Edinburgh’s Outlander Filming Locations – The Ultimate Guide

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Last updated on May 8th, 2020

A large number of the TV show Outlander’s episodes were filmed in Scotland, including Doune Castle near Stirling, East Linton Mills in East Lothian, the village of Culross in Fife and Loch Rannoch in the Highlands. Discover all the filming locations near Edinburgh in this ultimate guide.

The ultimate guide to the top Outlander TV series filming locations near Edinburgh

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five you’ve probably heard of Outlander – the time-travelling TV series that begins in 20th-century Scotland before taking a detour 200 years into the past.

Originally a series of books written by American author Diana Gabaldon, Outlander was turned into a television series after the novels repeatedly topped global top-seller lists, and so far the series has sold an incredible 25 million copies worldwide.

To date (2020), there have been five seasons of the show distributed by Sony Pictures and there are another two already in the works, so I think it’s safe to say the world of Outlander has been a bit of a success story.

Outlander

The story of Outlander

The tale revolves around two people – Jamie Fraser, a fierce Highland warrior and Claire Randall, a resourceful WWII medic – who meet in a bizarre turn of events that sees Claire thrown back in time after touching a magical stone circle at Craigh na Dun in Scotland.

She wakes up to find herself thrust 200 years into the past with the Jacobite uprising in full swing, and the ’45 (as the rebellion is often called) is the main storyline for the first and second seasons which sees the time-travelling medic visit many of Scotland’s most beautiful locations – some of which I’ll show you later on in this article.

As Claire struggles to survive in a rugged and ruthless world she meets Jamie Fraser and the two fall in love, but not before encountering the depraved Captain ‘Black Jack’ Randall, a British Redcoat who seems intent on inflicting as much torment on the couple as possible.

All the while in a parallel storyline set in the late 1940s, Claire’s husband Frank is desperately searching for his missing wife, unaware that Black Jack – his ancestor – is doing the same, but for his own malevolent reasons.

That’s the basic premise of Outlander and I can only apologise to fans of the show for this brief introduction as it’s pretty much impossible to capture the atmosphere of it in a few short sentences, but for those of you who haven’t seen it yet I’ll say this – just go watch it already.

Alone in Scotland

The scenery in season one of the show is stunning, and while later series sees the pair whisked off to other countries, season 1 keeps its roots firmly planted in bonny Scotland, though much of the beautiful landscapes are frequently offset by fairly brutal scenes of violence.

This isn’t a rom-com or a lighthearted romance drama, oh no. What Outlander actually is, is a no-holds-barred account of life in 18th-century Scotland that’s quite unlike anything else that’s been aired on TV before.

Each episode depicts Scottish history in a shockingly honest way so don’t be surprised to see gory murders, torture, and graphic sex scenes right from the get-go. But it also depicts Scotland’s landscapes and cities in a way that transcends history.

Take season one as an example. Throughout the 16 episodes you’ll find yourself transported to Doune Castle near Stirling, East Linton Mills in East Lothian, the village of Culross in Fife and Loch Rannoch in the Highlands, amongst others.

All places you can visit today that are remarkably unchanged since the 18th-century, but which are also easily accessible to the visiting tourist.

Visiting Scotland’s Outlander filming locations

The majority of Scotland’s tourists tend to use the capital city as the hub of their visit, so in this article I’ll highlight the best Outlander filming locations you can see as a day trip from Edinburgh no matter the time of year.

I’ve tried to include a few of the more unusual locations in addition to the standard tourist hotspots so that you’ll get a good taste of what Scotland has to offer, with some sites requiring an entrance fee to visit and others that are completely free.

Don’t forget to take a good look at my Outlander filming locations map further down this page, and maybe check out the official Visit Scotland website which has another map of Outlander sites.

I’ve also added a few options that are suitable at different times of the year and in different weather conditions because we all know how changeable the elements can be in Scotland, so check out my weather forecast page before you leave, just to be on the safe side.

But regardless of the weather I’m happy to report there’s a vast range of attractions open throughout the year in Scotland, and you’ll soon discover the country has a special charm no matter the season.

If you want to explore Scotland as part of a small-group bus tour, take a look at the tour suggestions in this article: The Best Small Group Bus Tours in Scotland.

