Calling all Harry Potter fans!
Harry Potter is one of the most beloved movie series ever made and the first movie, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year (2021)!
Have you wanted to visit Hogwarts and experience your own magical Harry Potter adventure? There are amazing places you can visit that will teleport you into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
We have put together the perfect Harry Potter Travel Experience: a list of places that will get you onto platform 9 ¾, the Hogwarts Express, and into Hogwarts itself!
London is the perfect hub to launch off on your own Harry Potter journey!
With plenty of filming locations to a show on the west end even and a studio tour, there are plenty of Harry Potter things to see and do right in London!
Harry Potter Studio Tour
Warner Bros Studio is home to the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour! This is located a bit outside of London, near Watford Junction, but it is a definite must-visit for any Harry Potter fan!
This film studio was where all eight of the Harry Potter films were filmed, and where many of the sets, clothing, and props from the movies are displayed. You can visit the Great Hall, the railway station, numerous filming locations from inside Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forest, and even Diagon Alley!
On your visit, you will learn some of the movie magic about how the films were made, drink Butterbeer, and take in all the Harry Potter magic. There are also places to stop and eat, and a giant gift shop full of all things Harry Potter!
The tour lasts for about three hours and is mostly self-guided, so you can go at your own pace.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
This is not a filming location, but the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play is a very popular show for Harry Potter fans in London.
This amazing performance has been showing in London’s west end since 2016 at the Palace Theatre. The play is set nineteen years after the events of the final movie in the series and tells the story of Harry Potter as an adult, and his son Albus, who is just starting at Hogwarts.
The play takes place in two parts, and each part is over 2.5 hours long. It is recommended that you book tickets for both parts consecutively and in advance since this is a hugely popular show!
The millennium bridge is featured in an iconic moment in the very beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The bridge is memorable because in the scene it is featured in, this pedestrian footbridge (which links St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern Museum) gets ripped apart and tossed into the Thames.
Kings Cross Station
Have you ever imagined being teleported to Platform 9 and 3/4 at Kings Cross station?
The scenes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets were filmed on location at Kings Cross station, between platforms four and five.
Of course, you’ll struggle to find a real Platform 9 and 3/4 at Kings Cross station today. In the main concourse of Kings Cross station, next to a Harry Potter store you can find a trolley located in the wall, perfect for a photo!
Sometimes the lineup to get a photo here is really long, but you can find a similar photo op at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour (mentioned above).
Claremont Square, Islington
If you’re in the Kings Cross area, you might as well walk ten minutes up to Claremont Square. This was the setting for 12 Grimmauld Place, the home of Sirius Black, and the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix in the fifth and seventh Harry Potter movies.
Plenty of the Diagon Alley scenes were shot in a studio, but several real-life London locations were also used as Diagon Alley filming locations. Leadenhall Market is a beautiful old covered market that dates from the 14th century, making it one of the oldest markets in the city and it was used as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Another popular Diagon Alley Location! The real-life “Chez Michele” flower shop and is used as another entry into the Leaky Cauldron pub in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
While you’re at Borough Market, pick up something to eat – there are lots of excellent food vendors here.
And don’t forget about…
- Lambeth Bridge
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Knight Bus squeezes itself between two double-decker buses. This scene takes place on Lambeth Bridge, just upstream from Westminster Bridge.
- London Zoo
- In the heart of Regent’s Park, in the London Zoo. In the Reptile House, Harry Potter sets a Burmese python free in the first movie. This scene was filmed on location in the Reptile House, and they used the zoo’s black mamba enclosure!
- When Harry arrives at “Kings Cross” to catch the Hogwarts train, the exterior shots are actually of St. Pancras, which just happens to look a bit nicer.
- Piccadilly Circus
- Piccadilly Circus was a key location in the film when Ron, Hermione, and Harry narrowly avoided being hit by a London bus.
You can easily visit Oxford as a day trip from London! Oxford is gorgeous, and the prestigious university is the city’s defining feature but there’s so much to experience in Oxford, including finding some Harry Potter magic, intriguing museums, intricate bookstores, historic pubs, and more!
Christ Church College
Christ Church Hall
The first Christ Church Harry Potter location is certainly the most famous – Christ Church Great Hall, which is the inspiration for Hogwarts iconic dining hall.
