Christ Church College, Oxford

The Boy Wizard Turns 20: Iconic Filming Locations from Harry Potter

Travel /


It's been two magical decades since the first film was released in the UK

This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more

With the Harry Potter reunion set to air in the UK on New Year’s Day, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the iconic filming locations that make an appearance in the films. From gothic cathedrals and underground tunnels to London train stations and markets, these are some the iconic settings that made history in the Harry Potter film franchise.

Read the C&TH Responsible Tourism Guide

Iconic Filming Locations from Harry Potter

Looking for more filming locations for a UK staycation? Check out our comprensive guide

Photo 1 of
Harry Potter Filming Locations - Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market, London

Notable Films: The Philosopher’s Stone

London is home to many of Harry Potter’s filming locations, with some of the most iconic located in the city centre. The covered Leadenhall Market, dating back to the 14th century, was home to Diagon Alley in the very first film. You’ll be sure to recognise the famous cobbled streets, as well as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron (which in lives in the muggle world as an optician in Bull’s Head Passage).

Public areas in the market are open 24 hours a day, so feel free to have a wander inside if you’re nearby. leadenhallmarket.co.uk

Image: Claudia Owczarek, Unsplash

Christ Church College, Oxford

Christ Church College in Oxford University, Oxford

Notable Films: The Philosopher’s Stone

Perhaps the most well-known of all of Oxford’s Harry Potter filming locations, Christ Church College has made an appearance in all eight films. The Bodley Tower staircase in particular is known as the setting where Harry first met fellow classmates Draco Malfoy and Neville Longbottom (and his pet toad, Trevor), before they were split into their houses. The college’s dining hall has also been cited as the filmmakers’ inspiration for the Great Hall, where Harry and his friends took many of their meals.

You can visit Christ Church College today, but make sure you book tickets in advance. chch.ox.ac.uk

Image: Soyoung Han, Unsplash

Goathland Train Station

Goathland Train Station, Yorkshire

Notable Films: The Philosopher’s Stone

Located in the North York Moors, Goathland Train Station was the filming location for the Hogwarts station, Hogsmeade. Fans will remember the Hogwarts Express pulling into Goathland, as Hagrid welcomed the first years and led them across the lake to the castle. The station is also used in the final send-off scene in the same film.

Goathland Train Station is still an active station, and is free to visit. Stick around for a chance to ride a steam train or travel in luxury on a classic Pullman dining train. nymr.co.uk

Image: Different Resonance, Unsplash 

The Cloisters in Durham Cathedral, NE England, United Kingdom

Durham Cathedral, Durham City

Notable Films: The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets

The Romanesque architecture of Durham Cathedral played a central role in the first two Harry Potter films – and with it’s vaulted ceilings, arched windows and dark corridors we can see why. Fan will remember the cathedral’s cloister from The Philosopher’s Stone, which acted as the backdrop for the snowy scene where Harry releases his owl, Hedwig, and from The Chamber of Secrets, where the Chapter House features as Professor McGonagall’s classroom.

Free to visit (with donations encouraged), Durham Cathedral is open year-round and takes centre stage in multiple Wizarding World-themed tours in the local area. durhamcathedral.co.uk

Image: Getty Images

King's Cross

King’s Cross Station, London

Films:The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets

As one of London’s main stations, King’s Cross is a busy place – especially if you’re a young wizard about to embark on a trip to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The station has been used in most of the films, but most notably featured in the first and second films where Harry and Ron took (and missed) the Hogwarts Express for the first time.

While you can’t go to Platform 9 3/4, you can find a station luggage trolley embedded in the wall which you can take pictures with. There’s also a Harry Potter memorabilia shop you can stop by. networkrail.co.uk

Image:Sarah Ehlers, Unsplash

Harry Potter Filming Locations - Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

Notable Films: The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets

A popular location for filming, Alnwick Castle has previously opened its doors to the likes of Downton Abbey, Transformers and Robin Hood. Its medieval architecture, which dates back to the 11th century, acted as the perfect backdrop for many scenes in Harry Potter. The most recognisable, however, might be from the first film, where Harry learnt to fly a broomstick for the first time in the castle’s Outer Bailey. The Inner Bailey was also the site where Harry and Ron crashed the flying car into the Whomping Willow in Chamber of Secrets.

