As a huge fan of the wizardry world of Harry Potter, I love re-visiting the places that inspired J K Rowling. Can you believe it has been 20 years since the first movie? Here are some places that you might not have heard of.
Top Harry Potter Places To Visit During The 20th Anniversary
Victoria Street, Edinburgh
Victoria Street is said to have been the inspiration for Dragon Alley with its gentle rolling downhill curve, cobbled stones and colourful shop facades. Built between 1829-34, originally named Simpson's Road after the magistrate who constructed it but later renamed Victoria Street in the 1850s in honour of Queen Victoria. Don't miss one of the first water heads to be installed in the Grassmarket - The Bow Well (1680), located at the bottom of Victoria Street.
Today there are not one but two fantasy shops, where you can buy butterbeer, chocolate frogs and much more! There are also really cool photo opportunities inside and on Victoria Street itself. Highly recommend a visit to the Museum Context (Victoria Street).
Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh
A stone's throw away from Victoria Street is Greyfriars Kirkyard named after the medieval Franciscan friary which once stood on the same site (the monks wore grey habits). one of the oldest graveyards in Edinburgh, burials have taken place since the 16th century. These include some notable burials including William Adam and John Adam, architects, George Heriot (accountant and founder of the George Heriot School) and others you may find interesting are those that inspired characters in the Harry Potter books including Thomas Riddell, William McGonagall - used his name for Hogwarts' Prof Minerva McGonagall, the head of Gryffindor., Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody and Rufus ScrimgeourIt. The graveyard is also said to be haunted by the most violent and terrorizing poltergeist. Though the kirkyard is open 24 hours, you may think twice about visiting late in the evening, when visitors have been said, to have been tormented and scratched.
George Heriot's School
George Heriot's School is said to be the inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. With its grandeur and turrets, it is located in the city centre not far from where J K Rowling wrote many of the Harry Potter series of books - Elephant Cafe. George Heriot founded the school in 1628, today it is one of the leading independent primary and secondary schools. With day fees per term ranging from £2,943 to £4,414. Scholarships & bursaries are available.
The Elephant House
One of the best cake and coffee houses in Edinburgh, the Elephant House opened in 1995. Where J K Rowling is said to have written novels in the Harry Potter series. The first book had already been started - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ( published 26 June 1997) before moving to Edinburgh and some may have been written at the Nicolsons Cafe (now closed but a plaque has been installed on the side of the building). Sadly the Elephant House is currently closed due to water and smoke damage from a fire in 2021.
The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh
J K Rowling took up residency here at the 5* Balmoral Hotel to write Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Before checking out she famously wrote on a marble bust of the god Hermes in the expensive suite, scribbling the following on the bust: “JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007”.
Potterrow by Edinburgh University and The Meadows is said to be the inspiration for Harry's surname.
J. K. Rowling's Hand Prints
After J.K Rowling was awarded the Edinburgh Award, her handprints were added to the Edinburgh City Chambers Court Yard, walk of fame.
Writers Museum, Lady Stairs Close, Edinburgh
Edinburgh was designated the world's first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004. The capital is home to Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Sir Walter Scott (Waverley), and JK Rowling (Harry Potter). The 17th-century house - Writers Museum located just off the Lawnmarket is free to visit, with an array of exhibits dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, Robert Lewis Stephenson (Kidnapped) and Robert Burns. Unfortunately, the museum is currently closed, please do check the Writers Museum website for up-to-date information.
Day Trips To Harry Potter Filming Locations
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland was the filming location for Hogwarts School. You can easily take a group bus tour from Edinburgh or if you prefer, jump on the train from Edinburgh Waverley to Alnmouth and then change to the small bus. More in-depth journey details can be found at A Day Trip From Edinburgh To The Alnwick Garden.
One not to be missed is a trip onboard the Jacobite Steam Train, also known as Hogwarts Express. The train departs from and returns to Fort William, stopping in Mallaig, where you can enjoy a wander around the small town as well as a bag of fish and chips. Please do book ahead as it is very popular.
Further A Field Harry Potter Filming Locations & Places to Visit
There is one place like no other, that is a must-visit for any Harry Potter fans and that is Warner Bros Studios just outside London. Wow!
It is incredible to visit at any time of year but during the holidays The Great Hall takes on a greater charm when all decorated for Christmas and the model of Hogwarts is covered in snow. Don't miss inside Ollivander’s Wand shop or putting on the sorting hat!
While in London why not visit Platform 9 3/4 at London’s Kings Cross.
You might also like to go and see Harry Potter and The Cursed Child.