J. K. Rowling introduced us to the extraordinary Wizarding World of Harry Potter way back in 1999, and ever since Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone hit bookshelves worldwide, calling it an icon of pop culture would be a severe understatement.
While we Muggles might not be able to fly over to Hogwarts on our Nimbus 2000s or stroll through the magical Hogsmeade Village on a crisp winter evening before grabbing a couple of Butterbeers, a trip to London will get us mighty close.
The British capital is overflowing with Harry Potter locations (both real and in-studio) that have the potential to make any serious Potterhead completely overwhelmed with awe.
10 King’s Cross Station
We Muggles might not be able to hop on board the Hogwarts Express at the start of each school year, but we can do the next best thing; visit the iconic platform 9 and ¾. While we’re unlikely to spot Harry and the gang nearby, there’s still a great photo opportunity for all of the Potterheads out there.
The magical platform, which was actually filmed between platforms four and five in the real King's Cross station, appeared in scenes in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The grand station is an essential stop when visiting the nation’s capital — Potter-themed journey or not,
9 Reptile House, London Zoo
It’s not every day that a boy who’s been living under a flight of stairs realizes that he can talk to snakes and that he possesses extraordinary magical abilities. But early in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, that’s exactly what happened to our beloved Harry.
The iconic scene was filmed in London Zoo’s Reptile House. With over 650 different species on display (all from the Muggle world), anyone visiting the zoo these days should rest assured knowing that the glass between snakes and guests remains fully intact at all times. We’re sure anyone checking it out will have a better experience than Dudley.
8 Australia House
We won’t be able to store any bronze Knuts, silver Sickles, or golden Galleons, and we won’t be running into any goblins that take us on wild underground cart rides, but a visit to Australia House on the Strand in central London will allow of us Potterheads to see where the Gringotts Bank scenes were filmed in the Harry Potter series.
Once you’ve retrieved the Philosopher’s Stone from vault 713 and finished your business at Gringotts Wizarding Bank, there’s plenty more to do nearby. The Strand is a bustling, popular area with lots on offer for tourists, so why not make an afternoon of it?
7 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
After wandering through central London for a couple of days and pointing out recognizable filming locations (with plenty of touristy photos to show off to our friends, of course), there’s no better way to continue the Harry Potter-themed extravaganza than by plonking down on a cushioned chair at West End’s Palace Theatre.
Since 2016, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been welcoming Potterheads and theatre aficionados from across the globe. The show is split into two parts, so it’s a hefty time commitment, but reviews tell us that it’s worth every second. Even though the play is also showing in Toronto, Melbourne, New York, San Francisco, and Hamburg, nothing quite compared to the magical atmosphere in London.
6 The Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour
While we encourage any devoted Potterhead to check out all the locations on this list as well as a handful of others, if time or money is limited and you have to (sadly) prioritize one Potter-themed destination, make this stop the top choice.
Before wetting your whistle with an authentic Butterbeer, you can wander through the Warner Bros. studio where the majority of the films were actually recorded. You’ll get a unique insight into the behind-the-scenes magic and have the opportunity to pick up garments of whichever Hogwarts house beckons you at the gift shop. While it’s a little further from central London, it’s totally worth the trek.
5 The Cauldron
This intriguing London bar, which now boasts four locations worldwide, is deeply inspired by the world of Harry Potter (although not officially affiliated). With its balance of interactive brewing and wizarding atmosphere, it bills itself as an authentically magical and geeky paradise.
One worthy activity unique to this place is the magical cocktail experience — an immersive, mixology (read: potions) class that lasts a touch under two hours. For roughly 30 pounds, Potionmasters don a robe and receive a magic wand before brewing their two very own potions. After a day’s walking around town snapping touristy photos, a Butterbeer or two at The Cauldron would go down a treat.
4 Scotland Place
What kind of visit to the heart of the Wizarding World would be complete without a quick stop at the magical governing body — the Ministry of Magic? While we muggles might struggle to find the magical entrance without some Polyjuice Potion, we can still check out the location that played host to many of the film’s scenes.
Scotland Place is also conveniently located in Westminster next to (non-magical) government buildings, so tourists can easily spend a couple of hours exploring the impressive architecture of both worlds. For anyone needing to burn off a few Butterbeers worth of calories, there are some Potter-themed walking tours in the area as well.
3 Leadenhall Market
It’s two attractions for the price of one at London’s Leadenhall Market, at that price is free! Not only do visitors get the opportunity to witness the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron that we saw in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and get a glimpse into Diagon Alley, but they also get to stroll through a 14th-century market packed full of charm and character.
The majority of the Diagon Alley film scenes were recorded in the Warner Bros. Studios (which we already highly recommended), but with or without the magical aura, Leadenhall Market is still well and truly deserving of a quick visit.
2 House of MinaLima
You’ll likely be doing plenty of walking if you plan on exploring most of the spots mentioned on this rundown, but thankfully our next stop has a change of pace.
At House of MinaLima, visitors can wander through a handful of rooms and check out plenty of magical artwork related to both the Harry Potter films as well as the Fantastic Beasts films. There are four levels to examine which each feature various materials created by the masterminds behind the movies' actual artwork, as well as some authentic props.
Best of all, the exhibition is completely free, so you’ll have a few Galleons left over for Butterbeers!
1 Westminster Underground Station
Unless you’re avoiding the authentic London experience altogether, at one stage or another on your journey throughout the vibrant city you’re bound to find yourself on the tube (the city’s underground rail network). The tube might not be the nicest-smelling or fanciest metro system in the world, but it’s a core part of the city.
Westminster Station made its appearance in The Order of the Phoenix when Harry traveled alongside Arthur Weasley to his hearing at the Ministry of Magic for using magic outside of Hogwarts while underage. The station isn’t far from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, so we’re confident you’ll end up in the area regardless.