Table of Contents
Harry Potter Things to Do in London
If you’re a Harry Potter fan and you’re planning to travel to London, then you’re going to have an amazing time! There are so many Harry Potter things to do in London, and I’ve compiled them all for you in this complete Harry Potter London guide.
We’ll start with the Harry Potter locations in London. This first section of the guide includes actual filming locations as well as “inspiration locations” that are thought to have inspired certain things depicted in the Harry Potter movies and books.
There are even a few famous Muggle landmarks that appear in the films when the witches and wizards of Harry Potter enter the Muggle world.
In addition to seeking out these locations, there are also some super fun attractions in London for Harry Potter fans.
These include a Potter-themed afternoon tea (with a vegan option, of course!), a tour of the films sets at Warner Bros studios, and a walking tour of central London with a wizard guide who will make the wizarding world come to life before your very eyes.
Wands at the ready as we explore all things Harry Potter in London!
Harry Potter Filming Locations and Inspiration Locations
The first five of these locations I discovered on the fabulous Tour for Muggles Harry Potter walking tour of London. More info about the tour is in the "Other Harry Potter Attractions" section below, so keep reading!
There are actually two different filming locations that have represented the Leaky Cauldron in two of the Harry Potter films.
The first is at 2-3 Bull’s Head Passage and is an optician’s shop called Glass House. This is where Harry enters the Leaky Cauldron for the first time with Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, on his way to Diagon Alley.
The second is in Borough Market and is currently a taco stand. This was the location used for the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, although it doesn’t look much like it did in the film.
The doorway seen in the movie was a temporary one made out of Styrofoam to replace the metal sheet door that’s there now.
While you’re here, look up at the curved windows on the second floor of the building just to the right of the taco stand. The left window is the one that Harry is looking out of in this scene, from where he sees the bustling market and a train rumbling past:
Borough Market is also home to some great vegan food! Check out these top vegan street food spots in London.
If you go on a Harry Potter tour of Edinburgh, your guide is sure to tell you that Victoria Street in the Scottish capital was J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley. But in London, the claim is that her inspiration came from Cecil Court.
I’m more inclined to believe that it was Victoria Street, but Cecil Court is still worth a visit for its many wonderful bookstores, which Rowling has certainly spent plenty of time in.
Marchepane, which specializes in children’s books, even has some signed first editions of the Harry Potter books. And Watkins Books, which specializes in esoterica, is the closest thing the Muggle world has to a Flourish and Blotts.
Clink Street was the inspiration for this dark, sinister alleyway devoted to the Dark Arts and frequented by Dark Wizards. Nowadays Clink Street is best known for its notorious medieval prison, which has been turned into a museum.
In times past, this area was a place of wild, raucous entertainment and was the favored haunt of London’s more unsavory characters.
Goodwin’s Court, however, is immediately recognizable as the Knockturn Alley that we see in the Harry Potter films. The bow windows of the 17th-century terrace houses make this already narrow alleyway even narrower.
In fact, Goodwin’s Court is so narrow that it could not be used as an actual filming location for the Harry Potter films, because the crew couldn’t fit all their equipment inside.
Instead, they built an exact replica of the alley at Warner Bros studios outside London (more about the studios later)
Ministry of Magic
The building on the corner of Scotland Place and Great Scotland Yard has been used as the location of the Ministry of Magic in more than one Harry Potter film.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry and Mr. Weasley enter the Ministry via the visitor’s entrance on the side of the building facing Great Scotland Yard. Sadly, the phone booth that serves as the entrance was a prop placed there for filming and is not there now.
The side of the building that faces Scotland Place features in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.
This is where Harry, Ron and Hermione stun three Ministry employees and impersonate them by taking Polyjuice Potion so they can infiltrate the Ministry and retrieve Dolores Umbridge’s locket.
The metal shutter door that you see today was covered to look like a wooden door in the film.
The Durmstrang Ship
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Viktor Krum and the other young wizards from the Durmstrang Institute arrive at Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament in a ship that resembles a 16th-century galleon.
The inspiration for that ship is thought to be the Golden Hinde, which was the first English ship to circumnavigate the globe and was captained by Sir Francis Drake.
The ship disintegrated and broke up in the 1600s, but a replica that contains some pieces of the original ship is docked at St. Mary Overie Dock in Bankside.
Keen Potter fans might notice a couple of other Harry Potter references in addition to the ship itself. Firstly, the ship is clearly decorated in Gryffindor colors.
