This is the best Harry Potter Sites Trip around the world itinerary
I was in shock. I was shopping in the supermarket browsing the magazine racks and spotted a special edition celebrating 20 YEARS of the Harry Potter books and films. SHOCK! How could these wizarding pieces of literary genius already be 2 decades old!? I bought the magazine and made it a mission to find 20 Harry Potter locations across the globe with the help of my blogging BFFs for all you beautiful readers to add to your trip around the world itinerary.
Harry Potter Sites for Your Trip Around the World Itinerary
1 – The Elephant House – Edinburgh Scotland
The Elephant House in Edinburgh is probably one of the most famous Harry Potter locations in the world. After all, it was here that J.K. Rowling wrote the first two books of the series we all love. The cafe is a bit off the beaten track in Edinburgh, but still receives thousands of fans every year. While it makes a great place to grab a cup of tea in general, the cafe’s main attraction is its bathrooms. The bathroom walls are covered in graffiti of Harry Potter fans thanking Rowling for the series. Add your name to the wall to join Dumbledore’s Army, but make sure not to get stuck on your way to the ministry
2 – Majestic Cafe, Porto Portugal
JK Rowling spent some time in Porto, Portugal teaching English. It has been suggested that she wrote the first draft of the Sorcerer’s Stone on the napkin at the Majestic Café. Many experts don’t believe that she started writing the books at the café mainly because it is an expensive place. It’s possible that she visited the Majestic Café and may have done some work on the book there, but with her tight teacher’s budget she wouldn’t have stayed long.
Still, like other Harry Potter fans, I wanted to take my picture outside the cafe. I also peered inside and it looked like a nice place with lovely woodwork. You can eat at the Majestic Cafe but avoid peak times as there can be long lines. The Majestic Cafe is open from 9:30 am to midnight, Monday through Saturday and is located at Rua Santa Catarina 112.
3 – Gloucester Cathedral – England
Have you heard of Gloucester Cathedral before? Well if you are a Harry Potter fan (which given you’re reading this post it’s safe to assume you are) you need to add this Cathedral to your bucket list. Gloucester Cathedral is home to Hogwarts halls, and was used as a film site for many of the films. Specifically Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, and the Half-Blood Prince. Remember the scene in Chamber of Secrets where “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened” was painted in blood on the walls – yep that was filmed in this Cathedral. I imagine the paint was all CGI of course. How about in the Philosopher’s Stone when the Troll is wandering through the halls of Hogwarts? That would be this Cathedral as well. My personal favorite is in Half-Blood Prince when Harry and Ron are standing on a ledge in the halls laughing at the first years and McGonogall calls them over and sends them to take Potions. The best part of this Cathedral is it’s open for tours or you can walk around on your own. Muggles are free to enter, and encouraged to make a donation of their choice.
4 – Exeter, England
For all the Muggles out there that are just itching to relive their Harry Potter days – fear not, you can visit many places in the United Kingdom to spark that magic back into your life. Make sure to take a trip to Exeter, home to the University of Exeter and where J.K. Rowling went to UNI. You’ll be sure to find many of her inspirations strewn through this town. Visit The Old Firehouse – a quaint pub in city center Exeter where J.K. is claimed to have written some of the books, and the pub itself lent inspiration to the Leaky Cauldron. While there be sure to grab some of their renowned pizza and delicious flavored Devon Cider. Why not walk down Gandy Street, and see if you can’t pick up on all the similarities to Diagon Alley? Maybe you’ll come across The Vaults and you’ll think of some Goblin friends. Remember the Room of Requirements Door – yep you can find that too! Walk down to 10 Cathedral Close in Cathedral Green and you’ll be sure to come across the inspiration for that door. Last but not least, strolling through The University of Exeter, you may come across some buildings that remind you of Gryffindor Common Rooms. Happy hunting Muggles!
