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
You cannot miss this if you’re a Harry Potter fan in London! The Warner Bros. Studio tour takes you into Harry’s life – from his room to Hogwarts and even Diagon Alley. Sit under the sorting hat, hop on the double-decker bus or discover which wand is perfect for you. Trust us, you’ll want to go on this studio tour.
Reptile House in the London Zoo
You must recall in the first real adventure of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, aka The Philosopher’s Stone in the UK. Remember how Harry speaks to the massive python in parseltongue, freeing the snake and placing Dudley in captivity? Here is your opportunity to see the Reptile Room first hand. Start your own adventure with the doorway to the room that serves as an ideal photo frame. Then find your way to the place where the python lived, 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
What would a visit to the UK to see Harry Potter locations be without going to the train station—King’s Cross Station, that is! At the King’s Cross, you can get a photo under the signage for Platform 9 3/4. There is even a recreation of a cart for luggage getting stuck in the wall. Bring your Harry Potter cloak and Hedwig’s cage for good measure. Forgot your props? Not to worry, the platform is also a location for a Harry Potter souvenir shop.
Australia House in London, England
At the High Commission of Australia located in London, England, you will 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. From the outside of the building, you will see some resemblances including the two-story columned entryway. However, the actual filming took place inside Australia House, which was built in 1918. You aren’t able to go inside the building, but only the most intense Potter fans will be aware of the magnitude of this locale. Visiting Australia House will set you apart from the mediocre fans, for sure.
Millennium Bridge in London, England
According to the Harry Potter story, the Millennium Bridge is destroyed by Death Eaters as filmed in the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Today the Millennium Bridge in all of its steel glory still stands. In fact, you can check out this modern day architectural marvel that is a lightyear ahead of the ancient style of that other famous structure, the London Bridge.
Malham Cove in North Yorkshire, England
As you wind up your tour of the Harry Potter filming locations in the UK, add Malham Cove to your must-see list. This natural limestone rock-covered landscape is where Harry Potter and Hermione camp out in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One when Ron runs off in anger. Now you can take a stroll over this Mars-like ground and prepare yourself for the end of your most amazing Harry Potter vacation.
Three Castles of Hogwarts
In order to film the location of Hogwarts, three castles around England played a role. You have Durham Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral, and Alnwick Castle. If you want to make the most of your UK Harry Potter itinerary, spend a day visiting each one. Alnwick Castle is the farthest north of the three located near the North Sea coastline. From there, travel south to about an hour to reach Durham Castle. To make your way to the Gloucester Cathedral in the southwestern part of England takes a bit longer at approximately four and a half hours by vehicle.
- Alnwick Castle, the second largest castle in the UK, is a popular tourist attraction. Presenting the exterior of Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films, today you can enjoy Potter-related activities, such as the occasional Quidditch lesson.
- Durham Cathedral is featured for interior and exterior shots in the first two movies, as well as the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- Gloucester Cathedral 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.
Are you a major Quidditch fanatic? If so, you’ll want to add Ashridge Wood to your itinerary. This is where the Quidditch World Cup was filmed, here in the woods, in the film 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 woods 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
Choo, choo! Now that you have visited Platform 9 3/4 you better get your ticket for 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.
The Elephant House in Edinburgh, Scotland
Everyone knows the story of how the single mother named J. K. Rowling spent her time in cafes while writing her first Harry Potter novel. Well, now you have the chance to visit that actual cafe and breathe in the inspirational, albeit caffeinated, air. Your first stop on the real Harry Potter experience is the Elephant House. Overlooking the Edinburgh Castle, you can clearly see where Rowling found some of her Hogwarts inspiration.
Glencoe in Glasgow, Scotland
While on the train ride of your life you are going to be in the vicinity of Glencoe in Glasgow. Glencoe is a picturesque location that is best known for the backdrop of Hagrid’s hut. While the gigantic pumpkins have all been removed, die-hard fans will be able to visit Loch Torren that sat beside the half-giant wizard’s home. In addition, sets for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban were located in Clachaig Gully in Glencoe.
Taking on the task of creating a UK Harry Potter itinerary can be quite intimidating. After all, you want to fit in as many sights as you possibly can while in Scotland and England. However, each of these locations is an excellent additions to any Potter fans’ vacation experience. A final tip is to choose your favorite film of the eight and identify any settings of scenes that are most precious to you. Then do your own research to see if you can locate these exact places in England. If you don’t see your favorite scene here check out the Visit Britain guide to Harry Potter. It’s the perfect way to personalize your own itinerary using our travel plans as a starting point.