Top Places to Shoot in Scotland
The Traveling Photo Guide to Shooting
Ahh Scotland, the place you can't go two miles without seeing sheep or flowers. I felt like I had walked through every episode of Game of Thrones in just one week (minus the blood shed, I'm really just talking about the scenery here). So many beautiful castles, gardens, sheep, mountains, beaches, sheep, cobble stone streets, sheep - did I say sheep already? Any-who, here is my Photo Guide to traveling through Scotland!
Traveling abroad can be an expensive undertaking so I'm always looking for the best priced flights. Thanks to our friends at WOW airlines, we were on our way to Scotland with a mini layover in Iceland! I highly recommend flying WOW - its affordable and travels to tons of destinations. Most of their layovers are in Iceland - if you're interested in hearing more about where to shoot in Iceland, check out my past blog post here. We visited the Skogafoss Waterfall and Black Sand Beach!
Traveling by car is the best way to get around Scotland. You get to pull over and take photos whenever you want, take the scenic route, and have endless road trip conversations with your buddy! Quigley and I poured over podcasts, music playlists, and asked each other literally every question you could ask a person. We rented our car through RentalCars.com and got an automatic with a back up mirror. I highly advise doing this too. The one lane roads can be very scary and traffic may need you to back up in order to let them pass. Most roads in the central area of Scotland have safer roads with more lanes, however the more remote areas like the Isle of Skye, have one lane roads right next to cliff-sides. There are also a ton of pot holes - we unluckily got a flat tire late one night just three miles away from our hotel. After calling the rental company though and towing us to the nearest garage, we were back up and running! Definitely recommend getting the full insurance coverage in Scotland because you'll most likely need it!
1.Three Sisters Mountain: On your way to Glencoe, along the A82 highway, you will pass by a very picturesque mountain - The Three Sisters, or also known as Bidean Nam Bian. Its really hard to miss! Just find a safe place to pull off the road to take photos because it can be dangerous with the small two lane roads and mud everywhere. This is the perfect photo stop if you're heading up to the Isle of Skye. After shooting you'll find food in either Glencoe or Fort Williams area.
2. Fairy Glen: I'm going to start with saying this: BE CAREFUL DRIVING. The Isle of Skye was not made for the boom of tourism that has developed over the last couple of years. The roads only are one lane, ridden with pot holes (we got a flat tire from hitting one really hard), and tourist's cars get stuck in the mud and drive off cliffs on the regular. Fairy Glen is deep in the Isle of Skye, super north beyond gas stations and grocery stores. So be extra prepared! Once you find the place, you'll have to hike a little bit to get to the rock circles. It's pretty obvious if you follow the road - we accidentally just rushed into the hills and found that we took the longest way! Whoops 😬There will most likely be tons of tourists though, so probably not the best place to take photos unless you're a photoshop pro!
3. Neist Point Lighthouse: Probably the most exhausting place to get to, but also my favorite place in Skye. This was the hardest to park at - literally one road with traffic in both ways with a hanging cliff. Have patience, get a car with a back up camera if you can, and don't put yourself in a situation you can't get out of. Once you park - you will have to walk down tons of steep stairs, just to climb up the side of a mountain to get to the view point. Probably takes about 20-30 mins to climb. You can also walk up to the lighthouse, but we were more interested in 'getting the shot' and too tired to carry on!
4. Talisker Beach: I don't think many tourists know of this place because there were no cars and only locals hanging out here. Its absolutely beautiful. After you park your car, follow the signs to the beach and the road to the far left- the other roads lead to private homes. You'll walk through a grassy trail with sheep on either side. Just as you pass the metal gate, you'll find yourself in a place where seaside meets a sheep filled meadow!
5. Craigievar Castle: The Pink Castle! This one is very easy to get to and even has a parking lot. You can shoot front on at the castle - but we found the side, where the tall grass slopes down, to be the most magical setting to shoot.
6. Glenfinnan Viaduct AKA the Hogwarts Express Train: If you're a big Harry Potter fan, this is the same train the films used for their shots of the Hogwarts Express. If you're not, its a pretty antique looking red train with clouds of smoke traveling over a beautiful viaduct! You can either buy tickets to ride the train or watch it pass by at this viewpoint (like we did)! Make sure you've read up on what times the train leaves so you don't miss it!
View the train times here. It usually takes about 30 mins to arrive on location after leaving Fort William, and about 1hr. 20mins when leaving Mallaig. Best to plan on being there early if you can because it goes by in seconds! The best viewpoint we found was a little bit of a climb, after walking past the viaduct- but worth the view! Be warned though-its muddy!
7. Dunrobin Castle: This. Was. My. Favorite. Castle. It's beautiful. We skipped the tour inside and headed straight to the garden. Dunrobin sits on top of a hillside overlooking water with a garden I'm sure some Disney Princess was born in. Giant fountains, overgrown flowers, path ways with arches made out of ivy, and stone staircases. Magnifique.
8. Drummond Castle: Similar to Dunrobin Castle with a large garden set in front and stone statue details. Is it glorious. The view from the staircase is just breathtaking. We came close to closing time so there were less tourists, but also that beautiful golden sunset lighting. Definitely worth checking out if you have time!
9. Circus Lane: Located on the streets of Edinburgh, this quaint little street is filled with cobble stones, potted flowers, and colored doors. With views of the clock tower in the distance, its the perfect place for photos! Arrive early though, before all the cars start driving down and the tourists show up. Its a small area that can get crowed real fast!
10. Blair Castle: This was not initially on my list of places to shoot at- more of a place to just hop out, take a look, and leave quickly. There's not too many photos online that do this place justice so I misjudged it! Quigley and I ended up having ourselves a ball shooting against the old white castle and canon artillery while a Scottish bag pipe sang nearby. There is also a garden inside, tours of the castle and just a short 5min drive down the road the Blair Atholl Distillery where you can take a tour and tasting of some authentic Scottish whiskey!
During our time in Edinburgh, we stayed at the Principal Charolette Square Hotel. It was centrally located to all the happenings in town, a short walk to most tourist places in the city, and had the most beautifully decorated restaurant! We couldn't help but shoot in the reading room and restaurant! Its a great place to stay towards the end of your trip after driving all over the country because they have a pool and spa! Quigley and I treated ourselves to some massages and where happily rested up before our flight back to Los Angeles!
And yes, we got a little artsy fartsy while shooting 😜
Thank you so much for reading along! I hope this helps in your journey to capturing the best photos while in Scotland! If you're traveling to Scotland-please hit me up if you have questions! I'm always down to help in any way that I can-message me on Instagram at @champagneunicorns 🦄 or send me an email at email@example.com 💌