“Aye, I believe ye, Sassenach. But it would ha’ been a good deal easier if you’d only been a witch.” - Jamie
Ah, Outlander. Love it or hate it, it’s done wonders for Scottish tourism in recent years. That love for Scotland has always been there, visitors flocking to our dramatic and misty doorstep for more years than we’ve been around. But it’s been wonderful to see how much that love has been magnified since Outlander’s popularity grew. It may surprise you to know that the books have been around for quite a while. Cross Stitch (the first book in the series) was originally published back in 1991... ironically, that makes the books as old as the company of Rabbie’s itself.
But it was when the TV series aired in 2014 that the world turned its gaze to Scotland.
Now, Scotland has always been popular, we know it firsthand. But Outlander did for Scotland what Harry Potter did for England. Since the show’s release, people all over the world have flocked to Scotland hoping that they might meet their very own Jamie. Or perhaps join a rebellion. Or simply to wander the stunning landscapes.
No Jacobite rebellions here, and sadly Jamie is only fictional, but we do have plenty of sites to see. And fans are happy with that. It’s as good a place to start as any, and the main reason people visit Scotland if they’re an Outlander fan. They want to see the sites where the show was filmed.
You could spend weeks exploring all the different locations used on set, but we’re here to narrow it down to the must-see sites. Without further ado, strap on your sgian-dubh (or maybe don’t), it’s time to explore Outlander’s Scotland.
Your journey is likely to begin in Edinburgh, and you might be surprised to know that there are several locations within the city limits itself that are linked to the show. Here are just a couple that we love. It goes without saying but, there be spoilers ahead, Sassenach.
As one of Edinburgh’s finest Georgian buildings, you might be surprised to hear it features in the show as the Governor’s Jamaican mansion in season three.
The Upper Library was transformed into a glorious ballroom for filming, and it was a night full of unexpected drama... classic Outlander. It’s also the place where Jamie and Claire share one of our favourite intimate moments.
But that’s not it’s only connection with Outlander. Remember Ned Gowan? Adorable, sweet, savvy lawyer Ned Gowan, who travels on the road with Claire, Dougal, Jamie and all the others collecting rent in season one? Well, Signet Library belongs to the Writers to the Signet, the law society Ned Gowan was a member of.
This is, undoubtedly, one of the most important scenes in the entire series. After 20 years of separation, Claire finally returns to the past to find Jamie. Bakehouse Close might be a wee alley but it holds a big place in our hearts. It doubled as Carfax Close where Jamie ran his print shop.
While the print shop doesn’t exist in real life, you can absolutely wander this alley for yourself and revel in the memory of this powerful scene from the show. Not only that, but you also get a taste of classic Edinburgh. These solid stone walls and the dark opening of the alley give you a good idea of what 17th-century Edinburgh was like.
It’s easy to find and access. You can reach it on foot while exploring the Canongate section of the Royal Mile. The entrance to this alley is adjacent to the Museum of Edinburgh.
Jamie has experienced his fair share of misfortune. Imprisoned on more than one occasion, one of his potentially lesser-disturbing experiences was in Ardsmuir prison. The ruins of Craigmillar Castle in Edinburgh were transformed into this bleak location for the show, suddenly gloomy, cold, and infested with rats.
But one can argue that it wasn’t all bad, because this is where Jamie met Lord John Grey in season three. Even without its connection to Outlander, the castle is one you simply must visit. It has a fascinating history and is connected to Mary Queen of Scots.
There are a few other Outlander locations in Edinburgh you might be interested in visiting if you have time in this wonderful city.
Time to explore further afield. Leaving Edinburgh behind, you’ll find several locations just on the city’s doorstep.
“Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone. I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One. I give ye my Spirit, ‘til our Life shall be Done.” - Jamie
Just thirty minutes by car from the centre of Edinburgh, you’ll find Glencorse House. This beautiful country estate is nestled on acres of secluded parkland. But what fans will be interested in is the Old Kirk (meaning church), as this was where Jamie and Claire tied the knot in the TV series.
The Kirk dates back to the 17th century and with its lush parkland, lake, and garden, it’s no wonder it’s used to this day for weddings and other ceremonies.
A mere 30-minute drive outside of Edinburgh you will find Hopetoun House. This 17th-century stately home is surrounded by a sweeping 6,500-acre estate. It’s been the ancestral home of the Hope family for over 300 years and is a perfect example of the aristocratic grandeur of the early 18th century.
