By Jessica Russo
Calling all Potterheads! Let’s be honest – you’re lying if you say you’ve never dreamed about receiving a letter from Hogwarts. As adults, most of us have come to accept our muggle status, but who’s to say we can’t pretend to be a wizard, at least just for a day? It’s our duty to prove that the Potterverse is, in fact, real.
Immerse yourself in the magic of England and Scotland, two countries that are filled with Harry Potter filming locations and HP-related sites. Okay, so you may not be able to ride your broom there, but at least a plane is better than Flying Ford Anglia. Ready, set, apparate!
“4 Privet Drive,” England
Before we tell you where the real 4 Privet Drive is, you must promise us that you won’t bother the lovely residents who live there.
Okay, great. We trust you.
Nestled about 40 miles west of London, you’ll find Harry Potter’s childhood home at 12 Picket Post Close, Bracknell, Berkshire. Now, here’s another secret: Warner Brothers only used this house for about two weeks during filming for Sorcerer’s Stone! The rest of the films feature a replica house, built at Warner Bros Studio London. So, long story short, whether you venture to Bracknell or take a tour of Warner Bros Studio, both houses are “legit.”
Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland
Wait, this is a real place? You bet! Okay, okay – so you may not be able to ride the actual Hogwarts Express, but you can ride a Jacobite Steam Train along its very route! All aboard!
Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, London, England
We could tell you exactly where Platform 9 3/4 is located within King’s Cross station, but the easier direction is: look for the big crowd of fans with cameras in-hand. Don’t worry, the line goes quickly! And think of the profile picture possibilities!
Just please, please, don’t attempt to run through the wall. You’ll find out the hard way that you are, in fact, a muggle.
Pro-tip: After you snap your photo, purchase your very own wand at the Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4, located right next to the site. Stepping in there is like stepping into the wizarding world!
Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour, Leavesden, England
This one is kind of a given. How can you be a real Harry Potter fan and not visit the sets that started it all? Feel your head bobble around as you stroll through Diagon Alley, stand in the Great Hall, and explore the Forbidden Forest.
We must warn you – the magical creatures from the movie live at the studio, so be on the lookout for some… eight-legged friends.
Reptile House, London Zoo, London, England
Afraid of snakes? You might wanna skip this one. For you brave, die-hard fans, pay a visit to the Reptile House at London Zoo! Just one warning: if a snake starts talking to you, run.
Leadenhall Market, London
Okay, this place just looks like the Harry Potter films. Aside from exuding some serious HP vibes, this ornate Victorian market does contain some real-deal HP sites. Not only was Leadenhall Market used as inspiration for Diagon Alley, but it’s also home to the real-life Leaky Cauldron! Unfortunately, the storefront isn’t really a wizard’s pub, but that blue door is quite recognizable.
Victoria Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
This colorful, winding cobblestone street is believed to have been a main inspiration for Diagon Alley! Lined with traditional Scottish pubs and shops, Victoria Street is a gem in the heart of Edinburgh.
Pro-tip: On Victoria Street, you’ll find a Harry Potter-inspired wizard shop, as well as a joke shop – though, sadly, neither are run by the Weasleys.
The Shambles in York, England
Yet another inspirational spot for Diagon Alley, this medieval shopping street in York will make you feel like Harry or Hermione. Locally known as “Harry Potter Street,” this picturesque alley has been drawing more and more fans each year.
Elephant House in Edinburgh, Scotland
Think this cute coffee house the perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea and a scone? JK Rowling thought so, too! The Elephant House is known for being the spot Rowling cozied up with coffee and cake as she wrote the Potter books. Looking for some creative inspiration? Who knows, maybe there’s something in the coffee!
Goathland Station, North Yorkshire, England
Known as Hogsmeade Station in the films, this charming, old-world train station is the gateway to Hogwarts. After the Hogwarts Express leaves King’s Cross and chugs through Glenfinnan, it finally arrives at Hogsmeade! Located just north of York in the North York Moors National Park, this quaint railway station is surrounded by beauty.
Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, England
Several scenes of the Harry Potter movies were filmed inside the beautiful cloisters and rooms of this ancient building. Most famously, you’ll find Professor McGonagall and Snape’s classrooms, as well as the memorable scene where Dobby turns on Lucius Malfoy and exclaims, “You shall not harm Harry Potter!”
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England
Turns out Hogwarts is real – if you use your imagination. The HP crew filmed Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets at Alnwick castle in 2000 and 2001. You’ll recognize this historical structure as the area where Harry and his peers learned to fly broomsticks, where Harry and Ron crash-landed the flying car, and where Hogwarts students and staff went about daily activities.
Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, England
Alnwick Castle isn’t the only real-life Hogwarts. Oxford Christ Church Cathedral and University boast some important Harry Potter hot-spots. Hogwarts’ dining hall was based on Christ Church’s Great Hall, and the staircase which leads up to the Great Hall was used for the Hogwarts arrival scenes in the films!
During the spring of 2003, parts of The Prisoner of Azkaban were filmed near the bottom of Clachaig Gully in Glencoe, a breathtaking area of the Scottish Highlands. A set was built on this vast, mountainous, foresty landscape – and that set was Hagrid’s Hut!
Millennium Bridge, London, England
Despite its appearance during the Death Eater attack in Half-Blood Prince, the Millennium Bridge is actually a lovely place for a stroll over the Thames. Enjoy Instagram-worthy views of St. Pauls as you follow the footsteps of the HP movies!