Outlander’s Edinburgh filming locations map

  1. Dysart Harbour
  2. Aberdour Castle
  3. Culross
  4. Linlithgow Palace
  5. Blackness Castle (behind #6)
  6. Midhope Castle
  7. Hopetoun House (behind #6)
  8. Saint Giles Cathedral (Old Tolbooth)
  9. Holyrood Palace (behind #8)
  10. A = Craigmillar Castle
  11. B = Prestonpans
  12. C = Gosford House
  13. D = Preston Mill

Click map for directionsGoogle Map of edinburgh

East Lothian Outlander filming locations

East Lothian lies to the east of Edinburgh and is easily reachable by car, train or bus. This is one region of Scotland that’s criminally under-visited by international tourists, most likely because they’re spending all their time in the tourist-trap attractions in Edinburgh.

But take the time to explore the county and you’ll soon find there’s a huge number of interesting places to visit.

The coastline, in particular, is absolutely glorious and rivals any other stretch of coast in the country (at least, in my opinion it does) with stretches of golden sand running along the seafront from the Edinburgh suburban town of Musselburgh all the way to Dunbar in the east.

If you want to find out more about this lovely rural county you should read my Complete Guide to East Lothian where I’ll tell you all about its towns, attractions, and what makes it such a special part of Scotland.

Prestonpans

  • Address: Prestonpans, East Lothian
  • Website: Wikipedia

This small East Lothian town was the site of a pivotal battle in the Jacobite uprising.

The ancient fishing town of Prestonpans lies 5 miles (8km) east of Edinburgh next to the historic town of Musselburgh and takes its name from the monks that used to manufacture salt on the beach using giant pans.

Stories from the 11th-century mention a traveller named Althamer who became shipwrecked on the beach near modern Prestonpans and found himself unable to return home, so he decided to build a settlement there.

In later years monks from Holyrood in Edinburgh arrived and created their own settlement, calling it Priest Town. Over time this name shortened to Prieston.

The monks found this stretch of East Lothian coastline to be perfect for manufacturing salt thanks to its location next to the sea and its wide, raised beaches. Because the monks dried seawater in pans to produce salt the name of the settlement changed again to Prieston Pans, and finally Prestonpans, the modern name used today. History lesson over.

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Outlander sees the town featured for the entire 10th episode of season 2, but as usual with movies and TV shows filming didn’t actually take place there, instead using the fields of Torbrex Farm a few miles south of Cumbernauld, midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Prestonpans Cross

The premise of the episode is that in September 1745 the Jacobite army led by Charles Edward Stuart defeated the government forces of Sir John Cope when the inexperienced British infantry fled from a ferocious Highland charge in a battle that lasted a mere 30 minutes.

The episode revolves around the factual events that occured during the battle when a series of mistakes by the English commanders led to a large number of soldiers deserting.

That, coupled with an inexperienced collection of officers and poorly trained troops meant that as soon as the Highlanders charged (the standard military tactic that eventually caused their defeat at Culloden) most of the remaining English artillerymen fled the scene (and who can blame them).

The site of the battlefield is actually located close to what is now the Prestonpans train station, but you can view the areas where each army formed their lines from the top of a memorial hill on the town’s outskirts.

It’s not particularly high but you’ll get a good view of the surrounding countryside up there and you can view display panels that depict the events of the battle as they unfolded.

Preston Mill

Preston Mill

If you’re a fan of Sam Heughan who plays Jamie Fraser you’ll no doubt remember the scene at Lallybroch Mill (Lallybroch is Clan Fraser’s ancestral home) where Jamie hides from the Redcoats by submerging himself underwater for a nail-bitingly long time.

When the soldiers leave, Jamie climbs out wearing nothing but his birthday suit, no doubt accompanied by wolf-whistles from female viewers up and down the country.

The scene was filmed at the National Trust for Scotland Preston Mill, one of the oldest working mills still in use today and a historic site that’s well worth visiting regardless of its use as an Outlander filming location.

The countryside surrounding East Linton is extraordinarily pretty and there are a huge number of countryside walks to enjoy in the immediate area, plus its home to excellent nearby attractions like Hailes Castle and the National Museum of Flight.

This is a category A listed building that dates from the 18th-century though there’s been a mill on the same location for at least 500 years. Even though it’s so old the mill was used for commercial milling right up until 1959, and remarkably the iron water wheel and original machinery are still in use, though only as a visitor attraction.

Preston Mill is unusual in that it features a Dutch-style conical roof which almost looks out of place in Scotland, but even so it really does look idyllic set amongst rolling fields of wildflowers with the gentle River Tyne flowing past it.