And secondly, Hinde is an old English word for a doe. The golden doe’s head decorating the prow of the ship looks remarkably similar to the patronus shared by Lily Potter and Severus Snape.
London isn't the only place with Harry Potter inspiration locations. Check out my guide to Harry Potter Sights in Porto, Portugal!
No. 12 Grimmauld Place
In the opening scenes of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Order rescues Harry and takes him to their headquarters, the ancestral home of Sirius Black’s family. This is located at No. 12 Grimmauld Place, in the London borough of Islington.
Of course, the headquarters is invisible to Muggles, because it’s unplottable and is protected by a Fidelius charm. While you might not be able to see No. 12, you can see the rest of the townhouses in the row. The street is known in the Muggle world as Claremont Square rather than Grimmauld Place, but it is, in fact, in Islington.
I haven’t found any sources confirming that this street inspired the name of Crookshanks, Hermione’s pet cat, but it seems obvious, doesn’t it? In any case, it’s just a 1-minute walk from the Order of the Phoenix headquarters at Claremont Square.
The spiral stone staircase that Hogwarts students trudge up to reach Professor Trelawney’s Divination classroom is the staircase of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London that leads to the whispering gallery. In the wizarding world, this staircase is located in the North Tower of Hogwarts.
The same stairwell was also used as the setting for the Hogwarts Turris Magnus Staircase. This is where Barty Crouch Jr., posing as Mad-Eye Moody, gives Neville Longbottom the Magical Water Plants of the Mediterranean book in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Which was all part of Crouch’s plan to help Harry win the Triwizard Tournament and lead him to Voldemort.
Unfortunately, the Whispering Gallery is currently closed because of the recent death of a teenage boy who fell from the gallery. The Stone and Golden Galleries remain open, however, so you should still be able to access the staircase. Check with the staff when purchasing your ticket to be sure.
Entry to the Cathedral is a steep 20 pounds, but if you buy a London Pass then the Cathedral entry is included, and you also get to skip the line.
Muggle Landmarks that Feature in the Harry Potter Films
King’s Cross Station
This major London train station is, of course, where Hogwarts students board the Hogwarts Express from platform 9¾. The station features in five of the eight films, usually from the inside.
The one external shot, which is in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is actually not of the King’s Cross, which is rather drab and uninterested from the outside. Instead, it’s a shot of the much prettier St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel next door.
This is the backdrop that we see as Harry and Ron take off in Mr. Weasley’s Ford Anglia flying car after they miss the Hogwarts Express.
As for the indoor scenes, the actual filming took place between platforms four and five. There is a platform 9¾, though, where you can get your photo taken as you pass through the barrier pushing a trolley stacked with battered suitcases and an owl cage.
Be warned that the lines here are humongous. There is also a Harry Potter shop next door that sells lots of memorabilia, such as a personalized Hogwarts acceptance letter with your name on it.
Stuff here is pretty expensive, though. Keep reading for my recommendation on where to buy all your Hogwarts supplies in your house colors at much more affordable prices.
The film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens with scenes of Death Eaters on a Muggle-killing rampage. They destroy the Millennium Bridge, causing innocent Muggles to plunge to their deaths in the Thames River.
In the book, it was the Brockdale Bridge that was destroyed. It could not have been the Millennium Bridge, because that part of the story takes place in 1996, and the Millennium Bridge did not open until the year 2000.
But J.K. Rowling told the moviemakers that, since Brockdale Bridge was fictitious, they were free to use any bridge in London for the film adaptation.
The choice of the Millennium Bridge was seen as an inside joke among Londoners. This is because, on its opening day, it really did wobble so violently that it had to be closed immediately.
Westminster Tube Station
We’ve already seen the Ministry of Magic headquarters, which Harry visits for the first time with Mr. Weasley in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. They arrive there in true Muggle fashion, by the Tube.
We first see Mr. Weasley dismounting rather cautiously from the escalator in the Westminster Station of the London Underground (affectionately known as the “Tube”). He seems rather impressed by the Muggles’ ability to build trains underground!
We then see him befuddled when trying to exit through the barriers. Harry shows him how to use an Oyster card, and all is well. They successfully exit the station and carry on to the Ministry of Magic.
This beautiful covered market is one of the oldest markets in London and was originally built in the 14th century. Although the ornate roof covering over the arcades was added much later, in 1881, and has become the market’s most distinctive feature.
