Scottish Movies to Inspire your next Trip

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Scottish Movies to watch before your trip

Take a trip to Scotland through the movies!

Movies set in Scotland feature the historic castles, chapels and cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and others.  Movies about Scotland also highlight this countries long history of tartan clad clans, historic traditions and bagpipe music that is synonymous with Scotland.

Filmmakers flock to Scotland for its breathtaking scenery. Lochs, mountains, glens, and the Scottish highlands provide backdrops for historical stories of heroes and underdogs.  Scottish films not only capture the spirit of this independent country of legends who fight for freedom and power, but also the mysterious castles, ruins and majesty of its nature.

Get inspired for your trip with films and tv series that prominently feature Scottish history and the landscapes & cities of Scotland.

Mel Gibson’s epic Braveheart remains one of the most popular Scotland-set movies ever made. Though it was largely filmed in Ireland, it tells the story of Scottish hero William Wallace, Scotland and Scottish history.

The movie is loosely based on the epic poem by fifteenth-century writer Blind Harry, which was in turn loosely based upon the life of real life historical figure William Wallace. Wallace, played by Gibson, led a rebellion against English rule in the fourteenth century. Braveheart provides a romantic depiction of Scotland and its vibrant storytelling. The movie’s most famous moment, in which Wallace declares the English ‘may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!’ is now one of the most-quoted lines in movie history.

Scotland location: Glen Nevis

The biographical historical drama film featured Liam Neeson as Rob Roy MacGregor, an 18th-century Scottish clan chief who battles with an unscrupulous nobleman in the Scottish Highlands. In the highlands of Scotland in the 1700s, Rob Roy tries to lead his small town to a better future, by borrowing money from the local nobility to buy cattle to herd to market. When the money is stolen, Rob is forced into a Robin Hood lifestyle to defend his family and honor.

Rob Roy was filmed entirely in Scotland. Many of the scenes were filmed along the Rob Roy Way, including Megginch Castle, Glen Coe, Glen Nevis and Glen Tarbet. Some parts were filmed in extremely remote parts of the Highlands and cast and crew took a helicopter to these remote locales.

This historical film follows the story of the real-life Mary Queen of Scots. Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary Stuart defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. However, Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I. Each young Queen beholds her sister in fear and fascination.

Rivals in power and in love, and female regents in a masculine world, the movie, Mary Queen of Scots, shows how the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence.

Scotland locations include Blackness Castle, Seacliff Beach and Oxroad Bay, East Lothian, Glen Coe, Glen Feshie and Strathdon in Aberdeenshire

In this James Bond film, Javier Bardem’s villain, Raoul Silva, who for reasons initially unknown to Daniel Craig’s Bond, wishes to seek revenge on Judi Dench’s M. Skyfall‘s action-packed opening sequence takes place in Istanbul, whilst filming also took place in Shanghai. Both of these locations provided stunning scenery, but it was ultimately Scotland that stole the show. The movie’s thrilling end sees Bond and M take refuge from Silva by driving the iconic Aston Martin to Bond’s ancestral home in the Highlands. The movie provides stunning panoramic shots of rugged Scottish mountain ranges and evocatively misty roads.

Scottish locations include Buachaille Etive Mor at the head of Glen Etive.

Three other Bond films have included scenes filmed in Scotland:

The World is Not Enough (1999) features Eilean Donan castle as the Scottish headquarters of MI6.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) features Faslane Naval Base as home to the Scottish headquarters of the Royal Navy.

From Russia With Love (1963) features Loch Craignish is featured in the final thrilling boat chase.

Harry Potter was born in the Elephant Cafe in Edinburgh by JK Rowling, so it’s no surprise that many of the key scenes of the Harry Potter Series were inspired and filmed in Scotland.

You can take the Hogwarts express in real life by hopping aboard the Jacobite steam train across the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The train departs each day from Fort William in Scotland. I have taken it and it’s a treat of a journey.

Another Scotland highlight is Steall Falls in Glen Nevis, one of the highest waterfalls in Britain. It can be seen in the background of Quidditch matches as Glen Nevis is used as the backdrop to the stadium.

For some comic relief, the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, tells the story of the mythical King Arthur of the Britons as he leads his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail. They face a wide array of horrors, including a persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, a cadre of shrubbery-challenged knights, the perilous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen.