While you’re there keep your eyes open for the Phantassie Doocot on the other side of the Tyne – a 16th-century building that used to house over 500 pigeons (a major food source back in the day).

Gosford House

  • Address: Gosford House, Longniddry, East Lothian, EH32 0PY
  • Website: Gosford House
Gosford House

You’ll find this grand neoclassical mansion house a short drive to the east of Prestonpans near the coastal village of Longniddry.

Gosford House is the seat of power for the Earls of Wemyss and March and is set in 5,000 acres of parkland that borders the Firth of Forth. It’s easy to get to as it’s only around a half-hour drive from Edinburgh, but it’s remarkably unheard of outside of the immediate area which I think is surprising seeing as it’s such an impressive building.

The mansion house was designed by the celebrated Scottish architect Robert Adam and it’s considered by many people to be the finest example of his work, which is probably why the Outlander production crew chose it to play the part of the Palace of Versailles stables in the second season.

The house was also used to portray the Helwater estate where Jamie had his liaison with spoiled rich girl Geneva Dunsany who bore his child but later died while giving birth.

It’s fair to say a visit to Gosford house is a must for any fan of the series, but unfortunately you can only view the inside of it on official pre-booked guided tours at specific times of the year. See the Gosford House website for further details.

The grounds, however, are open throughout the year and they offer walks through woodlands and manicured lawns that surround ponds, bowling greens, walled gardens and even a family mausoleum.

To gain entry, head to the Gosford Bothy (signposted on the road past Longniddry) and buy a ticket from the shop inside.

Top-tip – while you’re there grab a sandwich from the cafe and take home one of the locally-made pies from the traditional butcher’s shop. They’re absolutely delicious!

Edinburgh Outlander filming locations

The City of Edinburgh. Visitors who come here usually just recognise it as the capital of Scotland and home of Edinburgh Castle (the country’s most-visited tourist attraction), but if you’re a savvy tourist you’ll also be aware that it sets the scene for some of the most exciting episodes of seasons 1 and 2 of Outlander.

Every medieval close, wynd and courtyard in the Old Town practically screams history, from the glowering heights of Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Royal Mile to the imposing majesty of Holyrood Palace at the bottom.

Ironically, most of the more famous attractions in Edinburgh don’t actually appear in the show, and instead the producers have chosen to use tiny side streets and otherwise-missed buildings set back from the Royal Mile for their depictions of the city.

If you don’t know what you’re looking for you could easily miss these Outlander filming locations but I’ll show you a few that are easy to get to in the list below.

The Tolbooth

St. Giles Cathedral

If you walk past St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile you’ll more than likely walk across what was at one time the most hated building in the city – the Tolbooth.

This medieval structure was located near the statue of Walter Scott in Parliament Square and was used as a municipal building for over 400 years until it was finally demolished in 1817.

The reason it was so despised is due to its use as a place of execution and torture for Edinburgh’s convicted criminals, many of whom were merely guilty of being unable to repay their debts.

The building also contained a prison that had no running water or sewerage and smelled appallingly bad, even for Auld Reekie’s standards.

On top of the two-storey extension on the west side of the building was a gallows where the relatives of the prisoners could watch their loved ones being hanged or even watch decapitated heads being stuck on spikes on the Tolbooth’s gables.

Suffice to say the placed was not liked by Edinburgh’s residents of the time.

Today, the only remaining evidence that the Tolbooth ever existed is a brick emblem on the path outside the cathedral in the shape of a heart, and if you stop to watch the ‘Heart of Midlothian’ for any length of time you’ll more than likely see people spit on it as they walk past, not because they’ve just cleared their throats but because they’re showing their contempt for the old jail.

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The TV show portrayed the former notorious jail as the place where Jamie’s men were locked up after deserting, and while that story is fictional at least you’ll now know the significance of the stone mural on the pavement the next time you wander down the Royal Mile.

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace

The Jacobite uprising of 1745 centred around Prince Charles Edward Stuart and his fight to reclaim the British throne in the name of his father.

The short-lived rebellion began in Glenfinnan in the Scottish Highlands in August and ended with the Culloden massacre in January of the following year.

But in September, for five extremely lavish weeks, the ‘Bonnie Prince’ set up court in Holyrood Palace at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

It was the Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott who described the great glittering balls that were staged at the palace during the time the prince stayed there and it might have been Scott’s novel Waverley that was the influence for Outlander’s scenes where Jamie Fraser joins the Royal Court.

