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21 Things to Do in London When It Rains

So, you’ve saved up all your money and you and your bestie have arrived in London. You’ve waited all year for this and you’re going to have the best city break. Nothing is going to stop you.

Then you wake up early on the first morning and are devastated to see that the heavens have opened, and the forecast says it’s going to last all weekend.

But, let’s face it, you haven’t come to London for the weather and there’s still plenty to do, even in the rain.

Make yourself a cup of tea, grab a seat, get comfy and see our top 21 things to do in London when it rains.

James Smith & Sons, Umbrella Shop

Clearly, this has to be your first stop!  The Umbrella Shop was founded in 1830 by the original Mr Smith, who made umbrellas in a small workshop out the back. In 1851, a man named Samuel Fox invented a lightweight steel frame, and James Smith II was one of the first umbrella makers to use it.

His business took off and he moved to 53 New Oxford Street, which is where the shop remains today. And it looks exactly like it did all those years ago. Go grab yourself a beautiful, classic umbrella ready to start your weekend. Just ask the cabbie to take you to ‘The Umbrella Shop’ – they’ll know where to go.

Afternoon Tea

The places to have afternoon tea in London are numerous and iconic. You might not be able to afford to stay in these hotels, but you can certainly waltz in feeling like you do! The Palm Court at The Ritz is one of the most beautiful places to enjoy finely cut sandwiches, teacakes and pastries. Could they have the perfect scone, fresh from the oven with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream? They have 5 sittings a day, 7 days a week, so you can try them out for yourself – no excuses.

Scones

Trampolining

Not just for the kids, these trampoline parks will bring out the inner child in you, and there’s no experience required. Imagine giant airbags, slam dunk basketball, foam pits, dodgeball courts and a resident DJ. Hours of fun to be had by all. Flip Out London has three outlets around London, and Oxygen Free Jumping is at The O2 in Greenwich. You can also get lessons at the School of Trampolining to help hone your skills.

Behind the Scenes Tours

Many of London’s most famous theatres have behind-the-scenes tours. You can choose from the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe and the beautiful Royal Opera House. The Royal Opera House tour will take you to see the inner workings of this Grade I listed building. You will get to go under the stage, see how the technical teams work and you even get to sit in the royal box. If the theatre isn’t your thing, how about a behind the scenes tour of the Harry Potter films?

The Globe Theatre

Grab a Book and Take a Seat

Two amazing libraries to visit are Wellcome Reading Rooms and The British Library.

Wellcome Collection is a gallery, library and event space. The reading space is a beautiful double height room with an eclectic collection of furniture, ensuring you’ll find the perfect spot to relax.

The British Library, built in 1973, is the largest national library in the world with approximately 25 million books – so you’re not going to run out of things to read. They also house an almost complete collection of British and Irish newspapers from 1840, run masterclasses, and hold talks and exhibitions.

Learn to Skateboard at House of Vans

It’s never too late to start learning to skateboard, and where better than the House of Vans? This 30,000 square foot space in the Waterloo Tunnels has been transformed with neon lights and all things American.

This has to be one of the coolest spots in town, with a concert space, café and excellent skate and BMX areas. Or, how about the all female skate nights with cocktails, music and even yoga?

Shopping

Well, who’s coming to London and not doing a bit of shopping? Certainly not me and my bestie!

Why not head down Regent Street to see some of London’s most famous shops? Hamleys is the ultimate toy shop and not just for the kids. It’s been on Regent Street for over 250 years. How about the recently renovated Apple Store, considered the pioneer of Apple’s retail future? Or, the amazing Liberty opened in 1875 and housed in an iconic mock Tudor building? It’s the ultimate place for unique luxury gifts.

Don’t forget the numerous shopping centres, all undercover and waiting for you and your credit card.

Regent Street

Brass Rubbing

Yes, this is a thing! Make your way to St Martin-in-the-Fields situated in the north east corner of Trafalgar Square, and in the basement of the church you’ll find brass rubbing.

Popular in the Victorian era, when visitors to churches wanted to take home a memento of their visit. It’s now been brought up to date and is something all the family can do.

They’ve a collection of over 100 replica brasses from all over the UK, and staff on hand to show you how it’s done. Prices start at £4.50

Electric Cinema

Situated in Portobello Road, Notting Hill, the Electric Cinema is one of the oldest working cinemas in Britain and one of the quirkiest cinemas in London. With a capacity of 83, you get to watch all the current movies from large leather and velvet armchairs, sofas and even beds. Each one with a side table, lamp, footrest and even cashmere blankets if you get cold. To top it off, there’s a bar that serves all types of food and great cake! This is a really special night out and not your typical visit to the cinema.

Indoor Crazy Golf

Did you know that there are no fewer than 11 crazy golf courses in Central London? Not all are indoors but there are a couple that are. Even better, some are in pubs!

Plonk have set up their glow-in-the-dark courses at four pubs around London. Their website has all the details. Swingers has two multi-million dollar courses, one in a WW2 bunker near The Gherkin and one just off Oxford Circus in an old department store. These adult-only venues have great street food from some of London’s favourite vendors and the obligatory cocktails. Check them out to see what all the fuss is about.

Art Galleries

No matter what your taste in art, London has you covered. Impressionists, sculpture, modern or the old masters, there is something for everyone.  If you just have time for one gallery, the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is the perfect choice, as it has one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world. Here you’ll find all the classics including da Vinci, Renoir and Constable. Better still, it’s free.

The National Gallery

Covered Markets

There is something special about wandering round a market. No matter what you are looking to buy, London will have a market selling it.

Borough Market in Southwark Street is London’s largest and oldest food market. It has existed in some form since 1014, and has become the place to go for all things foodie. You name it, breads, cheeses, meat, fish – it’s all here.

If you’re looking more for vintage clothing, books and bric-a-brac, Old Spitalfields Market in the East End is the place to go. If you can get there on a Thursday, you’ll have the extra pleasure of strolling through the antiques market.

Ten Pin Bowling

An oldie but a goodie! No matter what your level, it’s always fun to get a group together for some beer, fast food and a bit of ten-pin bowling.

For somewhere a bit smarter than your average alley, check out The Croc Bowling Alley at The Ham Yard Hotel in Soho.

This original 1950s bowling alley is the real deal, with specially commissioned solid maple bowling lanes, a silver grand piano and three driftwood crocodiles on the walls.

Sea Life London Aquarium

Had enough of the art galleries and museums? Why not try something different and head over to the aquarium. Situated on the banks of the River Thames, this world-class aquarium has over 600 species of fish. You can walk on the glass tanks where the sharks are swimming below or stroke a starfish at the Rockpool.

The aquarium has over 6,000 inhabitants. You can see everything from turtles to penguins to crocodiles, and everything in-between.

Royal Observatory Planetarium

The Planetarium is part of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Perched on a hill with fantastic views over London, the digital show, ‘The Sky Tonight’ is presented by an astronomer from the Observatory. Lie back on the comfy chairs and let them whisk you away to a far-flung galaxy – and all for only £8.

A Matinee at the Theatre

Most of the West End shows have matinees two or three times a week. There is something a little bit naughty about being in the theatre in the middle of the afternoon. It also tends to be a bit cheaper and easier to get tickets.  So, if you fancy School of Rock, The Book of Mormon or Hamilton, hit the matinees.

Ping Pong Bars

It seems they have thought of everything you can do with a drink in your hand! Following in the footsteps of New York, London has taken to the ping pong craze.

It’s become so popular there are now more than 15 places in London to play and have a drink.

Bounce is one of the biggest with two locations in Shoreditch and Holborn. With a combination of pizza, drinks, ping pong and karaoke, what’s not to love?

Alexandra Palace Ice Rink

Know locally as the Ally Pally, Alexandra Palace was first opened in 1875. Now, it’s a whole entertainment complex, which includes the newly renovated theatre that had been closed for 80 years.

Open year round, the ice rink is a stunning place for casual ice-skating or even for some skating lessons.

Museums

Doesn’t matter which London museum you want to visit, any of them will blow your socks off. Some say the Victoria and Albert is the world’s greatest museum of art and design. The works at the V&A span everything from marble sculptures to Art Nouveau and paintings by Britain’s favourite John Constable.

Both the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum are only minutes away, so you can make a day of it and visit all three. Best of all, they are free.

Natural History Museum

Spa Treatment

Ladies and gents, this really should be top of the list of things you want to do when it’s raining in London. Put on your fluffy robe, switch off your phone and just have a bit of ‘me’ time.

No matter your budget, you should be able to find the perfect spot for a few hours of indulgence.

It’s hard to single one out, but the ESPA Life at The Corinthia Hotel looks amazing with the centrepiece being a glass-walled sauna amphitheatre!

Pub

If all else fails, on a rainy day in London where better to go than the pub! It’s really hard to single one pub out, because there are so many great ones to choose from. You will literally find one on every street corner. One of Charles Dickens’ favourite was the Lamb and Flag in Covent Garden, which used to host bare-knuckle fights. Possibly the oldest pub is the Spaniards Inn perched on a hill by Hampstead Heath, which has been open since 1585. Some of its most famous clients included Keats and Byron. Now they have a range of cask ale, craft beers, fine wines and a great Sunday roast. Sit yourself down beside a roaring open fire and relax.

That’s our list of 21 things to do in London when it’s raining. Now there are no excuses to be glum when your city break ends up a bit damp.

If this has ‘wet’ your appetite for a trip to London, Premium Tours runs lots of exciting tours to the nation’s capital, come rain, hail or snow! Contact us to find out more.

London at night

These Are the Best Things to See and Do in London in January

January can be a cold and dreary affair. The excitement of Christmas has long since passed and the celebrations of New Year’s Eve are over. But in London, despite the grey skies and persistent fog, there’s actually a lot going on to keep your spirits up and to make January an exciting month, rather than a slow month.

If you don’t want to leave the Christmas cheer behind then luckily London clings onto the festive spirit throughout January, with many markets and ice skating rinks still very much in full swing for the first few weeks of the month. The famous January sales will give you endless shopping opportunities across the city, while there are plenty of fantastic exhibitions and shows to experience. Explore the warm interiors of the many museums or palaces and enjoy London at a time of year when most other visitors tend to stay away.

To inspire you to visit the capital at the start of the year, here are the best things to see and do in London in January.

New Year’s Day

Start the New Year in style by witnessing the iconic London New Year’s Day Parade. Held without fail on 1st January each year – no matter how long the city has stayed up for the previous night – this is a colourful and lively experience to get your year off to a great start. With thousands of performers and floats descending onto the streets, it’s a real spectacle not to be missed, and it’s completely free to watch.

Shop at the January Sales

The January sales are, for many, a highlight of the month and London’s many shops go all out to bring in the customers. You can find some incredible bargains along the high streets with many retail outlets offering exceptional deals. Of course, with the cold streets outside not being too inviting, who wouldn’t want to head into the warmth for a little retail therapy? For the true January sales experience, head to Oxford Street, as long as you don’t mind pushing your way through the crowds for the best deals.

Oxford Street

The Last Christmas Markets

Although Christmas has long gone by the time January rolls around, many of London’s Christmas markets don’t seem to ever want to acknowledge that fact, and they stay open for as long as they can, making it a wonderful opportunity to relive that festive spirit. Many of the best, such as Christmas in Leicester Square and Winter Wonderland, stay open until the end of the first week of January and many stay open even longer.

Hogwarts in the Snow

Harry Potter fans can rejoice in the fact that Hogwarts in the Snow also stays open well into the New Year. The popular Warner Brothers Studio keep its Harry Potter world covered in snow, ice and festive decorations right up until the end of January, giving you plenty of time to explore the delights of the wizarding phenomenon in all its glory.

Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard

For many iconic tourist attractions, life in January continues on as it does through the rest of year, with the cold weather and dreary skies being no hindrance to the stoic London spirit. At the world famous Buckingham Palace, you can brave the chilly outside air to experience the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, without fail, every day of the week. Get there early for a good spot, because this is a sight that is always popular, no matter the time of year.

Buckingham Palace

Kensington Palace

Nearby Kensington Palace will also give you a chance to escape the cold, with its warm interiors being a delight to explore during January. You can learn all about the Royals that have called this beautiful palace home over the years, but perhaps more so than this, January is the time to visit because the exceptional Princess Diana Exhibition will only be open until February 2019.

Catch a Pantomime

Pantomimes are a much-loved British institution, providing families with fun and entertainment during the cold months of the year. London’s theatres play host to some of the best pantomime performances in the country, with many stars and celebrities taking to the stage to entertain the crowds in famous productions. Many pantomimes go on well into January.

Enjoy West End Theatre Production

Of course, it’s not just pantomimes being performed at London’s many theatres, as many venues continue to put on dramatic shows of classics, musicals and comedies. For an authentic London theatre performance, head to the West End, but remember to book in advance if there is a particular show you are looking to see.

London Short Film Festival

In January each year, film lovers can enjoy the delights of the London Short Film Festival. This 10-day event sees short films from across the country and internationally being shown in historic and iconic cinemas across London. You can watch some of the best up-and-coming directors and producers showcasing their finest work alongside like-minded film lovers.

Cruise the Thames

Even in cold January, the many boats that ply the Thames never stop operating and you might like to enjoy a cruise along London’s iconic river to see the city in all its glory. Although you might find the fog obscures the view every now and then, in its own way, the Thames and the city in January look remarkably beautiful. Rather than standing out on the open deck though, you might prefer to wrap up warm inside.

A river cruise on the Thames

London International Mime Festival

One of London’s more unusual, but resoundingly popular events, is the London International Mime Festival. Held in January, this festival has been running every year since 1977 and is quite unlike anything else you might attend in the city. In venues across London, incredible mime performances and shows are held throughout the month.

London Art Fair

The London Art Festival returns year after year at the end of January to showcase some of the world’s best and most innovative modern art. This is an exhibition that will leave you enthralled and mesmerised, and not only can you peruse the artwork itself, if you have the cash, you can even buy something.

Winter Lights Festival at Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf’s incredible Winter Lights Festival brightens up the dark January skies like no other event in London. Held in the last two weeks of January, the festival sees huge installations that are more art than simply lights being brought to the docks of Canary Wharf. Modern art mixes with bright illuminations, to create a unique festival that will instantly cure any winter blues that you might be enduring.

The Canary Wharf Ice Rink

As well as the impressive light display put on by Canary Wharf in January, this famous area of London also hosts one of the city’s most popular ice rinks, which is set up amongst the glittering skyscrapers and high rises of this business district. This is one of the longest-running ice rinks of the year, as it begins in November and doesn’t end until February. Strap on your skates and enjoy the pleasure of cruising across the ice at Canary Wharf.

Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum

The iconic Natural History Museum also plays host to one of London’s most popular ice skating rinks during the winter months, and their installations remain very much open during January too. You can skate away in the shadow of one of the city’s most elegant and historic buildings, enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate, coffee or even mulled wine before seeking the even warmer interiors of the museum itself to experience the many wonderful attractions and exhibits that showcase the diversity of our natural world.

Natural History Museum

National Geographic Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Also held in the Natural History Museum is the world-famous National Geographic Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. This temporary exhibition returns each year to display the best work of photographers from across the world, and has been running for well over 50 years now. A panel of expert judges pick the best photographs of the natural world that have been taken over the previous year, and the winners and runners-up from the many different categories are all showcased at the Natural History Museum. While entrance to the permanent museum is free, this exhibition does incur an extra charge, but it’s well worth it to view the most dramatic photographs of the world we live in.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Photography lovers may also want to enjoy the visual delights of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition, which is held at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The event actually continues until May, so you have plenty of time to visit, but a visit in January is sure to inspire you for the rest of the year. This is an exceptional exhibition, showcasing the best of the spectacular universe that we are part of.

Getty Images Gallery

If you are looking for even more visual stimuli, then head to the renowned Getty Images Gallery in January too, because this is one of the premier locations to enjoy incredible photography. The galleries are open all through the year, but in January, they showcase the best work of Getty photographers from the previous year in one place, and there are sure to be some exceptional pieces on display from across the world.

Museum of London

The Museum of London is a free museum that tells the always-intriguing history of the City of London. From its humble beginnings to Roman development and through to the turbulent medieval and modern eras, you can discover all that it means to be a Londoner here. You can easily spend hours escaping the cold outside, and in January they usually host some temporary exhibitions showcasing particular details of London’s history, such as the Suffragettes fight to earn the vote for women.

London Adventure Travel Show

If the dreary weather is getting you down, then get inspired for an adventure abroad by visiting London’s excellent Adventure Travel Show. Held in January at Earl’s Court, this event sees speakers, writers, adventurers and photographers from across the world descending on London to give talks and to showcase their latest expeditions to the public. You can even find many tour companies at the show, and you might leave having booked a tour to somewhere more unusual, or perhaps somewhere nice and warm!

London Acappella Festival

Musical lovers will revel in the opportunity to hear some of the best acappella acts from around the world as they descend upon London in January to be part of this unique festival. Held at the end of the month at the Kings Place concert hall, you can enjoy acappella music at its best, from some of the most talented singers and exceptional artists who have made the genre their own.

Enjoy London’s Pubs

When all else fails and you still find yourself with the January blues despite London’s many events, then do as the locals do and seek solace in the warming, homely environments of some of the city’s best pubs. Enjoy some hearty English food, warming roast dinners or stodgy pies alongside a few drinks too of course.

The pub

Burns Night

Held on the 25th January, Burns Night is one of Scotland’s most famous national holidays. While London may seem like a long way south to be celebrating this event, actually, the city hosts some of the best Burns Night festivities outside of Scotland. This is the celebration of the poet Robert Burns and you can expect plenty of whisky, haggis and singing at any Burns Night event. Head to the Scottish pubs for the best atmosphere in the evening and be prepared for a long night of merriment, drinking and eating.

To find out more about the exciting things to do in London during January or to book one of our exciting London tours, contact Premium Tours today.

Platform 9

A Guide To Harry Potter’s Platform 9 and ¾

But Hagrid, there must be a mistake. This says Platform nine and three quarters. There’s no such thing…is there?’ (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)

Indeed there is, Harry. Platform 9 and ¾ is magically concealed through a wall that divides platforms 9 and 10 at Kings Cross Station in London. It’s where wizard students can board the Hogwarts Express that will take them to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

In order to reach the platform, students must walk straight at the wall between platforms 9 and 10, or as Molly Weasley advises ‘Best do it at a bit of a rush if you’re nervous.’

Muggles shouldn’t know the platform exists, but if you take a trip to Kings Cross Station, you’ll see that it does. For Harry Potter fans, no visit to London is complete without checking out the key filming locations and places of interest, and don’t miss the Warner Bros. Studio.

Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about visiting Harry Potter’s Platform 9 and ¾.

hogwarts railway

Visiting Platform 9 and ¾

The popularity of Harry Potter inspired station authorities at Kings Cross to place a plaque honouring the books and films on a brick wall in the West Concourse.

Directly under the plaque is a baggage trolley that appears to be half-embedded in the wall. The site has attracted Potter fans from all over the world, who flock here to get a memorable photograph of them pretending to enter Platform 9 and ¾.

The wall is located on an open platform so you won’t need a train ticket to visit it. You can choose to take a photograph yourself or pay for a professional photographer from the Platform 9 and ¾ shop nearby (one photograph £9.50).

The site is very popular, so during busy periods, you may need to queue between 30 minutes to an hour for a photo opportunity.

If you want to skip the queue, the shop also offers VIP passes that include a Platform 9 and ¾ lanyard, photograph and queue jump for £20.

Platform 9 and ¾ Shop

Directly next to the plaque is the Platform 9 and ¾ shop, a charming store selling authorised Harry Potter memorabilia, including wands, Horcruxes, time turners and the Hogwarts’ uniforms and house robes.

The shop has been styled to resemble Ollivander’s Wand Emporium with atmospheric wooden panelling and a treasure trove of drawers to delight all Harry Potter fans.  The shop was officially opened on 15th December 2012 by actor Warwick Davis who played Prof. Flitwick and Griphook in the films.

The shop is open 7 days a week from 8am – 10pm (9pm Sundays). Closed, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

harry potter

 

Curious Facts

  • The image J. K. Rowling had in mind was actually Euston, not Kings Cross Station.
  • The wall to Platform 9 and ¾ is actually situated under a footbridge between platforms 8 and 9, as there is no brick wall between platforms 9 and 10.
  • Platforms 4 and 5 are the actual platforms that feature in the movies.
  • Kings Cross Station building is not that attractive, so exterior scenes of the station were actually filmed at nearby St Pancras, as its Victorian architecture was more in keeping with the films.

For more information on our Harry Potter tours, get in touch today.

train

Here Are All the Harry Potter Filming Locations

If you are a Harry Potter fan visiting London, then spending a day at the Warner Bros. Studio is a must. However, if you have time, the whole of the UK is a treasure trove of Harry Potter hotspots.

When the magical world of Harry Potter was brought to life on film, much of the success of the films, based on the bestselling novels by J. K. Rowling, was due to the fact that the locations seemed so familiar.

Although computer graphics and special effects played a large role in the films and much of the filming was done at Leavesden Film Studios, the external locations are very real.

Some of the most iconic British landmarks and scenery were the settings for the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione in their quest to battle the forces of the Dark Lord and the Deatheaters.

From the chalk cliffs of East Sussex to the Scottish Highlands, the trail of Harry Potter filming locations runs the length of Britain.

So if you want to escape the mundane muggle world and enter the magical world of Harry Potter, here is the full list of Harry Potter filming locations you can visit around the country (broomstick not required).

England

Warner Bros Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour

This fascinating behind-the-scenes tour at the Warner Bros Studio displays the sets, costumes and props used in the films.

harry potter

Kings Cross Station, London

No true Harry Potter fan can miss a visit to the famous station where Harry first began his adventure.

Head over to the west concourse. There you’ll find a plaque and a baggage trolley embedded in the wall between platforms 9 and 10. Don’t miss out on a perfect photo opportunity, complete with Gryffindor scarf. There is also a Platform 9 ¾ gift shop where you can buy exclusive Harry Potter merchandise.

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

Although Platform 9 ¾ can be found at King’s Cross Station. The station’s entrance featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is actually the stunning exterior of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, a 5-minute walk away.

Leadenhall Market, London

The cobbled streets, quirky shops and gothic architecture of this beautiful London market is so atmospheric, you could almost believe you’re in Diagon Alley. Well, you are! The market was used as the setting for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Turning into Bull’s Head Passage, you’ll see the blue painted door of an optician’s shop. This was used as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Millennium Bridge, London

When the bridge first opened in 2000, it had to be adjusted because it wobbled disconcertingly. But that was nothing compared to its dramatic collapse into the River Thames after a Deatheater attack at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

London Zoo

The Reptile House at London Zoo is the very same one where Harry spoke parseltongue with a Burmese python. You won’t see Dudley Dursley in the glass tank though. The enclosure is actually the home of a Black Mamba.

Other London locations used in the films were:

  • Australia House – Gringott’s Bank
  • Cecil Court, just off Charing Cross Road – entrance to the Leaky Cauldron
  • Great Scotland Yard – entrance to the Ministry of Magic
  • Claremont Square – Grimmauld Place

Lavenham, Suffolk

Why build a film set when you have at your disposal, historic, authentic and stunning villages that are seemingly untouched by time?

The beautiful, medieval Suffolk village of Lavenham looks like time stood still. The quaint, rustic higgledy-piggledy houses were the perfect setting for Godric’s Hollow, home to Lily and James Potter. It was also where baby Harry was struck by Voldemort to become ‘the boy that lived’.

The village features in the last film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Virginia Water, Surrey

When you think of Hogwarts’ Lake, an isolated loch in the remote Scottish Highlands comes to mind. Yet, ironically, the lake featured in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Harry soars across on the back of the Hippogriff, is at Virginia Water in Surrey only a few miles away from Heathrow Airport. In fact, the first landscape scenes of Hogwarts’ Lake were filmed up in Scotland at Loch Arkaig. But the biting midges were such a nuisance that the scenes involving actors were made at Virginia Water instead.

Ashridge Woods, Newbury

Situated on the Ashridge Estate between Didcot and Newbury, Ashridge Woods is a woodland paradise with tree walks, carpeted with bluebells and other wildflowers. But this peace was shattered when it was used as the setting for the Quidditch World Cup in The Goblet of Fire.

Ashridge Estate was also home to the infamous ‘Whomping Willow’. Sadly, due to the strain of its own weight and age, the ancient tree collapsed in 2014.

Swinley Forest, Bracknell

This forest in South East England was used to film chasing scenes in The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2. In Part 1, Harry, Ron and Hermione are chased through the forest before being captured by Deatheaters. Neville is also chased through the forest in Part 2.

Seven Sisters Country Park, Eastbourne

The dramatic white cliffs of the Seven Sisters Country Park at Exceat on the South Coast of England featured in The Goblet of Fire. It’s here that Harry climbs the hill to find the boot that will transport him to the Quidditch World Cup.

seven sisters

Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Nestled in the heart of Wiltshire between Salisbury and Bath, you’ll find the charming and historic village of Lacock.

Almost entirely owned by the National Trust, the historic appearance of Lacock has been beautifully preserved, and care has been taken to hide any signs of modernity such as overhead wires. No wonder then, that Lacock has been the setting for many period dramas including Pride and Prejudice and, more recently, Downton Abbey.

The village is also home to the magnificent 13th century Lacock Abbey. The interior of the abbey was featured in various scenes in the first two Harry Potter films.

In the first film, Harry was chosen to play Quidditch in the halls of the abbey. The abbey’s interior was also used for Professor Snape’s potions class and the Mirror of Erised scenes.

In The Chamber of Secrets when leaving Professor Lockhart’s room after detention, Harry hears the Basilisk in the cloisters of the Abbey.

Gloucester Cathedral

The cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral will be very familiar to Harry Potter fans. They were used as the corridors of Hogwarts in several interior scenes including:

  • The hallway where Harry and Ron, searching for Hermione, spot a 20ft troll in The Philosopher’s Stone
  • The ‘fat lady’ scenes in the first movie
  • The writing on the wall and the flooded corridor in The Chamber of Secrets.

Oxford

Oxford is not only famous as an elite centre of academic excellence, but also for the magnificent architecture of its scholarly buildings.

The stone staircase of Christ Church College featured in The Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry, Hermione, Ron and the other new students enter Hogwarts for the first time.

Hogwarts’ Library, frequented by studious Hermione, and the restricted section where Harry sneaks in wearing the cloak of invisibility was actually Duke Humfrey’s Library in Oxford.

The Divinity School on the ground floor of Bodleian Library featured as Hogwarts’ infirmary in the first two films. Recognise the big window? It’s where Harry’s bed was positioned when he woke up in the infirmary at the end of The Philosopher’s Stone.

The cloisters of New College are where Mad-Eyed Moody turned Draco Malfoy into a ferret in The Goblet of Fire.

Durham Cathedral

The poignant scene in The Philosopher’s Stone, where Harry walks with his white owl, Hedwig, through the snowy cloister courtyard, was filmed at Durham Cathedral.

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

If you’re looking for the real-life Hogwarts, then head to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. The spectacular castle grounds were used for external scenes at the school of witchcraft and wizardry.

