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Portraits hang on the wood panelled walls of Christ Church Hall, Oxford

Top 7 Harry Potter Filming Locations Blog

If you've seen the Harry Potter films, you'll almost certainly have been impressed by the gorgeous scenery and stunning locations.  All 8 of the movies were shot at various sites throughout the UK, but here are our top 7 favourite filming locations in Scotland and England, where the movie-makers brought Hogwarts Castle, the Hogwarts Express and the rest of the Harry Potter world to life.

Alnwick Castle

Visitors make their way to enter Alnwick Castle through the Portcullis Gate

The filmmakers created Hogwarts Castle on-screen using some serious technical magic to blend shots taken at various historic buildings.  Our favourite has to be the magnificent 11th century medieval Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, where outdoor scenes for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone were filmed in autumn of 2000, and for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the following year.

Man rides a broomstick at Alnwick Castle

Harry and his fellow students learned to fly broomsticks with Madam Hooch in the courtyards here, and it's also where Harry mastered the rules of Quidditch and played his first game, and memorably where Harry and Ron crash-landed the Weasley's flying car!  Hogwarts students and staff were regularly seen going about their activities in the castle grounds, or walking through the Lion Arch out of Hogwarts towards Hagrid's cabin and the Forbidden Forest.   

This is one of the most iconic Harry Potter filming locations, and not only can you visit the castle but you can take broomstick flying lessons for yourself! We think it's fair to say that Alnwick is as close as it gets to the real Harry Potter Castle, but you should also check out beautiful Durham Cathedral, where Professor McGonagall's classroom was filmed in the Chapter House, and 7th Century Gloucester Cathedral, where many of the corridor shots were shot in the ornate cloisters and where Moaning Myrtle flooded the toilet. 

Oxford University

 This venerable University is the oldest in the English speaking world.  Its beautiful buildings were used for many of the most striking Harry Potter filming locations in England, standing in for various parts of Hogwarts Castle.

Wood panelled Christ Church Hall with tables set for dinner

Christ Church, Oxford

The Tudor hall here was the inspiration for the Hogwarts' Great Hall set, which the filmmakers created at Warner Bros studios in Leavesden, just outside London.  

No actual filming took place in the Christ Church Hall itself, but the 16th century stone staircase leading to it can be recognised as the area Harry and the rest of the first-year students pass through in The Philosopher's Stone, as they're greeted by Professor McGonagall and enter the Hogwarts' Great Hall for the first time.

Looking down towards the reading desks in the Bodleian Library, Oxford

New College, Oxford

The beautiful courtyard of the New College appears in the scenes in Goblet of Fire when the students are teasing Harry with their 'Potter Stinks' badges, and its where Malfoy sat on the famous enormous oak tree and was magicked into a ferret by Mad Eye Moody!  

The Bodleian Library, Oxford

The magnificent Bodleian Library provided filming locations for 3 of the Harry Potter films.  Duke Humfrey's Library was used as the Hogwarts' library, where Hermione is often seen reading.  The English Gothic Room of the Divinity School, dating from 1488 and the oldest teaching room at the University stood in for the Hogwarts Infirmary, for example in the scene where Ron recovers after being poisoned in The Half Blood Prince.

Lacock Village and Abbey

This 13th-century abbey in Wiltshire and the pretty nearby village were used extensively for Harry Potter filming locations in England.  

Intricate carvings are seen in The Cloisters of Lacock Abbey

In The Philosopher's Stone, the village of Godric's Hollow and Godric's Hollow Parish Church can be recognised in Lacock, and Harry's parents cottage was filmed at the end of Church Street.  

Lacock Abbey was yet another stand-in for Hogwarts, with the most recognisable location being the cloisters which were used as the halls of Hogwarts Castle.  The Abbey 's Warming Room, containing a giant cauldron, was Professor Quirrell's Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, Professor Snape's Potions Class was held in the Sacristy, and the Chapter House was where Harry found the Mirror of Erised in The Philosopher's Stone.   


The new-gothic architecture of St Pancras Station

In the books and films, the Hogwarts Express sets off from Platform 9 ¾ at London's Kings Cross station.  Today there is a wall at the actual platform 9 with an embedded luggage trolley!  Visit the station, and you're sure to see Potter fans of all ages with Hogwarts scarves flying pretending to walk through the wall, just like Harry, Ron and Hermione in the first film.  

