There is arguably no other place where the magic of Harry Potter is more alive than in the city of London. From famous landmarks to hidden bars, train stations to spiral staircases, the world of Harry Potter can be enjoyed throughout the country. Read on to discover some of the magical locations used as filming locations and inspiration for Harry Potter in London.
May I start by saying I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I grew up reading the books and loved everything that came with the franchise. I still have a Hogwarts Castle play set in my wardrobe and the Icelandic version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on my shelf. Despite my career in the film industry, working in VFX, I still believe in the magic.
As my time as a local in London was drawing to a close, I embarked on a self-guided adventure to visit my favourite Harry Potter filming locations found throughout London. Many of these locations were part of my usual London life, others I sought out specifically. I didn’t make it to all I had planned so there are a few Harry Potter spots missing from this list (London Zoo, The Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). I’ll save those for my next trip.
1. St Pancras International as King’s Cross Exterior
St Pancras International is a beautiful red brick train station situated across the road from Kings Cross Station. The exterior of the Eurostar departure station doubles as the exterior for ‘Kings Cross Station’ in the films.
It is also where the Weasley’s Ford Anglia takes to the skies in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Upon solving the riddle that both locations really exist, I would often take a walk along Euston Road to marvel at the architecture and admire the customers entering the connecting hotel, St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London.
2. Piccadilly Circus
The world famous Piccadilly Circus is a very busy and popular spot in London. It was also a location featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 where Harry, Ron and Hermione flee the death eaters.
The name ‘Piccadilly Circus’ originates from a high, stiff, frilled collar worn in the 17th-Century named a Piccadil, and the Latin world for circular.
I love Piccadilly Circus and spent many mornings, afternoons and nights wandering from Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus.
3. Leadenhall Market as Diagon Alley
Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest markets in London, dating back to the 14th Century. It is a beautiful, covered market and home to a range of pubs and shops. The deep tones and stunning architecture was used as the entrance into Diagon Alley in some of films. You will also find the facade to Ollivander’s Wand Shop, but be prepared, Ollivander’s looks very different to what you are expecting!
The best time to visit the market is on a weekend as during this time the shops and restaurants are closed, allowing ample opportunities for photo shoots and uninterrupted wanders.
4. Australia House is Gringotts
It brings me much pride that the home to the Australian High Commission is in fact Gringotts, the Wizarding Bank. A world of goblins, treasure, chandeliers and dragons. As Australia House is a government building we cannot venture inside, but the building is still worth a visit as it is located in a central area close to Trafalgar Square.
We are first introduced to Gringotts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The interior scenes of Gringotts were filmed inside.
5. Westminster Tube Station
Westminster Tube Station is a very busy underground train station in London that serves the Jubilee, District and Circle lines. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry and Mr Weasley travel through the train station, and Mr Weasley is very confused by the ticket barriers!
I passed through this station a handful of times and was always blown away by how deep underground the many platforms lie. The station is directly opposite the road from the Elizabeth Tower which houses Big Ben, so it’s a great location for London site seeing.
6. St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is an iconic landmark that dominates the London skyline. If you decide to wander inside, take a look at the Dean’s Staircase. Constructed around 1710 by Sir Christopher Wren, the geometric staircase was used as the staircase to Professor Trelawney’s Divination class in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
I spent an afternoon wandering through St Paul’s Cathedral and up the staircase to the rooftop above. The staircase was one of the most beautiful I had ever seen! Unfortunately it is also one of the most difficult to climb (1161 steps in total), so I didn’t take any photos during the climb. Definitely worth the hike for the beautiful views of London once you reach the top!
7. The Thames and Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is an iconic symbol of London and one of the most famous and instantly recognisable structures in the world. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, members of the Order of the Phoenix swoop over London’s Tower Bridge and across the Thames on broomsticks.
Construction of Tower Bridge was completed in 1894 and took 8 years to build. The bridge features giant moveable roadways that lift up for passing ships. I spent many weekends wandering with a coffee in hand, observing passers by and strolling from one side to the other. I even saw it lift up to allow ships to pass by a few times.
8. Scotland Place
Scotland Place in Westminster is hidden amongst London’s government buildings and rightly so, as this was the filming location for the Ministry of Magic. The location is the intersection of Scotland Place and New Scotland Yard. In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Harry and Mr Weasley enter the Ministry of Magic through a phone box. Although the phone box was just a prop (it stood by the corner to the left of the wooden door) it is still a great location to visit to escape the hustle and bustle of Westminster.
9. Claremont Square is 12, Grimmauld Place
Claremont Square in Kings Cross was the setting for Number 12, Grimmauld Place. This was the home of Sirius Black and the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix & Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
The quiet street is only a ten minute walk from Kings Cross Station.
10. Millennium Bridge
The Millennium Bridge was the location for the big Death Eater chase sequence in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The pedestrian footbridge links St Paul’s Cathedral with the Tate Modern Museum. In the film it was ripped apart and tossed into the river!
In the book, it was actually the fictional Brockdale Bridge that was destroyed, as the Millenium Bridge was completed in 2000 and the books were set between 1991 – 1998.
I enjoyed an afternoon walk across the bridge and into the Tate Modern.
Inside the museum you will find a rooftop cafe where I treated myself to a coffee and scone with jam and cream. A lovely end to my Harry Potter in London sight seeing adventure.