For many of us, London is not just Big Ben, Nothing Hill, or Hyde Park; for many, London is Diagon Alley, Platform 9 and ¾, Gringotts, and the Leaky Cauldron. Welcome to Hogwarts (or almost...).
In London, you can visit the film sets of the Harry Potter movies with the Warner Bros. tour, but if you run out of tickets (they are in high demand) or if you are left wanting more, you can discover the locations of the saga in the city:
1. Harry Potter tours at the Warner Bros. studio
During this visit, in addition to seeing the scenography and costumes from the films, you will learn more about the saga and how the films were made, including special effects. Regarding muggle details, my recommendation is to book the tickets for Warner Bros in advance due to the large influx of visitors and hire transportation to and from the Warner Bros studios, as they are far from the center.
Possibility of hiring only the transportation service to and from the site
It is not recommended to book transportation without having secured the tickets since their availability is very limited and you run the risk of getting there when they are sold out. But if you have already purchased your tickets and you want to get a shuttle service that will drop you off at the door, you can take this shuttle option to and from Warner Bros. Studios.
Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour Details
If you want to make sure whether or not it's worth visiting Warner Bros Studios to take the Harry Potter tour, I'll give you a little taste of what you'll find there. For starters, I'll tell you that the studios are divided into interiors and exteriors and the sets at both sites not only have original objects from the films, but also cinematic information on how they were made. But step by step.
Plus, London's Harry Potter studios aren't just for watching: in many of them you'll be able to work magic by waving a wand or lifting a broomstick.
The indoor studios
- Start the tour in the Grand Dining Hall, where you are greeted by the figures of the professors from the head table as they do every year with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, or at least the years when no one crashes a flying car into a boxing willow (which, by the way, you will also see on this tour).
- After this, it's time to walk through the school corridors, including the staircases that change places; in them, you will see many pictures of former heads of Hogwarts houses including the Fat Lady.
- You will follow the typical tour of the beginning of the school year, passing through the common room and then the Gryffindor dormitory.
- The teachers' offices are also waiting for you during your visit, as well as display cases where you will find all the information you want about the sport of Quidditch.
- You'll visit the Lucius Malfoy's house (creepy), the Weasley's living room or a very elaborate Forbidden Forest full of creatures, visual and sound effects.
The outdoor studios
As for the outdoor studios, they are also full of surprises. In them, you will see the Dursley's house on Privet Drive (stairwell included), the night bus, platform 9 and ¾, Ollivander's store, and many more nooks and crannies. The only bad thing about this visit is that, once you leave the studios, it will be difficult to mingle with Muggles again.
Organize your visit to Warner Bros Studios
If like me, you are a real Harry Potter saga geek, you've probably been waiting for this visit for a long time. To make the most of it I'm going to give you some tips:
How to get there: Transportation to Warner Bros. Studios is an important detail to keep in mind. Don't forget that they are far from the center of London so it is best to get your tickets for a roundtrip transfer in advance. From Watford Junction train station there are direct buses to the studios.
Duration of the visit: Take your time in each of the spaces of the Warner Bros. studios. Don't be in a hurry to see everything; the details are so well taken care of that it will be worth your while to recreate yourself in every nook and cranny. To be able to see everything, I recommend that you reserve between 3 and 5 hours for the visit.
Timetable: when you buy your ticket (always in advance, as you can't get them at the studios), you can choose the day and time of the visit. I recommend you choose the first shift to avoid crowds. Keep in mind that you have set entrance hours, but not exit hours, so more and more people will accumulate in the facilities.
Take the audio guide: it costs about seven dollars, but it is worth it, while you immerse yourself in the magical world, they tell you details you didn't know about the film, the actors, and the saga.
If you go with children they will be fascinated by the tour, but the younger ones might be scared by how real some scenarios are or the visit to the Forbidden Forest. Just keep this in mind in case you want to avoid these rooms.
Where to eat: Don't forget to stop by the bar if you want to try the famous butterbeer or the Frog café if you want a chocolate frog. In the surroundings, there is no place to eat, so if your visit coincides with lunchtime, you will only have the opportunity to eat in the restaurant set up by the studio where the price will not be very cheap.
Souvenirs: The gift store is also worth a visit, even if it is just to get your teeth into it. Here you will find all the merchandising of the saga available. You can take pictures, but don't let the camera spoil the experience; better to live it than record it.
2. Harry Potter locations tours around London
If after visiting Warner Studios you're left wanting more, throughout the city of London you have different locations that inspired the books and movies. Years ago fans had to locate them on their own, now there are expert guides who show them to you on a walking tour of Harry Potter locations while telling you interesting facts about the saga.
In this two-hour walking tour, a guide specialized not only in the saga but also in the history of London showed us locations such as those listed below.
Platform 9 and ¾ at King Cross Station
At King Cross Station you can find a corner where the famous platform has been recreated with a luggage trolley going through the wall. You can take pictures in it and then go through the Harry Potter souvenir shop while the guide tells you how this tourist spot was set up after the success of the movies and how J.K. Rowling used this station to set her books. Too bad you won't be able to catch the Hogwarts Express, unless...
