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Harry Potter Tour of Edinburgh

If you liked Harry Potter, you will find in Edinburgh some corners that will be familiar to you. I'll tell you everything you need to know to discover them.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

5 min read

Harry Potter Tour of Edinburgh

Victoria Street "magic store", the street that inspired Diagon Alley. | ©Ralf Steinberger

Did you know that Lord Voldemort himself is buried in Edinburgh Cemetery? Did you know that if you were to receive a letter of admission to Hogwarts, Edinburgh Castle would surely be your final destination? It was on the streets of Edinburgh that J. K. Rowling found inspiration for the setting of her novels. Upon discovering this, my desire to visit the city instantly increased.

1. The best guided tour of Harry Potter's Edinburgh

George Heriot School was the inspiration for Hogwarts School| ©Yisong Yue
George Heriot School was the inspiration for Hogwarts School| ©Yisong Yue

Whether you're a fan of the saga or not, this Harry Potter Edinburgh tour is an experience you'll really enjoy because not only will you hear stories about the most famous wizarding story of all time, but you'll also see some of the city's most iconic landmarks along the way.

The writer already had Harry's story outlined when she moved to the Scottish capital, but her pages lacked realism, places and names that set the story of the young wizard.

In Edinburgh she found all those details; while sitting in the city' s cafés she conceived the definitive shape of Diagon Alley, while walking around Edinburgh Castle she began to decide what Hogwarts school would be like, and when she did not know how to name her characters it was enough to take a walk through the city's cemetery.

This Harry Potter Edinburgh tour, for $ 18, is one of the most popular walking tours in Edinburgh, so I recommend you to book early. After requesting your reservation online you will receive a confirmation email with details about the meeting point. If you have any unforeseen circumstances you can cancel 24 hours in advance.

Interesting facts

  • It is priced at 18
  • Available in English, Spanish and German
  • Lasts approximately two hours
  • Children under 5 years of age can attend the tour free of charge
  • The tour is on foot and goes through narrow and steep areas

Ana's Traveller Tip

If you are a fan of the saga, leave room in your suitcase because throughout the city you will find many themed stores with all kinds of souvenirs about the magical world.

2. What you will see on the Harry Potter tour

Elephant House Coffee House where J.K. Rowling wrote part of the original novel| ©HarshLight
Elephant House Coffee House where J.K. Rowling wrote part of the original novel| ©HarshLight

First of all, a warning: the importance of Edinburgh in relation to Harry Potter has been growing. Many of the places in the city that are associated with the saga have been confirmed by the author as inspiration, but others are fruits of the collective imagination. That is why it is important to visit all of them as part of a guided tour in which an expert separates the legend from the truth. In any case, these are the main points of the Harry Potter route through Edinburgh:

Spoon Coffee Shop

Until recently, this Nicholson Street coffee shop (formerly Nicholson Café) had a plaque that made it clear that the second floor of it was where J K Rowling wrote some of the Harry Potter chapters. Indeed this was one of the places frequented by the author when she arrived in Edinburgh with her young daughter.

The Elephant House Cafeteria

The writer spent a considerable part of her time writing the saga in this coffee shop, The Elephant House, but it does not mean that (as advertised on the premises) it was here that she conceived the idea.

George Heriot School

It is often said that it was Edinburgh Castle where the author found the inspiration for Hogwarts School as it is situated on top of a hill like the castle featured in the books. However, the author has said that, fundamentally, it was this building (initially an orphanage and today one of the most expensive schools in the city) that served as inspiration for the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Greyfriar's Cemetery

You have probably wondered where names like Tom Riddle or McGonagall came from. In some of the tombs of this cemetery is the answer and it is also a place (this already on a personal note) where it is easy to imagine the scene of the end of the Triwizard Tournament.

Victoria Street, Candlemaker Row or Cockburn Street

Diagon Alley could not be missing in this route. These are some of the streets that are most visually related to the place where wizards buy their books and supplies for school. It is true that Rowling was fond of walking in the area, but she has neither confirmed nor denied that the alley was inspired by these streets. In any case, it is a walk full of charm.

Balmoral Hotel

It is the place where the saga was completed in 2007. Now, room 552 bears the name J. K. Rowling Suite and is rented for a "modest" price to wealthy fans of the saga.

The University of Edinburgh

This university has one of the most special graduation ceremonies in existence. The students, during the graduation ceremony, receive a touch with a historic hat. Does this ring any bells?

Meadows Park

Inventing the rules of a sport are big words, but in the case of J. K. Rowling the merit has not only served to give excitement to the saga. In this park a version of Quidditch is played every weekend aboard a broom, unfortunately, not flying.

Edinburgh City Hall

If you look closely, near City Chambers City Hall you will find a tile on the ground with the author's footprints. She put them there in 2008 when the city gave her an award for her contribution to the city's tourism.

Ana's Traveller Tip

If you want to do the Harry Potter route on your own, take a map of the city and write down the locations; although you will miss the stories it won't be difficult.

3. If you are interested in touring Harry Potter's Edinburgh, you will also be interested in

Spectacular scenery of the Scottish Highlands| ©IMBiblio
Spectacular scenery of the Scottish Highlands| ©IMBiblio

Relating a real place with a legend or a story is the easiest way to remember its points of interest and to make it stick a little bit more in your memory. If you liked the experience of the Harry Potter's Edinburgh tour, you can't miss the great legend of the country: the Loch Ness Monster.

For this you will have to travel a few kilometers by road, but you have at your disposal different organized tours that will take you in one or two days to discover the secrets of the Scottish Highlands, located about three hours from Edinburgh. If you want to know more about this possibility, you can read this article about Loch Ness Day Trips and other Lochs from Edinburgh.

If what you prefer is to get to know the city and its surroundings, there are plenty of tours and guided tours to choose from. I summarize the best ones in my guide about Best Tours and Day Trips from Edinburgh.