Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Harry Potter Walking Tour (Self Guided), London

The arrival of Harry Potter books, followed by tremendously successful Hollywood adaptation, has made London even more popular now with the Harry Potter fans all over the world. The list of attractions in the city associated with Potter’s journeys includes both, newly-invented as well as some long-standing locations. To follow in the footsteps of the young wizard and his friends in the British capital, check out this self guided walk and relive the adventure!
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Harry Potter Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Harry Potter Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.8 Km or 4.2 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Westminster Station
  • Number 10 Downing Street
  • Great Scotland Yard
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • House of MinaLima
  • Charing Cross Road
  • Cecile's Court
  • Goodwin’s Court
  • Australia House
  • Blackfriars Bridge
  • Millennium Bridge
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Leadenhall Market
Westminster Station

1) Westminster Station

For muggles the Westminster Underground station may be the nearest to the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Westminster Bridge, but for the wizards like Mr. Weasley and Harry Potter it was also passage to the Ministry of Magic, as shown in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Poor Mr. Weasley struggled here for a bit with the barriers on his way out, not knowing how to properly apply the ticket – just like many of the first-time comers to the London Underground!

To film this scene in the movie, the station had to be shut down for a whole day. In another instance, Westminster Station came into sight when Harry and the Order of the Phoenix members whizzed past it, along the River Thames, towards the London Eye, aboard their broomsticks - yee-haw!!!
Number 10 Downing Street

2) Number 10 Downing Street (must see)

10 Downing Street, or simply “Number 10”, is the official residence and the office of British Prime Minister. It has been UK's no. 1 address for almost 300 years. The building contains over 100 rooms and was once three separate houses, now combined. A private residence in which the Prime Minister's family lives is on the third floor and their kitchen is in the basement. The other floors contain offices and numerous conference and reception rooms. There is an interior courtyard and, in the back, a terrace overlooking a half-acre garden. The Cabinet Room is separated from the rest of the house by soundproof doors.

The famous black front door is actually made of reinforced steel, rather than wood as most people may erroneously believe. This door has no keyhole and can only be opened from the inside, for which purpose there's always a doorman on duty. Speaking of that, the expression “In the hot seat” literally originates in Downing Street. A large black chair in the entrance hall of Number 10 is the seat previously used by the nightwatchman. This chair has an underneath drawer which, back in the day, was filled with hot coal to keep the guy on duty warm during long, cold night hours. The lamp above the door, the lion door knocker and the black and white floor in the entrance hall are also the iconic features. They were all added under the premiership of Lord Frederick North between 1770 and 1782.

Just as many other London properties, Downing Street suffered damage during WWII. On 14 October 1940, a bomb falling nearby hit the kitchen and state rooms. In 1991 another – mortar attack perpetrated by IRA – shuttered 10 Downing Street again. A reminder of that attack is the splinter stuck in the plasterwork upstairs, left untouched.

The walls of the Grand Staircase are lined with portraits of every British Prime Minister in chronological order. During his years as prime minister, Tony Blair had six plaster bees commissioned in the window frames in one of the drawing rooms upstairs. Under Mrs. Thatcher, there was a little model roof thatcher built into one of the door frames. None of this, however, is open to a public eye, as the entry to Number 10 is strictly forbidden to the general public for security reasons. Only staff and authorized personnel are allowed in.

*** Harry Potter Movie***
Contrary to what many habitually perceive in their every-day life as solely the home and office of the British Prime Minister, the number 10 Downing Street is also where, according to the first chapter of “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,” is a portal between the wizarding world and the muggles world, through which leader of the U.K. can occasionally communicate with the Minister for Magic.

It is also here that the magician Kingsley Shacklebolt operate undercover as a protector of the Prime Minister in a war against the evil magical forces led by Lord Voldemort. Apparently, there is more to this place than meets the eye…

Recommended as part of a much wider visit to Whitehall and Westminster as a whole.
Great Scotland Yard

3) Great Scotland Yard

Famed in the late 19th century by the world-famous British fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, recently the former headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police, habitually referred to as simply “Scotland Yard,” made appearance in the Harry Potter series as well. Outside Westminster Station, the Great Scotland Yard provided setting for the Ministry of Magic’s exterior, while the rear entrance to the Scotland Yard itself appeared as the Visitor’s Entrance to the MoM.

