When you visit the UK you know you are going to get to see some world famous, authentic Harry Potter places. After all, this is where the Hogwarts traditions came to life with the penmanship of J. K. Rowling. It is also the backdrop of most of the highly memorable settings for the famous scenes in the film series. If you are a true Potter fanatic, you’ll want to keep reading to create your ultimate Harry Potter tour and see the real behind-the-scenes locations of the story and movies.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour
This is a must-see for Harry Potter fans visiting London. The Warner Bros. Studio tour takes you into the inner workings Harry’s life—from his tiny room under the stairs all the way to Hogwarts and Diagon Alley. Visitors can sit under the Sorting Hat, hop on the double-decker bus, or find the perfect wand.
Reptile House in the London Zoo
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry speaks to a massive python in Parseltongue, freeing the snake and banishing Dudley to captivity in its place. Now’s your chance to see the Reptile Room for yourself! The exhibit’s doorway creates the perfect makeshift picture frame in which you can immortalize the start of your adventure. From there, make your way to the enclosure of the silver screen serpent, which is now home to a black mamba. You won’t miss it, thanks to the commemorative plaque next to the snake’s glass home.
King’s Cross Station
It’s hardly a Harry Potter trip without a visit to King’s Cross Station. Take a picture under the sign for Platform 9¾, where there’s even a luggage cart stuck halfway into the wall. You might want to wear your witch or wizard cloak for good measure.
Australia House in London
At the High Commission of Australia located in London, England, you might recognize one of the most famous backdrops of Harry’s first visit to Gringotts. This building is the actual filming location for the scenes where Harry deals with goblins to get his gold. You won’t be able to go inside the Australia House, but you can admire it from the outside. (Hardcore fans will probably recognize the double-columned entryway.)
Millennium Bridge in London
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Death Eaters destroy Millennium Bridge. Fear not, though: the steel structure still stands! In fact, you can check out this modern-day architectural marvel on a leisurely stroll across the Thames.
Malham Cove in North Yorkshire, England
If you’re looking to extend your Harry Potter tour of the UK, be sure to add Malham Cove to your list. This limestone rock-strewn Mars-like landscape is where Harry and Hermione camp out in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.
The Castles of Hogwarts
Three English castles landed starring roles in the Harry Potter movie franchise. Let’s meet them!
- Alnwick Castle is the second largest of its kind in the UK. It provided the exterior shots of Hogwarts in the first two films, and today hosts such wizard-tastic activities as the occasional Quidditch lesson.
- Durham Cathedral was built in 1093 as the monastic cathedral for Benedictine monks. Parts of its interior and exterior feature in the first two films, as well as the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- Gloucester Cathedral has been the site of Christian worship for over 1,300 years. It was used to film several of the interiors of the School for Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two films, along with the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
All you Quidditch fanatics out there will want to add Ashridge Wood to your itineraries. The woods here played host to the Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. While the remnants of the campsite surrounding the sporting event are long gone, the picturesque scenery of this wondrous location continues to attract visitors. It’s the perfect place to stretch your legs and breathe in the fresh English air.
The Jacobite Steam Train in the Scottish Highlands
Now that you’ve visited Platform 9¾, it’s only right that you take a ride on the Hogwarts Express. An actual train, the Jacobite Steam Train, runs the route of the Hogwarts Express as filmed in all of the movies. Travel across the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which is the famous “Harry Potter Bridge,” as you pass from Glasgow to Fort William.
Glencoe in Glasgow
During the train ride of your life, you’ll pass through the vicinity of Glencoe in Glasgow. This picturesque location is best known as being the backdrop of Hagrid’s hut. The gigantic pumpkins are long gone, but you can still visit Loch Torren—the lake beside the half-giant wizard’s home.
The Elephant House in Edinburgh
While writing her first Harry Potter novel, author J.K. Rowling spent her time brainstorming in coffee shops. Well, now you can visit the cafes that inspired the wonderful world of wizarding. Your first stop is the Elephant House, overlooking the Edinburgh Castle.
Disclaimer: Character names and the title of the movie referenced above are the trademarks of their respective owners. They are used to describe the abovementioned locations and are not related in any way to go-today.