Where are all my Harry Potter fans? Based on the amount of fan-fiction and fan websites out there I know I am not the only one. I also know that my 2 girls join me in my love of Harry Potter. Therefore, when I started planning my Scotland adventure I decided some Harry Potter sites needed to be included – you know for the kids, wink, wink. So read along as we discover the hidden secrets of Harry Potter in the magical world of Edinburgh, Scotland.
After spending a great day and a half in London where we got to see Kings Cross Station and the famous Platform 9 3/4, my family and I boarded the Hogwarts Express (well in my imagination it was the Hogwarts Express) from London to Edinburgh’s Waverly Station. While the journey was long, it was uneventful, and we were quite fortunate not to be attacked by any dementors while we slept. We arrived in Edinburgh safely and ready to discover the World of Harry Potter that awaited us.
Edinburgh is a lovely city that holds many secrets on its beautiful cobbled streets, alleyways, and kirkyards. And in order to discover its secrets we did what every other self respecting Harry Potter fan would do – grab a wand, and join our very own witch/wizard guide to discover all the secrets which are normally hidden to muggles.
With the magic of our newly issued wands we say spells that help us safely navigate the streets of Edinburgh while listening to the witch/wizard tell us all the secrets, and show us all the sites:
Elephant House Café.
This café proudly brands itself as the “Birthplace of Harry Potter”. But what some do not know is that Book 1 was actually written at another small café. A Cafe owned by relatives of J.K. Rowling called the Spoon. So how can the Elephant House get away with those claims? Well, they did provide J.K. Rowling a place to write and lots of inspiration outside its windows, and she did complete Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban at this location.
The kirkyard which can be seen from the Elephant House where Rowling penned Harry Potter, is said to be Rowling’s inspiration for Tom Riddle’s graveyard. This is the cemetery where the real Thomas Riddell rests. If you walk the cemetery you can find the other names that served as inspiration for some of the characters in the book.
George Heriot’s School.
Right behind Greyfriar’s Kirkyard is George Heriot’s School where J.K. Rowling’s daughter was a student. Not only does the architecture of the school closely resemble the description of Hogwarts in the books but the 4 Hogwarts houses (Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Gryffindor, and Hufflepuff) mimic the 4 houses at Heriot’s (Castle, Lauriston, Raeburn, and Greyfriars).
Also near the Elephant house is Victoria Street. A quaint, narrow, curved street which is said to have provided inspiration for the shops on Diagon Alley. There is even a shop at the bottom of the street called AHA HA HA Jokes & Novelties.
The Balmoral Hotel.
It is said that J.K. Rowling could not concentrate at home to finish the last Harry Potter book. She had gained such notoriety that she could no longer write in the cafes she used to love. So she moved in to Room 552 at luxurious Balmoral Hotel where she penned the last sentence of her last book. You can book a stay (pun intended) of your own at The Balmoral Hotel. And you can even reserve the “J.K. Rowling suite”. If the £1,000 a night fee is not in your budget you can always have afternoon tea instead. Otherwise simply stroll by to take a look at the magnificent hotel.
To learn even more secrets and become wizards or witches for an hour and a half, I highly recommend the FREE (pay what you think it is worth) -“Potter Trail Tour”
For even more Harry Potter sites in Scotland but outside of Edinburgh you could visit Glencoe, Loch Shiel or the Glenfinan Viaduct. All locations that have either been used for filming or been a source of inspiration for the books.
If you want to see the Hogwarts Express going over the Glenfinnan Viaduct make sure to be in the viewing area by 10:45 as the train goes by between 10:45 and 11:15 am
So tell me what other Harry Potter inspired sites have you visited? Leave me your comments below I would love to hear from you.