If you’re looking to explore the birthplace of this famous franchise, Edinburgh is the place to be. While there are actually no filming locations in the capital city, many of its winding cobblestoned streets inspired the author to pen her spellbinding story.
We recommend our Edinburgh Walking Tour for a sprinkle of sorcery. We’ll sort your Dumbledores from your Dumbledonts with our recommendations of must-see Edinburgh sites for Harry Potter fans.
Our tour guides will show you the city as you’ve never seen it before. Each of our guides has experienced homelessness or social disadvantage at some point, meaning their unique perspective covers more than the average guide can offer.
But, for now, read on to find out about the magical spots in Scotland’s capital.
Go Shopping for Wands on Victoria Street, or Diagon Ally
Ok, we fibbed. While you won’t find Olivander’s on Victoria Street, the curved road and artisanal shops could be right out of Diagon Ally. What essential school supplies will you pick up on your visit to one of Edinburgh’s brightest nooks?
While Diagon Alley is located in London in the Potterverse, the pointed roofs and cobblestones of Victoria Street are undoubtedly the inspiration for the wizarding world. Located in the city’s Old Town, the multi-storey buildings contain layers of history.
Discover Tom Riddell’s Grave in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard
If you’ve ever been curious about the origin of Rowling’s famous characters, look no further than Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. This was the first church in post-reformation Scotland, built in 1620, and it is also the burial ground of several Potters, William McGonagall, Mrs Elizabeth Moodie, and, of course, Tom Riddell.
Get a taste of the atmospheric Greyfriar’s virtually and pinpoint the graves whose names gave life to the characters we know and love today. One particular gravestone bears the name of several generations of Thomas Riddells who were the inspiration behind the pseudonym of He Who Must Not Be Named.
Don’t forget to rub Greyfriars Bobby’s nose for good luck before entering! Immortalised in a bronze statue outside the Kirkyard, this famous 19th-century Skye terrier guarded his owner’s grave for 14 years until his death in 1872.
Have a Hogwarts Adventure at Edinburgh Castle
We couldn’t share a list of bewitching sites without mentioning the jewel in the crown of this Scottish capital city. Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous monuments in western Europe. The commanding fortress walls hold the history of Scottish monarchs who once commanded their empires from the largest castle in Scotland.
Sat atop the volcanic crag of Castle Rock, visitors can walk up the Royal Mile and see the impressive castle looming over the city. This site casts a spell on you whatever time of year you visit — whether it’s a sunny summer day or an autumn chill is in the air.
A must-see on your trip to Edinburgh, we guarantee you’ll feel as if you’re approaching Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the first time. We hope you’re ready to learn some spells and potions alongside the history of Edinburgh Castle!
Imagine Being Sorted into a House at George Heriot’s School
Take one look at George Heriot’s and you’ll no doubt be reminded of the iconic Hogwarts castle. This independent school is Edinburgh’s oldest. It is situated on a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The school’s four houses have been cited as an inspiration for the famous four imagined by Rowling. Based on local Edinburgh landmarks, the school’s houses and colours are Lauriston (Green), Greyfriars (Yellow/White), Raeburn (Red) and Castle (Blue).
Which house do you belong in? Stroll past this beautiful building on the way to Edinburgh Castle and imagine undergoing the Sorting Ceremony with the curmudgeonly hat atop your head.
Luxuriate in the Lush Rooms of the Balmoral Hotel
While this one is a bit of a costly pursuit, superfans of Harry Potter can stay in the same hotel where J.K. Rowling penned Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Room 552 has now been named after the author and has a purple door with an owl knocker.
Centrally located on Princes Street, this hotel is just around the corner from several of the sites mentioned on our list. The Harry Potter author is not the only famous visitor to this Parisian-style hotel. The Balmoral has also been host to Sophia Loren, the Queen Mother, and Paul and Linda McCartney in its time.
Have a Pint of Butterbeer at The Dog House
While there isn’t an official Harry Potter pub in Edinburgh, you’ll find delicious Butterbeer served on tap in a Clerk Street pub called The Dog House. It’s easy to imagine mooching around the cosy streets of Hogsmeade as you drop into this warm and eclectic pub.
Older witches and wizards looking to wet their whistles can try this delicious drink in a stein glass, or opt for a whisky-based Butterbeer cocktail. The pub’s tagline is “where the misfit fits”; whether you’re a magical being or a muggle, you’ll find a home at The Dog house.
Play Wizard’s Chess at The National Museum of Scotland
Aside from being a treasure trove of relics from world history, the National Museum is home to a medieval chess set that bears more than a passing resemblance to those used in Wizard Chess.
The Lewis chess pieces are made of walrus ivory and sperm whale tooth and were found amongst a large hoard buried in the Isle of Lewis. Eagle-eyed fans can compare these pieces to those used in the violent game Ron and Harry play at the climax of The Philosopher’s Stone.
If you fancy your own set, pick one up in the gift shop for what will hopefully be a much simpler game!
We hope our recommendations have given you a taste of the enchanting places that lie in store for your Edinburgh escapade! Whether you prefer the Harry Potter books or movies or love both equally, the Scottish capital is full of bewitching locations to explore.
If you’d like to hear a little more about the local guides on our Edinburgh Walking Tours, have a surf around our site to see what sparks your interest. For information about our Scottish tour or any other city tours, do get in touch. Our friendly team are happy to share some favourite spells and local spots.