Few predicted back in the 1990’s just how triumphant the Harry Potter series would go on to become. Sincere salutations to the half-dozen, half-witted editors who turned down J.K. Rowling’s 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 has obviously translated into tourism as well, since both England and Scotland served as broody backdrops throughout the seven movies.
Here are 25+ real-life Harry Potter filming locations scattered across Britain that are open to wizarding visitors. From the Scottish Highlands to English castles and beyond!
Harry Potter filming locations in England
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. Private tour are mandatory for this part of the library… unless you have an invisibility cloak! Let’s not forget that the Bodleian Library also acted as the infirmary in four of the movies.
Another important Harry Potter site in Oxford is Christ Church’s Great Hall. It’s so obviously the inspiration for the 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 first arrives at Hogwarts and enters the Great Hall to meet Professor McGonagall.
Lacock Village and Abbey
Lacock is one of the most popular stops for Harry Potter filming locations. With reason: several scenes were shot here over the course of the entire franchise.
Walk in the footsteps of Harry Potter and Hogwarts students as you explore the grounds of Lacock Abbey. It was used for multiple Hogwarts interior scenes. Firstly, the Mirror of Erised scenes, and secondly, Professor Snape’s and Professor Quirrell’s classrooms.
Further out in the village you’ll walk past Harry Potter’s childhood home and Horace Slughorn’s House. Now, remember that these are private residences. Please be respectful of the people living there!
Additional Harry Potter locations in England
- Alnwick Castle: The castle grounds are where Harry takes his first flying lesson in The Sorcerer’s Stone. Alnwick Castle is also where Harry learned the rules of Quidditch. Fun fact: the castle is fascinating and dates back to the 11th century!
- Black Park Country Park: You may recognize it as the location of Hagrid’s hut during the first two films, as the Forbidden Forest, and where Hagrid takes Harry to see the dragons in The Goblet of Fire. Fun fact: Black Park appears at least once in every Harry Potter film.
- Goathland Station: Does Goathland Station not ring a bell? That’s because Warner Bros. transformed it into Hogsmeade Station as the final stop of the Hogwarts Express.
- Martins Heron: 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. Exterior shots of the house were filmed at 12 Picket Post Close in Martins Heron, in Berkshire.
- Seven Sisters Country Park: The cliffs of Dover are in The Goblet of Fire. In the Quidditch World Cup scenes, look out for when Harry walks up the hill to find an ominous boot…
- Durham Cathedral: The historic cathedral was in The Sorcerer’s Stone, when Harry releases Hedwig from his hand in the snow-covered quadrangle cloisters.
Harry Potter filming locations in London
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 in The Goblet of Fire.
Claremont Square is featured as 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. 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; they used advanced technology to bring dragons and talking dogs and basilisks to life. I truly enjoyed learning all those secrets and seeing the behind-the-scenes.
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. But I will say this: this is definitely one of the highlights of my life as a Potterhead.
harry potter travel tips
Kings Cross Station
The iconic and utmost secret entrance to Platform 9 ¾ is in the heart of King’s Cross train station in London. The station is either filmed or hinted at in the majority of the early films. There is a massive Harry Potter souvenir shop right next to the the halved luggage cart.
You can get your picture taken for free but not without patience. There are quite lengthy queues on any given day.
The Millennium Bridge collapsed into the River Thames during the Death Eater chase in the opening scene 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. It offers great photo ops of the Thames 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. But not without a few technology-related hiccups on Mr Weasley’s part!
Fun fact: The station is one of the busiest in London due to its central location. It sits nearby the Houses of Parliament, the eponymous abbey, and the London eye. And yet it closed to the public for an entire day to allow filming!
Think back to The Deathly Hallows – Part 1 when Harry, Ron, and Hermione had to leave Bill and Fleur’s wedding. Piccadilly Circus is featured in the scene where they are running through the West End.
Additional Harry Potter locations in London
- London Zoo: If you visit 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. It marks the moment where he discovered his ability to speak Parseltongue.
- Great Scotland Yard makes an appearance in The Deathly Hallows Part 1 during Harry, Ron and Hermione’s preparations for entering the Ministry. It’s perhaps better known for the Ministry’s visitor’s entrance phone box used in The Order of the Phoenix.
- Surbiton Railway Station is located on the South Western Main Line about 10 miles southwest of London. This is where professor Dumbledore tries to bring Harry back to the Wizarding world in this memorable scene. Additionally, the railway cafe is where Harry sits reading The Daily Prophet after Death Eater’s attack at the Millennium Bridge stands on Platform 1.
- St Pancras Renaissance Hotel bears striking resemblance to Hogwarts! The 250-year old Gothic landmark is the entrance to King’s Cross station in The Chamber of Secrets. Remember 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!
- Australia House is the entrance to the goblin-run Gringott’s Bank and its perilous vault in The Sorcerer’s Stone. As indicated by its name, the building is currently the home of the Australian High Commission.
- Lambeth Bridge: The triple-decker Knight Bus that Harry embarks on in The Prisoner of Azkaban mindblowingly compresses itself so tight between other buses right here on Lambeth Bridge. The purple, lightning-fast bus now permanently lives at the Harry Potter WB Studios.
Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland
The Elephant House
Grab a coffee and a good book so you can enjoy the coffeehouse where J.K. Rowling spent countless hours crafting the amazing world of Harry Potter.
Bring a marker so you can add your very own heartfelt message on the bathroom wall!
The Jacobite Train
Nothing even compares to the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland for Harry Potter fans. Departing Fort William, the Hogwarts Express is open from April to October. Return tickets start at only £57.
In addition to being one of the major Harry Potter filming locations, it’s also one of Britain’s most iconic train journeys. It offers stunning views of lochs, mountains and Highland villages along the way.
Glen Coe is frequently featured in film multiple scenes. Moreover, it’s the location for Hagrid’s Hut and the bridge leading to the entrance of Hogwarts.
Lochaber & Loch Shiel
Loch Shiel was one of the two gorgeous lakes used for Hogwarts Lake. Firstly in The Prisoner of Azkaban, where Buckbeak dipped his feet in the water while Harry rode on its back. Secondly in The Half-Blood Prince, where Harry and Hermione looked across Hogwarts Lake from the Astronomy Tower at the end of the movie.
Additional Harry Potter locations in Scotland
- Loch Eilt stood in for exterior shots of the Hogwarts grounds and as the island location of Dumbledore’s grave.
- Balmoral Hotel: 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.