It’s safe to say that I’m a little bit of a Harry Potter geek. Okay, I’m a lot of a Harry Potter geek. I’ve read the books countless times, I can quote all the films, I have a wardrobe full of HP clothes, I’ve been sorted into my house on Pottermore (I got Hufflepuff. I wasn’t happy), and I love playing with my wand. No that isn’t a euphemism, that’s just how much of a geek I am that I actually have a magic wand. And it’s obviously the Elder Wand because I love you Dumbley-dore.
If I’ve already completely lost you and you’re not a fellow Potterhead then I’m afraid we can’t be friends and I will use said wand against you. But for you Muggles who do often dream of living in the Harry Potter fantasy world, there are plenty of places you can visit to pretend it’s real (it totally is real – I got my Hogwarts acceptance letter and everything).
So for all you Potterheads out there, here are some of the best locations around the world that really bring the stories we all know and love to life.
Warner Bros Studio Tour, Leavesden, Watford
First is the best of them all! The Warner Bros Studio Tour is where all the magic of the Harry Potter world was created. You could spend hours exploring the studio, like I always do, that was home to the cast and crew for over 10 years and where the majority of the movies were actually created and filmed. See how the costumes, special effects and set designs were made, learn how to fly a broomstick, and wander through the actual – yes, the actual – Diagon Alley.
Don’t judge me for having already been a few times – there’s so much to explore that I learn something new each time I go back, and new additions like the Hogwarts Express and butterbeer ice cream (which is amazing by the way) always keep me coming back for more.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando
To say I’m jealous of anyone who has been here is a slight understatement. My mum and sister visited a couple of years ago without me (how dare they!) and they can guarantee that the magic truly comes alive here. With a snowy Hogsmeade village to explore, the Hogs Head pub for a jug of butterbeer, a full size Hogwarts to amaze visitors, and flying dragon rollercoasters, it looks better than Disney if that’s even possible.
Christ Church College, Oxford
Oxford seems to be home to a fair few locations from the films many of which can be found in the College. The staircase where McGonagall greets new students in The Philosopher’s Stone, the courtyard and cloisters where students hang around in The Goblet of Fire, and the College’s Great Hall that was the inspiration behind Hogwarts even greater hall.
Platform 9 ¾, King’s Cross Station, London
This is where Harry’s journey into the wizarding world truly begins, when he runs through a wall between platforms 9 and 10 at King’s Cross Station leaving the Muggle world behind. While you might not be able to actually run through the wall yourself (trust me, I’ve tried, it hurts), you can come pretty close by getting a pic snapped pushing your luggage trolley through the wall.
Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland
If you want to take a ride on the real life Hogwarts Express, then take a trip on the Jacobite steam train which travels through some of Scotland’s most scenic landscapes. And of course hang your head out the window as you pass over the viaduct so you can imagine you are Harry or Ron flying their Ford Anglia alongside the train.
College of Wizardry, Poland
Don your cape, get sorted into your house, attend magical classes, learn how to use a wand and cast spells on this four day wizardry school in Czocha Castle in Poland. I’m signing up straight away!
Georgian House Hotel, London
If you’re as big a Potterhead as me then you will want to stay in one of the Harry Potter themed chambers at this hotel at least once in your life, complete with four poster beds, cauldrons and potion bottles. While you’re there make a Potter-crazy weekend of it by going on a Muggle Tour of London to explore some more of the filming locations around the city.
Bodleian Library, Oxford
Another Oxford location is the extremely grand Bodleian Library. The Divinity School with its beautiful gothic ceiling is where Madam Pomfrey would cure injured patients in Hogwarts hospital wing, and walking through the Duke Humfrey Library, where the Hogwarts library was set, made me feel like I was going to stumble upon Hermione at any moment with her head buried in a book.
Reptile House, London Zoo
As I’m a volunteer at London Zoo, I often get to see the place where Harry first realised he had magical powers with his ability to talk to snakes. Although that particular boa constrictor doesn’t live at the zoo (because it escaped in the film of course), I love spotting little kids, and sometimes adults, as they attempt talking to the other snakes. I wouldn’t be so happy if a similar incident occurred though and I had to be the one to catch the escaped snake!
Quidditch World Cup, USA
Teams from all over the world gather together annually for the Quidditch World Cup, a sport that started in the USA combining elements of rugby, dodgeball, tag and, of course, Quidditch. Broomsticks are indeed involved but without the flying. Sounds ridiculously crazy and I’m sure I’ll never fully understand the rules but this is something that I just have to see.
Have you visited any other magical Harry Potter locations or experiences around the world? Let me know which is your favourite in the comments below or at: