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  • Joanne Herd

The Muggle's Guide to Harry Potter Filming Locations

Last updated February 15, 2024

When the Harry Potter books first came out, I wasn't allowed to read them. So my first experience reading them and watching the movies didn't come until college.

I was immediately hooked. When I went to Italy for a semester, they were the only books I took with me. I even bought them in Italian while I was there!

I've read them dozens of times at this point. Actually, I'm now on my second set because I read them so many times the covers were falling off!

But for some reason, I never set out to find the many movie filming locations scattered around London and the UK during my travels there. I enjoy the movies (I think the books are better), but I'm not one of those people who feels a need to see where things were filmed.

Then I rewatched the movies, and realized just how many of the locations I've been to, completely without meaning to! So I decided to create a list of the many filming locations, so if you're a fan of the films you can go check them out too.

Some are locations mentioned in the books, like Kings Cross, while others are locations selected for the movies to recreate the spellbinding world that JK Rowling describes.

Let's take a journey from the streets of London to the Scottish Highlands, and see where this amazing wizarding world was created.

Harry Potter Filming Locations in London

Any journey through the Harry Potter filming locations should start in London. The city was already steeped in history long before it became a magical gateway, so lets see which London locations were used in the Harry Potter film series.

Leadenhall Market - Diagon Alley

One of the entrances to Leadenhall market, a Victorian covered market in central London.
London's Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market is a beautiful covered Victorian market in the center of London. The ornate architecture was transformed into the entrance to Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (or the Philosophers Stone as it's known in the UK).

King's Cross Station - Platform 9 ¾

No Harry Potter filming location is as central to the films as Platform 9 ¾ at London's King's Cross Station.

While actual filming took place between Platforms 4 and 5, head to the Harry Potter shop next to Platforms 9 and 10. Get a photo taken pushing a luggage trolley through the wall as a souvenir of your visit.

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

The Gothic clock tower of the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, across the street from Kings Cross Station
The St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel

Just across the street from Kings Cross Station is the Gothic facade of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel at St Pancras Station.

The hotel's dramatic architecture provided the perfect setting for the scene where Harry and Ron, unable to access Platform 9 ¾, decide to take to the skies in the flying Ford Anglia. The hotel remains a popular Harry Potter location for photos, in addition to being a lovely place to stay during a trip to London.

Millennium Bridge

The Millennium Bridge stretching across the Thames to St. Paul's Cathedral
The Millennium Bridge

The Millennium Bridge, a steel suspension footbridge over the River Thames, is featured in "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." The pedestrian walkway between the Tate Modern and St. Paul's Cathedral offers stunning views of the city and the Thames River

The London Zoo

Head to the London Zoo in Regents Park to visit the reptile house where we first see Harry using his magic. It's one of the best zoos I've visited, so well worth a full or part day to explore while you're there.

Australia House

Australia House served as both the exterior and interior of Gringotts Bank. If you're an Australian citizen living in the UK you may have need to go inside, as it's the seat of the Australian High Commission.

Otherwise you can see it from the outside, and experience a replica of the inside on the Harry Potter Studio Tour at the Warner Bros Studio outside of London.

Harry Potter Filming Locations in Oxford and The Cotswolds

Many Harry Potter filming locations can be found in Oxford, specifically the colleges of Oxford University, as well as throughout the Cotswolds.

Christ Church College, Oxford

The dining hall of Christ Church College in Oxford, with its ornate portraits and long tables for students and faculty to eat dinner.
Christ Church College's dining hall

If there's one Oxford University College that a Harry Potter fan will want to visit, it's Christ Church College. The college's grand dining hall was the inspiration for the Great Hall at Hogwarts.

You'll also recognize the stairway outside as the place where new students were welcomed by Professor McGonagall in the first Harry Potter movie.

Bodleian Library, Oxford

The Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe, provided the perfect setting for various Hogwarts interiors.

A study area of the ancient Duke Humfrey's Library at Oxford University
Duke Humfrey's Library, Oxford University

The Divinity School, with its elegant architecture, served as the Hogwarts Infirmary, while Duke Humfrey's Library became the Hogwarts Library, a central location for the trio's research and discoveries.

New College, Oxford

New College's cloisters were used in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" for the scene where Draco Malfoy is turned into a ferret by Mad-Eye Moody. The picturesque courtyard and its surrounding architecture perfectly capture the essence of Hogwarts' outdoor spaces.

