The Harry Potter Guide to London
Any Potterhead knows that London is one of the most iconic locations in the Wizarding World - both in fiction and IRL. Having spent several years in the UK capital, I’m pretty clued up on all the magical spots to know about - both those well-known, and those so hidden they’re practically covered in an invisibility cloak.
Let me talk you through all the places you need to visit, split into categories depending on what you’re in the mood for. Every title links out to a company's/location's homepage. Some things on this list will need to be booked in advanced as they sell out quick, so click on what you're interesting in and see what times and dates are available.
You can also find all these locations in the interactive Google map below to sort out travel around London, so get planning for your Potter week ahead!
All the muggles who go to London will likely flock to Kings Cross station to get that iconic photo in front of the Platform 9 ¾ wall. If you’ve never been to London before, you don’t have to buy a train ticket to get through the barriers. This little photo-op is right on the main concourse. Just queue up, choose your house scarf, get your professional photo (and get a mate to take a mobile snap at the same time) and voila!
One surefire way to learn more about the films - and see some of the iconic London landmarks - is to go on a walking tour of the city. I’ve personally been on one with Brit Movie Tours, and I learnt so much about the filming locations for the Ministry of Magic entrance, what set was superimposed in and much more. Some of these tours even split you into houses to gain points on questions you get right. Unfortunately, you don’t get the real house cup at the end. Boo.
If you’d prefer a more DYI approach of seeing filming locations, many are still pretty easy to find. Leadenhall Market near Bank station was one of the inspirations for Diagon Alley, and includes a few independent sellers with bonus Potter merch. The Millennium Bridge is also a famous location from the Half-Blood Prince - and you can swing by St Pauls and the Tate Modern whilst you’re there (or send your travelling companions there whilst you pretend to be a Death Eater running across the bridge).
If you’re into your art and design, then be sure to hit up the shop that includes some of the original prints and small set pieces from the films. Each floor in this wonky house acts as a little room of magical displays, so you’ll get plenty to see. It’s free to enter - and it has some seriously Instagrammable spots (providing it’s not too filled with wizards and witches).
No visit to Kings Cross would be complete without a peruse around the accompanying store. With merch for all houses and exclusive apparel (including the infamous ‘H’ and ‘R’ jumpers from Philosopher’s Stone which I just adore) you’ll have to hold on tight to your purse strings to avoid spending too much in this staple of Potter shopping.
One of the newer wizarding shops on the block, House of Spells, is a stone’s throw away from the Palace Theatre where the official play is, and has everything any die hard Harry Potter fan would dream of. Even just the interior is worth going for - you'll feel like you've just stepped into the corridors of Hogwarts.
Head on down to Oxford Street and you’ll find the biggest Primark in the city. On the ground floor is an entire section dedicated to Harry Potter merchandise. T-shirts, PJs, duvets, bags, socks, jewellery and EVEN more are available across all houses. Plus - as it’s Primark - it’s all super cheap. Even just some spare change will get you a magical souvenir here.
Looking for all the replicas you can find? Be sure to pop into The Noble Collection in Covent Garden, a high-end store dedicated to selling magical items that are exactly as you see them in Harry Potter films. From wands, to broomsticks, to Horcruxes and Hallows, this is the type of place to invest in something truly special.
FOOD & DRINK
Arguably one of my favourite geeky places in London overall - The Cauldron is a magical cocktail making experience that will transport you to another world. You get to wear a robe, use a wand and execute tricks to mix your ‘potions’ (AKA cocktails), combining science with fantasy. Not got time for a full cocktail experience? Go for a quick drink at The Blind Phoenix, a wizarding speakeasy by the same company.
Afternoon tea at Cutter & Squidge is the definition of treat yo’self for Potterheads. At nearly £50, it’s not exactly a bargain. However, for that price you get ‘edible potions’ (welcome drinks), a selection of sandwiches, pie, Yorkshire pudding, sweet treats, hot drinks and pumpkin juice. You’ll feel like you’ve just sat down to tuck into a Great Hall feast.
Soak up a few butterbeers and firewhiskeys (well, beer and spirits) at this Southwark pub which hosts weekly pop quizzes all about Harry Potter. Each night is split into house themes, and you can compete twice a month. The same company also does quizzes for Friends, Gavin and Stacey and Sherlock.
Get something you can take on your broom (or the tube, whatever) with a classic bag of British sweets from Hardys. Whilst not exclusively Harry Potter, you can be sure to pick up all the types of confectionery that you’d find in Honeydukes - plus a whole feast more of delicious chocolates, jellies and more to quench any sweet tooth tendencies. And as a bonus, there's multiple shops dotted around LDN.
For a full day out, get a return ticket to Watford Junction and head over to the official studio tour to see some of the official set and props from the films. With numerous cafes and restaurants and a whole section dedicated to all the merch under the sun, you could spend hours at this place. But seriously, forgoing this spot on a Harry Potter dedicated trip should be worth a one-way ticket to Azkaban.
See the official Harry Potter play spin-off in its original home of the Palace Theatre. Seats often sell out months in advance, but if you’re in London during the middle of the week, there is sometimes the odd golden ticket going spare. With two parts to see, you’ll also have time to peruse the gift shop and buy a programme, or some specific Cursed Child merch which you’ll be hard pushed to find elsewhere.
If you're on a group trip, then one activity sure to get your brain ticking is a wizarding escape room. Enigma Quests near Liverpool Treat has plenty of puzzles and traps to solve. Having solved an escape room before, my advice is to bring someone who's good at Maths and logic - your transfiguration knowledge won't be any use here unfortunately.
Here’s a little bonus feature. If you never want to leave your wizarding bubble, the book yourself into a magical accommodation at the Georgian House Hotel. Adorned beds that have a striking resemblance to those in the Gryffindor Boys Dormitory, trunks, medieval decor and a whole library of HP films to rent for a cosy night in, this is the ultimate decadence for any fan.
Did you enjoy this Potterhead guide to London? If so let me know in the comments below - and also feel free to request any other geeky guides to the city!