WHERE ARE THE HARRY POTTER FILM LOCATIONS?
If you’re visiting the United Kingdom, you can’t leave without visiting some of the locations where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. These films spanned ten years and fired the imagination of viewers young and old. Whether you want to see Hogwarts Castle or visit the fields where the film’s most famous quidditch matches were played, you can see a little bit of everything.
So where should you visit to see the Harry Potter film locations? The Harry Potter film locations found in the UK are as follows:
- Gloucester Cathedral
- Oxford University
- Alnwick Castle
- Glen Nevis, Fort William (Scotland)
- Warner Brothers Studios, London
- King’s Cross Station
- Leadenhall/Borough Market
- London Zoo
There are many places in England and Scotland, particularly London, where you can visit the locations of the Harry Potter films yourself. Read on to find out more about these locations and the activities available for any fans of the Harry Potter films.
Gloucester Cathedral is most famous for being the locale behind the exterior shots of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The cathedral was also the location of some interior shots, such as the passageway leading to the Gryffindor common rooms.
Gloucester Cathedral was built in 1100 as a Norman monk abbey and is one of the oldest churches in the United Kingdom. Visitors can participate in a number of activities:
- Climb the Cathedral’s tower
- Visit the tomb of King Edward II
- Explore the Cathedral’s underground crypts
If you get hungry or thirsty on your visit, you can check out the Monk’s Kitchen at the cathedral, which features both hot and cold drinks along with sandwiches, homemade breads and jams.
Along with being one of the most respected (and famous) universities in the world, Oxford University was one of the principal filming locations for the Harry Potter films. The following locations can be visited at Oxford to see the film sites of Harry Potter:
The Bodleian Library: The Bodleian Library was used as the Hogwarts School Restricted Books Library that Harry Potter uses an invisibility cloak to sneak into and research the infamous wizard Nicholas Flamel.
Oxford’s Divinity School: At Oxford’s Divinity School near the Bodleian Library, you can see the location where they filmed the Hogwarts Infirmary, used several times throughout the films.
Christ Church College: Christ Church College is where the first years of Hogwarts entered the school, and this famous staircase was the inspiration for Hogwart’s Great Dining Hall.
Oxford University itself does not organize tours, but many University buildings are open to the public at various times of day, and the Oxford Guild of Guides provides daily two-hour walking tours of the university’s buildings. There are also themed tours that will take you directly to the locations where the Harry Potter Films were shot.
Ready for some quidditch? Alnwick Castle is the filming location where Harry Potter first learned to ride a broomstick. While visiting Alnwick Castle, you can participate in daily broomstick riding lessons that are provided free to the public.
Alnwick Castle dates back to 1309 and is the current home of the Percy family and the Duke of Northumberland, as well as the second largest inhabited castle in the entire United Kingdom. This castle is also known for its appearance as the filming location for the British drama Downton Abbey.
While the Duke and his family still live in a sequestered part of the castle, the rest of it is open for daily tours except during the winter. Even though it is closed to daily tours in the winter, Alnwick Castle still features several holiday events such as a visit with Santa Claus and courtyard fine dining.
Along with Alnwick Castle, Glen Nevis was used as the filming background for several of the Harry Potter quidditch matches in four of the films. This lush, verdant location features the highest mountain in Scotland, which can be visited just north of Fort William.
If you’re tired of guided tours, Glen Nevis is a great place to get in some hiking and mountain climbing. Glen Nevis has it all, from gorgeous woodlands to ridges, gorges, and the Steall Falls waterfall. These attractions make Glen Nevis one of the most beautiful locales for a walking tour in all of Scotland.
If you really want to see where all the movie magic of the Harry Potter films happened, no trip to London is complete without a Warner Brothers Studios tour. This studio features a permanent exhibit where you can get behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the Harry Potter films.
The Warner Brothers Studios are still an active film studio, but the sets of the Harry Potter film are contained to two sound stages that are separated from the rest of the studio.
Since its inception in 2012, this exhibit at Warner Brothers has become the largest permanent filmmaking exhibit in the world. This tour is the highest-rated attraction worldwide every year since it opened.
This tour is three hours, and visitors can either guide themselves through the exhibit or join a guided tour. Visitors can participate in the following activities:
- Board Hogwarts Express
- Receive a virtual tour of Diagon Alley via Google Maps
- Check out a 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts Castle, along with many other props and costumes from the films
Be sure to dedicate an entire day to the studio, as there is more than enough to see.
King’s Cross Station is the locale in the Harry Potter films where Harry visits Platform 9 ¾, the special secret train platform that lets wizarding students board the Hogwarts Express. Here visitors can also visit the Clock Tower that was used in Harry Potter: The Chamber of Secrets.
Since it is a working passenger railway terminus, visitors to King’s Cross can use its real train stations to get around London while checking out the various Harry Potter filming locations. This working train station serves as a crux in London that leads out to all corners of this world-famous city.
Leadenhall Market is the location of the Leaky Cauldron, a tavern that Hagrid takes Harry to right after securing him from his aunt and uncle and spiriting him away to London. Because Leadenhall is located in London’s business district, it is very quiet on the weekends.
While Leadenhall is the inspiration for Diagon Alley, visitors can see the real movie set for Diagon Alley at Warner Brothers Studios. The real entrance to the Leaky Cauldron is actually a small flower shop named Chez Michele.
A visit to Borough Market wouldn’t be complete without a stop for a pint in The Market Porter Pub, which served as the Third Hand Emporium in the Harry Potter films where Harry acquired many of his school supplies when preparing to enter Hogwarts in his first year.
Between Leadenhall and Borough, there is a wide variety of restaurants, wine bars, and other muggle attractions to pique your fancy while you visit these famous film locations.
While the London Zoo was only the setting for the first Harry Potter film where Harry spoke Parseltongue for the first time and released a boa constrictor on his unsuspecting cousin, you shouldn’t visit London without making a stop here.
Billed as the world’s oldest scientific zoo, it was originally opened in London in 1828 and was originally intended to be a zoological collection only for scientific study. Several years later, the menagerie animals of the Tower of London were also transferred to the zoo.
Along with being the world’s first scientific zoo, the London Zoo also features these world firsts in zoology:
- The world’s first reptile house (where the Harry Potter film was made)
- The world’s first public aquarium
- The world’s first children’s zoo
Today the zoo features almost 700 different species of animals. Be sure to plan for a full day here, as there is plenty to see.