Unfortunately, Harry Potter fans can’t really visit Hogwarts and other made-up and magical places. But there are locations around the world that served as sets in these films, buildings that inspired the ones in the books, theme parks dedicated to this story, and spots that look like they are straight out of Harry Potter!
From college campuses and quaint villages to hidden lands and roadside attractions, these are 10 bucket list destinations for anyone and everyone who wishes they could escape to a school of witchcraft and wizardry, a pub that serves butterbeer or a forest full of one-of-a-kind creatures.
A castle started being built in 1072 in England, but since about 1840, it has been used as a college. That sounds familiar, does it not—a school in a castle? Yes, Durham Castle, now known as University College, houses over 100 students and is open to the public through guided tours. It is located on a hill above a river near a cathedral, but the most Harry Potter-like detail is this crypt; underneath this building is something that looks like the Chamber of Secrets! Think any students sneak down there and hunt for basilisks?
Erfurt, in Germany, is a medieval city that is quite well preserved and that favors the world of Harry Potter; many old European cities could have taken this spot, but the images of Erfurt just have something about them; the buildings have charming details that give off Diagon Alley vibes, while the steeple in the background mimics Hogwarts a bit. With a merchants' bridge, old synagogue, cathedral, and citadel, this is a tourist-attracting paradise. And, even though it may not offer a candy shop like Honeyduke’s or a transforming wall like the one Hagrid reveals, it still has characteristics similar to locations within this story.
Radio Kootwijk is a Dutch town where only 120 people live, and the main attraction here is this building, which, according to Wikipedia, is called Building A, The Cathedral, or The Sphynx. It is actually the main building of a former transmitter park, and people started living in Radio Kootwijk to build a shortwave radio transmitter in 1918. This old, defunct, massive building is creepy on its own, but the fact that it sort of resembles the prison of Azkaban makes it even more chilling! Just put it out in some water and zoom into those windows where people like Bellatrix Lestrange could be staring out.
Horace Burgess, a minister, said he was told to build this treehouse and church in Crossville, Tennessee. At 97 feet tall and built within an 80-foot-tall oak tree with a 12-foot diameter, this roadside attraction may just be the largest treehouse in the world. Sadly, it closed down in 2012 due to a fire code violation, but we would say the Minister's Treehouse is worth checking out if possible. First off, it looks really neat, and many people love quirky stops on road trips. But more importantly, it looks like The Burrow, where the Weasleys lived in Harry Potter!
Moor Brook is a small stream in England, and thanks to some Google searching and some Harry Potter-obsessed travelers, it has landed on this list. There are surely tons of hidden spots all across the planet that appear to be out of this story, but this particular shot of this particular spot—which is also near a castle, according to the map!—is giving us all the Forbidden Forest feels. Just look at all of those twisted trees… is that a centaur we see? Do we spy any hippogriffs? Could there be a unicorn or two in there? What about a werewolf?
Next up is Colmar, France, another cute place that calls itself the capital of Alsatian wine. This old city looks good for its age, and people visit it frequently see its religious buildings, monuments, fountains, and museums. Upon first glance, this actually seems like a setting from Beauty and the Beast. With the twists and turns around different shops, restaurants, and hotels—all with picturesque elements—this could be Hogsmeade. There really are some real similarities here, and just imagine it covered in snow and dotted with bright scarves worn by young witches and wizards!
Georgetown University was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1789. It is a prestigious and well-known campus… and it looks like the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Inside, there may not be spells being learned, practiced and cast. There may not be a great hall that has a changing ceiling with candles hanging from it, and the students may not be sorted in Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin or Ravenclaw. However, the coloring, the turrets/spikes, the size and the grandeur of this place make it very magical, all on its own. This is another spot to visit, for sure.
Taggia is in Italy. Specifically, it is in the Province of Imperia and in the region of Liguria. According to Wikipedia, tombs from the 10th to 7th centuries BC were found here, and it suffered damage from invasions and a landslide. Furthermore, according to the accompanying image, it is another place that could be from this magical book and film series. Yes, this one little alley could be Knockturn Alley! It's dark and mysterious, it looks like where the Malfoys would hang out, and brave fans may want to briefly pop in here, just to say they have seen it.
Hermione Granger would be in heaven at The National Library of France. Located in Paris, it holds numerous books and collections… though maybe not a restricted section holding books about Dark Magic. Nevertheless, it could have served as the filming location in these movies. Those ceilings alone remind us of Hogwarts, and it is easy to imagine robed students reading and studying here, as well as our three main characters sneaking here in the cloak of invisibility. There are many reasons to want to visit such an impressive place, and its similarity to spots in Harry Potter is just one of them.
The last locale on this list is a neat one, and it is called The Cauldron, a pub/cocktail bar/potions experience. It combines the magic of the Harry Potter universe with science, technology, and design. Guests get to take a class—with a real magic wand!—in order to mix up their own yummy and fun drinks. There is also one in London, so that is two chances in two spots for people to meet up with loved ones, act like their favorite characters, cast a couple of spells and enjoy a drink or two.