Edinburgh is undeniably entwined with the wizarding world of Harry Potter, and visitors can explore numerous locations from J.K. Rowling's beloved books! After all, Edinburgh was home to Rowling when she wrote most of the iconic series we know today.
Let us solemnly swear we are up to no good and go on a tour of Edinburgh!
If you're a fellow Potter Head, Edinburgh, Scotland should be on the top of your travel list. You can see where she drew inspiration for names in the graveyard, see the boarding school which also had 4 houses, see the cafe and hotels where she wrote, and grab your own Wizarding World memorabilia at Harry Potter themed shops.
It's easy to see how Rowling was inspired to write Harry Potter here. There's magic in the air! And Edinburgh is plain stunning.Whether you hope to get a taste of Butterbeer at the pub J.K Rowling likely visited while writing Harry Potter, explore turreted buildings that could have inspired Hogwarts, or discover streets and graves that may be responsible for naming characters – it's all here!
While Rowling wrote many of the books here, and was clearly influenced by Edinburgh, none of the movies were filmed in Edinburgh. But the film crew and artists did visit to get an idea of how to create the Hogwarts we all know and love from the films!
First and foremost you should know that there is a guided tour of all the Harry Potter locations in Edinburgh! We went with this guided tour and it was incredible. Our guide gave us so many interesting tidbits along the way.
I have a guide here with all the best places to travel if you love Harry Potter!
10 Harry Potter Locations in Edinburgh
Whether you're a witch, wizard, or muggle, here are the best Edinburgh Harry Potter locations you need to visit while you’re in Scotland. I am going to give you these places in a walking tour way. Meaning, I suggest you start here (at the graveyard) and make your way to each stop. This is the best route to find all the Harry Potter Sites with a complete guide to why each is a must visit.
You won't need a Remembrall for all these places, here's a handy map!
Greyfriars Kirkyard – The Harry Potter Graveyard
The history of Greyfriars Kirkyard is rich and varied, filled with tales of Covenanters, grave robbers, spooky poltergeists – even Scotland's beloved Greyfriar’s Bobby! But recently it has become a popular destination for Harry Potter fans on the hunt to find Tom Riddle's gravestone among other iconic names from the books.
One of the most iconic Harry Potter locations in Edinburgh is the Greyfriars Kirkyard. This graveyard holds the graves of many notable figures from Edinburgh's history, including Greyfriar's Bobby, a loyal dog who guarded his owner's grave for fourteen years. However, it's Tom Riddle's grave that has captured the attention of Harry Potter fans. Many believe that this grave inspired J.K. Rowling to create the character of Lord Voldemort. Walking through the graveyard, you'll feel like you're in a Harry Potter movie, surrounded by gothic headstones and the eerie silence of the dead.
You’ll find gravestones with familiar names like McGonnagal, Potter, Moodie, Scrymgeour, Black, Cruikshanks, and, yes, Tom Riddle!
To get to Tom Riddle's Grave: To locate the grave, enter Greyfriars Kirkyard by locating the Kirk first. Then continue over to Flodden Wall arch and take a right-hand turn. Follow this path all the way down until you reach its end.
This is a cemetery, so it's important to be respectful! There's also a card tap to leave a small donation, which I recommend.
You can also get a view of George Heriot School. This was a school for orphans where there are four houses where student get sorted into houses. Coincidence much?!
Potterrow Port and Potterrow Street
Potterrow Port, situated near the University of Edinburgh, is an interesting Harry Potter site you won't want to miss. According to local legend, this underground passageway served as J.K Rowling's inspiration for her iconic protagonist’s last name – and rightly so!While this connection has yet to be substantiated, it certainly looks similar to the scene in Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix when Dudley and Harry come across Dementors in the underground. So make sure you take a quick snap while out on your Edinburgh Harry Potter excursion.
Chinese Restaurant AKA Nicholson Cafe (3 S College Street)
This isn't quite what it seems, it was a cafe when Rowling wrote here.
Mid 1990s – JK Rowling wrote here (when it was Nicolsons Cafe)
2003 – Nicolsons closes and becomes a Chinese buffet restaurant
2009 – Chinese buffet restaurant closes and becomes Spoon
2021 – Spoon closes and becomes Nicolsons Cafe again
2022 – Nicolsons closes again and becomes a Chinese restaurant again
Rowling wrote much of Harry Potter and Philosopher Stone. And, a journalist wouldn’t leave here alone in the cafe and this is where she came up with the idea of Rita Skeeter. Just outside the shop lies a small granite plaque with an image of J. K. Rowling and gold lettering to commemorate her writing of some early chapters here.
Rowling always enjoyed the buzzing atmosphere, and for the cost of a latte she had a warm place to write.
University of Edinburgh
This is a good spot to waltz around in. The courtyard looks similar to Hogwarts. particularly when they get flying lessons with Madam Hooch in Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone.
