Known as the birthplace and inspiration for much of Harry Potter, Edinburgh is home to several must-visit locations that will transport you straight into the pages of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, making it a must-visit spot on any die-hard Harry Potter fans wizarding tour. Immerse yourself in the magical world of J.K. Rowling’s beloved series with visits to the iconic Elephant House café where Rowling wrote parts of her early books, the historic sites that inspired key settings in the series, and magical places that have popped up based on the Harry Potter series.
My list of the ultimate must-visit Harry Potter Edinburgh locations are bound to make any fan’s heart flutter with excitement. So grab your wand and your most loved book and join us on an unforgettable journey through the wizarding wonders of Edinburgh!
Read Also: Literary Travel Guide to Edinburgh
THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ THE DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO
Edinburgh’s Significance To the Harry Potter Series
When most casual fans of Harry Potter think of the series, they think of London for Kings Cross Station, the entrance to the Ministry, and the Millenium Bridge, Leavesden and the Harry Potter Studios tour where much of series was filmed, or Universal Studios for the exciting rides and immersive experiences. But true fans know that Edinburgh played a significant role in the shaping of Harry Potter. The city was where J.K Rowling lived while writing the series, possibly being influenced or inspired by many of the local sights that fans now flock to.
Plus, as a UNESCO City of Literature, any book lover should make it a priority to visit Edinburgh.
Read Also: Books to Read Before Visiting the U.K.
Must-See Harry Potter Locations in Edinburgh
So let’s get into the ultimate list of must-see Harry Potter locations in Edinburgh.
Located on the George IV Bridge near Edinburgh Castle, The Elephant House is known as the birthplace of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling worked in many cafes around Edinburgh while creating the series, as she found working in cafes the most comforting. Rowling has also said that when she was writing the first book, she was a single mother caring for her young daughter. She would take her daughter on a walk in a stroller, let her fall asleep, and then slip inside a coffee shop to get some work done. One of those coffee shops was the Elephant House.
The table she supposedly favored was at the back with views out the window of Edinburgh Castle and Greyfriars Kirkyard.
Today, the interior of the Elephant House Cafe is adorned with Harry Potter memorabilia to commemorate the success of the series. The bathroom is covered with handwritten messages from fans who have made the pilgrimage to the cafe.
But don’t just look at the cafe, make sure you try some of their food and drink like a tea (much like Rowling would), or a traditional Scottish breakfast of eggs and haggis. But don’t worry, they have plenty of other lovely food if haggis isn’t your thing.
The charming, brightly-colored, and curved Victoria Street is a must-see for anyone visiting Edinburgh, but especially for Harry Potter fans who want a glimpse into a real-life Diagon Alley. While she denies it, it’s easy to see how Rowling might have taken some inspiration from this unique and whimsical street, even unconsciously.
Located in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, Victoria Street curves down from George IV Bridge to Grassmarket, creating a stunning visual spectacle. The street is renowned for its distinctive design, with buildings that are tiered on either side, giving it a whimsical feel reminiscent of an old European town.
The remarkable architecture of Victoria Street dates back to the 19th century when it was built as part of a grand plan to connect the Royal Mile with Grassmarket. Its colorful facades house an array of independent boutiques, quirky gift shops, traditional Scottish stores, delightful cafes, and restaurants offering everything from local delicacies to international cuisine.
Some of the most notable shops are The Enchanted Galaxy and Museum Context: The Magic Department. You can also find wizarding-inspired restaurants like , The Mutt’s Nuts, and Bains Retro Sweets. (We’ll go into these shops more below).
After your visit to Victoria Street, head to Candlemaker Row. This small street also reminds many fans of Diagon Alley and has plenty of independent bookshops to step into for a browse.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is a historic graveyard located in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland. With its hauntingly beautiful atmosphere and rich history, it has become one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
Harry Potter fans will be delighted to know that there is a gravestone bearing the name “Thomas Riddell.” Although J.K. Rowling denies intentionally picking the names from the gravestones in Greyfriars Kirkyard, she has said may have subconsciously used them.
And also, in a 1999 interview with Barnes and Noble, Rowling said, “And so far I have got names from saints, place names, war memorials, gravestones. I just collect them — I am so interested in names.”
There are other familiar names in found in the graveyard as well: Robert Potter, William McGonagall, Elizabeth Moodie, and Margaret Louisa Scrymgeour Wedderburn, so there seems to be a lot of coincidence with how many names resemble Harry Potter characters.
