Whether you’re a tween maybe hitting the age where you’re looking for the best places to retire, Harry Potter has a mass appeal for all. And London itself is steeped in Harry Potter locations, both mentioned in the books and seen in the movies. So here are some of the places you should try to visit if you love Harry Potter.
Diagon Alley and Knocturn Alley
Cecil Court (just off of Charing Cross Road) and nearby Goodwin’s Court are the likely inspirations for Diagon Alley and Knocturn Alley—one look at each makes it pretty obvious. Cecil Court is filled with brightly-colored Victorian shops—especially bookshops. Goodwin’s Court is dark, narrow, empty, and a little eerie.
Warner Brothers Studio Tour London
While not actually in London, it’s only a short bus ride away, and is very much worth the trip. Pretty much every prop and film set you can imagine is there, from the Deathly Hallows to the Hogwarts bridge that Neville destroys to Arthur Weasley’s Ford Anglia. You wander down the Great Hall; peek into Number 4, Privet Drive; and stand in the midst of the echoing Ministry of Magic atrium—it’s honestly a lot like you’re there. Plus you can buy Butterbeer, take a picture while flying on a broomstick, and pick up any magical tchotchke your heart desires.
Platform 9 3/4
So there are technically two places you can visit for Platform 9 ¾, but happily they’re right next door to each other. The first is where the film actually shot exterior scenes of King’s Cross Station—which oddly, they used St. Pancras Station as a stand-in. The second is where the books indicate the platform is—King’s Cross Station. If you’re looking for 9 ¾ there you can find a plaque commemorating it between platforms 8 and 9. (Although 9 ¾ was actually filmed at platforms 4 and 5.) Near the plaque is a nice brick wall with a trolley smashed into it, where you can don your House scarf and get your picture snapped as you “run” to catch the train!
London Zoo’s Reptile House
Remember the first time Harry discovered he can speak to snakes? When he accidentally set free a Burmese python and trapped Dudley in its enclosure? (Incidentally, that snake is not Nagini, but I digress.) If you visit London Zoo and slither on over to the Reptile House, you’ll be able to see the enclosure, which houses a black mamba, where the snake went on the lamb, along with a plaque to mark the spot.
Nice for a sunset stroll across the Thames, Millennium Bridge is happily still standing. I write this not only because it was utterly destroyed by Death Eaters in Half-Blood Prince, but because it infamously began to sway from side to side when pedestrians were first allowed to cross it. The bridge was immediately closed until the problem could be resolved, and it seems its destruction in Prince may have been a bit of a joke about the bridge’s past issues.