There’s no doubt that over the years Trainspotting (1996) has become a cult favourite and a classic British film. And think what you like about T2 Trainspotting (2017) but I think it’s still a very decent, fun and worthy sequel. Considering they’re both set in one of the best countries in the entire world (just my humble opinion), on my latest trip to Edinburgh for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, I decided to check out as many Trainspotting film locations as possible from both films.
– This guide was originally published on 24th July 2017 and has been updated.
Trainspotting and T2 Trainspotting follow the friendship and exploits of Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie in their hometown of Edinburgh. In the first film, they’re in their early twenties and hooked on heroin. And in the second, well, they’re still very messed up people and still have problems staying within the law.
Despite being largely set in Edinburgh, a number of Trainspotting film locations are actually in Glasgow. And of course, anyone who has seen either film will know there is also a jaunt up to the Highlands and a couple of scenes were shot in London for the first film.
I’ve not visited Glasgow since 2015 and even with hours of research and close scrutiny I’m still not 100% sure on some Trainspotting filming locations. But I’ve done my very best to be as thorough and accurate as possible! This is my complete (and still quite extensive) guide to all of the Trainspotting and T2 Trainspotting film locations in Scotland I could find. And if I’ve not mentioned it, it’s probably because I can’t find it…
Trainspotting & T2 Trainspotting Film Locations in Scotland
Trainspotting Film Locations in Edinburgh
1. Princes Street, EH2 2DG
We’re starting our list of Trainspotting filming locations with possibly the most iconic! And only one of four film locations actually in the city of Edinburgh where Trainspotting is set. Princes Street is the main high street/shopping street in Edinburgh and is where Renton and Spud steal from John Menzies Bookstore and leg it to escape the cops in the film’s opening sequence with Renton’s famous ‘Choose Life’ speech playing over the top of the action.
John Menzies Bookstore no longer exists. The shop that’s now in resident at 107-109 Princes Street is the high street fashion store, Next.
2. Calton Road Bridge, EH8 8DL
The pair are then seen running down some steps from Calton Road onto a side street which leads to the Calton Road Entrance of Edinburgh Waverley Train Station. In real life, you’d have a hell of a jump to get from Princes Street to underneath the Calton Road Bridge! And you know the car that almost hits Renton as he runs past and he stops to smile maniacally at the driver? Well, it isn’t even a road! More of a car park space next to a bar. I love little fake stuff like that in films.
Again, this is also a T2 Trainspotting film location so look out for it again in a bit. Also known as the Regent Bridge but you need to be on the road underneath the bridge, not on it!
3. Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, EH1 2NG
Very briefly, Edinburgh Castle appears through a warped, canted angle just before the film doubles back to the very beginning of the film and the running scene along Princes Street. This scene is right after the death of baby Dawn (sorry, spoiler alert!).
4. The Royal Scottish Academy, The Mound, EH2 2EL
In this extended running scene later in the film, Renton and Spud are seen turning off Princes Street and up Hanover Street (which wouldn’t get them any closer to Calton road, by the way). The Roman-style facade of The Royal Scottish Academy is very imposing at the end of the street and very prominent in the frame.
Trainspotting Film Locations in Glasgow
1. Wills Tobacco Factory, 368 Alexandra Parade, G31 3AU
Not strictly a ‘film location’, but this old cigarette factory was used as the main studio for Trainspotting‘s interior scenes. The factory was used for around 30 out of 50 scenes including the factory’s social club. The club stood in for the pub where an unsuspecting American tourist pops in during the Edinburgh Festival. The factory/studio is now CityPark Glasgow – a huge office rental space.
2. Firhill Sports Complex, Hopehill Road, G20 7HU
The Firhill Sports Complex is where the lads’ football match takes place during Renton’s ‘Choose Life’ speech. And it’s also where we’re introduced to the majority of the characters in Trainspotting: Sick Boy, Begbie, Spud and Tommy. The complex is still there today.
