If you have any doubt about how popular Harry Potter is then you need to visit Kings Cross Station in London. You will see a long line of fans waiting to take their picture at Platform 9 ¾. It’s not the only spot in London with ties to Harry Potter. We enjoyed learning more on the London Harry Potter Walking tour we booked through Triple Travel. On the tour, we saw both actual filming locations and spots that inspired J.K. Rowling. We also visited some shops and learned some interesting Harry Potter trivia.
In this post, I will tell you more about our Harry Potter walking tour, Harry Potter London locations you should visit, and how you can find other interesting tours like this with Triple Travel.
Our starting point for the walking tour was right outside the Platform 9 ¾ store inside King’s Cross Station, that’s where we would meet our guide, Ramona. This official Harry Potter store is filled with all the Harry Potter things you never knew you needed! Scarfs, keychains, stuffed animals, mugs, and more! It can be crowded, there might even be a line to get into the store.
If you want to get the iconic photo, you are advised to do that before the tour starts.
Platform 9 ¾ Photo
I am sure you have seen the photos reenacting the scene from the first Harry Potter movie of going through the brick wall with the shopping trolley (or cart as we call it) to catch the train to Hogwarts. This may surprise you, but Platform 9 ¾ is not with the other platforms The photos are taken in the concourse right next to the Platform 9 ¾ Store.
These photos are for serious Potterheads only. It’s not as simple as walking up and taking a picture. There is a huge line. Here are a few tips for getting the best photo at Platform 9 ¾:
- Bring a friend or befriend someone while waiting in line. That way you can take each other’s photos instead of paying £9.50 for the professional one.
- Think about your pose! Don’t stand next to it with your legs straight. Try to make it look like you are pushing the trolley through the wall. If you are good at jumping, that could make a fun photo too.
- Use the props. Chose your favorite scarf. You may also want to use a wand.
- Allow at least an hour. If you are tight on time, consider paying for the VIP option (Click here for more info). This allows you to skip the line and includes a lanyard and photo.
When the Platform 9 ¾ Store is open (Monday – Saturday 8 am – 10 pm and Sunday 9 am – 9 pm) there are staff to help you with the photo. You can also take the photo 6 am – 8 am or 10 pm – 12 am but there won’t be a trolley or staff to help you with the photo.
King’s Cross Station
In the Harry Potter movies, Harry must catch the train to Hogwarts from Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station. As part of the renovation of King’s Cross Station, completed in 2012, there is now a section for Platform’s 9 and 10. Before that Platforms 9 and 10 were not even located next to each other. We learned that the movie was actually filmed by Platforms 4 and 5! They replaced the signs.
It was funny to learn that J.K Rowling was thinking about Euston Station (which is nearby) when she wrote the book but mistakenly referred to King’s Cross. Also, in the movies, when they show the outside of King’s Cross Station, it is actually St. Pancras station, which is next door. You can’t blame them, St. Pancras is a much more attractive building! After getting our pictures of the station, we took the tube to Leicester Square.
Leicester Square Harry Potter Locations
Once we exited the tube, Ramona showed us a clip from one of the Harry Potter movies where you can see the sign for the Leicester Square Station close to the entrance to Diagon Alley. In the first Harry Potter book, Diagon Alley is said to be off Charing Cross Road, which Ramona pointed out to us as well. Then we walked over to where the entrance to Diagon Alley was in the films and peered in. No Diagon Alley there, it was actually a boring and dare I say ugly alley.
Hardy’s Candy Shop
Next, we made a stop at Hardy’s Candy Shop. As we entered the owner offered us samples of the candy, which was a treat. Ramona showed us where they sold Harry Potter candy gift bags and chocolate frogs. The packaging was slightly different as the copyright for the box design is owned by Warner Brothers, but it was still unmistakably Harry Potter candy!
