Tourists travel to the U.K. for a wide variety of reasons. Some may be fascinated by the history of the country. Others are drawn to the hustle and bustle of busy metropolises like London or Edinburgh. Many Americans, however, grew up seeing the U.K. through a camera lens, as the country has served as a backdrop to innumerable movies and TV shows.
Perhaps the most famous franchise to ever shoot almost exclusively in Great Britain was the series of eight Harry Potter films. Whether you consider yourself to be a diehard fan of the boy wizard or just watched the movies casually, touring some of the locations around the U.K. where the Harry Potter movies were filmed can be a great way to see the country. Here are seven locations you can visit from the magical film franchise.
1. King’s Cross Station (London, England)
One of the most recognizable locations from the Harry Potter franchise, the Hogwarts Express departed from King’s Cross Station in almost every one of the movies. Make sure to look for the photo opportunity that has been installed to represent Platform 9 and 3/4, which features a luggage trolley that has already been pushed halfway through the barrier between Platforms 9 and 10.
2. Alnwick Castle (Northumberland, England)
The bulk of the exterior shots in the first two Harry Potter movies were filmed on location, as filmmakers tried to find real British landmarks to represent Hogwarts Castle. Two very iconic scenes were filmed on the grounds of Alnwick Castle: the scene inHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in which Harry and the other first years learn to fly, and the scene inHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Ron and Harry crash their flying car into the Whomping Willow.
3. Millennium Bridge (London, England)
This steel-suspension footbridge, which allows pedestrians to cross the Thames, was attacked by Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters inHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Luckily, that effect was done using CGI, and the actual bridge is still standing.
4. Lacock Abbey (Wiltshire, England)
Several scenes set in Hogwarts in both the second and sixth Harry Potter movies were filmed in Lacock Abbey, but it can be best remembered as the location where Dobby is set free at the end ofHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
5. Piccadilly Circus (London, England)
InHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are forced to flee from the Death Eaters who crash Bill and Fleur’s wedding. They apparate to a location in London, which is real-life Piccadilly Circus. Here, they almost get hit by a bus before retreating to a cafe, where they come face to face with more Death Eaters.
6. Gloucester Cathedral (Gloucester, England)
While many different historic locations doubled as Hogwarts throughout the Harry Potter saga, the one that filmmakers turned to most often was Gloucester Cathedral. You will recognize its corridors as the setting for scenes in the first, second, and sixth movies, but its most iconic use was inHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Harry finds Filch’s cat petrified by the basilisk in one of the main halls of the cathedral, and sees the message detailing that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened.
7. Leavesden Studios (Hertfordshire, England)
Saving the best for last, no Harry Potter fan can visit the U.K. without traveling to Leavesden Studios to take the new Warner Brothers Studio Tour. The studio served as the home base for filming all eight Harry Potter movies, and most of the iconic scenes you remember from the films were shot there. In 2012, Warner Brothers decided to open the studio to the public so that fans could walk among the sets and take a peek behind the scenes of their favorite movies. As part of the Studio Tour, you can see the sets used to film scenes in Privet Drive, Dumbledore’s Office, The Great Hall, Diagon Alley, and many more. It’s the perfect experience to cap off your trip through Harry’s magical world.