Viewers of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” will surely recognize the spot at the corner of Scotland Place with a red phone box through which the characters would enter the Ministry by dialing the magic 62442 combination. Sadly, you won’t be able to repeat the stunt, as the phone booth was only a prop specially brought in for the movie and was promptly removed once the filming was done.

Scotland Place made another appearance in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” when Harry, Hermione, and Ron sneaked into the Ministry under the guise of MoM employees.
Piccadilly Circus

4) Piccadilly Circus (must see)

Piccadilly Circus was built originally as a junction between Regent Street and Piccadilly in 1819. Back then, it was a circle roundabout up until 1886, when Shaftesbury Avenue was built and the circle was gone. But the name stuck. The name Piccadilly derives from one of the shops once present in the area, called Piccadilly Hall. Its owner, Robert Baker, was the tailor specialized in making certain collars, known as piccadills. Hence the name.

The postcard image of Piccadilly Circus is traditionally dominated by huge advertising boards mounted on the corner building of its north side. The very first illuminated sign put up there was that of Perrier mineral water in 1908. For the whole duration of WWII, Piccadilly Circus remained in total blackout and was re-lit only in 1949. The only other times the Piccadilly lights went out again were for funerals of Churchill and Princess Diana, and for the Earth Hour organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Beneath the ground, Piccadilly Circus houses two outstanding sights: Criterion Theatre and Piccadilly Circus tube station. Built in 1873, the theater is entirely underground except for box office. Back in the 19th century, during its performances fresh air had to be pumped in specially to ventilate the building from toxic fumes from the gas lights. As for the Piccadilly tube station, it is one of the few stations on London Underground network that is truly 100% underground. For a short while after its opening in 1906, the station did have an above-ground ticket office, but it was scrapped in the 1920s after the station's renovation.

Another key sight to behold in Piccadilly Circus is the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and the statue often erroneously attributed to Eros. The fountain was built in 1893 to commemorate philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury. While the statue depicts Greek god Anteros, the bow in his hand makes it look like the Greek god of love, Eros.

On the west side of Piccadilly, one can still see a relic police public call box, established in 1935, one of the few left in Britain.

Another secret treasure mounted to a wall somewhere in Piccadilly Circus is a sculpted nose - one of the Seven Noses of Soho. Legend has it that whoever finds all the seven noses, will get rich beyond measure. Wonder if any of the nearly half a million people passing here every day is after that fortune...)

*** Harry Potter Movie***
One of London’s best known landmarks recognized by its neon advertising screens, perpetual crowds and the Eros statue, Piccadilly Circus appears in the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” in one of the most memorable scenes where Harry, Hermione and Ron rush through London’s West End after fleeing from Death Eaters, who had attacked Bill’s wedding, and have a narrow escape from being run over by a quintessential London red double-decker bus. The actual spot where it took place in the movie is just in front of The Gap store, right off Piccadilly Circus, whereas in the book they ended up in Tottenham Court Road. Filming the scene in such a popular tourist location as Piccadilly Circus was a real challenge!

Why You Should Visit:
A classic, fast-paced London intersection, very centrally located, from where you can easily explore Regent St, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Coventry Garden and the West End theatre district.

Best seen at night for maximum effect.
House of MinaLima

5) House of MinaLima

Miraphora Mina & Eduardo Lima (Mina + Lima = MinaLima) are a team of graphic designers who helped create the world of Harry Potter - the style, graphics and the majority of props for all the Potter movies. Upon the completion of the now iconic film franchise, they opened the House of MinaLima, a lovely boutique shop representing to the devoted Potterheads a treasure trove of graphic art from the wizarding world including prints, books, and other Potter-related objects.

On the ground floor you will find stationary, books, mugs and badges, while the three floors above comprise a gorgeous free HP exhibition – a true Harry Potter fandom heaven. Nearly everything on display here is for sale - journals that look like Hogwarts textbooks, copies of the Quibbler, composition books that characters used during their time at Hogwarts, posters from the Daily Prophet and so much more. There's something charming for every pocket. An authentic gem for any Harry Potter fan spending a day in London!
Charing Cross Road

6) Charing Cross Road

Renowned for its second-hand bookshops and spell-binding antique shops which give this street its intriguing charm, it seems only natural that Charing Cross Road inspired J.K. Rowling to set the entrance to London’s magical world nowhere else but here. In the Harry Potter books, the Leaky Cauldron pub and boarding house for wizards – in which Harry lives for a brief period at the beginning of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” – is a gateway between the non-wizarding world and Diagon Alley, the wizarding shopping district where young Harry goes in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” to buy all his school supplies for the upcoming year at Hogwarts.

