Harry Potter, steam trains and Scottish sights
Top 10 Harry Potter film locations around Britain
We meet Hedwig the Owl!
Harry Potter London Walk
Harry Potter and the Star-Struck Muggles
Adventures in Oxfordshire
Everyone's favourite teen wizard has travelled all over Britain. So jump on your broomstick and discover the magic...
Harry Potter film locations in Scotland and Wales
Off to Hogwarts we go: Glenfinnan Viaduct, Lochaber, Scotland
This viaduct, 100ft (30.5m) above ground, is captured in several Harry Potter films on the route to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You can journey through this magical landscape just as Harry and friends did, aboard the Jacobite steam train used as the Hogwarts Express in the movie.
See if you can spot where, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Arthur Weasley’s baby-blue flying Ford Anglia lands on the viaduct. The head of the Weasley family modified it to fit 8 people, 6 trunks, 2 owls and 1 rat.
Quidditch matches and more: Glencoe, Argyll, Scotland
The natural drama of the Scottish Highlands provided the perfect backdrop for the first 2 Harry Potter movies. The Quidditch matches – inter-house broomstick ball games - were filmed in front of Glen Nevis. You'll recognise the spectacular Steall Falls there from the Tri-Wizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Recently voted Scotland’s most romantic glen, it’s also a beautiful scenic place to stay awhile, with plenty of holiday lodges and cottages. Or if you’re into hill walking, it’s a great entry point to the Highlands.
Shell Cottage: Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales
This stretch of golden sand was the location for Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour‘s Shell Cottage in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. When Harry found himself inside the whimsical cottage he could hear nothing but the ebb and flow of the sea. Although the cottage was taken down after filming, you can still follow in the footsteps of Harry and friends.
Also, if you time it right, you can catch surfers expertly riding waves kicked up by the strong rip currents just off the beach. The south-westerly facing spot boasts Wales’ best waves.
Harry Potter film locations in England
Professor McGonagall's classroom: Durham Cathedral, Durham, England
Durham Cathedral’s Chapter House was where Professor McGonagall taught the young wizards to turn animals into water goblets.
Elsewhere in the Norman cathedral, admire the magnificent cloisters which became the snow-covered quadrangle where Harry set Hedwig the owl flying in the first film - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
It’s also where Ron Weasely fell victim to his own (seriously gross) slug-vomiting curse, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Shh! Hogwarts Library and Infirmary: Bodleian Library and Christ Church College, Oxford, England
Oxford University’s magnificent Bodleian Library, dating back to 1602, starred in 3 Harry Potter films. The medieval Duke Humfrey's Library, part of the hallowed institution, was used as the Hogwarts library, whilst the elaborately vaulted Divinity School next door became Hogwarts hospital. Students were admitted for all sorts of scrapes, from falling off broomsticks to touching a cursed opal necklace.
At Christchurch College, a 10-minute walk away, you can see where we were first introduced to Hogwarts with Harry and the other first-year wizards ascending the 16th-century stone staircase to the Great Hall.
Broomstick flying: Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England
Madame Hooch’s broomstick flying lesson, seen in the first film, takes place in the Outer Bailey of medieval Alnwick Castle. Have a go yourself - broomstick training is included in the entrance fee. You can also see wizardry magic shows or join a tour with a costumed guide regaling behind-the-scenes stories from when the Harry Potter crew were filming.
If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, too, check out the castle’s dedicated exhibition. It includes photography, costumes and props from the Christmas special filmed here in 2014.
The Leaky Cauldron: Leadenhall Market, London, England
Wizard pub, The Leaky Cauldron, was set in what is now an optician’s in Bull’s Head Passage, Leadenhall Market. Behind that was where the glittering Diagon Alley shopping street was imagined, selling spell books and potions so enticing that Harry wished he had 8 eyes to see.
Whilst you probably won’t find any magic shops, the ornate Victorian marketplace is a splendid place to pick up some Harry Potter inspired British fashion. Bag yourself a classic wax Barbour jacket, as sported by Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Platform 9¾: King’s Cross Station, London, England
The Hogwarts Express departs from Platform 9¾ of King’s Cross Station, which is actually the arched wall between platforms 4 and 5.
Or, head towards the entrance to platforms 9, 10 and 11 on the west side of the station where you’ll find a trolley disappearing into the magical realm through a wall marked ‘Platform 9 ¾’. To help you get into character there’s a shop selling fun accessories from round Harry Potter specs to Hufflepuff hair scrunchies.
Outside you’ll see the Neo-Gothic facade of St Pancras where the Weasley's magical Ford Anglia, with its powers of invisibility, takes off in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Charming snakes: Reptile House, London Zoo, England
Harry first discovered his gift for talking with snakes, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, at London Zoo's Reptile House. In the scene, Daniel Radcliffe speaks to an enormous Burmese python, but the enclosure filmed is actually home to the venomous black mamba, recognisable for its distinctive inky black mouth.
But don’t leave it at that. London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo, dating back to 1828, and offers all sorts of incredible animal experiences. Once you’ve seen the snakes, immerse yourself in a butterfly paradise or get up close with Kumbuka the silverback gorilla and his gang.
Hidden halos: Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, England
Look out for Nearly Headless Nick or Moaning Myrtle and see where Harry and Ron hid from the troll in the spooky corridors of 1,300-year-old Gloucester Cathedral – one of 5 locations used for Hogwarts.
It’s worth getting a tour guide to reveal some of the fascinating ways the cathedral had to be altered for filming. Electrical points were disguised under panels painted to look like the stone walls, whilst anything that would reveal the set as a church was concealed. For instance halos on the stained glass figures in the cloister windows were covered with coloured plastic filter paper to blend in with the glass around it.
For signs of the cathedral’s ancient past, you can enter a wooden door that leads down to the old crypt, said to be haunted by monks from the old Gloucester monastery.
Potions class: Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, England
Lacock Abbey's Warming Room – which contains a giant cauldron – was Professor Quirrell’s Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, whilst Professor Snape’s Potions Class was held in the Sacristy. It was in the abbey’s Chapter House that Harry stumbled upon the Mirror of Erised, which shows the user’s heart’s deepest desire.
And amid all that selfie wizardry in the lab, don’t forget to check out the abbey’s South Gallery. You can stand in the very spot where William Henry Fox Talbot took the world’s first ever photograph.
Hogwarts and all: Warner Bros Studios, Leavesden, England
At the Warner Bros Studios Tour, just outside London, you’ll find a model version of the whole of Hogwarts. You can get a studio tour round the 1:24 scale construction, which was used for filming the exterior and aerial shots of the school and is filled with props used in the productions.
Treat yourself to a tankard of butterbeer – this delicious non-alcoholic drink tastes of shortbread and butterscotch.