From Warner Bros. Studios in Watford to The Elephant House cafe in Edinburgh, the UK is littered with all sorts of Harry Potter-related attractions and filming locations. But out of all the cities, towns and even small villages that have been featured in the films, no city has more Potter-related locations than London, and that's a muggle fact.
Whether it's an iconic landmark, the interior of a government office, or even a train station in North London, you're bound to see at least one London landmark in any of the eight Harry Potter films...if you look close enough. As a matter of fact, all you have to do is wander down a street in central London, use one of the busiest tube stations, or even pass an iconic London bridge, and you'll probably be strolling past a Harry Potter filming location at some point or another.
If you're hoping to see a variety of Harry Potter sites while you're in London and you don't have Marauder's Map or a Remembrall handy, here are some tips on finding the most important Harry Potter locations in London:
Which places in London were mentioned in the Harry Potter novels?
Harry Potter may have grown up at 4 Privet Drive and attended Hogwarts in northern Scotland for seven years, but London also played an important role in the Harry Potter novels before the story was even put on the big screen.
Diagon Alley (also known as "London's finest source for a wizard's every need") was specifically mentioned in the first Harry Potter novel as being "just off Charing Cross Road" in London, and it is believed that the area was also the inspiration behind the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron in the novels as well.
Don't worry about needing to tap a secret onto a brick wall to enter it, because the small London street known as Cecil Court is believed to be behind the inspiration for Diagon Alley; (it is technically "just off Charing Cross Road," after all). As a matter of fact, the picturesque, pedestrian-only road feels so eerily similar to Diagon Alley, you'll be half expecting to stumble across Ollivanders Wand Shop or a pint of Butterbeer!
Which Harry Potter locations can I visit in central London?
Luckily for Potter fans, there are several buildings, streets and even bridges and government offices scattered all around central London which were used as filming locations for all of the Harry Potter films.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, members of the Order fly along the River Thames past Westminster Bridge, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, and viewers should immediately recognize the Tower Bridge when Harry flies past it on his broomstick in one of the film's scenes as well. It was also near Lambeth Bridge where the infamous Knight Bus squeezed between two double-deckers in the opening scenes of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; (although in the film the cars are coming towards the camera one way, the traffic actually runs two ways).
Out of all scenes in the Harry Potter films which include a London bridge, none or as memorable or iconic as the scene inHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when a group of Death Eaters destroy the pedestrian-only Millennium Bridge in the opening scenes of the film.
But the Harry Potter filming locations in central London don't just stop there. During one of the most nail-biting scenes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1), Harry, Ron and Hermione are seen running through Piccadilly Circus after a group of Death Eaters swarmed Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour's wedding. (Oddly enough, the film happened to premiere in Leicester Square, which is a five-minute walk away from Piccadilly Circus).
And believe it or not, not one, but two different London tube stations were used as filming locations in two different Harry Potter films. In the opening sequence of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a group of Death Eaters pass the Exit One entrance of Leicester Square Underground Station before flying over Trafalgar Square towards Charing Cross Road. After this, they turn onto Great Newport Street, which is where the entrance to Diagon Alley is believed to be; (although it isn't shown in the film).
And remember the scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Mr. Weasley has trouble figuring out how to use the London underground exit? Well that scene was filmed in the Westminster Underground Station, which was shut down for an entire day just to film that scene.
And although Great Scotland Yard is a famous location in central London in its own right, it plays an important role in the Harry Potter films as well. The area was used to film the memorable scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Mr. Weasley accompanies Harry to his disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic, and you can actually see the exact location where the magical duo entered the red telephone booth here! Unfortunately you won't be able to see the booth itself as it was moved to the street as a prop for filming, but you should be able to recognize the archway over Scotland Place which was included in this scene. (Because the road was too small for the filming crew, the majority of the filming was done on Great Scotland Yard, and the Scotland Place archway was added later during editing).
