Very few people could have predicted back in the 1990’s just how triumphant the Harry Potter series would go on to become—notably the half-dozen, half-witted editors who turned down J.K. Rowling’s enchanting drafts in her early years as an author.
20 odd years later, the saga remains one of the most prosperous, irreducible franchises in film and writing. This privileged status has obviously translated into tourism as well since both England and Scotland served as broody backdrops throughout the seven novels.
From the deepest valleys of the Scottish Highlands to the seemingly haunted halls of English castles, here are 25 real-life Harry Potter film locations scattered across Britain that are open to wizarding visitors.
Oxford: Bodleian Library & Christ Church
Do you remember when Harry went into Hogwarts’ library undetected due to his invisibility cloak? Well, the Duke Humfrey’s Library, the oldest reading room in the Bodleian Library, was where all that magic was filmed. To see this part of the library you’ll need to book a private tour unless you have an invisible cloak like Harry did! The Bodleian Library was also the site of the infirmary in four of the Harry Potter movies.
Another important Harry Potter site in Oxford is Christ Church’s Great Hall, the inspiration for the impressive Hogwarts Dining Hall with its elongated wooden tables and vaulted ceilings.
When you visit Christ Church, take notice of the grand staircase leading into the Great Hall — this is the filming location for when the wizarding trio arrives at Hogwarts and enters the Great Hall for the first time and meets Professor McGonagall. It’s also been featured in other films.
Lacock Village and Abbey
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Lacock is one of the most popular stops for Harry Potter film locations, with reason: several scenes were filmed here over the course of the entire movie franchise.
Walk in the footsteps of Harry Potter and all the students of Hogwarts as you explore the grounds of Lacock Abbey, which stood in for Hogwarts in two of the Harry Potter films; used for multiple Hogwarts interior scenes throughout the series, you may remember it from the Mirror of Erised scenes, as well as the location of Professor Snape and Professor Quirrell classrooms.
Further out in the village you’ll walk past Harry’s childhood home.
Built in the 11th century, the castle grounds are where Harry and his friends first learned to fly their broomsticks in The Sorcerer’s Stone. Alnwick Castle is also where Harry learned the rules of Quidditch.
Black Park Country Park
The filming location for several different scenes throughout the series, you may recognize it as the location of Hagrid’s hut during the first two films, the Forbidden Forest, or where Hagrid showed Harry the dragons in The Goblet of Fire. Fun fact: Black Park appears at least once in every Harry Potter film.
Does Goathland Station not ring a bell? That’s because Warner Bros. transformed it into Hogsmeade Station. This charming station acted as the final stop where students would happily disembark to start another year at the best school for witchcraft and wizardry in the world, Hogwarts.
Only true Potterheads will take a trip to the suburbs to visit Harry’s childhood home. 4 Privet Drive was where we first met Harry and the unpleasant Dursley family in The Sorcerer’s Stone. Technically, the home for the movies was filmed in Berkshire, so you’ll find all the crowds taking their pictures at 12 Picket Post Close in Martins Heron.
This location was used in The Deathly Hallows when Harry and Hermione set up camp on a 260-feet high limestone cliff in the Yorkshire Dales.
This stunning landmark was used in most movies of the franchise and served as a backdrop to most interior Hogwarts scenes; this is home to the Hogwarts Common Room as well as the grim corridor where mysterious inscriptions appear in The Chamber of Secrets.
Seven Sisters Country Park
The stunning chalk cliffs of Dover are seen in The Goblet of Fire when Harry walks up the hill to find the uminous boot that transports him to the Quidditch World Cup.
The historic cathedral came to life in The Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry releases Hedwig from his hand in the snow-covered quadrangle cloisters.
London’s most beautiful Victorian market was the location of some of the Diagon Alley scenes. Leadenhall Market also houses the shop used as the entrance of the Leaky Cauldron from the fourth movie in the franchise, The Goblet of Fire.
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”
Claremont Square is the place used for the 12 Grimmauld Place exterior shots in The Order of the Phoenix and The Deathly Hallows Part 1.
In real life, the Order’s headquarters are located just a stone throw’s from King’s Cross in Islington. The square’s odd shape is due to the fact that it used to be a… water reservoir!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Naturally, I beelined for the Harry Potter Studios when I last visited London and I didn’t care how much of a nerd that made me. You can tell by watching the movies how much thought was put into details and how precise J.K. Rowling’s storylines are; you can also tell that they used advanced technology to bring dragons and talking dogs and basilisks to life. I was intrigued by all of that.
How, exactly, do you do justice to such an imaginative, unrealistic yet incredibly relatable story? I don’t want to reveal any secrets or take away the fun parts of the visit so I won’t be writing about the specifics of what I’ve learned. But I will say this: this is definitely one of the highlights of my life.
