Post Summary: This is a compilation of 16 Harry Potter places to visit for every Potterhead! These are Harry Potter filming locations, inspiration, and more. Keep reading to find out where to go to feel like you’re at Hogwarts with Harry, Ron, and Hermione!
I’ll admit it, I didn’t become a Harry Potter fan until well into adulthood. I tried to get into the books as a kid, but I never could. I was a big reader, but for some reason, I just didn’t like Harry Potter. I definitely missed out, but I also think reading them for the first time as an adult is kind of magical.
Austin and I took a trip to Scotland in 2022 and six months before that, I decided I wanted to read the entire Harry Potter series before we went. I have this thing where I love to read books set in the destination I’m visiting before I go. It helps me get in the spirit of this new place. Anyway, I didn’t quite finish before the trip, but I finished reading book seven sitting on a bench in Hyde Park in London which was just perfect.
I’m so glad I decided to read these books before our trip because it made it so much more fun. We did a Harry Potter tour in Edinburgh, we walked the same steps as JK Rowling when she was writing, and we got to be kids again at Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station.
I’ve decided to round up the best Harry Potter places to visit for every Potterhead out there. Read about them below or click on this link to see them in Google Maps:
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Florida)
Most of my audience is located in the US. If that’s you, this is probably the easiest place to get to for you since it’s the only one in our country! There are actually two locations, though. One is in California and the other is in Florida. I plan to visit the Florida location later this year and most people that I talk to that have been to both say the Florida version is MUCH better, so I’ll reference that one.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is located at Universal in Orlando, FL and it transports you right into the books. You can board the Hogwarts Express, walk through Diagon Alley, taste butterbeer, and even use your wand to perform magic in this park. My worry is that this theme park would be kitschy or geared toward children, but most people say it’s incredible for adults as well. Definitely worth a visit!
Greyfriars Kirkyard (Edinburgh)
The next few locations are all in Edinburgh, Scotland. If you plan to visit, I highly recommend the Potter Trail tour so you can get all the information about these spots. The tour is incredibly fun and interactive! It’s where I got most of the facts I’ll share here.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is a very old graveyard in Edinburgh. JK Rowling spend a lot of time writing the first couple of books in the Elephant House Cafe which overlooked this graveyard. So, when she needed a writing break, she would head down stairs and walk through it. If you decide to walk through, you’ll notice some familiar names on a few of the graves such as Thomas Riddell, Henry Scrymgeour, and William McGonagall. She used a few of these names as inspiration for character names, but often spelled them differently in the books.
While walking around Greyfriars Kirkyard, you might also notice a school behind a metal fence. The school is called George Heriot’s School which is a normal primary school in Edinburgh, but there are a few familiar qualities about it. For starters, the old architecture and turrets are a shoo-in for being inspiration for Hogwarts. The big one, though, is that this school splits its students up into four houses: Lauriston, Greyfriars, Raeburn or Castle. You’ll have to take the tour to see which house you’d be in if you went here.
Victoria Street (Edinburgh)
The Potter Trail tour ends on Victoria Street which gives you the perfect excuse to continue exploring and shopping. However, even if you don’t do the tour or aren’t much of a Harry Potter fan, this street is still a must-see.
It’s a narrow, curved, cobblestone street lined with colorful buildings and specialty shops. You’ll find stores that specialize in cheese, whisky, wool, books, meat, and more. You might even feel like Harry when he was shopping for school books, a broom, a wand, an owl, etc. This is because Victoria Street was one of the inspirations behind Diagon Alley.
While you’re here, there is a shop called Museum Context which has Harry Potter displays and items for sale. I highly recommend looking around here.
Elephant House Cafe (Edinburgh)
I mentioned earlier that JK Rowling did a lot of writing in Elephant House Cafe. This was mostly her earlier books, when she could still go out in public and focus without being recognized. Unfortunately, Elephant House Cafe had a fire recently, so it’s not open for business, but the front of the building and signage is still there to see.
Supposedly, it will be restored soon and when it is, it would be incredible to sit in the spot where this series came to life.
Nicholson’s Restaurant (Edinburgh)
JK Rowling’s brother in-law owned a restaurant called Nicholsons Restaurant and this is another spot that she spent a lot of time writing the Harry Potter series. This restaurant has since moved and the building has changed a few times. It’s now a Chinese restaurant located at 3 S. College St. So, if you’re in the mood for Chinese food and want to sit where a great writer has sat before, visit this spot!
Balmoral Hotel (Edinburgh)
As she continued writing and her books were gaining massive popularity, JK Rowling stopped going into public to write as she would continuously get stopped and was unable to focus. She also had little ones running around her house, so it was hard to focus there as well. To finish Deathly Hallows in 2007, she stayed at the Balmoral Hotel right in the heart of Edinburgh.
