Everything You Need to Know About London Harry Potter Tour
A world in which wizards live among people was first described in J.K. Rowling’s books about Harry Potter more than 20 years ago. Unfortunately, it is impossible to see Buckbeak, to play Quidditch and go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But still, a part of this world is available to us since the action of the books is set in London. When watching a film about the adventures of a trinity of little wizards, most viewers dreamed of seeing the magic world with their own eyes. And with this tour, this dream can come true!
During this tour of London’s filming locations, we will try to show you another – magical and fabulous Harry Potter’s London. While walking through the brightest and most memorable locations of the storyline of the young wizards and the places that inspired J.K. Rowling while writing the book about Harry Potter you will feel that the world of magic is almost real. It is so closely intertwined with ordinary life in Britain that you begin to believe in miracles.
J.K. Rowling described all the details of the sights of the capital in books, and filmmakers were able to recreate magical Harry Potter’s World in London locations using real streets, buildings, and architectural objects of the city. The world of Harry Potter is inextricably linked with London, and you have the opportunity to experience the atmosphere of a magical city.
- Harry Potter and the Railway Stations
- 1. London King’s Cross Railway Station
- 2. St. Pancras Railway Station
- Harry Potter and the Entrances to the Wizardry World
- 3. The Leaky Cauldron
- 4. The Great Scotland Yard
- Harry Potter and the Bridges
- 5. Millennium Footbridge
- 6. Lambeth Bridge
- Harry Potter and the Capital
- 7. Reptile House, London Zoo
- 8. Piccadilly Circus
- 9. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- 10. Westminster Tube Station
- 11. Australia House
- 12. Harry Potter and the Warner Brothers Studio
- 13. Great Hall
- 14. Forbidden Forest
- 15. Platform 9 3⁄4
- 16. Diagon Alley
- Harry Potter and the Bonus Locations
- 17. Madame Tussaud Museum
- 18. Hardys Original Sweetshop
Harry Potter and the Railway Stations
1. London King’s Cross Railway Station
Our journey to the magical world starts at the famous King’s Cross Station just where Harry’s fascinating journey into the world of magic began. This is also a place where the final scene is set both in the book and the film.
But the railway station itself actually exists in muggle’s world and is located in North London. The station was built in the middle of the 19th century.
British writer J.K. Rowling got the idea of a book about the wizard boy while delayed on a train from Manchester to King’s Cross back in 1990.
The 9 ¾ platform is one of the portals leading to the wizarding world The Hogwarts Express locomotive departs from Platform 9 ¾ of King’s Cross Station and takes gifted students to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on the 1st of September every year, but don’t be late and be there by 11 in the morning. Every Potter fan should definitely visit Platform 9 ¾ while in London. Everyone knows that in order to get to the platform you have to run into the barrier between platforms 9 and 10. But you won’t find a barrier between these two platforms in King’s Cross Station, the barrier used in the film is located between the 4th and 5th platforms.
Here, at the station, you can take a picture whilst pushing the trolley through the Wall. You can take a shot yourself or have a professional photo taken. The prices are £9.50 for 1 photo, £15 for 2 and £20 for 3. At Platform 9 ¾ Shop you can buy sweets, scarves of all 4 faculties, wands, books, and other magical things. The Harry Potter Shop is located in the main concourse area near Platforms 9 and 10.
It is interesting to know that the facade of London King’s Cross in the film is actually the facade of the nearby St. Pancras, which is our next location. In other words, King’s Cross station in the Harry Potter film series actually consists of two real stations – inside it’s the King’s Cross station itself and St. Pancras on the outside.
We suggest you visit Platform 9 ¾ as early as possible (even before 9 a.m.) as the station is quite crowded and try to avoid visiting during school holidays.
There is also a VIP photo pass if you would like to skip the queue. The price is £20.
Note: Avoid getting pickpocketed.
King’s Cross Station opening hours are:
- 5 a.m. to 1:36 a.m. (Monday to Friday)
- 5 a.m. to 1:11 a.m. (Saturday)
- 5 a.m. to 1:36 a.m. (Sunday)
2. St. Pancras Railway Station
St Pancras is Londoners’ favorite railway station and is located just off King’s Cross train station.
The station can be seen in the second part of the film series. Remember how Harry and Ron flew to Hogwarts in Mr. Weasley’s light blue flying Ford Anglia in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”? They took off just in front of this wonderful architectural structure which in real life is a beautiful example of Neo-Gothic British architecture.
The St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel forms the facade of St Pancras station.
You can also notice St. Pancras in the final scene of the film series.
Harry Potter and the Entrances to the Wizardry World
We have already seen the Platform 9 ¾ where Harry entered the wizarding world in the first book/film. Let’s find two other entrances!
3. The Leaky Cauldron
“The Leaky Cauldron” was created from several locations. In “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” the image of the magic tavern was inspired by the Leadenhall Market. In order to see the entrance to the bar itself, you need to find Pavilion 42 on the Bull’s Head Passage which in real life is an optics store. The Leadenhall Market is one of the most beautiful markets under the elegant Victorian roof.
