London is one of my favorite cities in the world. I love the history, the neighborhoods, the pub culture, even the food. And I love that the city has ties to so many things that I love – including, of course, Harry Potter.
After I wrote a Harry Potter guide to Edinburgh, Scotland, earlier this year, I realized that I needed to write something similar for London. Because, while London doesn't have direct ties to author JK Rowling like Edinburgh does, the city nevertheless has LOTS of ties to the Harry Potter franchise, from the books to the movies to even the stage play.
In fact, I would say that London is probably the #1 place you should visit if you're a Harry Potter fan!
If you love Harry Potter like I do and are planning a trip to London anytime soon, then here are all the best Harry Potter things to do in London!
9 Harry Potter things to do in London
Whether it's Harry Potter filming locations, themed afternoon teas, fun photo ops, magical shopping, or full-blown immersion, you'll find it all in London.
1. Get a photo at Platform 9 3/4
The very first Harry Potter thing I did on my first trip to London back in 2012 was visit King's Cross Station to “find” Platform 9 3/4. Back then, the “platform” and its half-disappearing luggage cart would often move around the station; I found it near Platform 6.
These days, though, the fictional platform is a full-blown tourist attraction with proper line-ups, professional photographers, and even a gift shop! It's kitschy, sure, but also pretty fun.
Fun fact: King's Cross scenes in the first two Harry Potter movies were actually filmed at King's Cross! In the movies, though, Platform 9 3/4 was actually filmed between Platforms 4 and 5!
Where to find it: Platform 9 3/4 can be found inside the main part of King's Cross rail station (not the underground station, and not St. Pancras!). It's located before you enter any of the platforms, to the far left of the main electronic departures board. Just look for the line of people!
Tip for visiting: Go early in the morning or later in the evening (King's Cross is open from 5 a.m. to after 1 a.m.) to avoid long lines.
How much: If you want a professional photo taken, you'll have to pay (around £10) for one. But if you have a friend or someone else in line take your photo, it's free!
2. Cross the Millennium Bridge
London's South Bank is one of my favorite spots in the whole city, so I would tell you to visit even if it didn't have any ties to Harry Potter. But thankfully it does!
The Millennium Bridge, a pedestrian-only footbridge crossing the River Thames, probably looks familiar to movie fans. Most famously, it was the bridge that the Death Eaters destroyed at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
The bridge is still standing in real life, of course, and is one of my favorite spots to take photos along the South Bank.
Where to find it: The Millennium Bridge crosses the River Thames between the Tate Modern and St. Paul's Cathedral. Nearby Tube stations include Southwark, Blackfriars, Mansion House, Canon Street, and St. Paul's.
Tips for visiting: If you want a bird's-eye view of Millennium Bridge, head to the rooftop observation deck on top of the Tate Modern. It's free to visit!
How much: Free!
3. Look for the entrance to Diagon Alley
The magical Diagon Alley was sadly filmed on a set, but a couple real-world London locations were used in the movies as the Leaky Cauldron, the pub that contains the entrance to the wizard shopping street. The most recognizable one can be found at Leadenhall Market.
The covered Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest markets in London, and is worthy of a visit regardless of its Harry Potter ties. The market was largely redecorated in the 1990s, but actually dates all the way back to the 14th century!
The shop used in the first Harry Potter film as the Leaky Cauldron is actually an optician's shop. It can be found at 42 Bull’s Head Passage, and is still painted blue like in the movie.
Where to find it: The main entrance to the Leadenhall Market is on Gracechurch Street. The nearest Tube stops are Monument and Bank.
Tips for visiting: The Leadenhall Market today houses shops and restaurants, and is a very popular lunch spot for people working in London's financial district. I would recommend visiting on either a weekend, or outside of lunchtime hours during weekdays to avoid its busiest times.
How much: The market is free to visit and walk around.
Fun fact: In the Harry Potter books, the Leaky Cauldron is located on Charing Cross Road. In real life, Charing Cross Road is known for its unique second-hand bookshops.