Specifically, she stayed in room 552 which is now called “The JK Rowling Suite.” The room has a tasteful Harry Potter theme to it and yes, you can stay here as a guest, but it will cost quite a bit.
Glenfinnan Viaduct (Scottish Highlands)
Leaving Edinburgh, we are going to head to the Scottish Highlands. Even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, you must venture into the highlands on your Scotland trip.
My favorite area is Isle of Skye. Read more about that here!
In the Harry Potter films, after the kids board the Hogwarts Express, we usually see sweeping views of the Scottish Highlands. A lot of this is filmed around Glenfinnan and the Viaduct is especially well known in the Chamber of Secrets when Ron and Harry have to fly Ron’s dad’s car to Hogwarts.
If you time it right, you can even see the Jacobite Steam Train pass over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, or ride it yourself!
Kings Cross Station (London)
There are a lot of Harry Potter places to visit in Scotland, but even more in London, where much of the filming took place for the movies. Our first stop is Kings Cross Station where you’ll find Platform 9 3/4! You don’t have to buy a train ticket to take a photo of yourself holding the cart that looks like it’s going through a brick wall, but you will have to stand in line. Right next to this photo op is a Harry Potter themed store with candies, butter beer, clothing, and little trinkets. You’ll probably have to stand in line for this, too.
Every year on September 1st at 11am, people fill Kings Cross Station to hear the Hogwarts Express announcement played over the intercom!
Warner Bros Studio Tour (London)
The Warner Bros Studio is the place to go to step into the world of Harry Potter. You’ll get to tour through the movie sets, see the costumes, and learn about how the movies were made. They even do specialty tours throughout the year, so I’d suggest planning your trip around on of these.
Oxford University (England)
Oxford University was one of the filming locations in the Harry Potter movies. JK Rowling even walked the campus grounds and made suggestions for the film crew to use specific areas. Get Your Guide has a tour that highlights all of the filming locations, including access to the Divinity School where some classroom shots were taken.
London Theatre (London) or Broadway (New York)
The eighth story in the Harry Potter series is actually a theater play! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was written by Jack Thorne and plays at the London Theatre and on Broadway in New York. During this play, you’ll step forward several years after the book series ended and meet the children of all your favorite Harry Potter characters. Turns out, they get into as much mischief as their parents!
Reptile House at London Zoo (London)
The reptile house at the London Zoo is home to the iconic scene where we witness Harry’s magic by making the glass on a boa constrictor’s enclosure vanish. We all know what happens after that, but if you want to visit the place where this happened, add the London Zoo to your itinerary!
Leadenhall Market (London)
While Victoria Street in Edinburgh is said to have inspired Diagon Alley, Leadenhall Market was an actual filming location for it in the movies, specifically in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This is where Hagrid and Harry first enter the Leaky Cauldron and see the shops that line Diagon Alley.
The actual Leadenhall Market is covered, but still airy, and is lined with boutique shops with clothing, food, flowers, shoes, and more!
Millennium Bridge (London)
Millennium Bridge is the filming location of the iconic scene in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince when Death Eaters destroy the bridge attempting to help the Dark Lord take over. This is an actual bridge that you can visit and walk over as a tourist.
Alnwick Castle (England)
In addition to London, there are a few Harry Potter places to visit in other parts of England. Alnwick Castle played a huge part in the first and second movies. This was the filming location for Hogwarts! Visit this webpage and you’ll immediately recognize the courtyard, castle structure, and little corridors that the students and faculty used in the movies.
The castle is open April through October and is located at the very northern end of England. It’s about a 6-hour drive from London or 2 hours from Edinburgh. This would be an excellent stop if you’re driving from one city to another. If you don’t plan on driving at all, Get Your Guide has organized day trips from Edinburgh that might be of interest.
Goathland Station (England)
One last filming location for you to check out on your Harry Potter tour! This one is the real life Hogsmeade station. Granted, this location was only used for filming Hogsmeade station in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (other locations were used later on), but Goathland Station still looks exactly like Hogsmeade and is the perfect setting for any Potterhead to explore!
You can get to Goathland Station by booking a train ticket through North Yorkshire Moors Railway, or you can drive. It’s about a 5-hour drive north of London or 4 hours from Edinburgh.
Harry Potter Tour in Edinburgh
If you want to knock out a bunch of the Harry Potter places to visit in Edinburgh, I highly recommend the Potter Trail! I had low expectations as this is a free walking tour (they suggest a donation at the end), but it was so fun! My boyfriend (who is NOT a Potterhead) even said he had a good time. The tour guides were so into what they were talking about and you could just tell they loved their jobs. That translated to the guests so well!