I love ‘OUTLANDER.’ It has earned Scotland a huge legion of new fans and no wonder. Rarely have our brooding castles, ancient standing stones, pretty villages and harbours, sumptuous gardens and grand country mansions been seen to better effect.Throw in a hero that would give Brad Pitt a run for his money in the looks department; some grrreat Scottish accents with a smattering of Gaelic ; Jamie and Claire’s passionate love affair against the utter tragedy of Culloden – no wonder Outlander and Scotland has captured hearts throughout the world.
I started off trying to come up with a Top 10 of best sites to see but there are just so many! I’ll do a Top 10 eventually but for now, here is a more extensive list to choose from – everyone will have their own favourites. I’ve visited most of the places on this list, as I live in Glasgow, Scotland, visit family often in Edinburgh, travel around the Highlands a lot and love our history. Scotland is the ‘Auld Country’ indeed. Each site is so interesting and lovely in its own right.
Many of the filming locations are easily accessed from Glasgow and Edinburgh. In fact, locations within both cities were used extensively and these can easily be explored on foot. It is much easier to tour the out of town sites by car but some can be done by public transport too. The Traveline Scotland website is excellent for planning bus and train journeys.
Public transport can be ok to one single sight but to join up a few sites can mean long journeys to cover relatively short distances. Two sites per day may be all you can manage.There are also plenty of fine ‘non-Outlander ‘ sites close by to each location, making for some great days out.
See also my own quick summery of how to travel by car, bus or train to each site:
HERE ARE OVER 30 WONDERFUL SITES WELL WORTH A VISIT (or two). THE ORDER IS ALPHABETICAL. IT’S ALSO A WORK IN PROGRESS. FILMING OF SERIES 5/6 IS ON-GOING RIGHT NOW.
ABERCORN CHURCH (where Bree visited Frank’s grave)
With a doorway dated to the 1100s , this is a very beautiful ancient church and graveyard.There is a small museum on site too with Viking hog-back burial stones and a cross shaft dating back to 600 AD.
ABERDOUR CASTLE (the Priory where Jamie is healed)
Absolutely beautiful small castle with just a few rooms and a lovely garden and Dovecote(where they used to keep pigeons for food.) Distant views to the sea. Reckoned to be Scotland’s oldest castle built in the 12th century. St Fillan’s church next door is well worth seeing too. Just a beautiful place all round.
BLACKNESS CASTLE (Fort William HQ of Black Jack Randall)
Exactly what a grim fortress castle should look like! Constructed in the 15th century, it became the HQ of Black Jack and was the scene of Jamie’s torture and rape. Built in the shape of a ship, it sits on a spit of land jutting out into the sea.It’s a wildly atmospheric place, oozing menace. It was used as a State Prison in centuries past and guarded the sea route to Stirling Castle.One of my favourites.
CRAIGMILLAR CASTLE ( Ardsmuir Prison)
This ruined castle and tower house (14th century) is where Jamie and other Jacobites are kept prisoner after Culloden. Mary Queen of Scots sought refuge here in the 1500s.I visited the castle in January 2019 and was very impressed with it.It’s absolutely huge with myriad rooms to explore.Small car park.Not the loveliest part of Edinburgh by a long shot but well worth seeing.
CREAG NA DUN STANDING STONES (where Claire goes back in time)
This is where Claire stepped back in time, although the stone circle was built specially for those scenes. But – the site is still very beautiful and worth seeing. Scotland is littered with ancient Standing Stones, many around 5,000 years old. To me, the best on the mainland are at Clava Cairns near Inverness or Temple Wood in Kilmartin, Argyll; the finest of all however, are at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis followed by the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney. The site at Creag na Dun is exactly as it appears in the series – a cluster of trees on a mound overlooking beautiful Perthshire scenery. It is quite remote but worth the journey. Close to an iconic Scottish mountain – Schiehallion (a fairly easy climb by hill walking standards but be prepared re footwear and waterproofs etc.) The name means ‘Fairy Mountain of the Caledonians.’ The Caledonians were an ancient Scottish tribe.
