The film that Harry Potter fans are waiting for is almost upon us. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, released on 15 July, is the final part of a saga that has captivated the world since J. K. Rowling published the first Harry Potter story nearly 15 years ago. A great time, then, to experience a sprinkling of magic on a Harry Potter walking tour of London, the home of Gringotts Wizarding Bank, Diagon Alley, the Leaky Cauldron and much much more. Read how self-confessed Muggle, Alex Gladwell, got on below…
A rainy Thursday in central London doesn’t seem to be the most inspiring setting for an exploration of the Harry Potter universe but when our plucky guide Yuki appears, as if from nowhere, with a flourish of his wand and a twirl of his Potter-style academic gown, things start looking a little more magical.
Yuki is a mine of Harry Potter information and talks animatedly about the books and the films while showing us key film locations and sites that inspired Rowling’s original stories. A short walk from the tour’s start is Cecil Court, inspiration for wizard’s high street, Diagon Alley. Wandering past the unchanged Victorian shops, selling everything from occult literature to ancient maps, it’s not hard to imagine witches and wizards flitting about stocking up on magical supplies.
Nearby, we see locations that appear in the movies including Trafalgar Square and Whitehall, where scenes outside the Ministry of Magic were shot, all illustrated by film stills that Yuki shows us. Then we’re off over the River Thames by boat to check out Borough Market, the food market and film location favourite where you can spot the Knight Bus pulling up outside the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
In fact, we soon learn the Leaky Cauldron was also realised by a shopfront back north, filmed in beautiful Leadenhall Market in the City of London and appearing in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
The tour is a great mix of actual locations in the films and sights that inspired the original Harry Potter books as well as plenty of other fascinating London trivia. But it’s Yuki’s bottomless knowledge and sense of fun that make the tour really worth doing.
Following his whirling wand like students on their way to Hogwarts, as Muggles stream past about their business, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the Harry Potter mania that’s gripping fans across the world. And by the time we reach our final destination, and the tour’s undoubted highlight, Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, I’m just about ready to start believing in magic myself.
The tour takes 2.5 hours, includes a boat trip on the Thames and costs £20 per person, which I think is great value for the time and the in-depth information you receive. Tours leave from the tkts booth in Leicester Square Thursday at 12pm, Friday at 12pm & 7pm, Saturday at 4pm, Sunday at 10.30am & 2pm. To book tickets check out the VisitBritain Shop.
If you’re looking for a more personal experience you can also take the 3-hour chauffeur-driven tour where you’ll be whisked around Harry Potter locations by your own private driver.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you might like these other Harry Potter posts:
Top 10 Harry Potter Locations in London
Top 10 Harry Potter Locations in Britain
Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Film Locations Quiz