The University of Edinburgh is a must-visit spot on your Harry Potter tour of Edinburgh. The university was founded in 1582, making it one of the oldest universities in Scotland. It is also home to some of the most impressive architecture in the city.
One of the most iconic parts of the university is the Old College, which was built in the 1780s. The building's grand facade and imposing towers make it look like a castle straight out of the Harry Potter books. The Old College was used as the inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the films, and it's easy to see why.
Another highlight of the university is the McEwan Hall, which was built in the 1890s. It is like entering a Harry Potter school of magic. The building is beautiful and mystical, and you can easily get lost in it.
National Museum of Scotland
Inside, you'll find the chess pieces from first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone! In the series Harry and Ron play Wizard's Chess, then they play a life size version at the end of the movie. Taking inspiration from the Isle of Lewis' popular medieval set, The Wizard Chess pieces have become a beloved attraction among visitors. This works can be found within the Kingdom of Scots section in their very own display case. This is also where Dolly the Sheep was cloned!
The Elephant House Cafe
AKA the “birthplace of Harry Potter” only opened in 1995, after she wrote the first book. But, she absolutely wrote many of the other books here and it's become an iconic Harry Potter spot in Edinburgh. There's even an arrow pointing down to the toilets that exclaims “This way to the Ministry of Magic.” You'll want to get here early as it gets busy!
Victoria Street AKA Diagon Alley
No Harry Potter Guide to Edinburgh would be complete without mentioning Victoria Street! This colorful street was an inspiration for the wizarding shops in Diagon Alley. From its curved and winding alleyways, to its vibrant shop fronts it's easy to see why J.K Rowling took inspiration from this quaint location. There are many shops that echo what you might see on Diagon Alley, and your next stop is on this street!
In addition to shopping, Victoria Street is home to several great restaurants and bars. Oink is a popular spot for delicious pulled pork sandwiches, and The Bow Bar is a cozy pub with a great selection of craft beers.
Overall, Victoria Street is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the magical charm of Edinburgh. Whether you're a Harry Potter fan or just looking for a unique shopping and dining experience, this street has something for everyone.
This was the very first place to sell Harry Potter Merch! You'll find three floors bursting with wands, posters, figurines, notebooks, and so much more. Originally, in 1873, this was Robert Cresser Brush Shop, the iconic building is believed to be the site of inspiration for Ollivander’s Wand Shop. After closing its doors in 2004, it underwent a transformation and was rechristened Diagon House before being renamed Museum Context. Now three floors of mystical souvenirs await wanderers who visit this enchanting destination! There are many Harry Potter shops throughout Edinburgh, but this is the original.
See more gifts for Harry Potter fans here!
This is also, alas, another Diagon Alley? Also known as “Deviation Alley.” If you head to the bottom of Victoria Street towards Grassmarket and take a left, you’ll find the famous Candlemaker Row.
The Grassmarket area is a popular place for tourists to explore. You can also find a novelties shop that sells magic items called AHA HA HA Jokes & Novelties at 99 West Bow as well as the Museum Context store on Victoria Street, West Bow is also a street is said to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley! It's a charming, winding street with lots of unique shops and boutiques. You'll find everything from vintage clothing to handmade soaps to wizarding supplies.
As a stronghold of Scottish royalty for centuries and later developed into an armed garrison, this ancient fortress built atop the remains of an extinct volcano is one of Europe's oldest fortified sites. I recommend going inside so you can see the you can see the ‘Honours of Scotland’ crown jewels inside!
It especially looks like a Quidditch game is about to begin when, in July, there's the annual festival and multi-colored flags are displayed all around the castle!
Best of all, you don't need to take the Hogwarts Express to get there, it's an easy walk up.
The Witches Well
The Witches Well is located in the heart of Edinburgh. It's a unique and spooky monument with an interesting history. The well is a cast iron fountain and plaque and honors the Scottish people who were burned at the stake between the 15th and 18th centuries. During the 16th century, more women were murdered at this site than anywhere else in Scotland.
Scotland’s King James VI believed witchcraft was a form of Satanism and that anyone who possessed those abilities was tainted by the devil. As a result, in the 17th and 18th centuries, more than 4,000 alleged witches (mostly female) were put to death.
The small monument features a bronze relief of witches’ heads ensnared by a snake, uses juxtaposition of good and evil and to show that every story has two sides.
The Witches' Well is on the wall of the Tartan Weaving Mill and Experience that faces the castle esplanade. It is very easy to miss. While heading toward the castle, as you pass the Tartan Weaving Mill, look directly to your right and you'll see it.
The Writers' Museum
The Writers' Museum is just a stunning building and since J.K. Rowling is one of the many writers who made Edinburgh her home, this seems fitting. It celebrates the lives of Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott and has memorabilia from their writing- such as pens, desks, and more.
You'll feel inspired walking around here and I highly recommend a tour of the museum.