4. Take a Harry Potter-themed walking tour
In order to see some of the above real-world locations in London plus others you'll recognize from the movies, consider going on a Harry Potter walking tour.
The most popular Harry Potter walking tour in London is the “Tour for Muggles,” which is a 2.5-hour tour that visits several London filming locations.
Where to find it: The Tour for Muggles runs twice per day Tuesday-Sunday, and meets near the London Bridge Tube station.
How much: This particular tour costs £16 ($21 USD). There are other Harry Potter walking tours that run anywhere from $10-$50 per person.
5. Go to a Harry Potter-themed afternoon tea
I'm kind of obsessed with going to themed afternoon teas in London, and one of the best is The Potion Room tea at Cutter & Squidge in London's Soho neighborhood.
This isn't your average afternoon tea experience. Yes, you'll eat tiny sandwiches and pastries and drink tea; but you'll do it in an underground Potions classroom while sitting at desks and wearing wizard robes!
The Potion Room is a fully immersive tea experience, with spells to cast and potions to mix. It's excellent value for the experience, and is an absolute must-do if you're a big Harry Potter fan.
Where to find it: Cutter & Squidge bakery at 20 Brewer St, Soho, London. The nearest Tube station is Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus.
Tips for visiting: You definitely want to book in advance, as this is a very popular afternoon tea experience.
How much: Prices are £49.50 for adults and £39.50 for kids.
If themed drinks are your jam, then you also might want to check out Harry Potter-themed cocktail bars and classes like one at The Cauldron.
6. Spend the day at the Warner Bros. Studios
While there's no official “Harry Potter World” in London (you'll have to go to Orlando for that!), the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is pretty darn close.
The Harry Potter movies were largely shot in studios in Leavesden, and those studios have now been transformed into a museum-like experience for fans. The studio tour is jam-packed with actual film sets, costumes, props, concept art, and interactive experiences that capture the magic of the Harry Potter world.
It's difficult to put into words just how fantastic the Making of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London really is. Everything is ridiculously well organized, and the whole experience will give you a new appreciation for the work and talent that go into movies like this.
Highlights of the studio tour include walking through the actual sets for the Great Hall, Hogwarts Express, Gringotts, and Diagon Alley; getting up-close to props and costumes; exploring places like the Forbidden Forest; and taking part in interactive photo ops.
If you just like Harry Potter, you're going to have fun. If you love Harry Potter, expect to maybe cry once or twice.
Where to find it: Studio Tour Dr, Watford. The studios are open 7 days a week from 8:30 am-10 pm. Leavesden is about an hour from central London.
Tips for visiting: Book your tickets well in advance! And consider booking ones that include transport from central London – otherwise you'll need a car of your own or to hire a taxi to get there. If you self-drive, you still need to book timed tickets in advance. And don't assume you can make it through the Harry Potter studio tour in any less than 3-4 hours. This requires at least half a day, if not longer!
Extra tip: There's a cafe halfway through the studio tour. The food is actually pretty good and not ridiculously priced, so it's fine to plan to have lunch here. (You can also get butterbeer here!)
My tour pick: Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour with Transfer
How much: Tickets alone start at £47 ($60 USD), but that doesn't include transport. Ticket + transport packages usually run $100-$120.
7. Shop for Harry Potter goodies
London has fully embraced its Harry Potter ties, meaning you can find House sweaters, stuffed owls, and wands for purchase at several different places. The largest themed gift shops are at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, but you can also find Harry Potter shops at King's Cross Station and most of London's airports.
My top pick for shopping, though? The House of MinaLima shop in Soho. MinaLima comprises Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina, the graphic design team responsible for a lot of visual design within the wizarding world. Their shop in Soho is multiple floors of magic, with things like posters, maps, wallpaper, and more on display and for sale.
Where to find it: Various locations. House of MinaLima is located at 26 Greek St. in Soho; the closest Tube stations are Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road.
Tip for visiting: The House of MinaLima is multi-level, and you can visit them all (even the museum-style design galleries) for free.