3. Rouken Glen Park, Rouken Glen Road, Giffnock, G46 7UG
Slightly out of the city centre, Rouken Glen Park is where Renton and Sick Boy discuss getting old, mimic Sean Connery and shoot an air rifle at a dog’s arse. Interestingly, this is the same park that was used for the titular graves in Shallow Grave (1994). Shallow Grave was Danny Boyle’s directorial debut just a couple of years before he made Trainspotting.
4. Cafe d’Jaconelli, 570 Maryhill Rd, G20 7EE
In the next scene, Renton and Spud share a strawberry milkshake at Cafe d’Jaconelli before Spud’s job interview. Amazingly, after 23 years, it’s still there! It’s got a fantastic reputation amongst the locals so you should definitely hit it up if you ever visit Glasgow. Many consider it to be one of the last links to ‘Old Glasgow’ in a rapidly developing city centre.
5. Crosslands, 182 Queen Margaret Drive, G20 8NX
This is the pub where Begbie shares his pool story and starts an epic pub brawl. It’s an interesting building – the extremely tall ceilings and roof shape lead me to believe it may have been a church hall at some point. My research tells me the pub remained the Crosslands as recently as 2015. Then it became the Kelbourne Saint, but it seems it’s now been taken over as Franco’s Bar within the last year. So lucky for you it’s still a pub and you can still visit! But don’t be like Begbie and keep your glasses to yourself.
6. Volcano Club, 15 Benalder Street, G11 6PU
This is the club where Renton meets schoolgirl Diane. Unfortunately, Volcano Club has been completely demolished since the film’s release in 1996. It looks like apartment buildings stand in the same spot now.
7. Azad Video, 312 Dumbarton Road, G11 6TF
This is the old video store that Tommy and Lizzy wait outside for it to open in an attempt to retrieve their, erm, home video that Tommy thinks he’s returned by mistake.
As you might expect, along with Blockbuster, video rental stores are a thing of the past. Azad Video is now a pharmacy.
8. Jordanhill School, 45 Chamberlain Rd, G13 1SP
Renton reluctantly walks Diane to her school after their night together. And Jordanhill school pretty much looks exactly the same on the outside today! Especially the school fence/gates.
9. Canniesburn Nursing Home, Switchback Road, Bearsden, G61 1QN
Back on the skag, Renton and Spud steal a TV from Canniesburn Nursing Home in Glasgow to help them get their fix. I think it was a plastic surgery and burns unit when Trainspotting was released in 1996, but the unit relocated to Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary site in 2003. Now, it actually is a nursing home!
10. Possilpark, G22 5JL
This is the street that Swanney AKA Mother Superior, heroin dealer, lives on. The Possilpark neighbourhood in Glasgow appears as one of the Trainspotting filming locations when he needs to call Renton a taxi after he overdoses.
Up until this scene, I think Trainspotting has just about gotten away with the fact that the vast majority of the film is shot in Glasgow. But I’m sorry, this housing estate just does not look like Edinburgh at all to me. Not even a run-down estate in Leith.
11. George Hotel, 235 Buchanan Street, G1 2NG
The latter half of Trainspotting largely takes place and is shot in London. Renton attempts to start a new life in London but of course, it doesn’t quite work out as planned.
The exterior of the hotel where the drug deal takes place is in London, but the circular, interior hotel room was shot at the George Hotel in Glasgow. Unfortunately, the hotel was demolished a few years after the film was released. Today, the shopping centre Buchanan Galleries stands in its place.
Trainspotting Film Locations Elsewhere in Scotland
1. Corrour Train Station, Rannoch Moor in the Highlands, PH30 4AA
The gorgeous landscape is in the heart of the Scottish countryside and it’s one of the most iconic Trainspotting film locations. Just after Renton walks Diane to school, Tommy takes the gang to the great Scottish countryside to climb hills. This prompts Renton to proclaim ‘it’s shite being Scottish.’ I prefer this speech to the ‘choose life’ one if I’m honest. It’s really raw yet quite eloquent and is possibly the only time Renton blames his situation on an outside source.
Interestingly, you can’t get to this train station by car. At least not easily, so it must have been incredibly difficult to get a whole film crew there. Corrour Train Station is officially the most remote train station in the UK and it takes about three hours to get there from Glasgow. The station also featured briefly in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009).