One of the items inside the Harry Potter gift bag was “Every Flavour Beans.” The package has some normal jelly bean flavors along with some not so tasty options like vomit and rotten egg. Some others on our tour offered some to us, but I didn’t want to risk it. Be careful which one you choose!
I made a note to come back to this shop. They had such a diverse candy selection, I want to try it all!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
We also went by the theater where you can see the play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Ramona told us that it is normally £200 for the two-part show, but they now have a lottery where you can win the chance to buy the tickets for only £40 on Fridays. If you win the Friday lottery, you get the discounted tickets for the next Friday’s show. This is called the Friday Forty and you can get the tickets through TodayTix. (Get more info about the Friday Forty and the TodayTix discounts in London here)
House of MinaLima
Our next stop was the House of MinaLima. It’s connection to Harry Potter is that it’s the shop of the two designers who worked on the art for the Harry Potter films. Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima started working together on the films in 2002 and then opened their design studio together in 2009.
You can go inside the House of MinaLima to see the shop and exhibits for free. They are only open from 12 pm – 7 pm daily and it does get crowded. Since we were on the morning tour, the shop was closed when we were there. Still, we could see some of their work in the window including the Marauder’s Map which was hand drawn. I am going to have to go back and explore the design shop in more detail.
While the entrance to Diagon Alley didn’t look like much, the inspiration for it, Cecil Court, was picture perfect. The signs hanging along both sides are what gives it away. You should check out this street even if you are not a Harry Potter fan as the shops are very unique! In addition to Harry Potter memorabilia, there are priceless books and more.
After seeing the inspiration for Diagon Alley, it was time to see the inspiration for Knockturn Alley. Ramona took us through a narrow opening onto Goodwin Court. In the books and films, Knockturn Alley is just around the corner from Diagon Alley. In reality, Goodwin Court is just across Charing Cross Road from Cecil Court. I wondered how J.K. Rowling ever found this place, it is hidden well!
You can immediately see the resemblance with the curved windows and dark bricks. No scenes were filmed here because the equipment wouldn’t fit through the narrow alleyways at either end of the street. They rebuilt the street in the studio, taking the opportunity to bring the wall on either side a bit closer to make it feel more claustrophobic and spooky,
On our way to Westminster, we passed by Trafalgar Square, which was destroyed by the Death Eaters at the beginning of the film Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. It was also where they held the world premiere for the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Ramona also gave us a quick history lesson on Lord Nelson who is memorialized on top of the column.
Westminster Harry Potter Sights
The Westminster area is home to the UK Government and a few Harry Potter tourist attractions. First, we stopped by the Ministry of Magic. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry and Mr. Weasley enter a phone box (booth in American English) which descends into the Ministry of Magic. This phone box was just a prop so you won’t see it during the tour, but you can take a picture looking like Ron under the Scotland Place sign.
We also walked by 10 Downing Street which is the home of the UK Prime Minister. The Minister of Magic would have been able to visit the Prime Minister there at any time.
Next, we entered the Westminster Tube Station to head to London Bridge. This is where Harry took Muggle Transport. I was surprised to learn they closed this busy station for a day to film.
London Bridge Harry Potter Places
Our first stop in the London Bridge area was Borough Market. Ramona showed us the scene where Knight Bus pulled up and caused the alarm on a parked car to go off in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. You can also see the location of the Leaky Cauldron in that film.
Then, we saw the replica Golden Hinde which was the inspiration for the ship in the Goblet of Fire. We also passed the Clink, one of England’s oldest and most notorious prisons. I didn’t realize that together with Alcatraz, they were the inspiration for Azkaban.
Then our tour ended with a view of St. Paul’s Cathedral and Millenium Bridge. I didn’t realize that the scenes in Hogwarts with spiral stairs were filmed inside St. Paul’s. The Millenium Bridge is also known as the Wobbly Bridge because when it first opened it would sway quite a bit. It was the bridge that collapsed at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. You can see how the bridge wobbled and learn more about why in the video below.