If you have a Harry Potter uber-fan in your life, you can make their dreams come true by purchasing a personalized Hogwarts acceptance letter for them from MinaLima! The downside is that these prop replicas cost nearly £1500…
8. Stay in a Harry Potter-themed hotel room
I celebrated a birthday on my most recent trip to London, and decided that the occasion was worthy of a magical splurge. I booked at night in one of the “Wizard Chamber” rooms at the Georgian House Hotel.
The Georgian House has a few of these Potter-themed rooms; some suitable for a couple or solo traveler, and others made to accommodate families. I booked a smaller room, and was delighted by all the magical touches like the Harry Potter audiobooks playing in the hallway, the themed bed hangings, and Horcrux coffee mugs.
In the morning, I even got a special wizard-themed English breakfast in the Georgian House's excellent restaurant.
Where to find it: The hotel is located at 35-39 St. Georges Drive, London, within walking distance of Victoria Station.
Tips for visiting: The Georgian House has regular, non-themed hotel rooms, too, so if you want one of the Wizard Chamber rooms (or similar Enchanted Chamber rooms), you'll need to make sure you specifically book it. (You can book a specific room on Booking.com.)
How much: Wizard Chamber rooms are usually $350-$450 per night, with the larger rooms being slightly more expensive. Breakfast and wifi are included in the rate.
9. See Cursed Child
Lastly, if you have the time and money, you can still see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on stage in London. The play, co-written by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, debuted in London's West End theater district in 2016. The show is still running at the Palace Theater in Soho.
The production is presented in two separate parts, which you can either see on the same day, or on consecutive evenings – good to know, since this play requires more of a time investment than most other West End shows.
Where to find it: The Palace Theater, 113 Shaftesbury Ave, Soho. The nearest Tube station is either Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road. (The theater is right around the corner from the House of MinaLima!)
Tips for going: You definitely still need to buy tickets in advance, but they're not as difficult to come by as they used to be. You can buy tickets online.
How much: Tickets are anywhere from £30-£160 for both parts.
Have more time? Take a day trip
If you have more time in London and want to fit in even MORE Harry Potter goodness, there are several day trips you can take, mostly to filming locations.
The ones I'd most recommend include:
1. Day trip to Oxford
Oxford would be worth visiting even if it had zero ties to our favorite Boy Wizard, but luckily for the purposes of this post it has several ties!
The dining hall at Oxford's Christ Church College is said to have inspired Hogwarts' Great Hall. Walking beside the long tables here, you really do expect to look up and see Dumbledore at the head table. (I also wouldn't be surprised if Hogwarts' talking paintings weren't somewhat inspired by this room, too!)
Several sites around Oxford were also used during filming of multiple Harry Potter movies, including Duke Humfrey’s Library, The Divinity School, New Colleges' cloisters and courtyard, and the Bodley Tower staircase and cloisters at Christ Church College.
How to see it: Getting to Oxford from London is pretty easy; it's only about an hour via train from either London Paddington or London Marylebone. I would suggest taking the train from London and then booking a Harry Potter walking tour of Oxford to see all the important spots. (And then spend some extra time exploring Oxford – it's a lovely city!) Alternatively, you can add an Oxford extension on to your Warner Bros. Studio tour (book here).
2. Day trip to the Cotswolds / Lacock
The Cotswolds are a delightful part of the English countryside known for medieval villages and thatched-roof houses. It's cliche to describe something as looking as if it was “lifted right out of a fairytale,” but many of the Cotswolds villages look just like that.
One of these villages, Lacock, was used to film several Harry Potter scenes. Most famously, Lacock Abbey stood in for Hogwarts several times; they shot corridor and classroom scenes inside, and also the Mirror of Erised scenes in the first film.
How to see it: The best way to explore the Cotswolds is to self-drive. There are tours from London that explore the area (like this one), but not all of them will include a stop in Lacock. If you self-drive, you could also make a detour to visit Gloucester Cathedral, which was also used to film Hogwarts scenes in the Harry Potter movies.
Which Harry Potter sites in London would you most want to visit?
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