T2 Trainspotting Film Locations in Edinburgh
1. HMP Edinburgh/Saughton Prison, 33 Stenhouse Rd, EH11 3LN
Begbie’s first appearance in T2 Trainspotting a whole 21 years after the first time was released… and he’s in prison! Who’s surprised, eh? Edinburgh gave the sequel a lot more free reign in terms of filming locations, hallelujah! So this T2 Trainspotting film location is very authentic because it was, in fact, filmed in HMP Edinburgh AKA Saughton Prison.
2. The Great Hall of St. Stephen’s, 105 St Stephen St, Stockbridge, EH3 5AB
Let’s see what Spud’s been up to all these years, eh? Well, he’s at an Addicts Anonymous meeting explaining to his fellow addicts exactly how he tried to rebuild his life off the skag but his failure to understand Daylight Savings meant everything fell apart anyway. And he ended up back on heroin.
3. Edinburgh Airport, EH12 9DN
When Renton arrives back in Edinburgh after spending so long hiding out abroad, he flies into Edinburgh Airport. You can tell it’s been a number of years since the first film purely just because Edinburgh now has a new tram system! Renton uses the tram to travel to Edinburgh city centre.
4. Derelict St Giles Flats on Coatfield Lane, Leith, EH6 6BD
This rather charming block of flats is where Spud goes to buy drugs. The flats are derelict and are actually frequented by real-life junkies. Reports at the time of filming said that the film crews had to clean up needles, rubbish and other drug paraphernalia before filming each day.
5. 52 Yule Terrace, Blackburn, Bathgate, EH47 7HW, West Lothian
Okay, so this filming location is not technically in Edinburgh but near enough. The little village of Blackburn is where the exterior of Renton’s dad’s house is situated. Thanks so much to ‘F’ in the comments for bringing this one to my attention! I knew the location was in Blackburn but no clue where.
6. Northview Court, Leith, EH4 4HG/6 Greendykes Road, EH16 4JN
There’s a little bit of CGI around this filming location! Both Northview Court and Greendykes Road represent Spud’s apartment building at various points throughout the film. Because the apartment building is set to be demolished in the film, a little bit of computer trickery is needed to embellish the T2 Trainspotting film location.
7. Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, 51 Little France Cresent, EH16 4SA
After ‘Frank’ AKA Begbie enlists the help of one of his fellow prisoners to chib (stab) him, he ends up right where he wants to be in the hospital. True to life, Royal Infirmary Edinburgh is the hospital used in the film.
8. The Central Bar, Leith Walk, 7-9 Leith Walk, EH6 8LN
We’ve made it to the scene in the film where Renton arrives at Sick Boy’s pub. Now, Edinburgh location scouts attempted to find the perfect pub in Edinburgh for the fictional Port Sunshine but unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. The Central Bar in Leith, a pub near HMP Edinburgh and one in Glasgow (which we’ll get to later) were all utilised to create Sick Boy’s Port Sunshine pub.
Only the cellar in this pub was used as a filming location, but this exact pub is mentioned in the book version of Trainspotting. So it does have a special place in Trainspotting history regardless!
9. 1 Merchiston Place, EH10 4NR
The next day, after brawling with Renton at his pub, Sick Boy pays his girlfriend Veronika a visit at 1 Merchiston Place. It’s really well filmed through the outside window of her flat as if we’re peering in on a conversation we shouldn’t be listening to.
10. Chocolate Lounge, 30-34 St Andrew Square, EH2 2AD
Sick Boy has a bright idea for his girlfriend to run her own brothel at his pub, Port Sunshine. He goes over a rough blueprint at a café called Chocolate Lounge on Harvey Nichol’s Fourth Floor in Edinburgh city centre. It’s a bit like Hotel Chocolat meets Yo! Sushi with the conveyer belts of chocolate teddy bears and champagne.
11. Salisbury Crags, Arthur’s Seat
Making full use of having the ability/budget to film in Edinburgh, T2 Trainspotting takes the audience on a tour of some of Edinburgh’s most iconic and picturesque locations. A fantastic filming location is Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park, where Renton takes Spud on a little hike to help him kick the habit and get healthy again.
