If you are a Harry Potter fan like me then you need the Ultimate Edinburgh Harry Potter Guide | 14 Must-See Locations to visit whilst you are here. Look no further it is right here. JK Rowling, Edinburgh local, lived and wrote the famous novels in the city. Edinburgh is full of sites you may think look familiar from the films. Much of her inspiration for the books is believed to have come from the beautiful sites surrounding her. Here are the must-see sites for any Harry Potter fan right in the centre of gorgeous Edinburgh. Enjoy!
If you require a guided tour of the following information then head to my Harry Potter Trabble Guide.
When you arrive in the heart of the city you cannot fail to notice an imposing castle rising out of the top of a hill right in the centre. Hogwarts castle rises out of the mountains in a very similar way in the films. You cannot help but think Edinburgh Castle is the inspiration behind the description in the books and the subsequent portrayal on camera. Visiting this castle is one of the most popular things to do in Edinburgh, not just for Potter Fans.
Was Edinburgh castle used in Harry Potter? I don’t believe so, however the likeness is uncanny.
A beautiful churchyard with a lovely graveyard is most famous for a tiny Terrier Dog who stood guard over his masters grave for 14 years! (For more information go to ’48 Hours In Edinburgh’). However, eagle eyed Potter fans now flock here to find Harry Potter related gravestones. One of the most exciting things I found was the Tom Riddle Grave in Greyfriars cemetery Edinburgh. This Edinburgh graveyard also has the McGonagall grave, a Professor Dunbar grave and a grave belonging to an Elizabeth Moodie. Could these graves in the centre of Edinburgh really be the inspiration for many of the characters in the famous Harry Potter Novels?
You will be able to find the Voldemort grave as this will be the one with many people next to it taking photographs. If you are struggling then take a look at the map below showing the Greyfriars cemetery Harry Potter locations on it.
New Calton Burial Ground
Don’t miss out on wandering through this pretty graveyard. And don’t let the fact it’s a graveyard put you off, its really pretty! In the centre I found a grave decoration which looked as if it was straight out of Harry Potter. Maybe JK Rowling got her inspiration for the Tri-Wizard Cup from here as it’s very similar. The location of this potential Harry Potter inspiration is just below Calton Hill (the path nearest Holyrood Palace).
Potterrow & Potter Street
Whilst on the Potter Trail I took a stroll down his namesakes road. There are two ‘Harry Potter Street Signs’ in Edinburgh, Potterrow and Potter Street. We may never know if these inspired the Edinburgh local JK Rowling to name her main character, but these coincidences keep cropping up. Located in the area really near Elephant House cafe, the graveyard, University and Schools be a coincidence? It seems everywhere you turn there is something ‘Potterish’ about it.
George Heriots School
What school inspired Hogwarts? Edinburgh University & the George Heriot School could be a winner here.
I could only take a stroll around one of these beautiful locations, however there is no denying that Hogwarts School bares an uncanny resemblance. Imposing, impressive and grand, you can imagine little wizards bustling around the arched covered walkways.
The big questions…Where did JK Rowling write Harry Potter?
Elephant Cafe Edinburgh
Once a bustling cafe where JK Rowling sat and wrote the Harry Potter novel, this building is now very boarded up. Thankfully they have taken the trouble to board it up beautifully with elephants painted on the side. Hopefully it will not be closed for too long. The toilet walls are said to be signed by many fans from all over the world. There is a small plaque on the wall outside to the right hand side detailing the famous writers who have sipped their coffee here. The location of this cafe is on North Bridge. The Spoon cafe is said to be another haunt of the author in Edinburgh, however I was unable to locate it. Keep your eyes peeled in case I missed it.
Spoon Cafe Edinburgh
The Spoon cafe is said to be another haunt of the author in Edinburgh, however I was unable to locate it. Keep your eyes peeled in case I missed it.
Gladstones Land Golden Bird
What came first, the chicken or the egg? Or in this instance, what came first, Dumbledore’s lectern in the Harry Potter films or Gladstones winged bird? Perched about the arched entrance to the cafe/shop you cannot miss this golden bird with its wings outstretched. It is remarkably similar to the bird on the lectern in the Great Hall which watches over all the students. I can highly recommend the cafe here for a tucked away quiet cup of coffee and piece of cake. Find this tentative link to Harry Potter on the Royal Mile.
The Balmoral Hotel
The Balmoral Hotel is the perfect place to stay during your weekend trip to Edinburgh should your budget stretch to it. One of, if not the most expensive hotels in Edinburgh, this hotel is luxurious and grand, even from the outside. The 5th floor (specifically room 525) is where JK Rowling is rumoured to have stayed in to finish the last of the Harry Potter novels. Even if just from the outside add this to your ‘Edinburgh things to see list’, the flower display on the front steps is just beautiful. The perfect setting for that instagram post.
JK Rowlings Hand Prints
Forever immortalised in cement, sorry stone (:-) ) are JK Rowlings handprints. Find her stone along with other famous local residents in a very pleasant square just off of the Royal Mile. The location of this Harry Potter author is to the right of Mary Kings Close. Planting her palms in 2008, JK joins the likes of the Olympian Sir Chris Hoy and another famous writer Ian Rankin.
Victoria Street & Candlemakers Row
Is Diagon Alley a real place? If so, what street in Edinburgh is Diagon Alley? From walking up and down these two street I can definitely see that the Diagon Alley inspiration came from here.
Harry Potter Diagon Alley Edinburgh…..what more could you need? A map of Edinburgh showing Victoria street and everything else mentioned here is below.
How many Harry Potter shops are there in Edinburgh? Good question! I found at least five right in the heart of the city. Get your Harry Potter Wands & other paraphernalia at these two shops:
Museum Context Edinburgh
On cockburn street Edinburgh find many ‘Harry Potter things’, including the famous Harry Potter wands. This is the closest I could find to a Harry Potter museum Edinburgh has to offer.
Fancy purchasing other Harry Potter memorabilia, then head to one of several Museum Context shops dotted around Edinburgh. Another location is on the Royal Mile, although this was the busiest one I spotted. Even if you don’t purchase anything, these shops are full of interesting items and laid out in a magical setting any fan will enjoy.
Enchanted Galaxy Shop
Similar to Museum Context is this chain of shops dotted around Edinburgh, also selling all manner of Harry Potter merchandise. My favourite was on Victoria Street as it was three floors tall with a gorgeous quirky staircase inside. It reminded me of the sweet shop the Weasley Brothers bought in the films. Shelves filled with quaint items, you could spend hours in these venues and come away with armfuls of things you don’t need but so badly want!
Harry Potter Bars
McGonnagals Gin & Whisky Emporium
You will see the name McGonnagal all over Scotland and it crops up in many locations all over Edinburgh. If you fancy and gin or whisky then head to the Griffindor House Professors namesake and channel your inner wizard!
Is there a Leaky Cauldron
The Grassmarket Edinburgh has a couple of really old pubs on the square which could be inspiration for the leaky cauldron. The Last Drop looks old but welcoming don’t you think?
Apparently the Doghouse in Edinburgh does their own version of butterbeer.
Other bars loosely related to Harry Potter are The Cauldron and Cocktail Geeks
Here is an Edinburgh tourist map with all of the above locations and many more things to do in Edinburgh
Love My Pictures? Now Available To Buy!
All the photographs on this site have been taken by me which is really important to me. How many times have you visited a blog only to find they have used stock photos. (Probably because they have never actually been to the places they are talking about). Some I am particularly proud of I have made available to purchase via Picfair. Head over to my store and get yourself a print.