Harry Potter and his journey captured the hearts of fans young and old. As one of the most popular stories ever, fans from all over the globe are always looking to find ways to experience the world of Harry Potter in real life. In this article, I’ll cover the top 9¾* best destinations for Harry Potter fans, including some of the best filming locations, interactive experiences, and conventions where this magical world is brought to life.

* Why 9¾ (besides the obvious)? Several of my individual picks actually span multiple locations around the globe, such as different theme parks or multiple filming locations. So you’ll need to tap into the Floo Network, a flying Ford Anglia, or maybe just some frequent flier miles to experience them fully.

1. Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Theme Parks)

As a huge fan of theme parks, of course, I have to put Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter as number one on the list. But even for Potter fans who aren’t necessarily into theme parks, it’s hard to argue with the amount of immersion and attention to detail you can find in these theme park tributes to the Wizarding World. It’s like you’ve stepped right inside the books and movies!

You’ll find Universal’s take on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in several of their theme parks all around the world, including:

  • Orlando
  • Hollywood
  • Beijing
  • Japan

Each has a slightly different take, with some rides appearing only in certain locations.

By far, the most complete Harry Potter treatment is found at Universal Orlando Resort. There, you’ll find:

  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade (Universal Islands of Adventure)
  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley (Universal Studios Florida)
  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Ministry of Magic (Universal Epic Universe, opening 2025)

Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure)

Universal Orlando Hogsmeade

Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure

At Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, you can visit Hogsmeade, my favorite of the Harry Potter worlds so far.

Hogsmeade brings the world of Harry Potter to life in a way that you have to see to believe. When my family plans a trip to Universal, this is always one of the first places we make sure to visit. Each time we get to experience the same special feeling of walking into the world for the first time under the shadow of Hogwarts Castle. It’s a view that truly never gets old!

Hogwarts Castle at Universal Orlando's Wizarding World, one of the Best Destinations for Harry Potter Fans.

Hogwarts Castle at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The best part of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is that it’s a fully immersive experience designed to make you feel like you are a student at Hogwarts.

One of the highlights of this park is seeing Hogwarts Castle. This remake of the real castle (which we will get to later in this list) is a surreal model of Hogwarts that will be sure to give you déjà vu from the movies. If you come at the right time of year you can even see a light show outside the castle recreating some of the best moments from Harry Potter.

Another reason why visiting this park is so special is the rides. Hogsmeade has some of the best rides in Universal Orlando and they are all Harry Potter-themed. Here you can ride:

Universal Orlando Rides - Hargrid's Motorbike Adventure

Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure

In my opinion, Hagrid’s ride at Universal Orlando is the best roller coaster Universal has to offer — and one of the best theme park rides in the country. On this rollercoaster you will be flying with Hagrid through the forbidden forest, seeing some of your favorite characters and animals from Harry Potter along the way. The combination of an already thrilling roller coaster and amazing visuals makes this one of the most enjoyable ways you can have an immersive Harry Potter experience.

While Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the Flight of the Hippogriff are also great rides, my next favorite is the Hogwarts Express.

The Hogwarts Express train ride at Universal Orlando Resort

Hogwarts Express

This ride goes in between the two Harry Potter Worlds in Universal Orlando, so a Park-to-Park pass is required to experience it. I always recommend getting this pass anyway when you visit Universal Orlando because on top of just getting to try the Hogwarts Express, it will let you visit both Harry Potter worlds on the same day. Through the use of amazing CGI, the Hogwarts Express will make you feel like you are really taking the train to Hogwarts. On the ride, you will sit in a car identical to what you will remember from the movies, and you’ll be able to hear some of your favorite characters talking in the hallways, or even flying by outside the window!

Another one of my highlights from Hogsmeade is the chance to get your own wand from Ollivanders. This shop isn’t exclusive to Hogsmeade because there is another location in Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but stopping by one of the two Ollivanders is an absolute must when you visit. For any Harry Potter fan, the chance to get your very own wand with the help of Ollivander is a magical experience.

Lastly, when you visit you have to go to Three Broomsticks and get a Butterbeer just like Harry, Ron, and Hermione do in the books. Universal has an exact replica of the pub that is almost eerily similar to what it looks like in the movies. Then, head out to catch a performance of the Frog Choir or perhaps take in the Triwizard Spirit Rally.

Diagon Alley (Universal Studios Florida)

A fire-breathing dragon perches atop Gringott's Bank in Diagon Alley

A hot time in Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley is another important part of the Harry Potter experience at Universal Orlando. Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios and is only a short ride away from Hogsmeade on the Hogwarts Express.

Just as you might expect, walking down the streets of Diagon Alley in Universal brings the world of Harry Potter alive in a surreal way. As you explore the winding roads you will see Gringotts Bank, Ollivanders, Knockturn Alley, the Leaky Cauldron, Borgin and Burkes, and even a fire-breathing dragon! And of course, there will be Butterbeer!