5 – Durham Cathedral, England
Harry releasing Hedwig against a snowy backdrop in the Philosopher’s Stone, Ron vomiting slugs and Professor McGonagall’s class on turning animals into water goblets in the Chamber of Secrets are all scenes filmed in the ancient cloisters and chapterhouse of Durham Cathedral. Durham Cathedral, built in the 11th century, is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture. Durham is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to one of the oldest universities in England.
A picturesque, quaint city in the North East with cobbled streets, old-fashioned tearooms and students milling around – it is no wonder it has featured in the in several Harry Potter films. Not only can you visit this Harry Potter film location, but a visit to Durham Castle and the medieval colleges will give you a feel for a real-life Harry Potter, where students in gowns have dinner at long dining tables stretched across a Great Hall, with lights dangling from the ceiling and medieval painting hanging on the walls. Durham is easily accessible from London by train, East Coast trains run regularly and takes 3-4 hours.
6 – Florida’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Orlando, Florida is home to not one, but two Harry Potter theme parks connected via Hogwartz Express! If you’ve always dreamt of strolling the streets of Diagon Alley, then Universal Studios is the place for you. Here you can dine at the Leaky Cauldron and test your wizarding skills escaping from Gringott’s Bank. If you’ve been patiently waiting to become a third year so that you can go on your first Hogsmeade trip then look no further than Islands of Adventure. Here you can dine at the Three Broomsticks, satisfy your sweet tooth at Honeydukes, ride a Hippogriff coaster, and take an interactive tour of Hogwartz Castle in a 3D motion simulation. At both parks you can cheers your friends over butter beer, watch a wand choose the wizard at Ollivanders before picking up your very own wand, and experience true Harry Potter magic like never before.
7 – Harry Potter Bus Tour of the filming locations – London, England
By Alice of Take your Bag, Instagram
In my opinion, going on a Harry Potter bus tour of the filming locations is an absolute must when you’re in London! The guides are usually complete Potterheads and know about everything there is to know on the subject, so you’re sure to hear a few anecdotes you might not have heard before. It’s also a great way to see a bunch of Harry Potter sights in around 3 hours, without having to worry about making an itinerary, getting lost, or meeting Death Eaters on the way… The locations you’ll generally see are Gringotts Bank (from outside), the Ministry of Magic site, Diagon Alley, the Leaky Cauldron (two locations!), Grimmauld Place (from outside too), Millennium Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and King’s Cross St. Pancras with the Platform 9 3/4 and the place-that-must-not-be-mentioned-to-your-banker (the Platform’s shop!).
8 – Livraria Lello – Porto, Portugal
By Sandra of Tripper, Instagram
JK Rowling lived in Porto in the 1990s where she worked as an English teacher. Harry Potter fans will probably be quick in connecting the dots between her time spent in Portugal and some of the references in the books – the inspiration for Salazar Slytherin came from the former dictator António Salazar (that the author has confirmed on Twitter), the students’ black cloaks at the school of wizardry match the uniforms of Portuguese university students. But there is one particular set of staircases that rings a bell more closely, although they don’t move on their own like the ones at Hogwarts’ library.
Livraria Lello, an Art Nouveau bookstore in Porto rated as one of the most beautiful in the world, is an impressive building with an unmistakable façade, wooden bookcases, and, of course, the glorious staircase all Harry Potter fans come to see. Because the primary goal here is to sell books, not to just be another pop-culture reference, rules to visit the bookstore are strict. Since 2015, due to the wear and tear of the building caused by sightseers over the years, the bookstore started to charge an admission fee of €3.
9 – Spoon Cafe, Edinburgh Scotland
It’s well-known that J K Rowling first starting writing the Harry Potter books in cafes in Edinburgh, because it was cheaper to go out and buy a coffee than pay for heating in her house all day. However, while the Elephant House is touted as the “birthplace of Harry Potter” it was actually in the Spoon Cafe, formerly the Nicolson Cafe that was owned by her brother-in-law, that she began to write Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. This is noted by a plaque on the building where the cafe is located. It wasn’t until later on that she also began to use the Elephant Cafe. Spoon Cafe is an upstairs cafe that overlooks Nicholson Street, and it’s still a delightful place to enjoy a coffee or some food. While you could ow happily sit there and write with a laptop, when J K Rowling wrote there it was all with pen and paper!
