Edinburgh is such an iconic, historic city that it’s practically impossible to film in Edinburgh and pretend you’re somewhere else. This city is not as sprawling and multi-faceted as Berlin, nor is it as modern and urban as Glasgow. One cannot simply shoot a film in Edinburgh, the film has to be set in Edinburgh. And (almost) every single one of these Hollywood film locations in Edinburgh is exactly that: shot and set in Edinburgh. Which is quite a rarity in Hollywood film, now that I think about it.
I’ve mentioned countless times that Edinburgh is my favourite city in the world and I’m still waiting for that to be proven wrong. I absolutely love watching films shot in Edinburgh. Some of my favourite films set in Edinburgh are Trainspotting (1996), Sunshine on Leith (2013) and Filth (2013). However, we won’t be discussing any of those films today as I’d personally throw them on the ‘independent British film’ pile.
So, let’s take a look at the Hollywood film locations in Edinburgh!
Hollywood Film Locations in Edinburgh
1. Assembly Hall as seen on Chariots of Fire (1981)
Where: Mound Place, EH1 2LU
Chariots of Fire may have begun life as an ambitious British independent film but grew into a Hollywood, Best Picture Oscar-winning masterpiece. So they say, I haven’t seen it myself. It seems a bit dull but I suppose I’ll have to watch it at some point. The film follows the true story of two Olympic runners in 1924 and how their athletic talents allow them to overcome prejudice and become closer to God.
One of the runners, Eric Liddell, is Scottish and many of the Chariots of Fire filming locations took place in Edinburgh and St Andrews. One of my favourite places in Edinburgh is the Assembly Hall on the Mound. It’s a beautiful building with a stunning view and in real life, it’s an Edinburgh Fringe Festival venue, but in movie-land, it’s where Eric attends religious meetings. And Holyrood park where he goes afterwards with his sister Jennie is also a beautiful part of Edinburgh to visit.
2. Rosslyn Chapel as seen on The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Where: Chapel Loan, Roslin EH25 9PU
One of the most-visited, if not most prominent, Hollywood film locations in Edinburgh! The Da Vinci Code follows Professor Robert Langdon (your friendly neighbourhood symbologist) and his young accomplice Sophie Neveu as they search for the hidden truth behind the Holy Grail. The climactic scenes take place at a chapel. But not just any chapel, a chapel which holds an extremely dark secret…
I don’t think we really know where the Rosslyn Chapel is located in The Da Vinci Code, but it’s in real life it’s just outside of Edinburgh. When Dan Brown wrote the book, he definitely would have had this chapel in mind for its already controversial history connected to The Knights Templar, the Holy Grail and Freemasonry. And a guy called William Sinclair founded the chapel, too. This won’t make any sense if you haven’t watched the film but WATCH THE FILM. It’s silly but it’s SO GOOD.
3. Mylne’s Court as seen on Burke and Hare (2010)
Where: 517 Lawnmarket, EH1 2PF
Again, I’ve not seen Burke and Hare (we’re off to a good start, aren’t we?) but it really is supposed to be an awful film. Nevertheless, it was the murderers the film is based on lived in Edinburgh so the film is being quite authentic to the source material by shooting part of the film in Edinburgh too.
I’m really struggling to find out which scenes were shot where, so I’m a bit stuck. But maybe the next time you’re in Edinburgh you could find out for me? Pretty please?
4. Arthur’s Seat as seen on One Day (2010)
Where: Holyrood Park
I’ve only watched the film a couple of times but, aside from the annoying male lead and Anne Hathaway’s accent is a bit sketchy, I quite like One Day. The film follows the lives of Dexter and Emma over 18 years on the same day – 15th July. The film begins in Edinburgh at their graduation before moving onto London and Paris. But One Day manages to squeeze in a number of excellent Edinburgh filming locations.
My favourite has to be Arthur’s Seat. It’s a small hill in Holyrood park that offers stunning views of the whole city and even the coastline. Emma and Dexter climb Arthur’s Seat the morning after spending an innocent night together.