A plastic cup of Butterbeer

A Harry Potter world at Universal would not be complete without rides, and Diagon Alley definitely doesn’t disappoint. The world only has one ride (not including the Hogwarts Express) called Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. The experience of the ride starts before you even sit down and put on your seatbelt. The line entering the ride begins in Gringotts bank, where you will walk in between rows of goblins counting coins and peering at you suspiciously, just as if you were Harry, Ron, and Hermione trying to sneak into the bank. Once the ride begins, the combination of top-of-the-line CGI and a great roller coaster will have you screaming and laughing as you escape from the dungeons of Gringotts and its dragon, with Harry and Hermione by your side.

Once you try Escape from Gringotts you can explore the rest of Diagon Alley just like you are a first-year student looking for books, robes, and more. You can even use Galleons instead of dollars to buy gifts in the park!

Be sure to purchase a wand so you can perform a little magic of your own — interactive wands allow you to trigger real-world effects around all parts of the wizarding world!

Before leaving, try to catch a performance by Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, listen to The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and snap a photo on the Knight Bus.

Ministry of Magic (Epic Universe, Opening 2025)

Concept art of a large round entrance portal, with a giant golden hand holding a wand overhead.

Entrance portal to Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

Long rumored and recently officially announced, Universal Orlando’s third full-fledged theme park will include yet another area dedicated to Harry Potter lore. The Epic Universe theme park opens in 2025, and along with it comes The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Ministry of Magic.

Based on all available information so far, this land will include areas devoted to 1920s Paris (as found in the Fantastic Beasts storylines), as well as the titular Ministry of Magic.

It’s widely believed this will include a thrilling and immersive ride based on the Battle of the Department of Mysteries / Ministry of Magic, along with a possible stage show. There will no doubt be plenty of dining and shopping options, too.

We’re eagerly awaiting more information on attractions, shows, and food offerings in advance of the park’s 2025 opening.

Other Universal Theme Parks — Hollywood, Japan, and Beijing

Smaller, but equally immersive, tributes to Harry Potter can be found in other Universal Theme Parks. No matter which of these you choose, you should be able to:

  • Visit Hogsmeade
  • See Hogwarts Castle
  • Ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Ride Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Buy a wand at Ollivander’s
  • Dine at Hog’s Head
  • Dine at Three Broomsticks
  • Experience additional shows, dining, and shopping options, varying slightly by park.

Each ride, attraction, and dining experience in the other parks is generally equal to its Orlando counterpart — so feel free to glance back above at the Orlando sections to see what to expect.

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There’s no need to wait until September 1 to return to Hogwarts — get your free consultation and no-obligation quote today!

2. Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

This is where the magic really happened! You can take tours of Warner Brothers Studio in London and see all the sets, costumes, and props that were used to film Harry Potter.

Tables in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Hogwarts Great Hall set | Image © Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.

Here you can see sets for:

  • Diagon Alley
  • The Great Hall
  • The Forbidden Forest
  • Platform 9¾ (where the actual filming took place)
  • Gringotts Wizarding Bank
  • Professor Sprout’s Greenhouse
The winding streets of Diagon Alley at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Diagon Alley set | Image © Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.

Alongside these famous locations, you can see memorable props from the movies, including those shown in scenes set in:

  • Potions Classroom
  • The Memory Cabinet
  • Professor Umbridge’s Office
  • Puking Pastilles

These tours will also bring to life all the magic behind the actual filming process like the sound effects, how they brought the magical creatures to life, the art, models, and more. This would be a fun visit for any Harry Potter fan, but especially those who are interested in the cinematic magic that made the movies possible.

Tip: Be sure to check out their list of special events, too! My favorite is Hogwarts in the Snow, a seasonal celebration during which the sets are decorated for Christmas, complete with lots of “snow.”

3. Jacobite Train and the Glenfinnan Viaduct

Remember the scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where Ron and Harry are flying a car over the train tracks on a beautiful bridge on their way to Hogwarts, and the Hogwarts Express catches up to them? Well, that place is real!

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is located in beautiful Scotland overlooking Loch Shiel, and yes, trains actually go over it! You can ride the Jacobite Steam train in what many call the best train ride in the world to experience just what Hogwarts students would see on their way to school.

Iconic steam engines lead the Jacobite on an 84-mile journey that starts near Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, and ends at the deepest loch in Europe, Loch Nevis!

The train often pauses (if time allows) while crossing the viaduct so guests can take in the sweeping views. This experience will not only let you see one of the most popular film spots from the movies, but also enjoy the beautiful greens, tans, and deep blues of the Scottish Highlands.

Tickets are sold at several different price points, including the most affordable “standard class” open seating as well as “compartment carriages” (private salons similar to those made famous in the films — “anything off the trolley, dears?”). You can even splurge for the first class open carriage, which includes private tables for 2-4 people, traditional table lamps, upholstered seats, and complimentary tea/coffees.

Whichever you choose, the Jacobite is a wonderful way to see the breathtaking countryside while imagining that you’ve finally received your letter and are on your way to Hogwarts!

4. Alnwick Castle

Located in England, Alnwick Castle is one of the main locations where the famous Harry Potter movie series was filmed. The beautiful castle combines centuries of rich history with the magic of Harry Potter fandom. While all Harry Potter fans will love to see where certain parts of the movies were filmed, there are also historical tours to enjoy afterward.

