Harry Potter is the best-selling book series of all time. It’s no wonder, then, that the movies are amazing and have broken countless records. One of the things that make them so great (besides the incredible plot and beloved actors) is the magical scenery! We have all watched the movies and wished we could take the Hogwarts Express train journey through the green countryside or go shopping in Diagon Alley. The movie crew really put in their best effort to bring J.K. Rowling’s world to life. From the snow-covered castle grounds to the eerie forests and caves, there are so many places in the Harry Potter movies we’d like to explore. It’s just too bad that so many of them were computer-generated imagery (CGI) or created by combining shots of multiple places. However, there are some places in the real world that look like they could be in Harry Potter.
The following places are unique, beautiful and have breathtaking features that make them seem like they’re out of this world. A couple of these spots were actually used as filming locations for the movies. Regardless of your HP fan status, we recommend visiting these magical places!
25 Zhangjiajie National Park, China
When we see dark forests, we immediately think of the Forbidden Forest. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the students of Hogwarts were warned not to enter this forest. Of course, they went away and when they did, they discovered magical creatures. Sure, there were some scary encounters, too, but who wouldn’t be curious to explore such a location?
Well, Zhangjiajie National Park in China is probably the closest you’ll come to an awe-inspiring forest.
What makes it unique is its towering sandstone peaks and beautiful Jinbian stream. While you won’t find any magical unicorns or centaurs here, you will find rare animals, including civet cats and giant salamanders. The forest also contains five scenic areas open to tourists. It’s definitely worth the visit!
24 Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Dumbledore embark on a journey to a cave, while searching for Slytherin’s locket. The cave they enter is dark and a bit creepy, but it’s filled with magic.
Doesn’t the cave in this image look much more suited for a Harry Potter movie?
It looks as though someone cast a spell to make it glow so that they can find their way through. But, it isn’t a spell or magical creatures lighting up this cave, it’s glowworms! The Waitomo Glowworm Caves is located in New Zealand’s and the creatures are unique to the country. If you visit the caves, you can take an enchanting boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto.
23 Devil's Bridge, Germany
There are so many scenic locations in Harry Potter where Harry has meaningful conversations or reminisces on his life. Doesn't Devil's Bridge look like the perfect place for Harry to have an insightful conversation with Dumbledore?
The bridge, located in Germany's Kromlauer Park, looks as though if it was built by a wizard!
It was designed to create the illusion of a perfect circle, as it reflects onto the waters below it. The ends of the bridge are decorated by rock spires to look like basalt columns and the entire bridge is surrounded by foliage, making it even more beautiful in the fall.
22 Bavaria, Germany
We all wish we could visit Hogsmeade to grab some Butterbeer and go shopping for candies. Sadly, Hogsmeade doesn't actually exist, but fortunately this charming old town in Germany does.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber (located in the state of Bavaria) is probably the closest we can get to a real-life Hogsmeade.
The town is filled with medieval buildings, colorful houses, cobbled streets and restaurants. It even has stores dedicated entirely to teddy bears and Christmas ornaments! On top of that, it's also the perfect place to shop for German souvenirs, such as beer steins. As you can imagine, this attracts a lot of tourists during the summer and holidays!
21 The Bay of Fundy, Canada
The Bay of Fundy may remind you of the sea cave in Harry Potter (although that particular scene was actually filmed at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland). We’d recommend visiting the Bay of Fundy because there is so much to see and it’s one of the seven natural wonders of North America.
The bay has the highest tides on earth, reaching up to 56 feet!
It also contains dinosaur fossils, minerals and tons of wildlife. In fact, there are some pretty rare creatures in the area, including the North Atlantic right whale, and the harbour porpoise. Bald eagles and puffins are frequently sighted, as well. You can spend an entire day whale watching, hiking the trails and taking photos of the spectacular formations.
20 Cappadocia, Turkey
If you ever visit Monks Valley in Cappadocia, you may feel as though you're on another planet. The region is unique and breathtakingly beautiful, with its cone-shaped rock formations called fairy chimneys. These tall formations were created over millions of years by the setting of volcanic ash and subsequent eruptions.
They create what looks like perfect place for Charlie Weasley to train a dragon!
You can explore the region by hot air balloon, helicopter or by foot. Although the hot air balloon tours can be pricey, it's such a unique and exhilarating experience that everyone should experience!
19 The Isle of Skye and Dunvegan Castle, Scotland
What is Harry Potter without the magnificent Hogwarts castle? We all wished we went to such a cool school! Unfortunately, you cannot visit Hogwarts itself, as it is computer-generated. But, the exterior is based on Alnwick castle in Scotland. This location sees a lot of visitors due to its popularity, though, so you may want to check out some alternatives. Well, there are lots of other castles that look like they could be in Harry Potter.
One of the most famous castles is Dunvegan Castle, located on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
It is the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland and is open for visitor tours from April to October. The grounds are home to several gardens and a loch, which you can explore by boat. The landscape on which the castle stands is movie-worthy with its basalt projections and the sea.
