Mischief managed: 14 ‘Harry Potter’ filming locations you can visit in the UK

Jan 28, 2022

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Like many longtime fans of the “Harry Potter” books and films, I rewatched the movies after seeing the recent “Return to Hogwarts” reunion special on HBO Max. It got me thinking: How many of these scenes were filmed on location, and could I see them all in one trip?

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I’ve been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, explored the flagship store in New York City and even planned a cross-country road trip during college to experience a “Harry Potter”-themed fall festival outside of Philadelphia. But despite all of these fun “Harry Potter” moments, I’ve never actually seen any of the filming locations in person. Lucky for me (and any other “Harry Potter” fan), there are numerous filming locations you can visit throughout the United Kingdom.

See which spots you’ll want to prioritize by reading this roundup of the major “Harry Potter” locations in the U.K. While not an exhaustive list, it features all of the primary spots used during filming, so you’re bound to feel like a wizard — even without an acceptance letter from Hogwarts.

London

There are quite a few spots in London that you’ll recognize from the “Harry Potter” films, plus it’s only a short trip from the city to the studio that houses many of the movie sets. You can book a number of “Harry Potter” tours — including a studio option that provides an up-close look at props, costumes and more — that will take you to most of London’s filming locations, but you can also visit the various spots on your own.

Kings Cross Station

London King’s Cross railway station. (Photo by Julian Elliot Photography/Getty Images)

Kings Cross station acts as one of the doorways between London’s Muggle and wizarding communities. It’s where students board the Hogwarts Express on their way to the wizarding boarding school featured throughout the “Harry Potter” stories.

While there is no magical portal to Platform 9 ¾ that you can run through, you can visit two spots at Kings Cross Station that are special to the films. At the entrance to platforms 9, 10 and 11, you’ll find a trolley “disappearing” into what would be Platform 9 ¾. It’s a great place to grab a photo reenacting the moment when Harry runs through the wall the first time, though we don’t recommend actually trying to run through the wall. If you want to see the actual location used in the movies, head over to platforms 4 and 5.

Fans of the car scene at the beginning of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” can also check out the exterior of St. Pancras Church, which sits just outside the station. It’s where Ron and Harry commandeer the Weasley’s magical Ford Anglia for their trip to Hogwarts.

Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market. (Photo by David Williams/Getty Images)

Shots of Leadenhall Market — specifically an optometrist’s office in Bull’s Head Passage — were used as The Leaky Cauldron. However, this isn’t the venue’s only connection to “Harry Potter.” The market itself served as inspiration for Diagon Alley, the iconic shopping and dining thoroughfare from the films.

Unfortunately, you can’t find your wand at Ollivanders, bring home a pet from the Magical Menagerie or plan any magical pranks at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, but you can still explore the market to get a sense of the energy mimicked in the magical version of this location. And you can shop for a Barbour waxed jacket to match Ron’s attire in the first film.

Australia House

The Australian High Commission building on the Strand. (Photo by Anastasia Yakovleva/Getty Images)

Australia House is home to London’s Australian High Commission, but the building’s magnificent interiors were also used as the setting for the entrance to Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Gringotts is featured throughout the films as the main banking institution for wizards and witches in London, including in one of my favorite scenes, where Helena Bonham Carter pretends to be Emma Watson’s Hermione Granger pretending to be Bellatrix Lestrange in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

While the building doesn’t permit visitors, if you arrive during a weekday you can take a peek through the open doors to see the chandeliers, arched ceilings and gorgeous marble floors that acted as the iconic entrance to Gringotts.

Millennium Bridge

The Millenium Bridge. (Photo by S. Greg Panosian/Getty Images)

In the books, the Brockdale Bridge acts as the pedestrian footbridge that the Death Eaters destroy during “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” However, the movie used the real-life Millennium Bridge as the filming location for the scene. The bridge also makes an appearance in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” when Harry flies over London with other members of the Order.

Thankfully, you can visit the bridge and walk across the River Thames without worrying about Death Eaters apparating in and ruining your day. The walkway is part of “The Queen’s Walk,” though you don’t have to do the entire walk to experience the bridge. Head toward the river from St. Paul’s Cathedral or walk to the river side of the modern and contemporary art-focused Tate Modern museum to find the entrances to the span.

Claremont Square

Claremont Square. (Photo by Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock)

Tucked within a local square in Islington section of the city is the exterior filming location of Number 12 Grimmauld Place. Featured in two of the “Harry Potter” films, this mythical spot is the ancestral home of the Black family, as well as the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.