Lacock Abbey, The Cotswolds

An open cloister at Lacock Abbey in the Cotswolds
Lacock Abbey, The Cotswolds

Lacock Abbey's timeless charm is evident in several Harry Potter films. Its cloisters and medieval rooms were used for various Hogwarts locations, including Professor Quirrell's classroom and the room housing the Mirror of Erised.

The abbey's tranquil yet mysterious atmosphere brings the magic of Hogwarts to life.

Lacock Village, The Cotswolds

Lacock Village, with its preserved medieval charm, featured prominently in the Harry Potter series. In "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," the village was transformed into Budleigh Babberton, where Horace Slughorn was found hiding from Death Eaters.

Additionally, one of the village's quaint cottages doubled as James and Lily Potter's house in Godric's Hollow, seen in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.”

Gloucester Cathedral, near The Cotswolds

The ornate Divinity School at Oxford University, famous for its intricate ceiling sculptures
The Divinity School, Oxford University

Gloucester Cathedral, with its stunning Gothic architecture, served as the backdrop for many Hogwarts scenes. Its ancient corridors and cloisters were used for the iconic troll scene in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and other memorable moments, adding a layer of historical grandeur to the films.

Harry Potter Filming Locations in Northern England

While London, Oxford, and the Cotswolds are often celebrated for their roles in the Harry Potter films, there are several other enchanting locations across England that contributed to the magic of the series.

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle, located in Northumberland, is one of Britain's most iconic castles and served as a significant filming location for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The stairway outside the dining hall of Christ Church College at Oxford University, which doubled for the Hogwarts stairway in the Harry Potter movies.
Christ Church College, Oxford University

The castle's outer bailey was where Harry and his classmates had their first broomstick flying lessons with Madam Hooch in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." The castle's medieval architecture and expansive grounds also provided the backdrop for the Quidditch match scenes in the series.

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was used for various exterior and interior locations of Hogwarts. Its ancient cloisters became the snowy courtyards where Harry sets Hedwig off in flight in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," and they also appear in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" as part of the Hogwarts grounds. The Chapter House was used as Professor McGonagall's classroom as well.

Goathland Station

This charming station in North Yorkshire served as Hogsmeade Station in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." The quaint station, with its vintage steam trains and traditional features, provided the perfect setting for the students' arrival at Hogsmeade, marking the start of their magical journey at Hogwarts.

Hardwick Hall

The outside of a beautiful brick house in Lacock, which served as Horace Slughorn's house in Budleigh Babbington
Horace Slughorn's House, Lacock

Located in Derbyshire, Hardwick Hall's Elizabethan architecture was used for the exteriors of Malfoy Manor in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Its grandiose and imposing facade perfectly captured the essence of the Malfoy family's residence.

Ashridge Estate

The 400-year old Queen Beech tree found on the grounds was the original Whomping Willow in the second Harry Potter movie, and it's also where the portkey scene on the way to the Quiddich World Cup was filmed in the fourth movie.

Malham Cove

This beautiful rock formation in the Yorkshire Dales served as one of the locations where Harry and Hermione camped while searching for a Horcrux.

Harry Potter Filming Locations in Scotland

A room at Lacock Abbey that served as a Hogwart's classroom in the Harry Potter movies
Lacock Abbey

The rugged beauty of Scotland serves as a fitting backdrop for the wizarding world of Harry Potter, with its ancient castles, mist-covered lochs, and majestic landscapes.

From the soaring peaks of the Highlands to the serene waters of remote lochs, Scotland's natural splendor played a pivotal role in bringing the magic of Hogwarts and its surroundings to life on the big screen.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

No single view is as iconic as the Glenfinnan Viaduct, with its graceful arches set against the stunning backdrop of the Scottish Highlands. This remarkable structure is famously featured in the films as the route of the Hogwarts Express, with the Jacobite Steam Train serving as the real-world counterpart to the magical locomotive.

You may not arrive at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but you can ride the train for 42 miles from Fort William to Mallaig. As you cross the viaduct you'll see the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. Or if you prefer to get a view of the viaduct with the steam train crossing it, you can make your way there for one of the two scheduled crossings each day.