I thoroughly recommend walking up Arthur’s Seat! It’s such a short hike and you get amazing views over the whole city and beyond.
12. The Wolf + Water Pub, 84 Commercial Street, Leith, EH6 6LX
Sick Boy and Renton catch up at The Wolf + Water Pub in Leith. Unfortunately, the pub had already closed down by the time the film was released! What a shame. I think a restaurant called The Kitchin took it over which is a Michelin starred restaurant, no less.
13. Cafe Tartine, 72 Commercial Street, Leith, EH6 6LX
Sick Boy gets angry that he couldn’t convince Renton to stay in Edinburgh and runs out of The Wolf + Water Pub. He shows his anger by shouting at diners in the fancy restaurant next door, Cafe Tartine.
14. Dalton Metal Recycling, 52-66 Salamander Street, Leith, EH6 7LA
When Renton couldn’t bring himself to get on a plane back to Amsterdam, he turns up at Sick Boy’s front door. His house is in an apartment building situated behind a scrap metal recycling yard on 52-66 Salamander Street in Leith.
15. Calton Road Bridge, EH8 8DL
And here’s the underpass that was featured in the first film! It just so happens that the boxing gym Spud starts training at is on the same street he and Renton ran down to escape from the cops in Trainspotting. The appearance of the Calton Road Bridge emphasises how Spud is weighed down by his past and just can’t seem to escape it.
16. WaverleyGate, 2-4 Waterloo Place, EH1 3EG
Sick Boy’s plans to blackmail the Deputy Head Teacher of a posh school backfire when said teacher decides to go to the police. Faced with possible jail time, they find a solicitor to help them. And who’d you think is now a big-time solicitor? None other than Renton’s schoolgirl-friend, Diane.
Diane’s offices are actually the offices of Creative Scotland in WaverleyGate. I guess a publically-funded arts company who helped create the film are probably going to be alright being utilised as one of the T2 Trainspotting film locations.
17. Fourth Floor of Harvey Nichols, 30-34 St Andrew Square, EH2 2AD
We head back to the Fourth Floor of Harvey Nichols, but this time we’re not at the Chocolate Lounge. Instead, Renton and Veronika head to the Fourth Floor Restaurant. Here, Renton updates his iconic ‘choose life’ speech from the first film for a 2017 audience. It’s even got a sneaky wee view of Edinburgh Castle from the window, too.
18. Scottish Parliament Building, EH99 1SP
Since they had to use the money they stole from the Glasweigien purists to help Sick Boy stay out of prison, Renton and Sick Boy needed to come up with another way to fund their brothel renovations at Port Sunshine. So they try and get an EU development loan, obviously. The official Government building used for this T2 Trainspotting filming location was none other than the Scottish Parliament Building at the very end of the Royal Mile.
19. The Cav, 3 West Tollcross Road, EH3 9BP
The nightclub where Renton, unfortunately for him, runs into old mate Begbie takes place in legendary Edinburgh nightclub The Cav. The nightclub is now called Atik, but both the interior and exterior were used in the film and the interior is relatively the same as in T2 Trainspotting.
There’s even a commemorative plaque outside the club of its time as one of the T2 Trainspotting film locations! If every filming location had a mark for every film that was shot there, my life would be so much easier.
20. Edinburgh Old Town – The Bongo Club, Grassmarket, West Bow, Parliament Square, Royal Mile, Fleshmarket Close & Cockburn Street
When Renton tries to run away from Begbie, he takes us on a quick trip around Edinburgh Old Town. Which is a bit far away from Atik nightclub but I’ll let them off. Thanks to Maddy (in the comments!) for letting me know the club they actually run out of is The Bongo Club on Cowgate. Then, Renton runs across Grassmarket onto West Bow and passes The Christmas Shop as seen in Filth (2013), another Irvine Welsh film adaptation I’ve written a filming locations blog post about.
Then, we take *a bit* of a jump to Parliament Square and then down the Royal Mile. Next, he’s running down Fleshmarket Close behind Miss Katy Cupcake, a gift shop in Edinburgh which was transformed into a kebab shop for Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and then onto Cockburn Street.
