Harry Potter City Tours

It is safe to say we rather like Harry Potter in our house so we set off on a few adventures to follow in the footsteps of JK Rowling and to look at some of the sets for the films. By the end of the days we were frankly exhausted.

Oxford

Quite a bit of filming was done in Oxford so we set off on a day trip to see the sights. We did expect most of the day to be cost free and I must warn you it isn’t. Almost all of the recommended places to visit are in colleges that are not open to the public and charge access (despite the fact that the internet suggests they are free to access). In some cases just a pound, in others considerably more (Christchurch college in particular). Having said that it’s such a beautiful place to visit it’s well worth a trip, especially when Christchurch courtyard renovations are completed.

I would have loved to see the Divinity School (Bodleian library) but that involves cost and an hour long tour that  just didn’t fit into our day.

We did see the inspiration for the Great Hall and the entrance hall of Hogwarts, plus the tree that Malfoy sits in. Overall Oxford is just stunning and magical so ideal all round.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a wonderful but not cheap place to visit but you can have a lovely Harry Potter related day out without spending too much.

  • Wander aroundand see what inspired JK Rowling.In Greyfriars Kirkyard you might spot a few familiar names and from there you can see the school that was allegedly the inspiration for Hogwarts – George Heriot’s, although surely Edinburgh Castle was a little inspiration too since it’s a beautiful castle hewn from rock.
  • You can find JK’s handprints off the beaten track and wander down the roads that helped her imagine the wonderful Diagon Alley, complete with Joke Shop – Grassmarket.
  • Getting on an open top bus costs money but it’s well worth it. You can see all the sights better from up there including the Balmoral hotel where JK Rowling finished the final book. The Horrible Histories commentary is fun and you can rest your weary feet for a while and watch the crowds.
  • There are some lovely HP inspired shops in Edinburgh and browsing is free!
  • You could eat in The Elephant Cafe – well you could if you could get in the door. It says youcan go in and take a photo for £1 but honestly I didn’t think it was worth the queue. If I were you I’d just go in the Museum of Scotland instead. It’s across the road and absolutely nothing to do with Harry Potter, but free and totally brilliant. If you just want something to eat and drink then please make the walk to Grassmarket Community Project Cafe – it’s a community enterprise and a lot lot cheaper than elsewhere, plus you are supporting something really worthwhile.
  • Visit The Writers’ Museum. It barely mentions JK Rowling but is free and a beautiful building that will remind you Harry Potter is not the only literary piece Edinburgh is famous for.DSC05597

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