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Best Harry Potter Places in Scotland Worth Visiting

Best Harry Potter Places in Scotland Worth Visiting

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Are you a HUGE Harry Potter fan? Let me show you exactly where to fin the best Harry Potter places in Scotland!
This list of the best Harry Potter places in Scotland was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

In the movies and books, Harry Potter lived with his aunt and uncle in the south of England. 

He crossed the barrier between platforms nine and ten at King’s Cross Station in London and he stayed at The Leaky Cauldron in London.

But the location of Hogwarts? And the places that inspired author J.K. Rowling when writing the books?

Those are all in Scotland!

This guide covers all of the best Harry Potter places in Scotland worth visiting, both filming locations and places that inspired the locations, to ensure you have a magical Scotland vacation.

Image of a boy wearing a Gryffindor scarf and wand in Scotland
My kids are HUGE Harry Potter fans! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Best Harry Potter Places in Scotland Worth Visiting

Jacobite Steam Train or Hogwarts Express

If you’re a fan of the movies then the Harry Potter train scene location from The Chamber of Secrets (2002) is surely one of your favorites.

Well, you can also cross the same bridge on a similar steam train!

The Jacobite Steam Train runs from Fort William to Mallaig in the Scottish Highlands from April to October. Regular ScotRail trains travel on this service, but it’s not the same as riding a real steam train.

Traveling in August? Check availability in January! Seriously, tickets for these trains are booked months in advance so snag yours as early as possible.

If you don’t get tickets when they are released, don’t stress! Several tour companies offer them as part of a longer tour.

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Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Highlands

The ‘bridge’ that the Hogwarts Express crosses is the Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Scottish Highlands. This 21-arch rail bridge is an iconic location in most of the Harry Potter movies.

Image of the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland
Tell me this looks familiar!

As well as traveling on a steam train over the bridge, you should watch a train as it crosses the viaduct too.

Trains cross the bridge approximately 30 minutes after they depart from Fort William Train Station.

There’s a parking lot at the Glenfinnan Visitor Center and a couple of different viewpoints where you can watch the train cross the track. You’ll want to choose the one up the hill to capture the perfect shot of the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct Harry Potter scene!

Loch Shiel in Glenfinnan

Don’t drive away from the Glenfinnan Visitor Center without checking out the Hogwarts location in Scotland.

Image of Loch Shiel in Scotland
You might recognize this as the Black Lake in the films.

Although Hogwarts Castle is a blend of CGI and several locations in England, the loch that stands in for the Black Lake is Loch Shiel. This loch is located next to Glenfinnan Monument and is just a few minutes walk from the parking lot.

It’s a gorgeous setting and well worth extending your trip to Glenfinnan by 30 minutes or more.

The Elephant House in Edinburgh

When author J.K. Rowling was writing the first couple of Harry Potter novels, she was a struggling single mother working as a teacher in Edinburgh. 

Image of the Elephant House in Edinburgh
The pop-up shop on Victoria Street is cool to check out. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

She wrote many of the first chapters from coffee shops around the city. 

One of the top Harry Potter places Edinburgh has to offer is The Elephant House on George IV Bridge. Sadly, this coffee shop suffered extreme fire damage in August 2021 but it’s slated to reopen in summer 2024. It wasn’t open when we visited in June 2024.

However, there’s an Elephant House pop-up on Victoria Street where you can sit down and enjoy a meal or get Butterbeer to go! This was a really fun stop!

Steall Waterfall in Glen Nevis

Glenfinnan is just one of several Harry Potter locations in Scotland from the movies.

Image of Steall Waterfall in Scotland
How pretty is Steall Waterfall?

Glen Nevis is a valley just outside of Fort William, a mountain town in the Highlands. It’s been used as a setting for many Hogwarts Quidditch matches.

You can clearly spot Steall Waterfall, the second-tallest waterfall in the country standing 393 ft/120 m, in the background.

Victoria Street in Edinburgh

One of the top Harry Potter places in Scotland worth visiting has to be Victoria Street in Edinburgh. This colorful, curved street is the certified inspiration of the magical shopping street, Diagon Alley.

Victoria Street was the inspiration for Diagon Alley. Photo credit: Kim with Flytographer in Edinburgh

At the time J.K. Rowling was writing the early Harry Potter books, there was a joke shop, book shop, candy shop, and tailors on Victoria Street. 

There was even a Bank of Scotland sitting at the end, just like Gringotts!

Eilean na Moine in Loch Eilt

You will be able to see this Harry Potter location in Scotland from a window as you travel from Fort William to Mallaig on the Jacobite Steam Train. 

But it’s well worth visiting in person if you can!

Eilean na Moine is a small, picturesque island floating in Loch Eilt which is covered in long, tall Caledonian pine trees.

It was the place where Professor Lupin and Harry went walking in The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and where Dumbledore was buried in Half-Blood Prince (2009).

Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh

Another of the best Harry Potter places to visit in Scotland is Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Image of a boy wearing a Slytherin scarf in front of Tom Riddell's grave in Edinburgh
You’ll definitely want to spot Tom Riddell’s grave. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

This graveyard gave author J.K. Rowling inspiration for the names of two Harry Potter characters. Poet William McGonagall inspired Professor Minerva McGonagall and Tom Riddell inspired Lord Voldemort’s original name, Tom Marvolo Riddle.

