Explore Harry Potter’s England By Road | My Family Travels
The Oxford of Harry Potter
Aqueduct at York
Fields of York
Glenfinnan Viaduct

Harry Potter fans, inspired by new books and thrill rides, can tour Great Britain by car and visit many of the actual filming locations inspired by the book series.

Harry Potter fans who want even more after experiencing the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort should get set to visit spell-binding England, the truly inspiring setting of J.K. Rowling’s book series. Families can enjoy touring a number of the film locations from the “Harry Potter” movies in Great Britain, including some of the country’s most historic and magical site. For fans of all ages, VisitEngland, the official tourism body for England, is highlighting how travelers can explore Harry Potter’s England online.  

Northeast England for the Hogwarts Express

Known as the bewitching Hogsmeade Station in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Goathland Station in Yorkshire on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, is a picturesque countryside station almost unchanged since its construction in 1865. Situated in the North York Moors National Park, the station has been restored to represent a charming post-World War I station, featuring a 1922-era tea room and original classic steam locomotives that take visitors across 18 miles of stunning countryside through the park, stopping at quaint stations along the way. For the film, the railway’s shop on the platform was transformed into the ‘Prefects Room’ and the ladies toilets became the ‘Wizards Room’.

Soon to be seen by millions of people all over the world, the spectacular countryside of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is featured in the new Harry Potter film, The Deathly Hallows, due for release in 2010.

The Outer Bailey of Alnwick Castle, an impressive medieval castle in Northumberland just about a two-hour drive from Yorkshire Dales National Park, is the site of Madame Hooch’s flying lesson. One hour away, also in the North East of England, the cloisters of Durham Cathedral became the snowy quadrangle of Hogwarts, where Harry sets the owl flying. Durham Cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of Norman architecture and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with nearby Durham Castle.

Heading South to Gryffindor House

In the southwest of England, the richly-vaulted cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral, one of England’s most beautiful architectural gems, became the corridors leading to ‘Gryffindor House’ in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. A visit to the area, which is a four-hour trek from Yorkshire Dales and comprises much of the Cotswolds as well as the green pastures of the Severn Vale, would not be complete without discovering why Gloucestershire is known for offering some of the most varied landscapes in England.

An hour and 20 minutes’ drive South East is all it takes to arrive in the next magical location.

Oxford is the Inspiration for Hogwarts

Referred to as ‘the city of dreaming spires’, Oxford is where visitors can see the real-life locations for ‘Hogwart’s.’

Renowned for its exquisite architecture and dramatic skyline, the city is home to Oxford University‘s striking Gothic structure, Christ Church College, which is the site of the magnificent ‘Hogwart’s dining hall’, and also provided many of the school’s famous moving staircases. (This Oxford University Dining Hall also was the inspiration for Harvard College’s freshmen dining room, Annenberg Hall; thus many Bostonians claim that this great room was the inspiration for Hogwart’s own dining room.)

Additionally, ‘Hogwart’s Hospital’ can be found in the elaborately fan-vaulted Divinity School, while the university’s circular Bodleian Library also supplied a location in the films. About 1 hour and 20 minutes South, Lacock Abbey, a gothicized 13th century abbey in Lacock, Wiltshire, provided many of the classrooms.

Wizarding Fun in London

Just an hour-and-a-half drive from Oxford and recently completed, the new St. Pancras International Station is Europe’s first ‘destination station’ including world-class shopping, Europe’s longest Champagne bar, a daily farmers market and top restaurants and bars.

Any family trip to England must include time in lively London, many kids’ favorite part of the country. Many families will recognize the name of Kings Cross Station in London, a tube stop that was featured in the “Harry Potter” series of movies. Look between platforms 9 and 10 for the enchanted ‘Platform 9-3/4’; for fans in the know, it’s otherwise known as the portal to the wizarding world.

Also in London is another site: the Reptile House of Regent’s Park Zoo is where Harry learns he can speak to snakes. The optician store in Leadenhall Market in the City of London, previously an empty shop, doubled as the entrance to the ‘Leaky Cauldron’ in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

We think this is enough to get you Harry Potter fans started on a tour of England, and driving the Harry Potter Route will take your family through beautiful countryside — as long as you stick to the lefthand side of the road.  Further information about visiting England and other driving tours of interest can be found at Visit England.

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