If you enjoy the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon and have been watching the popular TV series, then this day tour starting and finishing in Edinburgh is perfect for you. You’ll get to visit many places used as filming locations in both the book and TV show.
Outlander is set in 18th-century Scotland, France and America. The plot follows Claire Randall, a married nurse from 1945 who gets mysteriously swept back in time to 1743. There she is thrown straight into the unknown with her life completely upturned and the story’s suspense unfolds…
She has been forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic Scottish warrior. The two lovers have become attached in what tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different lives and Jamie’s imminent death.
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Outlander self-driving tour from Edinburgh
Outlander was developed by Ronald D. Moore and based on the books of Diana Gabaldon. The series premiered on August 9, 2014, and stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall/Fraser and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser/MacKenzie.
Below is a list of filming locations close to Edinburgh. These are all 30-60 minutes away from the city – but it’s not possible to visit all of them in a single day.
Remember that the palace or castle you aim to visit is not just a building. It is a place of important heritage, a witness to history, and a home to people with many stories to tell. I would encourage you to spend more time in the area rather than just visiting the castle. It is important to support the locals, even if it is just having a coffee in the village cafe.
Please do not take up more than 3 attractions on your itinerary since it’s best to explore a few carefully chosen places. Go for the 1-2 ‘must see’, and you’ll maximize your experience.
My favourite Outlander tour day trips are to Fife: the Falkland Palace and the village of Culross. If you have only one day or half a day to visit both places, it is worth it. But if you want a more immersive experience, I recommend at least one full day in each place.
Outlander Filming Locations for a Day Tour from Edinburgh
Was used as Wentworth Prison in series 1 and where Jamie was imprisoned. The infamous scene of Jamie being raped and tortured was filmed in Linlithgow Palace. It was once the favourite residence of the Stuart monarchs and here you will hear the stories about some of their most colourful characters, including Mary Queen of Scots, who was born in the palace in 1542.
It initially set the palace as a rest stop for royals travelling between Edinburgh and Stirling Castle. Most often associated with Mary, Queen of Scotland, it became Outlander famous before. Today, only the ruins remain, but its beautiful location on the banks of Linlithgow Loch makes it a popular tourist Outlander theme day trip from Edinburgh.
Outlander tours from Edinburgh would not be complete without visiting this stately home. The house is the setting for the home of the Duke of Sandringham in Series 1. These scenes were filmed inside the Red Drawing Room.
The Sea Trail and West Lawn to the rear of the House were the locations for the dual between the Duke and the head of the McDonald clan.
The courtyard behind the Stables Tearoom features regularly as a Parisian street location in Series 2.
Midhope Castle, made popular as ‘Lallybroch’ the home of the Frasers in Outlander, is located on Hopetoun House estate but is not a visitor attraction. You can only access the exterior of the castle and only during opening times. The castle is located on private ground, so access is restricted. You need to obtain the ticket before you visit Midhope Castle. Please check the details on the Hopetoun House website.
Falkland Palace and village
The shooting took place in Falkland village, which is home to the Falkland Palace. The village is re-cast as 1946 Inverness, where Claire and Frank stay on their second honeymoon. It was while researching Frank’s ancestry that Claire and Frank attended a pagan ceremony.
They found out they were onto something special when they saw one in the standing stones nearby. She returns alone to the stones and falls through time to 1743. Other featured locations in Falkland include The Covenanter Hotel as Mrs Baird’s guesthouse; the Bruce Fountain, where the ghost of Jamie looks up at Claire’s room; Lomond Pharmacy, which doubles as Campbell’s Coffee Shop; and Fayre Earth Gift Shop as Farrell’s Hardware and Furniture Store, where Claire stops to look at a vase in the window
Falkland Palace is a walk through a day in the life of Stuart monarchs at Falkland Palace. This palace, a favourite place of Mary, Queen of Scots, has elaborate Flemish tapestries and antique furniture. The grounds feature acres of classic English gardens designed by Percy Cane, with the oldest existing real tennis court in Britain and ruins of Castle Falkland. Not to mention, an ancient orchard with a wildflower meadow as well. The Falkland Palace and the village make a wonderful Outlander theme day tour from Edinburgh.
Doune Castle plays a main role in Outlander and is used to represent the fictional castle Leoch. It was also a royal residence for the Stuart monarchs until its abandonment in 1727. Doune Castle is showcased as a Castle Leoch home of Clan Mackenzie. But this splendour castle was filmed also for other productions like Monty Python or Game of Thrones.
The original Castle, the half of this we see today, was built to impress and show authority. It’s unclear however how big the castle was and if some parts of the castle were lost or not completed. Doune Castle officially became a royal castle in the 15th century. Visiting Doune Castle and the surrounding pretty village makes a perfect full-day Outlander tour from Edinburgh.
Outlander tour from Edinburgh to Culross 16th Century Village
It was used in series 1 and 2 of Outlander and featured as the fictional village of Cranesmuir and also the Jacobite encampment in series 2. The Royal Burgh of Culross is owned by the National Trust of Scotland and has been used for several filming scenes in the Outlander movie. Culross played a base for the fictional Cransemuir in season 1 and suddenly became a popular tourist attraction.
The pretty cobbled streets, hilltop abbey and enchanting original homes make it such a lovely place that gives you the feeling of being transported back to the 16th century. Often named the most picturesque village in Scotland, it’s a beautifully restored 17th and 18th-century town example. Culross is a wonderful place to spend all day. Wander around along the cobbled street and visit the Culross Palace to make a full day of Outlander theme tour from Edinburgh.
The Blackness Castle as “The Ship that Never Sailed”
An impressive fortress and a popular filming location for Outlander is the headquarters for blackjack Randall in the story. The building dates back to the 15th century, had many uses throughout European history and received its nickname of “The Ship that Never Sailed” from its ship-like design.
The best views of the River Forth and the surrounding landscape are from the Central Tower of the Blackness Castle. This is the best place to get a view of the castle and admire its beauty – whether you’re taking in the sun or feeling the wind.