When I say Scotland is magic, it’s actually the birth place of the spellbinding Harry Potter series. You can’t get more magic than that, right?
With moody and mysterious mountains, enchanting lakes and the real-life Hogwarts Express, not only is Scotland the home of where J.K. Rowling wrote the book series, but it features some of the most iconic Harry Potter filming locations too. Scotland is every Muggles dream so without further a do, hop on your broomstick and get ready to discover the world of Harry Potter in Scotland.
1. The Elephant House Cafe
The birthplace of the Harry Potter novel series. This is where J.K. Rowling had her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone published whilst she sat writing in the back of the cafe overlooking Edinburgh Castle.
The cafe was badly damaged by a huge fire back in 2021 which means it’s not currently open for business, however restorations are taking place and the cafe may reopen towards the back end of this year. Despite the devastating damage, they did manage to find Rowling’s table amongst the rubble and although it’s got its share of smoke and water damage, they’ve confirmed the table where J.K Rowling would sit and write about young Harry is able to be saved.
2. Victoria Street
Remind you of any particular Alley from the series by chance? That’s right, Victoria Street is said to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley, with a charming array of colourful and quirky shops that run along the curved cobbled street. It’s easy to see how J.K. Rowling’s imagination was sparked by the ancient buildings of Edinburgh.
You can find out more about Victoria Street and other Instagrammable Edinburgh spots in my last blog post.
3. Greyfriars Kirkyard
A graveyard wouldn’t usually be on the top of our bucket list when travelling in a new city, but this time it was a little different. Just round the corner from The Elephant House Cafe is Greyfriars Kirkyard, a chillingly beautiful cemetery and another place of inspiration for J.K. Rowling.
Rumour has it, Rowling would wander the cemetery to spark her imagination for some of the series most renowned characters, and it is here that she came up with the name of “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”, Tom Riddle. Here in Greyfriars Kirkyard, you can see the real-life grave of Thomas Riddle, William McGonagall (Professor McGonagall) and Elizabeth Moodie (Mad-Eye Moody).
4. J.K Rowling’s Handprints
Amongst the real-life Diagon Alley and ancient buildings in Edinburgh that fuelled Rowling’s creativity, you can find the author’s golden handprints! As you walk up the famous Royal Mile, you’ll find the Edinburgh City Chambers. Within its courtyard, you’ll notice squares of golden handprints where you’re walking. It reminded me of a mini Hollywood walk of fame.
Amongst the golden handprints, you’ll find that of J.K. Rowling’s. Many unknowingly walk past this secret spot every day but it’s one no muggle would want to miss.
5. Glenfinnan Viaduct
One of my favourite views and if you’ve every dreamed of seeing the real-life Hogwarts Express, then you can’t miss the Glenfinnan Viaduct of your Scotland bucket list. Any muggle will instantly recognise this 21-arched bridge from the scene in The Chamber of Secrets where Harry and Ron fly in the Weasley’s Ford Anglia car. You’ll need to time your visit if you wanted to catch the iconic Jacobite Steam Train passing.
If you want to take it one step further, why not board Hogwarts Express (Jacobite Steam Train), one of the world’s greatest railway journeys which will take you on an 84 mile round trip through some of Scotland’s most impressive locations.
6. Eilean na Moine and Loch Eilt
Eileen na Moine is a tiny island found in the freshwaters of Loch Eilt and is famous for some of Harry Potter’s darker scenes from the series. The island serves as Dumbledore’s final resting place where he is buried in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and where Voldemort stole the Elder wand in Deathly Hallows Part 1. The moody weather was definitely fitting for our visit.