Glen Coe

Glen Coe, known for its dramatic valleys and towering mountains, provided the perfect setting for the outdoor scenes of Hogwarts. The rugged terrain and natural beauty of Glencoe capture the essence of the magical school's remote and mystical location, offering a real-world glimpse into the backdrop of many adventures in the Harry Potter films.

Loch Shiel

A private home in Lacock, which served as James and Lily Potter's house in the early Harry Potter movies
James and Lily Potter's House, Lacock

Loch Shiel's serene and expansive waters doubled as the Black Lake near Hogwarts, prominently featured in the Triwizard Tournament's second task in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." The loch's tranquil yet imposing presence adds depth to the film's portrayal of the challenges faced by the competitors, set against the backdrop of Scotland's natural beauty.

Loch Eilt and Loch Arkaig

The picturesque lochs of Loch Eilt and Loch Arkaig merged together to create Dumbledore's final resting place in the last films. Neither one was quite what the director was looking for on its own, so cinema magic combined the best features of both into one beautiful backdrop.

Loch Etive

When Harry, Ron and Hermione escape from Gringotts on the back of a dragon, they fly over the Scottish Highlands to Loch Etive. Here they dive off into the chilly water, leaving the dragon to make its way to freedom.

Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

For fans looking to immerse themselves fully in the magical world of Harry Potter, the Warner Bros Studio Tour London offers an unparalleled behind-the-scenes look at the actual film sets, costumes, and props used in the beloved film series.

Located in Leavesden, the Harry Potter studio tour provides a unique opportunity to explore the craftsmanship and artistry that went into creating the cinematic wizarding world.

Step Inside the Wizarding World

From the moment you step through the doors of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, you're transported into the heart of the Harry Potter universe.

The tour invites you to walk through some of the series' most iconic sets, including the Great Hall of Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, and the Forbidden Forest. Each set is meticulously preserved, allowing you to experience the magic just as the characters did.

Discover the Secrets Behind the Scenes

The Gringotts Bank set at the Warner Bros Studio Tour, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Gringott's Bank set at the Harry Potter studio tour

The Harry Potter Studio Tour goes beyond just showcasing sets; it offers a deep dive into the filmmaking process. Learn about the special effects that brought spells and magical creatures to life, from the Whomping Willow to the breathtaking flight of the Hippogriff.

The attention to detail in the props and costumes, from Harry's lightning bolt scar to Hermione's Yule Ball gown, is a testament to the dedication of the films' creative teams.

Experience the Magic Up Close

One of the tour's highlights is the opportunity to step onto the original Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 ¾ and explore the train's carriage as seen in the films. You can also wander down Diagon Alley, examining the shopfronts of Ollivanders, Flourish and Blotts, and Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.

Special Exhibitions and Events

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour regularly hosts special exhibitions and events that delve into different aspects of the Harry Potter series, from Halloween celebrations to the yearly “Hogwarts in the Snow," with the sets decorated for Christmas.

A Tribute to the Talent Behind the Magic

The intricate scale model of Hogwarts Castle, used for exterior filming in the Harry Potter films
The intricate scale model of Hogwarts

The tour concludes with a visit to the art department, showcasing the incredible concept art and architectural drawings that laid the foundation for the magical settings seen on screen.

The grand finale is the breathtaking scale model of Hogwarts Castle, used for aerial shots in the films. The intricate detail and craftsmanship of the model are a fitting tribute to the talent and creativity that brought the wizarding world to life.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is a must-visit destination for any fan, offering an unforgettable journey behind the enchantment and wonder of the Harry Potter films. It's an invitation to step behind the camera and experience the magic from an entirely new perspective.

The bottom line

Taking a journey through the Harry Potter filming locations is an adventure into a world where the lines between art, history, and magic blur beautifully.

Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station, where muggles can take a photo with their luggage cart going through the wall
Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station

From the cobblestone streets of Diagon Alley in the heart of London to the majestic halls of Oxford, the quaint charm of the Cotswolds, the rugged landscapes of Scotland, and the spellbinding sets of Warner Bros. Studio Tour, each location offers a unique window into the wizarding world we've come to adore.

 Whether you're sipping butterbeer at the studio tour, wandering through the ancient corridors of Oxford, or standing atop a Scottish glen where dragons could soar, you're part of a story that continues to enchant millions around the globe.

Visiting these sites is about more than just seeing where the movies were filmed. It's about celebrating the enduring magic of Harry Potter and the universal themes of friendship, courage, and the triumph of good over evil. 


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