I can’t be the only one who watched the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary on HBO and cried a little – and then immediately googled flights to England you know, just to see how much it would cost to do a Warner Bros Studio Tour London. Just a wee peek.
But then I realized, there’s so many more ways to visit Hogwarts Castle that’s outside the film set. In fact, I’ve actually been to a handle in real life (like, did you know there’s a Chamber of Secrets door in San Francisco?!) I decided it was finally time to make the ultimate Harry Potter Places To Visit In Real Life bucket list, including all the best Harry Potter themed things (like hotels) along with the locations they actually used in the Harry Potter films.
Grab your wand and let’s get nerdy.
Harry Potter Places To Visit In Real Life
All the best Harry Potter places to visit in real life, including secret spots along with Harry Potter filming locations!
This is a very magical feeling bookstore in Porto Portugal that is rumored to have inspired JK Rowling on multiple locations in Harry Potter. And I got to go here! I packed my wand in my suitcase and carried it around all day before we visited the store so I take nerdy photos with it.
Inside, the red staircase looks like it belongs in Hogwarts, but that's not it. Neo-Gothic, Art Noveau and Art Déco styles fill the store. The arches in the shelves also look like they were pulled from the Great Hall. The cart tracks on the floor reminded me of the carts used in Gringotts. But mostly, the entire bookstore just oozes Flourish and Blotts vibes. It really feels like you walked into Diagon Alley to buy your school books.
Gloucester Cathedral 14th century hallways are like, THE Hogwarts hallway I think we all envision in our heads. It was used in the 1st and second movies along with the Half Blood Prince, and the day I get to walk these halls I know I will cry because they are so dang beautiful. This was mainly used as the hall to the Gryffindor Common Room but showed up in other scents as well. Best part? Totally free to visit!
Alnwick Castle, England
Alnwick Castle is best known for the location of the flying lessons by Madam Hooch in the first film BUT it was also the set used for many scenes in the Sorcerer's Stone & Chamber of Secrets. Various courtyards and corners of the exterior were used for other scenes. Harry learned the rules of Quidditch in the Outer Bailey. Harry and Ron crash-landed the Weasley family’s flying car in the Inner Bailey, which is also used for many scenes of students going to classes. The Lion Arch of the castle is how the tri got to Hagrid's Cabin and the Forbidden Forest.
This castle is almost 1000 years old and had tons of history beyond Harry Potter, so it's worth a stop even if people in your traveling group aren't Harry Potter fans.
The Elephant House is probably one of my favorite Harry Potter places to visit in Scotland when you want to feel all the feels. This coffee shop is famous because it's where JK Rowling wrote the many parts of the first book.
And I'll be the first to admit, when we visited I was prepared for a basic coffee shop and a little sign that was like "JK Rowling sat here" thing but WOW, it's so much more. When you visit, head to the backroom for lunch. From the windows, you'll gaze upon the Edinburg Castle, which absolutely looks like Hogwarts. You can see why she liked sitting here to write.
But the magical part of this cafe is the bathroom, which are covered with notes from people all over the world talking about how much Harry Potter means to them. How it's helped them through hard times, how they found their best friends through the novels. I cried when I saw it for the first time.
NO, the Edinburgh Castle was not used as any film locations for the movies but it is what inspired the Hogwarts Castle. I mean, JK literally sat at a cafe overlooking the castle for years while writing the first books, and you can totally see the inspiration when you explore this historic Scottish gem. I had so much fun visiting this castle, it's close to the Elephant House so swing by there for a cuppa after!
Christ Church in Oxford is an active college and church, but they give tours to visitors so you can come walk the hallways that were used to film some of the Harry Potter scenes in the early movies! There are SO many scenes that take place here (mostly hallways and staircase scenes) AND the Christ Church Great Hall is what inspired the design of the Hogwarts Great Hall. It's one of those places that you'll visit and every twist and turn you'll be like "oh, I recognize that!"
The Cauldron Bar
OME you guys, The Cauldron Bar has been on my bucket list for AGES. This company has locations in New York City, Edinburg and London. Each bar offers potion-making classes and Wizard High Tea and it's a VIBE. The experience is all about molecular cocktails to bring magic to life (and your taste buds). I will 100% be stopping by next time I'm in New York City.
Bodleian Library Divinity School is also in Oxford and the beautiful gothic ceilings was the PERFECT spot to film all the Hogwarts Infirmary scenes!
But that's not it - inside the Duke Humfrey’s Library section is where Harry hid under the invisibility cloak to steal from the Restricted Section. This Hogwarts place to visit requires a tour and tickets, but is worth every penny.
One of those secret Harry Potter places to visit in California! No need to fly all the way to Warner Bros Studios in the UK to see a real-sized Chamber of Secrets Door. This baby is right in my home city of San Francisco near Fisherman's Wharf. It's on the outside of a house so open 24/7 for visitors. And right next to it is a Game of Thrones dragon door!
This is one of my favorite nerdy secret things in San Francisco. I totally got dressed up with my Slytheirn pajamas and wand and took a.lot of photos in front of this door.
