Welcome to the third post in our journey through Harry Potter’s England. See the complete list of other Harry Potter travel posts at the end of this post.
Next up on our journey? London, through the eyes of a muggle family!
Exploring Harry Potter’s London
London is chock full of sites and scenes that pop right off a Harry Potter movie screen. Harry, Hermoine, Ron, Hagrid, The Order, and even the Death Eaters – they’ve all spent time in London. And so should you! Take a day, perhaps two or three days, and see London as if you too are as magical as Harry Potter.
Speaking In Tongues At The Reptile House
Remember that scene? The one where Harry learns he can speak Parseltongue, the special power to speak with snakes? Wander around the Reptile House at the London Zoo, and you’ll see the same snake house where Harry first talks with snakes.
Then imagine poor lil’ ole’ Dudley falling into the snake house after he teases Harry. It’ll be a hissing good time!
All Aboard! It’s Platform 9 3/4
The iconic train ride to Hogwarts begins – and ends – at the secretive Platform 9 3/4, found at King’s Cross Station. You might not want to push your luggage trolley into the wall though. You’ll just bounce back. I think it’s been magically protected so we muggles can’t get in.
Look closely as you wander through the train station. You’ll see other familiar sites, including the clock and the train tracks. Minus the magical Hogwarts train, of course.
The Flight of The Ford Anglia
Step outside of King’s Cross Station. Look around. See nearby St. Pancras International Station? You might recognize this building. It’s where the Weasley’s magical Ford Anglia takes off with Harry and Ron in tow.
St. Pancras Station is also the front of the train station in the movies.
Imagining The Magical Diagon Alley
What Harry Potter adventure isn’t complete without a trip to Diagon Alley for school supplies and other sundries? A walk down Charing Cross Road, and into Cecil Court will make you think you’ve stepped through that magical brick wall and landed right in the middle of Diagon Alley. Cecil Court and its collection of old shops, is considered the inspiration behind the movie version of Diagon Alley. Stop and look around. Imagine Hermoine coming out the book store stacked high with school books, or Harry in Olivanders checking out the wands. Who knows – maybe you’ll find a wand or magical book in one of Cecil Court’s antique shops?
Then head on over to Leadenhall Market for some more Diagon Alley shopping. Keep a keen eye open for things that look familiar – because they might just be! Leadenhall Market was more than an inspiration for Diagon Alley. Several exterior shots of Diagon Alley were filmed at Leadenhall Market.
Stand In Front of The Leaky Cauldron
While still in Leadenhall Market, look for 42 Bull’s Head Passage. Look familiar? That’s because it’s the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron Pub! It’s cleverly disguised these days as an optician’s store. Don’t want too many muggles sipping butter beer with the magicals.
The store names have been changed to protect the magical beings that frequent here!
Witness Goblin Stronghold Gringotts’ Bank
London muggles will call it Australia House, and it’s Exhibition Hall looks just like the goblin run Gringott’s Bank. Don’t expect any goblins to be walking out of Australia House these days, though. They seem to all have gone underground!
And you’ll have to stick to the streets on this one – Australia House is closed to the public.
Walk Along A Battle of Magical Proportions
Stroll across the Millenium Bridge, spanning across the River Thames. Remember that epic battle with the Death Eaters in the Half Blood Prince? Where they take down the bridge? Well, you don’t have to worry about that here! That was all just digital wizardry. This Millenium Bridge is quite safe to walk across.
At Home With The Dursley’s on Privet Drive
Yes, #4 Privet Drive is a real brick row home on a real street. Those dreadful Dursley’s and their son Dudley lived on Privet Drive, as did Harry. Privet Drive is located in the small village of Little Whinging, just outside London. Except you won’t find the Dursley home with these names!
The local muggles know this street as Picket Post Close, and the village as Bracknell, about ten miles west of Heathrow airport. Look for #12 Picket Post Close – but remember, this is a private home so I’d suggest you don’t knock on the door.
Ok, technically the Dursley’s house isn’t in London. However, it’s still pretty cool to drive by either on your way into London, or perhaps on your way to other sites in the area.
So Much More To See And Do In London
You don’t need to be a Harry Potter fan to enjoy London. There is so much more to London than “just” Harry Potter film sites. There’s Big Ben, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, and Buckingham Palace. Then there’s the Millenium Bridge and Piccadilly Circus. They’ve all made appearances in Harry Potter films, and they all make for a great adventure in London – Harry Potter fan or not a Harry Potter fan!
The Journey Continues To … Lacock Village and Abbey
Next up on our journey through Harry Potter’s England is Lacock Abbey – Inside a Hogwart’s Classroom. Don’t miss the entire series about our journey through Harry Potter’s England:
- A Muggle’s Exploration of Harry Potter’s England
- Alnwick Castle – Quidditch Anyone?
- Lacock Abbey – Inside a Hogwart’s Classroom
- Gloucester Cathedral: In The Halls of Hogwarts
- Oxford: It’s More Than Hogwarts Dining Hall
- Plan Your Own Trip To Harry Potter’s England
Have you been to London? Did you experience a Harry Potter film site? What was your favorite activity? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Images from C.Biederman, WilliamHook via Flickr (Reptile House), VasenkaPhotography via Flickr (Cecil Court), Wikipedia (Australia House) and MonicaArellano-Ongpin via Flickr (Milleniuim Bridge).