Last summer, I began planning my first trip to London. There were so many things that I wanted to see and do, but going to the Harry Potter film sites was at the top of the list. I was able to devote an entire day in London to Harry Potter sightseeing! I got to go to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour and also took a guided tour through the film locations in the city (both were amazing). With great difficulty, I have narrowed it down to my top five favorite Harry Potter sites in London!
1. Leadenhall Market:
You will recognize Leadenhall Market as Diagon Alley from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In real life, The Leaky Cauldron is an optometrist’s office. They painted the exterior black for filming.
Leadenhall Market has local shops and restaurants, and it’s a little more upscale and expensive than other places of the city. Leadenhall Market is actually used for a lot of filming because it is closed on nights and weekends, making it easier for film crews to come in without having to shut anything down.
My favorite thing I learned about Leadenhall Market was the story of Old Tom the duck. Back when Leadenhall Market was a meat market, Old Tom managed to survive the slaughter and became the market pet. When he died (of natural causes), he was buried at the center of the market and to this day, a pub called Old Tom’s Bar is still located near his burial site!
2. Borough Market:
After The Sorcerer’s Stone, the film location for the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron was moved from Leadenhall Market to Borough Market for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. You may also recognize Borough Market from a few other movies, such as Bridget Jones’s Diary. Visiting Borough Market was one of my absolute favorite things to do in London! You can find food vendors, shops, bookstores, bakeries, and more here.
Even though I am not much of a seafood person, trying some authentic fish and chips was on my list of things to do in London. I found a little fish and chips stand at Borough Market called Fish Kitchen Restaurant & Takeout and tried fish n’ chips for the first time. I have to admit that it was one of the best things I ate in London. I highly recommend exploring this area, grabbing some lunch, stopping in at a little bookstore, and just enjoying the atmosphere!
3. Millennium Bridge:
The London Millennium Bridge is easily recognized as the bridge destroyed by Death Eaters in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. To locals, this bridge is also known as “Wobbly Bridge.” As pedestrians started to cross the bridge on opening day in 2000, they experienced a swaying or wobbly motion. The bridge was closed later that day and remained closed for the following two years while the architects and engineers worked to fix the swaying motion. The bridge reopened in 2002. If you walk down to Millennium Bridge from St. Paul’s, you will pass City of London School. This school is the real-life Hogwarts! Daniel Radcliffe actually attended school here when he wasn’t filming.
As you walk across Millennium Bridge, be sure to notice some of the smallest works of art in London! Artist Ben Wilson (also known as The Chewing Gum Man) paints over pieces of gum that have been stuck to the bridge. His work can be found throughout the UK!
4. King’s Cross Station & Platform 9 ¾
To get on the actual platform where they filmed the Platform 9 ¾ scenes, you would need a train ticket. But the good news is that there is a little gift shop and mock platform in the main part of the station that you can visit!
I would recommend stopping in at the little gift shop at King’s Cross; I was surprised by all of the stuff they had in the gift shop here. I thought it would be the same as the items available at the Studio Tour, but they had some other really cool stuff — like the official Hogwarts Express ticket I bought!
5. The Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour:
I would HIGHLY recommend any Harry Potter fan go to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour! There is so much to see here and it was so much fun. The tour includes two studios and the backlot. The first studio, where the tour begins, has a majority of the sets, costumes, props, etc. You can visit Dumbledore’s Office, sit in a Potions class, or even hop in front of a green screen and be filmed driving the Weasley’s flying car or riding a broom through London. Riding the broomstick was one of my favorite things here. I loved it so much that I even bought the little video they filmed! Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, I would recommend giving this a go.
The second studio has a lot of the creatures/special effects. You can see Dobby, Aragog, Griphook, and more here! There are videos along the tour that talk about the making of the movies with tons of interesting facts that I had never heard before. You really feel like you are behind the scenes of filming the Harry Potter movies. The second studio also has the Diagon Alley Set and the scale model of Hogwarts!
In the backlot you can hop on the Knight Bus, walk across the Hogwarts Bridge, knock at No. 4 Privet Drive, and don’t forget to snag a cup of Butterbeer (the backlot is the only place where it is sold during the tour).
Tips for planning your trip to The Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour:
- Buy your tickets ahead of time — they aren’t sold at the gate.
- Keep your eyes out for special tour promotions like Hogwarts in the Snow, which is available during select dates in the winter.
- Make sure to arrive early; the studio recommends arriving about 45 minutes before your tour begins.
- If you come in by train from the city, there is a bus that will take you from the train station right to the studio.
- I recommend an earlier tour. My tour was the first of the day, and I was glad because by the time I left, it was starting to get pretty busy.
- The tour is pretty much self-guided except for the first stop in the Great Hall — you have limited time in this room, so make sure to get the photos you want fairly quickly.
- Plan on being here for a few hours (at least). I spent about 2 ½ hours here (without travel time) and I went through the tour pretty quickly. I saw everything I wanted to see, but I didn’t spend a lot of time in any one room reading all of the plaques or watching the-behind-the-scenes videos.
I hope that all you Harry Potter fans out there get a chance to see the Harry Potter sites in London. It is, in my opinion, simply magical!
Written by Kaycie Jordan.
*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Kaycie Jordan.