Clachaig Gully in Glen Coe

While Glen Coe is one of the most picturesque places in the country, it’s also worth visiting because it’s one of the main Harry Potter sites in Scotland!

Clachaig Gully is just off the main A82 road through the Glen Coe valley and it’s where director Alfonso Cuaron relocated Hagrid’s Hut.

Although nothing remains of the hut in the real location, it’s still a beautiful spot.

The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh

J.K. Rowling didn’t just start writing Harry Potter in Scotland but she also finished writing it here too.

Image of Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
See where the magic happened at the Balmoral Hotel.

The author stayed in Room 552 in The Balmoral Hotel, a famous five-star hotel in Edinburgh, to finish penning The Deathly Hallows book. 

She also marked the occasion by signing a statue in the room! If you have the cash to splash, it’s worth booking a night here during your trip. 

Edinburgh City Chambers

This is one of the lesser-known Harry Potter places in Scotland, but worth checking out if you’re already planning a trip to the Scottish capital city.

Edinburgh City Chambers are located on the Royal Mile in the center of Old Town. In their courtyard, there are several handprints of previous Edinburgh Award winners. Recipients of this award are outstanding individuals who have made a positive impact on the city.

J.K. Rowling won this award in 2008, so her handprints are visible on the ground outside the building. 

It makes for a fun photo op to measure your hands next to those who wrote all seven Harry Potter books!

George Heriot School in Edinburgh

You won’t be able to visit inside this Harry Potter location in Edinburgh, but it’s prettier from the outside anyway!

Image of View of George Heriot's School in Edinburgh - Scotland
Does this remind you of Hogwarts?

George Heriot School is a private school visible from the windows of The Elephant House coffee shop. Its 17th-century turrets are said to have inspired the appearance of Hogwarts.

It is also visible from Greyfriars Kirkyard.

This school has a ‘house’ system, just like the Hogwarts houses, which is common in British schools. Hogwarts houses are Gryffindor (red), Slytherin (green), Hufflepuff (yellow), and Ravenclaw (blue).

At George Heriot, they are Lauriston (Green), Greyfriars (White), Raeburn (Red), and Castle (Blue).

Museum Context Stores in Edinburgh

Do you really need any more Harry Potter merchandise? Probably not. 

But does the idea of shopping for officially licensed Harry Potter merch from the city that inspired the books seem enticing? Of course, it does!

Don’t miss the photo op on the top level of the shop. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Head to the Museum Context stores on Cockburn Street and Victoria Street, which are both just off the Royal Mile. They both sell Harry Potter-branded clothes, accessories, games, and other cool nick nacks which make great souvenirs.

Magic Potions Tavern in Edinburgh

If you’re traveling without the kids, make reservations at the Magic Potions Tavern in Edinburgh.

This cocktail bar offers 75-minute cocktail brewing classes! They will give you your own robes so you can feel like real witches and wizards. Learn how to create cocktails over a cauldron that smoke, bubble, and taste delicious!

Of course, you’ll be able to enjoy the cocktails afterward.

The University of Glasgow

This is a bonus Scottish Harry Potter location. The University of Glasgow’s main campus did not inspire the Harry Potter books, nor did it appear as a filming location in any of the movies.

Image of University of Glasgow Cloisters, Scotland in a beautiful summer day, United Kingdom
I can definitely feel Hogwarts vibes here.

However, many visitors have commented on how much the 19th-century buildings resemble the Hogwarts as described in the books. If you’re visiting Glasgow anyway, it’s well worth swinging by University Avenue to see for yourself!

Harry Potter Places in Scotland Worth Visiting FAQs

Is Hogwarts a real place?

Unfortunately, the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry does not exist! You weren’t the only one not to receive a letter from an owl when you were 11 years old.

Even more disappointing is that the Hogwarts castle is made up of CGI and several locations including castles, universities, and churches in England.

The closest you’ll come to visiting the Hogwarts in real-life location is Loch Shiel, where the CGI version of Hogwarts sits.

Where in Scotland is Diagon Alley?

In the Harry Potter movies, Diagon Alley is a studio set. You can visit it on the Harry Potter Warner Bros Tour just outside London!

But the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books is Victoria Street in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is 100% confirmed!

Is Ben Nevis in Harry Potter?

Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Scotland, does not appear in the Harry Potter movies. 

However, parts of Glen Nevis (the valley next to Ben Nevis) appear as a backdrop to some Quidditch scenes in several Harry Potter movies.

Harry Potter Places in Scotland Worth Visiting Wrap-Up

For true Potterheads, these are all excellent Harry Potter places in Scotland worth visiting!

Whether you’re visiting Edinburgh, riding the Jacobite steam train, or planning a huge Harry Potter road trip, you won’t be disappointed.

Be sure to watch all the movies one last time before your trip so you can recognize these pretty Potter locations in real life!

Looking for more Scotland travel resources? Check out 13 Best Day Trips From Glasgow by Train, 13 Best Day Trips From Edinburgh by Train, Planning a Trip to Scotland: Step-by-Step Guide, 13 Must-Read Scotland Travel Tips for First-Timers, and 9 Best Edinburgh Hotels for Families Worth Booking!

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