6 Rebus Filming Locations in Scotland

Sarah Henderson ·May 16, 2024Reading time: 4 minutes

It’s official, Edinburgh’s favourite Inspector is back! Based on the acclaimed novels by Ian Rankin and starring Outlander alum Richard Rankin in the titular role, Rebus is a new gripping crime drama from the BBC. The series follows John Rebus in his younger detective days and the action unfolds against the backdrop of Edinburgh’s dramatic cityscape. Want to enjoy the city without the drama? We’ve got you covered with our list of Rebus filming locations to visit in Edinburgh.  

Rebus will launch on Friday 17 May. All episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer from 6am, with episode one airing on BBC Scotland on Friday 17 May at 10pm and on BBC One on Saturday 18 May at 9:25pm.

  1. Grassmarket and Victoria Street Old Town

    Rebus filming on Victoria Terrace

    © BBC/Viaplay/Eleventh Hour/Graeme Hunter

    The Old Town of Edinburgh is the perfect backdrop for the Rebus series, with atmospheric cobbles, twisting streets and hidden closes. Get close to the action with a visit to the historic Grassmarket area of the city, once home to open-air marketplaces and even public executions. Thankfully things have moved on, and nowadays it’s a bustling spot full of independent shops, cafés and characterful pubs that date back to the 18th century, all with epic views of Edinburgh Castle. Soak up the atmosphere with an evening stroll along Victoria Street, which curves down from the Royal Mile and onto Grassmarket. 

  2. The Mound City centre

    New College at the top of The Mound

    As backdrops go, The Mound is a pretty spectacular filming location. As its name suggests, The Mound is a steep hill connecting Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns, with incredible views of the National Galleries, Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle and the rest of the city. This filming location reflects the detective’s complex character, as well as the duality of Edinburgh’s shifting landscapes. At the top of The Mound is New College, part of the University of Edinburgh - its gothic architecture is most impactful when lit up at night. If you’re looking for more Scottish culture, at the bottom of The Mound you can find the National Gallery and RSA buildings. They display some of Scotland’s most impressive art, from old masters to cutting-edge contemporary artists.  

  3. National Library of Scotland George IV Bridge

    National Library of Scotland

    With its bookish origins, it’s no surprise that the new Rebus series features some internal shots of The National Library of Scotland. Centrally located on George IV Bridge off the Royal Mile, the architecture of the building is impressive inside and out. The unfolding corridors and hidden nooks perfectly conjure the mystery and excitement of Rebus's story. The research archive dates back to the 17th century and boasts an incredible collection for visitors to explore, including maps, manuscripts and rare historical documents. Ian Rankin even donated his entire archive to the library! There’s a regular series of events and exhibitions throughout the year, as well as a café to enjoy.  

  4. The Meadows South side of the city

    Cherry blossom trees in The Meadows

    Eagle-eyed viewers may have spotted The Meadows in the new Rebus series, a beautiful, open green space in the south of the city. In the spring sunshine there’s no better place to bring your copy of Ian Rankin’s original novels and read under the shade of the cherry blossoms, which are in full bloom in April and May. There are a couple of trendy food and coffee trucks nearby to fuel your wanders, or you could explore the nearby neighbourhoods of Bruntsfield and Marchmont if you want to feel like a true Edinburgh local.  

  5. George Heriot’s School Lauriston

    Rebus behind the scenes filming at George Heriot's

    © BBC/Viaplay/Eleventh Hour/Graeme Hunter

    Edinburgh is well-known for its impressive buildings and academic prowess. These attributes come together at George Heriot’s, the school which Rebus’s daughter Sammy attends in the series. It’s not the first time the school has been associated with fiction; some claim it’s the school that inspired J.K. Rowling to invent Hogwarts! Head to Greyfriars Kirkyard for some of the best views of the school. It was founded in the 1600s, and from the atmospheric graveyard you can marvel at the Renaissance architecture, elaborate turrets and sandstone façade. 

    Key facilities
    • On Public Transport Route
    • Pets Welcome
    • WiFi
  6. The Oxford Bar New Town

    Rebus being filmed outside the Oxford Bar in New Town

    © BBC/Viaplay /Eleventh Hour/Graeme Hunter

    After a day spent investigating all these Rebus locations in Edinburgh, you’ll be ready for a rest and a wee tipple! The Oxford Bar in New Town is featured in the series, but its connections with Ian Rankin go back much further. It’s been Ian’s favourite haunt since the 1980s and, being a place where local cops used to drink, he was inspired to make it Rebus’s local as well. Many characters from the pub have been used in Ian Rankin’s fiction and it's not unheard of to see the author himself in there enjoying a pint. 

Don’t just take our word for it, Edinburgh plays a central role in the new Rebus series: 

“Wherever you go in Edinburgh, you get those iconic locations. Anybody who knows the city knows how photogenic it is. It’s beautiful and Gothic. You have the wonderful light on the Firth of Forth and the amazing skies. But it is also this divided city. The rationality of the New Town during the Enlightenment is right next to the medieval Old Town and all that debauchery and vice that went on there. It looks really cinematic and dramatic on film.” 

Gregory Burke, Writer and Executive Producer 

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