Another prototype of the Leaky Cauldron is the Borough Market at 7 Stoney Street, which in real life is a beautiful florist shop, which you may have also seen in other films. The scene in the “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, when Harry gets off the Night Knight bus and meets the Minister of Magic Fudge was filmed at this location.
And if you want to get on the Diagon Alley where The Leaky Cauldron is located then you have to find Charing Cross Road Street famous for its bouquiniste and antique shops. Cecil Court is a small alleyway believed to be another inspiration for Diagon Alley.
4. The Great Scotland Yard
You can get to the Ministry of Magic using a phone booth located on The Great Scotland Yard where the scene from “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ” when Mr. Weasleys takes Harry to the Ministry of Magic is filmed. By the way, the number Mr. Weasleys enters is 62442. Can you guess what word is spelled out underneath those numbers?
We should also notice how often J.K. Rowling mentioned the center of the capital in the books. Thus, providing the feeling that magic is right beside us.
Harry Potter and the Bridges
5. Millennium Footbridge
The Millennium Footbridge was initially opened in 2000 but was closed only two days after opening, as it began to sway due to the crowds of people and strong winds on the opening day. Londoners called it the “Wobbly Bridge”. But there were modifications and repairs made and it was reopened in 2002. So, the bridge is stable now. It may be that this fact inspired the filmmakers to use it in the film frame.
And, here is the iconic scene. At the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Millennium Bridge was destroyed by the Death Eaters. However, you can visit the attraction in London, since in real life the bridge stands still and withstands the onslaught of dark forces.
The Millennium Footbridge straddles the River Thames in London connecting Bankside and the City. Here you can imagine yourself as a wizard and admire the fantastic views of the British capital. Enjoy an incredible view of St Paul’s Cathedral as you make your way from the North to the South Bank of the River Thames.
Note: Look down when on the bridge and you will see chewing gum art and maybe the artist himself, Ben Wilson.
6. Lambeth Bridge
Lambeth Bridge appears on the screen more than once in the Harry Potter film series. But the brightest episode is when the Night Knight bus successfully squeezes between two red passing double-decker buses (which, as you, of course, know, is a national symbol of England) in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”. Harry gets on the Night Knight bus while escaping the Dursleys’ house after another terrible holiday. The bus operates at a very high speed, jumps back and forth, and finally reaches the “Leaky Cauldron”.
Lambeth Bridge is an arched bridge crossing the River Thames in Central London and it was built in the 30s of the XX century. It’s used by many Londoners and tourists each day.
Interesting fact: Lambeth Bridge is painted red to match the seats in the House of Lords, one of the two houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom. And the Westminster Bridge which is further down the Thames is painted in green to match the House of Commons.
Harry Potter and the Capital
7. Reptile House, London Zoo
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Here, in the Reptile House of the London Zoo, Harry first learns he can talk to snakes in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” when the Dursleys are forced to take him with them to the zoo.
When you visit the Reptile House you can check if you have a similar gift. However, this amazing place must be visited not only for that but because there are more than 750 rare species of animals in the zoo. So you will have a chance to communicate with mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and other unusual and wonderful species.
8. Piccadilly Circus
One of the famous and most memorable scenes in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, when Ron, Harry, and Hermione escape from the wedding from the Death Eaters and are transferred to Piccadilly Circus where the wizards have to literally jump out of the road and barely dodge the rushing London was filmed here in Piccadilly Circus, which is a busy road junction in the city center.
This square is one of the most important tourist attractions in London. In Piccadilly Circus, you can find a large number of various shops and entertainment venues.
9. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
If you would like to see the 8th Harry Potter story and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on the stage, you should visit the Palace Theatre in London’s West End.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. This new play is a unique theatrical experience that brings the magic back.
In the play, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are back on a new adventure, but now joined by a new generation.
The show is set into two parts. The first part of the play is 2 hours and 40 minutes and the second part is 2 hours and 35 minutes. Both parts have a 20-minute interval. You can see both parts on the same or over two evenings.
The prices start at £15 per part.
And the age recommendation is 10+.
For other fun activities for kids in London, you can check our guide on Best Places to Visit in London with Kids.
10. Westminster Tube Station
The scene in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” where Harry Potter and Mr. Weasleys go to the Ministry of Magic was filmed at Westminster tube station. During filming, it was closed for the whole day although the station is very important.
Generally, Westminster is one of the most famous historic districts of London and deserves a visit because of its geographic location which is close to many of the city’s attractions: Houses of Parliament, Parliament Square, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, and London Eye.
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Note: If you consider taking part in the World of Wizards and Harry Potter Locations Tour, which is a game where you have to solve clues and stop an evil wizard and save the World, Westminster Tube Station is a meeting point of this game. During the quest, you will visit the House of Guards, Cecil Court, and Trafalgar Square (places from Harry Potter films). This city game is all on the smartphone and is available in English, French, and German. The duration is about 3 hours.
11. Australia House
The magnificent interiors of Australia House served as an architectural prototype for the wizarding bank Gringotts (the only known bank in the wizarding world) operated by goblins. Every Harry Potter fan remembers the scenes in the wizarding bank in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”.
