This is an article lovingly written by a 90s kid who grew up with Harry Potter and still thinks her letter from Hogwarts was lost in the post because it’s literally the only logical explanation why she still lives in the Muggle world. At least that’s currently London so here are my favourite places that I recommend visiting to all of us who will never be too old for Harry Potter (or will just lie about our age when things become slightly more embarrassing).
1. Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross
Of course this is the number one. King’s Cross is an actual train station in central London three minutes away from the British Library. The film scenes were shot between platforms 4 and 5 which are in the old part of the building. I mention this because my friends and I spent some unhappy times in the new part of the building few years ago disappointingly looking at the modern platforms 9 and 10 feeling a bit cheated.
The famous trolley in the wall is installed right next to them though, which we also completely overlooked (how??). There’s always a gigantic line of people waiting for the picture, so I could never be bothered, but the shop Platform 9 3/4 is heaven. Let’s just say that if you gave me £1000 to spend in the shop within 10 minutes time, I’d be back in 5 managing to take coffee break in the spare time. I want everything in that shop, literally. But I’m an adult, so I only bought a cup changing colours and a plush Hedwig.
Warning: If you don’t want to spend any money, don’t go there. Seriously. Nobody’s will power is that strong.
2. Ministry of Magic
If you’ve ever been to London, I guarantee you walked straight by. The visitor’s entrance to the Ministry of Magic is located on the corner of Great Scotland Yard and Scotland Place right off of Whitehall, aka the most famous street in London. It’s very close to 10, Downing Street, which is the seat of the UK prime minister. Genius, isn’t it?
The telephone box which transported Harry and Mr Weasley to the Ministry is no longer there unfortunately, but you can still see the grey garage door where Harry, Ron and Hermione hid the ministry workers in Deathly Hallows.
3. Leaky Cauldron
The entrance to Leaky Cauldron that we know from the first film when Hagrid brings Harry to the Diagon Alley can be found in Leadenhall Market in the City, just around the corner from the Sky Garden (not HP relevant but def worth visiting if you want to enjoy free superview of London. You can think of me when you’re there with tears of gratitude in your eyes, I’ll feel it).
The market building is very pretty but I’m not sure if I’d recognized the door if I didn’t know about it. It’s much brighter in real life and the optician signs don’t help. And don’t tell me I’m just a Muggle so I can’t see it, that’s a sensitive spot.
4. House of MinaLima
The House of MinaLima on Greek Street in Soho was opened few months ago and it’s a home to all the graphic designs used in Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films. The MinaLima studio created all the book covers, newspaper, posters, everything, and their work is reaaally impressive. Among their masterpieces are Daily Prophet, Marauder’s map and my personal favourite, Hogwarts letter.
The entry is free and the building is very close to Oxford Street or Piccadilly Circus, so it’s very easy to stop by. And when you do, take the opportunity and ask the staff about anything. They know loads of fun facts, such as that every issue of Daily Prophet used in the film is original and is actually filled with articles from cover to cover, often about things that happened for example on the set that day. Or that they had to make 10 000 of Hogwarts letters for Harry, lucky bastard, to throw at him in that famous scene. Seriously though, how did he managed not to catch and read a single one of them? Chosen one, pffff.
5. Millennium Bridge
Again, if you visited London before, you most likely walked across the Millennium Bridge at least once. It connects St Paul’s Cathedral with Tate Modern Gallery and it’s the bridge that was destroyed by Death Eaters in Deathly Hallows. It pops into my head every time I cross it but so far so good. It always feels safer though to walk there on a sunny day, because that would definitely lack the drama and mood for the theatrical Death Eater crew.
6. 12 Grimmauld Place
Probably my favourite filming location, number 12 Grimmauld Place, aka the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, can be found around number 20 Claremont Square in Islington, about 15 minutes from King’s Cross.
It’s not so far from the place where I live, so one day I just happened to walk by thinking oh, these houses look just like those at Grimmauld Place, if only were they a bit darker. I didn’t pay much attention to it, but literally the day after, my friend sent me a video of some locations for the movies and when I googled where the Claremont Square was, I could hardly believe it. If this isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is, Hogwarts!
I like it so much because when you stand in front of the houses, it really looks like number 12 is about to emerge any minute. I know I wouldn’t see it because I’m not allowed to enter, but… Just shut up, Smarty-pants.
If you have any other favourite Harry Potter-related places here in London or the UK, let me know! All of the above mentioned are quite central, so make sure to visit them next time you’re here. Even bring your wand if you have one, you wouldn’t believe how many people I met randomly in London walking around with theirs.
Meanwhile I’ll be checking my mail box every day because you never know. I have a British address now and my birthday is coming, sooo… Should I start packing?