Alnwick Castle is open yearly from March to October, and visitors can tour the castle and grounds – and even have a go at broomstick flying if they fancy. alnwickcastle.com

Image: Getty Images

The Divinity School, Oxford University

The Divinity School in Oxford University, Oxford

Notable Films: The Philosopher’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire

While Oxford University is home to many Harry Potter memories, the Divinity School is perhaps most recognised as Hogwarts’s infirmary – becoming a hub of activity whenever Harry inevitably finds himself escaping sticky situations. The Divinity School also featured in Goblet of Fire as the classroom where students practiced their dance skills (and Ron danced with Professor McGonagall) before the Yule Ball.

The Divinity School is part of the Bodleian Library, which offers tours throughout the year for eager visitors and fans. bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Image: Ugur Akdemir, Unsplash

Harry Potter Filming Locations - Glenfinnan Viaduct

Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scottish Highlands

Notable Films: The Philosopher’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire

Who can forget the image of the Hogwarts Express cutting across the countryside with steam billowing behind it? The curved viaduct that we see in the first two films is located in the north west Scottish Highlands, but today you won’t likely see a flying car chasing after it.

The viaduct is actively used by trains today, and if you time it right you see the actual train used in the films taking passengers from Fort William to Mallaig. visitscotland.com

Images: Jack Anstey, Unsplash

Harry Potter Filming Locations - Gloucester Cathedral cloisters

Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucestershire

Notable Films: The Philosopher’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets and Half Blood Prince

Most Potterheads will recognise the stunning fan vaults that decorate Gloucester Cathedral, which featured in three of the Harry Potter films. From rampant trolls and painted ladies to haunted toilets and bloody messages about secret chambers, the cathedral has seen its fair share of magic. While used more generally for corridor shots (in particular the Gryffindor corridor), the cathedral’s Lavatorium was most notably the site in Half Blood Prince where Harry hid and heard Snape talking about the Unbreakable Vow.

Gloucester Cathedral is open year-round and entry is free (but donations are encouraged). gloucestercathedral.org.uk

Image: Getty Images

Harry Potter Filming Locations - Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Notable Films: The Philosopher’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets and Half Blood Prince

Lacock Abbey holds a special place in the hearts of many Potter fans. The 13th century building played a huge role in the early films, with the Sacristy acting as Professor Snape’s potions classroom and the Warming Room used as Professor Quirrell’s classroom in the first film. The Warming Room still has the giant cauldron, a 16th century cooking pot belonging to the Abbey, that featured in the films. The Chapter House also featured as the room in which Harry first finds the Mirror of Erised.

Lacock Abbey is now looked after by the National Trust, meaning you’ll need a ticket to visit (National Trust members go free). nationaltrust.org.uk

Image: Getty Images

Harry Potter Filming Locations - Road transport under River Mersey

Mersey Tunnels, Liverpool

Notable Films: The Deathly Hallows Part One

Liverpool’s magical claim to fame is the Mersey Tunnel. In the dramatic chase scene in The Deathly Hallows Part One, Harry and Hagrid veer off-route into the Queensway Tunnel in an attempt to shake off the Death Eaters – thankfully missing the oncoming traffic as they navigate the tunnel on Hagrid’s flying motorbike.

The tunnel is operated today by Merseytravel, serving as an active route for traffic.

Image: Getty Images

Malham Cove

Malham Cove, North Yorkshire

Notable Films: The Deathly Hallows Part One

A massive limestone formation in North Yorkshire, Malham Cove is the remains of a massive waterfall from the ice age. The location features in The Deathly Hallows Part One, when Harry and Hermione are travelling together in search of a way to destroy the Horcruxes. You can see them camping at the top of Malham Cove just after Ron leaves them.

A popular spot for walkers, Malham Cove is free to visit via the trail from Malham Village. malhamdale.com 

Image: Getty Images

Freshwater West Beach, Pembrokeshire Coast, Wales

Freshwater West Beach, Pembrokeshire Coast, Wales

Notable Films: The Deathly Hallows Part One

While in real life known for its strong waves and currents – making it a hotspot for surfers – this beach in West Wales has a tragic association in the Wizarding World. Used as a backdrop for one of the darkest films in the franchise, Freshwater West will stand out to Potter fans as the beach where Dobby the house elf died in Harry’s arms just after saving him from the Death Eaters – marking the end to the penultimate film.

Today, you can visit the beach at your leisure. Go for a walk, try your hand at surfing or risk the waves head-on if you’re a strong swimmer. visitpembrokeshire.com

Image: Getty Images

WATCH

The Harry Potter 20th anniversary reunion show will air on New Year’s Day on Sky and NOW.

Featured image: Christ Church College, Oxford (c) Soyoung Han, Unsplash