One of Britain’s most famous exports, the wizarding world of Harry Potter, is renowned worldwide. Luckily for visitors to the UK, you can visit many of the sights featured in the film franchise on your self-drive tour. Any Harry Potter fans (both adults and children alike!) can travel the length and breadth of the country searching out the beautiful sights and landscapes which have featured in the films. We’ve picked out a few of our favourites below.
Glenfinnan, Scottish Highlands
The Glenfinnan Viaduct, on the spectacular West Highland railway line between Fort William and Mallaig, is now of Scotland’s most photographed sights. The huge viaduct, which the Hogwarts Express steams across on its way to the school, has featured in several of the films including Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when the flying Ford Anglia lands on the viaduct.
You can travel over the viaduct yourself on the ‘Jacobite’ steam train. Often described as the greatest railway journey in the world, the round trip takes in beautiful Highland scenery on its way between Fort William and Mallaig. The route passes below Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, and past picturesque Loch Shiel (pictured), which stretches out into the distance away from the viaduct. Loch Shiel also doubles up as the location of the fictional Black Lake in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Alternatively, visit Glenfinnan by car and take the short walk right up to and under the viaduct. You can extend the walk to explore some of the stunning surrounding scenery. History fans will also enjoy this area - the Glenfinnan Monument was put up at the head of Loch Shiel to show where ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ raised his standard at the beginning of the Jacobite Rising in 1745.
Many sights around London have been seen in the films and you could easily spend a couple of days tracking them all down. To get you started, head to ‘Platform 9 ¾’ at King’s Cross Station (which is actually the arched wall between Platforms 4 and 5, where there is an easy photo opportunity as you’ll find a trolley disappearing into the wall!). Outside you’ll see the Neo-Gothic facade of St Pancras where the Weasley's magical Ford Anglia takes off in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Leadenhall Market in the City was used as Diagon Alley in a couple of the films and the entrance to wizard’s pub, 'the Leaky Cauldron', is an optician in Bull’s Head Passage in the market. Other Potter sights include the Millennium Bridge, which is seen being destroyed by dementors in the Order of the Phoenix, and the Reptile House at London Zoo, which is where Harry first discovered he could speak parseltongue.
Another beautiful city which has starred throughout the franchise. Oxford University’s famous Bodleian Library appeared in three of the Harry Potter films. Take the tour of the Bodleian library (look out for the medieval Duke Humfrey's Library) and see the elaborately vaulted Divinity School that became Hogwart’s infirmary.
A walk around the atmospheric cloisters in Christ Church College will make Potter fans think that they are actually in Hogwarts. Many scenes were shot in various locations of the College and as you walk around it is easy to see why. The Great Hall was replicated in the film studios to create Hogwart's own Great Hall.
New college was also used as a location in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the great Oak tree in the corner of the cloister is where they filmed the scenes of Mad-Eye Moody turning Draco Malfoy into a ferret.
Spoons Café, Edinburgh
For any budding authors looking for some inspiration, this café in Edinburgh is the perfect spot to get a coffee and while away a few hours - the venue was the site of the former Nicholson Café, one of the locations in which JK Rowling penned the first Harry Potter book!
Malham Cove, Yorkshire
Scenes for Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows were filmed all around Malham including Malham Cove, the limestone pavement, Malham Tarn and Gordale Scar.
This whole area is stunning (and recently featured on this blog as one of our favourite views in the country) and is full of geological wonders. If you are looking to spend a few hours in this area, you can do a lovely day walk that takes in all of Malhamdale’s geological highlights.
Harry Potter Studio Tour
To really immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter, the Warner Brother Studio Tour takes some beating. Set adjacent to the working film studios where all eight Harry Potter films were made, the Studio Tour lets you explore two soundstages and a backlot filled with original sets, props and costumes.
You can stroll down Diagon Alley, peer into the cabinets of Dumbledore's office and admire the well-worn furniture in Gryffindor common room. The tour now includes the original Hogwarts Express steam engine and a recreation of Platform 9 ¾. Be warned, booking of entry tickets well in advance is essential!
If you would like Great British Escapes to plan you a tailor-made self-drive holiday in Britain taking in some of these Harry Potter sights, please get in touch.