For the past two decades, the Harry Potter books and films have enriched the lives of millions of readers around the world. They have also introduced foreign readers and moviegoers to more of Great Britain’s culture and countryside. From the gorgeous film locations showcasing some of the nation’s most magical places to J.K. Rowling’s amazingly detailed stories about life (both magical and non-magical) in Britain, Harry Potter has provided a wonderful introduction to the United Kingdom and its capital city of London.
London has played a big part in the Harry Potter universe. It’s the fictional home of some of the most astonishing places in each book, such as the Ministry of Magic, Platform 9 ¾, and Diagon Alley. London was also emphatically used in the Harry Potter movies to bring the magical universe of the novels to life. Today, you can still find many of the wondrous Harry Potter locations from the books and the movies in London. These sites are more than great fun to visit for Harry Potter fans; they also provide visitors with a chance to discover some fantastic lesser-known landmarks in London they might not see otherwise. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 Harry Potter locations in London to inspire you to go on a magical exploration of the city!
1. Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station
J.K. Rowling was actually thinking of London Euston Station when she was writing the books, so you won’t be able to find the secret barrier between platforms 9 and 10 in real life. You will, however, find a special plaque (along with a disappearing luggage cart) designating Platform 9 ¾ on a wall at King’s Cross. You’ll have the chance to take a picture complete with a Gryffindor scarf and to check out the adjacent shop where you can buy merchandise from the Harry Potter books and films. Incidentally, the beautiful Victorian facade of the next-door neighbor St. Pancras Station was used as the exterior of King’s Cross Station in the Harry Potter films.
2. The Reptile House at the London Zoo
Another one of Harry’s defining moments took place at the London Zoo in Regent’s Park in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. While visiting the Reptile House with the Dursleys, Harry discovers he can talk to snakes and accidentally releases a huge boa constrictor. The first Harry Potter film also shot this scene in the Reptile House, and you’ll find a plaque beside the tank that held the snake in the movie (in reality, it’s home to a black mamba, not a boa constrictor). Be sure to explore the other parts of the London Zoo, which is a great attraction for kids. For more family-friendly activities, see how to visit London with the kids.
3. Diagon Alley at Leadenhall Market
Diagon Alley is one of the most iconic locations in Harry Potter’s London, as it’s the high shopping street of the wizarding world. In the first film, Leadenhall Market was used to shoot the exteriors of the magical shops found in the alley. Leadenhall Market in the City of London is a beautiful Victorian covered market with many different specialty shops. In the Bull’s Head Passage section of the market, you’ll find the blue shopfront that was used as the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron in the film. To find out more about Leadenhall Market, check out our video tour of the City of London.
4. Gringotts at Australia House
In the book series, the Gringotts wizarding bank is located inside Diagon Alley. In the movies, the exterior of the bank is a set inspired by Australia House on the Strand. The magnificent interior of the bank was filmed inside Australia House, but as the Australian High Commission is housed in the building, you’ll need a valid reason to get inside, such as a visa application. Otherwise, you’ll unfortunately be denied access. The beautiful exterior, however, is enough to marvel at outside.
5. Grimmauld Place at Claremont Square
12 Grimmauld Place is the home of Harry’s godfather Sirius Black and headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix in London. It’s said that the address was inspired by Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the largest public square in the city. However, in the film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the rowhouses on Claremont Square were used as the exterior of Grimmauld Place. It’s not hard to understand the mix-up: London is filled with public squares and private gardens surrounded by beautiful townhouses.
To see what it’s like to stay in one of these gorgeous townhouses, check out this 1-bedroom apartment in Chelsea. This apartment has access to a magical private garden, the likes of which you can only find in London. Furthermore, by staying in an apartment during your visit to the city, you’ll get to see what it’s like to live in London like a local! Have a look at our other vacation rental apartments in London to see our whole selection.
6. London City Hall
The Harry Potter movies added some beautiful modern landmarks that weren’t mentioned in the books. London City Hall, the headquarters of the Greater London Authority, was featured in one of the first scenes of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The unusually shaped building is located next to Tower Bridge on the south bank of the River Thames. In the movie, employees of City Hall witness a Death Eater attack on the Millennium Bridge, which is the next modern landmark on this list.
7. Millennium Bridge
In the books, an attack on a (different) bridge is only mentioned. However, in the sixth film of the series, moviegoers get to see how the Death Eaters destroy the Millennium Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that crosses the River Thames in London. In reality, the Millennium Bridge is still very much intact and provides a wonderful view of the River Thames, Tower Bridge, and the nearby St Paul’s Cathedral.
8. Surbiton Railway Station & Westminster Tube Station
In the movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry reads about the attack on Millennium Bridge while sitting in a train station café, which is also where he meets Dumbledore. The café and platform are both inside the Surbiton Railway Station, southwest of London in the suburbs. If you find the station is too far out of the way, the Westminster Tube Station is a great alternative. This London Underground station was featured in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as Harry and Mr. Weasley pass through it on their way to the Ministry of Magic. The station is right next to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, so it’s a nice place to visit if you want to check out some of the most famous landmarks in London.
9. Professor Flitwick’s classroom at Harrow School
Tiny professor Flitwick teaches Charms at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Charms classroom used in the movies is actually the Fourth Form Room at the real-life boarding school Harrow. The ancient school for boys dates back to the 16th century, and the building and grounds are absolutely gorgeous. During a tour of Harrow School you won’t only visit the Fourth Form Room, but you’ll also discover how top-notch boarding schools in Britain operate. You can easily travel to Harrow from King’s Cross Station.
10. No. 4, Privet Drive, Little Whinging at 12 Picket Post Close, Berkshire
To end where it all began, the last location of our top 10 list is Number 4, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, which is the Dursley family home. Harry spends most of his summers here in the books and movies, and grew up in this house before he went to Hogwarts. The house that was used to shoot No. 4, Privet Drive in the films is actually 12 Picket Post Close in Martins Heron, Berkshire. This is more than twice as far from London as Harrow, but the train station in Martins Heron is conveniently close to Picket Post Close, and you can easily get there from London Waterloo Station. If you decide to visit, do remember that this is a private home!
Bonus: Warner Brothers Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
It didn’t feel right to end this list without mentioning the Warner Bros. Studio Tour at Leavesden Studios. This attraction is a must-visit for Harry Potter fans coming to London. Production for all of the Harry Potter films was based in the Leavesden film studios, and after the franchise ended, Warner Brothers converted the original Harry Potter sets into one big Harry Potter studio tour. On the tour, you’ll be able to visit the original sets of the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office, Hagrid’s hut, and many more. There’s also a beautiful scale model of Hogwarts, several props and costumes, a café where you can taste butterbeer, and a shop where you can buy merchandise. Most of all, it’s a chance to see the real magic of the moviemaking process up close.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of Harry Potter locations in London! If you’re looking for more movie magic while in the city, have a look at our landmark cinemas in London. Have you ever visited one of the Harry Potter locations in London?