Beyond Hogwarts: 7 magical places every Harry Potter fan should visit

Jan 2, 2020

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If you’re a true wizard or witch, you’ve probably plotted out which of your best robes you’re going to wear when your owl delivers your invitation to Hogwarts. But if you’re more of a Muggle, planning the perfect Harry Potter experience may seem as impossible as playing seeker at the varsity Quidditch level.

In case you’re in need of some magical assistance, here are a handful of our top destinations around the world for J.K. Rowling fans to explore:

the United Kingdom

All told, there are dozens of destinations for true Potter aficionados to visit on a trip to the United Kingdom. If you’d like to peek behind the scenes of the beloved Harry Potter movies, take the Making of Harry Potter tour at the Warner Bros. Studio Tours outside London. After you spoil yourself sick on butterbeer ice cream and ride a broomstick for the ‘gram, sleep off your excitement in the Wizarding Chambers at the Georgian House Hotel back in the city before partaking in magical afternoon tea and catching the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child show at the Palace Theatre.

Related: Here’s how to visit London on points and miles

You could spend a whole day at King’s Cross station trying to get through Platform 9 3/4 to the magical world beyond, but Muggles might find their time better spent visiting the Harry Potter wand shop there instead, or stopping by Leadenhall Market to sneak into the Leaky Cauldron. The Magical Department of Tourism and Muggle Relations sponsors the London Muggles Walking Tour, which is a good way to close out your time in the big city before wending your way out to the countryside.

Image courtesy of the Jacobite Express.
(Image courtesy of the Jacobite Express)

If you’re headed up to Scotland to visit the Elephant House, the coffee shop where J.K. Rowling first penned the Harry Potter book series, you may want to take the Jacobite Express, the “greatest railway journey in the world,” which passes over the 21-arch Glenfinnan viaduct, recognizable from the films as part of the route between Platform 9 3/4 and Hogwarts. Don’t forgot to stop at Loch Shiel, which first appeared in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and again in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

While you won’t find Alnwick Castle named as such in the books and films, this iconic 11th century landmark in Northumberland will look familiar to true fans: Alnwick forms the backdrop for Harry’s first Quidditch lessons in the movies. But if you’re looking for selfies that look like you were actually in Hogwarts itself, you’re looking for the beautiful Gloucester Cathedral in southwest England and Lacock Abbey. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys looking at houses of a more modest nature, 12 Picket Post Close in Bracknell, England, was the filming site for the Dursley home — Harry’s horrid relatives.

Black Park in South Buckinghamshire is prominently featured in the entire Harry Potter movie series. And while it’s likely you won’t be able to spot floating candles near the ceiling of the chapel at Hall of Christ Church at Oxford, you’ll still be able to soak in much of the grandeur which formed the backdrop for Hogwarts’ great dining hall.

New York CITY

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child isn’t the only thing New York has to offer the wizarding community. Adult Potterheads can enjoy a “Potions 2.0” molecular cocktail mixology class at The Cauldron on Stone Street, while everyone can participate in the Wizard School Scavenger Hunt put on by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For more fun, there are separate trivia nights for the books and the films, respectively, which take place all over the town on a consistent basis.

Orlando, Florida

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios got even better in 2019 with the advent of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which tops out at 50 mph at some points.

Related: Using points and miles to save at Universal Orlando

Poland

If you’re experiencing extreme FOMO watching others live out your best Harry Potter dreams, hop on over to southwestern Poland for the “world’s largest immersive magic school,” the College of Wizardry. Over four days, this live-action, role-playing convention allows superfans to “be a student and go to magic class” during an all-inclusive stay at the 13th-century Czocha Castle. It even includes magical apparel for would-be wizards and witches.

Lisbon, Portugal

Many Rowling fans don’t realize that the Harry Potter creator actually has close ties to Portugal, having worked in the northwest coastal city of Porto years before the book series made her famous. However, the country now has another connection to Harry. The traveling show, Harry Potter: The Exhibition, has been bringing the wizarding world to life for people around the world since 2009, and is currently based in Lisbon until April 8, 2020.

Toronto, Canada

A small bar in Toronto has managed to make its way onto Potterhead bucket lists with its innovative list of cocktails inspired by Harry Potter. At The Lockhart, choose from drinks as flavorful as they are well-named, like the Gin Weasley, the Dementor’s Kiss, Better Beer and the Befuddlement Drought.

Courtesy of Michal and Michael https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/26555434
(Courtesy of Michal and Michael via Airbnb)

Bonus: Stay in a Harry Potter-themed Airbnb

Can’t decide which spot to visit? Live like a wizard and have them all! This Airbnb one mile from Chattanooga touts itself as a “truly magical experience for Muggles and wizards alike.” It’s not alone in the boast: Here are 10 Airbnbs that promise to whisk travelers away into another world, including these beautiful properties in the Philippines and Prague.

Featured photo by Getty Images. 

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