Claremont Square is mostly residential, making it an ideal area for a quiet afternoon walk. If you want to see the inspiration for the location, combine your visit with a stop at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, which sits about a mile southwest in Holborn, London’s historic law district.

Related: An expert’s guide to London neighborhoods 

Oxford

Oxford University and the surrounding area are home to many “Harry Potter” filming locations. The city is a quick trip from London — around an hour by train or an hour and a half by car.

At the university’s Divinity School, you can check out the space used as the Hogwarts Infirmary in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” This part of Oxford University is also where Professor McGonagall teaches Ron and other students how to dance in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” easily one of my favorite scenes from the movie. (Say “babbling, bumbling band of baboons” five times fast.)

Duke Humfrey’s Library, part of the Bodleian Library at Oxford, is another spot used throughout the movies. To see the mythical Hogwarts Library, you’ll have to book a private tour, though Hermione would likely tell you it’s worth the extra planning.

A vintage view of Duke Humfrey’s Library at the University of Oxford. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images)

After you finish checking out the Bodleian Library, walk up to Holywell Street and turn right to get to New College. Here, you’ll discover the courtyard and giant oak tree where Mad-Eye Moody turned Malfoy into a ferret.

Once you finish exploring this part of campus, walk about 15 minutes southwest to Christ Church, where you can pretend you’re a first-year wizard climbing the staircase to the Great Hall like Harry, Ron and Hermione did in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Also save time for visiting the Christ Church dining hall, which was supposedly the inspiration for the Great Hall set in the movies.

Of course, there are plenty of similarities between other Oxford and Hogwarts spots, too. Assorted hallways and cloisters were used throughout the films, and you’ll even notice that the statues alongside the college buildings bear a resemblance to the ones Professor McGonagall awakens in the final movie. Bring your wand and recite the iconic lines McGonagall says after casting the “piertotum locomotor” incantation (though unfortunately, the statues likely won’t jump down and march out the gates at your command).

Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey. (Photo by Cathryn Gallacher/Getty Images)

A little more than an hour southwest of Oxford sits Lacock Abbey. It’s a common filming location for period films and TV series, including “Downton Abbey” and “Pride & Prejudice,” though you’ll want to visit to see Hogwarts’ classrooms.

Head to the Sacristy room to see Professor Snape’s potions classroom in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” then check out the Warming Room, the setting for Professor Quirrell’s defense against the dark arts classroom. The latter features a special surprise: a giant 16th-century cooking cauldron that belongs to Lacock Abbey.

Before leaving, visit the nearby village of Lacock, which was used for two important filming locations: Lily and James Potter’s house in Godric’s Hollow and Professor Slughorn’s house.

Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral. (Photo by Dennis Barnes/Getty Images)

Venture an hour north of Lacock Abbey to explore Gloucester Cathedral, where scenes for three “Harry Potter” movies were filmed.

Make your way to the north side of the Gloucester Cathedral cloisters to see one of the places where the troll rampages in the first film. After, visit the south side of the cathedral to check out the Gryffindor corridor and the entrance to the Gryffindor common room (sans the singing portrait of The Fat Lady who guarded Gryffindor Tower). You’ll also find the hallway where the bloody writing declaring the chamber of secrets had been opened was discovered in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

Don’t be surprised if other parts of the cathedral look familiar. The property also makes an appearance as various hallways in Hogwarts throughout the films.

Freshwater West

Freshwater West beach, Wales. (Photo by JazzLove/Getty Images)

A few hours west of Gloucester Cathedral along the Pembrokeshire Coast of Wales lies Freshwater West beach, the serene setting for one of the “Harry Potter” series’ most heartbreaking moments: the death of Dobby.

Here you’ll see where the loyal house elf died in Harry’s arms at the end of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.” The beach also serves as the opening setting for the final “Harry Potter” film.

While the Shell Cottage, where Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour lived, was built on location at Freshwater West, it was demolished after filming. Dobby’s gravesite is also no longer marked. However, this stunning spot is worth the detour, even without those recognizable film features.

Malham Cove

Malham Cove in Yorkshire Dales National Park. (Photo by Franz Marc Frei/Getty Images)

Once you’ve gotten your fill of the sun, sand and sea, continue several hours northeast to Malham Cove in Yorkshire Dales National Park. You’ll recognize this large, curved limestone formation from “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.” Specifically, the top of this impressive natural wonder is where Harry and Hermione camp while on the run from Voldemort as they hunt Horcruxes.

