Harry Potter

A COMPLETE GUIDE TO FINDING HARRY POTTER IN EDINBURGH!

30th May 2017
harry potter in edinburgh scotland
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As an avid Harry Potter fan (the second installment of the series being the first novel I ever read on my own), I knew that no trip to Edinburgh would be complete without searching for a little bit of Harry Potter in Edinburgh. If the magic is still real for you too, then you might enjoy checking out some of these sites in the city…

The Elephant House

Address: 21 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN

Self-titled as ‘the beginning of Harry Potter’, this quaint little café may well be where it all began… And, indeed, a sign on the front window of the café reads ‘birthplace of Harry Potter‘ That being said, Rowling herself often refers to a ‘train journey between London and Manchester‘ as the place where she first dreamt up the Potter world and so perhaps this café being the birthplace is a little wishful thinking…

However, JK Rowling did come to the Elephant House frequently to pen her novels in the backrooms of the café. There are even photos of her in the mid-90s scribbling down notes for her acclaimed works. From this café, she could see the Castle, Greyfriars Kirkyard and many other places which gave her inspiration for lots of locations in the books.

Today, the toilets here have become a kind of homage to Harry Potter in of themselves. Covered in scrawls and pen marks, people have added themselves to the ever growing list of ‘Dumbledore’s Army’. You can enjoy a coffee, cake or simply wander around for the fee of £1.

Due to the book’s popularity, this is easily the busiest Harry Potter location in Edinburgh. If you don’t want to wait too long, make sure to come here early or late at night. Finally, it’s worth noting that there is also no Wi-Fi here. A sign at the front desk proclaims you should ‘talk to one another like it’s 1995,’ the same year in which Rowling would have come here to write.

The Elephant House Cafe: Edinburgh, Scotland: Harry Potter Inspiration around the city

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Address: Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ

Much of the inspiration in the books for the locations and names in the series were sourced from a combination of Rowling’s imagination, and what she could see from the back windows of the Elephant House Café. As such, many character’s surnames from the books can be found in Greyfriars Kirkyard.

After all, this ancient churchyard is merely a few minutes walk from the Elephant House and would have been the perfect place to take a break in between writing chapters. Notable names to be found here include Riddell and McGonagall.

The graveyard itself is accompanied by the nearby Greyfriars Kirk and was established as early as the 16th Century. It is open most of the time during daylight hours and is well worth a visit; if only to pay homage to some of the city’s most notable residents.

greyfriars kirkyard edinburgh greyfriars kirkyard edinburgh

George Heriot’s School

Address: Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9EQ

Of all the Harry Potter in Edinburgh, the George Heriot school looks the most like it’s come straight out of the books. Imposing and slightly austere, George Heriot’s school is complete with a stone façade and winding turrets. Though Rowling has never explicitly said she gleaned inspiration from this medieval looking school, it’s visible from the windows of the Elephant House.

What’s more is that the Geroge Heriot school has four houses and four turrets. Remind you of anything? Furthermore, Rowling has previously said that Hogwarts is located somewhere in Scotland…

george heriots school edinburgh scotland

The Balmoral Hotel

Address: 1 Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ

Tired, stressed and looking for a little bit of peace, JK Rowling checked herself into the Balmoral Hotel to finish the final installment of the series. Now, of course, as one of the most exclusive places to stay in the city, a night at the Balmoral does not come cheap. However, it is indeed possible to stay in the very suite that Rowling finished the book series in (room 552); for the princely sum of £1000.

balmoral hotel edinburgh scotland: harry potter in edinburgh

Candlemaker Row and Victoria Street

Address: Victoria Street & Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh

With its candy coloured houses and winding cobbled lanes, it’s not hard to see why people might think that Candlemaker Row became a source of inspiration for Diagon Alley. And while it’s true that JK Rowling sourced much inspiration from her surroundings in Edinburgh, she has never explicitly said that Candlemaker Row and Victoria Street inspired Diagon Alley.

Others have claimed that the inspiration for Diagon Alley comes from Gandy Street in Exeter, Devon. Whatever the case, a stroll down these winding streets is definitely worth it during your visit to Edinburgh… If only to see the pretty architecture and get a feel for the older part of the city!

victoria street edinburgh candlemaker row edinburgh

Writer’s Museum

Address: Lawnmarket, Lady Stair’s Close, Edinburgh EH1 2PA

A trip to the writer’s museum to see the exterior is worth a trip in itself! Looking like its straight out of the world of Harry Potter, this quirky and misshapen building sits in a little courtyard of its own. Tucked away and hidden from the main high street, you’ll have to look hard to find this gem of a building.

While it’s not explicitly sourced as the inspiration for anything in the books, this museum is an ode to all writers in Edinburgh, of which JK Rowling is one. There’s even been an exhibition here on Harry Potter in Edinburgh…

writer's museum Edinburgh Scotlandwriter's museum Edinburgh Scotland

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8 Comments

  • Reply Agness of eTramping 4th June 2017 at 8:43 pm

    I love the Harry Poter books and this would be my dream! Love your awesome guide!

  • Reply Sara 4th June 2017 at 8:40 am

    Ah this is so cool. I only just watched the Harry Potter movies in the last year and loved them. I love seeing spots from movies when I am on my travels! So cool!

  • Reply Leslie Price 4th June 2017 at 6:50 am

    This whole post makes my heart happy. Edinburgh and Harry Potter are two of my most favorite things in the world. You brought me back to my trip to Scotland and really made me want to go again! I couldn’t get near the Elephant House when I was there as it was always packed to the gills with people, so that’s probably reason enough to pay another visit!

  • Reply Offrs 4th June 2017 at 1:07 am

    It really helps to post this tips! I love harry potter. beautiful location..

  • Reply Katie 3rd June 2017 at 7:21 pm

    A fantastic guide I will definitely check these out! I love visiting the sights in London so think this would be amazing! Really want to visit the castle too! 🙂

  • Reply Valerie 2nd June 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Love this post! I just did an entire month of Harry Potter posts on my blog, and some of these were on my UK itinerary 🙂 I may need to add the others or link to you!

  • Reply Cheryl 31st May 2017 at 5:23 pm

    New one for the #bucketlist! I am such a Harry Potter nut and I would love to see some of these places. Scotland and Ireland are tied for #1 on my bucket list anyway. I’m almost afraid to visit them though. I get the feeling I’m not going to want to leave! Love the Harry Potter posts, thanks so much for sharing this awesome info!

  • Reply Tanja (the Red phone box travels) 31st May 2017 at 9:31 am

    great guide! I’ve seen a few of these sights:)

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