Top 5: Places to visit with a Harry Potter theme

Published on: Monday, March 30, 2015

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The final Harry Potter film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II marked the end of an era for a generation of film buffs, but the magic of Hogwarts and its famous bespectacled graduate live on at a number of locations. We’ve chosen five must-see haunts for Potter fans.

Alnwick Castle, England

The medieval Alnwick Castle, England’s second largest inhabited castle, was the location for Harry’s first broomstick lesson and the crash landing of the flying car. Inside this fortress in Northumberland (45 minutes from Newcastle), visitors will find lavish rooms and an impressive library housing 14,000 books, while outside is Hulne Park’s unspoilt grounds. Potter fans will be entertained with broomstick training and regular Wizarding Weekends, while the nearby Alnwick Garden is also worth a visit.

Insider tip: Film buffs may recognise that the castle was not only home to the Harry Potter movie sets but also to other films such as Elizabeth and Ivanhoe.

Edinburgh cafés, Scotland

Scotland’s capital has great shops, stunning architecture and imposing volcanic hills. While Edinburgh‘s mainstream attractions include the imposing Edinburgh Castle, the city is also where Harry Potter was conceived. Author J.K. Rowling wrote her first Potter novel in two of the city’s cafés The Elephant House and the Spoon Café Bistro (formerly Nicolson’s Café) when she was a struggling single mum; so why not head for one of these cafés, order a coffee and contemplate your own bestseller?

Insider tip: J.K. Rowling often sat writing in the Elephant House at a table overlooking Edinburgh Castle, so grab a seat at the back of the room and recreate the experience.

Lavenham, England

It’s no surprise this architecturally stunning medieval parish was chosen as the film location for the village of Godric’s Hollow – Harry Potter’s birthplace. Perfectly preserved 15th-century buildings, historic pubs and charming tea rooms all evoke times past. Highlights include the Tudor Guildhall of Corpus Christi, while history fans can learn about the gory details of public executions that took place in the Market Square. Audio tours are available at the local pharmacy for a small fee.

Insider tip: Lavenham’s Guildhall of Corpus Christi was the home of Harry Potter’s parents in the fictional village of Godric’s Hollow.

Freshwater West, Wales

It’s hard to believe Potter mania has touched this peaceful stretch of south west Wales’ coastline, but Freshwater West beach in Pembrokeshire was once teeming with people filming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Shell Cottage – home of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour in the final two-part film – has sadly been pulled down, but visitors can explore the spectacular coastline of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park or take a boat trip to nearby Skomer Island, which boasts large colonies of nesting seabirds in early summer.

Insider tip: The production crew for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows built the exterior of Shell Cottage entirely out of real shells. 

Lacock Abbey, England

Visitors can wander through Lacock Abbey’s shadowy cloisters and naves, which were used as the setting for classrooms and hallways at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The abbey sits at the heart of the charming 13th century Lacock village in rural Wiltshire, just 20 minutes from Bath. Curious guests can visit some of the more unique outbuildings that include a brewery and a bakery, while the sweeping lawns surrounding this architectural beauty are at their best in the summer months.

Insider tip: The Sacristy became Professor Snape’s potions classroom where Harry and his friends first learned how to “bottle fame” and “brew glory.”