I first read a Harry Potter novel while I was dating my husband. I remember a conversation in which we dreamed of a future where we could share this story with our children. Fast forward to the future and I not only have one kid, I have three and they are growing up. They are getting so old that they have read all the Harry Potter novels and seen all the movies. Since time is going by so fast, we decided to take them on a trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom. We let our Potter penchant lead us to some themed sites on our way. Here are the sites the movies and books inspired us to see as we chased Harry Potter through the British Isle. I have also included in my list a couple that we missed, but would love to see in the future.
The Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin
Although the actual library used in the filming of Harry Potter is located in Cambridge, England, this libraty is nicknamed the “Harry Potter Library” because it looks so much like it. We loved our time we spent here during our 24 Hours in Dublin.
Also in the library is the ancient copy of the Gospel, The Book of Kells. Kids especially love researching the places we were headed. One of the best things they found was this Book of Kells Worksheet that we completed before our trip.
The Cliffs of Moher
One of the prettiest scenes from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince happens when Professor Dumbledore takes Harry to the Cliffs of Moher. We did not make it here, but I plan to make a future road trip in Ireland and this is a must stop for us!
This is the ultimate Harry Potter fan stop while visiting England. This is the studio where all the movies were primarily shot. Most of the costumes and sets are still here. Not only that, but it will also be of interest to any person who is intrigued by any aspect of movie making. This is simply a really cool place and worth your time whilst you are around London. Since it is about an hour outside the city, we actually planned our London hotel stay and rental car drop off to facilitate our visit here. You can read about our visit in Potterphile Bucket List: Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour, London.
King’s Cross Station
The Platform 9 3/4 set is in the studio tours, but if you are in London, you can stop at the real King’s Cross Station where you can pay to get a picture taken on the platform. You can also visit nearby St. Pancras International Station, which is what you see in the station’s exterior shots.
So many places at Oxford College, about an hour outside of London, were locations or inspiration for the Harry Potter movies. Christ Church‘s great hall and Great Staircase inspired the film’s sets, Duke Humfrey’s Library is where the restricted library’s scenes were shot and the Divinity School was the set of the infirmary.
London is ubiquitous throughout the films and you will recognize many sights from the movie, such as the London Eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, even the Millennium Bridge over the River Thames, which gets destroyed at the end of The Half Blood Prince.
The Town of Bracknell
This is the real town used to represent the fictional town of Little Whinging on a street called Picket Close. The house set used in the film is on the studio lot and is part of the tour.
Here you can visit the Reptile House where Harry first realized that he could speak parseltongue, a glimpse into his wizarding future.
- The Elephant House– The author of Harry Potter wrote much of her first two novels in this cafe.Be sure to check out the bathroom graffiti which is an effigy to the role Harry Potter novels play in people’s lives. I actually found it quite inspiring.
- Greyfriar’s Kirkyard– This graveyard is beautiful and contains a lot of interesting history, including the endearing story of Bobby, the dog who sat on his owner’s grave for 14 years after his death. It also was an inspiration for Rowling as highlighted in Wandering McGee’s article.
- St. Giles Cathedral- The gothic style of this cathedral and its buttresses were the inspiration for Hogwart’s School.
- Edinburgh Castle- Undoubtedly an inspiration for Hogwarts, the castle’s position rules over the city. Inside you will find crests and swords which appear distinctly Gryffindor.
And last, but not least, a drive through the Scottish Highlands will bring to life the railways on which the Hogwarts Express whisked the students to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If you visit Glencoe around the bottom of Clachaig Gully, you will also recognize the setting of Hagrid’s Hut
What a great trip we had! We spent family time together. We saw in real life things that we had only read about- real life experiences of a love that we all share for the story of Harry Potter. Time is going by so quickly and I am so thankful for these experiences.
I’d love to hear from you: Why do you love Harry Potter?
You can take this tour from a house elf’s perspective at Wayfaring Views’ Dobby’s Tour of the UK.