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Where was Harry Potter filmed? Top filming locations you can visit IRL

The magic of Harry Potter goes far beyond the pages of J.K. Rowling’s beloved books. Every little boy or girl hoped to receive their letter for Hogwarts, so they too could ride the Hogwarts Express and sit in the Great Hall listening to Dumbledore. Our imaginations were only fueled further when the Harry Potter films were released, bringing pictures to the worlds built in our minds. Those who dreamed of stepping into the wizarding world could now explore the world of Harry Potter via its filming locations that brought the magic to life.

The legendary wizarding world lives on, so let’s dive into the top filming locations every Potterhead should visit, from historic castles to bustling London streets.

1. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

Alnwick Castle, located in England’s far north-east, featured as the backdrop for many exterior shots of Hogwarts in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”. 

The historic castle’s history extends back 950 years, and it’s been in the hands of the Percy family for more than 700 of those. The Duke and Duchess and their family still live in the castle, making it the second largest inhabited castle in the UK, but the castle is open to visitors.

Join a guided tour or align your visit with special Harry Potter-themed events. While here you could relive the moment when Harry, Ron, and Hermione first learned to fly during their broomstick flying lessons, or the first Quidditch lesson.

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2. Christ Church College, Oxford

It’s said that Christ Church College inspired the design of Hogwarts’ Great Hall, and so this Oxford space became one of the better-known Harry Potter filming locations. Relive moments from the movies in the grand staircase, where Professor McGonagall greeted Harry, Ron, and Hermione for the first time.

That leads up to the Tudor Great Dining Hall, which served as inspiration for the great Hogwarts Dining Hall. Visitors can tour the college, explore its stunning architecture, and learn about its historical significance to both the university and the film series.

Also in Oxford, you can go on a Harry Potter walk past the Bodleian Library, where the gothic vaulted ceiling of the Divinity School became the Hogwarts Infirmary in the first Harry Potter movie. Then visit the Duke Humfrey’s Library, where Harry walked hidden underneath his invisibility cloak while stealing a book.

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3. Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucestershire

The Gloucester Cathedral’s cloisters were used many times as Harry Potter filming locations. The cloisters were used for various Hogwarts corridor scenes, and while here you can picture Harry, Ron, and Hermione discussing important findings as they uncover secrets and face numerous challenges. You can visit the cathedral for a donation, and admire the 11th-century building that also houses the tomb of King Edward II.

4. Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Lacock Abbey has a history 800 years old. It started as a nunnery in the 1200s, then became a Tudor family home. Most recently it’s found fame as a Harry Potter filming location, and was also seen in Downton Abbey. 

Professor Snape’s and Professor Quirrell’s classrooms, in both “The Philosopher’s Stone” and “The Half-Blood Prince”, were shot inside the abbey. Step inside to see where students brewed potions and faced off against the Dark Arts.

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5. Durham Cathedral, Durham

South of Newcastle upon Tyne in the north-east of England, the Durham Cathedral and its cloisters doubled as Hogwarts’ quadrangle, where students frequently roamed in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”.

Do you remember Filch the Caretaker? Usually he’d be prowling the school with a huge set of clunky old-fashioned keys. Well, while filming Harry Potter at Durham Cathedral, the crew used a real set of Durham Cathedral’s keys as props!

You can visit the cathedral by donation, join a guided tour of the grounds or climb the Central Tower.

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6. The Jacobite Steam Train, Scotland (Hogwarts Express)

Perhaps there is no more iconic shot in the Harry Potter films than when the Hogwarts Express crosses Glenfinnan Viaduct. In real life this steam locomotive is known as the Jacobite Steam Train and it runs twice a day. 

You can book a seat on the “greatest railway journey in the world” and travel 84 miles from Fort William to Mallaig and back, soaking up the best of the Scottish Highlands while living out your wizardy dreams.

7. Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London

Major Potter fans shouldn’t miss the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London. Numerous sets were built here for the Harry Potter films, making it the top filming location for the series. At the Warner Bros. Studio Tour you can visit the Great Hall, Diagon Alley, the Forbidden Forest, Platform 9 ¾ and more. 

You’ll go behind-the-scenes and discover the movie magic involved in bringing some of the special effects to life. It’s best to book tickets in advance!

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8. Leadenhall Market & Millennium Bridge, London

London proved to be popular with the producers of the Harry Potter films. The beautiful and historic Leadenhall Market was used for exterior shots as Diagon Alley in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. Among the red and green colours that dominate the market it should be easy to spot the blue door of the Leaky Cauldron!

After exploring the market’s unique shops, wander 20 minutes to the Millennium Bridge In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” we see Muggles inside City Hall who notice a darkening sky. Soon after there’s a terrifying Death Eater attack that causes the modern bridge to collapse into the Thames. 

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9. Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Cliffs of Moher at sunset during spring tours, with calm sea and distinct sea stacks, viewed on a clear day.

In the sixth Harry Potter film, “the Half-Blood Prince”, Harry and Dumbledore journey to a remote cave in search one of Voldemort’s horcruxes. In the film they end up at the dramatic and rocky Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland, trying to find Slytherin’s locket.

The legendary Cliffs of Moher are a top sight to explore in Ireland, and something that can’t be missed on any Ireland tour – whether you’re a film fan or not. Visitors can enjoy the cliffs’ natural beauty, panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, and visit a nearby center to learn more about the region’s geology and history.

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That’s our list of the best Harry Potter filming locations. Have you been to any of them yourself? Let us know in the comments….

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