No wonder it was chosen as a filming location for Outlander. In season one, it was used at the Duke of Sandringham’s stately home. In season two, one of the rooms was used as a room in Jamie and Claire’s Paris apartment. In season three, the stables double as those at Helwater Estate, where Jamie serves his parole.
Just around the corner from Hopetoun House is the quaint Midhope Castle. Still on the grounds of Hopetoun, access is restricted, and visitors must purchase a vehicle permit to approach the building.
A building that is instantly recognisable as Lallybroch, Jamie’s family home in Outlander.
No filming took place inside the castle as it’s derelict inside, but the exterior has become an icon of the show. Many important moments were filmed outside Lallybroch (Midhope), and fans can walk under the archway that Jamie and Claire did themselves. Just don’t get flogged underneath it like Jamie did, alright?
Perhaps one of the most disturbing yet powerful scenes in the series comes from season one. Say what you will about Captain Jonathan ‘Black Jack’ Randall, he was a fantastic villain. In season one, we get a little insight into his dark and twisted mind. He’s perhaps too smart for his own good, and most definitely in the wrong career. The power and savagery of war have gone to his head, mixing with the psychosis that’s surely already buried in there, and manifests in the most horrible ways.
One of those is the flogging of Jamie.
If you managed to keep your eyes open during the scene, you may recall the moment Jamie is strung up in front of a crowd and whipped near-to-death by Randall. The imagery is both disgusting and fascinating. How the makeup artists did it, we’ll never know!
That horrifying scene took place in the inner courtyard at Blackness Castle. You can visit the site for yourself on our 1 day Outlander Tour.
A bit further afield you’ll find the once-majestic ruins of Linlithgow Palace. James I ordered work to begin in 1424 and this elegant ‘pleasure palace’ became a rest stop for royals when journeying between Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle. Oh, what a hard life. Castle to palace to castle. Woe is them.
Today, it lies in ruins, but visitors continue to enjoy exploring what remains of the structure and the nearby loch.
Fans will likely recognise the palace’s entrance and corridors which featured as Wentworth Prison where Jamie was imprisoned (see, always in prison...).
"I'm not the meek and obedient type." - Claire
You can’t visit Scotland and not partake in a gentle stroll around a quaint Scottish village. Culross is a prime example of a wee burgh from the 17th and 18th centuries. Cobbled stoned streets are lined with red-tiled roof houses. That, coupled with the restored palace, has put Culross on the map as one of the most picturesque villages in Scotland.
Culross is also featured throughout seasons one and two of Outlander. In the centre of town is a Mercat Cross (market cross) which was turned into the fictional village of Cranesmuir, where the problematic Geillis lives.
Pop into the palace because on the grounds are the gardens, which stand in for Claire’s herb garden at Castle Leoch.
When Claire eventually arrives at Castle Leoch, home to Colum MacKenzie and his clan, we start to realise just how clever she actually is. Brought before the clan chief, Claire deduces where in the timeline she has landed and, with her knowledge of history and customs, manages to carefully negotiate with the man.
Castle Leoch’s exterior stunt-double, if you will, was Doune Castle. While the castle itself is a ruin, the exterior was the perfect mix of dramatic and striking that was needed for the home of the clan MacKenzie.
What’s really cool is that Doune Castle has actual connections to the Jacobite cause. In 1745, Jacobites took the castle from government troops, and, after the 1746 Battle of Falkirk, government prisoners were also held there.
Doune is an absolute must. It’s an easy day trip from Edinburgh or Glasgow and has been used in several other shows and movies, such as Game of Thrones and Monty Python: The Holy Grail. No wonder fans are always flocking here.
Now, France wasn’t the greatest time for Claire and Jamie. Let’s be honest, we were all glad when they finally left and went back to Scotland. But while they were in France, they got up to a lot of mischief and were embroiled in much drama.
Drummond Castle is known for its gardens, described by Historic Environment Scotland as “the best example of formal terraced gardens in Scotland”. It makes sense why it was chosen as the gardens and orchard of the Palace of Versailles in France in the show.
Falkland is an absolute must on your Outlander adventure bucket list. While most well-known for Falkland Palace, fans of the show flock to this picturesque little village for another reason.