Next thing, Renton’s running passed Edinburgh Castle and onto his next hiding place…
21. NCP Car Park Edinburgh, Castle Terrace, EH1 2EW
The game of cat and mouse continues between Renton and Begbie in the NCP Car Park Edinburgh near the castle.
22. Marine Drive, Leith, EH4 5EP
The next day, Renton confronts Sick Boy in this abandoned but also beautiful location on Marine Drive in Leith about why on earth he didn’t tell him that Begbie had escaped from prison.
23. Forth Road Bridge, South Queensferry
Renton and Sick Boy are unexpectedly kidnapped by Mr Doyle, the owner of a Sauna AKA brothel in Edinburgh who has heard rumours that Sick Boy is also planning to open up his own brothel. Naturally, Mr Doyle doesn’t want any competition. To teach Renton and Sick Boy a lesson, he drives them across the very recognisable Forth Bridge just outside of Edinburgh.
24. Beecraigs Country Park, Linlithgow, EH49 6PL
He leaves them in some random woods, in the nude, to make their own way back into the city all the while trying to hide their junk. The woodland area is actually Beecraigs Country Park just outside of Edinburgh in Linlithgow. Thanks to Gina Freeman for this tip!
T2 Trainspotting Film Locations in Glasgow
1. University of Glasgow Memorial Gates, Thomson Building, University Avenue, G12 8QQ
These ornate school gates belong to the University of Glasgow. In T2 Trainspotting, Sick Boy attempts to blackmail the Deputy Head Teacher of a posh private school with secret footage of him having sex with a prostitute which is actually Veronika. In a flashback, Sick Boy is scouting out the private school in a bid to find out more about the Deputy Head’s finances.
The University of Glasgow’s memorial gate gives itself away as the dates are shown really clearly on the walls either side of the gate.
2. The Douglas Hotel, 1 North Douglas Street, Clydebank G81 1NQ
Remember I said that multiple pubs were used to stand in for Sick Boy’s pub Port Sunshine? Well, this one was one of them and it’s probably the most important and memorable pub location. The Douglas Hotel in Glasgow is the exterior of the Port Sunshine which is supposed to be set somewhere in Leith, like the majority of the film. And yes, you can actually stay at this hotel if you want to!
A rather posh neighbourhood in Glasgow, Pollokshields is used as a stand-in for the exterior neighbourhood where Begbie’s family lives which is where Begbie hides out when he escapes from prison.
4. The Orb, 149 Hamilton Road, Bellshill ML4 2BB
Possibly my favourite location in T2 Trainspotting, The Orb portrays the Unionist Club where Renton and Sick Boy pretend to be Secular and Catholic-hating protestant purists in order to rob from the none-the-wiser patrons. Pure comedy gold.
I believe this filming location is supposed to be just outside of Glasgow, exactly where the pub is in real life, not a stand-in for an Edinburgh film location. After all, it wouldn’t be clever to steal a load of credit cards from a pub in your own city now, would it?
5. Gallery of Modern Art, Royal Exchange Square, G1 3AH
And when they manage to escape the crowds of protestants after entertaining them with an improvised song, they head to Glasgow city centre exactly where Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art is situated so they can find some ATMs and steal as much money as possible.
6. Stobcross Road, Finnieston, G3 8QQ
The last Glaswegian T2 Trainspotting film location. This is the road Renton, Sick Boy and Veronika drive down to get back to Edinburgh to escape the scene of their crimes. Let’s just overlook the fact that, if anything, they’d technically be driving further into Glasgow on Stobcross Road but whatevs.
T2 Trainspotting Film Locations Elsewhere in Scotland
1. Corrour Train Station, Rannoch Moor in the Highlands, PH30 4AA
This is one of only two T2 Trainspotting film locations that appear in both films. It is, of course, Corrour Train Station where Tommy persuades the gang to visit in the first film. With Tommy now deceased, Renton, Sick Boy and Spud revisit the spot their old friend loved to lay flowers in his memory and be tourists in their own youth.
And that’s your lot! Have you visited any of the Trainspotting film locations around Scotland? Or have you seen either film? Let me know in the comments below!