Amazing Harry Potter Attractions
The Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling, as well as the movies based on the series, continue to enchant millions twenty years after "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" was first published. It’s no surprise, then, that an entire travel industry has sprung up around the locations featured in the books and films, as well as other sites connected to the Boy Who Lived.
Thankfully, many of the places associated with Harry are well worth a visit. They range from gorgeous castles and amazing scenery to a critically acclaimed play and museum exhibition, most in locations so charming that even casual fans will enjoy stopping by.
This list isn’t comprehensive, as the films alone were shot in dozens of breathtaking places in the United Kingdom. But it does give an overview of every aspect of the Harry Potter world, so that fans can choose the places they’d most like to see. So hold tight to your racing brooms and have a Butterbeer at the ready, for we’re heading out on the ultimate Harry Potter trip.
The Elephant House, Edinburgh, Scotland
The author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, was inspired to write the first book in the series after she moved to Edinburgh, where a medieval castle high on a hill overlooks the entire town.
Rowling liked to write in The Elephant House, a coffee shop and tea room that overlooks a view of Edinburgh Castle. She’s not the only famous author in town who stopped by The Elephant House, by the way: both Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith are known to pop in. The food is quite good too!
Tom Riddle’s grave, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scotland
Just a short walk from The Elephant House is a stunning cemetery, Greyfriars Kirkyard (“Kirkyard” is a Scottish term for a graveyard), that may have also inspired Rowling.
Sharp-eyed visitors to the Kirkyard have noticed that one “Thomas Riddle” is buried there. HP fans will immediately know that Tom Riddle is the human name of He Who Must Not Be Named… Lord Voldemort.
Whether Rowling stole the name or not, a picture of this grave is a must-do!
In the Movies: Tom Riddle's New Name
King’s Cross Station, London, England
If you take the train from London to Edinburgh or back, try to travel in or out of King’s Cross Station – you can also take many Tube lines there – so that you can visit the famous Platform 9 ¾, which in the series was where young wizards and witches boarded the train to Hogwarts.
Muggles can’t see it, of course, so be sure to not to draw attention once you spot the sign. You can have your photo taken with a cart that’s halfway through the wall, wearing a house scarf! There’s also a Harry Potter-themed shop nearby.
In the Movies: King's Cross Station
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
You’ve got three choices of where to visit the Universal Studios’ recreation of Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, and many other sites in the Harry Potter world, as there are parks in Japan, Florida, and California.
Each park is a little different; for example, only the Japanese park has Hogwarts’ Black Lake (featured in the Triwizard Tournament) and live owls!
But all three parks invite you to buy a wand for interactive fun at every stop, ride the Hogwarts Express train, and have a glass, or two, of Butterbeer.
On the Ride: Forbidden Journey
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Marking of Harry Potter
Located outside London, the next stop on our Harry Potter tour is often sold out, so you’ll want to book ahead. It’s a tour through the Warner Bros. Studio where sets, costumes and props from the movies are available for viewing.
Real effort has been made to recreate the visual appeal of the films, while behind-the-scenes exhibits and a Butterbeer Café help create the feeling of being in the world of the movies.
In the Movies: The Great Hall
Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland
Many of the "Harry Potter" movies’ most iconic shots are of real-life Scottish scenery, and none is more spectacular than this railway bridge. Every film showed the Hogwarts Express crossing it.
The bridge is a 1,000 foot span, 100 feet in the air, curving gently as it traverses the Scottish scenery.
You can book passage on one of the trains that still make use of the bridge – even a steam engine train! – and there’s a railways museum in the nearby town of Glenfinnan worth a visit, too.
In the Movies: Chasing the Hogwarts Express
You’ll recognize this breathtaking glen, probably both the most famous and the most historic in the country, from dozens of appearances in television shows and films, such as “Outlander” and Braveheart.
The Harry Potter films have made good use of the scenery here, too. It was used as both the location for Hagrid’s hut and as the entrance to Hogwarts, among other shots. Make sure to read up on the history of the Scottish clans in the area as well.
In the Movies: Walking to Hagrid's Hut
Harry Potter: The Exhibition
This touring show presents another opportunity to view the costumes and props from the Harry Potter film franchise up close. The exhibit designers created replicas of the sets for viewers’ enjoyment, so you can walk through Hagrid’s hut and the Gryffindor common room among other locations.
After touring all over the world for the past few years, the exhibition has landed in Milan, Italy and will travel to Berlin, Germany for the autumn and winter. A great excuse to travel to two beautiful cities!
In the Movies: Gryffindor Common Room
Reptile House, London Zoo
Few real-life sites are as important to Potter mythology as the Reptile House at the London Zoo, where Harry first speaks in parseltongue with a snake (although he isn’t aware that’s what he’s doing).
The filmmakers chose to use the real Reptile House in the zoo for both interior and exterior shots, and a plaque inside the house marks the occasion.
In the Movies: The Reptile House
Gloucester Cathedral, England
The stunning medieval cathedral is well worth a visit on its own merits, but Harry Potter fans should be especially sure to stop in.
The cloisters in the cathedral were used for many scenes in the films, including appearing as Hogwarts’ interiors. Make sure to pack your Marauder’s Map so you can sneak around after hours!
In the Movies: Hogwarts Castle
The Lockhart Cocktail Bars, Toronto and Montreal, Canada
Plenty of Harry Potter fans have aged out of the Young Adult books demographic and into the Cocktails Before Dinner demographic.
These bars are perfect for those folks, as they celebrate the Potter books with an array of drinks inspired by them.
Order a “Befuddlement Draft” for two, or any of the other drinks inspired by HP, and wait for the magic to strike.
Goathland Station, England
Both the books and the films present a detailed picture of the town of Hogsmeade, the closest village to Hogwarts and location of many important scenes.
This adorable train station appears as Hogsmeade Station in the movies. The town of Goathland is also charming, a picture-perfect North England village, located in the North York Moors National Park.
In The Movies: Hogsmead Station
Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
While this impressive 30+ story building, the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh, isn’t in the films or the books, the beautiful common room of the Cathedral, which takes up the first three floors, has often been compared to Hogwarts.
In fact, it has topped more than one list for the most “Hogwarts-like” building in the U.S. You can pop your head in and look around, especially during the Christmas season when a fire often burns in an enormous stone fireplace.
The Harry Potter Conference, Chestnut Hill College, Pennsylvania
If you prefer your Harry Potter travel to be a bit more scholarly, you’ll want to book a few nights in Chestnut Hill, outside Philadelphia, during the Harry Potter Academic Conference in October.
It’s open to the public, and provides opportunities to consider the themes, ideas and context of J. K. Rowling’s creation. Not to mention, there’s a Quidditch championship!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, New York, San Francisco, Hamburg, Melbourne and London
There are now three productions of this monster hit of a play, with productions in Hamburg and San Francisco opening soon, so take your pick as to which continent you’ll visit.
Critics and audience alike agree that this production is absolutely magical. Based on a story that Rowling wrote, it explores what happened after the end of the last book. You’ll get to see Harry, Hermione and Ron again, but the bulk of the action is spent with their children.
Tickets are very hard to come by, so book ahead for next year!
In the Movies: Always Remember, the Wand Chooses the Wizard