Other fascinating facts and stories about the graveyard are:
Greyfriars Kirkyard dates back to the late 16th century and holds immense historical significance. It was originally used as a burial ground for both Catholics and Protestants until it became exclusively Protestant in the 17th century.
One notable feature within Greyfriars Kirkyard is the Covenanters’ Prison, which served as a holding area for over 1,200 Scottish Presbyterians during the late 17th century. Many prisoners were held here before being executed or deported due to their resistance against religious persecution.
Perhaps one of the most famous legends associated with Greyfriars Kirkyard is that of the Mackenzie Poltergeist. It is said to haunt certain areas of the graveyard, particularly around Sir George Mackenzie’s mausoleum. Visitors have reported experiencing strange phenomena like sudden drops in temperature, unexplained injuries, and feelings of unease.
For a guided tour, check out the Edinburgh Underground Ghost Tour.
Situated at No. 1 Princes Street right by the train station, The Balmoral Hotel is a luxurious hotel in the heart of Edinburgh. With its iconic clock tower soaring above the historic cityscape, this landmark hotel promises an unforgettable experience that seamlessly blends classic elegance with modern comforts. But the hotel is more than just a place to sleep for Harry Potter fans. It’s the place where J.K. Rowling lived for six months in room 552 while finishing Deathly Hallows.
Back in 2007, J.K. Rowling famously finished the final Harry Potter book when she was unable to concentrate at home. “[…] there came a day where the window cleaner came, the kids were at home, the dogs were barking and I could not work and this light bulb went on over my head and I thought, I can throw money at this problem. I can now solve this problem. […] I thought I can go to a quiet place so I came to this hotel because it’s a beautiful hotel, […] and I ended up finishing the last of the Harry Potter books in this hotel.”
To commemorate this momentous occasion, she left her mark on room 552 by signing a bust of Hermes in one corner of the room. Now known as the “J.K. Rowling Suite,” it attracts fans from all over the world who wish to step into the author’s shoes (or robes!) and experience where the magic happened.
The suite itself is has been updated since Rowling stayed and is beautifully decorated with elegant furnishings and nods to Harry Potter throughout, including an owl-shaped door knocker and a typewriter similar to the one used by J.K. Rowling during her stay. Stepping into this room feels like entering an enchanted space where creativity flourished.
I will say, the suite is extremely expensive at almost $3,000 per night. But even if you don’t manage to book yourself into “the” suite, there are still plenty of other aspects of The Balmoral Hotel that will make your inner wizard or witch rejoice such as the Michelin-starred restaurant, afternoon tea in the Palm Court, or the award-winning spa.
J.K. Rowling’s Handprints at the Edinburgh City Chambers
True Harry Potter fans on their Harry Potter Tour of Edinburgh can visit a piece of J.K. Rowling history in honor of the mark she left on the city and the world. As a tribute to her remarkable accomplishments and contributions to literature, J.K. Rowling’s handprints were immortalized at the City Chambers in Edinburgh.
In 2008, during a special event held by One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS), J.K. Rowling was honored for her support towards single-parent families through her charitable donations and advocacy work. To commemorate this occasion and celebrate her literary achievements, she placed her hands inside wet cement outside of the City Chambers.
The City Chambers is an architectural marvel located on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland. This grand building serves as the headquarters for the city council and stands as a testament to Scottish craftsmanship and history.
To find the hand prints, head to the outside courtyard. There are many handprints of Edinburgh Award winners. Rowlings hand prints are the first flagstones on the left.
Rowling’s House in Merchiston
It’s also possible to pass by J.K. Rowling’s former residence where she wrote parts of the Harry Potter series and get a glimpse into her creative process. J.K. Rowling purchased her Georgian-style mansion on Merchiston Crescent in 1999, just as her immense success was taking off.
The house itself is visually stunning and exudes an air of enchantment. Visitors can marvel at the impressive architecture while imagining how this whimsical setting might have influenced her writing process.
While access inside the private residence is restricted, exploring nearby areas where she lived while writing Harry Potter series can give visitors an unparalleled sense of inspiration.
Unless you’re a die-hard fan, I wouldn’t prioritize Merchistonover other Edinburgh sights. But if you have the time, and you’re interested in a walk, a visit to Merchiston is a 30 minute walk from Edinburgh Castle.
Read Also: Books to Read Before Visiting U.K.