The castle has seen battles, betrayals, and knights and you can learn all about these during your visit.

In terms of Harry Potter-related experiences, you can take a flying broomstick lesson in the exact same quad that Harry had his first lesson with Madam Hooch, see some recognizable classrooms and halls, and more.

Remember, this won’t look precisely like Hogwarts. CGI was used in the film production and many scenes were shot in other locations — but many parts of the castle will be the same! Seeing the exact locations where certain scenes from the movies were shot is a surreal experience that brings to life the stories that so many of us feel are already almost real.

5. King’s Cross Station, St. Pancras International, and Platform 9¾

In the books and films, King’s Cross Station is where the Hogwarts Express departs on its yearly journey back to the Wizarding World. King’s Cross Station is easy and convenient for Muggles to visit when in London. Located in the city’s centre, you might even come across King’s Cross by chance if you are taking the tube. The station itself combines the recognizable brick arches from the movies with a modern, glass dome where most people wait for their trains.

The train station has an exhibit dedicated specifically to Harry Potter, allowing you to see the exact spot* where Hogwarts students would have run through the brick wall with their trolleys to reach Platform 9¾ and the Hogwarts Express. You can also have professional photos made and (of course) buy merchandise!

* Confundo! The “actual” location of Platform 9¾ is surprisingly complex and involves platforms 4, 5, 8, 9, and 10 — not to mention a separate building, an entirely different railway station, and a soundstage! Long story short, there’s now a Platform 9¾ photo op near the Harry Potter shop at King’s Cross.

If you’re hoping to get some lovely exterior photos of the station as seen in the films, you’ll need to venture beyond King’s Cross. Filmmakers didn’t like how the exterior of King’s Cross looked, so they filmed St. Pancras International instead for the outdoor shots. Ah, the magic of filmmaking!

These spots offer a quick and fun way to see one of the most famous Harry Potter locations and are absolutely worth stopping by if you are in London.

6. LeakyCon Convention

LeakyCon is a convention dedicated to bringing lovers of Harry Potter together in various locations throughout the world. The convention moves periodically; the 2024 event is July 5-7 in Portland, Oregon.

The event typically includes special guests such as actors from the film series, individuals involved in the production and development, and fan-focused creators such as authors and podcast hosts.

At the convention, you might also enjoy live entertainment — acts in the past have included wizarding rock bands and artists like Harry and the Potters, The Harry Potter Alliance, StarKid Productions, Potter Puppet Pals, John Noe, and Melissa Anelli.

If you want to celebrate your love of Harry Potter with other like-minded fans then this is a great place for you! Keep an eye out for updated information on when LeakyCon will happen near you!

7. Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Harry Potter The Exhibition is a traveling show that celebrates some of the iconic settings, moments, characters, and animals from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Using interactive technology and storytelling, the exhibit brings all things Harry Potter to a fascinating, life-like experience.

As of early 2024, tickets were on sale for Exhibitions in New York City, Macao, Munich, and Barcelona. It previously toured Atlanta, Paris, Philadelphia, and Vienna. The truly international nature of this show means that over the next few years there is bound to be an experience near you!

8. Wizarding World: Back to Hogwarts

Each year on September 1st, Harry Potter fans from all over the world come together both in person and virtually to celebrate the moment when witches and wizards board the Hogwarts Express to begin the journey back to school.

The primary in-person event takes place at King’s Cross station in London. Fans will turn up in costume with other fans, fan clubs, and friends. At the event, you can try Butterbeer, play Hogwarts video games, and have some great photo opportunities. Just like New Year’s Eve, there is a countdown to the moment that the departure for the Hogwarts Express is announced, followed by the official Harry Potter song, Hedwig’s Theme, by John Williams.

Along with its main base in London, Back to Hogwarts often features smaller pop-up celebrations all over the world on September 1st. Past locations have included Italy (Milan Central Station), Mexico (Shopping District Suburbia), Japan (Warner Bros. Studio Tokyo), and France (Paris Expo Porte de Versailles).

If you can’t make it to any of these locations you can even celebrate digitally with fans just like you. Once you sign up for the event you might even receive a Hogwarts acceptance letter confirming your expected attendance!

Not much for crowds and wishing you had an invisibility cloak? September 1st is a great day to just celebrate on your own! Make your favorite Harry Potter themed snacks, have a movie marathon, or just practice your spells!

9. Additional Harry Potter Filming Locations

Rounding out our list we have several more Harry Potter filming locations. While Hogwarts Castle, Platform 9¾, and the Glenfinnan Viaduct certainly get most of the attention, there are many more sites that could pique the interest of a true Harry Potter fan.

Many of these locations would make a great vacation destination along with the bonus of being able to see where some of Harry Potter was filmed. On the list we have:

Final Thoughts

There are so many ways that Harry Potter fans can bring the magical world we all know and love to life, with everything from theme parks to real castles. It’s time to start checking some of these locations off your list!

No matter where you go, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home. Accio Vacation!

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