Scotland locations include Doune Castle and Castle Stalker, the memorable ‘Castle of Aaarrrrgggghhhh’.

A murder in Paris’ Louvre Museum and cryptic clues in some of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings lead to the discovery of a religious mystery. For 2,000 years a secret society closely guards information that — should it come to light — could rock the very foundations of Christianity.

The popular Dan Brown novel was made into the blockbuster movie, The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks. While most of the film takes place in France, the ending takes the characters to Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.

This romantic comedy features Tom (Patrick Dempsey) Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) as best friends in NY. Hannah goes on a work trip to Scotland and finds Mr. Right – the quintessential Scotland man – just as Tom realizes he really loves Hannah. When she asks him to be in her bridal party, as the “Made of Honor, Tom seizes the opportunity to prevent the nuptials and woo her himself.

Scotland locations prominently feature Eilean Donan castle. Having toured this castle, I can’t believe how they squeezed in all the camera equipment.

On July 15, 1988 — the day of their college graduation — two people from opposite sides of the tracks begin a lifelong friendship. Emma (Anne Hathaway), an idealist from a working-class family, wants to make the world a better place. Dexter (Jim Sturgess), a playboy, thinks the world is his oyster. For the next 20 years, the two friends reunite on the 15th of each July, sharing dreams, tears and laughter — until they discover what they’ve been searching for, each other.

This romance movie was based on David Nicholls international best-selling novel, Us.  While only a small part of the film is set in Scotland, Edinburgh’s role in the story is memorable highlighting the romance, nostalgia and beauty of the Scottish capital. Notable scenes from One Day filmed in Edinburgh include those in which Emma and Dexter climb extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat and run down steps at the Royal Mile.

Entrapment is a caper film starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones. The movie takes place in England, Scotland and Kuala Lumpur. Insurance investigator Virginia “Gin” Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones), looking into a stolen Rembrandt painting, suspects that accomplished thief Robert “Mac” MacDougal (Sean Connery) is responsible. She decides to go undercover and help Mac steal an ancient artifact. When a suspicious Mac confronts Gin about her real intentions, she claims that she is, in fact, a thief and that the insurance job is a cover. To prove it, she proposes a new target that could net them $8 billion.

Scotland locations include Duart Castle on the Isle of Mullin Scotland.

Brave, the Pixar animated movie. tells the tale of young Scottish princess Merida whose refusal to marry causes unprecedented havoc which only she can resolve. Though animated, the creators traveled to Scotland and provide a beautiful representation of the Scottish highlands, customs and spirit.

Many of the backdrops were inspired by real locations in Scotland and Scottish treasures. The chess set in Merida’s room is the famous Lewis Chessmen from the 12th century, unearthed in Scotland in 1831. Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven, and Urquhart Castle, which can be seen along the Great Glen Way on the shores of Loch Ness, also inspired the creators of this film when they visited Scotland for ideas in 2006 and 2007.

TV Series featuring Scotland

British combat nurse Claire Randall is reunited with her husband after returning from the battlefields of World War II. While on their second honeymoon, she walks through one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles and is suddenly transported to 1743 Scotland, torn by war and rogue Highland clans. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigue and danger when she is accused of being a spy. Forced by circumstance to marry an outlawed Highlander, she finds herself falling in love and torn by her loyalties to two men in vastly different times, all of which may threaten her life and shatter her heart.

The TV series, Outlander, is based on Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling books and is now in its fourth season.  Several sites are featured across all over Scotland.  Doune Castle was used as Castle Leoch. The castle is famous for being featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was also used as Winterfell in Game of Thrones. The castle is located in the village of Doune, near Stirling.

For the Christmas 2012 episode of the popular TV series Downton Abbey, the Grantham’s travel from their Yorkshire home to the mystical Scottish home, Duneagle Castle. 

The real castle is Inveraray Castle in Scotland. The castle is prominently featured as well as stunning views of the Scottish highlands.

The History of Scotland, a BBC documentary, provides ten episodes tracing Scotland’s history. The series reveals the fascinating struggles, power brokers, incidents and characters across the years from William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Sir Walter Scott to the Highland-Lowland rivalry, the Covenanters, the Daren disaster and the tobacco lords. Using the very latest in historical research, this series is a sweeping and insightful chronicle of an often turbulent and fascinating nation.

Looking for a Travel Guide Book about Scotland?

Inspired to visit Scotland?

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