The Witches’ Well
Located on Castlehill near Edinburgh Castle, this unassuming well is not just a relic of the city’s history but also a testament to its dark connection with witchcraft, superstition, and the supernatural. Though it doesn’t have any real connection to Harry Potter, its witchcraft motif obviously fits the Harry Potter theme.
The Witches’ Well serves as a reminder of Scotland’s troubled past during the times of religious persecution and fear. During the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands of innocent women were accused of practicing witchcraft, leading to their unjust executions. The well commemorates these victims and stands as a symbol against oppression even today.
To learn more about Edinburgh’s Witch Trials, check out this small group tour.
The memorial drinking fountain is attached to a wall at the lower end of the Castle Esplanade, below Edinburgh Castle on the side of the Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibition gift shop.
When visiting the well, make sure you also head up to Edinburgh Castle to experience The Great Hall, The Royal Palace, The Stone of Destiny, the Half Moon Battery, and Princes Street Gardens at the foot of the Castle.
The Lewis Chess Pieces
The Lewis Chess Pieces are a remarkable collection of medieval chess pieces that were discovered on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. These intricately carved chessmen date back to the 12th century and are considered one of the most significant archaeological finds in Scotland and are now located in the National Museum of Scotland.
In the 2001 film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Ron’s chess set seen just before the start of the Christmas holidays, is a replica of the Lewis Chess Pieces. Any Harry Potter fan, especially the movie lovers, should consider a trip to the museum. It’s free to enter and offers much more insight into the history and culture of Scotland.
The pieces are currently located in the Kingdom of Scots, Level 1.
Potterrow Street and Potterrow Port
Located by the University of Edinburgh, where J.K. Rowling attended briefly in the 90s, is Potterrow Street and Potterrow Port. While there’s no confirmation from Rowling, this area is rumored to have inspired Harry’s last name. Even if it’s a coincidence, these streets are fun to visit just for their connection to the boy wizard in the birthplace of the Wizarding World.
A few other honorable mentions to our list are:
The George Heriot School which many people believe inspired J.K. Rowling about Harry Potter.
The Jacobite Steam Train which is the model behind the movie’s depiction of the Hogwarts Express. The reason it’s not included in this list is because it leaves from the North of Scotland. However, you can visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct that the Hogwarts Express goes over on its way to Hogwarts in this day tour from Edinburgh.
Read Also: Harry Potter Locations in Scotland
Best Harry Potter Shops in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is brimming with magical shops that transport you straight into the wizarding world. From spellbinding bookstores filled with signed editions and collectibles to whimsical gift shops stocked with Hogwarts merchandise, we’ll guide you through the top spots where muggles can indulge in their love for all things Potter. So grab your wand and join us on this extraordinary journey through the streets of Edinburgh.
Once home to Robert Cresser’s brush shop, Museum Context on Victoria Street is a must-visit for Harry Potter fans. Many people the shop was the inspiration for Ollivander’s Wand Shop, though these rumors haven’t been confirmed. Originally, the shop was called Diagon House but was later renamed to Museum Context.
The exterior of the shop is brightly painted in orange and purple with bold writing on the windows. It reminds me of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes from Diagon Alley in Universal Studios and is widely considered the Harry Potter Shop in Edinburgh.
Inside the shop, you’ll find a huge selection of merchandise from the Wizarding World, like books, souvenirs, wands, robes, plushes, and more. There are also plenty of photo spots to put yourself into the world of Harry Potter. They also have non-Harry Potter items that are still in the theme of magic and wizardry, like spellbooks, crystals, and potion ingredients. Each nook and cranny is filled with merchandise and decor that you’ll have to devote plenty of time to browsing its three floors.
If you’re a lover of all things magical, otherworldly, and of course, Harry Potter, then a visit to the Enchanted Galaxy Shop on Victoria Street in Edinburgh is an absolute must-do. This whimsical store offers a truly enchanting experience for anyone seeking out unique and mystical treasures.
Once called The Boy Wizard, then the Great Wizard (thanks to the litigious Warner Bros. company), the Enchanted Galaxy is a gleaming concept store packed with Harry Potter memorabilia, wizarding souvenirs, and magical artifacts.
While Museum Context fleets authentically Wizarding World in a charming higgedly piggeldy way, The Enchanted Galaxy is more souvenir shop with plenty of Harry Potter t-shirts, affordable(ish) movie merchandise, and plenty of books all in a more clean, organized way.