CULROSS ( Cranesmuir village)
A stunning village hardly changed since the 16th century. A place of steep cobbled streets and red roof tiled houses and at the heart of it all is the wonderful Bishop’s Palace, with its deep yellow walls and dark Jacobean interior. Behind the Palace lies a beautiful terraced garden of scented roses, herbs and traditional flowers, a joy to wander through. It was the setting of Claire’s herb garden in Castle Leoch. Geillis Duncan’s house was in Culross and it was here that she was sentenced to death as a witch.
CULLODEN ( scene of the infamous battle)
The site of the battle that wiped out the Jacobite army and dealt a fatal blow to the Highland Clans who supported Bonnie Prince Charlie. It’s a deeply emotional place for many with Highland blood. I am often in tears on the approach to the flat heather covered field where so many were slaughtered on 16 April 1746. The Visitor Centre does a good job of presenting the history but it really is out on the battlefield itself that the ghosts of that day seem very close.The mass graves of the Clansmen who fell are marked with stones. Tragedy hangs thick in the air; they never stood a chance.Clava Cairns is a short drive away.
DEAN CASTLE (Jamie’s grandfather Lord Lovat’s Beaufort Castle)
Used as Beaufort Castle, seat of Clan Fraser of Lovat and home to Jamie’s grandfather, Lord Lovat (also known as ‘The Old Fox’).A very attractive castle within the grounds of Dean Castle Country Park near Kilmarnock, about half an hour south of Glasgow. Not too far from our home and once a popular family day out when my two boys were young.
DOUNE CASTLE (Castle Leoch)
Excellent 14th century castle ruin beside a pretty village. Plenty rooms to wander and a pleasant walk by the river back into pretty Doune village itself (great bookshop, several Inns and cafes). The castle was already famous having featured in Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail.’ I’ve lost count of the number of times we have visited this great castle, it’s always impressive.
Nearby is the Deanston Distillery, Jarrod’s Wine warehouse in Le Havre, France.
DRUMLANRIG (Duke of Sandringham’s home)
A stunning castle near Dumfries, set in beautiful countryside. The grounds are enormous and the gardens a delight. Lot of marked short and longer walks to do.This really is such a grand place, with sumptuous rooms and a nice cafe too.
Next visit, I want to do the longer walk to the viewpoint from where this iconic photo was taken (it’s not mine.)The drive to get here from the A74 is very scenic too.
DRUMMOND GARDENS (Versailles Gardens)
Absolutely stunning formal gardens , pristine. There is also a less formal and woodland area with plenty of peaceful walking opportunities. Although the castle itself is private it makes for an amazing backdrop.I visited the gardens at the end of summer last year and was stunned at their beauty.The Japanese Maples were already turning red.
The drive through the Estate which is near Crieff, is a delight too with lovely rolling Perthshire countryside all around.With a car, Tullibardine Chapel is easily visited too.
DUNURE HARBOUR AND CASTLE (Selkie Island and where Jamie and Claire sail to Jamaica)
A small attractive stone harbour at the end of a single line of cottages. A short walk away is the ruined castle. Just a few miles south of Ayr, on the Ayrshire coast. Dunure castle is a short (slightly muddy) walk away along a path and worth seeing.
Culzean Castle (National Trust, entry fee) is very close if traveling by car and is one of my favourites anywhere. It sits perched on a cliff above the pounding sea, very elegant and also fascinating inside.Well worth joining one of the National Trust tours as the history is so interesting.The extensive garden grounds, including the Walled Garden, are simply beautiful and there are miles of woodland walks and a Deer Park.There is a very good second hand book shop and gift shop, part of the Castle’s Visitor Centre complex.You could spend at least half a day here – and should!
DYSART HARBOUR (Le Havre and St Germain’s Warehouse)
An attractive 15th century stone harbour, still in use. This is where Claire and Jamie first come into contact with the Comte de St Germain.Another venue on my list to visit.
