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Harry Potter is one of the greatest cultural phenomena of modern times. Since the first story – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – was published in 1997, millions of children have become lifelong fans, a further six books (and a new stage play) have been published, and the tales have been translated into 73 languages.
There are an estimated 450 million Harry Potter books in print worldwide and the movies they spawned would take a total of 19.6 hours to watch in one sitting – and there will be fans who have enjoyed such a marathon.
Many Harry Potter enthusiasts will have read each book multiple times, seen the films until they can quote them out loud, bought the T-shirt and have more merchandise than they can count.
But have they been on a Harry Potter film locations walk of London yet? If you want to do something really different when you next visit London, you could try exactly this, as it’s fun for all the family.
Harry Potter film locations in London
Huge chunks of each Harry Potter film were shot on location in London, which means that almost every part of the capital’s centre has links to the epic story.
Here are a few you can head to and see if you recognise:
1. The Millennium Bridge
This landmark has featured in many British movies, but who can forget the sequence at the start of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when it collapses? The real thing is close to St Paul’s Cathedral and will hopefully remain intact during your visit.
2. Leadenhall Market
Fans will definitely recognise this instantly, as it’s Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. If you’re looking for the Leaky Cauldron though, don’t seek out a pub; it’s actually an optician’s in real life.
3. Platform 9¾
This is an absolute must-see for Harry Potter fans and is really easy to find at King’s Cross Station – just look between platforms four and five for the arched wall. However, the real photo opportunity is at the west side of the station, where the hub’s designers have paid homage to the series by placing a trolley disappearing into the wall.
4. London Zoo’s reptile house
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry discovered that he could talk to snakes – and in the films, the location for this was London Zoo. You can visit the very same establishment on a walking tour of London – but don’t be too disappointed if the animals aren’t that chatty.
5. Gringotts Wizarding Bank
It’s the only bank in the wizarding world and it featured in the first Harry Potter movie, but it’s actually the interior of Australia House on the Strand in central London, which means you’ll have really easy access to it on a walking tour of London.
This is just a brief introduction to some of the locations used in these phenomenally successful films – other sites include Tower Bridge, where Harry floe over on his broomstick in the Order of the Phoenix; Lambeth Bridge, where the Knight Bus had a close call with two double deckers; and Westminster Tube station, which was used extensively during filming.
How to do a Harry Potter film locations tour
A number of different entertainment providers currently offer tours of London that incorporate Harry Potter movie locations, so it’s well worth taking a look around and booking ahead when you’ve decided on your accommodation.
For example, Brit Movie Tour, Visit London, London Walks and Discovery Walks of London all offer guided Harry Potter-themed walks, with prices varying depending on length and what’s included. It’s definitely worth shopping around before you decide.
Try a DIY Harry Potter tour
Another fun way to enjoy a Harry Potter-themed walk around the nation’s capital is to do it yourself and go without a guide. If you’re not confident about your ability to navigate yourself completely without help, then London Blue Badge Tourist Guide and author Richard Jones have created a step-by-step guide that you can follow on your smartphone so you don’t waste time getting lost.
However, if you consider yourself a total expert in all things Potter, then you could simply try looking up your favourite movie scenes on Google Maps and then creating your own walking tour around them, starting from your London hotel and returning there for a well-earned rest at the end.
London hotels close to movie locations
If a Harry Potter walking tour sounds like your idea of heaven but you don’t live in the capital, then why not make a minibreak out of it by booking into a luxurious London hotel for a night or two?
There are several suitable places in which to stay:
M by Montcalm London Shoreditch Tech City
M by Montcalm London Shoreditch Tech City Hotel is Situated in East London, this modernist delight is close to the City and would therefore make the ideal starting point for Leadenhall Market. It features a really high-tech interior and even has a tablet in each room, making it perfect for sharing your movie location photos.
The Montcalm At The Brewery London City
Right in the centre of the capital is The Montcalm At The Brewery London City, which is so dramatic-looking that it’s a wonder it wasn’t in Harry Potter itself. This is also ideally located for walking tours around London and offers unrivalled luxury after a hard day of pounding the pavements.