Though you won’t find Eeylops Owl Emporium, Flourish and Blotts, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes or Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions in London’s streets, that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in the world of “Harry Potter.” Knowledgeable witches and wizards lead themed tours that discuss not only filming locations for the beloved Potter films, but also the wizarding world’s most famous individuals like Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Consulting Muggle traveler opinion as well as expert input from the top witches and wizards, US News & World Report found the best Harry Potter London tours on offer.
Note: These tours take place on foot, by bus or on trains, so it’s best to leave your brooms and Floo powder at home.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
Price: From 51.50 pounds (around $64) per person
Duration: 3.5 hours
For Potterheads, no trip to London is complete without a stop at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, which explores how the “Harry Potter” films were made. During the self-guided visit, travelers will wander the Diagon Alley set, board the Hogwarts Express, view props and costumes and much, much more. Visit around Halloween for the Dark Arts or the winter holidays for Hogwarts in the Snow; the tour is decked out in seasonal décor for both events.
“As both a filmmaker and ‘Harry Potter’ fan, I was absolutely blown away by this tour,” says Leilani Osmundson, digital producer at US News Travel. “The sets, props and costumes were incredible and very well-maintained, and there were written explanations for almost everything.” Osmundson suggests staying at the back of the group when entering the Great Hall for a chance to snag photos with fewer people in the shot when the group moves on. Keep in mind, this great experience comes with equivalent fees: Travelers warn of high ticket prices and expensive souvenirs. To avoid crowds, get to the studio early.
Tickets start at 51.50 pounds (about $64) per person. Children 3 and younger as well as caregivers can explore for free. Ticket packages that include a stay at a hotel or afternoon tea cost extra. Hours vary depending on the day. The tour is self-paced and you can explore as long as you wish, but you’ll want at least 3.5 hours (more if you’re a die-hard fan who wants to take in every detail). The tour is located in Leavesden, Watford, which is about 20 miles northeast of central London. Take the train to Watford Junction then board the complimentary shuttle to the studio.
Evan Evans Tours – Harry Potter Film Locations Walking Tour
Price: Adults from 29 pounds (about $36); kids from 24 pounds (around $30)
Duration: 3 hours
Along this three-hour walking tour, you’ll see the telephone booth that takes you to the Ministry of Magic, the Millennium Bridge and King’s Cross Station, among other top filming locations. Tour-takers say the guides share fun Potter facts along with information about London.
Tours depart at both 9 am and 2 pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Tickets cost 29 pounds (approximately $36) for adults and 24 pounds (about $30) for kids 3 to 16. You will also need a valid travel card for the Underground, as part of the tour is on the tube. The exit is not accessible. Evan Evans tours also runs an outing that buses trip-takers to the Warner Bros. To install Studio Tour London.
(Courtesy of Tour for Muggles)
Tour for Muggles
Price: Adults from 17 pounds (about $21); kids from 15 pounds (around $19)
Duration: 2 hours
“Harry Potter” fans praise the witches and wizards who lead this tour, saying they are full of fun information and are passionate storytellers. A few notes that if you’re traveling solo, this is a great tour to take. The two-hour tour takes travelers throughout London – including across the Thames – and tells stories about Harry, Ron and Hermione along the way.
You’ll meet your guide near the Monument tube station. The walking tour costs 17 pounds (around $21) for adults and 15 pounds (about $19) for children younger than 12.
See Your City – Original Harry Potter Locations Tour
Price: From $19.04
Duration: 2 hours
During See Your City’s two-hour jaunt, you’ll not only learn about the filming of “Harry Potter” (including the bridge destroyed in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”), but guides will also quiz you along the way. so you can earn points for your house. Travelers praise the guides for their fun and informative delivery, saying that there are several spots on the tour that they wouldn’t have seen by themselves.
Tickets cost about $20 per person and run mornings at 10:30 am, and afternoons at 2 and 7 pm In addition to English, See Your City conducts tours in Italian, German, French, Spanish and British Sign Language. The company runs other “Harry Potter”-themed tours, including one that explores London by boat and one that runs at night.
International Friends – Small Group Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter & Oxford
Price: Adults from 174 pounds; kids from 169 pounds
Duration: 11 hours
This daylong tour begins with a visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London to see the sets (including the Forbidden Forest, Hagrid’s Hut and the Great Hall), costumes and props from the films. After spending four hours at the studio, the coach will whisk you away to nearby Oxford where guides will take you on a walking tour of the university buildings and city streets. Tourgoers call this an excellent way to spend the day and appreciate the stop in Oxford.
Tour tickets start at 174 pounds (about $216) for adults and 169 pounds (approximately $210) for kids ages 5 to 15. Trips depart from central London around 8:30 am and return around 7:45 pm In addition to “Harry Potter” outings, International Friends runs “Downton Abbey” tours.
(Courtesy of London With a Local)
London With a Local – Free Harry Potter Wizarding Tour
Duration: 2 hours
Tourgoers routinely encourage “Harry Potter” fans to take this tour, saying the guides and stories shared are both fantastic. The walking tour meets at the Palace Theatre, where the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” performs. (While seeing the play isn’t part of the tour, you may want to grab tickets to the show while you’re in London.) From there, guides will lead you down Diagon and Knockturn alleys (aka Charing Cross Road) and past buildings that inspired the Gringotts Wizarding Bank and the Ministry of Magic. Be sure to refresh your trivia knowledge, too, as guides quiz travelers for the Hogwarts Trivia House Cup.
