I have been a fan of Outlander for over 20 years ever since I picked up my first Diana Gabaldon book. Once I got my hands on it, I was transfixed on Jamie and Claire’s adventures through time. So much so, that on a birthday trip to Scotland I visited Clava Cairns and tried to see if I could be whisked back in time. Alas, no such luck. Instead, I have to settle for enjoying reading it in print and seeing it now on the Outlander TV series. But, for the real hardcore fans, there are tours daily in Scotland that take you to some key spots where the TV show was filmed. Here is everything you ever wanted to know about an Outlander Tour in Scotland.
I was fortunate to work with Rabbies Tours to go on the Outlander Adventure One Day Tour from Edinburgh. The Outlander Adventure Tour from Edinburgh price ranges from £42.00 – £55.00. The tour leaves daily around 9:15 a.m. from Rabbie’s Cafe Bar, Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EG. Check-in starts before 9 a.m. in front of Rabbie’s Cafe. After myself and a fellow travel blogger checked in, we went into the cafe to pick up something to eat and drink for breakfast. The prices are reasonable for a breakfast sandwich and a coffee or tea, and we could take it on the bus with us.
The bus picks you up right down from the cafe where you will meet your driver for the day. Ours was Dougie, and he was a joy to listen to all of his highlander stories. He is very knowledgeable in everything Scottish and, of course, Outlander! He was very warm and welcoming and encouraged all of us to share why we were there and where we were from. The Rabbie’s Tours are unique in that they are small groups of 16 or less, which helps you create connections with your fellow Outlander enthusiasts.
Our first stop on the Outlander Tour in Scotland was to the Tellis Standing Stones. We weren’t able to go over to them since they are on private land, but we were able to get some photos. It was a quick 5 minute stop and an excellent precursor for the day filled with Outlander references.
The town of Culross (pronounced Curlis sounds like Curtis) has been used quite a lot for filming Outlander scenes for the town of Cranesmuir. In the center square, you will find Geillis Duncan’s house and the Mercat Cross (where Jamie helped the young boy). Walking along the cobbled streets, you will come across Laoghaire’s house as well. And Claire’s garden can be seen up high in the back of the Culross Palace even though it was supposed to be by Doune Castle (Castle Leoch). As we had an hour to walk through the town. I was glad that this happened to be my second time visiting Culross so, I already knew where to get all the good photos. I had set up to do a photoshoot for my friend while we were at all the outlander sites today. And there is no place better to start than at the Culross Abbey ruins. The ruins are perfect for any photos that you might want to have done here in Culross. Just remember to keep an eye on the time, so Dougie doesn’t have to come and find you. If you do want to go into Culross Palace, the entrance fee is £10.50. Although there is so much to see in Culross that you might have to come back to see everything.
Built-in the 1300s, Doune Castle is probably the most filmed castle in Scotland with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Winterfell on Game of Thrones, and of course, as Castle Leoch in Outlander. If you want to enter the castle, you will have to pay the fee as it is not included in the tour price. If you have the Explorer Pass, you can get in free; otherwise, an adult fee is £9.00. Although if you mention you are on the Rabbie’s Tour, you will get a 10% discount on the price. An audio guide is included with the entrance fee, and I found it to be wonderful. Because, Sam Heughan, Jamie Fraser in Outlander, narrates a few of the audio spots in his Scottish brogue. Hearing his voice whisper “Mo Nighean Donn” in your ear is worth the price and more!
One of my favorite palaces to visit is Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. I spent almost a full day exploring the entire palace on a previous trip. On this tour, you are given nearly three hours, but taking time to get lunch can seriously deplete your time exploring the castle. But, I wouldn’t skip eating lunch in town. We ate at the highly recommended The Four Mary’s, and it didn’t disappoint. We had a local cider and sandwiches, which gave us more energy to explore the nooks and crannies at Linlithgow Palace. The entrance fee is free with the Explorer Pass or discounted with the Cadw card (which I had), or if you don’t have any of those, it is £7.20. The price is reduced because a portion of the castle is off-limits due to reconstruction.
