5 mins

A Muggle’s guide to the UK’s best Harry Potter locations

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by following in Harry’s footsteps as he begins life as a young wizard at Hogwarts

Heading off to Hogwarts (Dreamstime)


Before you go

1: Gringotts Wizard Bank

Australia House, London

The exterior of Australia House (Dreamstime)

The exterior of Australia House (Dreamstime)

In many ways, the world of wizards is not so different to the real world. You need money to get by, and the only place to get it is from Gringotts, the wizard bank run by goblins.

The interior shots for Gringotts were filmed inside Australia House on the Strand in London. It is normally home to the Australian High Commission so it’s not open to the public but you can look in from the outside. Sadly, there aren’t any Gringott ATMs on the outside walls for withdrawing in the witching hours, either.

Where: Strand, London WC2B 4LA

2: Diagon Alley

Leadenhall Market, London

The gilded interior of Leadenhall Market (Dreamstime)

The gilded interior of Leadenhall Market (Dreamstime)

Cashed up after your visit to Gringotts, it’s time to head to Diagon Alley where young wizards can buy everything on their Hogwarts supply list. If you’re lucky, and it’s your birthday, a friendly giant may even buy you a white owl.

Diagon Alley first appears in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and was filmed in the sumptuous Leadenhall Market. Built in 1881, it is considered London's most beautiful Victorian market.

Where:  Gracechurch St, London EC3V 1LT


The journey

3: Platform 9¾, Kings Cross Station

Kings Cross Station, London

Harry Potter fans posing at Platform 9¾ (Dreamstime)

Harry Potter fans posing at Platform 9¾ (Dreamstime)

Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross in London is the platform where young wizards board the Hogwarts Express, the scarlet steam train that will take them to their school. It is situated between the Muggle platforms of 9 and 10.

For a long time you could find half a luggage cart disappearing into the wall between the real platforms, 9 and 10, but with the redevelopment of Kings Cross Station, it has been moved into the main shopping concourse. Here Muggles can pose for photos and buy souvenirs from the attached shop to their heart's content.

Where:  Kings Cross Station, London, N1 9AP

4: The Hogwarts Express

The Jacobite Steam Train, Scotland

Steam billowing from the Jacobite Steam Train (Dreamstime)

Steam billowing from the Jacobite Steam Train (Dreamstime)

The Hogwarts Express is the name of the steam train that dutifully carries students to and from Hogwarts at the beginning and end of each term.

The good news for Muggles is that the Hogwarts Express is a real train called the Jacobite Steam Train that runs between April and October every year. The bad news is that it departs from Fort William in Scotland, over 500 miles away from Kings Cross.

It’s worth the effort though. The 85-mile journey cuts through some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland and chugs across the famous Glenfinnan viaduct.

Jacobite Steam Train

5: Hogsmeade Station

Goathland Train Station, Yorkshire

Half term at Goatland (Dreamstime)

Half term at Goatland (Dreamstime)

Hogsmeade is the railway station that serves both the village of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts school. It is here that young wizards and witches disembark with their assorted luggage and magical animals and make their way around the Black Lake to Hogwarts Castle.

In real life, Hogmeade Station is the equally intriguingly named Goathland Station. Built in 1865 as part of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, it has changed little over the centuries. It is still in service and can be reached by train from either Whitby or Pickering.

Where: Cow Wath Bank, Goathland, Whitby YO22 5NF


Welcome to Hogwarts

6: Hogwarts (exterior)

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

Alnwick Castle. Moody (Dreamstime)

Alnwick Castle. Moody (Dreamstime)

Wondering how Harry and his classmates felt the first time they caught sight of their new school? You can get the same feeling by visiting Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, the place where many of the exterior shots for Hogwarts were filmed.

The castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England after Windsor Castle and has been home to the Dukes of Northumberland for over 700 years. Older Muggles may be interested to know the castle was also used to film episodes of Antiques Roadshow and Flog It!

Where: Alnwick NE66 1NQ

7: Hogwarts (exterior and interior)

Durham Cathedral, County Durham

Alnwick Castle. Moody (Dreamstime)

Durham Cathedral reflected in the River Wear (Dreamstime)

Founded in 1093 and set by the picturesque River Wear, Durham Cathedral has been used to shoot various exterior and interior shots of Hogwarts, including Hogwarts’ famous bell towers (although CGI was used to add spires.)

The cloisters of Durham Cathedral were also used as the location for the Middle Courtyard, or Transfiguration Courtyard, and the entrance to the Headmaster’s Office.

Where: The College, Durham DH1 3EH

8: Hogwarts (interior)

Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucestershire

Intricate stonework in the cloisters (Dreamstime)

Intricate stonework in the cloisters (Dreamstime)

With their intricate stonework and atmospheric arches, the cloisters in Gloucester Cathedral were the perfect stand-in for the corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

One of the most famous scenes shot here was one involving the Fat Lady, a portrait that guards the entrance to Gryffindor Tower. It was filmed at the end of the West Walk. Muggle fathers may also be interested in some of the cathedral’s stain glass windows. Dating back to 1350, they depict some of the earliest evidence of sports such as golf and medieval football.

Where: 12 College Green, Gloucester GL1 2LX

9: Snape's potion classroom

Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Medieval cauldron in Lacock Abbey (Dreamstime)

Medieval cauldron in Lacock Abbey (Dreamstime)

If it’s time to get down to lessons, then it’s time to head to Lacock Abbey in rural Wiltshire.  It is here you’ll find the classroom used for Snape’s lessons on potions as well as the Temporary Defence Against The Dark Arts classroom.

Snape’s potion lessons were filmed in the Sacristy, where the windows were covered to give the impression that the room was underground. The scenes involving the Temporary Defence Against The Dark Arts classroom were shot in the Abbey’s Warming Room. It has a medieval cauldron that was also used in the film. The scenes involving the student’s study room were filmed in the Abbey too.

Where: Lacock, Chippenham SN15 2LG

Main image: Harry Potter fans posing at Platform 9 ¾ (Dreamstime)

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