10

"Harry Potter" Filming Locations Muggles Can Visit

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While Muggles may not have the luxury of hopping into the Floo Network or apparating anywhere in the Wizarding World, visiting a Harry Potter filming location can give us a taste of the movie magic from the eight films released from 2001 to 2011 — which grossed $7.8 billion globally — starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Waston, and Rupert Grint. In honor of Harry Potter’s (fictional) 40th birthday on July 31, here are 10 places that set the scene for the movies based on the best-selling book series.

10

King’s Cross Station (London)

Aerial view of King’s Cross Station in London
Credit: JohnnyGreig/ iStock

In the magical realm, students who have received their Hogwarts letters run straight through a brick wall to board the Hogwarts Express on Platform 9¾ — which is located at the real-life historic station of King’s Cross in London. Originally designed by British engineer George Turnbull and opened in 1852, the station was first mentioned in the books and then showed up on screen (though actually filmed on the platform between tracks 4 and 5) in the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. For a charming photo op, fans can head toward Platforms 9 through 11 and pose with a trolley half-way between the two worlds. Add to the authenticity by stocking up on magical gear at The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9¾ across the way.

9

Leadenhall Market (London)

Interior of Leadenhall Market in London
Credit: claudiaow/ Unsplash

Just moments after the half-giant Rubeus Hagrid utters the famous words, “You’re a wizard, Harry” in the first film, he whisks Harry away on a shopping trip for school supplies in a scene that was shot at London’s Leadenhall Market. Established as a meat, poultry, and game market in the 14th century, the Victorian-style shopping center is now known for its boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. The Market has a long history of appearing on camera, like in Erasure’s 1991 music video for “Love to Hate You” and on film in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011).

8

Reptile House at the London Zoo (London)

Close up of a snake curled up
Credit: jankubita/ Unsplash

The ZSL London Zoo’s first Reptile House was established in 1849; the current one, designed by reptile curator Dr. Joan Beauchamp Procter, opened in 1926. And it’s on a trip here with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley that Harry first learns he can communicate with snakes in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Shot in the home of the zoo’s black mamba snake, it’s actually a Burmese python on screen that thanks Harry for helping him escape.

7

Alnwick Castle (Northumberland, England)

Alnwick Castle in Northumberland
Credit: Kraft_Stoff/ Shutterstock

One of Harry’s first lessons when he arrives at Hogwarts is the essential wizarding skill of broomstick flying, taught by Madame Hooch. Dating back to 1309, Alnwick Castle’s Outer Bailey provided the scene’s backdrop and now offers free broomstick training sessions to all visitors with admission. The castle’s broomstick professors school Muggle visitors in the proper techniques of mounting and dismounting, as well as how to zip across the lawn, like Harry and Draco Malfoy do. And of course, visitors also leave with a photo that proves their ability to float mid-air. Alnwick Castle has also been featured in Downton Abbey’s Christmas specials and Transformers: The Last Knight (2017).

6

Seven Sisters Country Park (East Sussex, England)

Coastline of The Seven Sister Chalk Cliff, East Sussex, Eastbourne, England, United Kingdom
Credit: Roserunn/ Shutterstock

At the beginning of Harry Potter at the Goblet of Fire, Harry and Hermione head to the Quidditch World Cup with Ron Weasley’s family — and the stunning view out to the sea is of the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters Country Park, an area popular for bird watching, cycling, and canoeing. For the picture perfect vantage point, head to Seaford Head for a panoramic view stretching from the Seven Sisters to the Belle Tout lighthouse.

5

Christ Church College (Oxford, England)

Christ Church College in England
Credit: ProjectB/ iStock

Several sites around Oxford were used for Harry Potter, including the Bodleian Library’s Divinity School playing the Hogwarts Infirmary and the New College Cloisters in the scene where Draco was turned into a ferret. But it’s Christ Church college that truly feels like stepping into Hogwarts. After all, the halls were regularly used for scenes, like the 16th-century staircase where Professor Minerva McGonagall met the students in their first year. The Tudor Great Dining Hall was the inspiration for the Great Hall, which was recreated on a soundstage.

4

Gloucester Cathedral (Gloucester, England)

Gloucester Cathedral hallway with stained glass windows
Credit: Scott-Cartwright/ iStock

Another famous landmark that stood in for Hogwarts throughout the film series was the medieval Gloucester Cathedral, completed in 1412. Immediately recognizable is the southside corridor, which served as the Gryffindor hallway in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The entrance where the words “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened” in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was on the east wall of the north walk, while the west walk features the ledge Harry and Ron stood on in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as well as the Lavatorium where Harry overheard Snape confessing he had taken the unbreakable vow.

3

Glenfinnan Viaduct (Glenfinnan, Scotland)

Aerial view of train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct
Credit: miroslav_1/ iStock

As the Hogwarts Express journeys the campus, it passes over a majestic arched bridge — the Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Scottish Highlands at the head of Loch Shiel. Sitting 100 feet in the air, the 21 arches of the 1,000-foot-long bridge curve at a picture-perfect angle. To experience it like the young wizards do, take the 84-mile round-trip journey on The Jacobite steam train, starting at Britain’s highest peak in Ben Nevis toward Europe’s deepest loch in Loch Nevis. Conditions permitting, the train will pause on the famous viaduct to give riders the chance to take in the Hogwarts-bound view.

2

Freshwater West Beach (Pembrokeshire, Wales)

Freshwater West Beach
Credit: Helen Hotson/ Shutterstock

After Ron’s brother Bill Weasley marries Beauxbatons’ Triwizard Tournament Champion Fleur Delacour, they live at the beachside Shell Cottage. For the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 scenes, filmmakers constructed a three-story home with a shell roof and wayward chimneys on Wales’ Freshwater West Beach — they even built fake seaweed. Though the cottage is no longer there, fans have given the location another meaning by creating a fictional shrine to the beloved house-elf Dobby.

1

Warner Bros. Studios Tour London (Leavesden, England)

Warner Bros. Studios Tour in London
Credit: rhii/ Unsplash

For the ultimate Harry Potter filming location, step inside the actual studios where the cast and crew shot the interior scenes for a decade. After filming wrapped in 2010, filmmakers came back to preserve the most iconic memorabilia and transformed their former workplace into the Warner Bros. Studios Tour London, located in Leavesden about an hour north of central London. Opened in 2012, the experience starts with the doors magically opening into the Great Hall. Then wind through museum-like exhibits featuring costumes, creatures, and props, as well as sets like Diagon Alley, Platform 9¾, and the Forbidden Forest. And of course, no visit would be complete without a taste of Butterbeer, made for Muggles of all ages as a non-alcoholic drink that tastes like a cross between butterscotch and shortbread.

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