What’s that old saying? You never forget your first. Same can be said of a show. You never forget your first episode. The opening episode of Outlander is a fan favourite and Falkland is the stand-in for 1940s Inverness where Claire and Frank arrive to go on their second honeymoon. Bliss short-lived.
Fans should take a wander around town to spot the areas that were used in the show. The Covenanter Hotel stood in for Mrs Baird’s Guesthouse. But the real kick will come from the Bruce Fountain, which is where Frank spots Jamie’s ghost staring up at Claire’s room during the storm.
It was the moment that changed everything. Claire goes back to the standing stones at Craigh na Dun to pick some flowers, and instead gets hurled back in time to 1743. That moment when she was standing atop the hill as the wind picked up, the deep hum emanating from the stones, viewers knew something dramatic was about to happen.
There are many instances of Claire returning to these stones. In fact, it’s her driving force for the first half of season one: get back to the stones and get ‘back to the future’.
The stones of Craigh na Dun don’t actually exist, but the hill does. And, despite it being located on private property, you can visit. Rabbie’s very own Bron has been there herself. You’ll need a car to reach the spot, and make sure to follow the rules of the landowner. While Bron was there, the wind picked up just like in the show and she closed her eyes... but she’s still here, much to her disappointment.
You can’t visit Scotland without seeing Glencoe. The sweeping, dramatic landscape was featured in the very opening scene of Outlander, when Claire’s voiceover says her famous line: “People disappear all the time.”
But Glencoe itself is so awe-inspiring that it almost doesn’t seem real. It’s a wonder to drive through, hike around, camp in, or even simply to stop and take some photos. Glencoe is the kind of place where you feel as if you’ve fallen into your own fantasy land of sorts. We can’t guarantee you’ll be transported back to the 1700s on your trip, but one visit to Glencoe will make up for it, we promise.
“You're a hard man to kill, I think. That brings me a great deal of comfort.”
Heading further North now, you can’t miss out on visiting the rugged moorland of the Culloden Battlefield. Any Outlander fan will know enough about the tragic events of Culloden from the show, that this field was where the battle was fought and lost by the brave Scottish warriors.
It featured in the show, both in episode one when Frank is explaining the battle to Claire as they wander the field, and later when the actual battle takes place (in the past). #NotConfusing
While you’re in Inverness, make sure you also stop by Clava Cairns. While Craigh na Dun doesn’t actually exist, the stones at Clava Cairns are said to be the inspiration for them.
Not to mention it’s a fascinating stop on your travel itinerary. The sacred site was a burial ground back in the Bronze Age. The grave sites, cairns, and standing stones are about 4,000 years old. So, make sure to take care and take your camera.
Glasgow is another great Scottish city that visitors thoroughly enjoy. Outlander fans love it too, since there are several filming locations nearby for them to visit. Definitely check out Glasgow Cathedral. The medieval building was built on the spot where St Mungo, the founder and patron saint of Glasgow, was buried.
As for the show, remember those dark days in Paris? Well, the cathedral’s crypt posed as an 18th-century hospital, L'Hôpital des Anges in Paris. This institution, run by Mother Hildegarde and her four-legged helper Bouton, becomes an escape from the bourgeoisie for Claire.
If you can't get enough of Outlander, check out these Outlander filming locations in Glasgow.
Last but not least, take a short hour-long drive south of Glasgow and you’ll find yourself in the harbour town of Dunure. In Outlander, Dunure doubles as Ayr Harbour, where Jamie and Claire leave Scotland to pursue Young Ian after he gets nabbed.
And remember when Jamie finds MacKenzie treasure? Less than a mile away is Dunure Castle, which doubled as Silkie Island, where this scene was filmed.
“I can bear pain, myself, but I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have.” - Jamie
There are countless places to visit in Scotland if you’re an Outlander fan, sometimes it’s impossible to decide where to go first. If organising your own trip simply seems too daunting, you’re welcome to join us on one of our Outlander Rabbie’s small-group tours. We have a 1-day trip from either Edinburgh or Glasgow, or if you’re feeling really inspired, take our 4-day Outlander Trail from Edinburgh.
Cameras are essential, obviously. Perhaps an old-timey outfit or two, because there is no judging on an Outlander tour. Settle alongside other fans while the show’s music plays throughout the bus and perhaps discuss how well each of you would survive in 1743 Scotland if you just so happen to fall through time.