The Old Town of the city, where the filming took place, is a World Heritage Site.I love Edinburgh, it is the most handsome city, overlooked by its forbidding Castle perched on crags.The Castle itself is well worth visiting not only for the history but the fine views over the city itself.Book in advance to avoid the queues and take one of the excellent free guided tours to get the most out of your visit.It’s worth getting there to hear the 1 o’clock gun being fired from the battlements (every day – cover your ears!) Just strolling through the city’s Old Town and its elegant New Town is often enjoyment enough for me on a sunny day.
1.BAKEHOUSE CLOSE (Jamie’s print shop)
2.TWEEDALE COURT (where Claire meets Fergus)
There are so many atmospheric, tiny closes and courts off the Royal Mile; I love it, no matter the crowds. There’s always a bagpiper playing too – you definitely know you’re in Scotland! I also really enjoy the small Writer’s Museum, in lovely Lady Stair’s Close (free entry) and covering the lives and works of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.
3. THE SIGNET LIBRARY (the Governor’s House)
Still to visit this interior, but doesn’t it look gorgeous? I’ll need to try the Afternoon Tea here sometime.
4. PALACE OF HOLYROODHOUSE AND ABBEY (where Jamie and Claire beg Bonnie Prince Charlie to abandon the Jacobite cause)
This is such a beautiful building at the bottom of the Royal Mile, still used by the Queen today. The interior of the Palace has many fascinating artefacts which belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots.It’s also where Mary’s secretary David Rizzio was brutally murdered – stand at the spot where this poor man suffered multiple knife wounds.Legend has it that the red stain of his blood has never quite been removed from the floorboards.
In September 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie established his court at Holyroodhouse for six weeks.
There are peaceful gardens to stroll which lead to the romantic ruins of lovely ruined Holyrood Abbey (where Black Jack Randall asks Claire to nurse his brother.) Arthur’s Seat looms nearby, a walk to the top being obligatory for many tourists to the city. It’s about 45 mins to the top starting from near the Palace – I’ve never been up there without getting nearly blown over by the wind.Wear decent footwear though I’ve seen sandals and the like being worn; it wouldn’t be me.The rock is very worn at the top and is very slippery. Fine views over the city (but not as good as from Calton Hill.)
THE CANONGATE KIRK (where Colum Mackenzie meets Jamie and Claire)
A 17th century church on the Royal Mile, quite unusual in design.
THE WORLD’S END PUB (Dougal Mackenzie’s favourite haunt)
A set was built to represent this Inn for the TV series, but it is also a real place (mentioned in the book.)
FALKLAND VILLAGE (Inverness)
A very pretty old village beneath the Lomond hills with a wonderful Palace at its heart.The Palace was used as the Apothecary where Claire buys medicines to treat Alex Randall. It’s well worth seeing the interior with its fine furnishing. The quaint houses and little wynds and streets of the village are a delight to wander. I’ve visited it many times over the years as well as the Palace and neither ever palls. The Palace’s gardens in summer are a delight too.
Falkland stood in for Inverness (which is relatively urban and modern.) The Covenanter Hotel was Mrs Baird’s B&B, which Claire and Frank stayed in. In season 2 , attractive Brunton Street, Rotten Row and Sharp’s Close were also used in filming.
St Andrews is around 40 mins away if travelling by car; it’s a sort of Edinburgh – on -sea, very handsome. For golfers, a must see. Wonderful 16th century Culross, another fine Outlander site and one of our loveliest villages, is around an hour’s drive away.
My home and a city very dear to my heart. It’s name translates as the ‘dear green place’ – it has over 70 public parks. Some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet (much more so than in Edinburgh:)) live in this vibrant, interesting city with fine Victorian architecture, great museums and buzzing streets. A Highland city (in a way that Edinburgh isn’t) given the huge influx of Highland and Irish people over the centuries, looking for work. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a must, near the University. Glasgow is the one-time home of Billy Connolly, a fair reflection of the renowned Glasgow sense of humour! Only 45 mins or so drive too, to the beautiful West Highland scenery of Loch Lomond.