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry and Hagrid pass through here on their way to the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley. The filming location used for the Leaky Cauldron in that film is just around the corner in Bull’s Head Passage.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry gets rescued from Little Whinging by the Knight Bus, which takes him on a wild ride through London before dropping him off at the Leaky Cauldron (the one in Borough Market, not the one near Leadenhall Market).
The Knight Bus is crossing Lambeth Bridge when it has to squeeze between two oncoming red double-decker buses.
Lambeth Bridge is sometimes mistaken for Westminster Bridge, but the two are easily distinguished by their colors. Westminster is painted green, while Lambeth Bridge is painted red.
Green represents the color of the benches in the House of Commons, which is at the northern end of the Houses of Parliament, near Westminster Bridge. Red is the color of the benches in the House of Lords, which at the southern end of the parliament building, towards Lambeth Bridge.
Lambeth Bridge also makes another appearance in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Harry and the Order fly under it on their way to headquarters at 12 Grimmauld Place.
Photo credit: Lambeth Bridge upstream side 1 by Tagishsimon CC BY-SA 3.0
Other Harry Potter Attractions
“Tour for Muggles” Harry Potter Walking Tour
Sure, you could set out on your own to find all the Harry Potter sights in London listed above. But I recommend joining a Harry Potter tour instead.
That way, not only can you leave the navigating to someone else, you’ll also pick up plenty of extra tidbits of Harry Potter trivia. I had a fabulous time on the Tour for Muggles and learned so much from my guide, Luke Lestrange.
Yes, THAT Lestrange. He’s the nephew of Bellatrix! And he’s a Slytherin, but a nice one. Not all Slytherins are bad, you know.
The tour is designed to be enjoyed by all ages, and grown up Potterheads are encouraged to get into the spirit and join in the fun. In fact, most of the people in our tour group were adults, and everyone really seemed to enjoy it.
Click here to reserve your spot on the Tour for Muggles in London.
The Potion Room is an afternoon tea that’s unlike any other and is one of the best Harry Potter things to do in London. When you first enter Cutter & Squidge, it looks like a typical bakery, with beautiful cakes on display and people sitting at small tables chatting and drinking coffee.
But head down the stairs, and suddenly you are transported into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And it’s time for your potions class!
Professor Imperial really played the part as she guided us novice witches and wizards through our attempt to make a Crackling Cauldron. Mine really did crackle, so I was a bit nervous about eating it, but it was pretty tasty when washed down with a tall glass of galaxy juice.
There were plenty more concoctions after that, each more delicious than the next. And everything was available in a vegan option. Yay for cruelty-free wizardry!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is an original play written by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. It is a sequel to the Harry Potter series we know and love and takes place 19 years after the events in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
By this time, Harry is employed at the Ministry of Magic, and his son, Albus Severus Potter, is about to start school at Hogwarts.
The show premiered at the Palace Theatre in London in July 2016 and has been playing to sold-out crowds ever since. It has received critical acclaim and won numerous awards. There are actually two shows, parts 1 and 2, which are designed to be seen either on the same day or on consecutive evenings.
As you might expect, tickets are pretty hard to come by and sell out well in advance. But every Friday, 40 tickets are released for the following week in a lottery run through the Today Tix app. This is your best chance of scoring tickets at the last minute.
Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
All eight of the Harry Potter movies were filmed at the Warner Bros studios, and two of the studios’ soundstages have been converted into a permanent exhibit showcasing many of the costumes, props and sets used in the films.
The sets that are on display include Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, the Hogwarts Great Hall and Hagrid’s Hut. There’s even a 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts Castle, which was used for exterior shots.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, special features are also added from time to time. Current and upcoming feature sets include the Gringotts Wizarding Bank and Hogwarts in the Snow.
The tour lasts about three hours, but it’s self-guided, so you can take as little or as long as you want to explore the wizarding world.
Even though the Warner Bros Studio Tour London has the word “London” in its name, it’s actually in Leavesden, which is a tiny town near Watford, in southwest Hertfordshire.
To get there from London, you’ll need to take a train from Euston station to Watford Junction, which takes about 20 minutes. From there, you catch a shuttle that, after another 15 minutes, will drop you right in front of the studios.
According to TripAdvisor, the Harry Potter studio tour has been the highest-rated attraction in the world ever since it opened in 2012. So, like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, this is another Harry Potter attraction that sells out weeks in advance.
Tickets must be booked online for a specific time and date and cost £43 for adults and £35 for children.
