Let’s be honest – who doesn’t like Harry Potter? (If you just thought “me”, then shame on you.) If you are a Harry Potter fan and you travel to Scotland, make sure to visit Edinburgh (it is only 1,5 hours from Glasgow by bus). J.K. Rowling lived here for years and drew inspiration from her surroundings – for her Harry Potter novels.
1. The Elephant House
21 George IV Bridge, EH1 1EN
This café is apparently the one J.K. Rowling wrote the first few volumes in – if you get a seat by the window, you have an amazing view over the castle. But if you just want to go in to see the café, you can do so without having to buy anything.
The real attraction though are the bathroom stalls – the walls of both the male and female toilets are covered in Harry Potter quotes, short letters to J.K. Rowling and inspiring stories. When I say “covered”, I mean covered. There is no white space left – even the actual toilet has writing on it. Take your time in the bathroom and read the walls – you can find stories about how Harry Potter helped someone with their confidence or their depression. J.K. Rowling can be proud of herself.
2. George Hariot’s School
Lauriston Pl, Edinburgh EH3 9EQ
This boarding school is located only a 2-minute walk away from The Elephant House. If you walk up to the castle, you have an amazing view of the school from above and can clearly see its four houses – the four houses Hogwart’s houses were modeled on. Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Slytherin and Gryffindor correspond to George Hariot’s Raeburn, Greyfriars, Castle, and Lauriston.
3. Greyfriar’s Kirkyard
Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ
This cemetery is located between George Hariot’s School and The Elephant House. Greyfriar’s Kirkyard inspired the graveyard Harry and Cedric ended up at at the end of the Triwizard Tournament. Here you can find tombstones with names like “McGonagall” or “Thomas Riddell” on them – which inspired – who would have guessed – McGonagall and Tom Riddle. Every Halloween, Harry Potter fans come here to duel over the grave of “Thomas Riddell”.
4. Victoria Street
Victoria St, Edinburgh EH1 2JW
This is – next to Princes Street – the most famous street in Edinburgh. The narrow street is home to cozy and alternative cafés and shops, all located in high-rise buildings, reminding of the Diagon Alley. In fact, in the nineties (when Harry Potter was written), a bank and a stationary store were in the same locations as Gringotts and Flourish & Blotts on Diagon Alley.
- Diagon House
40 Victoria Street
This is a real-life Harry Potter store. Here you can find anything from merchandise and chocolate frogs to stuffed Hedwigs and house-scarves. Upstairs you can find more vintage things, though not specifically linked to Harry Potter, they still look beautiful.
5. The Balmoral Hotel
1 Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ
This is where – in 2007 – J.K.Rowling finished the final Harry Potter novel, in room 552, which was now re-named the “J.K. Rowling suite”. After she finished writing the 7th novel, she wrote “JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007” on a bust. Sadly, the room is not open to visitors – if you want to see the note Rowling left, you have to book the room for the night.