18 Dark Hedges, Ireland
Doesn't this look like it could be the entrance to the Forbidden Forest or the pathway to a deathly hallow? The Dark Hedges is an avenue of beech trees located in Northern Ireland. The trees, which were planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century, hover over Bregagh road to form a picturesque scene.
At the end of the road is the Stuarts' Georgian mansion, Gracehill House, which now operates as a restaurant. This road is so iconic and impressive that it was used as a filming location for the King's road in Game of Thrones. If you're hoping for photographs, the best time to visit is off-season and around sunrise.
17 Luminous Lagoon, Jamaica
There's something magical about things that glow, right? In Harry Potter, there were countless glowing objects, including wands, potions and Patronuses. How cool would it have been to have a glowing lagoon, too? We could see its waters being used for potions or even as the liquid in the pensieve.
So, where can you find a real-life, glowing lagoon? Well, there are only a handful in the world. One of the most famous is situated along the marshlands of Trelawney, Jamaica (even the parish's name is magical!). Visitors can take a nighttime boat tour to see the lagoon light up, thanks to millions of microorganisms called dinoflagellates.
16 Leadenhall Market, London
Does London’s Leadenhall Market look familiar? It should if you’re a Harry Potter fan! It was used as the filming location for the exterior of Diagon Alley, where Harry and the other Hogwarts students went to get their school supplies in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Though you won’t find Ollivander’s or broomstick shops, you can eat at some fancy restaurants, drink at a pub, shop for luxury pens or clothes and simply enjoy the beautiful architecture of this market. The market was built in 1881 and features quaint cobbled floors, along with painted ceilings.
15 The Faerie Glen, Scotland
Living up to its name, Faerie Glen in Scotland is an enchanting, hidden gem. It's actually in the Isle of Skye, so it is often overlooked by Dunvegan castle. This makes it the perfect spot to experience peace and quiet, away from bustling crowds of tourist. The area is filled with green, cone-shaped hills, ponds, rock spirals, impressive rock formations and waterfalls.
Some say it was created by faeries, who still dwell in its crevices.
Our theory is that it was created by some witches and wizards looking for a nice field to play a good ol' game of Quidditch!
14 Haiku Stairs, Hawaii
Stairs are a prominent feature in Harry Potter. At Hogwarts, the students are surprised to find that the staircases rotate, leading them to different paths. Of course, Harry also lives in a small space under the stairs of the Dursley’s house. This unique staircase in Hawaii looks like it could have been a part of the movies, too!
The staircase is called Haiku Stairs, but it’s also known as “Stairway to Heaven.” The 4000 steps lead up a 2000-foot mountain near the Haiku Valley. The view from the top is spectacular, allowing you to see the nearby body of water and trees.
13 Sintra, Portugal
There are so many features of Sintra that have a magical vibe. There are elaborate castles, sparkling waters and exotic gardens. But, perhaps the most magical and mysterious landmarks are the pair of masonic initiation wells located on the Quinta da Regaleira estate. The wells were actually never used to collect water, as they were intended for use during secretive initiation rites.
The wells have a winding stair architecture, symbolic of death and rebirth (a common theme in Harry Potter).
One of the wells also contains nine platforms, which has been suggested to represent the nine circles of hell. At the bottom of the well is a painting of a compass over a Knight's Templar cross. We can only imagine the sorts of things that took place here!
12 The Enchanted River, Philippines
With a name like Enchanted River, this destination simply had to be on our list. This river is so enticing because no one is certain of its origin. The clear, blue water seems to appear out of nowhere! One theory is that it comes from an underground cave system. Our theory is that a wizard conjured it up so that they could go for a nice swim. The Enchanted River is 80 feet deep and flows into the Pacific Ocean. Although you can swim in it, there are lots of tourists. So, it’s best to avoid peak season if you truly want to enjoy the location and its spectacular views.
11 Arthur's Seat, Scotland
There are quite a few parallels between King Arthur and Harry—the most obvious being their affinity for swords. So, it’s fitting that we include a place that is not only beautiful, but also significant in the legend of King Arthur.
In Scotland, you’ll find Arthur’s Seat—the main peak of a group of hills which is part of an extinct volcano system. It is said to have been the location of Camelot, though no one knows for certain. After hiking to the top, you’ll discover the ruins of St. Anthony’s chapel and be rewarded with 360-degree views of the city of Edinburgh.
10 Ponte Vecchio Bridge, Italy
There are a number of bridges throughout the Harry Potter movie. Of course, there’s the bridge that the Hogwarts Express travels over. There’s also the bridge destroyed by Death Eaters in Half-Blood Prince. So, it’s no surprise that seeing cool bridges makes us think of Harry’s world.
Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone bridge over the Arno River, located in Florence. It has existed since 996 (but was destroyed several times and rebuilt in 1345). The bridge has three arches and high-end shops that are built along it, appearing as though they are hanging off its side. You may wish to purchase jewelry here or simply journey across the bridge, as if you were stepping back in time.
