Since I was six years old I have been a huge Harry Potter fan, and I have always wanted to visit the various Harry Potter locations in the UK. Until now I have only visited the Harry Potter Studios in London (and of course; the real Hogwarts – University of Sydney in Australia, where I studied last year). Luckily for me, Scotland has many Harry Potter locations, and they were not too far from Edinburgh, where we stayed for the entire trip.
In Edinburgh, there are six Harry Potter locations you shouldn’t miss. The first two are George Heriot’s School and Edinburgh Castle. The rumors say that these buildings inspired J. K. Rowling when she created Hogwarts.
The third location is Greyfriars Kirkyard. This is an amazing graveyard with graves dating back to the 16th century. Not I place I would visit at night! Anyways – this is the place where Tom Riddle, Voldemort, rests (as I said – do not visit at night!). There is actually a man with the name Thomas Riddell resting here (died in 1806) and rumor has it that this inspired J. K. Rowling when she created Voldemort. The graveyard can actually be seen from the Elephant House café, where she wrote the first book about Harry Potter.
The last three places are not from Harry Potter, but it is where J. K. Rowling wrote the books – in other words, the birthplace of Harry Potter. The first one is the Elephant House, the café where J. K. Rowling wrote parts of the first book. The second one is a café that no longer exists, but there is a new café (Spoon Café) in the same location. Here J. K. Rowling wrote parts of the second book. The third location is the Balmoral Hotel, where J. K. Rowling stayed when she wrote the third book about Harry Potter.
In addition to these sites, you will feel like you are in a Harry Potter movie when walking around in Edinburgh old town. It is amazing! There is actually a Harry Potter tour in the city, which is free. I didn’t have the chance to go because the tour times didn’t fit into out program, but I guess the tour mainly cover the same places as mentioned above.
In Glasgow, you will find another school that is said to be the inspiration behind Hogwarts – the University of Glasgow. Nearby, you will find Ashton Lane, which is said to be an inspiration for Diagon Alley.
Glenfinnan Viaduct is the best Harry Potter location in Scotland. It is located in the highlands, a 3,5 hours drive from Edinburgh. Every Harry Potter fan remembers when Ron and Harry are flying Mr. Weasley’s car to Hogwarts because they missed the Hogwarts Express. The scene when they are flying above the Hogwarts Express, is filmed at Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Glencoe area (also in the highlands) was used as a film location in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Hugrid’s hut was located here. Sadly, the hut has now been removed, but it is still pretty cool to visit the location. We didn’t go to the exact film location in Glencoe (we accidentally drove past it and didn’t have time to return), but the whole area gives you the right Harry Potter feeling!