Victoria Street is in Edinburg, literally right around the corner from The Elephant House and the Castle. And it inspired one of the most magical places in Harry Potter: Diagon Alley!! I totally gasped the first time we saw Victoria Street. Even though it's full of cars and muggles, I saw it. I could see a Diagon Alley in front of me.
This London market showed up in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as the exterior for Diagon Alley on the way to the Leaky Cauldron. It's always busy here so if you are trying to get photos without people, show up extra early.
Georgian House Hotel
Georgian House Hotel in London is no ordinary hotel - they have a Harry Potter themed hotel room! Designed to look like the Grfindoor chambers, it's the perfect place to book if you're coming to London to soak up more Harry Potter magic. They also do potion-making every weekend and usually have a magical Christmas feast, too!
Jacobite Steam Train aka Hogwarts Express
Yes, the Hogwarts Express is real! This is the train used in the movies. The Jacobite Steam Train is over 80 miles of scenic railway past the Loch at Mallaig, Glenfinnan Viaduct and other stunning Scotland landmarks. When you board the Hogwarts Express, you may even get to sit in a carriage used for filming in the movies! We didn't get to do this during our trip to Scotland but when we go back, I'm setting aside an afternoon for this train ride.
The Hogwarts real location is in the Scottish Highlands (you know, if the Wizarding World was actually real) From Glen Coe where Hagrids Hut scenes were filmed, to Loch Eilt used for Dumbledore's Grave, Rannoch Moor and many many other Harry Potter scenes, the Highlands are where to soak up nature-filled Wizarding magic.
When we visited, I totally felt like at every turn I would see the castle on a hillside. The landscape looks just like the movies!
As you probably know, Kings Cross Station is very much a real place. And, ever since the books become popular, they installed a Platform 9 3/4 area where Harry Potter fans can take photos with the wall and cart, complete with some scarf tossing to make it look extra magical.
Lacock Abbey is the OTHER Harry Potter filming location you probably picture right away. This was also used for many hallway scenes in the films but is also home to the Potions Classroom, Quirrel’s classroom and the Mirror of Erised scenes. I can't wait to see this building in person it's just beautiful.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter
The most popular of all the Harry Potter Tourist attractions is the set itself. It's full of original costumes, magical sets and everything you could possibly want. It's someplace every harry potter fan needs to go to at least once. Put the London Harry Potter: The Exhibition on your bucket list!
Can you go to Hogwarts? YES! If London is too far, try the Wizarding World Universal Studios in California or Florida! The Orlando one is a little more robust but both are so dang fun. Come and immerse yourself in Diagon Alley, Hogsmead, The Night Bus and so many other Harry Potter things to do.
I went to the one in LA a few years ago with my friends and it was the BEST day ever. Make sure to buy yourself wand so you can interact with the store windows!
Aka Malfoy Manor! The exterior of the building was used for filming in Deathly Hallows, though extra CGI was used to creep it up a bit (hey, the Malfoys are a creepy family!) It's a 16th century hall that is open daily for tours.
Hagrid's Hut Airbnb
EKK how cool is this Airbnb in Georgia?! It looks just like Hagrid's Hut on the outside and the inside. The hosts put so much thought into this cabin and it's been on my travel bucket list for years.
London Zoo Reptile House
One of the most obscure Harry Potter places in London is the London Zoo's Reptile House. It's sorta where it all began for Harry! (Remember when we set a python loose on the Dursleys?) I haven't been personally, but I believe there is now a little sign somewhere in the Reptile House about Harry Potter, and of course the viewing room the filming took place in.
Aka Hogsmead Station!! Goathland Station is a real working train station part of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. And, it's where the Hogsmead station was in the first movie. Of course, the set designers dress it up a tad more for filming, but still so dang fun to visit. I want to come with my wand and pretend like I'm heading off to a new semester at Hogwarts.
Wizarding Airbnb Orlando
While all of the truly best Harry Potter places to visit in Florida are in the park, there is this themed Airbnb nearby that is decorated like Hogwarts! If you're coming in a big group to theme park, this would be such a cool place to book a stay. If it's all booked, try one of these other cool Orlando Airbnbs.
Harry Potter Travel is very much a real industry and I’m all here for it. Once things calm down in the world a bit more, I absolutely plan on knocking more of these Harry Potter sights off my bucket list. Even though I’m now 30 and never got my letter, I’ll never stop loving this world.
In fact, I blog about Harry Potter maybe a little too much (never such thing!) Here are some more fandom posts you’ll love:
- 6 Original Harry Potter Cocktails For The Ultimate Fan
- My Forbidden Forest Photoshoot
- Free Slytherin Aesthetic Wallpapers For Your Phone
- All The Best Harry Potter Christmas Decor To Give Your Home A Magical Touch
- Unique Harry Potter Gifts For Adults
Whether you are looking for Harry Potter Places to visit in USA or Harry potter places to visit UK edition, I hope you find some magic.
And, if I’m missing out on any epic Harry Potter stuff to do, PLEASE leave a comment below so everyone can see!!! I’m sure there’s so many more hidden Wizarding World gems out there to add to the list.