During your visit, trek the cove’s walking trail, a relatively easy hike that’s about a mile each way. Or, if you’re up for the challenge, opt for the steep climb to the top of the cove’s waterfall to see the actual filming location.

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral. (Photo by Gannet77/Getty Images)

Another two hours northeast of Malham Cove will bring you to Durham, England, home of Durham Cathedral. Step inside the cathedral’s Chapter House to discover the setting for Professor McGonagall’s classrooms. Walk around the grounds, too, to catch a glimpse of other locations used for various memorable moments in the earlier films, such as when Harry releases Hedwig in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and when Ron’s slug curse backfires on him in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle. (Photo by darrenturner/Getty Images)

Travel another hour north to discover one of the most famous sites in the “Harry Potter” films: Alnwick Castle.

Known in the movies as Hogwarts, the castle was used for many shots in the first two movies. The property’s courtyards and baileys served as the backdrop for a variety of scenes with Hogwarts students, including when Ron crashed the Weasley’s flying car in the Inner Bailey. Additionally, you’ll recognize the castle’s main gate, the Lion Arch, as the place where Harry, Ron and Hermione leave and return to Hogwarts during visits to Hagrid’s hut.

However, the most notable landmark at Alnwick Castle is the Outer Bailey, where Madam Hooch taught that first broomstick lesson (and where we were introduced to Oliver Wood while Harry first learned about Quidditch). You can actually participate in broomstick training lessons at the castle — the entrance fee covers the activity, plus access to an exhibit about “Downton Abbey,” which was also filmed here. There’s also a guided tour that will give you a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like having “Harry Potter” filmed at Alnwick Castle.

Unfortunately, the property isn’t open year-round. At the time of writing, the castle is closed to visitors for the winter season. It reopens on March 25, 2022. You’ll want to book your tickets and time slot in advance — slots are limited due to COVID-19, and they go quickly.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Glenfinnan Viaduct. (Photo by Falk Meier/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Easily the most picturesque filming location in the U.K., the Glenfinnan Viaduct is best known for its role as the structure on top of which the Hogwarts Express transports students to and from Hogwarts. Located in the western part of the Scottish Highlands, a mountainous region in northwest Scotland, the viaduct offers breathtaking views of the Scottish countryside.

There are two ways you can experience this filming location. If you drive north of Fort William, there’s a place to park and take a quick walk up the valley to a lookout spot where you can see the viaduct in all its glory. However, fans who truly wish to live out their Hogwarts Express dreams will want to book a trip on the Jacobite. This steam train provides a front-row view of the same scenery Harry and his classmates saw on their way to Hogwarts as it travels between Fort William and Mallaig.

Related: 14 of the most scenic train rides on Earth

Glencoe, Scotland

Steall Falls, Glencoe, Scotland. (Photo by Natalia Boltukhova/Getty Images)

No trip to the beautiful Scottish Highlands would be complete without a visit to Glencoe, one of Scotland’s most well-known areas. If you’re a fan of the outdoors, it’s a great spot to explore.

“Harry Potter” enthusiasts will appreciate seeing the area that was featured throughout the movies. Hogwarts Quidditch matches were filmed in front of Glen Nevis, and you’ll recognize Steall Falls as the location of some parts of the Triwizard Tournament in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Additionally, Glencoe serves as the backdrop for Hagrid’s hut in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

Fans of the TV series “Outlander” will also recognize this location, as it has appeared in many scenes for that series, too.

Bottom line

While seeing all of these locations in one trip will require multiple days and your own set of wheels, many are clustered close to each other, making it possible to visit a few regardless of where your trip to the U.K. takes you. All of the Oxford, Lacock Abbey and Gloucester filming locations are doable during a day trip from London. Durham Cathedral and Alnwick Castle are easy to see in the same day and can be combined with a day trip to Malham Cove. If you’re planning on checking out Edinburgh or Glasgow, you’ll find Glencoe and the Glenfinnan Viaduct a few hours away by the coast, and you could visit both on the way to Scotland’s gorgeous offshore islands.

With a bit of luck, I’ll be heading to the U.K. this year for my own version of a DIY “Harry Potter” film tour, though I plan to mix in a few spots from “Pride & Prejudice” while I’m there, too. London, especially, has plenty of excellent points hotels, so I’ll be able to relive as many of these iconic movies’ scenes as I can while sticking to a budget.

Related: Using points and miles to get to London 

Featured photo of the Glenfinnan Viaduct by David Cation Photography/Getty Images.

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