train through country
Glenfinnan Viaduct

Explore Scotland by Rail

Chugging along in a train along the same track and seeing the same lush countryside as Harry Potter does on his first trip to Hogwarts – what more could a J.K. Rowling fan want? Well, if they are also a fan of the Outlander series or a monarchy maniac, they would be in heaven because this same trip offers a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia and takes in some of Claire’s important stops.

urquhart castle
Tourists visiting the Urquhart Castle, overlooking the Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Founded in the 13th century and partially destroyed in 1692, now it is a protected monument and open to the public.

Not meant solely as a trip for cinephiles, this rail tour illustrates why the beauty of the highlands is such a magnet for TV and movie producers.

holyrood house
Holyrood House (sometimes referred to as Holyroodhouse Palace) is occasionally used for state banquets and, historically, as a palace for royalty. Nowadays it is mainly an office building.

ross fountain
Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street Gardens, with the Ross Fountain in the foreground.

Anne Darling, of Ellison Travel and Tours, has been a travel agent for 40 years and is originally from Scotland. She enjoys returning to explore its beauty and history. Darling recommends this 10-day rail tour as a great introduction to the beauty and history of this part of the British Isles.

skye island houses
Colourful houses line Skye Island Portree Harbour.

Outlander fans will enjoy following in the footsteps of 18th century Scottish rebels on the Jacobite steam train and fans of the Harry Potter movies will recognize the Glenfinnan Viaduct as the bridge that the magical rascals transit on their first journey to Hogwarts.

From Inverness, explore the field where the Battle of Culloden took place, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.


Starting in Edinburgh, you can retrace Claire’s meanderings at Holyrood House (former royal residence), Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. Fans will enjoy exploring Fort William before catching the Jacobite steam train. It takes you to Inverness (with an overnight stop in Glasgow) which Darling says is the “gateway to the Highlands.” Chugging through the verdant highlands is a feast for the eyes, even if you’re not a fan of either form of fiction.

From Inverness, explore the field where the Battle of Culloden took place, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. A side trip to the Isle of Skye is also part of the tour. Circling back the journey ends in Edinburgh. When in a new city, a hop-on/hop off bus tour is a great idea to get an overview. Darling enjoyed taking a self-guided tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia (where some scenes in The Crown were filmed) docked in nearby Leith.

This is not a touring travel group, but rather a predetermined itinerary that travellers can enjoy on their own or as a couple. Conversely, wouldn’t be fun to put together a small group of friends who want to make their favourite pieces of fiction come alive while exploring the Scottish Highlands, and maybe enjoying some of that country’s famous libations?