Last Updated on 17th December 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
If you’ve been wondering ‘where is Diagon Alley?’ in real-life, then we have you sorted! This wizarding-inspired guide showcases various destinations across the UK where you can experience the magic and mystery, including spots which may well have inspired JK Rowling to have created the shopping street of Diagon Alley.
All ever-so-photogenic, they’re the kind of streets you’ll want to enjoy a coffee in, shop for unique souvenirs, or simply snap photos of! Even if you take your non-wizarding enthusiast friends, they’re sure to enjoy these unusual Harry Potter locations in England and Scotland…
Where is Diagon Alley in Devon?
Gandy Street, Exeter
Pretty and situated just a little off the main high street which snakes its way through the heart of the city, Gandy Street is a quirky street home to independent shops and quirky eateries. Best-seen on a grey day when you can almost imagine people on broomsticks swooping ahead, the cobblestone street dates back centuries, and you can tell.
Until recent times, there was even a wizarding themed bar with imaginative cocktails inspired by various characters from the Harry Potter universe. Today, the secretive street is situated somewhere between the High Street and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and is well worth a wander along when visiting Exeter. Nearby, Parliament Street is alleged to be one of the narrowest streets in England.
Where is Diagon Alley in London?
It may well surprise many Harry Potter fans, but if you’re wondering ‘where is Diagon Alley in London?’ then there are actually at least two contenders for the real-life alleyway, both of which you can visit during your next trip to the UK capital city.
Cecil Court, London
The first of these is Cecil Court, a pretty cobblestone pedestrian street between Charing Cross Road and St Martin’s Lane.
Often referred to as the new Booksellers’ Row thanks to the sheer number of antique sellers and book vendors located along the Victorian frontage street, it’s well worth a wander along if you’re ever in the area, particularly for those in search of a unique London souvenir to remember their time in the city!
Thanks to Cecil Court’s narrow nature, as well as the beautiful pastel shop façades, it’s no surprise that many people believe this secret London location served as (at least part of) the inspiration for Diagon Alley. If you’re planning on visiting while in the UK capital, be sure to visit earlier in the day and mid-week if possible as the crowds are fewer at these times!
Leadenhall Market, London
Located within the City of London district of London, Leadenhall Market is a beautiful Victorian arcade that’s characterised by its overhead skylights and deep tones. Home to a plethora of pubs and independent shops, the best time to visit is on the weekend when the City largely empties and you’ll get the place much to yourself.
But what may well surprise visitors to this late 19th-century piece of engineering is that the history of Leadenhall Market actually dates all the way back to the 14th-century. Today, the Harry Potter connection to Leadenhall Market is clear: in some of the wizarding films, Leadenhall Market actually starred as the entryway into Diagon Alley.
Other movies to have been filmed within the walls of Leadenhall include The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Entirely free to visit, I definitely recommend visiting this Diagon Alley of sorts when in the area, particularly if you’re looking for an indoor activity on a rainy day!
Where is Diagon Alley in Edinburgh?
Victoria Street & Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh
Thanks to the fact that JK Rowling lived in Edinburgh for the entirety of the time that she wrote the Harry Potter series, there’s no shortage of Harry Potter locations in Edinburgh. From the names of the gravestones in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard to the very suite in the Balmoral Hotel where Rowling finished the series, Potterheads will be thrilled to visit Edinburgh during any time of the year.
As you can imagine, many people have alleged that there’s at least one Diagon Alley inspiration location in the city. Victoria Street can be found just steps away from the ‘Royal Mile’ (a road connecting Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace) and is home to pastel storefronts and quirky shops.
Set across two levels thanks to the hilly nature of the city, the cobblestone lane leads on to the Grassmarket, an area that was once a market square and is now home to a wide array of pubs, taverns, and inns. Nearby, the Vennel is another quirky passageway that could also pass for being an inspiration for the ‘Diagon Alley’ of Harry Potter.
Where is Diagon Alley in York?
The Shambles, York
The city of York in Northern England is a beautiful destination best-known for its centuries-old cathedral, unusual shopping opportunities, mouthwatering foodie scene, and also its wealth of alleged Harry Potter inspiration locations. As such, if you’re looking for a wizarding-inspired weekend escape from London, I couldn’t recommend a visit to York more!
Otherwise, although there is no specific confirmation from Harry Potter writer JK Rowling herself, many people believe that The Shambles in York is one of the key inspiration streets for that of Diagon Alley. All independent stores and timber-framed buildings, the medieval street is also said to have inspired the Diagon Alley street filming set in the wizarding films.
How to visit the real-life Diagon Alley
Warner Brothers Studio Tour
Easily one of the best day trips from London, the Warner Brothers Studio tour is a must for all Harry Potter fans. Home to the actual real-life Diagon Alley film set, stroll along the shopfronts and envision yourself immersed within the wizarding world. Fun fact: many of the storefronts you see today were also tweaked so that they could feature as the village of Hogsmeade in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
It’s worth noting that the set is dressed up with various decor across the seasons and depending on the date, particularly at Christmastime when decorations can be found in abundance. As such, plan your visit so that you can take your real-life Diagon Alley photos to coincide with your favourite time of the year! Purchase your Warner Brothers Studio Tour day trip from London here in advance.