Seven of the best Harry Potter locations to explore

Discover the enchanting locations that inspired author JK Rowling and brought her wizarding world to life on screen with our pick of seven top locations to explore

UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 08: Alnwick castle, England, United Kingdom. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

1. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh

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When JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter books in the Elephant Café, she took breaks in nearby Greyfriars Kirkyard. Follow her footsteps and look for the plaques dedicated to Thomas Riddell Esq and William McGonagall, who inspired the names of key characters.

2. The Forest of Dean

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry and Hermione apparate to the Forest of Dean, which Hermione recognises from childhood camping holidays. As a teen, JK Rowling lived in Tutshill on the edge of the forest so it’s likely she knew the area well, too.

3. Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral made several appearances in the Harry Potter films. You’ll recognise the snow-covered quadrangle where Harry released Hedwig the owl and the spot where Ron Weasley burps up slugs.

4. Glenfinnan Viaduct, West Highland Line

The elegant bridge you see the Hogwarts Express puff across in no fewer than four Potter films is Glenfinnan Viaduct; it’s also where Ron and Harry fly an enchanted Ford Anglia. Retrace the journey onboard The Jacobite steam train.

5. Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Originally an abbey, then a family home, Lacock achieved fame as a film set. Fans will recognise the Warming Room as Professor Quirrell’s classroom – there’s a 500-year-old cauldron there now – and the Sacristy, where Professor Snape taught Potions.

6. Freshwater West beach, Pembrokeshire

One of Wales’ top surfing spots, Freshwater West features in both of the final Harry Potter films. The safe house Shell Cottage was built here, with a roof made of large scallop shells, and Dobby the house-elf was buried on these shores.

7. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

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One of the largest inhabited castles in the UK, Alnwick stood in as Hogwarts during Harry’s first broomstick lesson. Visitors can hop on a Nimbus 2000 in the same spot that the young wizard first took off.