To the non-wizard or muggle eyes it appears like a closed storefront located on Charing Cross Road in London’s West End. Harry also walked down Charing Cross Road with Hagrid, and later rode down it on the Knight Bus and in Ministry cars. There’s also a clothing shop on Charing Cross Road called “A Child of the Jago” with the uniquely dressed window displaying what looks like wizarding clothes and costumes.
Cecile's Court

7) Cecile's Court

Just off Charing Cross Road - the first lane on the right as you walk up the street - is a small charming thoroughfare, one of the oldest in London, known as Cecil Court. This picturesque one-block pedestrian street, lined with quirky Victorian-era shop fronts, is credited with having provided inspiration to J.K. Rowling for creating Diagon Alley, which is easy to believe given the presence of rather eccentric shops here, including some fittingly specialized in magical or psychic literature, like the one called “The Witch’s Ball”.

Generally, at these stores you will find anything, from rare editions and second-hand books, collector’s copies and first-editions, to old stamps, maps, posters, banknotes and other antiques. Marchpane, a children’s bookstore, even carries the rare signed copies of Harry Potter books. The whole street feels so eerily similar to Diagon Alley that one may half expect to stumble across Ollivanders Wand Shop or a pint of Butterbeer!
Goodwin’s Court

8) Goodwin’s Court

The London area of Covent Garden is full of tiny alleyways with small storefronts. One such little-known and hidden dark narrow passage, called Goodwin’s Court, is built into the frontage of The Theatre Goers Club of Great Britain, adjacent to 55-56 St Martin's Lane, just a stone’s throw away from Cecil Court and Charing Cross Road. A step into this lovely court, built circa 1627, takes you back in time to the Georgian period manifested in the typical bowed windows (remnants of the previously existent row of shops), polished black doors with shiny knockers and knobs with brass plates indicating the names of tenant businesses. There are three large, operational gas lamps illuminating the path.

*** Harry Potter Movie ***
Lined with topsy-turvy buildings, crooked houses, and bulging windows, this place is every inch Diagon Alley (or possibly its creepy evil twin, Knockturn Alley, depending on how cloudy the day is) and is definitely worth a wander if only to see the real street lanterns and darkly painted buildings that inspired the Warner Brothers-built props used in Harry Potter movies. Although not filled with wizard books, robes or wands, the black bay windows, the Godwin’s Court tunnel bears so much similarity to the actual film set that it can give you a case of shivers at the thought of stumbling across the likes of Bellatrix Lestrange or Lucius Malfoy apparating in the middle of the night!
Australia House

9) Australia House

East of Trafalgar Square, just a few minutes up the Strand on the north side of the street, opposite the old Aldwych station, is Australia House - home to the Australian High Commission - the longest continuously occupied foreign mission in London, opened by King George V in 1918.

To Harry Potter fans, however, this building is firmly associated with Gringotts Bank, the only bank of the wizarding world owned and operated by goblins. In the books, its main offices are located in North Side, Diagon Alley in London and, according to Rubeus Hagrid, other than Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Gringotts is the safest place in the entire wizarding world. The Bank played host to several important scenes in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2”. The filmmakers both, filmed inside the real-life location, as well as duplicated it at Leavesden Studios.

The opulent Beaux Arts interior of Australia House - all marble and huge glass chandeliers - was an ideal setting for Gringotts, providing the desired proportions which contrasted perfectly with its inhabitants. As the High Commission, it is not normally open to the public and you need a valid reason to get in - some official business, perhaps, like a visa application, migration, or citizenship. Otherwise, you may get a glimpse of the sumptuous interior by asking the security guards nicely and they may just let you discreetly peep through the door. Please note that the building is open Monday to Friday only, so, if you come on a weekend or public holiday, you will not be able to get a view of the interior.
Blackfriars Bridge

10) Blackfriars Bridge

To get to the Tate Modern from the Inns of Court, you will, of course, cross the Blackfriars Bridge, which received Grade II Listed status in 1972. The Bridge House Estates own the bridge and are responsible for its upkeep.