Diagon Alley in Leadenhall Market
This is one of the oldest markets in London and is inspired by the famous Diagon Alley where Harry bought books, potions, and, of course, Ollivander's wands. It is one of the longest and most special stops on the tour; you will discover how reality inspires fiction and how fiction transforms this reality as well. Your guide will tell you all about Knockturn Alley or The Leaky Cauldron Inn and then leave you a few minutes to explore the area at your leisure.
Gringotts Bank and Australian Embassy
The famous goblin bank that appears in several of the movies, is inspired by the Australian Embassy in London, maybe you had passed by there and hadn't noticed the striking resemblance, but to give you a clearer picture of it, your guide will show you pictures from the movies that prove that indeed the wizarding bank was inspired by this building.
Premieres and Trafalgar Square
Not everything on this tour revolves around the locations of the films, you will also learn anecdotes about the actors and the significance of the saga, and Trafalgar Square will probably be the place that the guide will choose to tell you. It is precisely from there where thousands of fans lived the final of the saga in addition to other moments related to the release of the films.
3. Private tours of Harry Potter locations in London
If the two-hour tour is too short for you, I recommend that you consider the possibility of a private tour of the Harry Potter saga's locations where the guide will be dedicated exclusively to you and the group you are traveling with. This tour lasts three hours, is fully adaptable to your preferences, and is available in English, Spanish, and French.
It is a highly recommended option if you are traveling with children, as you can ask the guide to alternate locations from the film with other London landmarks during the tour.
Organize your Harry Potter guided tour in London
If you decide to take a guided tour of the Harry Potter universe in London, whether it is in a group or if you have chosen the private tour, you have to take into account some details:
- As the tour is on foot, you will not be able to visit all the locations as London is a huge city and many of them are quite separated from each other.
- The meeting point will always be in a central location that you can easily reach from your accommodation. If you have any questions you can ask your guide once you have booked your place or ask for a surcharge to be picked up from your hotel.
- The tours have a duration of between two and three hours, so be prepared to walk. They depart almost every day of the week and the best time to do it will depend on the weather.
- You will have the chance to buy souvenirs of the saga at many of the tour stops as you will pass through specialized shops and the guide will leave you time to do so.
- If you have the London Pass, you will have included a tour where you will see locations from Harry Potter and many other movies that were filmed or inspired in London such as Mary Poppins, Sherlock Holmes, or James Bond. You have more information about the city tours in this article on London Pass.
- Take a look at the theater listings when you have decided on your trip to London. You may, with luck, be able to catch a performance of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Legacy play.
Harry Potter London on your own
If you've decided to get to know the Harry Potter universe in London, but want to explore it on your own: it's possible. The added value of the tour is to know the exact locations, and in addition, to put them in the context of the saga, but that does not mean that these places can't be visited on a self-guided tour. Get a map and mark such emblematic sites as:
- King Cross station where you'll find Platform 9 and ¾.
- The Regent's Park Zoo where you'll find the reptile house where the scene where we first saw Harry performing magic to free a snake from its cage was filmed.
- The Whinging neighborhood where the famous number 4 Privet Drive is located.
- The Australian embassy that inspired the Gringotts bank.
- Leadenhall Market which inspired Diagon Alley.
- Claremont Square also known as Grimmauld Place, where the Order of the Phoenix Headquarters is located in the movies.
Vicky's Traveller Tip
Some of the Harry Potter locations scattered around London are a long distance from each other; pin them down on the map and you'll be able to better plan your visit.
If you are interested in a walking tour of Harry Potter's London, you will also be interested in...
If you enjoyed the Harry Potter walking tour experience, be sure to take the London tour in English during your visit to the UK capital. You may think that the Muggle world does not have as much charm as the magical one, but remember that London is also the city of Sherlock Holmes or Peter Pan and that, by itself, has many stories to offer you without resorting to fantasy.
As I say, this was my favorite, but the truth is that the offer of guided tours in London is endless and I have written a guide to help you sort out all the ideas, which are the best tours and why. You can read it in this article on London Tours.
If it is not your first time in London and you decide to go out and see some of its surroundings, you don't need a long trip. Nowadays there are very well organized tours that allow you to discover both charming villages and majestic cities that are the pride of England. Here's an article about Best Day Trips from London so you can see my favorite options.
Frequently asked questions
Will I visit any of the films actual locations?
Yes, you will visit the Millenium Bridge, the Westminster Tube Station and King's Cross Station, along the real-life locations that inspired the sets of Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic or the Leaky Cauldron pub.
Can I take a picture at Platform 9¾?
Yes! You can either get a professional picture with a shawl of your choice by the Harry Potter Shop staff or take a picture or your own.
Will I visit Hogwarts in any of the Harry Potter Experiences?
You can visit a scaled model of Hogwarts Castle at the Warner Bros. Studio, used for many of the aerial shots of the films.