Outings last about two hours. Tours depart at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., but daily availability can vary. The tour is free, although tips for the guide are appreciated. London With a Local runs other movie- and book-based free tours, including James Bond and Sherlock Holmes tours.
Brit Movie Tours – Wizards London Bus Tour
Price: Adults from 32.50 pounds (about $40); kids from 21 pounds
Duration: 3.5 hours
Hop on an air-conditioned bus to see spots in London that served as a backdrop for the eight “Harry Potter” films. Sites tourgoers will see include the spot used for the Leaky Cauldron, the spot where the Knight Bus squished itself through traffic and more. Along the way, the guides will quiz you about the books. Plus you’ll see a few spots from the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise. Many travelers say the bus tour is a bargain and praise the guides. A few others note they could have found the stops by themselves.
Tours run year-round on Sundays (usually at 9:30 or 10:30 am) as well as Wednesdays at 2 pm in the warmer months. Availability may vary, however. Tickets start at 32.50 for adults (about $40) and 21 pounds (roughly $26) for kids 15 and younger. Brit Movie Tours also runs a walking version of this tour.
London Top Sight Tours – Harry Potter Azkaban Tour (Film Locations & Prison)
Price: From £69 (about $86)
Duration: 3 hours
This tour focuses on the famous prison that housed some of the Death Eaters (followers of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named): Azkaban. Tour-takes will visit the Clink Prison Museum, which inspired JK Rowling when writing about the wizard prison. Additionally, this walking tour stops at two “Harry Potter”-themed shops as well as other locations from the films. London tourists say the guides do an excellent job.
Tours last three hours and depart from King’s Cross. Tickets start at 69 pounds (roughly $86) per person and include the entry ticket to the Clink Prison Museum. Keep in mind you’ll also need a topped up travel card for the tube. Tours run at 10 a.m. and 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. daily. The company runs a variety of other London tours, as well as private tours.
(Courtesy of Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter)
City Wonders – Fully Guided Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
Price: Adults from $310; kids from $297
Duration: 6 hours
As the name implies, City Wonders conducts fully guided excursions to the Warner Bros. To install Studio Tour. Guides meet the tour group – of no more than eight individuals – at the Euston War Memorial before boarding a train to get to the studio. Upon arrival, a trained guide will lead your group through the Studio Tour. You’ll see props, costumes and sets like Ollivander’s, the Gryffindor common room and more. Along the way, guides will share interesting tidbits about the movies. Travelers say the tours are excellent and the guided portion through The Making of Harry Potter is extra special. They also say that sampling Butterbeer or other magic foods is a must, but warn of long lines for concessions.
The tour starts at $310 for adults, $297 for children 5 to 15 and $12 for infants 4 and younger. It lasts about six hours and departs at 11:05 am and 12:05 pm daily. City Wonders runs a variety of tours, including outings to the British Museum and the Tower of London.
Free Tours by Foot – Harry Potter Walking Tour London
Duration: 2.5 hours
If you’re hoping to save some knuts, sickles and galleons on a London trip, this could be a great tour option. As the name implies, Free Tours by Foot runs pay-what-you-wish walking tours. The “Harry Potter” tour will go by Westminster Tube station (as seen in “The Order of the Phoenix”), Godwin’s Court (Knockturn Alley), St. Paul’s and Trafalgar Square, among other top sites. Travelers say it is a wonderful tour, as guides share information about both the boy wizard and London history.
Tours run Wednesday and Saturday at 2 pm Though tours are free, reservations are required. Additionally, part of the tour takes place on the tube, so make sure you have plenty of money on a travel card.
Harry Potter Tours in Scotland
London isn’t the only place in the United Kingdom to get your Potter fix. Scotland – where you’ll find the real-life Hogwarts Express and Hogwarts castle – is another must-visit destination for fans. Here are some tours to consider:
- Free Harry Potter Tour: Explore Edinburgh on foot to hear about the influence the city had on the books. Book on Free Harry Potter Tour.
- The Magical Highlands Tour (Includes Steam Train Journey): See the Scottish Highlands and take a ride on the Jacobite steam train (aka the Hogwarts Express). Book on GetYourGuide.
- Harry Potter & the Hogwarts Express: Visit filming locations in the Highlands including the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Book on HAGGiS Adventures.
- JK Rowling’s Edinburgh: Traverse city streets to learn about the Potter stories and their creator. Book on The Potter Tour.
- The Potter Trail: Grab a wand and explore Potterific sites around Edinburgh on this free tour. Book on The Potter Trail.
- Edinburgh Harry Potter Tour: Find out where He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is buried and the namesakes for some of the characters. Book on Viator.
- Harry Potter Tour: Walk by Edinburgh Castle, the Elephant House and more on this tour. Book on: Viator | Get Your Guide.
- Jacobite Steam Train Experience. Take a ride on the Hogwarts Express and snap photos of Cairngorms National Park. Book on Scottish Tours.
- Immersive Harry Potter Tour. Get quizzed on your magical knowledge while walking through Edinburgh. Book on: Viator | Get Your Guide.