10 – The Warner Brothers studio tour in Hollywood, California
The Warner Brothers studio tour in Hollywood, California takes visitors behind the scenes at a real, working movie and tv studio. In addition to the backlots and sets, you can tour an exhibit featuring some of the most recognizable props and costumes from the Harry Potter film series. Some of the highlights include the costume Hermione was wearing when she punched Draco Malfoy, Harry’s quidditch uniform a dementor prop, one of Delores Umbridge’s very pink outfits, and a chimney full of Hogwarts letters from the first movie. There’s also a Sorting Hat prop that you can pose for pictures with while being sorted into your Hogwarts house. Tours run daily and can be booked in advance on the studio site.
11 – College of Wizardry, Poland
12 – Harry Potter Studio Tour – London England
By Julie of Travel as Much, Facebook
Fans of Harry Potter mustn’t miss the WB Studios Tour in Leavesden, just outside London. The tour takes roughly three hours (although you might want to stay longer) and treats you to seeing many of the sets, costumes, and props used in the making of the Harry Potter movies. You can stand before Dumbledore’s office, peer into the Potions classroom, ride Hagrid’s motorcycle, and knock on the door of Number 4, Privet Drive. When you’re ready for a break, get some butterbeer soft serve ice cream – it’s delicious!
In addition to seeing all the wonderful artifacts from the movies, you also get a behind-the-scenes look as well, learning how special effects were accomplished (surprisingly, some of it is really old school and not CGI). The attention to detail will astonish you, and by the time you leave, you will feel like you’ve spent the day at Hogwarts.
13 – Divinity School- Oxford, England
Home to the University of Oxford, the city of Oxford, England was used extensively in the filming of the Harry Potter series. If you’ve ever visited any of the colleges in Oxford, you’ll know why – their medieval architecture and crumbling cloisters make a perfect stand-in for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!
One of my favorite film locations is the Divinity School within Oxford’s Bodleian Library. The Divinity School served as the Hogwarts Infirmary in several of the films. This stunning grand hall is where Harry wakes up after confronting Voldemort for the first time in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and where Professor McGonagall teaches Ron to dance in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire among many other famous scenes.
To enter the Divinity School, you’ll need to buy a ticket for £1 or join one of the Bodleian Library’s daily guided tours.
14 – Ride the Hogwarts Express – Scotland
Two summers ago, I scored tickets to the Cursed Child play in London with my two best friends. We knew we wanted to include as many Harry Potter sites as possible in what turned into a three-week HP tour. (I’ll spare you my usual lecture about how excessive we are as HP fans). The Hogwarts Express, unsurprisingly, was a stop that could not be missed on our first visit to the U.K.
We ended up with the option to ride the Hogwarts Express as part of a larger three-day tour excursion in Scotland. Known to Muggles as the Jacobite Express, the available train route runs from Fort William to Mallaig in a 135-km roundtrip journey on Scotland’s western side. Not to worry though, you can also buy individual tickets, one-way or roundtrip, without a tour.
Make sure you book a seat in the Harry Potter compartment of the train – the train is shared with Muggles in other compartments and you don’t want to get seated in the non-magical section. And don’t forget to bring a few Galleons to buy some pumpkin pasty’s in a souvenir from your trip.
15 – Tom Riddle’s Grave – Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is one of the best travel destinations for Harry Potter fans, since J.K Rowling found inspiration for her novel in just about every corner of the city, including an old graveyard! As you wander through the stone tombstones you will find two familiar names. Hidden in a back corner against the wall you’ll find a tomb with the name Tom Riddle. Sadly it is missing the angel of death, but the name is clearly engraved on the tomb. During your tour see if you can spot another grave with the last name McGonagall. The grave belongs to William McGonagall, known as the U.K.’s worst poet. It seems Rowling did the name a favor by writing such a strong female character we all know and love. The Greyfriars Kirkyard is a must-see for any true Harry Potter fan and brings a spooky realness to “He Who Must Not Be Named,” while tracing Rowling’s steps.
