Ever since J.K. Rowling penned her hugely popular Harry Potter series (the first book was released in 1997) there has been somewhat of a cult following around the fictional wizarding world. There are eight films, there’s a play, and there is more merchandise inspired by Harry Potter than any individual would care to count.
There is no denying that there is something about the Harry Potter novels and films that inspire, whether that's because every individual secretly wishes to be magical themselves, or they like the idea of good triumphing over evil or the story of lasting friendships.
There are many places across the world that have either inspired J.K. Rowling and her work or have been inspired by her novels (and later the films) and have transformed into fantastic themed spots frequented by fans. From restaurants with menus and drinks inspired by things from the Harry Potter world to libraries that served as direct inspiration for Rowling when she was writing; there are so many wonderful spots dedicated to the franchise.
Below are 20 best Harry Potter inspired spots that have been created by Muggles (and are just as magical as anyone would expect them to be).
Who doesn’t want to drink coffee at a cafe themed around Harry Potter? This is obviously a rhetorical question because there are few coffee shops as cool as Bad Owl Coffee, located in Henderson, Nevada.
The coffee shop is not only decorated as though it was something that came straight of the films (including a Platform 9 ¾ plaque and a death eater), but it also serves items that have been inspired by the books, for example, Butter Brew Lattes and Iron Goddess of Mercy tea.
Bad Owl Coffee may have a Platform 9 ¾ plaque, but King’s Cross Station in London has half a luggage trolley in the wall. This platform is known to be the place where Harry and his friends departed to Hogwarts, but the rest of us can also pretend to be boarding Hogwarts by posing for photos with the trolley, complete with a statue of Hedwig the owl.
According to the King’s Cross website, the attraction can get busy during school holidays and the festive season, but other than that, it’s open at all hours and it’s free if you want to take your own photos.
The Harry Potter world is filled with impressive books with interesting titles, but the libraries and bookstores that house them are just as fascinating as the books themselves. Livraria Lello Bookstore in Porto, Portugal, is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world and has been open since 1906.
According to Business Insider, it’s one of the top places to visit (and gets very busy with tourists) and served as inspiration for J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books. The author lived in the city for two years from 1991 to 1993 and was apparently a frequent customer.
The Harry Potter Festival (which has since been renamed the Witches and Wizards Weekend) is an annual event held in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, and it’s one that Harry Potter fans do not want to miss. According to the Visit Philly website, the festival takes place between Oct. 19 and Oct. 20, and the neighborhood is transformed into a magical setting.
The festival offers a fun time for people of all ages, including the Philadelphia Brotherly Love Cup Quidditch Tournament. There is entertainment throughout the evening, including pub crawls, and something for the little ones.
There are many places across the world that have either inspired J.K. Rowling and her work or have been inspired by her novels (and later the films). Those that have been inspired by Harry Potter have transformed into fantastic themed spots, which are frequented by fans. And the Always Cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam, is yet another great spot created by Muggles.
According to PopSugar, the cafe is located in one of the touristy areas and opened in 2016. Here fans can find a number of items named after things in J.K. Rowling’s novels, including Polyjuice Potion and Amortentia.
If you walk into the Balmoral Hotel you probably won’t immediately think “wow, Harry Potter,” but this place is special for another reason. Located in Edinburgh, the 5-star Victorian hotel is where J.K Rowling penned her Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book in 2007.
According to The Rowling Library, the room (number 552) where she finished the book has now been named the J.K. Rowling Suite, and it’s become a bit of an attraction for fans of the franchise. Inside the room, there are two marble sculptures, and one was signed by Rowling when she finished the book.
The Lockhart bar is a popular hangout that has been inspired by the Harry Potter novels. Located in Toronto, Canada, the bar has become well-known among fans and the subject of many headlines.
According to Glamour, there are some things that visitors should know before visiting the bar, these include a fair bit of waiting because of its popularity, and that in general, the Harry Potter references tend to be more subtle, rather than in-your-face. And the bathrooms, in particular, are said to be worth a visit because patrons have written their favorite HP quote in chalk here.
The Elephant House in Scotland has bathrooms filled with Harry Potter graffiti, which the staff tried to clean by constantly repainting the bathroom, but can now no longer keep up with, Daily Mail reports. The graffiti is written in a number of different languages and are all dedicated to the franchise -- evidence of its wide reach.
The publication also notes that this venue is of particular interest to Harry Potter fans because it is believed to be where J.K. Rowling used to pen her early work.
You cannot get closer to Hogwarts than Alnwick Castle, which was used as a filming location for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2000. According to the castle’s website, the second film in the franchise was also filmed here, and visitors who opt to take a tour will see some familiar spots.
These spots include the location where Harry learned to play Quidditch (the castle also offers broomsticks training sessions), and the spot where Harry and Ron Weasley crash-landed the Weasley family car.