If you're looking for the perfect place to stay while in Edinburgh, I highly recommend checking out the Balmoral Hotel. It's where JK Rowling famously finished her last Harry Potter book – “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows”. She was stuck in a writers block at home, so she headed over to this luxurious hotel and stayed in room 552 – which has now become an iconic location! As a reminder of her accomplishment, there is even still a marble bust with graffiti reading “JK Rowling Finished Harry Potter In The Deathly Hallows” as well as an owl knocker on one of its doors. And though it may be extravagant at $3500 per night, there are other rooms that are far lower in price.
Other Places to Stop in Edinburgh if You Love Harry Potter and Harry Potter Themed Restaurants
The Witchery by the Castle – Located near the castle, this is the perfect place to eat! It looks magical inside and out. This upscale restaurant is housed in an atmospheric 16th-century building and features dishes like “Haggis, neeps, and tatties with whisky sauce” (a nod to the Scottish cuisine that inspires much of the Harry Potter universe). The decor is gothic and atmospheric, and there are subtle nods to the series throughout.
The Three Sisters – This pub in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh hosts a weekly Harry Potter quiz night, complete with themed cocktails and snacks like butterbeer and chocolate frogs. It's a fun way to immerse yourself in the world of Hogwarts while enjoying a night out with friends.
Department of Magic – This is an escape room challenge for witches and wizards. Designed for groups of 2 to 6, this is a fun experience. OR, The perfect spot for Harry Potter in cocktail form. You can pretend like you're in Snape's potion's class and order something delicious.
Dog House – Here you can try the true wizard's go-to drink Butterbeer. This funky bar is a great stop. This sports bar in the New Town area of Edinburgh has a Harry Potter-themed “secret bar” hidden behind a bookshelf. The decor is straight out of Hogwarts, with candles, cauldrons, and flying broomsticks adorning the walls. The drink menu features potions like “Veritaserum” and “Amortentia.”
J.K. Rowling's Handprint's – Located on the Royal Mile, near Mary King's Close (something else I recommend you do in Edinburgh) you'll find Rowling's Golden handprints.
Dean Village – Slightly off the beaten path, but worth a stop is the beautiful Dean Village that looks like it might be Godric's Hollow!
Harry Potter Walking tour – I highly recommend this magical guided walking tour if you want a guided tour of the famous sites around Edinburgh with stories along the way! There are many Harry Potter tours but this one is the best. They'll also give you tips on where to find even more Harry Potter sites.
Are there any themed Harry Potter hotels in Edinburgh?
Yes, there are themed Harry Potter hotels in Edinburgh. The city is famous for being the birthplace of J.K. Rowling and for inspiring many of the locations in the Harry Potter series. As a result, there are several hotels in Edinburgh that cater to fans of the series.
One of the most well-known Harry Potter hotels in Edinburgh is the Balmoral Hotel. This luxurious hotel is where J.K. Rowling finished writing the final book in the series, and it even has a suite named after her. The suite is decorated in a style that reflects the author's love of the series, with Hogwarts-themed decor and a private library filled with Harry Potter books.
Another Harry Potter-themed hotel in Edinburgh is the Witchery by the Castle. This historic hotel is located near Edinburgh Castle and is decorated in a gothic style that is reminiscent of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The hotel's restaurant serves dishes inspired by the Harry Potter books, such as pumpkin soup and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding.
But if you really want an experience, check out this amazing Harry potter inspired flat! This artfully decorated, one bedroom flat is the perfect place to relax in Edinburgh. You'll find yourself gazing out the window and feeling like you're in the Gryffindor tower!
Sites outside of Edinburgh
There are of course many sites to see Harry Potter outside of Edinburgh! I've got a full guide here to all the magical places for Harry Potter!
If you're a Harry Potter fan, then you must visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland. This is the famous bridge that the Hogwarts Express travels across in the movies. You can take the Jacobite Steam Train, which is the actual train used in the movies, from Fort William to Mallaig and back. You'll get to see the beautiful Scottish scenery while reliving your favorite Harry Potter moments. Be sure to book early as this train ride is very popular!
Or, take the Hogwarts Express to the Highlands. Akak The Jacobite Steam Train, also known as the Hogwarts Express, takes Harry Potter enthusiasts on an amazing 84 mile round trip to the West Coast from Fort William to Mallaig.
Another must-see location in Scotland for Harry Potter fans is Glencoe, a stunning valley that served as the backdrop for Hagrid's Hut and the Quidditch pitch in the movies. You can take a guided tour through the valley to see the filming locations up close and learn about the special effects used to bring the magical world of Harry Potter to life. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at some wizarding activities, such as broomstick training or wand combat. And for those who want to take in the scenery at a slower pace, there are plenty of hiking trails and photo opportunities to enjoy.
My full guide to places to travel around the world if you love Harry Potter here!
Find my guide to Edinburgh here.
Full itinerary to Scotland here.
Best Gifts for Harry Potter Fans
Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando
Guide to Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
Whether you're a true Harry Potter fan or not, a walking tour around Edinburgh is an absolute must. So get your magic wands ready and let's explore the wizarding world of Harry Potter!