This foot and road bridge is 923 ft long with five wrought iron arches to match its sister railway bridge, now demolished. It was built by the P.A. Thom & Company firm to designs by Thomas Cubitt and was opened by Queen Victoria in 1869.

As you cross, you will notice stone carvings by John Birnie Philip on the piers of the bridge: on the East side the carvings represent marine life, with a variety of seabirds; on the West side you can see carvings of freshwater birds. These birds are there to remind us that the Thames is both a sea and fresh water river.

The bridge takes its name from an earlier bridge that was used by the Blackfriars, a Dominican Order of friars who wore black habits, rather than the more usual brown ones. They had a priory near the site of Blackfriars Station from 1275 until 1538, when it was closed by King Henry VIII during his Dissolution of Monasteries campaign.

*** Harry Potter Movie ***
The Blacksfriars Bridge made appearance in the 2007 film “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” featured in the scene where the Order of the Phoenix members pass underneath it on their flight from number 4, Privet Drive to Grimmauld Place.Place.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Millennium Bridge

11) Millennium Bridge (must see)

The Millennium Bridge has three claims to fame: it is the newest bridge to span the Thames; it is the only pedestrian-only bridge in London and it holds the record for being the bridge with the shortest opening-closing time in history, as it was closed only two days after being inaugurated.

The bridge was designed, as its name suggests, to be opened in 2000, the start of the 21st century. In 1996 Southwark Council held a competition and invited architects from all over the world to design a new bridge that would reflect the new century and the future. The designs proposed by Foster & Partners and Ove Arup & Partners won the competition and work on the new bridge began in 1998.

The startlingly modern suspension bridge is 325 metres long with 8 suspension cables, built deliberately low to avoid spoiling the view of St Paul’s Cathedral on the North bank of the river. These cables are tensioned to pull with a force of 2000 tons against the piers set into each bank.

The bridge was opened on 10th June 2000 with an organised walk for the Save the Children Fund. The walkers noticed that the bridge had a strange swaying motion – they said that the bridge “wobbled”. The bridge was closed two days later and didn’t reopen until 2002 when the problem, called Synchronous Lateral Excitation, was solved by the introduction of 32 fluid-viscous dumpers to control the horizontal movement and 52 tuned mass dumpers to control the vertical movement of the bridge.

*** Harry Potter Movie ***
Known colloquially as the “wobbly bridge,” the Millennium Bridge had to undergo further modifications to mend the structural faults discovered during its initial use, seeing the pedestrians fall over as they tried to cross it! Perhaps it was due to that association that the filmmakers decided to show it as targeted by death eaters in the screen adaptation of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” instead of the Brockdale Bridge whose collapse occurs in the book.

Fortunately, dramatically destroyed in the horrific opening scene, where it snaps and breaks after the death eaters rip through London leaving behind a path of destruction, the now iconic Millennium Bridge was not harmed during filming and you can have fun safely walking on it today

Why You Should Visit:
Ideal link from Tate Modern and Globe Theatre on one side to the St Paul’s Cathedral, conveniently placed if you have a walk between the banks.
A great pedestrian-only bridge to walk on and very picturesque with St Paul’s Cathedral in the background.

Wear comfortable shoes. Take an umbrella or a rain-proof jacket, just in case.
Also, note the paintings or stickers that are on the floor of the bridge.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 11am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Paul's Cathedral

12) St. Paul's Cathedral (must see)

Ludgate Hill, one of three ancient hills in London, has been the site of a place of worship since 604 AD. The present building on the hill is St Paul’s Cathedral, and it is quite rightly one of the most famous of London’s landmarks and the most visited cathedral in the world, after St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Between 604 and the Great Fire of 1666, there had been several churches on the hill, and after the last one was destroyed in the Great Fire, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to build a new, bigger one. He had to make five different designs of the building before one was finally chosen; work began in 1675 and the cathedral was officially opened in 1711.

The interior of the cathedral is very beautiful with the inner dome painted with 8 monochromes by Sir James Thornhill, depicting the life of St Paul. The inner dome holds three galleries: the internal Whispering Gallery takes its name from the unique acoustics – a whisper against the wall on one side of the gallery can be heard on the other side. Above this is the external Stone Gallery and above that is the external Golden Gallery.