While you're at Kings Cross, make sure you check out adjacent St Pancras Station. The St Pancras Renaissance Hotel was actually used for the entrance to Kings Cross Station, its neo-gothic frontage being far more visually impressive. 

Also make a visit to beautiful Victorian Leadenhall Market, where Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron were filmed in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and various other real life Harry Potter filming locations in London like Australia House, which stood in for Gringotts Bank, the reptile house at London Zoo, and maybe even take a short trip to the Warner Bros studios at Leavesden where you can see the many sets, props, costumes and artefacts from the series 

The Jacobite Steam Train

Jacobite Steam Train crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Hogwarts Express is a real train, and you can take a trip on it!

The Hogsmeade village train station was filmed in the picturesque Yorkshire village of Goathland, but when the Harry Potter train is seen travelling over the rail bridge to Hogwarts in the films, it's actually the world-famous Jacobite Steam Train that you're seeing on its way over the magnificent 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct, in the Scottish Highlands.

In real life, the route taken by the train has been described as the greatest railway journey in the world, and is wonderfully scenic, passing many of the beautiful Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland.  

You can take the ride of a lifetime on this magical steam train for the 42 miles between Fort William and Mallaig on the West Highland Railway Line. You'll enjoy breathtaking views and perhaps partake of a Butterbeer Hot Chocolate or a Dementor's Kiss from the trolley 

The Highlands of Scotland

Clouds swirl around the Three Sisters of Glen Coe mountain range 

JK Rowling has said in interviews that she always imagined Hogwarts to be in Scotland, so it's appropriate that some of the most stunning scenes depicting the grounds of the Harry Potter Castle were filmed in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.

Look out for the location of Hagrid's hut at Glencoe, near the Clachaig Inn, which is also where Hermione punches Malfoy in The Prisoner of Azkaban, and Loch Eilt with its tiny island of Eilean Na Moine which was the location of Dumbeldore's grave in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. 

Desolate landscape of lochans and drumlins seen at Rannoch Moor

Keep an eye out too for Loch Morar, the largest freshwater lake in Britain, which along with nearby Loch Arkaig and Loch Shiel were digitally blended together to create Hogwarts Lake.

As you pass desolate Rannoch Moor imagine yourself in The Deathly Hallows Part 1, where the Dementors board the train looking for Harry.  

Nearby are Steall Falls, Britain's second highest waterfall, and the surrounding beauty of Glen Nevis, it's been a filming location multiple times in the Harry Potter movies, most notably as the scenic background to some exciting Quidditch games!  


Three friends look down on Victoria Street

Even without the Harry Potter connection, Edinburgh has long been associated with ghosts and witches. No filming for the Harry Potter movies was done in Edinburgh, but there are reminders everywhere of how the beautiful old town's medieval architecture, winding alleys and rich history fired JK Rowling's imagination while she was a resident.

Victoria Street

Curving upwards from Grassmarket to George IV Bridge,  when you amble up this atmospheric street with its colourful and enchanting antique shops and coffee houses it won't be difficult to believe that it was the inspiration for Diagon Alley.  The Harry Potter souvenir shops and the joke shop at the bottom of the street add to the magical feel, and there's a Harry Potter plaque and mural on nearby Candlemaker Row.

Greyfriar's Kirkyard

The spooky old graveyard that JK Rowling regularly spent time exploring reveals tombstones with names like Thomas Riddell, William McGonagall and Elizabeth Moodie. Coincidence? We think not!  

George Heriot School viewed from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle

George Heriot's School

Just a short walk from Victoria Street, this grand school's buildings are strikingly similar to Hogwarts. You can't wander the grounds, unfortunately, but when you look through the gates, it's worth remembering that the school's founder set up a fund to care for and give free school places to orphaned children, which continues today. It's been remarked upon that Tom Riddle and Harry Potter were both orphans who found a home at Hogwarts, hmm….

The Elephant House Café and Spoon Café

 JK Rowling hung out in The Elephant House on George IV Bridge and in Spoon (previously Nicolson's) on Nicolson Street while she wrote The Philosopher's Stone, and she finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in room 552 of the grand Balmoral Hotel next to Waverley train station now known as the JK Rowling Suite.

Discover Harry Potter filming locations with Scottish Tours

No need to seek out these magical places for yourself - let us show you the most iconic Harry Potter locations.  Treat your favourite Potterhead to one of our Harry Potter tours:  

We pride ourselves on delivering award-winning and expert tours every time at Scottish Tours. See our full programme and book your Scotland Tour online.