Calling all witches, wizards, and Muggles! If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, apparate immediately to London. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just starting your journey into the wizarding world, if you plan on studying or interning abroad, let London be the setting for your magical adventures.
Here are some enchanting places in London and the surrounding areas that will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the world of Harry Potter.
First, who or what is Harry Potter?
Picture this: In a small town outside London, an orphaned boy named Harry lives in a cupboard under the stairs of his aunt and uncle’s house. They treat him very poorly. But then one day a humongous man finds him and tells him he is actually a wizard!
That’s the beginning of Harry Potter’s story, which has become a globally acclaimed fantasy book series and movie franchise. The series follows Harry and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, who are all students Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Sounds nice right? It is! Until it’s revealed that a dark wizard Lord Voldemort (“He Who Must Not Be Named”) has returned with the goal of becoming immortal and conquering the wizarding world. There’s nothing he wants nothing more than to kill Harry Potter — for reasons we won’t spoil for you here.
Where were the Harry Potter movies filmed?
The Harry Potter film series was filmed in various locations across the United Kingdom, but to capture its distinct Britishness and to make the wizarding world feel more populated, much of the filming took place in London, the country’s capital.
Here are places in Greater London to visit if you Love Harry Potter:
Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station
The place where Harry Potter started his magical journey is the perfect place to start yours. Between platforms 9 and 10 you’ll find a cart filled with luggage (including an owl cage for Hedwig) that appears to be going right through the wall, just as students heading to Hogwarts would do. It’s the perfect photo-op for Instagram. If you want an even more authentic experience, check out Platforms 4 and 5 while there, as that’s where the filming for the movies actually occurred.
“A tip for this one: the line is almost always long, but if you can manage to get there on a weekday night, say a Monday night around 7pm, the line should be pretty short!”Cassandra J., an Illinois Wesleyan University who studied on an AIFS Abroad faculty-led program in London
Bonus: The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9¾
Before you leave the King’s Cross area, make sure to check out the Harry Potter Shop. Stock up on wizarding essentials, like wands, robes, and house-themed merchandise. Make sure you leave some room in your suitcase so you can bring a piece of the magic home with you after your study abroad or international internship program in London.
Leadenhall and Borough Markets
Wander through Leadenhall Market, one of the filming locations for Diagon Alley, where wizards and witches go to shop for cauldrons and wands. The Victorian architecture and cobbled streets will instantly make you feel like you’ve stumbled into the wizarding world. Keep an eye out for the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron. Borough Market was another inspiration for Diagon Alley and was the filming location of the Leaky Cauldron’s back entrance that an escaping Harry used in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Don’t worry, Fenrir Greyback and his Death Eaters didn’t actually destroy this bridge, which was seen in the opening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Recall that harrowing scene while strolling across it, Death Eater-free, and enjoy stunning views of the River Thames and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Reptile House at The London Zoo
This one’s great to bring your non-Potter fan friends to, as a trip to the London Zoo is always a jolly good time for everyone. While you’re there though, sneak a little Potter lore into your trip by checking out the reptile house, famous in the films as the first time Harry finds out he’s able to speak parseltongue, the language of snakes. The snake enclosure has a plaque commemorating where the scene took place.
House of MinaLima
The neighborhood of Soho in London is home to a gallery that showcases the graphic design work of Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, the visual minds behind the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them films. Feast your eyes on pieces such as the designs of The Daily Profit newspapers, as well as Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes products. The exhibit guides you through the artists’ work and how they created the overall vibe of the series.
Harry Potter Walking Tour
If you want to get all the magic at once, there are various Harry Potter walking tours that can take you to the hidden gems and filming locations across London, from the inspiration for Gringotts Bank to the Ministry of Magic entrance.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
This one is about an hour-long train ride from London to a town called Leavesdon, but trust us it’s worth the journey. Just imagine you’re on the Hogwarts Express on your way to your first year at the legendary School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! Here is where the sets of the series live, including The Great Hall and Diagon Alley, and the intricate Hogwarts Castle model. There’s also concept art, creature animatronics, props, and costumes. Make sure you book your ticket well in advance, though, as tour times fill up quickly!
“I loved how interactive everything all the exhibits were. As soon as you enter, you get to see the Great Hall with floating candles and house colors adorned on every facet of the set! I saw nearly every costume, prop, and set designs used in the entire series. Not only did I get to look at these marvels, I became a wizard for a day by riding on a broomstick, and even lifting one up with my bare hands!”Alexis V., AIFS Abroad in London, England alum (Fall 2019)
So, grab your Marauder’s Map and embark on a spellbinding adventure through the enchanting streets of London, reliving your favorite Harry Potter moments at these iconic places!
Even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, visiting these places is a great way to explore the city of London, so feel free to invite your muggle friends to tag along! Make sure to hit all these wizarding wonders if you have decided to study abroad or intern internationally there.