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Harry Potter and the Hotspots of Edinburgh

‘The Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ is truly something special, JK Rowling’s ability to create such a place is absolutely astounding. But what’s even more captivating is the following that both the books and film instalments have attributed over the course of 20 years.

All over the world, there are various tributes to the saga, for example, take ‘The Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter' at Universal Studios in Orlando where you can actually walk through the village of Hogsmeade, drink butterbeer, ride on hippogriffs, catch the Hogwarts Express and so much more. However, closer to home for some in the city of Edinburgh, this is an almost sacred ground to Harry Potter fans.  From the mayhem of higgledy-piggledy cobbled streets, breathtaking medieval architecture and genuine charm, J.K Rowling stumbled on a goldmine of inspiration when she moved to Scotland in the 90’s.


Here are some of the best spots in Edinburgh for your dose of Pottermania in Scotland!


1. Victoria Street

Victoria Street Diagon Alley Edinburgh

Loved by the locals and tourists alike, Victoria Street is one of Edinburgh’s most majestic streets. Filled with many independent shops and boutiques in a kaleidoscope of colours, this cobbled street was built during the Victorian era, between the years of 1829-1834.  However much more significantly, the street is said to be the main inspiration for ‘Diagon Alley’. Even muggles can spot the notable similarities, from the stand out shops and the character of the street itself! But adding even more excitement to the street is the fact that The Wizard of the West Bow was once a resident here. There’s certainly an element of magic in the air here!


2. Diagon House

Diaon House Edinburgh Harry Potter

On Victoria Street, you’ll find Diagon House. This is the must-stop shop for all of your Potter related needs and wants. The wondrous emporium is filled with ‘Harry Potter’ merchandise (of course!) and collectables from local artists and other curiosities. It’s even got decades of broom making in its heritage, doesn’t get more charming than this? Just imagine yourself as being Harry as he first walks through Diagon Alley with Hagrid in the first film as you enter Diagon House for a true Potter feel!


3. George Heriot’s

George Heriot's School Edinburgh Hogwarts Harry Potter
Image source

George Heriot’s School in Lauriston Place bears an uncanny resemblance to Hogwarts, from the grand and impressive architecture to the sorting process. The school uses a sorting system just as Hogwarts uses for its students, Laurieston after the new road to the South of the city, representing (Slytherin – green), Greyfriars, after Greyfriars Kirk (Hufflepuff), Raeburn, named after former pupil and portrait painter, Sir Henry Raeburn (Gryffindor) and Castle, blue like Ravenclaw, after the Saltire flag and which can also be seen flying from Edinburgh Castle.  J.K Rowling’s own children attended the school and she has said in interviews that Hogwarts is a very real place to her and that she always imagined it to be in Scotland. Unfortunately, as it’s a school, the building is very rarely open to the public making it quite difficult to see the entire building in all its glory. But apparently, you can get a good view of the school from the observation deck at Camera Obscura.


Related: Book one of our Edinburgh properties for your stay while touring these locations.


4. The Balmoral Hotel

Balmoral Hotel Edinburgh grand hotel Scots Monument

The Balmoral Hotel is one of Edinburgh’s staple hotels and significant city landmarks. Hailed for its luxury high-end furnishings, grand interior, central location, Michelin Star restaurant and its high profile guests. One room in particular (552), is perhaps a must stay for any Potter fan as Rowling frequented in this lavish suite while writing the final instalment of the series, The Deathly Hallows. Due to Rowling staying here, the room is now known as the J.K Rowling Suite. It boasts a brass owl door knocker, a marble bust which Rowling signed upon completion of the final book in January 2007.


5. The Elephant House

elephant house edinburgh toilet walls

To an extent, you could say that this is the place where the magic all began. The Elephant House has established itself as one of best tea and coffee places in the city.  The cafe served as a home away from home for J.K Rowling while she wrote the first pages of the Harry Potter series in the back room. This toilets here are filled with Potter-related scribbles and writing on the walls, making them also worth checking out. Other notable visitors to the cafe include best selling Rebus novels, Scottish author Iain Rankin and author of the no.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Alexander McCall Smith. It’s definitely safe to say that this a place you should visit especially in you’re looking to expand your craniums with creativity! For directions to the cafe see here –  The Elephant House – Map.


6.  Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriar's Kirkyard Edinburgh

Greyfriars Kirkyard, famed for the story of Greyfriars Bobby is actually one of the eeriest and most haunted places in the world. However, it was a place of inspiration for Rowling as she often strolled the graveyard during her time in the city. Tucked away amidst the headstones is the grave of Thomas Riddell Esquire, the very name given to Lord Voldemort, albeit, Esquire was forgone. The kirkyard also houses the graves of Elizabeth Moodie and William McGonagall, which believe gave Rowling the inspiration for the names of Mad-Eye Moody and Professor McGonagall. Many fans from across the globe flock here and leave letters and other forms of fan mail at ‘Voldemort’s grave’, despite the fact the Edinburgh City Council remove them out of respect for the dead.


6. Edinburgh City Chambers

JK Rowling handprints Edinburgh City Chambers

Hollywood’s got the Walk of Fame and let’s just say Edinburgh’s got its very own version (well sort of).  The City Chambers are home to a bronze impression of Rowling’s handprints showcased on a flagstone in the quadrangle. The handprints appeared here in 2008, the year in which the author received the Edinburgh Award, they’re also placed next to those of author Ian Rankin OBE, Sir Chris Hoy.


So with all that being said, are you coming to explore all of the Harry Potter hotspots?

If you are then please share your experience with us!


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