Kings Cross Station
The iconic and utmost secret entrance to Platform 9 ¾ can still be found today in the heart of King’s Cross train station in London, one of the busiest in the city. The station is either featured or hinted at in the majority of the early films. There is a massive souvenir shop with all things Harry Potter right next to the the luggage cart, wittingly disappearing into the wall.
It is possible to get your picture taken for free, but not without patience, as there are quite lengthy queues on any given day.
For filming purposes, the current platforms 4 and 5 were renumbered 9 and 10.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”
The Millennium Bridge collapsed into the River Thames during the dramatic chase led by Fenrir Greyback in the opening of The Half-Blood Prince.
The special effects required in this scene are simply spectacular, with the cables snapping and the structure undulating worryingly.
While the Death Eaters destroyed the bridge in the film, in reality the pedestrian-only bridge still stands strong and offers great photo ops of the river and of the St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Westminster tube station
Harry & Arthur Weasley had their hilarious encounter with the muggles in the very heart of the London undergoround. While on their way to the Ministry of Magic in The Order of the Phoenix, the odd pair of wizards used the tube not without a few technology-related hiccups on Mr Weasley’s part.
The station, which is one of the busiest in London due to its central location nearby the Houses of Parliament, the eponymous abbey, and the London eye, had to be closed to the public for an entire day.
Think back to The Deathly Hallows – Part 1 when Harry, Ron, and Hermione had to leave Bill and Fleur’s wedding when they learned Death Eaters were after them.
That scene where they were running through the West End was filmed in Piccadilly Circus
The London Zoo
If you take a visit to the world’s oldest scientific zoo, make sure to stop in their Reptile House; this is where a burmese python spoke to Harry in The Sorcerer’s Stone and where the wizard discovered his ability to speak Parseltongue on what was meant to be a regular family day with the Dursleys.
Great Scotland Yard
The corner of Great Scotland Yard and Scotland Place was used in The Deathly Hallows Part 1 during Harry, Ron and Hermione’s preparations for entering the Ministry. However the area is perhaps better known for being the location of the Ministry’s visitor’s entrance phone box used in The Order of the Phoenix.
Located on the South Western Main Line, about 10 miles southwest of London, this is where Harry spots Dumbledore across the lines, standing on Platform 3, in the memorable scene where the venerable professor tries to get Harry and brings him back to the Wizarding world. The railway cafe is where Harry sits glumly reading The Daily Prophet after Death Eaters‘ attack at the Millennium Bridge; a Muggle waitress that questions him about the headlines. The cafe can be found on Platform 1.
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Not only does the Gothic landmark is strikingly similar to Hogwarts, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, built in 1873, was actually used as the entrance to King’s Cross station in The Chamber of Secrets right when the duo of adolescent wizards pull into the station in Arthur Weasley’s now iconic sky blue Ford Anglia… only to miss the train altogether and end up flying all the way into Hogwart’s fiery Whomping Willows!
The entrance to the goblin-run Gringott’s Bank and its perilous vault, as seen in The Philosopher’s Stone, is right here in central London. As indicated by its name, the building is currently the home of the Australian High Commission.
The triple-decker bus that Harry embarks on in The Prisoner of Azkaban, wittingly named the Knight Bus, mindblowingly compresses itself so tight between other buses right here on Lambeth Bridge. The purple, lightning-fast bus is now permanently installed at the Harry Potter WB Studios.
The Elephant House
Grab a coffee and a good book so you can enjoy the coffeehouse where J.K. Rowling spent countless hours creating one of the most popular book and movie series in the world.
Make sure you bring a marker with you so you can add to the heartfelt messages on the bathroom wall.
The Jacobite Train
The Hogwarts Express route is open from March to October, and you can get your ticket starting at only £30.00.
From the Harry Potter studios in London to the colleges in Oxford, I have seen a lot of places where Harry Potter was either set in the books or was actually filmed but nothing even compared to the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland in terms of awe and grandeur.
I spent hours on end doing research on this specific Harry Potter filming location and because I’m happy to share the knowledge with fellow Potterheads.
Loch Shiel, Lochaber
“Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”
Loch Shiel was one of the two gorgeous lakes used for Hogwarts Lake.
It made an appearance in The Prisoner of Azkaban, where Buckbeak dipped his feet in the water while Harry rode on its back and again in The Half-Blood Prince where Harry and Hermione looked across Hogwarts Lake from the Astronomy Tower at the end of the movie.
Glen Coe was used to film multiple scenes. It is the location of Hagrid’s Hut, the bridge leading to the entrance of Hogwarts, and some scenes were also filmed at the nearby lake.
Loch Eilt was used for exterior shots of the Hogwarts grounds and as the island location of Dumbledore’s grave.
In room 552 of this five-star hotel is where J.K. Rowling completed the final book of the series, The Deathly Hallows. You can book the J.K. Rowling Suite and a package that includes a private tour and Harry Potter-themed cocktails starting at £2,500 per night.