There’s also a location at Edinburgh Airport if you need some last-minute souvenirs or didn’t get a chance to browse the shop on Victoria Street.
Read Also: Bookish Itinerary for EdinburghWith suggestions for a self-guided literary tour
Best Harry Potter Cafes in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is not only home to stunning castles and historic landmarks, but also a plethora of restaurants that will transport you straight into the wizarding world. From cozy taverns reminiscent of the Leaky Cauldron to elegant dining establishments inspired by the Great Hall at Hogwarts, this article will guide you through the best restaurants in Edinburgh that are sure to delight your inner wizard. Get ready to indulge in delicious food while immersing yourself in the fantastical universe created by J.K. Rowling.
The Mutt’s Nuts is a souvenir shop near Victoria Street with gifts, gags, and quirky items. But what makes this shop perfect for Harry Potter lovers is the mini-fridge filled with Butterscotch beer that is cheaper than the bottled Warner Bros variety and, apparently, just as tasty.
The Cauldron Bar, originally opened in New York City, has an Edinburgh location so you can get your fix of magical potions in the birthplace of Harry Potter. This cozy bar has seasonal menus to coordinate with the season. You can either visit the bar just to grab a drink (though a reservation is needed, or join one of their Potion Making Cocktail Classes.
The class is an immersive experience that lets you step back into your childhood and get a glimpse of Snape’s Potions class while making fine cocktail. Tickets include a welcome drink, two molecular cocktails that you brew yourself, a fun interactive experience for 1 hour 45 minutes, and a wand and robe to rent while attending the class.
Most tickets are for 18+ but wizards and witches under 18 can participate on select days. Tickets are £33.99 and £23.99 for kids.
Thought we’ve already talked about this, the iconic café is known as the birthplace of Harry Potter, as J.K. Rowling wrote parts of the series here. Enjoy a cup of coffee while sitting in the same spot where she found inspiration.
Dine in an enchanting setting near Edinburgh Castle at this upscale restaurant. While not exactly Harry Potter connected, its Gothic architecture and luxurious interiors make it feel like stepping into Snape’s potions classroom.
Choose the Original Dining Room to get the closest Harry Potter and Hogwarts experience, or choose the Secret Garden room for an elegant and enchanting setting.
The Witchery also offers Afternoon Tea with decadent sandwiches, scones, cakes, and tea or Champagne.
For those seeking more dark magic vibes, head to this hidden gem that combines stunning Victorian architecture with contemporary cuisine inspired by Scotland’s natural bounty.
Must-Do Harry Potter Activities in Edinburgh
From wandering through iconic locations that inspired Hogwarts to sipping Butterbeer at charming wizard-themed cafes, Edinburgh offers a plethora of must-do activities for any Potterhead. Get ready to don your robes and embark on an unforgettable journey as we explore the top Harry Potter experiences in Edinburgh.
The Department of Magic is the perfect way to escape into the world of Harry Potter. With escape rooms, a high tea experience, and a magic potions tavern, you can get the best of everything.
There are two escape rooms themes: Prophecies Quest and Dark Lord Ressurection. Each escape room has a maximum of 6 players, while groups of 7 or more can make a group booking. Prices vary by number of people.
You can also create magic potion cocktails in their potions tavern. Prices vary depending on drink package. Options include Magical Bubbler Cocktails, Non Alcoholic Potion Experience, or Magical Potion and Smoking Magic Shots.
To round it out, they have a Magic High Tea Experience that includes a choice of magical make it yourself tea, sandwich selection, cheese and plain scones, carrot cakes, brownie, fruit tart, chocolate frogs, and plenty of magic surprises. Book in advance for £25 per person.
If you want a more structured experience on your quest to see the Harry Potter sites, a Harry Potter Walking Tour can help you hit all the top spots. From Harry Potter themed to book inspiration, to J.K. Rowling facts, you can find the perfect Harry Potter guide to hit all of the must-see spots in Edinburgh.
In this 2 hour walking tour, experience the magic of the world’s most famous wizard. It’s perfect for all ages, including kids. You will explore the winding streets of Edinburgh to find the inspiration behind the settings and characters in the books, as well as filming locations for the movies. Plus, you’ll see top Edinburgh attractions like Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street, and the Royal Mile.
This 2 hour walking tour starts in the world’s most famous graveyard-Greyfriars Kirkyard to view the gravestones that inspired some familiar names from the Harry Potter books. You can take pictures at Potterrow, eat at Spoon, learn about antiquities at the National Museum of Scotland, and The Elephant House cafe.
