The owl with your Hogwarts invite may have lost its way, but that doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself entry into the magical world of Harry Potter.
In the enchanting city of London you’ll find many iconic spots from the Harry Potter books and movies. Most of Harry’s haunts in London are easily accessible; it’s just a case of knowing where to look. Consider this your Marauder’s Map.
So grab your cloak and get ready to glimpse life on the other side.
King’s Cross Station
All the best adventures begin at platform 9 and ¾, which is why we suggest you set off on your self-guided tour from here. King’s Cross Station itself is easy to find but from there, like any good wizard, you’ll have to use your powers of deduction to spot the secret platform.
Once it’s revealed itself, you can get a snap as you attempt to push a trolley through to Potter’s world, before dashing next door to purchase your own wand and cloak – you’ll need them for the remainder of the tour.
From King’s Cross head west to London Zoo, where you can practice your parseltongue in the same spot Harry did in the first movie. Although this isn’t the same zoo talked about in the book, it’s where the producers of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone filmed Harry becoming besties with a boa constrictor.
If reptiles make your blood run cold, you can instead opt to venture south to a spot that’s thought to be the inspiration behind Diagon Alley. Cecil Court is a narrow street twinkling with otherworldly shops that throw you back to another time, or perhaps another place.
Leaving shops like ‘The Witches Ball’ behind, walk a little further round to Piccadilly Circus. This is the busy tourist junction that Harry, Ron and Hermione find themselves in after apparating from Bill and Fleur’s wedding as they try to evade some unwelcome guests in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
Horse Guards Avenue
From dementors to London crowds, stay on the escape and seek out the quieter Horse Guards Avenue. This road holds one of the Ministry of Magic entrances you see in the movies. Unfortunately you’ll struggle to spot it now.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, wizards feign a call from nature in order to flush themselves inside wizarding HQ. The public toilets don’t actually exist, but you can see where the moviemakers placed them.
Great Scotland Yard
Swapping one call for another, visitors entering the Ministry do so via a phone box, like Harry does in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Producers placed the box on the corner of Scotland Place, so you’ll recognise the surroundings.
A slightly more traditional, but far less exciting mode of transport, Westminster tube station is where Mr Weasley struggled to get through those tricky ticket barriers. See if you have better luck than Ron’s dad!
If you’re all out of liquid luck, cross to the south side via Lambeth Bridge. This is the one the speedy Night Bus travels over in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Sticking to the same route, make a stop outside the Leaky Cauldron. It may not actually exist, but the fictional drinking hole was filmed here inside this market of fantastical food and bewitching bites. It’s worth visiting here for the food, Harry Potter or not.
Cross back to the north via the Millennium Bridge. Although very much still standing today, in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince the dementors do some serious damage.
St Paul’s Cathedral
If you manage to cross with your soul still intact, find sanctuary in St Paul’s Cathedral. The building itself isn’t in the books or films, but the winding staircase inside is. The looming cathedral holds the walkway to Hermione’s least favourite class, Divination, and Professor Trelawney’s hideout.
Once you’ve worked out your fate, see if it takes you to the film location for Gringotts. Seen in the first movie, The Exhibition Room inside Australia House is said to be incredibly grand and befitting of a bank, but unfortunately isn’t open to the public. You could always try working your magic with security to see if you can get a sneaky peak?
Lincoln’s Inn Fields
If you’re not as charming as you thought, run straight for Lincoln’s Inn Fields where 12 Grimauld Place will appear to those who have the magic touch. If you’re a mere muggle then you’ll only see the street where Sirius Black’s family home was set.
From here, fly over to the theatre to glimpse at a future no prophecy could have foreseen. The Palace Theatre has conjured up a stage show taking fans far into Harry’s future. Be warned though, tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child evaporate quite quickly. You need to get your name down for a show in about two years’ time, if rumours are to be believed.
Warner Bros Studio Tour
To complete a true HP tour of London, you have to visit the Watford studios where sets, costumes and artefacts from the movies are on display for you to revel in. Wander through the Grand Hall, test your balance on a broomstick and master the art of wand waving. When it all gets too mouth-wateringly good, stop by the café for a glug of butterbeer.
To reach the studios you can travel by train to Watford Junction where a shuttle bus will transport you the rest of the way, or you can book a bus from Baker Street or Victoria taking you direct to the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
And just a word of advice: it’s even more fun if you dress up.