Harry Potter London Walking Tour Review
While you can visit the Harry Potter spots in London on your own, I would recommend doing it with a tour. There are a lot of locations to research and map out. Plus, you won’t learn as much doing it on your own.
We both enjoyed our Harry Potter London Walking tour. Ramona was an excellent tour guide, full of so much interesting information. I liked how she brought along an iPad to show us scenes from the movies. She pointed out other tourist attractions and shared some historical information too. Ramona also offered to take pictures for everyone in the group.
There were only seven of us for the tour which made it more intimate. I always feel more comfortable asking questions in a small group. You could tell Ramona knew her stuff about Harry Potter and London. She told us the story about how the blue car from Harry Potter was stolen on the set and then left at a castle in Cornwall. Being the castle lover that I am, I had to know which castle. She couldn’t remember it off the top of her head. Without any further follow-up on my end, she sent me a message with the details. It was Carn Brea Castle.
You should be prepared for a fair bit of walking on the tour, but I do think that is the best way to see London. Also be sure to bring an oyster or contactless card to use the tube. Our Harry Potter guided tour in London was scheduled for three hours but lasted about 3 ½ hours. There were protests and other events going on in London which made areas more crowded than normal. We were enjoying the tour so much that we hardly noticed!
I should also mention that they do allow children to go on this Harry Potter tour for free, which I thought was nice. There aren’t too many tours that both kids and adults equally enjoy.
Other Harry Potter Places in London
It’s not possible to cover all the London Harry Potter locations on a three-hour walking tour. A few other sights that you might want to visit in addition to the tour are:
Leadenhall Market: Diagon Alley scenes in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Note: In the USA the name was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.) were filmed at Leadenhall Market located in the City of London. (It’s located on the other side of the Thames from the London Bridge tube Station) The Leaky Cauldron’s entrance in this film is actually an optician office in Bull’s Head Passage in Leadenhall Market.
Lambeth Bridge: In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Knight Bus squeezes between two oncoming double-decker buses. It’s the bridge south of the Westminster Bridge. In the movie, traffic on the bridge is only one way but in reality, cars can drive on the bridge in either direction.
Australia House: Scenes for Gringotts Wizarding Bank were filmed inside the Australia House which is located on Strand in central London. Technically you aren’t allowed to go inside, but you might be able to convince a security guard to let you peak your head in?
London Zoo: Harry first discovers he can talk to snakes at the Reptile House inside the London Zoo in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The London Zoo is located inside Regent’s Park. There are several different options for tickets to the zoo but they are not cheap! You can save money by booking online in advance. Admission to the London Zoo is included in the London Pass. (Click here to get information and pricing for the London Pass.)
About Triple Travel
Triple Travel is a website that connects travelers with locals. Locals are encouraged to create experiences that they are passionate about and are not included in the typical guidebooks. This helps travelers find the hidden gems and avoid tourist traps.
You can search activities based on your interests and availability. Then click on the ones you like to read more including reviews from people who have taken the tours before. They also have a system where you can message the host.
Currently, they offer experiences in 12 European cities, but they will be expanding. Click here to browse the tours that are currently offered on Triple.
More Harry Potter Travel Inspiration
If you love Harry Potter, you will also enjoy reading about other places with a Harry Potter connection:
Have you visited any of the Harry Potter sights in London or around the world?
Expert Tips for your London Harry Potter Walking Tour
- If you want the Platform 9 ¾ photo get to Kings Cross at least an hour before the tour or pay for the VIP option.
- Bring an oyster or other contactless card for the tube journeys.
- You can get Harry Potter souvenirs at the Platform 9 ¾ store or Hardy’s Candy.
- If you want to go inside the MinaLima store, opt for an afternoon tour. Check out other tour options from Triple Travel.
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Disclosure: We were guests of Triple Travel on the Harry Potter Walking Tour in London so that we could share our experience with our readers.
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