9 Strahov Monastery Library, Czech Republic
The restricted section of Hogwarts Library always intrigued students, especially Harry and his friends. If you want to visit a library that looks like it could be part of Hogwarts, we'd recommend the Strahov Monastery Library in Prague. This library was founded in 1138 and houses some of Europe's most important titles.
There are even bookshelves that hide secret doorways!
And although you won't find books on Horcruxes in this library, you will find a Cabinet of Curiosities filled with a narwhal horn and dodo's remains. Can you imagine Harry visiting the library in search of ingredients for a potion?
8 Aosta Valley, Italy
Aosta Valley is a small, magical region in Italy. The area is mostly mountainous and contains towering peaks of the Alps, including Mont Blanc. The snowy peaks are beautiful and allow for all sorts of winter sports. The region is also home to the oldest national park, where you can see wild animals such as ibex, wolves, eagles and marmots. We bet Hagrid would love it! Additionally, the valley is dotted with castles built in the Middle Ages, including Castello di Fénis. This castle is decorated with cylindrical towers and interior frescoes, rendering it the most famous in Aosta Valley.
7 Brockville Railway Tunnel, Canada
Trains and Harry Potter go hand in hand. The iconic Hogwarts Express will forever be known as the coolest fictional train. Although King’s Cross Station—where the movies were filmed—has its charm, we can imagine another railway tunnel that might be appropriate.
The Brockville Railway Tunnel is home to Canada’s first railway tunnel, built between 1854 and 1860. It was renovated in August 2017, turning it into a magical, Instagram-able spot. Renovations included masonry work, smooth concrete walkway, sound system and beautiful, multicolored lighting. The tunnel is open daily April through fall, from nine o’clock AM to nine o’ clock PM.
6 Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar
The Avenue of Baobabs is unlike anything else in the world. It’s filled with dozens of 150-foot ancient baobab trees lining a dirt road linking Morondava and Belo Tsiribihina in Madagascar. There are only a handful of these trees beyond this particular road, so efforts have been made to protect them from deforestation. The trees are incredibly useful, as they can be tapped for water during dry season.
They also look like the perfect place for Hagrid or his relatives to hang a hammock or get some shade!
The trees are popular with tourists and there’s no admission fee to see them. The best time to visit is sunrise or sunset for a stunning view.
5 The Cauldron, England
There are quite a few pubs mentioned in Harry Potter, including The Three Broomsticks, The Leaky Cauldron and Hog's Head Inn. While these are all fictional hangouts, there have been attempts all over the world to recreate these magical pubs.
The Cauldron, located in London, clearly draws inspiration from Harry Potter. Visitors to the pub dress up in robes and are given a cauldron to mix their colorful, smoky "potions" AKA cocktails. The ingredients (for example, elderflower and lavender) are traditional, but expected from such a bar. Guests can also purchase a wand to get beer from the "tree of life."
4 Old Quebec, Canada
Old places hold a certain charm. Throughout Harry Potter, there are locations which are hundreds of years old and have an interesting history. Old Quebec is similar to these locations in many ways and understandably, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On top of that, it's absolutely beautiful and looks like the perfect place to pick up Christmas presents or unique school supplies.
In fact, shopping along rue Saint-Jean and rue Saint-Louis is one of the most popular things for tourists to do. But, if shopping doesn't hold your interest, you can also eat at fine dining restaurants, visit stunning basilicas, stay at a castle-like hotel or explore museums.
3 Multnomah Falls, USA
At an astounding 611 feet, Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon. The perfect spot to view the waterfall is from Benson Bridge, which spans the base of the first tier. From the bridge, you can easily view the second and top tiers.
The waterfall is surrounded by forests and mountains, creating scenes that look like they came straight out of a Harry Potter movie!
The great thing about this waterfall is that it doesn’t dry up in the summer, thanks to continuous flow from an underground spring. During the summer, there are also vendors selling ice cream and other snacks.
2 Hoh Rainforest, USA
Another contender for the real-life version of the Forbidden Forest is Hoh Rainforest in Washington. Yes, there are rainforests in the USA and they're pretty impressive. The Hoh Rainforest receives as much as 14 feet of rain per year! The fog and mist add to its precipitation levels and mystic feel.
Not surprisingly, the rainforest is filled with lush, green mosses and canopies which create an enchanting atmosphere. You can camp or hike year-round to spot the wildlife (including frogs, slugs, elk and herons) and admire the 100-year-old cedar trees. You may even be able to spot trees that look like the Weeping Willow!
1 Fingal's Cave, Scotland
Fingal’s cave is a one-of-a-kind cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa. It looks very similar to the cave that was featured in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The cave is surreal, with its naturally occurring hexagonal basalt columns (which are a result of lava flow). Due to the cave’s resemblance to the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, there’s a legend that both were end pieces of a bridge built by the giant, Finn McCool. The cave can be visited by boat and you can even hike inside of it to see the incredible basalt columns for yourself and experience its natural acoustics.
Sources: visitourchina.com, oregon.com, atlasobscura.com, lonelyplanet.com, whc.unesco.org, businessinsider.com