Harry Potter and the assorted franchises need no introduction at this stage. Starting out life as a series of books that debuted in 1997, the fanaticism around the series continued to grow, hitting fever-pitch upon the release of the latter few books, which were greeted with midnight vigils and worldwide sellouts.
Author J.K. Rowling then saw her creation expand into a series of popular films, toys, accompanying books, theme parks and most recently, a stage play, which develops Harry’s storyline into new generations of Potters. Yet, while the books are the cornerstone of the whole operation, it’s the films that captured imaginations anew, allowing fans of all ages to go inside Potter’s wizarding world in a way the books couldn’t.
Fortunately, even though the eight-film series takes place in a magical, fictional world, many of the shooting locations used for filming actually exist, and (even better) are open for a visit. Most of them can be found in and around the U.K., so can easily be incorporated as part of a bigger bucket list trip to the British Isles.
Check out BUCKiTDREAM to see if you can discover any other rabid Harry Potter fans who’ve visited the locations before, and get inspired by their magical tales of enchantment. Then keep that BUCKiTDREAM planner handy as we provide you with your very own Marauder’s Map to the best shooting locations from the Harry Potter film series!
Wander Through Christ Church, Oxford Despite what the name might suggest, Christ Church is not actually a church. It is, in fact, part of one of the most venerable institutions in England; Oxford College. Walking around Oxford city can inspire more than its fair share of Potter-esque feelings, with its medieval architecture and cobbled streets. But in Christ Church College, there are four actual shooting locations to visit (well, three and a half).
First is the top of the impressive grand stairway, utilized in The Sorcerer’s Stone. The crew returned to shoot some scenes at the bottom of the staircase for the next film, The Chamber of Secrets. Next, is the cloisters, where Hermione shows Harry his father’s Quidditch trophy. And finally, the splendor of the Great Hall. Although the crew didn’t actually shoot here, they were so impressed with its Gothic splendor that they recreated an almost perfect replica of it in their London studios for Hogwarts’ own Great Hall.
Address: Oxford OX1 2JD, UK
Ramble Around Durham Cathedral The majestic Durham Cathedral has been used for interior and exterior Hogwarts filming throughout the early films of the series. Located in the north of England, it’s easy to see why the production chose this building for the key location of the famous school of witchcraft and wizardry.
Most notably, Durham’s cloisters were transformed into the Hogwarts snow-covered quadrangle in The Sorcerer’s Stone. The Cathedral’s chapter house is also the site of Professor McGonagall’s Transfiguration class. Guided tours of the Cathedral are available daily; they’re not fully Potter-focused unfortunately, but they’ll ensure you see all the right sights!
Address: The College, Durham DH1 3EH, UK
Catch the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9¾ Alright, so the famous Platform 9¾ doesn’t actually exist in real life, but the Harry Potter crew has used London’s King’s Cross station in every film throughout the series. It’s the departing point of the Hogwarts Express, accessed by ramming your luggage trolley through a magical wall.
For filming, platforms 4 and 5 were renumbered as 9 and 10, but at the station today, you’ll find a plaque dedicated to Platform 9¾, complete with half a luggage cart vanishing into the wall! Perfect opportunity for an Instagram shot; don’t forget to share it to BUCKiTDREAM when you’ve caught the perfect snap!
Address: Kings Cross Station, Kings Cross, London N1 9AP, UK
Ride on the Hogwarts Express Not the actual one of course, but it might as well be; the old steam train that runs between Fort William and Glenfinnan passes over the majestic architecture of Glenfinnan viaduct, which was famously used in The Chamber of Secrets, when Harry and Ron miss the train and commandeer a flying car to bring them to Hogwarts. It’s also utilized in The Prisoner of Azkaban when the Hogwarts Express comes to a halt and Harry encounters a terrifying Dementor for the first time. Nearby Glenfinnan is the beautiful expanse of Loch Shiel, which features in the films many times as a stand-in for Hogwarts Lake.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, there are loads of Potter-based activities to engage in when you visit the U.K. But that’s not all that the British Isles has to offer! Check out The Ultimate Guide to Tracking Sherlock Holmes in London or The Gothic Splendor of Edinburgh for more exciting escapades in the U.K.’s capital, and make sure to share the tales of your magical exploits with the BUCKiTDREAM School of Travelcraft and Adventuring!