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Get in the Mood: What to Read and Watch Before Going to Scotland

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Are you planning on visiting Scotland soon? To get you started, here are some series, novels and movies set in Scotland that feature the northern half of Britain at the center of their stories. Enjoy!


Taking us back to the 13th century, this epic 90’s movie unfolds the heroic saga of William Wallace, a Scottish icon who fiercely resisted the English invasion ordered by King Edward I. The majority of its outdoor scenes were meticulously filmed in the breathtaking Highlands, with picturesque locations such as Eilean Donean castle, Loch Leven, the Mamores Mountains and Glen Coe showcasing Scotland’s stunning landscapes.


While honeymooning in the Highlands, Claire Beauchamp Randall is mysteriously transported back in time to 1743 Scotland, where she encounters a dashing warrior and must adapt to the customs of the time. The series has become so popular that themed Outlander tours are now available to visit the various locations where the series was filmed, such as Kinloch Rannoch, the Falklands, Doune Castle, Culross and Midhope Castle to name a few.

I Never Knew That About Scotland by Christopher Winn

This book explores little-known facts and fascinating stories about Scotland. Christopher Winn takes you on a journey across the country, revealing amazing anecdotes associated with iconic landmarks, from ancient castles to mysterious lochs.

Highlands: Scotland’s Wild Heart

Narrated by renowned Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, this captivating documentary series takes viewers on a remarkable journey through the heart of Scotland. It captures not only the stunning natural landscapes that define Scotland, but also provides an intimate look at the incredible wildlife that calls this country home.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

This literary masterpiece not only captivates with its narrative, but also serves as an essential prelude to a journey through Scotland and the Isle of Skye. The novel beautifully captures the essence of the Scottish landscape, offering vivid descriptions of its wild coastlines, mist-shrouded mountains, and isolated lighthouses. It’s Virginia Woolf’s most acclaimed work, making it a literary must-read before exploring Scotland.


James Bond returns in new adventures to investigate leaked data within MI6. The movie was shot on location throughout Scotland, with Bond’s ancestral home at Glen Etive and the stunning scenery of Glencoe providing the perfect backdrop. Legend has it that James Bond creator Ian Fleming was so taken with Sean Connery’s portrayal of his iconic character in Dr. No (1962) that he decided to give Bond Scottish ancestry.


This animated film tells the story of a young medieval Scottish princess determined to challenge age-old traditions. Although it’s an animated film, you’ll easily spot significant landmarks such as Dunnottar Castle and the ancient Calanais Standing Stones, adding a touch of historical authenticity to the whimsical tale.

Men in Kilts: a Roadtrip with Sam and Granham

Join Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, the popular actors from the Outlander series, as they embark on a journey of self-discovery through Scotland’s rich heritage and culture. Explore captivating destinations such as Edinburgh, the village of Balquhidder, the Isle of Lewis, Glencoe, Braemar, and more.

Mary Queen of Scots

Travel back in time to 1561 with this historical movie as Mary Stuart returns to Scotland after the death of her husband, King Francis II, determined to regain her rightful throne. The movie features stunning locations such as GlenFeshie and Strathdon in the Cairngorms National Park, as well as scenes set in the courtyard of Blackness Castle and the atmospheric ruins of Tantallon Castle.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Art of the Four by Roger Billcliffe

You can’t explore Glasgow without hearing the name Charles Rennie Mackintosh. This book traces the evolving relationship between the artist and his work. Immerse yourself in his extraordinary world and that of his colleagues at the Glasgow School of Art, who forged a unique and distinctive vision of art and architecture at the end of the Victorian era.

See the Quiet Beauty of Farm Life on the Scottish Isles

Experience the quiet beauty of life on the Isle of Harris in this short film by Joya Berrow. Here, the agricultural tradition of crofting has left an indelible mark on the landscape and culture. Donal John Macinnes, a local farmer, tells his story against the backdrop of Scotland’s breathtaking scenery, offering a captivating glimpse into the unique way of life on this remote island.

Outlaw King

This movie, starring Chris Pine, delves into a pivotal period of Scottish history. It chronicles the life of Robert the Bruce, a Scottish nobleman who led a rebellion against English rule in the late 13th century. His determination to free Scotland from English rule culminated in the famous Battle of Bannockburn. The film’s depiction of these events resonates deeply with Scottish identity, highlighting the struggle for independence and the enduring spirit of the Scottish people. While Glasgow locations such as the University Cloisters and the Cathedral are featured, the film also showcases the broader Scottish landscape.

The Anthology of Scottish Folk Tales

Before you travel to Scotland, immerse yourself in the fascinating world of Celtic folklore. These stories will ignite your imagination with ancient tales passed down through generations, steeped in rich mystical traditions. Celebrating the distinct character of Scotland’s diverse customs, beliefs, and dialects, this book is a treat for anyone who loves well-told, whimsical stories.

Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

Do you like mystery novels? Here’s a quintessentially Scottish option to enjoy before you leave, or even on the plane! Ian Rankin’s famous series, set in the medieval streets of Edinburgh, perfectly follows the established British mystery model – a gruff and disillusioned inspector caught up in a web of mysterious and criminal activity and tasked with solving the case. The magnificent city plays its own part, with evocative descriptions and historical tidbits.


The gripping British crime series takes viewers on a thrilling journey with Detective Jimmy Perez and his team as they unravel the mysteries of a close-knit island community. Set against the stunning island backdrop of Scotland’s Hebrides, the show features picturesque locations such as Lerwick, the historic home of Lodberrie, Sandsayre and Sand Lodge, and the charming village of Wester Quarff. As well as thrilling crime stories, the series offers a fascinating insight into the distinctive island culture and lifestyle of the Shetland Islands.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

This poignant novel immerses the reader in the working-class neighborhoods of Glasgow in the 1980s as it grapples with serious socio-economic issues. Poverty, discrimination, addiction and violence are the daily lives of Glaswegians, including young Hugh, who becomes an adult far too soon. This book is essential reading to understand Glasgow’s renaissance over the last 30 years. Glasgow has transformed itself from a gritty city to a center of the arts and a leader in urbanism.

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