Hollywood film locations where Scotland has looked its best

From Braveheart to Batman, Hamlet to Harry Potter, Scotland has provided the backdrop to a vast number of films.

The streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh have been transformed for Hollywood blockbusters, and dramatic highland landscapes have brought atmosphere to countless cinema classics.

A new guidebook, Set in Scotland, features more than 150 films that have been shot in Scotland, with details of more than 100 locations.

VisitScotland hopes it will provide inspiration for screen tourists - film or TV fans who visit locations after watching their favourite franchises.

Here are some of the films that have immortalised Scottish settings on the big screen.

Braveheart

Mel Gibson in a scene from the film 'Braveheart', 1995. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)
Mel Gibson in a scene from the film 'Braveheart', 1995. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

Let's start with the big one. Mel Gibson's 1996 epic about 13th century Scottish hero William Wallace was a box office smash. Filmed around Glen Nevis, the sweeping landscapes that were the setting for the brutal historic battles sparked a wave of Scottish screen tourism in the 1990s.

Harry Potter

Glenfinnan Viaduct
Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Glenfinnan Viaduct in Lochaber was an iconic Scottish landmark long before Harry Potter. But 2002's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets attracted swathes of fans to the West Highland Line, eager to catch a view of the Hogwarts Express steam train. It brought a new, much younger, generation of screen tourists to Scotland.

Trainspotting

Danny Boyle's stylish 1996 hit about drugs and addiction shot at many urban locations in Edinburgh and Glasgow. But the remote West Highland railway station of Corrour became one of its most famous settings. Here, the gang went on their reluctant escapade to the country and in the 2017 sequel made return visit to pay tribute to their friend Tommy.

Avengers: Infinity War

A kebab shop set has signs reading "We will deep fry your kebab"
A kebab shop set has signs reading "We will deep fry your kebab"

Marvel's blockbuster superhero franchise came to Edinburgh in 2018 with Avengers: Infinity War. Runaway heroes Vision and Wanda, played by Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen, are hiding out in the Scottish capital. Edinburgh's Cockburn Street was transformed for the production, with a fictional takeaway even offering "deep-fried kebabs" - a sly reference to the Scottish delicacy deep fried Mars Bar.

Fast & Furious

fast & furious edinburgh
fast & furious edinburgh

Staying in Edinburgh, Hollywood's Fast & Furious saga also roared into town for its ninth sequel in 2021, directed by Justin Lin. Action stars Vin Diesel and John Cena performed a thrilling chase scene, behind the wheel and on foot, along the roads and rooftops of the Old Town and New Town.

James Bond: Skyfall

Since From Russia with Love in 1963, Scotland has provided locations for films throughout the James Bond franchise. But it arguably made the biggest on-screen impact in 2012 film Skyfall. Director Sam Mendes brought Daniel Craig's 007 and Judi Dench as M to the haunting, misty landscape of Glen Etive, where Bond explored his childhood roots.

Highlander

Eilean donan
Eilean donan

The Bond series also once filmed at Eilean Donan Castle, but it featured most prominently in the 1986 cult hit Highlander. Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert starred in the first film in the fantasy franchise about an immortal warrior battling through the ages. Situated on a tidal island near Kyle of Lochalsh, Eilean Donan is one of the most picturesque and recognisable castles in the world, appearing on film and television numerous times.

Local Hero

Pennan phone box
Pennan phone box

The much-loved 1983 comedy drama Local Hero was one of the biggest hits for director Bill Forsyth. The Aberdeenshire village of Pennan, with its iconic red phonebox, doubled for the fictional village of Ferness - where an American businessman is trying to build an oil refinery.

Prometheus

Old Man of Storr
Old Man of Storr

The majestic landscape of the Isle of Skye inspired director Ridley Scott for his 2012 sci-fi film Prometheus. The opening scenes were shot around the impressive rock formations of the Old Man of Storr. They hold a clue to an ancient race in this prequel to the Alien film series.

Outlaw King

Outlaw King from 2018 tells the story of another hero from Scottish history, Robert the Bruce, played by Chris Pine. Director David Mackenzie filmed entirely in Scotland, with locations including Dunfermline Abbey, Linlithgow Palace and Mugdock Country Park, near Glasgow.

Monty Python and The Holy Grail

The Monty Python team came to Doune Castle, near Stirling for their 1975 comedy The Holy Grail. With a limited budget, the 14th century building was shot from different angles to give the illusion of multiple locations. Doune has also found more recent fame in the television series Outlander.

World War Z

Actor Brad Pitt films a scene from "World War Z" in Glasgow City centre on 17 August
Actor Brad Pitt films a scene from "World War Z" in Glasgow City centre on 17 August

The horrifying opening to Brad Pitt's 2013 zombie movie World War Z was filmed in Glasgow - which yellow taxis and American signposts transformed into the streets of Philadelphia. Glasgow's historic George Square was the focal point, as the undead swarmed and unleashed carnage on the city.

The Batman

Batman in the Necropolis
Batman in the Necropolis

Glasgow's wealth of Victorian architecture also provided a moody setting for Gotham City in The Batman. The gravestones of the Necropolis, Glasgow Cathedral and the Bridge of Sighs featured in the closing scenes of Matt Reeves's 2022 reboot of the superhero series.

Hamlet

Let's finish where we started, with Mel Gibson. Braveheart was not his first foray into filming in Scotland. In 1990 he came to Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire, where he played the title role in director Franco Zeffirelli's adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet.

It is just one of the many film locations where Scotland has looked its finest on the big screen.

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