1.GLASGOW CATHEDRAL (L’Hopital des Anges )
This beautiful 12th century cathedral’s crypt was used as the hospital where Claire returns to nursing while in Paris. It is also where she gives birth to their child, who tragically dies. Opposite the cathedral is the city’s oldest house, Provand’s Lordship, the St Mungo Museum of Religious life and the famous Necropolis graveyard where some of the richest men in Britain – Glasgow’s Tobacco Lords of the 18th century – are buried under grand stone effigies and towering monuments.
2.GLASGOW UNIVERSITY (Boston and Harvard Unversity)
The 4th oldest University in the English speaking world, the 15th century building’s Cloisters were used to represent the two Universities. The beautiful atmospheric Cloisters also lead to some fine views over the city and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (free and excellent) which sits a short distance below.I often take myself off here for a stroll, starting off at Kelvingrove, where there is car parking though it’s become pricey recently.It’s also only a 5 min walk from Kelvin Hall subway station.Best cafes nearby are Kember and Jones on Byres road or the Hidden Lane Tea-room.
Opposite the University is the wonderful Mackintosh House, well worth seeing too.Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s building interiors still look ahead of their time despite being 100 years old.Amazing and life affirming.
3.GLASGOW’S DOWANHILL STREET (Claire and Frank’s Boston home/street)
Elegant townhouse living in this very lovely old street of red sandstone flats.A very expensive part of Glasgow. The flats are huge inside, with bay windows, stained glass doors and elegant ironwork. Nice area with lots of cafes and shops too.Part of the West End – the whole area ‘goes like a fair’ as we say.
4.POLLOK COUNTRY PARK/HOUSE (the grounds of Castle Leoch and French parkland)
A fine country park in the leafy south side of the city, voted Europe’s Best Park, with Highland coos and miles of paths through mature woodland. Pollok House is a grand country house amidst formal gardens with an atmospheric café in the old Victorian kitchens.Very popular with Glaswegians! Within the park is the famous Burrell Museum but it is under renovation at present.This is our (husband and I) local park and a favourite haunt for a Sunday walk if the weather is putting us off the mountains. Look out for kingfishers along the riverbanks.The interior of Pollok House isn’t the most interesting but it’s a fine sight from the outside.
GLENCOE (season 1 opening credits)
Glencoe is a wow. To me, this is one of THE must sees on any trip to Scotland. Better still, factor in some walking here though a lot of it is UP as there isn’t a lot of flat ground! Big mountain country (as with most of the Highlands.) The Lost Valley hike is very popular, very rugged and needs decent footwear and waterproofs.Loch Achtriochtan is well worth some photos too at the end of the glen.There are the beautiful Coe and Etive rivers to have a picnic beside too. Explore neighbouring Glen Etive too for more superb West Highland scenery; this glen is where Skyfall was filmed.
Most organised bus tours only stop here for a few minutes for photos.A car is what you need to really explore this whole spectacular area and exercise those pins.
There are often red deer feeding close by the (new) Kingshouse hotel and also just off the road in Glen Etive itself.Don’t miss the beautiful little lochan in this glen beyond Dalness. Perfect for a picnic.
We visit Glencoe a lot and have hiked most of its rugged mountains.It never fails to impress, in any weather.The A82 road crosses wild Rannoch Moor which is also superb.if driving here at night, beware of deer on the road.
HIGHLAND FOLK MUSEUM (where Dougal collects the rent)
An interesting local museum with real examples of Highland homes and a Blacksmiths from the 18th century, complete with thatched roofs.
KINCLAVEN BLUEBELL WOOD (the Witness Trees)
Not easy to find! These two trees are situated in woodland south of Ballathie House Hotel (a beautiful place – it often has really good deal to stay during off season.Well worth it).Drive to the Kinclaven Woodland Trust car park and walk through the forest to the end of the path where the twin trees are. Very atmospheric!