If you have any interest in witchcraft and wizardry, then the College of Wizardry in Czocha, Poland, is probably the place to go. According to the Wizardry College website, students can enroll in classes about the magical arts, as well as tour the 13th Century castle grounds and “join one of the five ancient Houses of Czocha College”
It is a three-night experience, where people go to have a wizard adventure and make new friends, and there are a number of different roles that can be played, from staff member to student. Each event has a capacity of 130 people.
It may be fun to take a photo at a themed Harry Potter cafe or pose in front of props, but for some die-hard fans, this just won’t cut it. What will though, is spending a night in a hotel that makes you feel as though you’ve been transported to Hogwarts. The hotel in question is the Georgian House Hotel in London, and according to the hotel’s website, here you will find The Wizard Chamber which is concealed behind a bookcase door.
Inside, guests can sleep in a room complete with four-post beds, trunks, cauldrons, and stain-glass windows, giving the entire room a very magical faux castle feel.
One of the must-visit Harry Potter locations in Central London is Leadenhall Market, Visit Britain reports. This location is also known as Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone film, and the memorable pub, the Leaky Cauldron, is actually an optician in the Bull’s Head Passage area.
According to Free Tours By Foot, Harry and Hagrid can be seen walking through the alley to get to the pub, and the site notes its best to visit on the weekend because the market is located in the business district.
The University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries are one of the oldest in Europe, and according to the website, together they hold more than 13 million printed works. But the sheer size and volume of the work found here is not the only remarkable thing about the library, because it also served as a film location for three of the Harry Potter films. The website notes that the “Duke Humfrey's Library was used as the Hogwarts library and the Divinity School as the infirmary.”
A location that offers everything Harry Potter fans could ever want is the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. On this tour, fans are able to see many of the original props and costumes used in the films, because as the tour’s website notes, these were saved as the books were still being written at the same time as the movies -- normally a film crew would disregard items, but they were keeping them in case they needed them again at a later stage. This is great news for Harry Potter fans because they are able to get a real glimpse into what the filmmaking process was like.
Although many filming locations can be found in England, this is not the only country where you can find a dedicated Harry Potter world, and at Universal Studios in Florida is the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. There is no shortage of things to do during a visit here, and in addition to rides like the family-friendly roller coaster, The Flight of the Hippogriff, fans can also experience the best that Harry Potter has to offer including magical spells and creatures.
The stunning bridge (which is actually a viaduct) from Harry Potter, the same one that the Hogwarts' Express crossed on, is, according to Forbes, called the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It can be found in Scotland in the town of Glenfinnan.
The journalist notes that getting photos of the bridge is easy as there is is a small parking lot located just a few minutes walk away (although it was apparently extremely busy).
The viaduct was built using mass concrete and created in the 1890s, Atlas Obscura reports.
London Zoo is yet another location to visit when in London, at least if you want to catch a glimpse of where Harry Potter first learned of his ability to speak to snakes. The scene from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was filmed at the Zoo’s Reptile House in 2001.
And according to the ZSL London Zoo website, the house was built in 1926 (although previous structures existed in 1849 and 1882). Here visitors can find see a collection of different snake species, as well as lizards, frog, and even crocodiles.
Christ Church in Oxford, England, is a remarkable structure. According to Architectural Digest, it became a college in 1546, and was established by Henry the VIII.
It is the sort of place that even if you have no interest in Harry Potter, it is worth visiting, but it’s all the more special for fans of the franchise because, as Lonely Planet notes, the grand staircase featured in the films, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
The Great Hall is also believed to have served as the inspiration for the Hogwarts Great Hall.
The scenes of Hagrid’s home from the 2004 film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, were filmed in Glencoe, Scotland, TourRadar reports. Hagrid’s wooden home was on the edge of the Forbidden Forest, but in real life, the location is in the Lochaber area within the Scottish Highlands.
The actual hut no longer remains here, much to the disappointment of fans, but despite the lack of hut, this destination is renowned for its beauty and is worth a visit.
Sadly, Hogwarts doesn’t exist in real life, although there are many places where the famous school of witchcraft and wizardry was filmed, including Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire. The structure was originally founded in 1232, and according to London Toolkit, for more than 300 years it was a nunnery. Today, it is a property owned by the National Trust and is open to visits from the public.
The publication notes that the abbey's Medieval cloisters and side rooms were used for scenes in the first two Harry Potter movies, and they served as the classrooms.
References: King's Cross, Business Insider, Visit Philly, PopSugar, The Rowling Library, Glamour, Daily Mail, Alnwick Castle, Wizardy College, Georgian House Hotel, Visit Britain, Universal Orlando, Forbes, Atlas Obscura