The palace has a long history that dates back to the 12th-century, or at least the ruins of Holyrood Abbey which joins onto the palace on its northern side date back that far.

The actual palace saw construction start in the 16th-century with the gatehouse and royal apartments being built first, followed by the south-west tower and the Great Gallery several years later.

Today, modern visitors can explore the maze of rooms inside the palace on a self-guided tour, with each room getting progressively grander as they make their way around.

It’s a genuinely impressive place full of tapestry-clad walls, detailed carvings on the ceilings, priceless works of art, and the finest furniture you’re ever likely to see.

If you’re intending to visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse (as it’s officially known) make sure you get your ticket stamped as it’ll allow you free admission for one year after, which gives you more time to see other royal highlights like the 10-acre palace gardens and the Queen’s Gallery.

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle

Sitting just outside Edinburgh is the ancient home of the once-powerful Preston family, Craigmillar Castle.

This castle featured in several Outlander scenes in the third season where it was used as the set of Ardsmuir – the prison where Jamie was held captive after the Jacobite defeat at Culloden.

Although Craigmillar Castle is now in ruins it’s worth a visit just to experience the views and atmosphere which feels a world away from Edinburgh, even though it’s located just 4 miles from the city centre.

The centre of the castle consists of a large L-plan tower house that was completed in 1425 along with an enclosed courtyard wall, while a separate outer courtyard was added in 1511, protected on all sides by more fortified walls.

Craigmillar Castle’s fortifications and location close to the city centre made it a natural bolt hole for Scottish nobility back in the day, so it’s not really surprising that Mary Queen of Scots took refuge there after the birth of her son James VI.

Although many of the walls are crumbling it remains one of the best-preserved medieval Scottish castles thanks to the Historic Environment Scotland trust who now maintain it on behalf of the nation.

The trust have restored some parts of the castle back to its (almost) former glory and visitors can explore the dovecot, inner courtyard, kitchen and basement complete with its gloomy prison and cellars.


Linlithgow Outlander filming locations

Linlithgow is a historic town set between Glasgow and Edinburgh that was used extensively as an Outlander filming location.

The town is easy to get to thanks to major road networks that join both cities and you can get to Linlithgow from Edinburgh in 45 minutes via the M9 motorway, while Glasgow is a mere 40 minutes via the M80.

Although it’s a quiet rural community there’s a surprisingly large tourist industry both in Linlithgow and the surrounding area due to the fact there are so many historic attractions nearby.

Drive 6 miles northeast and you’ll find yourself at the Firth of Forth which is overlooked by the imposing Blackness Castle, while the stunning Hopetoun House is only 15 miles away to the east.

Both buildings feature heavily in the first season of Outlander so it’s lucky they’re so easy to get to from Edinburgh, but if you have to choose between them on a brief visit I suggest you make Hopetoun House your priority as it’s where you’ll also find Midhope Castle which portrayed the Fraser ancestral home of Lallybroch in the TV series.

Hopetoun House

Hopetoun House

Hopetoun House near Edinburgh was the setting for several scenes in Outlander, most notably in season 1 where the Red Drawing Room became part of the Duke of Sandringham’s house.

In season 2 this magnificent stately home makes use of the courtyard outside the old stables to portray a Parisian street while various rooms were used as the film set for Claire and Jamie’s apartment in Paris.

Hopetoun House was built in the late 1600s for the Hope family who became wealthy from their ownership of lead mines, and it’s considered by many to be one of the finest houses of the period.

The present Lord Hopetoun still lives in the south wing of the building but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit it as luckily for Outlander fans it’s open for guided tours during the summer months.

There are events held throughout the year at Hopetoun House and there are often exhibitions being held there too, so I recommend checking their events page before departing to find out what’s on or upcoming.

But whatever time of year you visit you’ll always be able to walk around the 100-acre estate which comprises pastoral fields, grassland and woodland.

While you’re visiting the house try to grab a bite to eat in the Stables Tearoom which you’ll find inside one of the converted horse stables.

I can tell you hand on heart the food in there is delicious (plus it’s made from locally sourced ingredients so you’ll be helping the community), and you’ll find a variety of different dishes on the menu depending on the season.

Midhope Castle

  • Address: Queensferry, South Queensferry, EH30 9RW
  • Website: Hopetoun House
Midhope Castle

In the corner of the Hopetoun Estate is Midhope Castle, a 15th-century tower house that was used as the setting for Lallybroch (also known as Broch Turach) in Outlander seasons 1 and 2.

