Last week, it was announced that the world’s biggest Harry Potter store is opening in NYC on June 3rd.
If you’re like me and can’t wait until it’s open, don’t fear; I have a list of the Best Harry Potter Places! No, they’re not the obvious ones like the Wizarding World in Orlando or The Cursed Child on Broadway. While I can’t recommend those enough, they’re on every single list. So, as someone with quite a bit of experience with all things Harry Potter, I decided to compile this list for you to (virtually) visit. Be warned—this article may increase your excitement for the new shop!
1. Livraria Lello, Porto
During the 1990s, author J.K. Rowling lived and taught French in Porto, Portugal. While this might not be uncommon knowledge for Harry Potter fans, an unknown place to visit is likely the Livraria Lello Bookshop. I consider myself someone with extensive knowledge about all things Harry Potter, but even I didn’t know about this bookshop’s existance until my family in Spain took my mom! Luckily, I had the opportunity to visit myself just a year later and trust me; it’s just as magical as Hogwarts.
2. Lacock, UK
Who knew a town of a thousand people could be home to so many amazing Harry
Potter sights? A little over an hour outside of Cardiff, this quaint town is an essential stop along your worldwide Harry Potter tour. First stop is the Lacock Abbey which houses infamous corridors and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom from the films. From there, it’s just a hop and a skip to the Potter’s House. Did I lead my friends astray then proceed to take a billion pictures here? Yes. But how could you not when it’s the place of James and Lily’s sacrifices? The final stop in this small village is the exterior of Professor Slughorn’s hideout in Half-Blood Prince. Anyone else ready to jet off?
3. Gloucester Cathedral, UK
I think the most shocking thing I discovered during my global Harry Potter tour is
that the same buildings weren’t used for all of the movies. I mean, why would they change the filming location for the Hogwarts corridors between the second and third movie? Who knows. But, if you’re itching to walk down the same ones shown in the first, second, and sixth films, Gloucester Cathedral is your go to. You can even peak into the Gryffindor Common Room (spoiler: it’s not filled with students) and see the wall where “enemies of the heir...beware” was written.
4. Chestnut Hill, PA
Let’s head over to the US real quick. It’s hard to give an extensive list of US Harry Potter sights to visit because, well, it’s a British franchise. But, fear not. If traveling to Europe isn’t feasible, there are still fun places to visit that aren't the Wizarding World in Orlando. In fact, this gem happens annually in Chestnut Hill, PA. A two-day event, fans of all ages are invited to celebrate the beloved series with trivia, themed food, and games. It’s like stepping right into Hogsmeade!
5. The Cauldron, NYC (and UK)
While you’re at it, you might as well take a NYC trip that consists of a visit to the Cauldron bar. A magical cocktail experience that originated in London, American fans can now also visit! During the experience, patrons receive three drinks, two of which they get to make themselves. The dimmed atmosphere and bubbling cauldrons are sure to give you Potions vibes minus the gloomy presence of Snape.
6. Millennium Bridge, London
Most people want to see the Millenium Bridge for it’s modern architect or unbeatable view of St. Paul’s. Not Harry Potter lovers, though. True fans know that in the sixth movie, Half-Blood Prince, the Millenium Bridge is the one taken out in the opening scene by Death Eaters. My only grievance with this sight is the historical inaccuracy. I mean, it’s called the Millenium Bridge because it was built in 2000. The sixth Harry Potter story is set in 1996, so, where does that make sense? Still, it’s worth the walk across and it really is an awesome spot to stop for pictures. Be careful and watch out for a Death Eater attack!
7. Christ Church, Oxford
It’s no secret that Oxford is one of my favorite places ever. There’s so much history
behind the beauty, not to mention it has ties to Tolkien and Lord of the Rings. But, Oxford is also home to a surprising amount of Harry Potter locations, the top one being Christ Church. Although it's a private tour you need to pay for, seeing the Great Hall is well worth it. Plus, there are some other iconic scenes filmed throughout, like the heartwarming one when Hermione shows Harry his father’s Quidditch trophy.
8. The Elephant House, Scotland
I wanted to keep the obvious sights off this list and although I thought The Elephant House was one of these, a conversation with a close friend who also likes Harry Potter taught me otherwise. The Elephant House located in Edinburgh is “the birthplace of Harry Potter.” As a single mother, Rowling used to sit at a corner table by the window (which overlooks Edinburgh Castle, another must) and nurse a cup of tea all day while keeping her daughter warm by the heater. It’s the rags to riches story we’re all familiar with, but to see the views Rowling had when first creating the series is unreal. Maybe my mom wasn’t the most thrilled when I made her trek through the muddy graveyard down below, but once we found Tom Riddle and McGonagall’s tombstones, it was pretty neat. They also have a delicious Purple Yam Cake, so it’s really a win-win situation all around.
9. Joseph Grimaldi Park, Islington
If you’re a Harry Potter fan and you’re stumped by this location, then you’re not alone. So far, I’ve never seen this one on any “Top 10 Must Visit Harry Potter” list. In fact, I stumbled upon this by accident as my apartment building while Studying Abroad was located directly next to it. But, just think about it. Grimaldi sounds exactly like Grimmauld as in Grimmauld Place. Could it be a coincidence? Sure. I have no doubt you avid fans are saying, “no Beth, Grimmauld place is clearly a play on Grimm Old Place” and yeah, I’ll give it to you. But what if I told you Grimaldi Park is in Islington, the same exact borough in London that 12 Grimmauld Place is located in the books. Still think it’s a coincidence? What’s even weirder is the actual filming location of Grimmauld Place was 3 minutes down the road right off of Cruikshank Road. Sounds like a certain orange cat, huh? The area is also home to Vernon Square and Percy Circle. That’s a lot of similar/same names that appear throughout the series!
10. House of MinaLima, London
The final place I’m going to recommend all Harry Potter lovers visit is House of
MinaLima. Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima are the creators behind the props you see throughout the films such as the Marauders Map, Harry’s Hogwarts Letter and the House of Black Family Tree. Located in a bright pink shop, the store is completely decked out in Harry Potter designs from floor to ceiling. And don't fret—it’s been announced a location is coming to NYC soon, so keep your eyes peeled!