Charity De Souza is a Florida native and travel enthusiast. Traveling to over 50 countries abroad and residing in 6, she has a passion for exploring new cultures. While Central Florida is where she calls home, her favorite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland and watching the sunset in Morocco.
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It’s been over a decade since JK Rowling created the successful Harry Potter book series that hooked readers into a magical world of witchcraft and wizardry. From castles to theme parks, train stations, and libraries, devoted Harry Potter fans can explore fascinating places that were featured in the films and inspired the series, brought together to bring the enchanting world of Hogwarts to life. Read on to discover the top places around the world where you can fulfill your ultimate fantasy and tick off items on a Harry Potter fan bucket list.
Built in 1881, Leadenhall Market is an iconic landmark in London. It’s also where scenes were filmed for Harry Potter’s wizarding shopping complex of charming shops, known as Diagon Alley and first seen in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” One of the coolest destinations for nerds, the beautiful Victorian Market with an opulent roof and bustling energy, here Potter fans can spot the film location for the Leaky Cauldron’s entrance in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” at the real-life Bull’s Head Passage opticians shop.
It comes as no surprise that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is at the top of any Harry Potter list of must-sees. The popular theme park in Florida is not only a nod to the book series, but it boasts a fantasy world where fans can experience real-life adaptations of places like Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, offering fans of all ages a chance to experience real childlike wonder. Highlights of the park include thrilling rides on the Hogwarts Express and Dragon Challenge, opportunities to shop for wands at Ollivanders, dining at The Leaky Cauldron, and pints of frothy Butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks.
No Harry Potter bucket list would be complete without stepping foot on the actual grounds where the movie franchise was filmed. A visit to London’s Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden is the real deal, where visitors can explore soundstages, backlots, and original sets that include animatronic creations and special effects that were used in the movie series. Hang out in the Great Hall, board the Knight Bus, and visit the Dursley’s home at 4 Privet Drive. You can even hop on a broomstick for a souvenir photo and sample the delicious Butterbeer.
A fairytale steam train that runs from Fort William in Scotland to the west coast of Scotland in Mallaig, Harry Potter fans might recognize it as the same route that the Hogwarts Express ran through in the series. One of the best things to do in Scotland, it offers stunning views of the rolling countryside. Harry Potter fans can picture themselves in a real-life world of wizardry as they pass postcard-worthy views and cross over the same bridge that Hogwarts Express traveled over.
The film location used for Hogwarts Castle in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the Alnwick Castle in Northumberland is where fans can indulge in the unique experience of Broomstick Training. Dating back to 1136, the Alnwick Castle is a stately home in the English countryside where Harry Potter enthusiasts can pair up with resident wizarding professors and try their hand at a flying lesson where Harry also had his first lesson.
Not actually located between platforms 9 and 10, the famous Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross Station in located in a special place in King’s Cross in London. It is the famous spot where Harry Potter made his first attempt to cross over from the Muggle world to Hogwarts Express. Here wizards-to-be and Muggles alike can place their hands on a large luggage trolley positioned against the wall for the ultimate photo op, and super fans will also enjoy the nearby shop for all things Harry Potter.
*Spoiler Alert* While it met its dramatic fate in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the Millennium Bridge in London is thankfully still very much still intact and still an excellent sight to see. A beautiful landmark in the city, Harry Potter fans can explore the area that was destroyed by the Death Eaters in the film. Crossing the famous River Thames, the pedestrian-only bridge also offers breathtaking views of St. Paul’s Cathedral as you stroll across it from Bankside to the City.
Located in Oxford, the Great Hall was inspired by the “real” Great Hall of the historic Oxford College, Christ Church where five hundred years of students have passed through its halls. Dating back to the 12th century, the utter splendor of this Renaissance masterpiece attracted the creators of the Harry Potter films, where they decided to create an exact copy of the Hall and surrounding grounds in their studio sets in London. Explore the original Great Hall and stairway that took Harry and his friends to the dining room on the set, and you’ll sure to feel like you stepped into the movie itself.
Located in Edinburgh, The Elephant House is a coffee shop that unknowingly became a spot for inspiring writers and Harry Potter fans. JK Rowling wrote part of the first and second books while sipping coffee here, staring out to the mysterious Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetery and Gothic architecture surrounding the cafe. While the shop initially fought against the fandom, they have now embraced its popularity and those who visit will be enthralled to find every surface of the bathroom covered in messages about how the series affected their lives and a front window that reads “Birthplace of Harry Potter.”
Truly a masterpiece, Livraria Lello is an opulent bookshop in Porto, Portugal boasting a magical interior. While not a direct inspiration of the Harry Potter library in Hogwarts, it does lure in Harry Potter fans looking to explore the majestic space. Rowling lived in Portugal’s second-biggest city teaching English in the ’90s and spent time writing “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the now-famous Majestic Cafe just around the corner from this popular Porto attraction. With an intricate spiral staircase and a Gothic ambiance, the impressive bookshop is one of the oldest in Portugal and is consistently rated among the most impressive in the world.