This historic building is located in Abercorn, a tiny hamlet situated on a corner of the Hopetoun estate, and viewers will no doubt recognise it as the family home of the Fraser clan where Jamie occasionally lived alongside his sister Jenny, her husband Ian, and their children.

In reality, the house was at one time owned by John Hope who rebuilt the simple tower and turrets of the earlier rectangular building to convert it into the castle that we recognise today.

There’s obviously a lot of history in those walls – especially as the castle later became one of the seats of the Earls of Hopetoun – but even so it was left to fall into decline by the early 1900s and was recorded as being completely derelict by the turn of the Great War.

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While there are several shots of the interior of Lallybroch they weren’t actually filmed at Midhope as it’s too dangerous to go inside, which is a real shame because it would be fascinating to look inside it

Instead, only the outside shots of Lallybroch were filmed there thanks to the exterior walls and courtyard still looking pretty much as they would have in Jamie Fraser’s 18th-century Scotland.

As far as visiting it on an Outlander tour goes you might find it difficult, mainly because the castle is set on private grounds and isn’t designated as a tourist attraction.

That being said, the Hopetoun estate recognises that Outlander fans have got an interest in the place so for a small fee you can view the outside of the building, but only with prior permission.

Take a look at the Hopetoun House website for further details of visiting times and where to get your pre-booked ticket from.

Blackness Castle

Blackness Castle

Known locally as ‘the ship that never sailed’, Blackness Castle was built for the Crichton family in the late 14th-century, first as a tower house and then extended into the fortified building we see today.

The castle stands guard looking out over the Firth of Forth around 20 miles west of Edinburgh and has served a variety of uses including a royal stronghold, a prison, and a weapons store.

The reason it has such an unusual nickname is due to the fact that the front of the castle looks like the bow of a ship, and as it points towards the Forth you might be mistaken for imagining it’s about to launch into the water when viewed from a distance.

It’s a strange shape to be sure, but the reasons behind the design are actually quite clever.

Back in the 15th-century when it was built one of the favoured methods of attacking a castle was by cannon fire – a deadly assault that would see cannonballs smash right through castle walls, even up to ten feet thick.

Blackness Castle

Blackness Castle, on the other hand, has a triangular-shaped front so that any cannon fire aimed at it would likely ricochet off instead of taking the full force of the impact. Genius engineering considering it was designed nearly 600 years ago.

We first see this imposing fortress in Outlander season 1 where it was used to represent Fort William, and if you’ve seen the show you’ll no doubt remember the gory scene where Black Jack Randall lashes Jamie Fraser virtually to death, maniacally ripping shreds of skin off the Highlander’s back.

Black Jack strikes again in a later episode where he rapes Claire Fraser and throws her into a dungeon, till she’s saved by Jamie when he frees her and they jump from the battlements into the sea (in reality they’d have died on impact. Those walls are high. Like really, really high).

The castle is managed by Historic Environment Scotland who’ve done a great job of maintaining the buildings and it’s now restored just as it would have been in the timeframe that Outlander is set in.

Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace

If you’re an international visitor heading to Edinburgh or Glasgow I’ve got a little secret that you might like to hear… *whispers* one of the best historic attractions in the region is Linlithgow Palace, an attraction that’s virtually unknown amongst visiting tourists.

The fact that most visitors head for Edinburgh and Stirling castle for their fix of Scottish history means a visit to Linlithgow is guaranteed to be crowd-free, which is great if you’re fed up with fighting through hordes of selfie-stick-wielding coach parties.

Despite the fact that it’s a million times quieter than Edinburgh Castle, Linlithgow Palace boasts almost as much history having been built all the way back in the 12th-century and used as the birthplace of several Scottish monarchs, including Mary Queen of Scots.

Linlithgow can be found 15 miles west of Edinburgh and around 9 miles before The Kelpies on the M9 motorway which makes it a great place to head to if you fancy seeing attractions that are a little bit off the standard tourist trails.

The town of Linlithgow is nice enough and has a scenic, cafe-lined high street, but it’s the palace that draws most people due to the size of it and because it sits alongside Linlithgow Loch (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) which is a lovely place to enjoy a summer picnic.

Linlithgow Palace

The impressive royal retreat began life as a fortress over 2000 years ago when the Romans built a fort near the loch and it’s known that a royal residence stood there from the reign of David I (1124 to 1153).

