In the Starz television series Outlander, Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall Fraser) plays a time traveler from the 1940s, transported back to Scotland in the 1700s. Even an accidental time traveler like Claire knows the rules of time travel — don’t change the future (unless it involves a Jacobite rebellion). The television series, though, is having an impact on the present and future of Scottish tourism. Outlander is credited, in part, for the fourth consecutive year of increased tourism in Scotland as tourists from Scotland and around the world try to capture some of the romance and adventure shown in the series.
Here are 10 filming locations fans must visit if they hope to follow in the path of Claire’s adventures. Read the list, and enter here for a chance to win a trip to Scotland to see them with your own eyes!
Kinloch Rannoch, Scotland (Craigh na Dun)
If you find yourself tromping around Inverness in the hopes of finding your own standing stones to follow in Claire's time-traveling footsteps, unfortunately, you’re out of luck. While the gorgeous setting atop Kinloch Rannoch and the surrounding moor is real, the stones aren’t. The production team used Styrofoam. To see real standing stones, head to Scotland’s Orkney Islands where the mystical Ring of Brodgar still stands, time travel not guaranteed.
Doune Castle, Scotland (Castle Leoch)
Originally built in 1390, the real Doune Castle stands in for the fictional home of Clan MacKenzie, where Jamie’s uncle Colum lives. The castle was originally the home of Robert Stewart, the 1st Duke of Albany and Governor of Scotland. Named after the Gaelic word for fort, Doune Castle’s tall walls and awe-inspiring gatehouse have protected generations of rulers and its great room, known as the Duke’s Hall, was designed for hosting guests with a double fireplace, exquisitely carved oak screen, and a musicians’ gallery.
These days the castle is a popular filming location, too, with cameos in Game of Thrones, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and two versions of Ivanhoe.
Hopetoun House (Duke of Sandringham’s home)
In the series, the Duke of Sandringham’s stately home is played by Hopetoun House, the stunning real-life home of the Marquess of Linlithgow. The house, which sits on 6,500 acres of land on the outskirts of Edinburgh, was designed and built by Sir William Bruce between 1699 and 1701, and later extended by William Adam from 1721. The architectural marvel is open to the public who can tour the gardens, wander the grounds, and walk through history as the home’s interiors are filled with furniture, paintings, tapestries and decorations that date back over 300 years.
Blackness Castle (Fort William)
This 15th-century castle, just 30 minutes west of Edinburgh, was the site of Jamie's first imprisonment and torture at the hands of the vicious Red Coat, Black Jack Randall. Randall couldn’t have picked a better stronghold as the castle was built in the 15th century and fortified in the 16th century to serve as an artillery fortress. The high walls and boat-like shape of Blackness Castle earned it the nickname of “the ship that never sailed.” Instead, it has served as a royal castle, prison, military base, armory, and, of course, a film set. In addition to Outlander, Hamlet and Ivanhoe filmed on the historic grounds.
Bakehouse Close (A. Malcolm's Print Shop)
The heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town runs along the Royal Mile, which stretches from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Back in the 1600s, the Royal Mile was the city's main street and now is a must-see for visitors winding their way through the closes (the narrow streets and alleyways of the city). Outlander fans though will want to stop by Bakehouse Close, the location of the print shop where Jamie climbed the stairs to work every day. While the print shop isn’t real, step inside the deep alleyway to see the stairs tucked inside the well-preserved Old Town close. While you’re there, stop by The World's End pub, which has been open since the 16th century, even though the TV show filmed the pub scenes on a set.
Gosford House (Helwater Estate)
Gosford House, built between 1790 and 1800, is the ancestral seat of the Earls of Wemyss and March. It is set on 5,000 acres of land along the coastline in East Lothian and is surrounded by rolling parkland on the banks of the estuary known as the Firth of Forth. The stunning neoclassical mansion was one of the last works of the acclaimed Scottish architect, Robert Adam, who undoubtedly could not imagine that the home would one day stand in for the Helwater Estate, where a certain Jamie served as a groom for the illustrious family who lived there in Outlander. Visitors to the stately home may also recognize the south wing's stunning Marble Hall, which was used as the interior of the Earl of Ellesmere home.
Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth Prison)
This beautiful palace was once the royal seat of the Stewart kings of Scotland and the birthplace of both James V and Mary Queen of Scots. Dating back to the 15th century, the castle was the perfect stopping point as royals traveled between Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle. The so-called pleasure palace sits on the banks of a peaceful loch, surrounded by sumptuous gardens, and a wide park called the “Peel”, which is home to an annual jousting competition. In the TV series, it stands in for the fictional Wentworth Prison, a decidedly unpleasant place where Jamie was imprisoned and tortured by Jack Randall.
Drummond Castle (Gardens of Versailles)
There’s no place quite like the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, but the exquisite grounds of Drummond Castle come close, making it a worthy Scottish stand-in on Outlander. While Drummond Castle was built by the First Lord Drummond around 1490, the formal gardens date back to the 17th century. The grounds were carefully laid out in an intricate pattern of terraces, crisscrossed with paths designed for wandering and admiring the gardeners’ hard work. The opulent gardens include long tree-lined avenues, manicured hedges, magnificent, ancient yew trees, carefully sculpted topiary, a remarkable sundial, and two copper beech trees planted by Queen Victoria to commemorate her visit.
Glasgow Cathedral Crypt (L’Hopital des Anges)
Glasgow Cathedral was consecrated in 1197 and the city grew around it becoming the thriving metropolis it is today. Tucked in the cathedral’s basement lies the crypt built in the mid-1200s to house the tomb of St Kentigern, also known as St. Mungo who lent the cathedral one of its many names (it’s also called the High Kirk of Glasgow) and pilgrims continue to pay homage to him there. Hopefully St. Mungo didn’t mind standing in as the Parisian L’Hopital des Anges where Claire uses her medical skills to help Mother Hildegarde and the nuns in their work.
The Royal Burgh of Culross has remained nearly unchanged since the 17th century making it a perfect double for the village of Cranesmuir in Outlander. Wander the cobblestoned streets, explore Culross Palace, visit the picturesque town square and Mercat Cross, and imagine what life was like in the 17th century in a port town on the River Forth. While Claire and her friend Geillis were treated harshly by the locals, the town is a very friendly place. It’s also far lighter than you might think — it was painted a dark grey color for filming and has now been returned to its original white color scheme.
Enter here for a chance to win a trip to visit some of these incredible locations in Scotland!