A magical guide to the top Harry Potter film locations in London.
Don your favourite Hogwarts scarf and pack your wand for a magical adventure in London. Stepping into the footsteps of our favourite wizards, this blog post lists the top 5 Harry Potter film locations in London you can visit for free!
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Top 5 Harry Potter film locations in London
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Have you ever wondered where the Harry Potter films were filmed?
While the eight Harry Potter films were filmed all over the UK and in film studios, you’d be surprised how many iconic scenes were actually filmed in London.
Including some of London’s most famous landmarks, I compiled a short list of Harry Potter film locations in London you can visit without much effort and, best of all, completely for free!
Drawing from my own guided Harry Potter tours in London I’ve been giving since 2015, these are just a fraction of the magical hotspots in London.
1. Kings Cross Station
Features in: Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
This article on the top Harry Potter London film locations obviously starts at Kings Cross station. It’s not only the departure point of my own Harry Potter tours but also of the Hogwarts Express.
Recreate your own disappearance onto Platform 9 3/4 with the trolley next to the special Harry Potter souvenir shop. Located right next to the real platforms 9 and 10, Harry Potter fans wouldn’t want to miss this photo opportunity!
However, not to spoil the magic for you here, but unlike expected the scenes weren’t actually filmed between platforms 9 and 10. Because, if you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see there’s no wall between these platforms!
For the authentic disappearing wall, you need to head down to platforms 4 and 5 on the other side of the station. The ticket gates towards these platforms are often open so you can go in and check if you can find the exact magical sweet spot in the arched wall.
2. St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Features in: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
This second Harry Potter location is far less obvious, but it’s actually one of my favourites as it’s so incredibly striking and always leaves people in awe.
Coming from the bustling Kings Cross Station and crossing a noisy London thoroughfare, I’m sure you’ll gasp once you set your eyes on the stunning 19th-century Gothic Revival St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. It always does the trick for the people in my tour groups.
Eager to grab their phones to document it, their eyes light up when I show them the picture of Mr Weasley’s Ford Anglia flying car in front of the hotel’s clock tower.
See the cute small purple car parked right in front of the hotel? This was parked there for years but seems to have suddenly magically disapparated now. It was the perfect Harry Potter prop though as it resembled the little blue car Harry and Ron used to fly to Hogwarts with after they were unable to disappear onto Platform 9 3/4 in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
3. Piccadilly Circus
Features in: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
Speaking of disapparating: remember that gruesome scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 where Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour’s joyous wedding party was viciously interrupted by a group of wedding crashing Death Eaters?
While the party guests flee here and there, Harry, Ron and Hermione apparate into one of London’s most iconic landmarks: Piccadilly Circus.
Attracting tons of curious bystanders, filming at this busy location was quite a challenge. It might be one of the reasons why the filmmakers decided to have the magical trio zap into Shaftesbury Avenue rather than the even busier (and internationally less recognisable) Tottenham Court Road as originally happens in J.K. Rowling’s book.
4. Leadenhall Market
Features in: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
The dazzling Victorian covered Leadenhall Market is little short of magic for us Muggles on any given day. Accompanied by Hagrid, Harry gets his first hands-on experience of the wizarding world when they visit Leadenhall Market a.k.a. Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Located in the little alley Bull’s Head Passage, you’ll find the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron. In real life this Harry Potter film location houses an optician. Harry Potter fans will recognise its remarkable curved door which used to be painted blue, like the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron, but nowadays it’s painted in anonymous white.
5. Millennium Bridge
Features in: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Those pesky Death Eaters have quite a bad track record when it comes to violence and destruction. Before they ruined Bill and Fleur’s lovely wedding party, they’re seen flying across some of London’s most famous landmarks in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
The scene where they fly around Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square is so short, you might miss the reference if you’re not so familiar with all of London’s attractions.
However, you can’t possibly miss the scene where the Death Eaters attack a group of random Muggles and destroy the modern Millennium Bridge.
Loved by some (including myself) and hated by others (clearly by the Death Eaters), the Millennium Bridge is one of the most eye-catching bridges in London. It’s one of the best locations to photograph St Paul’s Cathedral and offers incredible views over Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Tower Bridge.
Funny coincidence: in real life the bridge had to close for two years after its opening in June 2000. With approximately 80,000 eager pedestrians crossing the bridge on its opening day, it appeared the bridge couldn’t cope with the footfall and started to sway significantly.
Though there’s no chance of get motion sickness crossing Millennium Bridge nowadays after the improvement works, it’s quite curious how the attack of the Death Eaters resonates with real-life events. Or might this scene be slightly influenced by news from the Muggle world? Who knows, but either way, it does make for a great anecdote!
I hope you enjoyed this list of Harry Potter film locations in London! Now tell me, which of these would you like to visit for yourself?
And don’t forget that if you’re Dutch, you can join me on one of my Harry Potter tours in London!
*Photo credit featured image: Diogo Nunes / Unsplash (with an added splash of magic by me)