If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan like me, then you’ll know that there is no greater thrill than being in one of the places where the movies were made! I’m lucky enough to live close to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando and I love strolling through Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, but it is an even more amazing experience to see where the films were actually created! The majority of the Harry Potter filming locations are in the UK, and this guide covers the best Harry Potter places to visit for the ultimate fan, where exactly you can find them, and which movies they were featured in.
Harry Potter places to visit in the UK
Harry Potter places to visit in London
While there are a lot of Harry Potter filming locations in London, most of them are really easy to miss because they just don’t look like they did in the movies! Either they were decorated or painted a certain way for the films, or CGI was added to change how things look, or it’s just been a while since filming took places they’ve changed. It’s still pretty cool to see some of them though!
Harry Potter fans will know that Harry left for school on the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Station, and the station is easily accessible for those who want to go and have a look – there’s even a photo op where you can pretend to run through the wall onto Platform 9 3/4! There’s also a Harry Potter gift shop in the station.
What Harry Potter fans might not know, however, is that when you see outside shots of what is supposed to be King’s Cross Station, you’re actually looking at a totally different station altogether! The exterior shots are of St Pancras Station, which is a much prettier station from the outside! You can mainly see this in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Harry and Ron steal Mr Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia to get to school.
A Harry Potter filming location in London that should be pretty recognizable once you spot it is Millennium Bridge, which is destroyed by the Death Eaters in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In the movie, the bridge bends and twists as the Death Eaters fly past it, but in real life it’s a very pleasant walk, with a beautiful view of St Paul’s Cathedral from the middle.
Another easily recognizable Harry Potter filming location in London is Claremont Square, which is used in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as the exterior shot for Number 12 Grimmauld Place. This is instantly recognizable from the outside since it looks pretty much exactly the same as it did in the movies!
One of those spots that would be easy to miss is Leadenhall Market, an undercover market that held the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. This entrance looks very little like it did in the film and can be hard to spot; within the market itself, look for a side street called Bull’s Head Passage and you can find the doorway there, although there is a perfectly ordinary shop there instead of a Wizarding Pub!
One final location that I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way for – but is still a pretty cool spot if you happen to walk by – is Australia House, which is the filming location for Gringotts Bank. The interior shots of Gringotts were filmed here, however since it’s a government building, you can’t go inside to look around. It is a pretty building from the outside and it’s a cool place to see, but since you can’t go in, I wouldn’t make a special trip there. Don’t worry however – there are other places on the list where you can see inside Gringotts!
The Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden
Leavesden Studios should be high up on any Harry Potter fan’s list as Harry Potter places to visit when visiting the London area since it’s home to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, one of the most thorough and incredible tours I’ve ever been on! If this is somewhere you think you might be interested in visiting on your trip then stop reading this right now, and book your tickets since they sell out pretty far in advance! Once you’ve done that however, then keep reading!
The Harry Potter Studio Tour is an epic tour that can easily take a whole day to complete, but could also be done in a few hours if you’re pressed for time. Indoor scenes include The Great Hall, the Gryffindor Common Room, the Potion’s Classroom, Dumbledore’s Office, and Hagrid’s Hut, as well as multiple rooms featuring props, costumes, and special effects. You can also go outside and see the Knight Bus, as well as standing outside Number 4 Privet Drive, and even standing on Hogwarts Bridge!
The highlights for me including walking through Diagon Alley at the end of the tour (including walking past Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes and Ollivanders Wand shop!) and the incredible scale model of Hogwarts you will pass before you head out. There is a large gift shop where you can spend your Muggle money on pretty much every kind of Harry Potter souvenir imaginable!
Getting to the studios isn’t all that easy; despite it’s name, the studios aren’t actually in London city center and you’ll need to take the train from the city to Watford Junction and catch the shuttle bus. This isn’t the easiest journey in the world, especially if you’re not familiar with London transport, so give yourself plenty of time to get there. I would suggest booking one of the earliest tours of the day if you know you want to spend as much time as possible exploring the studio, and leave at least an hour to get there and back.
Harry Potter places to visit in Gloucester
One of the most recognizable places to visit for any Harry Potter fan will be Gloucester Cathedral, which was used for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, including the scene where the words “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened! Enemies of the heir beware!” were written on the wall! The interior of the cathedral will look incredibly familiar to Harry Potter fans, and a visit to the cathedral is a must if you want to pretend you’re walking through Hogwarts!
Harry Potter places to visit in Oxford
Oxford, or more specifically, the University of Oxford was not only one of the filming locations for a number of scenes from the Harry Potter movies, but it also inspired several other sets that went on to be recreated at the film studios. Most notably, The Hall at Christ Church College was the inspiration for The Great Hall at Hogwarts, and the two are almost identical; you can see the interpretation the film makers came up with on the Harry Potter Studio Tour.
Actual filming locations include Duke Humfrey’s Library, which was the used as the Hogwarts library in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when Harry tried out his invisibility cloak for the first time, and the Divinity School, which was used as the Hogwarts infirmary in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where Dumbledore visits Harry after his encounter with Professor Quirrell at the end of the movie. Both of these filming locations are found at the Bodleian Library, which has a guided tour available if you want to see these locations for yourself. New College at the University of Oxford was also used in various scenes in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Harry Potter places to visit in Scotland
Considering Hogwarts Castle is located in Scotland, then this has to be on your list of Harry Potter places to visit!
My favorite of all the Harry Potter filming locations to visit is the Glenfinnian Viaduct, otherwise known as the Harry Potter bridge. This is the bridge that’s part of the stunning overhead shot of the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The viaduct is not far from another Harry Potter filming location; Loch Schiel, which was where the contestants had completed their second Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
There are other lochs that were used in filming of the Harry Potter movies, including Loch Arkaig, which was used as the lake that Harry, Ron, and Hermione were dropped into after they escaped Gringotts on the back of the dragon, and Loch Etive is where the trio were camped out when they were on the run and Ron was jealous of Harry and Hermione working on the Horcrux without him.
Just south of the Scottish border (technically in England, but not too far from Edinburgh if you happen to be in that area) you can find Alnwick Castle, which was the filming location for many of the exterior Hogwarts shots in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, including when Harry is learning to play Quidditch with Oliver Wood, and where he has his first flying lesson (where poor Neville falls off his broom!)
Not far from there is also Goathland Train Station, which was used for the filming of Hogsmeade Train Station in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, both when the students arrive at Hogwarts for the first time, and when Hagrid is waving Harry off at the end of his first year and gives him the photos of his parents (a scene that always makes me cry!)