Australia House, officially opened by King George V in 1918, is the main attraction of Strand street in central London. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get inside. But even the exterior of the structure looks magical and makes images of goblins emerge in our memories!
12. Harry Potter and the Warner Brothers Studio
“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, the first installment of the Harry Potter film series was released back in 2001. But the fans number of Harry Potter is constantly growing despite the age of the saga. After finishing the filming of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2”, the culminating part, the filmmakers decided to let the fans enter the world of magic and show them behind-the-scenes secrets.
And, on 31st of March 2012, for the first time in history, Warner Brothers Studio (located in Leavesden – approx. 32 km from London) opened for viewing to numerous visitors. And since then the studio which is basically a museum of Harry Potter is crowded every day. People of different ages visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour to feel the reality of the magic. Movie sets, magic costumes, and a Hogwarts model are now available to the children, their parents, and all admirers of the Harry Potter universe.
You will not only get acquainted with the scenery of the saga in person but all visit the stage of the Harry Potter Studios and see the scenes that were not included in the frame. You will walk along Diagon Alley, visit the Great Hall of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, look through books from Dumbledore’s library, see a model of the castle in which the school was located according to the script, and even touch the Sword of Gryffindor.
In reality, the building of the Hogwarts school in the form which we see it in the film does not exist. For the most part, Hogwarts was built in a studio in Leavesden and exists there as a set for filming the Harry Potter films. Even though the backdrops themselves are quite impressive in size, the filmmaker created the Hogwarts in a way that we are used to seeing using impressive special effects.
13. Great Hall
Most of the iconic moments of the Harry Potter film such as Yule Ball and the Battle of Hogwarts took place in the Great Hall of the school. Here, the Magic Hat assigned the young wizards to the faculties, and Nearly Headless Nick and the Gray Lady hovered under the ceiling and over the heads of the students. The Great hall accommodated the students during the OWL exams. The Great Hall was first built for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” and then became a key set for six more films. At the Great Hall, you will see the costumes of each of the 4 Hogwarts houses, 2 long dinner tables, the professors’ table, and Professor Dumbledore’s lectern. This is one of the most iconic locations that are open to tourists.
14. Forbidden Forest
The habitat of centaurs, giant acromantula spiders, unicorns, and thestrals actually evokes mixed feelings: from horror to curiosity. If you want to know why the students were forbidden to go to the forest unaccompanied, plunge into the atmosphere of darkness and see what kind of creatures live there, then be sure to visit the Forbidden Forest. We are sure you will be amazed by backdrops of the forest that are up to six hundred feet in length and 12 feet diameter trees.
15. Platform 9 3⁄4
The Hogwarts Express transported gifted students from Platform 9 3⁄4 of King’s Cross Station to Hogwarts. Even though most of the scenes were filmed at the real railway stations, some parts of the station including the train and the track were recreated here at Warner Brothers studio. There are many famous scenes associated with the Hogwarts Express, for example hopping Chocolate frogs and flying Dementors. And while the exterior views were created by using real locomotives traveling in different parts of the United Kingdom, the interior set that you will be able to see inside the studio was used for all train scenes.
16. Diagon Alley
Only real wizards and witches could walk into Diagon Alley through the Leaky Cauldron pub, neatly nestled between a bookstore and a shop with musical instruments. Muggles could only grit their teeth with envy, staying away from the magical place. Now, anyone can visit the Weasley Twins’ shop and Ollivander’s Shop, which was home to more than 17,000 wand boxes. The set combines the rich details from the bestseller and the streets described in the works of the famous author, Charles Dickens.
Warner Bros. Studio is located in Leavesden. It takes about 1,5-2 hours to get there from London. We strongly recommend buying tickets for the guided tour 1-2 months in advance. So, in case you arrive spontaneously and there are no tickets available, you don’t spend 4 hours on the road and not get inside the studio.
There are options with a transfer in both directions. You can also get there with a private transfer but it’s the most expensive option.
You can also take a bus or a train to get to the Potter Studios.
Regular double-decker buses leave from Watford Junction station, heading straight to the filming location. The trip takes only 15-20 minutes. Be sure to have your ticket or a reservation to Warner Brothers Studio with you otherwise you won’t be able to take the bus. You can reach Watford Junction Station from London Euston (about 20 minutes and you can use Oysters smartcard) or Birmingham New Street Station (about an hour).
It is recommended that tourists arrive approximately 20 minutes before the start of the tour as you have to go through security checks, leave your outer clothing in the checkroom. The administration reserves the right not to refuse admission to the studio if guests arrive after the start of the last tour.
Photo and video filming are allowed throughout the site, with the exception of the pre-screening cinema and green areas.
Harry Potter and the Bonus Locations
17. Madame Tussaud Museum
The museum is a must-see if you want to take a photo with Harry Potter.
18. Hardys Original Sweetshop
Want to taste Bertie Bott’s Beans or a Chocolate Frog? Then this is the right place for you.
And if you are looking for some dinner suggestions check out our London Local Taste Guide for a First Time Tourist: Where & How to Eat.