While the magical – and undeniably wonderful – wizarding universe of Harry Potter might be fictional, so many of the filming locations used to create this world also exist in real life. What’s more is, they’re open to muggles, too. They might not be populated with witches and wizards, but we can pretend for a little while.
For those of you that are as big of a Harry Potter fan as we are, here’s a guide to the best sites in the UK to experience this unique world of magic.
King’s Cross Station
It was the famous platform 9¾ in London’s King’s Cross Station that Hogwarts pupils waited on to catch – or, if you’re Harry and Ron, to totally miss – the Hogwarts Express. Fictional though both the platform and the train may be, there’s actually a spot in the real King’s Cross marking where platform 9¾ would be, and around where these sections of the films were shot. Just look for the luggage cart sticking out from the wall.
Warner Bros. Studios
Warner Bros. Studios in London is the crème de la crème of sites for Harry Potter fans as it houses just about every noteworthy prop, set and costume used in the iconic films. You can wander down the real Diagon Alley and spot Olivander’s Wand Shop, see the Night Bus in all its wonky glory and even get up close with Dobby the House Elf. It’s kind of can’t-miss deal in the world of Harry Potter fandom.
The Millennium Bridge
You’ll remember the Millennium Bridge from the film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when the Death Eaters unwind its ropey walkway and send it crashing into the Thames. Luckily for HP fans it’s still very much intact and walk-on-able, so you can stroll across its tinny top on your way to more of London’s many Harry Potter sites.
London Zoo holds a special place in the Harry Potter sphere, as that’s where Harry first discovered he was a parseltongue, which lead to a whole different set of complications that were soon to follow. The scene in which Harry sets the snake free was filmed in London Zoo’s Reptile House, though the specific enclosure isn’t actually home to a Burmese python. There is, however, a little plaque that’ll show you where the famous scene was filmed.
The many faces of Hogwarts
The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a marvellously big place, so it’s only natural that a great deal of filming locations were needed to bring this iconic spot to life. Some were sets created especially for filming – like the Great Hall, Snape’s potion chamber and Dolores Umbridge’s sickeningly sweet office, all of which are can be explored as part of the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Others are real life destinations you can still see.
Durham Cathedral was used for shots of Hogwarts, as was Oxford’s New College and Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. You’ll recognise the cloisters at the Gloucester Cathedral from their numerous appearances as Hogwarts’ interiors, while Lacock Abbey’s cloisters are where Harry hears the basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Just like the magical Harry Potter universe goes on and on, so too does the list of sites where you can get the full, real life HP experience. What’s your favourite Harry Potter-related spot in the UK?