Touted as Edinburgh’s original Harry Potter tour in Edinburgh, you can join a robed guide to discover the magical locations that inspired characters and scenes from the series, visit places where JK Rowling wrote the books, and learn even more magical secrets about the series and the city.
New Harry Potter tours are happening all the time. Check out more options on Viator.
Best Hotels in Edinburgh for Harry Potter Lovers
To finish off your stay in Edinburgh, here are some bookish hotels that are perfect to end your Harry Potter holiday in Edinburgh.
The Balmoral in Edinburgh is a 5-star luxury hotel where, according to the book Deep Work, J.K. Rowling finished the last of the Harry Potter books to get away from the distraction of normal life at home with a family. If you want the same experience, or just want to see where the Deathly Hallows was written (suite 552), the Balmoral is the place to go.
The Place hotel has a number of gorgeous literary suites inspired by some of the city’s great writers. There are four themed suites: Love and Romance (honoring Edinburgh poets and romance writers), Thrill and Intrique (honoring crime writers like Ranking and Conan Doyle), Enchantment(honoring JM Barrie, JK Rowling, and Ian Banks), and a Robert Louis Stevenson suite. Each suite has its own library filled with books correlating to the room’s theme. If any pique your interest you can even purchase one.
While not specifically Harry Potter related, the nod to J.K. Rowling is a great option for book lovers.
The Library Suite is an opulent suite at The Witchery by the Castle, a luxurious hotel that features only 9 suites, all decorated in a different style. The Library suite features a book-filled bathroom with a secret hidden door, a heavily draped bed, fireplace, views of the Royal Mile, and Victorian sofas. Included in your stay are complimentary “nibbles and treats,” a continental breakfast delivered by hamper to your suite, or an à la carte breakfast in the Original Dining Room. This is truly a one of a kind experience for those looking for an extravagant literary holiday.
Many of these hotels are on the expensive side. And while I think they’re worth it for an especially bookish trip, I understand more budget options are necessary. For that, I recommend the ibis Edinburgh Centre Royal Mile- Hunter Square, Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh City Centre, or Kick Ass Greyfriars hostel if you’re traveling solo and looking to find friends.
For any Ultimate Harry Potter fan or enthusiast, visiting these must-see Harry Potter locations is an absolute dream come true. From strolling through the picturesque streets that inspired J.K. Rowling’s imagination to reliving iconic moments at The Elephant House cafe, there is no shortage of magical experiences awaiting visitors. Whether it’s exploring Greyfriars Kirkyard or venturing into the depths of Diagon Alley at Victoria Street, Edinburgh offers a truly enchanting journey into the world of Harry Potter. So grab your wand and embark on an unforgettable adventure through these must-visit locations on our Harry Potter Edinburgh Guide.
Are you ready for The U.K.?
- Book Your Flights– To find the cheapest flights, flexibility is a must. Some great options are Google Flights for the calendars to find the cheapest options, Skiplagged, and Skyscanner. For more options, see our resources page. Heathrow and Gatwick (London) are the main entry points for long-haul flights but Manchester and Birmingham are options for those coming from Europe. Belfast in Northern Ireland is also an option.
- Find Transportation- If you’re driving, look into Rentalcars.com before arriving to find the best rates. Rail and bus services are frequent and easy. A BritRail pass can help save you money. For convenience, choose a train, for low-price choose buses.
- Book Your Accommodation– Look at Booking.com, Hotels.com, or Expedia for hotels in the U.K. You can also look at AirBnB or VRBO as we’ve had great luck finding inexpensive, large, and clean homes to rent.
- Book Tours and Experiences- Check Viator or Klook for some of the best tours and attractions for a great price for experiences like the Tower of London, Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle, or Warner Bros Studio Tour.
- Stay Connected– If your phone’s data plan is going to be expensive, order an eSIM card before you go, or just head to an airport kiosk upon arrival or a store like Tesco or Boots.
- Buy Travel Insurance- I always recommend World Nomads for insurance. It’s better to protect yourself in case of mishaps. Learn more about World Nomads in this FAQ post.
- Pack Your Bags– Check out my packing lists, or my favorite travel gear to help you remember all of the essentials.
- Learn About the U.K.- Learn about the U.K. with guidebooks like Lonely Planet, or, novels and books about the country, or, shameless plug, search around my site for more info.
Pin This Post: