Whilst the studio sets for Harry Potter were filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, locations throughout the UK were used for their exteriors, including several in Central London. Here we look at the top Harry Potter filming locations in London.
Note: Film stills and YouTube clips are copyright Warner Bros.
Every Potterhead knows that to get to Hogwarts you take the Hogwarts Express which departs from Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross station. JK Rowling’s parents first met at King’s Cross, travelling on a train to Scotland; the author says the station is ‘evocative and symbolic’ for her.
Opened in 1852 the station has a rather plain exterior so the film makers used its next door younger brother, St Pancras station, as the entrance to King’s Cross. The striking terracotta design by George Gilbert Scott (he also designed the Albert Memorial) is decidedly more photogenic.
The scenes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets were filmed on location inside King’s Cross station. Platforms 9 and 10 aren’t actually together so the film makers renamed platforms 4 and 5, the arched wall between them being the entrance to platform 9¾ .
For a while a trolley was embedded in the wall near platform nine but it became so popular that it was moved to the main concourse on the west side of the station near platforms 9, 10 and 11. There you’ll find a trolley disappearing into the wall with a sign for Platform 9¾ .
You can have your photo taken pushing the trolley through the wall but beware, it’s a very popular location and queues can be lengthy, sometimes up to a 2 hour wait!
As well a doubling up for the exterior of King’s Cross, St. Pancras station was also where the Weasley’s magical Ford Anglia takes to the skies in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
One of the busiest locations in London, Piccadilly Circus was a key location in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 when Harry, Hermione and Ron are rushing through the West End and jump out of the way to avoid being hit a London red bus.
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry discovers his gift for talking with snakes when visiting the Reptile House at London Zoo, in the north east corner of Regent’s Park. Opened in 1927 the Reptile House is home to many species including boas, crocodiles, rattlesnakes, cobras, iguanas and chameleons.
In the film Harry sets a Burmese python free. In reality the actual enclosure is home to the zoo’s black mamba.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens with a dramatic sequence of London’s Millennium Bridge being ripped apart and collapsing into the river Thames. The bridge opened in 1999 so didn’t exist when the books were written.
At the beginning of the sequence the office workers look out of the windows of City Hall which is located further East just by Tower Bridge. The flight of the Death Eaters takes in many London landmarks. See if you can spot Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square station, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s and the Tate Modern.
The steel pedestrian suspension bridge (known as the wobbly bridge by Londoners), links Bankside by the Tate Modern with the City and St Paul’s Cathedral. At the northern end of the bridge is The City of London School, one of the three independent schools attended by Daniel Radcliffe who played Harry Potter.
Just south of Leicester Square station and running between Charing Cross Road and St Martin’s Lane is Cecil Court, a pedestrian alleyway lined with specialist and second-hand book shops and antiquarian shops. It is believed that it provided the inspiration for Diagon Alley.
It’s here that The Leaky Cauldron pub and inn for wizards, which serves as a gateway between the non-wizarding world and Diagon Alley is located.
Built in 1881, Leadenhall market in the City of London is a beautiful Victorian covered market and served as the location where some of the exterior Diagon Alley scenes were filmed for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Located in Bull’s Head Passage, an opticians shop was the film location used for the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Scenes for Gringotts Wizarding Bank (the only known bank of the wizarding world) in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were filmed inside Australia House on the Strand in central London. A major landmark on this street, Australia House was officially opened by King George V in 1918 and constructed from materials shipped from Australia.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry and Mr Weasley pass through Westminster Underground Station en route to Harry’s hearing at the Ministry of Magic. “Trains! Underground! Ingenious, these Muggles,” says Mr Weasley.
The station is located directly opposite from the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and is a very busy station which had to be closed to the public for an entire day during filming.
It’s on Lambeth Bridge that the Knight Bus has to squeeze between two oncoming double-decker buses in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Lambeth bridge is painted red to reflect the colour of the leather benches of the House of Lords in Parliament whilst Westminster Bridge, a little further down river, is painted green, the colour of the benches in the House of Commons.
At the junction of Scotland Place and Great Scotland Yard, and snuggled up against a real government building, Harry and Mr Weasley enter the phone box in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to descend into the Ministry of Magic. The phone box doesn’t exist; it was bought in as a prop for filming.
The bridge immediately adjacent to the telephone box was fake and added to conceal a doorway.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the Leaky Cauldron moved from Leadenhall Market to a location in Borough Market. It was outside the doorway of ‘Chez Michele’ flower shop at 7 Stoney Street that the Knight Bus pulled up and caused the alarm on a parked car to go off. The shop next door at Number 8 is the Third Hand Bookshop, (in the books it’s on Charing Cross Road), where Harry meets Gilroy Lockhart, his future tutor.
Close to King’s Cross station is Claremont Square, used as the filming location for 12 Grimmauld Place, which is the home of Sirius Black, and the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix & Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.