5. Scott Monument as seen on Cloud Atlas (2012)
Where: East Princes St Gardens, EH2 2EJ
I’ve not seen Cloud Atlas but I definitely intend to, even if it’s supposedly mind-boggling and has a substantial running time. When I worked at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013, my office was in India Buildings on Victoria Street and someone told me that Cloud Atlas was shot there, which is quite cool. Apparently, it’s the scene where some porcelain was smashed around?
But a much more accessible, tourist-friendly Edinburgh film location is the Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens. In real life, it’s a monument to Sir Walter Scott, one of Scotland’s most important writers and poets. As one of the few Hollywood film locations in Edinburgh, it’s the tower that Frobisher climbs to the top of every morning to contemplate his thoughts. Cloud Atlas also shot scenes in Glasgow and Berlin.
6. Calton Hill as seen on The Railway Man (2013)
Where: EH7 5AA
Another Hollywood filming location in Edinburgh, another amazing vantage point! I’ve previously mentioned The Railway Man in my Hollywood Film Locations in Thailand post, but it seems the man in question gets about a bit. There aren’t many scenes set in Edinburgh in The Railway Man. And Calton Hill is only featured when young Eric Lomax comes home from WWII.
I mean, if we were being picky, there’s absolutely no reason why anyone would need to pass Calton Hill no matter where they were walking to and from. It’s a small hill in the middle of a city, you have to choose to climb it. Nevertheless, it makes for a cracking view and there’s no better place to capture Edinburgh’s beauty.
7. Cramond Causeway as seen on Churchill (2017)
Where: EH4 6NU
I’ve actually seen Churchill and I had no idea so many scenes were shot in Edinburgh. Oops! One scene is also on Calton Hill in front of the National Monument when Churchill meets President Eisenhower. And Newhailes, a stately home just outside of Edinburgh, acts as Winston Churchill’s country estate.
But one of the beaches featured (the other is Yellowcraig) in Churchill is the Cramond Causeway on the coast just outside the city of Edinburgh. What’s interesting about this beach are the striking pylons that were built in WWII to stop boats being able to dock on the shores. They’re really noticeable in the film and Churchill is constantly going to contemplate stuff at beaches throughout.
I have horrible flashbacks from watching Churchill at the cinema. I was in Málaga, Spain at the time and a woman’s phone kept going off but we didn’t find out whose it was until it went off at least ten times (no exaggeration) and everyone thought it was mine. To this day, I still have to turn down my volume, turn on ‘do not disturb’, shut down my apps then turn off my phone when I’m in the cinema or else I’m on edge for the whole film.
8. The Royal Mile as seen on Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Where: High Street, EH1 1TQ
I think this will soon be one of the most recognisable Hollywood film locations in Edinburgh! I have no idea why the production chose Edinburgh for this scene but I’m very glad they did.
Wanda Maximoff (AKA Scarlet Witch) and Vision are hiding out in Edinburgh in a Kebab shop when their eye catches the news. In actual fact, this Kebab shop is really Miss Katie Cupcake and it sells handmade jewellery and trinkets (I have a cute bracelet from there).
Then, trouble breaks out between the two Avengers and Thanos’ henchpeople, Midnight and Glaive. Luckily, Captain America, Black Widow and Falcon rescue them but not before an epic fight. The fight spills out nearby onto The Royal Mile near St Giles’ Cathedral. It’s actually the High Street but it’s called The Royal Mile because it’s literally about a mile long and is the location of many important, historical buildings (Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, to name a couple).
9. Blackness Castle as seen on Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
Where: Blackness, Linlithgow EH49 7NH
The last entry on my list of Hollywood Film Locations in Edinburgh is a bit of a cheat. Blackness is a 40-minute drive from Edinburgh along the coast. But I had to mention such a recent film that utilised Scottish film locations so prolifically! Mary Queen of Scots shot all over Scotland, but one of the best filming locations is Blackness Castle.
It stood in for Linlithgow Palace (a much plainer castle) in the movie where Mary was born, but if you’ve seen the film you’ll agree Blackness Castle is a much more striking, cinematic filming location. This is probably why the castle also appeared in Outlaw King (2018) and the Outlander series.
And those are the best Hollywood film locations in Edinburgh! Have you visited Scotland’s capital city and visited any of these filming locations in Edinburgh? Let me know in the comments below!