Two cities in Europe, Edinburgh and London, are saturated with the history and tales of the Harry Potter series.
Starting in Edinburgh only seems right as JK Rowling wrote much of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the majestic city. It has also been said that JK Rowling returned to finish out the last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in the same city where it was concieved.
The Elephant House Cafe
Claiming to be “the birth place of Harry Potter,” The Elephant House Cafe, located at 21 George IV Bridge, has been said to be one of the locations where JK Rowling spent much of her time writing the early novels in the Harry Potter series. Stop in for tea, coffee or lunch and ask to sit in the back room as that is (allegedly) where Rowling dreamed up ideas for her renowned series. Others argue that Rowling spent most of her time writing at Nicolson’s Cafe, now a cafe called Spoon, located at 6a Nicolson Street.
The Balmoral Hotel
JK Rowling finished out the last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, at The Balmoral Hotel, located at 1 Princes St. Rowling stayed in room 552 which is now adorned with an owl and plaque on the door stating The JK Rowling Suite. Rowling left a note in the suite declaring that she had finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in room 552 on the 11th of January, 2007.
George Heriot’s School
Built in 1628, George Heriot’s School served as inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The school is said to have four towers and four houses, each with their own assigned color.
Known as one of the most haunted graveyards in the world, Greyfriar’s Kirkyard is the perfect place for Lord Voldemort’s grave. Well technically, you can find Thomas Riddell’s grave, which is said to be the inspiration for the Tom Riddle character who grows up to become Voldemort in the series. The Kirkyard is also said to be the home to a poltergeist…possibly the inspiration for Peeves the Poltergeist?? The graveyard is located behind the Elephant House Cafe and is seriously creepy.
Edinburgh Castle, set high upon a hill in the distance, can be seen through the rear windows of the Elephant House. If JK Rowling really did spend as much time there writing and dreaming up the Harry Potter books as the establishment claims, then I can see how she came up with the idea for the picturesque Hogwarts Castle.
Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home. -JK Rowling
London is the quintessential destination for Harry Potter lovers. There is so much to see including actual film locations in the city, places that inspired JK Rowling while writing the series and so much more!
Kings Cross Station
Stop by Kings Cross Station and take a picture at Platform 9¾. You can also visit the Harry Potter themed gift shop.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London- The Making of Harry Potter
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London- The Making of Harry Potter is THE PLACE to see the real life sets, props and costumes used in the Harry Potter movies. The tour of the studio is self guided so you can spend as long as you like. I would recommend giving yourself at least three hours to complete the tour. I also recommend booking your tickets at least a month ahead of time as tickets sell out fast. You are required to select the date and time of your tour so you will need to plan ahead.
The studio is located 20 miles outside of London. You will need to travel to the Watford Junction train station where you can take a shuttle bus to the studio (2.50 euro round trip). Check out my post here to find out why you should visit the studio.
The Muggle Walking Tour
The Muggle Walking Tour will take you around London to most of the locations where the movies were filmed in the city. They will also take you to several locations that inspired JK Rowling when writing the books. My favorite locations were the inspiration for Knockturn Alley and Charing Cross Road where the Leaky Cauldron entrance was located in the books. Charing Cross Road is said to be the “real life” Diagon Alley.
The Leadenhall Market was used to film some of the scenes in Diagon Alley. This colorful market has lots of character and history! A store front in the Bull’s Head Passage of the market was used as the entrance of the Leaky Cauldron in the Goblet of Fire.
Head over to Brick Lane and see if you can find the Harry Potter street art!
It’s important to remember that we all have magic inside us. -JK Rowling