For many of us, London is not just Big Ben, Nothing Hill or Hyde Park; for many of us, London is Diagon Alley, Platform 9 and ¾, Gringotts and the Leaky Cauldron. Welcome to Hogwarts (or almost...).
One of the things to see and do in London if you're a fan of the Harry Potter saga is to visit the film sets with the Warner Bros. tour. Be warned, tickets to Harry Potter Studios Park are in high demand so booking in advance (I recommend at least a month and a half) is a must.
Entrance to the studios and transfer from London
The perfect option to take the worry out of it and enjoy the Warner Bros. studios dedicated to the Harry Potter films to the full. Return travel from London is included in the price.
This is the preferred option for anyone visiting the Harry Potter Studios during their visit to London. As the transfer from central London is included, you don't have to worry about how to get to the Harry Potter Studios from London; your only focus is on enjoying the experience.
When you make your booking, you will be able to choose from a number of different time slots; I advise you to go as early as possible to avoid crowds once you arrive at the park and, if possible, to avoid the weekend. You will receive an email with all available information about the meeting point where an air-conditioned bus will take you to the park.
Once there, be prepared to walk down Diagon Alley, visit Ollivanders shop, Gringotts bank and, of course, learn interesting facts about the saga and the making of the films.
- Recommended if... you want to visit Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios during your trip to London.
Tour of Harry Potter locations in the City of London
As you wander the streets of London, an expert guide will show you places that appear in or inspired the Harry Potter films.
The city of London is full of places related to the Harry Potter films and with this tour you won't miss them. A guide will show you around Platform 9 and 3/4, Diagon Alley and Gringotts Bank as you wander around London like a Muggle.
This tour is also in small groups of (at most) 20 people. This means that the guide can focus on the explanations you ask for in a more personalised way. The guides on this tour have two things in common: they know London inside out, and they're fans of the Harry Potter books and films, so make the most of the opportunity and enjoy every moment of the tour!
- Recommended if... you want to enjoy the Harry Potter universe at a reduced price or you're left wanting more after seeing Warner Bros. Studios.
This is the Harry Potter tour of Warner Bros. Studios
During this visit, as well as seeing the set design and costumes from the films, you will learn more about the saga and how the films were made, including special effects. With muggle details in mind, we recommend booking tickets for Warner Bros. Studios in advance due to the large number of visitors and arranging transport to and from the Warner Bros. studios, as they are a long way from the centre. A word of advice: beware if you are offered resale tickets to the Harry Potter studios.
If you want to be sure whether or not it's worth visiting the Warner Bros. studios for the Harry Potter tour, I'll give you a little taste of what you'll find there. For starters, the studios are divided into indoor and outdoor areas and the sets in both places have not only original artefacts from the films, but also cinematic information on how they were made. But step by step.
What's more, the Harry Potter studios in London aren't just for watching: in many of them, you'll be able to do magic by waving a wand or lifting a broom.
What you'll see in the indoor studios
- Start your visit in the Great Dining Hall, where you'll be greeted by the figures of the professors at the head table as they do every year with Harry, Ron and Hermione, or at least the years when no one crashes a flying car into a boxing willow (which, by the way, you'll also see on this tour).
- After that it's on to the corridors of the school, including the changing staircases, where you'll see a multitude of pictures of former heads of Hogwarts houses, including the Fat Lady.
- You'll follow the typical start-of-term route through the common room and then on to the Gryffindor dormitory.
- The professors' offices are also waiting for you during your visit, as well as display cabinets where you will find all the information you want about the sport of Quidditch.
- You'll visit Lucious Malfoy's house (creepy), the Weasley's living room or a very elaborate Forbidden Forest full of creatures, visuals and sound effects.
What you'll see at the outdoor studios
As for the outdoor studios, they are also full of surprises. You'll see the Dursley' s house on Privet Drive (including the stairwell), the night bus, Platform 9 and ¾, Ollivander's shop and many other nooks and crannies. The only downside of this tour is that, once you leave the studios, you'll have a hard time mingling with Muggles again.
Hire transport to the studios from London
It is not advisable to book transport without having secured your tickets, as availability is very limited and you run the risk of getting there and being sold out. In addition, many park ticket options also include travel from London.
In any case, if you have already bought your ticket and you want to hire a shuttle service to and from the park, you can take a look at this post on how to get to the Harry Potter Studios from London.
Here are the walking tours of the Harry Potter locations in London
If you're still hungry for more after your visit to Warner Studios, there are several locations throughout London that inspired the books and films. Years ago fans had to track them down on their own, now there are expert guides who will show you around on a walking tour of Harry Potter locations while telling you interesting tidbits about the saga.
This two-hour walking tour (available in English and Spanish) during which a guide, specialising not only in the saga but also in the history of London, showed us Harry Potter locations in London such as the following:
Platform 9 and ¾ at King Cross Station
At King's Cross station you can find a corner where the famous platform has been recreated with a luggage trolley going through the wall. You can have your photo taken there and then stop by the Harry Potter souvenir shop while the guide tells you how this tourist spot was set up after the success of the films and how J.K. Rowling used the station as a setting for her books. The pity is that you won't be able to catch the Hogwarts Express...
Diagon Alley in Leadenhall Market
This is one of the oldest markets in London and is inspired by the famous Diagon Alley where Harry bought books, potions and, of course, Ollivander's wands. This is one of the longest and most special stops on the tour; you will discover how reality inspires fiction and how fiction transforms reality. Your guide will tell you all about Knockturn Alley or the Leaky Cauldron Inn and then leave you a few minutes to explore the area at your leisure.