LOCH KATRINE (used in various landscape shots)
One of my favourite lochs, a real beauty in the Trossachs area.It’s worth the journey out here any time of year. Even in mist – particularly in mist – it looks very atmospheric. There is an easy walk out to Brenachoille Point (which I recognised immediately in the series) from the car park. Here, the loch’s cold, clear waters lap onto a small beach and the craggy hills and mountains are all around. It’s just one of these perfect places though you may not have it to yourself in mid-summer on a nice day. There are boat trips on the loch in peak season, some of which are on the lovely old Steamship, the Sir Walter Scott.It’s also possible to hire bikes and cycle round the loch on a good road (virtually no traffic).For a really hard 14 mile cycle, take your bike on one of the boats which travel up to Stronachlachar and cycle back to the lovely old wooden pier – to put it mildly, it’s hilly!
For a great wee hill walk of about 45 mins each way, consider nearby Ben A’an, with its sublime view over the loch and the craggy Trossachs scenery.
Venachar Lochside cafe/bistro is several winding miles along the road towards Callander.The famous Duke’s Pass mountain road leads to Aberfoyle and there are some fantastic views from it – with a small viewpoint worth walking up to also.
LINLITHGOW PALACE (Wentworth Prison)
An imposing red sandstone ruin with a huge history and in a pleasant little town (good cafes). The Palace sits overlooking a small loch which can be walked round for some great views. Its 16th century fountain has been restored and the building is reputed to have several ghosts including that of Mary Queen of Scots! The small chapel in the grounds is delightful.I’ll be honest, I do think the Palace looks at its finest from afar.Within the enormous ruined walls, stained green with moss and dampness, I found it all a bit gloomy somehow.
MIDHOPE CASTLE (Lallybroch)/HOPETOUN HOUSE (Duke of Sandringham’s home)
A 16th century Tower House near Queensferry, Edinburgh, this was Jamie’s home. It is situated within the grounds of stately Hopetoun House which was itself the location for the Duke of Sandringham’s home.many years ago my husband and I walked past this lovely old ruin in attractive grounds , little knowing it would become so famous.
In reality however, Jamie’s home is a ruin and interior entry is not allowed. But it is a fine sight. Access to the exterior is arranged through Hopetoun House.We had coffee and scones in the grand house’s tea-room after our stroll , another elegant pile within which to contemplate the finer things in life.
PRESTON MILL (where Jamie takes a dip)
Jamie is mending the mill wheel at Lallybroch when Redcoats suddenly arrive. He is forced to hide underwater while Jenny and Claire answer the soldiers’ queries. Used also when Geillis and Claire attend the initial hearing where they are accused of witchcraft.
A beautiful building with a red pan- tiled roof.Open in season only.I haven’t been in the Mill when it’s open yet – this Spring, definitely.
TIBBERMORE CHURCH ( the court in the witch trial)
A beautiful old church and graveyard situated just a mile or so off the A9 south of Perth.I’ve only seen it from the outside so far.Access must be arranged in advance by contacting the website below. Claire and Geillis sat in the pulpit (dock) awaiting their fate.A key needs to be arranged in advance to see inside.For more info on this:
One of my favourite stop offs is only a mile or so away – Gloagburn Farm Shop and Cafe. Absolutely first class for food and home made cakes and a really lovely deli/shop.Great soap/shower products/gifts too.I can never drive up the A9 without detouring a couple of miles to this place.So good.
TULLIBARDINE CHAPEL (where Jamie and Claire hide before being found by Redcoats)
Glorious little 15th century stone church with some beautiful views over the Perthshire countryside.Only open April to October though the grounds are open all year round. Fairly close to Drummond Gardens.I had this place all to myself last summer on a warm, sunny, breezy day. Well worth visiting.Peace perfect peace.