Despite being set in Edinburgh, almost all of the film was shot in Glasgow, apart from the opening scenes, which were shot in Edinburgh, and the final scenes which were shot in London.
Notable locations in the film include:
- The opening scene of Renton and Spud being chased by security for shoplifting is on Princes Street, Edinburgh. A shoplifting scene was filmed in the music department of a Princes Street John Menzies, now a Next.
- The chase ending is on Calton Road, Edinburgh, near the rear entrance of Waverley Station.
- The park where Sick Boy and Renton discuss James Bond, Sean Connery, and The Name of the Rose is Rouken Glen Park in Giffnock, near Glasgow. The park was also the site of the grave in Boyle's previous film, Shallow Grave.
- Corrour railway station is the setting for the "great outdoors" scene in the film, where Tommy suggests the group climb Leum Uilleim.
- The flat that Renton shows the young couple around when he gets the job as an estate agent and ultimately stashes Begbie and Sick Boy in is 78A Talgarth Road in West Kensington, London, opposite West Kensington tube station.
- The scenes where they do their drug deal takes place in Bayswater. The scene where they parody the cover of The Beatles album Abbey Road takes place as they walk out of Smallbrook Mews across Craven Road to the Royal Eagle, 26–30 Craven Road, Bayswater.
- The school attended by Diane is Jordanhill in Glasgow's West End.
- The pub in which Begbie throws a pint glass off a balcony is Crosslands, located on Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow. The pub has an oil painting depicting the scene hung in the upstairs area.
- 30 of the 50 locations used were in the then derelict Wills' Cigarette Factory on Alexandra Parade, Glasgow.