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Scottish movie locations you must see holiday cottages

Scottish movie locations you must see

Ed 02 January 2020

There have been more movies filmed in Scotland than you think. Scotland has been inspiring filmmakers for about as long as the moving image has been captured. Historical figures such as Sir William Wallace, Rob Roy and Macbeth have been the subjects of many cinematic hits since the arrival of popular cinema. Modern films made in Scotland such as Highlander, Trainspotting, James Bond's Skyfall, and The Wicker Man have all featured Scottish locales as a character in its own right rather than just a pretty backdrop and it's no wonder.

The landscapes captured on film speak volumes, inspiring many to seek out a bit of Scottish movie magic for themselves. Lose yourself in our guide to movie locations in Scotland; there are so many good films set above the border. Our guide features the classics, the popular giants and some you may not have heard of yet but are still worth a look. 

Eilean Donan Castle as seen in The World is Not Enough

Eilean Donan Castle

The fabulous Eilean Donan Castle is arguably one of the most recognised of all Scotland's castles and it is featured in a number of famous Scottish films too. Restored and reopened to the public in 1932, it’s now a popular tourist attraction. It was showcased in the 2008 chick flick Made of Honor with Hollywood heartthrob Patrick Dempsey; made an impression in the ‘80s sci-fi classic Highlander starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery, as well as providing a backdrop for James Bond in The World is Not Enough. If you’re planning a trip to the Highlands and islands, why not stop in for a visit? It’s a regal sight guaranteed to leave you less shaken, and more stirred. 'There can be only one Eilean Donan Castle', to paraphrase Christopher Lambert's dodgy French-via-Scotland's immortal clansman from Highlander.

Stay nearby at: Rum View | Sleeps: 2 guests

Glenfinnan Railway as seen in Harry Potter

Glenfinnan Railway

The Glenfinnan Railway viaduct had a starring role in the immensely popular series of films and books about the boy wizard Harry Potter by JK Rowling. One of Scotland's most famous filming locations, you can ride the Jacobite steam train that doubled as the Hogwarts Express between Mallaig and Inverness over the Glenfinnan viaduct for grand views. Why not book your own holiday cottage and enjoy a Hagrid-style escape? We’re sorry, but owls like Hedwig are not allowed.

Stay nearby at: Cnoc An Theine | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 2 dogs

Plockton as seen in The Wicker Man

Plockton

The sleepy former fishing village of Plockton on the Applecross Peninsula is one of several locations across the Scottish Highlands used in the 1960s horror classic The Wicker Man, starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward. Other locations include Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart, Kirkcudbright and a few scenes in the village of Creetown in Dumfries and Galloway. The climax was shot at a caravan park in Burrow Head. Don’t worry,the locals are friendly!

Stay nearby at: Sea Crest | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs

Finnich Glen as seen in The Eagle

Finnich Glen

Finnich Glen is found in Kevin McDonald’s tale of the legendary Eagle of the Ninth Legion that went missing without a trace in Roman Times behind Hadrian’s Wall. Called The Eagle, the movie was partially filmed just outside Glasgow at Finnich Glen. The film starred Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland and is a great opportunity to see Scotland at its wildest. Finnich Glen is a great secret spot full of crevices and water-filled gullies, and it’s easy to get to if you know where to find it, but the isolation is one of its best features. Wear walking shoes and good outdoor gear.

Stay nearby at: Stable Cottage - Cauldhalme | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog

Doune Castle as seen in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Doune Castle

Doune Castle is the setting for the notorious ‘English pig-dogs’ scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Bringing life full circle, Terry Jones of Monty Python narrates the interactive tour - quite fitting, we thought. Doune Castle is remarkably close to Stirling, so two castles in one day could make for a fabulous cultural day out in Scotland.

Stay nearby at: Old Newton of Doune | Sleeps: 12 guests plus 1 dog

Rannoch Moor as seen in Trainspotting 

Rannoch Moor

Rannoch Moor was once home to ancient warring clans who fought to keep this wilderness, it was also the chosen spot for Irvine Welsh's characters: Spud, Sickboy, Renton and Tommy of Trainspotting when they decided on an impromptu day out of the city. Quite a schlep from Edinburgh, Corrour Station is in the middle of nowhere, its nearest town being Fort William. If you don’t fancy spending the day alone in the wilderness, go to nearby Bridge of Orchy. There’s a pleasant restaurant by the station and lovely flat walks.

