Discover the Magic of Harry Potter in Scotland

People of all ages adore Harry Potter. What started as a series of children’s books has become the best-selling book series of all time, inspiring blockbuster films and captivating fans worldwide. While there are various Harry Potter-themed attractions around the globe, we firmly believe that Scotland is the ultimate destination for Potterheads. Scotland boasts numerous TV and film locations, with Harry Potter being just one of its many draws. Without further ado, let’s dive into the top 10 must-visit Scottish locations for Harry Potter fans!

1. Hogwarts in the Scottish Highlands

In the Harry Potter books, Hogwarts is set in the picturesque Scottish Highlands, which explains the abundance of Scottish locations in the films. From rolling hills to jagged mountains, the Scottish Highlands offer breathtaking vistas featured in the movies. Loch Arkaig, Clachaig Gully, and Glencoe all served as filming locations. Explore extraordinary hiking trails, take scenic drives, and discover jaw-dropping viewpoints. Keep your eyes peeled for Hogwarts’ hidden protective barrier – you never know what you might stumble upon during your adventures!

Glencoe in Scotland - Harry Potter locations
Glencoe – which featured in The Prisoner of Azkaban

2. Victoria Street in Edinburgh: The Real Diagon Alley?

While York and London claim their streets as the inspiration for Diagon Alley, Edinburgh’s Victoria Street has a strong case to be the real deal. J.K. Rowling, the genius behind Harry Potter, lived in Edinburgh while writing the books, and it’s widely believed that Victoria Street served as her inspiration for Diagon Alley. With its multicolored storefronts and unique curved shape, Victoria Street is a favorite among Potterheads.

The real Diagon Alley? Victoria Street in Edinburgh is a Harry Potter location in Scotland | Inspiring Travel Scotland

3. The Glenfinnan Viaduct for the Harry Potter Train

Recognize the famous railway viaduct where the Hogwarts Express travels? That’s none other than the Glenfinnan Viaduct, located on the stunning West Highland Line. Capture the iconic shot seen in Chamber of Secrets, where Ron and Harry fly overhead in Arthur Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia. The viaduct also features in scenes from Prisoner of Azkaban. Make sure to time your visit to witness the train crossing the viaduct and create your very own magical moment.

Glenfinnan Viaduct - Hogwarts Express scenes

4. Greyfriars Kirkyard: Visit Tom Riddle’s Grave in Edinburgh

Greyfriars Kirkyard, a hauntingly beautiful old graveyard near The Elephant House Café, provided inspiration for J.K. Rowling. It is said that she discovered the name for her greatest villain, Tom Riddle, while exploring this cemetery. Take a stroll through the graveyard and marvel at the gravestones, including one with the name “William McGonagall” – perhaps the inspiration for Hogwarts’ transfiguration professor?

Greyfriars Bobby statue in Edinburgh | Inspiring Travel Scotland

5. Give J.K. Rowling a High-Five at Edinburgh City Chambers

Located on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh City Chambers exhibits its tribute to J.K. Rowling, who won the prestigious Edinburgh Award in 2008. Bronze handprints of Rowling are on display in the City Chambers courtyard. Don’t miss the chance to show your gratitude to the hands that brought the magical world of Harry Potter to life.

6. The Final Harry Potter Chapter: The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh

For a touch of luxury, visit the Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street in Edinburgh. While it may be out of your budget for an overnight stay, it holds a special allure for Harry Potter fans. J.K. Rowling took up residence in this swanky hotel while writing the final book of the series, The Deathly Hallows. The room she stayed in is now known as The J.K. Rowling Suite.

Balmora Hotel in Edinburgh

7. Hogwarts in Glasgow? The University of Glasgow

Although Alnwick Castle was used for the exterior shots of Hogwarts, the University of Glasgow’s main building bears an uncanny resemblance to the renowned school of witchcraft and wizardry. Explore the stunning architecture and the courtyard reminiscent of where Harry first learned to fly his broomstick. Include Glasgow in your itinerary and experience the magic of two remarkable cities.

University of Glasgow, inspiration for Hogwarts

8. Hogwarts in Edinburgh? George Heriot’s School

While the University of Glasgow may resemble Hogwarts on the outside, it is George Heriot’s School that inspired J.K. Rowling’s vision for the magical institution. Visible from The Elephant House café where Rowling wrote, the school features beautiful turrets reminiscent of a castle. Discover the place that sparked the idea for Hogwarts’ distinctive houses.

George Heriots School in Edinburgh looks like Hogwarts | Inspiring Travel Scotland

9. Steall Falls from the Goblet of Fire

Embark on an adventure through the stunning Scottish Highlands and take a short walk to Steall Falls. This location will surely bring back memories from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Additionally, explore other picturesque locations in the Highlands, including Loch Etive, Loch Morar, Loch Eilt, and Rannoch Moor.

10. Birthplace of Harry Potter: The Elephant House in Edinburgh

The Elephant House café proudly claims to be the birthplace of Harry Potter, and with good reason. J.K. Rowling sought solace within its walls while crafting the first Harry Potter novel. Experience the place where the magic unfolded and don’t forget to check out the Harry Potter-themed graffiti in the toilets.

The Elephant House - birthplace of Harry Potter

There are countless reasons to visit Scotland, but for fans of Harry Potter, a dedicated tour of the magical locations is an absolute must. At Inspiring Travel Scotland, we specialize in tailor-made Scottish tours. Let us know your dream tour, including these enchanting locations, and we’ll make it a reality. Plan your perfect Harry Potter holiday with Ambassadeur Hotel!

This article was originally published in August 2018 and was updated in June 2021.