The outer bailey is where Harry and his companions learn to fly their broomsticks under the tuition of Madame Hooch in The Philosopher’s Stone. It’s here that poor Neville Longbottom gets thrown about by his broom, before being left to hang from one of the towers.

The inner bailey is where Ron and Harry crash-land the flying car at the beginning of The Chamber of Secrets.

The imposing lion arch was used as the gateway that led out of Hogwarts to Hagrid’s hut and the Forbidden Forest.

alnwick castle

Goathland Train Station, North Yorkshire

The small Yorkshire village of Goathland is famous as the setting for the popular police soap drama, Heartbeat.

The station here also featured as Hogsmeade Station in The Philosopher’s Stone. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs steam and vintage train services from Goathland to Pickering so you can experience a ride just like the Hogwarts Express.

Malham Cove, Yorkshire

The desolate, rugged, rocky landscape of this natural limestone cove in Yorkshire featured in The Deathly Hallows Part 1. It’s where Harry and Hermione set up camp while hiding from Voldemort.

Wales

Freshwater West Beach

This windy, isolated and spectacular beach in South Pembrokeshire was the setting for Shell Cottage, home of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, featured in both The Deathly Hallows films.

The tragic and emotional scene of Dobby the house elf’s death was filmed on the sand dunes here.

Scotland

Glenfinnan Viaduct

One of the most iconic scenes of all the Harry Potter films is the Hogwarts Express journey over the 21-arched viaduct to deliver the students to the school of witchcraft and wizardry.

It is, in actual fact, the Glenfinnan Viaduct that goes from Fort William to Glenfinnan. The 380-metre-long and the 31-metre-high viaduct was built in 1898.

In the films, the viaduct that overlooks Loch Shiel (also used as the Black Lake), acts as the bridge to Hogwarts. In The Prisoner of Azkaban, the train is halted here by the Dementors who subsequently torture Harry, before Professor Lupin saves him.

If you’ve ever wanted to take the journey yourself, you can – on the original Hogwarts Express!

The Jacobite Steam Train was used as the original Hogwarts Express in the films. Scottish West Coast Railways provides a service described as ‘the greatest railway journey in the world’. The 84-mile round trip starts at Fort William, passes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct and ends at the beautiful fishing village of Mallaig. As well as passing over the viaduct, you’ll be able to enjoy the spectacular coastline, Highlands and lochs of Western Scotland including Ben Nevis and Loch Nevis.

glennfinnan

Glen Coe

Possibly the most famous glen in Scotland, the wild and rugged Highland hillside of Glen Coe was the filming location of Hagrid’s Hut.

Glen Coe, meaning ‘The Glen of Tears’, was also the main setting for many exterior scenes in The Prisoner of Azkaban, including the brilliant scene when Hermione punches Draco Malfoy in the face!

Steal Falls

This spectacular waterfall at the foot of Ben Nevis was where Harry’s battle with a Hungarian Horntailed dragon during the Triwizard Tournament in The Goblet of Fire was filmed.

It was also used as a backdrop for some Quidditch match scenes.

Loch Eilt

A rather apt and poignant place to finish up your discovery of Harry Potter filming locations is Loch Eilt in North West Scotland.

It’s here that Hagrid skimmed stones across the water in The Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s also where Voldemort stole the elder wand in The Deathly Hallows Part 1.

More significantly, it is the final resting place of Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

Loch Eilt featured as the island location of Dumbledore’s grave in The Deathly Hallows Part 1.

And finally…

No self-respecting Harry Potter fan can visit Edinburgh without popping into the place where it all began.

The Elephant House coffee shop is located on Marshall Street in the heart of historic Edinburgh. It’s here that J.K. Rowling wrote most of the first books of Harry Potter. She wrote in the quieter back area of the cafe with a view overlooking Edinburgh Castle. This is where the inspiration for Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft came from.

You can find more information about the Warner Bros. Tour here and don’t forget, we also offer plenty of other excellent tours in and around London too.