Scottish Movies and TV shows to Watch Before You Visit

As a land full of mystery, rich culture, and breathtaking natural landscapes, it’s easy to understand why so many filmmakers from around the globe have been drawn to Scotland.

Our country has a strong and proud connection with the big screen. In fact, readers of USA Today voted Scotland the world's Best Cinematic Destination in 2015.

From its dramatic mountains, rolling glens, ancient castles to its vibrant cities, Scotland never fails to deliver the perfect backdrop for fantasy tales and stories of old.

Follow in the footsteps of your favourite characters and historical figures, and discover the incredible Scottish locations that have made for iconic film and TV moments.

We invite you to browse through our recommendations of just a few of the best TV shows and movies set in Scotland. Without a doubt, you’re guaranteed to find some ideas and inspiration here for planning your next trip to Scotland.

Fantasy Movies Set in Scotland

Scotland is home to enchanting forests, mysterious lochs and fairytale castles, which has made it a favourite spot for film producers to create fantasy movie dreamscapes.

Harry Potter (2001-2011)

The Harry Potter novels, movies, and author J.K. Rowling herself all has a strong relationship with Scotland.

Unfortunately, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry isn’t a real school (or even a real castle for that matter). However, those who are looking to get a taste of the Hogwarts experience can re-enact one of the most famous scenes from the Harry Potter movies.

The Jacobite Steam Train crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct 

Fans of the series can step into the shoes of Harry, Ron and Hermione themselves by hopping aboard one of our Jacobite Steam Train tours, which passes through the magnificent Scottish Highlands and over the spell-binding Glenfinnan Viaduct just like the Hogwarts Express did.

Cliff-top Dunottar Castle overlooking the North Sea

Disney Pixar’s Brave (2012)

This family-friendly favourite follows the story of Scottish Princess Merida as she goes on an epic adventure through the beautifully animated CGI adaptations of Scotland’s natural landscapes.

But your experience doesn’t have to end once the movie is over. Merida’s home in the movie - Castle DunBroch - was heavily inspired by the stunning Dunnottar Castle that sits proudly atop a rocky outcrop on the Aberdeenshire coast.

The ancient structure is the perfect photo-opportunity for all the family.

Retracing the steps of this animated Scottish movie offers a fun-filled adventure for the whole family.

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007)

Taking place on the banks of Loch Ness, The Water Horse follows a young boy who finds an unusual egg that eventually hatches into a legendary water horse thought to exist only in Scottish mythology.

Mysterious wave seen on Loch Ness 

As the creature grows, it becomes clear that the water horse is, in fact, the fabled Loch Ness Monster.

The movie has a refreshing take on a classic tale, and isn’t afraid to infuse the story with extra imagination. People come from far and wide to visit this famous loch in the hope that they’ll be lucky enough to spot the elusive underwater monster for themselves. 

Why not see if you can catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster one of our popular one-day tours from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness?

Take a Step Back in Time With A Few of the Best Movies About Scottish History

Through depictions of real people and events from days gone by, movies and TV shows give audiences an opportunity to learn about history in a way that’s both entertaining and exciting.

Braveheart (1995)

Starring and directed by Mel Gibson, Braveheart is undoubtedly one of the most iconic movies about Scottish history.

Following the story of the medieval Scottish patriot, William Wallace, viewers get up close and personal with the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 13th-century.

As a historical figure, little is actually known of William Wallace, but Braveheart isn’t shy about filling in the gaps.

The movie delivers an exciting adaptation of Wallace’s revolt against the English throne along with scenes of some of the most legendary battles the Scots fought against King Edward I of England. Even to this day, William Wallace is still a symbol of Scotland’s “FREEDOM!”.

Even though Braveheart flourishes the historical truths from time to time, it makes for a very entertaining watch.

Statue of King Robert the Bruce riding his horse

Outlaw King (2018)

Taking place shortly after the events of Braveheart, the movie Outlaw King follows the story of Robert the Bruce, played by actor Chris Pine.

After being crowned King of Scotland, Robert the Bruce is forced into exile by the English crown. Rather than silently disappearing, he recruits a band of loyal outlaws to lead a campaign to reclaim the throne.

As you watch this film, you’ll experience some of Scotland’s most famous battles including legendary Bannockburn, which set in play the journey to Scotland’s independence.

Outlaw King was filmed entirely in Scotland, and some of its notable locations include Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle, Loch Lomond, and Dunfermline Abbey - all of which you can visit on our tours.

You’ll be able to find this Scottish movie on Netflix, making it a great choice for a rainy day before you plan your visit.

Porcelain bust of Mary Queen of Scots placed at a window

Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

Starring Saoirse Ronan as Mary Queen of Scots and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I, the story captures the relationship of the two powerful women and looks closely at how these two queens were both fearful and fascinated by one another.

Experience the relationship between Mary Queen of Scots related to Queen Elizabeth I, first cousins once removed through Henry VII’s bloodline.

The movie is jam-packed with locations that you can visit, including Corgarff Castle in Aberdeenshire, Seacliff Beach, North Berwick, and Blackness Castle in West Lothian to name just a few.

Step back in time to 16th-century Scotland without leaving your home.

Path leading to the entrance to the Gatehouse tower of Doune Castle

Outlander (2014-Present)

As one of the most popular Scottish TV shows today, Outlander takes audiences on a journey through some of the most notable moments in Scottish history, including the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and the Battle of Culloden.

On your next visit to Scotland, you can take a trip to some of your favourite Outlander locations, such as Midhope Castle, the Clava Cairns and Doune Castle.

Find out more about the incredible Outlander filming locations by reading our recent guide. It’s the perfect tool for anyone planning an Outlander inspired tour!

Movies and TV Shows are Just the Beginning of Your Scottish Adventure

Check out more of our favourite Scottish Movies on our Scotland on Screen page.

While getting out of the house isn’t possible right now, you can still experience the beauty of Scotland with these TV shows and movies and be inspired for your next adventure with Scottish Tours.

Browse Scottish Tours today.