However, you won’t find the actual Harry Potter dining hall in Oxford. The scenes filmed were done onset in the Warner Bros. studios, but the set was created to closely reflect the actual Christ Church’s Hall.
The top of this staircase was used in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when the new first years (including the golden trio Harry, Ron, and Hermione) arrive at Hogwarts and are greeted by Professor McGonagall.
They also return to this spot at the end of the film after they’ve defeated Quirrell and Voldemort and are about to head home. The bottom of the stairs is used in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
It’s a short walk from New College to the Bodleian Library!
The Divinity School
The Divinity School was used as a filming location in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and in later films as the Hogwarts Infirmary. It is easily recognized, with the beautiful, vaulted ceiling and those windows aren’t easily mistaken.
If you see students in the hospital wing at any point (they’re in there a lot), it is most likely the Divinity School. And it is not only featured as the Hogwarts hospital, but it also makes an appearance in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as the hall in which the students practice their Triwizard Tournament dances.
Duke Humfrey’s Library
Remember the scene where Harry is wearing the invisibility cloak and looking for information in the restricted section of the library in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone? That was filmed in the beautiful Duke Humphrey’s Library!
New College Cloisters
The New College Cloisters are used in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire numerous times – they were used for many of the corridor scenes within the film, including the one in the courtyard when Mad Eye Moody turns Malfoy into a ferret!
Scotland is easily reached by train or plane from London!
Edinburgh is a great hub for the start of your Scottish adventures! J.K. Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter books in Edinburgh Scotland, and you can still visit some of these places today!
The Elephant House
J.K Rowling wrote a lot of Harry Potter in Edinburgh cafes. This is the most notable one.
It is not a filming location, but this coffee shop in Edinburgh is called The Elephant House and it proclaims to be the “Birthplace of Harry Potter” and attracts loads of tourists! It is definitely worth the wait to stand in line and get coffee and maybe a snack.
Note: Due to a recent fire in the building, The Elephant House is currently closed until further notice.
Room 552 at the Balmoral Hotel
JK Rowling finished the seventh and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, at the Balmoral Hotel, a 5-star 19th-century luxury hotel located next to the Waverley train station.
After finishing the book, she notoriously graffitied a marble bust of the god Hermes. She wrote, “JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007” on the bust. The bust is proudly displayed in the suite behind glass. The suite was later renamed the JK Rowling Suite, you can even stay in this suite.
If you’ve ever wanted to ride on the Hogwarts Express, this is for you! A “real-life” Hogwarts Express runs between April and October and takes Potterhead’s on a journey through the Scottish countryside. Unfortunately, the train doesn’t depart from the “real” Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross Station.
The train, which looks a lot like the train in the Harry Potter films, is operated by West Coast Railways, leaves from Fort William, about a two-hour drive from Glasgow, and runs to Mallaig in the Highlands of Scotland.
Surprisingly enough, this isn’t the only Hogwarts Express train in the U.K. Another train, operated by the North Yorkshire Moors Historical Railway Trust. They treat passengers to a Harry Potter experience, including a stop at Goathland station, which was featured as “Hogsmeade Station” in the films.
One of the most iconic scenes in all of the Harry Potter movies is when the Hogwarts Express travels along a curved rail bridge on the journey to Hogwarts. The real-world filming location for “the Harry Potter bridge”, is the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
The viaduct crosses a pretty valley here, and it makes for some fantastic photo opportunities, especially if the Jacobite train happens to be crossing at the same time (if you want to photograph the “Hogwarts Express” crossing the viaduct, check the Jacobite timetable).
You can reach Glenfinnan by bus, train, or car. To reach the viaduct and get good views of it, you need to do a short hike.
Loch Shiel can often be seen as background scenery in the films, and it shows up briefly in all 8 movies! It is also the setting for many of the scenes of the Black Lake and can often be seen in the background during Hogwarts Express sequences.
For an excellent view of the loch, you have to do some hiking to the top of the Glenfinnan Monument, from the Glenfinnan Monument viewpoint, and from the Glenfinnan Viaduct hiking trail (the same hike as mentioned above).
Happy Harry Potter-ing!
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