IT’S HARD NOT to feel sad when you finish the Harry Potter books — the world author J.K. Rowling built is so cozy and magical, and the real world is often neither of those things. But while Harry Potter’s world is fictional, it is based on real places, and real places were used as locations for the movies.
1. Australia House — Gringotts
The interior shots of Gringotts — the goblin bank in Diagon Alley — are set in Australia House, the home of the Australian High Commission on the Strand in London. The building was also used for the recent Wonder Woman movie. The building is an actual diplomatic mission, so you won’t be able to get in unless you’re an Australian using the building to either vote or take care of other official business.
2. King’s Cross
One of the most accessible spots on the list is London’s King’s Cross Station. There was no such thing as Platform 9 and ¾, but due to the popularity of the books, the station installed a sign for the Platform with half of a baggage trolley sticking out. If you want to see some of the spots where it was actually shot, though, head to Platforms 4 and 5.
3. Diagon Alley — Leadenhall Market
Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron were shot, in part, in the covered Leadenhall Market in London’s financial district. Different shots in different movies were shot in different places around London, but the original Leaky Cauldron was set in Bull’s Head Passage in Leadenhall.
4. Loch Shiel — The Great Lake
Loch Shiel is a gorgeous freshwater lake in the Scottish Highlands. It was used for some of the shots of the Great Lake.
5. Claremont Square — Grimmauld Place
Sirius Black’s ancestral home and the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, 12 Grimmauld Place, was shot in London’s Claremont Square.
6. Goathland Train Station — Hogsmeade
Goathland is a pretty little village in North Yorkshire, and its train station is where the scenes of the Hogwarts Express arriving in Hogsmeade are shot.
7. Hardwick Hall — The Malfoy Mansion
The exterior shots of the Malfoy Mansion in the first Deathly Hallows film were taken at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire. The mansion used to be a private residence, now the Elizabethan Hall is fully open to the public.
8. The Jacobite Steam Train — The Hogwart’s Express
Perhaps one of the cooler Potter-oriented tourist attractions is the Jacobite Steam Train in Scotland. The train runs between Fort William (close to Loch Shiel) and Mallaig in the Highlands. It runs over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which you’ll remember from the movies.
9. Malham Cove — The Deathly Hallows Camp
The limestone formation at Malham Cove was one of the places that Harry and Hermione camped out in the bleak scenes in the first Deathly Hallows film.
There is no place in the real world like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and as a result, the filmmakers had to go all over the UK in order to shoot scenes in the school. Rowling intended for the castle to be somewhere in Scotland (where she herself lives and also where she wrote most of the books), and many of the exterior scenes were shot there. But filming was scattered across the British Isles. Here are some of the highlights.
10. Durham Castle
Durham Castle in Durham, England, was used for some of the exterior shots of Hogwarts. It is in active use as part of University College, Durham. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
11. Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle was first built in the 11th century AD, and is the home to the Duke of Northumberland. It was used for exterior shots of Hogwarts. You can only visit it in the summer.
12. Gloucester Cathedral
The stunning Gloucester Cathedral is popular among filmmakers — it has also appeared in the shows Sherlock and Doctor Who. It has stood for centuries, and one British King — Edward II — is buried there.
13. Christ Church College Great Hall — The Great Hall
Perhaps most famous of the Hogwarts settings is the Great Hall of Hogwarts. It was shot in the actual Great Hall at Christ Church College in Oxford. Christ Church itself is an epicenter of British Culture — Philip Pullman’s amazing His Dark Materials series is set in part at the college, and the place has been name-checked by everyone from Shakespeare to Yeats to Evelyn Waugh. Alumni include King Edward VII, Lewis Carroll, John Locke, and briefly, Albert Einstein. So, it’s worth a visit regardless.
14. Lacock Abbey — Snape’s Potion’s Class
Lacock Abbey in the southwest of England has been used for a number of Harry Potter shots — it’s where Snape’s potions class took place, where Harry found the Mirror of Erised, and where Harry first heard the basilisk in The Chamber of Secrets.
15. Glen Coe — Hagrid’s Hut
Glen Coe is yet another stunning location from the Scottish Highlands. It has been used in particular as the site of Hagrid’s Hut, but has been used for a number of other shots as well.
It is close to Fort William, so it would fit easily into a trip on the Jacobite Steam Train and to Loch Shiel.
16. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
None of the actual films were shot here, but the Universal theme park may be the best choice for someone traveling with little kids. There are three parks, one in Orlando, one in Hollywood, and one in Osaka, Japan, and they feature recreations of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.
17. The Elephant House, Scotland
No scenes in Harry Potter were set in Edinburgh’s Elephant House cafe. But it is one of the places that Rowling is known to have frequented while writing the books. They now advertise themselves as the birthplace of Harry Potter, which isn’t totally accurate, but the cafe is still cute and is worth the visit for Potterheads. Check out the bathrooms and all of its Potter-oriented graffiti.
18. The Making of Harry Potter
Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden (just north of London) has a permanent Harry Potter exhibit with recreations of a bunch of popular locations from the movies. The exhibit is extremely popular among Potter fans.