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Put on some comfy shoes, folks – we’re going to do a Harry Potter walking tour of London that will make you feel 100% like you just stepped into one of the movies.
Okay, maybe not 100%, but at least 56%.
London is a magical place for Harry Potter fans.
In fact, I’d argue that there are few destinations that have so many cool Potter-related places.
As someone who curls up on the couch every year to watch the movies and has obsessively read the books, I can’t tell you how exciting it was to create this Harry Potter tour of London.
The first time I did it was for “research reasons”, but by the fifth time I can’t pretend it was just for fun.
Harry Potter tour starts now …
We start at Liverpool Street Station
Take the exit “Bishopsgate” and turn right. Walk about 500 m until you reach Leadenhall Market on your left.
Diagon Alley / Leaky Cauldron 1
Leadenhall Market has been an indoor market since the early 1800s and served as the setting for Diagon Alley and Leaky Cauldron 1. The exact entrance is located at 42 Bulls Head passageway.
Walk through the market hall toward Gracechurch Street, turn left and continue. Continue until you reach Monument Station. Walk along King William Street towards London Bridge. Cross the Thames and you will reach Borough Market on your right.
Borough Market, 7A Stoney Street
Diagon Alley / Leaky Cauldron 2
Stoney Street next to Borough Market is the second location that serves as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron (the first was in Bull’s Head Passage next to Leadenhall Market, which we’ve already seen).
Go under the Stoney Street railroad bridge and check out what is now the entrance to Taco’s El Pastor – you’ll have found it! The entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and the next stop on our free Harry Potter tour of London.
The Prisoner of Azkaban is the third film in the Harry Potter series and the first film directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who created a much darker and dirtier world to reflect the growing evil in the books.
The bright colors of Leadenhall Market are gone, and the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron on Stoney Street is made of the grimy brickwork of Victorian railroad arches.
Today, it looks a little nicer thanks to El Pastor’s colorful artwork – but if you imagine standing here without art or color, you’ll understand why it was the perfect spot for the Leaky Cauldron.
The Knight Bus drops Harry off here after squeezing through the narrow gap between two other buses, nearly hitting an old lady crossing the street.
From there, walk down Stoney Street and turn left onto Clink Street. Pass the Clink Prison Museum and you will come to Thames Walk. Stroll along until you reach the Tate Modern Gallery and the Millennium Bridge.
Attack of the Death Eaters
The Millennium Bridge was the scene of the Death Eaters attack. During the attack, the bridge was completely destroyed. Watch out in case one of them is still around! It is also the setting for the famous broom fight in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
The name might give it away, but the Millennium Bridge was built to celebrate the millennium in London.
Things didn’t quite go to plan, however – when the bridge opened in 2000, it became the subject of ridicule because it wobbled so much that it was thought to be structurally unsafe – and it knocked over some pedestrians trying to cross it).
To make a long story short, the bridge had to be closed for two years to make it safe for public traffic again.
Cross the bridge and walk up the Thames Path. Keep left towards the Temple subway station. From there, go right, up the stairs and you’ll reach Arundel Street. There you will find Australia House.
Australia House (Botschaft)
Gringotts, the wizard’s bank
The Australian Embassy in all its architectural glory was used as the wizard’s bench in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The film was shot inside and outside the embassy.
Australia House is the longest continuously used diplomatic mission of the United Kingdom – the exterior was built of marble supplied from Australia
Inside, it’s no less impressive – no wonder the creators wanted to use it as a filming location for the series.
Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to enter the building.
If you take the tour on a weekday, you might get a glimpse inside and see a section of the magnificent building that serves as the backdrop for the trio’s antics in both Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as Gringotts and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.
Still, it’s not quite the same, because in the movies it was the exhibition hall, not the lobby.
From there, head right toward Kingsway and then right on Sardinia Street to Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Number 12 Grimmauld Place 1
This wonderful place was the inspiration for number 12, which of course can’t be seen by Muggles. But if you take a look at number 13, you might have an idea where number 12 is.
From Lincoln Fields, turn left onto Remnant Street and go straight toward Gate Street. You’ll rejoin Kingsway and walk all the way to Holborn tube station. Take the subway to Piccadilly Circus – Shaftsbury Avenue exit. Alternatively, you can walk, which only takes about 25 minutes.
On the run from the Death Eaters after Bill and Fleur’s wedding in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Piccadilly Circus is terrifying enough at the best of times. The thronging crowds and neon lights are a recipe guaranteed to take your breath away.
Imagine how stressful it would be if you apparated there, only to be nearly run over by a bus and then chased by Death Eaters who want to kill you.
Sound familiar? That’s exactly what happens to Harry, Hermione, and Ron in Deathly Hallows Part I.
They apparate into the bright lights and bustling atmosphere of Piccadilly Circus and go to a café where they have a fight with two Death Eaters.
Swing by Piccadilly Circus, but keep your eyes open – you never know who’s on your tail.
Turn left into Cecil Court and then straight ahead into St Martins Lane. At the end, turn left and take the first right until you reach Goodwin’s Court. It’s a lot easier to find than it sounds, don’t worry.
Cecil Court und Goodwin’s Court
The inspiration or the real Diagon Alley?
The small alley leading to Cecil Court is the real Diagon Alley for many Harry Potter fans. Here you’ll find lots of little stores from the Victorian era and also a bookstore that specializes in magic!