Gringotts Bank and Australian Embassy
The famous Wizard's Bench in several of the films is inspired by the Australian Embassy in London. You may have passed by and not noticed the striking resemblance, but to give you a clearer picture of it, your guide will show you photographs from the films which prove that the Wizard's Bench was indeed inspired by this building.
The Premiers and Trafalgar Square
Not everything on this tour revolves around the locations of the films, you'll also learn anecdotes about the actors and the significance of the saga, and Trafalgar Square will probably be the place your guide will choose to tell you these. It is precisely from here that thousands of fans experienced the end of the saga as well as other moments related to the release of the films.
Other options to enjoy the Harry Potter tour of London: private tours, interactive tours or bus tours
If the two-hour tour is too short for you, I recommend that you consider the possibility of a private tour of the saga's locations in which the guide will dedicate himself exclusively to you and the group you are travelling with. This tour lasts three hours, is fully customisable and is available in English, Spanish and French.
It is a highly recommended option if you are travelling to London with children, as you can ask the guide to alternate locations from the film with other London landmarks during the tour. And speaking of children, there is also a type of tour for them that will make them enjoy every step of the way: the interactive tours: this is a type of tour in which the guide offers quizzes, tests and games during the tour to immerse them even more in the magic of the saga.
Finally, be aware that the Harry Potter landmarks are spread out across London, so the walking tour may be tiring - look into bus tours if you find the walking tour too tiring. They are also guided and are an even more comfortable way to enjoy the tour.
Tips for your visit to Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios
If, like me, you're a real Harry Potter fan, you've probably been looking forward to this visit for a long time. To make the most of it, I'm going to give you some tips:
- How to get there: Transport to the Warner Bros. studios is an important detail to take into account. Don't forget that they are far from the centre of London so it's best to book it in advance for the outward and return journeys. There are direct buses from Watford Junction train station to the studios.
- Duration of the visit: Take your time in each of the Warner Bros. studios. Don't be in a hurry to see everything; the details are so well thought out that it will be worth your while to take in every nook and cranny. To see everything properly, I recommend that you set aside between 3 and 5 hours for the visit.
- Timetable: when you buy your ticket (always in advance, as you can only exchange it at the studios), you can choose the day and time of your visit. I recommend you choose the first time to avoid crowds. Bear in mind that you can enter but not leave, so there will be more and more people in the facilities.
- Take the audio guide: it costs about five pounds, but it's worth it. While you immerse yourself in the magical world, they will tell you details you didn't know about the film, the actors and the saga.
- If you go with children they will be fascinated by the tour, but the younger ones might be frightened by the realism of some of the sets or the visit to the Forbidden Forest. Just keep this in mind in case you want to avoid these rooms.
- Where to eat: Don't forget to stop by the bar if you want to try the famous butterbeer or the Frog café if you want a chocolate frog. There is nowhere to eat in the surrounding area, so if your visit coincides with lunchtime, you will only be able to eat in the studio's own restaurant, where the price will not be very cheap.
- Souvernirs: The gift shop is also worth a visit, even if it's just to get your teeth into it. Here you will find all the merchandising of the saga available. You can take photos, but don't let the camera spoil the experience; better to live it than record it.
Organise your own tour of Harry Potter locations in London
If you decide to take a guided tour of the Harry Potter universe in London, whether you choose a group or private tour, there are a few things to bear in mind:
- As the tour is on foot, it is logical that you will not visit all the locations as London is a huge city and many of them are quite far apart from each other.
- The meeting point will always be in a central location that you can easily reach from your accommodation. If you have any questions you can ask your guide once you have booked your place or ask to be picked up from your hotel for a surcharge.
- Tours last between two and three hours, so be prepared to walk. They run almost every day of the week and the best time to go depends on the weather.
- You'll have the chance to buy Harry Potter souvenirs at many of the tour stops as you'll pass Harry Potter shops in different parts of London and the guide will leave time for you to do so.
- If you have a London Pass, you will have a tour included where you will see locations from Harry Potter and many other films that were filmed or inspired by London such as Mary Poppins, Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. Find out more about the City Passes in this article on London Pass.
- Check out the theatre listings when you've decided on your trip to London. If you're lucky, you might be able to catch a performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Legacy.
Vicky's Traveller Tip
Some of the Harry Potter locations around London are quite a distance from each other; if you're making your own way around, check them out on the map and you'll be able to plan your visit better.
If you're interested in a tour of Harry Potter London, you'll also be interested in
If you enjoyed the Harry Potter walking tour experience, be sure to take the London walking tour during your visit to the UK's capital. You may think that the Muggle world is not as charming as the magical one, but remember that London is also the city of Sherlock Holmes or Peter Pan and that, on its own, it has many stories to offer you without resorting to fantasy.
As I say, this one was my favourite, but the truth is that the offer of guided tours in London is infinite and I have written a guide to help you sort out all the ideas, which are the best tours and why. You can read it in this article on London Tours.
If it's not your first time in London and you decide to go out and see the rest of the country, you don't need a long journey. Nowadays there are very well organised tours that allow you to discover both charming villages and majestic cities in England that you should not miss if you want to know a little more about life outside a big city like London. Here is an article about 6 Best Day Trips from London so you can see my favourite options.
Frequently asked questions
Are actual film locations visited in this experience?
Yes, you visit Millennium Bridge, Westminster tube station, King's Cross station, and real-life locations that inspired the sets of Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic or the Leaky Cauldron pub.
Can I have my photo taken on platform 9 ¾?
Yes, the Harry Potter Shop staff can take a professional photo of you wearing a Hogwarts house scarf of your choice, or you can take your own photo.
Do any of the Harry Potter experiences include a visit to Hogwarts?
You can visit a scale model of Hogwarts Castle at the Warner Bros. studio, which was used for many of the aerial shots in the films.