16 – North Yorkshire Moors Railway, England
17 – Alnwick Castle, North England
In the north of England lies the stately home of the Duke of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle. This fine Norman stronghold is better known as ‘Hogwarts’ to Harry Potter fans, as the castle was used as a movie set to film several key scenes from the first two Potter motion pictures. You can stand on the spot where Harry had his first broom lesson and mastered the game of Quidditch and see where Harry and Ron crashed landed the Weasley’s flying car. Magical activities include learning how to fly a broomstick or time your visit for one of the wizarding weeks, which includes a location tour, Potter-inspired characters, and mystical creatures.
Grand ornately decorated rooms, magnificent gardens, guided tours, birds of prey demonstrations and archery lessons on offer too, as well as a café and an award-winning tree house restaurant. Muggles are advised to check the castle’s website for ‘What’s On’ and get there early for tickets!
18 – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Theatrical Production, London, England
How many theater performances have you seen where the actors change their wardrobe or disappear right before your eyes? This type of sorcery is only fitting for a Harry Potter related play. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on stage in London did not disappoint. With two parts that can be purchased either on the same day or separate nights, this show lasts over five magical hours. Many people thought I was a little crazy for traveling from the US to London for a play, but any true fan understands. I think being in the country where the story takes place truly elevated the experience. Not to mention, who doesn’t want to catch up with their favorite witches and wizards after all these years?
19 – Harry Potter Exhibition – Brussels, Belgium
Since its world premiere in Chicago, for the 15th stop third annual celebration of Harry Potter Brussels City was chosen. It was held at Palais 2 of Brussels Expo. It was a chance for us Harry Potter fans to get to see up close and experience an unforgettable moment.
The exhibition features settings from the films’ most popular locations, among them, are the dormitory rooms, classrooms (Potions and Herbology), and common rooms of Gryffindor. It includes the Forbidden Forest, authentic props/equipment, costumes, and creatures used in the filming of the iconic series.
My favorite part is the hall of the Triwizard Tournament and the Yulle Ball from Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire where the three main characters (Harry, Hermoine, & Ron) start to have admirations to other wizards especially Harry with Choi, Hermoine to Viktor, and lastly, Hermoine realizes that she likes Ron.
Let us not forget the Ball where they look all grown up, it makes me a pinched to my heart how fast these characters have grown from Day 1 (first movie) until this very moment. I would never ever forget this precious moment.
20 – The Millennium Bridge- London, England
By Carol of Wayfaring Views, Instagram
At the start of the Half Blood Prince, all hell is breaking loose. The Death Eaters have been killing Muggles left and right and the city of London is shrinking under the gloom. The opening of the movie features a trio of Death Eaters twisting themselves around the Millennium bridge like a corkscrew, tearing it apart and dumping the terrified Muggles into the Thames.
That bridge is real and fortunately, it is totally intact. It’s an elegantly designed pedestrian bridge that spans the Thames, connecting St. Paul’s Cathedral (on the north) to the Tate Modern (on the south). If you are going from the cathedral to the Tate, walking the bridge is actually faster and easier than taking the tube or a bus. From the mid-span of the bridge, you have a lovely view looking back at the cathedral. You can also get great views of the bridge, and indeed all of London, from the sixth floor viewing tower of the Tate. Alternatively, you can see the bridge from other angles by checking out this guide to the best sky-high views in London.
So there you have 20 Harry Potter spots to add to your trip around the world itinerary in commemoration of the franchise’s 20th anniversary! Which ones would you include? Which have you seen?
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Fill My Passport collaborated with these wonderful travel bloggers on our experiences abroad. All opinions are their own.