The idea is similar to the Potion Room, in that the experience simulates a Potions class. The difference is that participants use molecular mixology to brew
cocktails drinkable elixirs and then drink their concoctions.
Unlike the Potion Room, which is led by Professor Imperial, this experience is largely self-guided. It’s probably the most fun when done with a group of friends.
Tickets cost from £29.99 to £34.99, depending on the time and day of the week. This price includes a welcome drink, two molecular cocktails, and the experience itself.
It’s located a bit out of the center of London, at 79 Stoke Newington Rd. The closest public transport is the Dalston Kingsland and Dalston Junction Overground Stations.
National Portrait Gallery
This one is probably just for hard-care Harry Potter fans and/or art buffs, but it’s worth pointing out that J.K. Rowling’s official portrait is among the portraits in this famous gallery.
The National Portrait Gallery the oldest portrait gallery in the world and is reserved for portraits of historically important and famous people from Britain, so Rowling’s inclusion is quite an honor.
Exhibitions in the gallery rotate regularly, so ask a staff member if the J.K. Rowling portrait is currently on display. It wasn’t when I visited, but entrance is free, so you have nothing to lose.
Harry Potter Attractions in London to Avoid
You might have noticed that one of the Harry Potter sights in London that you’ll find in other lists is conspicuously absent here.
I’m talking about the Reptile House in the London Zoo, where, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry talks to a Burmese python and ultimately sets him free.
While it might be fun to see where the scene was filmed, zoos are not fun places for the animals who are imprisoned there.
Harry understood this very well, which is why he apologizes to the snake on behalf of Dudley and all the other humans visiting the zoo.
Sorry about him. He doesn’t understand what it’s like, lying there day after day, watching people press their ugly faces in on you."
- Harry Potter Boy Wizard
Harry ultimately releases the snake, who thanks him before setting off on his new life of freedom.
This is just one of many references to animal rights found throughout the Harry Potter stories. If you’d like to explore these further, check out the Chickpeeps podcast, which is co-hosted by Evanna Lynch.
Evanna, who played Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films, is a devoted animal rights activist and vegan. So is her co-host, Robbie Jarvis, who played the young version of Harry’s father, James Potter, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
In “Episode 9¾: Animal Rights in the Wizarding World”, the Chickpeeps discuss the parallel animal rights issues in the Muggle and magical worlds and how to apply the lessons the books teach us.
It’s the ultimate geek-out fest for animal-loving Harry Potter fans!
Say nee-STEE-see-mo! with a flick of your wand, and you're guaranteed to feel like a real witch or wizard!
Harry Potter Stores in London
Most Harry Potter fans in London end up buying their souvenirs from the Harry Potter shop at Platform 9¾ in King’s Cross Station, but there are a few other shops that are worth seeking out.
House of MinaLima
This Harry Potter store in London is the brainchild of two graphic designers, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, collectively known as MinaLima.
They are the ones who did all the graphic design work for the Harry Potter films, including the Hogwarts textbooks, the Daily Prophet, the WANTED posters for Sirius Black, etc.
In their shop, they sell limited edition prints of many of their creations for the films.
Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, it’s definitely worth visiting the shop just to see the delightful Harry Potter-themed decorations. If you visit on a Monday or Tuesday, you may even be able to catch a free guided tour, which run intermittently throughout the day.
The House of MinaLima is located on Wardour Street in the bustling neighborhood of Soho.
It’s not quite Honeydukes, but Hardy’s is the closest thing we’ve got in the Muggle world. This old-fashioned candy store sells some of the magical candies featured in the films.
And, while the chocolate frogs are made from milk chocolate, the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and the Jelly Slugs are both vegan. Gummy candies are often made with gelatin, which is collagen taken from various animal body parts (yuck!), but the Jelly Slugs at Hardy’s are clearly marked as being gelatin free.
The Primark clothing store just across the street from the Tottenham Court Road tube station has a section devoted to Harry Potter merchandise. From the first-floor entrance, head to the back of the store and turn right.
You’ll know you’ve found the place when you see the white owls hanging from the ceiling. The merchandise here is much more affordable than what’s sold at the Harry Potter store at Kings Cross Station.
Looking for more Harry Potter sights in the UK? How about The Hall at Christ Church in Oxford? It was the inspiration for Hogwart's Great Hall.
Many thanks to the Tour for Muggles and the Potions Room for hosting me. As always, opinions are entirely my own, and I only recommend products and services that I truly think you will enjoy.