Not only did I visit the stationery stores of London to my heart’s content, but also (or mainly) spend a lot of time exploring Harry Potter’s London. Walking in Harry’s footsteps – absolute nerd heaven! There are so many spot you recognize from the films. Some a little obscure, others very obvious. I tried very hard to limit myself to 10 places – couldn’t do it! Because there are soooo many great , this is Part 1 of The Ultimate Guide to Harry Potter’s London.
1. Leaky Cauldron Entrance #1
The food market at Borough Street Market is definitely worth a stop just for the yummy goodies! But Harry Potter fans will recognize the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at 7 Stoney Street. In the movie’s beginning, the Knight Bus comes to a screeching halt here after quite a trip through London.
Unfortunately, all you find at the actual 7 Stoney Street is a Taco place (it apparently was a flower shop before). But muggles aren’t supposed to see the magical pub’s entrance for what it is anyway, right?
2. Death Eater Attack
Walking along the Thames past the Shapespeare’s Globe Theater you come to Millennium Bridge which was destroyed by a Death Eaters’ attack in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Don’t worry in our muggle world the bridge is still intact!
The Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian-only suspension bridge over the Thames, linking the Backside with the city. Walking it from the south side to the north it offers an amazing view of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
3. Divination Staircase
Admit it, you’ve always wanted to sit in one of Trelawney’s Divination classes 😄. In St. Paul’s Cathedral you can at least see the beautiful Geometric Staircase leading to the divination tower, appearing in multiple Harry Potter films.
You will have to pay the entrance fee to get into St. Paul’s (ticket for adults £18; save up to £2 online). When you’re already inside, try to climb the stairs to the Golden Gallery at top. There are 1,161 stairs (crazy!) – but the view is absolutely worth it!
4. Leaky Cauldron Entrance #2
Leadenhall Market is a beautiful Victorian covered market with an ornate painted roof. It is also the home to the entrance to the wizard’s pub Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In the muggle world it is the entrance to an optician in Bull’s Head Passage in Leadenhall Market. You might not recognize it at first though, because in the films the bright blue was painted a grim black for a better effect.
5. Gringotts Wizarding Bank
If you have time stop by Australia House. It is home to the Australian Embassy and its exterior was the inspiration for the films’ version of Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Scenes were also filmed in the grand interior for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Unfortunately, the Exhibition Room used for the filming of the inside of Gringotts is closed to the public. Since Australia House houses the embassy it is very difficult to go inside. It’s a pretty nice building from the outside though, so if you’re in the area, maybe stop by anyway…
6. 8th Story – The Cursed Child
The Palace Theatre is home to The Cursed Child, the 8th story of the Harry Potter franchise.
Were you are lucky and got hold of some tickets?
No? Here are some tips for getting your hands on the sought-after tickets… you can try to get tickets in “The Friday Forty.” Every Friday 40 tickets for every performance the following week are released at exactly 1pm on the official website. Or you can show up before a show and get in line for returned or other late-release tickets that become available at short notice. Those tickets are sold online or in person at the Palace Theatre box office on a first-come-first-serve basis. Prepare to be there at least one hour before the show starts! Maybe you’ll be in luck…
7. House of MinaLima
The House of MinaLima, an exhibition and shop for the Harry Potter graphic art, is right around the corner of the Palace Theatre. It should definitely be on your list when exploring Harry Potter’s London. You can find the graphic art of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on the first floor and the graphic art of the eight Harry Potter films on floors 2 and 3. Some of the authentic film props on display are on loan from the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Leavensden. On the ground floor is the shop where you can purchase posters, stationery, homeware, and books. It’s absolutely incredible!
8. The Trio on the Run
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I, in one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on the run from Death Eaters at Bill and Fleur’s wedding. They apparate straight to London turning up right in front of a London red double decker bus and almost get hit. This scene was filmed in Piccadilly Circus. It is a very popular tourist landmark and you will definitely come across it during your visit to London.
9. Diagon Alley
You can find the inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley in central London off of Charing Cross Street (the Leaky Cauldron is located on Charing Cross Street in the books!) – Cecil Court. A very charming alley lined with original Victorian shop fronts selling a wide variety of antique books.
One store’s name The Witch Ball, and Marchpane, a children’s and illustrated bookstore, has multiple signed copies and first-editions of different Harry Potter books. Watkins Books claims to be the oldest occultist and mystical bookshop in the entire world! Colin Narbeth and Son Ltd has cashed in, quite literally, on the large number of Harry Potter fans who go on a pilgrimage through Cecil Court – they are selling Gringotts Bank notes featuring Harry Potter & friends! The alley has its own touch of magic to it, not hard to believe that it could be the entrance to the Wizarding World…
10. Knockturn Alley
The dodgy place off Diagon Alley for all things Dark Arts is Knockturn Alley and you can find its inspiration off of Cecil Court, the inspiration for Diagon Alley – crazy coincidence? I don’t think so! Goodwin’s Court is a much smaller alley with kind of wonky looking buildings. You can very easily image this little courtyard path as another entrance to the magical world of Harry Potter.