For the filming of Outlander, Linlithgow Palace is used for the very dark scenes where Black Jack Randal assaults Jamie. But, when you are visiting, the palace is anything but dark. As it is in ruins from a fire in 1746, everything is open to the light. The gorgeous King’s Fountain in the interior courtyard, the magnificent Great Hall, the King’s and Queen’s rooms, and climbing the tower to the most amazing view of Linlithgow Loch is worth spending time exploring. Did you know that Scotland has 46,000 lochs, and 32,000 of them are freshwater lochs? Thank you, Dougie, for that nugget of info. Plus, don’t forget to take a little time to visit St. Michael’s Parish Church, where Mary was baptized.
One of the more emotionally evoking scenes in Outlander is when Randal flogs Jamie. This scene was filmed in Blackness Castle. The 15-century castle that looks like a ship that never sailed. The entrance fee is free with the Explorer Pass or discounted with the Cadw card, or if you don’t have any of those, it is £6.00. We were given an hour or so to explore the castle, and with the emotion that is here evoked, it was more than enough time.
As this castle was used as a prison, it was thought-provoking to see the conditions of the grounds with the rocks and uneven surfaces. Although the prisoners that fell out of favor with the king had much nicer accommodations in one of the towers compared to the common folk. We enjoyed our time exploring the castle, taking photos, but the wind proved quite challenging to get great ones, although it didn’t stop me from trying.
This is one castle that I wanted to see on my last trip to Scotland but never got the chance. I was so excited to see that this was on the Rabbie’s Outlander tour. You can only see Midhope Castle from the outside as the inside is entirely in ruins with no floors. But, there is no mistaking that this is Lallybroch from Outlander. The disappointing part is that the Hopetoun family charges for parking and asks for donations. Although it is clear that the money they get is not going to restore this fantastic building.
They really should let the National Trust of Scotland take over and restore it. Maybe put in an Outlander museum or gift shop catering to Outlander Tours in Scotland to earn money honestly instead of charging people to see a ruin of a building and not putting the money to good use. If you are a little adventurous, there is a small trail by the car park that you can walk down and see where they filmed the cave that Jamie hid in. Although you will be disappointed again as it is only two rocks that they hung a black sheet behind to make it look like a cave. Ah, the magic of filming a movie!
Although this wasn’t an Outlander filming location, Dougie stopped the bus for us to get out quickly and get some photos of the bridges over the River Forth. These bridges are amazing constructions. The Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge across the Firth of Forth. It was the world’s first steel structure and is still the strongest bridge in the UK and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It had the longest bridge span over water in 1890 at 541 meters. The other bridges, the Forth Road Bridge and Queensferry Crossing Bridge, are just as impressive. The three bridges are engineering marvels that span over three centuries. Oh, and I can’t forget that Dougie played the Outlander theme song at the end of the day, making this one perfect day out.
We had a fantastic day on our Outlander Tour in Scotland. The weather in Scotland can be a bit unpredictable, but we enjoyed our day filled with sunshine, clouds, and a little wind. Rabbie’s Tours does a great job of taking you on a full day to Outlander filming locations. The castles, palaces, and the unique little stops make the Outlander Adventure a fantastic day out in Scotland.
Rabbies’s Outlander One Day Adventure can be booked online, and they will leave from Edinburgh or Glasgow. Or you can choose their 4-day from Edinburgh or even their 9-day adventures from London or Manchester. I might consider taking one of the longer tours next time, although I have gone to most of the Outlander filming locations by myself on previous trips. It is always nice to have a tour guide to give you that little extra background story that you wouldn’t have received otherwise.
I hope that this article has given you more insight into what an Outlander Tour in Scotland is like. Have you gone on one? Let me know in the comments which locations are your favorite.
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If you are coming to Scotland for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:
- The Ultimate 2-Week Itinerary to England & Scotland – includes some more Outlander filming locations
- Edinburgh Ghost Tours – A Fun and Scary Underground Experience Awaits You
- The Romanticism and Mystery of Rosslyn Chapel
- Most Intriguing Bookstores Around the World You Must Visit
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Thank You to Rabbie’s Tour for offering this opportunity to go on this Outlander adventure tour. As always, opinions are 100% my own.