In the Nave there are three chapels: on the North aisle are the All Souls Chapel and the St Dunstan’s Chapel; on the South aisle is St George and St Michael Chapel. The Knights Bachelor Chapel and the OBE Chapel are to be found in the crypt.

The tombs of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren are also in the crypt, along with tombs and memorials to many others who have made a great contribution to the nation, including artist and musicians. Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral was held here, and of course, the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana was celebrated in the cathedral.

***Charles Dickens Tour***
St Paul’s Cathedral, as a setting, is featured heavily in many novels by Charles Dickens. In "Master Humphrey’s Clock", for example, Dickens describes Master Humphrey going up to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, then the tallest building in London, for the panoramic City view. He writes: ‘Draw but a little circle above the clustering house tops, and you shall have within its space, everything with its opposite extreme and contradiction, close beside’.

Another Dickens's work – "David Copperfield" – takes Peggotty to the top of St. Paul’s to enjoy the impressive views over London, which is something visitors still do today.

The area around the iconic cathedral Dickens knew well and frequented himself for various reasons, including major public events, like the funeral of the Duke of Wellington in 1852.

*** Harry Potter Movie ***
Other than architecture- and history buffs, nowadays Harry Potter fans also have their reason to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral. The point of interest for them is the spectacular spiral Geometric Staircase (also known as the Dean’s Stair) that appears to be floating out of the walls of the Cathedral’s South West Bell Tower. Recognizable from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, this winding staircase leads to the astronomy tower and is where students climbed up the stone steps towards Professor Trelawney’s Divination classes held in a classroom atop a Hogwart’s North Tower. It was also featured in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” as the Turris Magnus staircase. To view the staircase, you will need to enter the Cathedral on a visitor ticket.

***Shakespeare Walk***
The medieval St Paul’s Cathedral, predecessor of Sir Christopher Wren’s landmark dome design, was one of the largest European churches of its time, whose spire dominated the skyline of London until it burned down in the Great Fire of 1666. During Shakespeare’s lifetime, the area around St Paul’s was very different to what it is today.

Apart from being the centre of religious, political, cultural and social life in the city, the Cathedral was also the heart of London’s book trade and its environment was quite important in shaping the literary works of that period. By 1600, Shakespeare was the most published professional dramatist, and the first editions of his plays including Titus Andronicus, Richard II, Richard III, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Merchant of Venice were all bought and sold in St Paul’s Churchyard. It is also very likely that Shakespeare himself scouted the local bookshops for content that would furnish him with source material for his own work. In large part, the environment of St Paul’s shaped Shakespeare’s writing and influenced its survival and reception.

Why You Should Visit:
An architectural masterpiece and symbol of London during the War.
There is always much to explore, both above ground and in the crypt.

You have to pay for the entrance of this cathedral. Buy tickets online to save time. You can also buy an audio tour at the entrance.
To really appreciate the interior, you should climb the steps to the dome (which should take a good 30 min.) You will find an external viewing area at the top.
Part way up there is also a whispering gallery from which you look down into the church from above.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8:30am-4:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Leadenhall Market

13) Leadenhall Market

Built in 1881, Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest marketplaces in London where meat and fish had been sold since as far back as the 14th century. Located in the historic center of London’s financial district, this beautiful covered Victorian market is a rather magical place for a bit of shopping. Its ornate painted green and red roof and cobbled floors made Leadenhall a popular attraction even before it played a starring role in the Harry Potter series.

In the films, the market is featured as the area of London which secretly leads magical folk to Diagon Alley, the cobblestoned shopping hub of the wizarding world where Hogwarts students stock up on school supplies like spell books and wands. Harry and Hagrid walk through the market as they approach the Leaky Cauldron, which holds a sneaky entrance to the alley.

In both, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” an empty storefront at 42 Bull’s Head Passage (at Leadenhall Market) was used as the entrance of the Leaky Cauldron. The shop was vacant at the time, so filmmakers were able to paint it black and hang up a Leaky Cauldron sign for the scene. Its rounded blue doorway is now instantly recognizable to Harry Potter fans. Today the shop is occupied by Glass House Opticians, so, with a bit of luck, you may even find Mad-Eye Moody here, getting fitted for a contact lens...

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