Stay nearby at Linnhe Apartment | Sleeps: 2 guests plus 2 dogs

Pennan as seen in Local Hero

Pennan

The remote Highlands village of Pennan was the setting for this classic ‘fish out of water’ comedy Local Hero, starring Peter Riegert and Burt Lancaster. The iconic red public phone box that featured strongly in many scenes is still in situ close to the seashore. A firm TV favourite from the 1980s, it really put Pennan and the northeastern Highlands coast on Scotland's movie map.

Stay nearby at: Balai House | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs

The Cuillin, Skye as seen in Prometheus

Cuillins, Skye

The Cuillin in Skye are more than a little dramatic, this is why they were chosen as the backdrop for the opening scenes in Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel Prometheus starring Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron. At the base of The Cuilin lies the pretty town of Portree, home to a colourful harbour and fabulous local bakeries.

Stay nearby at: Portree Bay House | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog

Glen Nevis as seen in Braveheart

Glen Nevis

Lying at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, Glen Nevis is the valley where much of Braveheart was filmed; Mel Gibson’s famous yet historically coy biopic of Sir William Wallace. There’s a rocky path to follow to reach the glen which is hidden from sight by the craggy foothills. Ruins of stone cottages await so you can explore the natural hillside and village, brave zip wire river crossings, or climb up to lofty mountain peaks if you're up for a challenge. There's one thing we’re sure of - if you’re looking for a holiday in Scotland with ‘freedom’ in mind, Glen Nevis is the place to holiday (painting your face is optional).

Stay nearby at: Coruanan Farmhouse | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 2 dogs

Glasgow as seen in Under the Skin

Glasgow

The centre of Glasgow, including Argyle Street, Sauchiehall Street and Buchanan Street, are amongst the settings for the wonderfully strange Under the Skin starring Scarlett Johanssen. The tale of an alien finding herself in modern Scotland is a unique science fiction tale. The film also had important scenes shot in Auchmithie Beach, Tantallon Castle, Port of Glasgow and Rowchoish Bothy.

Stay nearby at: Lomond View | Sleeps: 2 guests 

The Quiraing, Isle of Skye as seen in Macbeth

Quiraing

The Quiraing was used as the backdrop for many scenes in the most recent big-screen adaptation of ‘the Scottish play’: Macbeth. Directed by Justin Kurzel and starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, the dramatic landscapes of Skye were perfect for the bleakest of William Shakespeare’s plays. The stark beauty here will take your breath away and it’s easy to see why the filmmakers picked The Quiraing for this latest and maybe truest adaptation of Macbeth.

Stay nearby at: Sealladh Beinn Edra | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog

Other selected movies and their filming locations in Scotland include:

  • Whisky Galore [1949] (Barra)
  • Skyfall (Glencoe)
  • Iona (Iona)
  • Sweet Sixteen (Ayr)
  • Ae Fond Kiss (Glasgow)
  • Gregory’s Girl (Abronhill)
  • Shell (Badcall)
  • Rob Roy (Castle Tioram and Loch Morar)
  • Neds (Glasgow)
  • Small Faces (Glasgow)
  • For Those in Peril [2013] (Gourdon)
  • Red Road (Glasgow)
  • Shallow Grave (Glasgow and Edinburgh)
  • Sunset Song (Aberdeenshire)
  • Filth (Glasgow and Edinburgh)
  • The Wee Man (Glasgow)
  • Ratcatcher (Glasgow)
  • The Legend of Barney Thompson (Glasgow)
  • World War Z (Glasgow)
  • The Winter Guest (Elie and Pittenweem)
  • Morvern Callar (Oban)
  • Hallam Foe (Edinburgh)
  • Outcast (Edinburgh)
  • And so many more...

So if you are planning a 'film' tour of this fantastic country, why not check out our selection of great Scottish cottages to escape and find adventure. As you can see from our guide Scotland is vast and it would take several trips to seek out every single one of the filming locations we have included.

If you do have all the time in the world, we have properties all across Scotland, from romantic escapes for two in the most beautiful remote spots to luxury castles out in one of the national parks. Some of our luxury properties in Scotland even have their own home cinema or a large TV, so if you are a movie fanatic, you can check out the Scottish film locations that you're not able to reach on this occasion onscreen.  

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.

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