Edinburgh is a magical city for any Harry Potter fan. It’s where JK Rowling wrote most of the books in the series, and she took much inspiration from her surroundings. You only have to look at Edinburgh Castle, sitting high on castle rock. Remind you of a certain school of witchcraft and wizardry? Or, the quirky shopping street Victoria Street. Diagon Alley, of course!
The Potter Trail
The Potter Trail is a special walking tour of Edinburgh, which takes you around the locations that inspired the Harry Potter stories. The tour is free, but they accept contributions. The meeting point is the Greyfriars Bobby monument on George IV Bridge.
Harry Potter Locations
Visit Greyfriars Kirkyard and keep your eyes peeled for the graves of William McGonagall (a relative of Minerva’s perhaps?) and Tom Riddell (the original Lord Voledemort?). Both Edinburgh Castle and George Heriot’s School are said to have inspired the great Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The quirky Victoria Street, Candlemaker Row and Grassmarket area are widely regarded as the basis for the magical shopping street, Diagon Alley.
Rowling’s Writing Spots
The Elephant House is one of Rowling’s most well-known writing spots. She sat in the back room of the café, overlooking Edinburgh Castle, and wrote parts of her first few novels. Nicolsons Café (now the Spoon Café) on Nicolson Street was another favourite hang-out for the writer in the early days.
As the series became a hit, her writing locations became more glamorous. She finished the last book in a luxury suite at the five star Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street. The suite will set you back over £1000 a night and contains a marble bust, which Rowling signed on the day she finished writing.
You can also visit the City Chambers, where JK Rowling’s handprints are imprinted into the floor, along with some other local Edinburgh heroes.
Harry Potter Shops
There are two Harry Potter themed shops in Edinburgh. Museum Context is an official stockist of all things Harry Potter, from Hogwarts house scarves to Nimbus 2000 broomsticks. The two branches are located on Victoria Street and Cockburn Street in Edinburgh’s Old Town.