Are there any Harry Potter filming locations outside of central London?
Yes! As a matter of fact, some of the most important Harry Potter-related sites are located outside of central London and shouldn't be missed by any die-hard Potter fan.
A visit to King's Cross Station is an obvious must, as it remains to be one of the most important Harry Potter filming locations in London. Not only is it home to Platform 9 3/4, but the Platform 9 3/4 Shop as well!
For years now fans from all over the world have ventured to King's Cross Station just to snap a photo of themselves underneath the Platform 9 3/4 sign (which is located between platforms 9 and 10). But the site has become such a popular attraction in recent years, that Warwick Davis (the actor who played Professor Flitwick and Griphook in the films) decided to open up the The Harry Potter Shop and Platform 9 3/4 in the station, so fans can now stroll around and purchase some one-of-kind Harry Potter merchandise. Not only that, staff at the shop will also snap a photo of you pushing the half-trolley embedded in the brick wall underneath the Platform 9 3/4 sign! (For a fee, of course).
The real Platform 9 and 3/4 which was used for filming in the Harry Potter films is actually located between platforms 4 and 5 at the station, but you won't be able to snap a photo of it unless you're boarding a train to leave London. Also, in a 2001 BBC interview, J.K. Rowling admitted that because she was living in Manchester when she was writing the first Harry Potter novel, she had unknowingly confused Euston Station with King's Cross Station; so if you really want to see the "true" Platform 9 3/4, head to the area between platforms 9 and 10 in Euston Station instead.
Another station that played an important role in the Harry Potter films is none other than St. Pancras International Station, which was used to film the exterior shots of King's Cross Station in the movies. St. Pancras is seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Harry and Ron park the Weasley's beloved Ford Anglia in the corner of the courtyard, and it's also shown later in the film when they fly over the station; (you can also see the station's massive clock tower in that scene as well).
Another nearby filming location that's mentioned in both the first Harry Potter film and novel is the London Zoo in The Regent's Park, which is where Harry and the Dursleys spend Dudley's birthday. It's in the zoo's Reptile House where Harry Potter first discovers that he can speak to snakes in Parseltongue while standing next to a tank housing a Burmese python, and today fans can see a plaque next to this enclosure which commemorates the iconic scene. The tank is currently home to the Zoo's resident black mamba, and cousin Dudley will be relieved to know that it is being housed safely inside a protected glass enclosure. (No word yet as to whether the snake can understand Parseltongue though...)
But if you're hoping to find some Harry Potter-related sites in East London, then you won't have to look very far. The stairs inside St. Paul's Cathedral, for example, were used to film scenes of Hogwart's winding staircases in various Potter films, and an image of London City Hall can be seen for a few seconds in the opening scenes of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as well. Furthermore, all the scenes for Gringott's Bank were filmed inside Australian High Commission's Exhibition Room, and although visitors are not allowed to enter the building, it's well worth snapping a picture of the exterior of this glamorous building.
Leadenhall Market was also featured in several different Harry Potter films, and was the filming location of the original Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; (this fun-fact is even mentioned on the Leadenhall Market's official website). Hardcore Potter fans should immediately recognize the blue door of the opticians office in Bull's Head Passage, as it was also used as the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Borough Market (which is actually one of London's oldest markets) is another classic London market which was included in the filming of Harry Potter. Not only was it used for the exterior shots of The Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (after the Knight Bus came to a grinding halt in the film's opening scenes), the flower shop at 7 Stoney Street was even included in the film as well.
Also, about a 30-minute walk away from The Strand, fans can see the exact location which was used to film the Grimmauld Place scenes in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which is a row of houses along Claremont Square. Lincoln's Inn Fields (or 12 Grimmauld Place to be exact) was also used in The Order of the Phoenix, and can be seen when Harry and the gang arrive at Sirius Black's ancestral home. Today the building is being used by a British law firm, however, so don't expect to see Padfoot walking around outside or anything...