London is a wonderful destination to visit if you’re a Harry Potter fan. There are places across the city which are either mentioned in J.K. Rowling’s celebrated book series or used as locations for the subsequent films, or both. Here are 17 of the best places to go if you’d like to explore the world of Harry Potter in London – I’ve marked them on a Harry Potter’s London map at the end of this post, to give you an idea of where they are.
Warner Bros Studio Tour
The studios where the Harry Potter films were created are at Leavesden, just outside London. The fascinating and immersive studio tour encompasses iconic film sets, such as the Great Hall, Diagon Alley and Privet Drive, the Hogwarts Express, the Forbidden Forest, animatronic creatures and a multitude of beautifully crafted props and costumes. You can have your photo taken riding a broomstick or sitting in Mr Weasley’s flying car, drink some butterbeer and sit on Hagrid’s motorbike. You definitely need to book in advance here, as the studios are hugely popular. You can read my full review of the studio tour here – Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter. (I haven’t included this on my Harry Potter’s London map, as it’s outside the city).
Reptile House at London Zoo
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry discovers that he’s a parseltongue (muggle translation – he can talk to snakes) when he finds himself speaking with a burmese python in London Zoo’s Reptile House. In 2001 this scene was filmed on location at London Zoo, and today you can visit the Reptile House and see it for yourself. You can read my full review of London Zoo here – A family trip to London Zoo.
King’s Cross Station
King’s Cross Station is where Harry and the other Hogwarts students catch the Hogwarts Express train to school at the start of each year, from Platform 9¾. This platform is inaccessible to non-wizards and witches, but if you visit the station you’ll find a helpful sign on the wall showing where it is – there’s also a luggage trolley embedded in the wall. There’s a Harry Potter shop at the station in case you’d like a souvenir.
St Pancras Station
In the films, the marvellous Neo-Gothic exterior of St Pancras Station appears as King’s Cross Station. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Ron park the Weasleys’ Ford Anglia in the corner of the courtyard and later they fly off over the station in the car. The station is the London departure point for trains to the Channel Tunnel and is home to a range of upmarket shops and places to eat and drink.
Westminster tube station
Westminster tube station is used by Harry and Arthur Weasley in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. They travel by underground train to a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic. The station was closed for a day while filming was going on. You can visit the station for free, but you need to buy a ticket if you’d like to travel on a tube train.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry flies along the River Thames and over Tower Bridge on his broomstick. You can explore the bridge by visiting the excellent interactive Tower Bridge Exhibition, which offers views from the upper walkway, including through its sections of glass floor.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Millennium Bridge is destroyed by Death Eaters. The bridge, also known as the Wobbly Bridge, is a footbridge across the River Thames, linking Bankside with the City. If you cross the bridge from south to north you’ll see a perfectly-framed view of St. Paul’s Cathedral as you walk.
Lambeth Bridge is where the fabulous triple-decker purple Knight Bus squeezes between two oncoming double-decker buses in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The bridge has been used in many other films too, including the James Bond film Spectre, where a boat and a helicopter race under and over it. The bridge is open to road traffic and pedestrians.
Leadenhall is a beautiful Victorian covered market and it features in several of the films as Diagon Alley – the blue door of the opticians in Bull’s Head Passage is the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron pub. The market is home to food and flower stalls as well as shops, pubs and restaurants.
A flower shop in Borough Market appears as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, for the scene where Harry arrives on the Knight Bus. Borough Market is London’s oldest food market, and has been here for around 1,000 years. Today it’s a fantastic place for street food, and is home to some great eateries.
Harry, Ron and Hermione apparate at Piccadilly Circus when they flee from Bill and Fleur’s wedding in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. In the book, they escape to Tottenham Court Road, but Piccadilly Circus was used for the film version. Piccadilly Circus is one of London’s busiest squares.
Australia House on the Strand was used as Gringotts, the wizarding bank, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Australia House is Australia’s diplomatic mission in the UK and so the interior isn’t usually open to the public – but you can look at the building from the outside and try to peep in through the doors.
Charing Cross Road
In Harry Potter’s world, the Leaky Cauldron is a pub on Charing Cross Road which is used by wizards and witches to get to Diagon Alley. There are actually several pubs on this road, which is known for its second-hand bookshops and and antiquarian shops.
23-29 Claremont Square was used as a filming location for the exterior of 12 Grimmauld Place, Sirius Black’s family home and the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.
Great Scotland Yard
Great Scotland Yard is where Harry and Arthur Weasley enter the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. You won’t see the red phone box which was used as the entrance to the Ministry in the film, as it was a prop.
House of MinaLima
House of MinaLima in Soho is home to graphic designs created by designers Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima for the Harry Potter films. The walls of the four-storey house are covered in prints and graphics, which are all for sale, and there are also some authentic film props on display.
If you’d like a guided walking tour of some of the top Harry Potter sites in London, Muggle Tours are great fun. The tours start just around the corner from London Bridge, and the tour guides share fascinating background details about the wizarding books and films, and also touch on London’s history, performing a few magic tricks along the way. The tours last around two and a half hours. There are various other Harry Potter tours available in London, but this is the only one which I have taken part in.
Over to you
Do you have any other Harry Potter-related places in London to add to the list? Have you been to any of these places?