Cecil Court is slightly larger and much better known than Goodwin’s Court, and is right off Charing Cross Road – the place J.K. Rowling chose as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in the books.
Charing Cross Road appears a few times in the books, such as when Harry and Hagrid walk down the road in Philosopher’s Stone or when the Knight Bus makes a detour here in The Prisoner of Azkaban.
Rowling herself said, “Charing Cross Road is famous for its bookstores… So I wanted it to be the place where initiates go to enter another world.” Subtle.
But back to Cecil Court – the courtyard is lined with all manner of second-hand bookshops and occult booksellers, all housed behind quaint Victorian store fronts that promise a passage into another world.
In other words, it’s right up Diagon Alley’s alley. I always expect to find Ollivander’s among the stores – you can imagine why.
Then it’s back to St Martin’s Lane, past Charing Cross towards Trafalgar Square.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter flies over Trafalgar Square the aerial flight with the Death Eaters. The premiere of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2” was also shown. Turn into Whitehall from there and go to the former Great Scotland Yard / Scotland Place Building.
Great Scotland Yard
The Ministry of Magic
Stroll to Great Scotland Yard to find the two entrances to the Ministry of Magic (the Muggle and Wizard versions).
Great Scotland Yard actually looks quite innocuous.
There are some very nice buildings and it’s close to Whitehall, the heart of British government – 10 Downing Street is right next to Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament are at the other end.
Nothing incredible to see here…right?
Great Scotland Yard was used to represent the heart of the wizarding world – the Ministry of Magic – reflecting the area’s importance in the real world.
Remember in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Arthur Weasley brings Harry to the Ministry for his hearing on underage wizarding. You enter the Ministry through a red phone booth under a stone archway.
Now, you have to imagine the phone booth and the archway near the intersection at Scotland Place – do that and voila – you have the entrance to the Ministry of Magic.
The fake bridge is a copy of the bridge around the corner at Scotland Place, created with CGI to cover up some of the ugly doorways of the buildings in the scene.
Keep walking down Whitehall until you reach Downing Street.
Downing Street Nummer 10
You can’t enter Downing Street, but you can take a look through the gate to get an idea of where Harry and the Prime Minister met in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Then walk on to Westminster Station.
Westminster Tube Station
The underground station of the Ministry of Magic.
Go down the stairs and see the place where Harry and Mr. Weasley met in “Harry and the Order of the Phoenix” to enter the Ministry. Mr. Weasley had trouble with the barriers, as many people still do these days. From there, take the subway to Angel Station. Get off on the left there and walk towards Pentonville Road. Walk down Pentonville Road until you reach Mylne Street and see Claremont Square at the end.
23 – 29 Claremont Square
No. 12 Grimmauld Place 2
The other location of No. 12 Grimmauld Place. Here you will see the Black family home that Harry inherits from the Order of the Phoenix. This place is the filming location for “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
By now, the Muggles who live there have gotten used to the fact that the city made a mistake by leaving out the number 12. The members of the Order of the Phoenix, however, know better. Now go back to Pentonville Road, turn left and walk to King’s Cross station, where you will find the famous Platform 9 ¾.
Kings Cross Plattform 9 ¾
A must-see for all Harry Potter fans! The platform for the Hogwarts Express and the setting for the final installment of the Harry Potter series!
King’s Cross station is where the Hogwarts Express leaves from in the books and movies.
Aside from dreaming about actually riding the train to Hogwarts, there are three things you definitely can’t miss in the station.
The first is the spot between platforms 4 and 5, where track 9 ¾ should actually be. However, there really isn’t much to see here.
Much more exciting is the carriage that is half-walled into the wall, waiting for you to take a picture of it. It’s next to the Harry Potter store, where you can buy your own wand.
Importantly – if you’re not there first thing in the morning, you’ll probably have to wait in line. And you’ll have to do it for hours.
I’m not saying it’s not worth it, but better safe than sorry.
If you plan to visit the Harry Potter Studios in Leavesden, be sure not to stand in line at King’s Cross. There are several places in the studios where you can take the same shot and there are no queues. You’re welcome ;-).
You love Harry Potter? You should have that on your radar too
I didn’t visit these locations as part of the tour, but you should have them on your radar if you want to discover more Harry Potter locations in London.
Warner Brothers Studio Tour
The Harry Potter Studio Tour* at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden was where much of the magic behind the films was created.
Seeing the sets and props for real, walking through Diagon Alley and entering all the rooms at Hogwarts – it’s just awesome.
I know the tickets are pretty expensive and you have to book well in advance, but it’s totally worth it. Secure your Harry Potter Studio Tour* tickets here.
London Zoo’s Reptile House
Ever had the sneaking suspicion that maybe, just maybe, you could speak Parseltongue?
There’s no better place to test that theory than the Reptile House at ZSL London Zoo*… also known as the place where Harry first speaks Parseltongue and frees a snake.
As you do.
Cutter and Sqidge – The Harry Potter Afternoon Tea in London
It should be obvious by now that there are plenty of Harry Potter-inspired experiences in London. But few will appeal to your stomach as much as the delicious Harry Potter Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge. Afternoon tea has always been good in London, but when you add some drinkable and edible potions, it gets that much better.