The palace that we see today was extended over the course of the 15th and 16th centuries with four ranges grouped around a central courtyard that’s so massive it still impresses visitors today.

But even though the building is steeped in history its fate was sealed when James VI (the first ruler of both Scotland and England) moved his court to London following his coronation which meant that it no longer had a use as a royal palace, and a disastrous fire in 1746 meant that it had to be abandoned forever.

In the TV show, Linlithgow represents the infamous Wentworth Prison where Black Jack tortures and then rapes Jamie Fraser in one of the most difficult-to-watch scenes broadcast to date. It’s seriously graphic and the Outlander crew don’t pull any punches. Viewer discretion is advised…


The Kingdom of Fife Outlander filming locations

Fife is located north of Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth, and the rugged, windswept coastline has provided a backdrop to many of Outlander’s episodes.

This is a country that’s often overlooked by tourists but I think that’s a real shame as the dramatic coastline is fit to burst with ruined castles, photogenic beaches and scenic harbours.

There are three distinct districts of Fife – Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and North-East Fife – that have plenty of attractions to offer visitors, but for me it’s the coastline in this part of the country that makes it such a special place.

You can easily reach Fife from Edinburgh by crossing the Firth of Forth but I’ve got two tips for you before you start exploring the coast.

First, take a detour to walk across the Forth Road Bridge which offers fantastic views of both shores at a height of nearly 50 metres, and second, head to Dunfermline to visit the beautiful Dunfermline Abbey, the 900-year-old abbey that’s the burial site of some of Scotland’s greatest kings and queens.

Crail Harbour

Dysart Harbour

We first set eyes on the picturesque quayside at Dysart Harbour in season 2 of Outlander as Jamie, Claire and Murtagh arrive in France after fleeing from the Redcoats searching for Jacobite soldiers after the Battle of Culloden.

The trio end up at the French fishing port of Le Havre and it’s here where they meet a new nemesis in the guise of the Comte St. Germain.

St. Germain becomes obsessed with seeking revenge on Claire after the nobleman loses an entire shipload of goods when Claire persuades the authorities his ship, Patagonia, is infected with smallpox.

If you’ve already seen the episode you might like to know that while some of the sets were filmed on soundstages in Glasgow, the bulk of Le Havre is actually filmed at Dysart.

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The harbour dates back to 1450 and has a rich trading history thanks to Dutch and Belgian sailors who used it for importing various goods and Scottish sailing ships that used the port for the export of coal and salt to the baltic regions.

Though the days of coal export are long gone the harbour is still in use today by fishing and pleasure craft and the entire stretch of coastline is a favourite for hikers as it’s extraordinarily atmospheric, especially when the infamous Firth of Forth ‘haar’ rolls in (haar is a scots word for a thick sea fog).

Top tip – while you’re exploring Dysart Harbour and the surrounding area make sure you visit nearby Ravenscraig castle which is a romantic 15th-century ruin overlooking the Forth that appeared in Sir Walter Scott’s poem ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel’.

Aberdour Castle

Aberdour Castle

Aberdour Castle is located in the quiet village of Easter Aberdour in Fife, and it’s notable for being one of the oldest standing castles in Scotland.

Built in the early 1100s, Aberdour Castle is a maze of buildings from different centuries that centre around the main hall house with a fragrant walled garden set to one side and a large terraced garden installed in the south.

In my opinion it’s a bit of a hidden gem that’s overlooked by the majority of Scotland’s tourists, but at least its use in Outlander is starting to bring more visitors to appreciate it.

This is a wonderfully atmospheric place which I imagine is the reason why the TV crew chose it as the setting for the Sainte Anne de Beaupré monastery in France in the last episode of season 1, where the Old Kitchen and Long Gallery were both used as filming locations.

You might remember that the monastery (actually fictional) was the place that Claire and Murtagh took Jamie to recover after his ordeal in Wentworth Prison, but I have to say it looks even nicer in real life than is depicted in the show.

There’s a lot of history to discover during a walk around this Historic Environment Scotland site and you’ll be kept occupied for much longer than you might imagine due to the impeccably restored castle interior, the gardens, and the pretty St. Fillans Church which lies next to the estate’s walled garden.

Be aware that parts of this castle are in ruin (to be expected for one of the oldest remaining buildings of its kind) but much of it has been restored and is worth viewing – like the Long Gallery and the original tower house.

