by gene openshaw
The story of Harry Potter is set in a magical and largely fictional Britain, but the film series used many real-world locations as evocative backdrops. other sets, like diagon alley, only exist at leavesden film studios (20 miles north of london).
Many of the real-life filming sites are closed to visitors, out of the way for most travelers, or an unmagical personal disappointment to all but the most committed fans. (Fans can check out the British Tourist Board’s most extensive list of filming locations.) but many places are worth visiting by themselves; these are my best options.
Harry first becomes aware of his wizarding powers in Philosopher’s Stone (2001) when he talks to a snake in the London Zoo’s reptile house.
when hagrid takes harry shopping for school supplies, they enter the glass-roofed leadenhall market and approach the shop at 42 bull’s head passage, the entrance to the leaky cauldron. pub (which, in the books, is between charing cross road bookstores).
harry boards the hogwarts express train at king’s cross station. (The quirky exterior shown in 2002’s chamber of secrets was actually filmed at nearby st international station). .pancras.) Inside the glass-roofed train station, on a high pedestrian bridge over the tracks, Hagrid gives Harry a train ticket. Harry finds his way to the magical Platform 9¾ with a little help, but these days she’s well signposted, with a luggage cart that seems to be disappearing into the wall and a cleverly placed gift shop. . (good luck getting to the platform without magic powers). expect a 30 minute wait for a photo with the car.
In Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), the exterior of the leaky cauldron was shot on a rough-looking, stony street on the southeastern edge of borough market, near the market porter pub. On the way there, the Knight Bus weaves between Muggle buses on Lambeth Bridge (between Parliament House and Tate Britain).
mr. Weasley is confused by the Oyster card readers at Westminster tube station when he and Harry exit the tube in Order of the Phoenix (2007). Half-Blood Prince (2009) opens with Muggles inside City Hall noticing a darkening sky, shortly before a Death Eater attack causes the Millennium Bridge to collapse in the thames. In The First Deathly Hallows (2010), Harry, Ron, and Hermione are nearly hit by a bus while running through the bustling Piccadilly Circus. the royal government offices in whitehall serve as locations for the ministry of magic (unfortunately, the magical telephone box shown in scotland place was brought in just for filming).
if you have the time and interest, consider a harry potter-themed guided walk such as that offered by recommended walks of london.
near the bathroom
many scenes showing the mysterious side of hogwarts were filmed in the elaborate vaulted halls of the cloisters of gloucester cathedral, 50 miles north of bath.
In Philosopher’s Stone, Harry is chosen for the Gryffindor Quidditch team in the halls of 13th-century Lacock Abbey, 13 miles east of Bath. Harry also attends Professor Snape’s class in one of the abbey’s plaster rooms. (you can visit with recommended mad max tours).
At the beginning of Goblet of Fire (2005), Harry and his friends take a Portkey to the Quidditch World Cup and land on a hill above the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. p>
Several other parts of Hogwarts were filmed at Oxford University. In Philosopher’s Stone, students arriving at Hogwarts first ascend a stone staircase that, in real life, leads to the great hall of Christ Church College. Christ Church’s high-ceilinged dining room was a model for the one seen throughout the movies (with the weightless candles and flaming braziers)… but the actual filming occurred on a set at Leavesden Studios. /p>
later, in philosopher’s stone, harry sneaks under an invisibility cloak into the hogwarts library (actually duke humfrey’s library in the bodleian library), and wakes up in the hogwarts infirmary (the great window bodleian divinity school). And in Goblet of Fire, Mad-Eye Moody turns Draco into a ferret in the cloister of the new university.
durham and north east england
in philosopher’s stone, harry walks his snowy owl, hedwig, through a snowy cloister at durham cathedral, which was used throughout the series for several hogwarts scenes .
harry learns for the first time to fly a broomstick over the green grass of the hogwarts school grounds, filmed within the walls of alnwick castle, where admission includes horse riding lessons broom. This picturesque castle, 30 miles from Newcastle, also appears as Hogwarts later in the series.
many of the exterior shots in the films, especially the hogwarts grounds scenes, were filmed in the rugged, cloudy highlands of scotland (primarily the fort william/glencoe area).
The Hogwarts Express runs along the current line of the Jacobite Steam Train (between Fort William and Mallaig). The movies show the train chugging through the real-life Glenfinnan Viaduct, where, in Goblet of Fire, the Dementors stop the train and torture Harry. the nearby loch shiel and loch eilt, as well as loch morar (closer to mallaig), were the substitutes for the great lake in the prisoner of azkaban and the goblet of fire steall falls, at the base of ben nevis, is the site of the triwizard tournament in goblet of fire.
Other scenes shot in the highlands include a desolate hillside with Hagrid’s stone hut at Glencoe, which was the main location for outdoor filming in Prisoner of Azkaban. Exterior scenes for Half-Blood Prince were filmed in Glencoe, as well as in the small town of Glenfinnan.
While the films were almost entirely filmed in Britain, one of Ireland’s most famous natural sights plays a part in Half-Blood Prince: the Cliffs of Moher, seen from the water , they serve as an exterior foreshadowing of the cave where Harry and Dumbledore search for a horcrux.
gene openshaw is co-author of the rick steves guide to london.