after meeting in Inverness and get to know each other better in the car. The scene where they get out of the car and look over the lake was filmed along the shores of this beautiful lake.
A place that is quite difficult to find is in Glen Finnich: The Devil’s Pulpit. The chasm, in which Dougal tells Claire that she must marry Jamie to stay out of Jack Randall’s hands is on private property but may be visited. It is somewhat difficult to find the stairs leading down, and once you find them, it remains to be seen whether you dare to descend via the stairs. There are missing steps, steps have sunk and it is slippery with mud and moss…. But once down it is beautiful!
Doune Castle – “Castle Leoch”
Doune Castle is a little further away from Edinburgh: it is about an hour’s drive from the airport. Doune Castle functions in Outlander as Castle Leoch. A number of episodes in season 1 take place in and around the castle, which is home to Colum MacKenzie and his clan. Unfortunately, the castle is largely in scaffolding during our visit, in need of renovation due to increased flow of visitors. Since the series began, visitor numbers to the castle have doubled!
The beautiful Glen Coe passes by every episode, in the opening title. But even in the very first scene of episode 1, where Claire introduces the story, you look at Glen Coe. It is impossible to explain what Glen Coe is like. It’s not like Austria, Switzerland or Canada. It is different. But how? In any case, it is clear that this glen (valley) impresses many people tremendously: whether it is sunny, cloudy, rainy or windy. It is beautiful!
People disappear all the time. Young girls run away from home. Children stray from their parents and are never seen again. Housewives take the grocery money and a cab to the train station. Most are found eventually. Disappearances, after all, have explanations.
Aberdour Castle – “Abbey of Father Anselm”
Aberdour Castle functions in Outlander as the monastery where Father Anselm takes care of Jaimie after he is freed by Claire and the men from the hands of Black Jack Randall. Some of the filming took place around the building, in various rooms and in the corridors. Aberdour Castle is one of the oldest masonry castles in Scotland. More information about this beautiful estate can be found at the website of Aberdour Castle.
Dunalastair Reservoir – Craigh na Dun
Surely one of the most imaginative places in the Outlander series is Craigh Na Dun, the site of the standing stones that hurl Claire 200 years back in time. In reality, the stones are not there. At the spot itself you will find covered molds in the ground, where the imitation stones are placed when shots are taken. The hill with the group of tall trees, however, you recognize immediately. The hill is on private land south of Dunalastair Reservoir, near Kinloch Rannoch in a section of Tay Forest Park. The place is accessible, as long as you don’t disturb the grazing sheep. From the hill you have a beautiful view of Dunalastair Reservoir and the surrounding area.
Many people who book an Outlander tour are disappointed when it comes to the stones. They think they end up on the hill where the series features the famous stones (see photo below), but in reality they end up at the Clava Cairns, near Inverness. The Clava Cairns are remains of graves from the early Bronze Age. They are mainly large collections of stones together with a number of individual, stand-alone stones around them.
Druim an Aird – Pattack Falls
An incredibly beautiful piece of nature that we actually “just came across” and recognize from the series is Druim an Aird, aka Pattack Falls: a beautiful long rapids with a wide, low waterfall at the end. In the series, you see this place passing by in a flash, but I recognize the place immediately because of the colors. The rapids are in Cairngorms National Park and you can take a nice 4.5-kilometer walk upstream along the stream. There is a parking lot where you can park your car and there are nice vantage points.
Glasgow Cathedral – “L’Hopital des Anges”
The crypt of Glasgow Cathedral serves as L’Hopital des Anges in the Outlander series, where Claire goes to work as a nurse with Mother Hildegarde and the nuns of the Couvent des Anges. This is also where Claire gives birth to Faith, for many one of the most fraught scenes of the series.
Glasgow University “Harvard University”
In season 3, we see Claire walking with Brianna through the cloisters of Glasgow University, which in the series represents Harvard University. A beautiful image that invites one to take a look at the cloisters themselves in real life.
Glasgow City Chambers
On John Street you will find the Glasgow City Chambers. Here is a beautiful city gate that serves as a backdrop in season 1 when Frank spontaneously asks Claire to marry him. They then run into a building to get married.
Dysart Harbour – “Le Havre”
At the beginning of season 2, Claire and Jamie arrive in Le Havre. The picturesque Scottish port Dysart Harbour is used as the location for this. The harbor is not far from Edinburgh, so you can easily drive there when you are in the area and take a road trip past various Outlander filming locations. Dysart Harbour has been a busy port over the past centuries where a lot of trade was done with other European countries.
Highland Folk Museum
Another location where Outlander scenes were shot is the Highland Folk Museum. This museum, like the Pattack Falls above, is located in Cairngorms National Park. The distance between the falls and the museum is only 21 kilometers, good to visit one after the other!
Culloden Moor – “Culloden Battlefield”
A very impressive place is Culloden Moor (Culloden Battlefield). Not only because you know it from the series but of course because of what actually happened here. You can visit the outfield for free (don’t forget to pay parking) but a visit to the visitor center is definitely worth it (£11.50). Here you can read and see all about the Jacobite rising, the battle of Culloden itself and how it went on afterwards. Visit the visitor center first (inside) and then walk across the battlefield to the memorials. You’ll feel it from your toes to your crown!
Tay Forest Park – “North Carolina wilderness”
The stretch of Tay Forest Park behind Dunkeld House Hotel is largely the setting for season 4. Claire and Jaimie are then in the wilderness of North Carolina. The similarities between Tay Forest Park and the forests of North Carolina are great, making it an ideal place to shoot several scenes. Among others, the part where Roger was sold to the Mohawk and Claire, Jamie and Young Ian go looking for him was filmed here.
How much time do you need to visit Outlander movie locations?
Basically, you can see many Outlander movie locations in a short period of time. And, of course, you can make the visits last as long as you want. Do you want to see every castle inside or are you okay with just seeing it from the outside? Do you really want to go for walks or do you get out of the car, take pictures and move on to the next filming location? Many filming locations near Edinburgh can be visited in 1 day. Think Doune Castle, Blackness Castle, Falkland, Culross, Linlithgow Palace, Midhope Castle and Hopetoun house. Would you also like to visit Devil’s Pulpit, Glen Coe, Culloden Moor and Craigh na Dun? Then you need more time. For example, you can then make a nice road trip of 3 days, visiting all the places mentioned here in this article.
However, there are many more places where filming took place. In total, there are no less than 36 famous places where scenes from Outlander were shot. Visiting all these places is not even possible in one week :-) So it is useful to make a selection for yourself. Which locations do you want to visit? Which locations happen to be on your route and for which locations would you like to make a detour? A nice map with all Outlander film locations can be found on the website of Visit Scotland.
Map of Outlander filming locations
Outlander locations to visit from Landal Piperdam
Since a lot of movie locations are near Edinburgh, you can easily stay in Edinburgh itself or somewhere nearby. List the Outlander locations you would like to see and make nice day trips along the different locations. A wonderful base for visiting places where Outlander scenes were shot is Landal Piperdam in Fowlis, near Dundee. This new park from Landal is located in a very quiet area by a beautiful lake, about an hour’s drive from Edinburgh. The accommodations all have access to hot tubs. How good is that? Coming back tired and satisfied from a day trip and then sitting in the bubble bath reviewing all the Outlander spots. Or watch another episode :-)
Organized Outlander tour
Maybe you don’t feel like looking up all the above places on your own? Then book an Outlander tour. There are currently many different providers of Outlander tours. There are tours that go to one particular location, other providers take you for a full day. Nice idea anyway, getting in and not thinking about time and route any further!