After your visit you can grab a belly-busting slice of cake in the on-site cafe and head out to nearby Aberdour Silver Sands which is a very pretty beach that looks out over Inchcolm Island and abbey.

Culross

Culross Statue

My final Outlander filming location in this list is one that’ll let you perform your very own spot of time travel – Culross, otherwise known as Cranesmuir in the show.

This rustic village sits on the shores of the Firth of Forth and is the closest thing you’ll ever get to a 16th-century time capsule.

The royal burgh is a perfect example of what Scotland’s fishing villages would have looked like 250 years ago and it’s thanks to the efforts of the National Trust for Scotland that the picturesque cobbled streets and warren of buildings have now been restored back to their former glory after years of neglect.

Whitewashed gables peek out from under red-tiled roofs across a collection of buildings that look like they might have come out of a Diana Gabaldon novel…

There are multiple places in Culross (pronounced cooross) that have featured in Outlander so I’ll just highlight a few of my favourites below.

Culross Palace is a stunning ochre-coloured former merchants house that was used in season 1 where it was transformed into Geillis Duncan’s parlour and in season 2 where the courtyard formed the stage for Claire to extract the teeth of a local villager.

Culross in Fife

The kitchen and the pantry set the scene as an 18th-century tavern, and the High Hall was transformed into a meeting place for the Jacobite assembly.

Suffice to say, if you’re a fan of Outlander you really owe it to yourself to visit Culross Palace.

Next to the palace is a garden that portrayed the herb garden at Castle Leoch and you’ll no doubt recognise it from the scenes where Claire collects medicinal plants.

You’ll find the garden above the palace, set on terraces that offer beautiful views of the Fife coastline and it’s worth stopping by just to smell the fragrant wildflowers that grow in this wee green oasis.

Head into the centre of the village and you’ll find yourself in the square that’s dominated by the mercat cross. These crosses are found in most towns and villages in Scotland and were traditionally used as a place for farmers and traders to sell their wares.

The one in Culross can be seen in several episodes but you’ll most likely recognise it as the place where Geillis is sentenced to burning at the stake for being a witch and where Claire and Jamie rescue a young boy whose ear had been nailed to a pillory for stealing two bannock cakes.

No-one escaped punishment in those days.

Highlander

Well that just about wraps it up for my guide to the Outlander filming locations around Edinburgh, and I hope it’s given you some ideas for places to visit the next time you come to Scotland’s capital city.

The south of Scotland really has got a lot going for it and it makes a nice change from the standard tourist trails through the Highlands and the west coast. Exploring a few places on the Outlander trail is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to experience Scottish culture while viewing Scotland’s stunning landscapes.

There are a huge number of other filming locations I could have added but it would make this article much too long (it’s already a bit longer than I’d originally intended) but I’ll try to include them in another guide in the future.

Besides, I still haven’t touched on Outlander’s forays into Glasgow, Perth, Stirling, the Cairngorms and Inverness yet. I’m sure there’s a book in there for any brave soul willing to tackle that lot.

If you enjoyed this article it might have inspired you to take an outlander tour – in which case you’ll find this article really handy: Where Are The Best Outlander Tours in Scotland?

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are the Outlander filming locations near Edinburgh?

Dysart Harbour, Aberdour Castle, Culross, Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle, Midhope Castle, Hopetoun House, St. Giles Cathedral, Holyrood Palace, Craigmillar Castle, Prestonpans, Gosford House, Preston Mill.

What are the regions near Edinburgh where Outlander was filmed?

East Lothian which lies to the east of Edinburgh. The Kingdom of Fife which is located north of Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth. Midlothian which lies to the west and south of Edinburgh.

Which castles were used as Outlander film locations near Edinburgh?

Doune Castle (Castle Leoch), Midhope Castle (Lallybroch), Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth Prison), Aberdour Castle (Sainte Anne de Beaupré Monastery).

Which towns were used to film Outlander near Edinburgh?

Prestonpans which lies 5 miles (8km) east of Edinburgh. Falkirk in Stirlingshire which portrays 1940s Inverness. Culross in Fife which was used as the setting for Cranesmuir. Dysart near Kirkaldy in Fife which set the scene of Le Havre.

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Craig Smith

A proud native of Scotland, Craig Smith loves writing about the country almost as much as he loves exploring it. His aim is to visit every Scottish attraction and share his experiences with the world. Follow Craig's adventures on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.