Other than Scotland, could there be any area in the UK more magical than London for a Potterhead to visit? Between places mentioned in the books to the actual locations used in filming, there feels like endless and diverse ways to get your Potter on when visiting our city.
Here are the top 10 locations to drop by when you are getting impatient waiting for your Hogwarts acceptance letter.
1. Great Scotland Yard x Ministry of Magic
Not only home to the first uniformed police service in London back in the 19th century, Great Scotland Yard is located right in the heart of the home to British ministries from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Defence. Seems only right that this is also where you will find the entrance to the Ministry of Magic, though don’t look for the red telephone box- that, sadly, was a bit of production wizardry. Polyjuice potion at the ready!
2. Leadenhall Market x Diagon Alley
Leadenhall Market can be found in its starring role as Diagon Alley in the Philosopher’s (or Sorcerer’s) Stone. Ok, so the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron is actually an optician and you’re more likely to find cheese than cloaks and wine than wands in this beautiful 14th century covered market but Leadenhall is truly almost as enchanting as the location it played.
3. Australia House x Gringott’s Bank
In our world, this is the place to come to if you’re looking for an Australian visa to take a trip down under. In the Harry Potter universe, you may recognise this as the goblin-run Gringotts Bank. Sticking to muggle hours, if you want to take a peek inside, make sure it’s before 5pm Monday to Friday.
4. Millennium Bridge vs the Death Eaters
Opened in the year 2000, the Millenium Bridge could have done with a bit of magic to sort it out when it was closed soon after making its bridge-tastic debut to the public when it was discovered that it literally moved under the weight of people using it. Fixed by a bit of muggle ingenuity, you might recognise this modern bridge as the one destroyed as the Death Eaters took London in the film ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’.
5. St Paul’s Cathedral x Divination Class
Our favourite cathedral is 324 years old in its currency incarnation, hosts a whispering gallery, a Baroque-style dome and the bodies of British luminaries from the Duke of Wellington and Lord Admiral Nelson to Christopher Wren who designed this beautiful building. For those who are on a Potter-hunt, this is also where you will find the fantastic geometric staircase that leads to Professor Trelawney’s divination class in ‘the Prisoner of Azkaban’. Don’t let the muggles down below cloud your Inner Eye.
6. Borough Market x Leaky Cauldron
There are about 5897 reasons why you should go to this 1000+ year old market- the fresh produce is amazing, the restaurants are top-notch and the history is… interesting. If that’s not enough, you will also find the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron as seen in the Prisoner of Azkaban- no butterbeer there today but the El Pastor restaurant in its place does some seriously magical tacos.
7. King’s Cross Station x Platform 9 ¾
To avoid running into a strategically placed bin between platforms 9 and 10 at King’s Cross station, make your way to the official Harry Potter merch store where you can not only buy a wand but also get a photo taken of you on your way to the Hogwarts Express.
This one is a double whammy as the exterior of St Pancras, the ornate looking station next door, is where you would have seen Harry and Ron not-so-expertly handling the Ford Anglia in ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’.
8. 23-29 Claremont Square x 12 Grimmauld Place
On a leafy Georgian square in Islington, you will find the ancestral home of the Black family, Grimmauld Place looking a lot lighter and cleaner than you might remember. Though it was probably Lincoln’s Inn Fields in Holborn that served as JK Rowling’s inspiration for the Order of the Phoenix HQ, it was this North London abode that was used in the filming which is good enough for us!
9. London Zoo vs Dudley
If you possess the gift of Parseltongue, find a great conversation in the Reptile House at London Zoo. Not only is this the world’s oldest scientific zoological society but it’s also where Harry got one up on Dudley and we are so into celebrating that.
10. Shaftesbury Avenue vs Death Eaters
If you were attacked by Death Eaters at a wedding and needed somewhere safe to apparate, where would you go? For Hermione, it was Shaftesbury Avenue, smack bang in the heart of London’s theatre district. A bustling area by Piccadilly Circus ( not, y’know, an actual circus), it’s the perfect area for a matinee performance AND running away from Voldemort supporters.
Not technically in London but any self-respecting Potterhead cannot miss out on the Warner Bros Studio Tour to get a proper behind the scenes look at the making of these epic masterpieces. From film sets and props to costumes and butterbeer, this experience may not be free but it is well worth the parting with the galleons for.
“And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”
– Albus Dumbledore