Ever since we were kids, Harry Potter has lived in our imaginations and hearts; wishing one day our very own Hogwarts letter would arrive. While we were unfortunately never found to be blessed with magical powers and never received that letter. We still remain to this day, die-hard Harry Potter fans through and through to our inner core, frequenting Universal Studios for our taste of the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. Thus, when we found out about there being Harry Potter ties in Edinburgh Scotland, we had to make the trip. When we first started planning our adventures for visiting this seemingly unknown harry potter influenced town, we were lost.
There were either pushy paid-for tours being shoved at us from every direction or murky rumors of the wizard’s origins being related to this historical Scottish town. We ended up taking forever trying t figure out the crucial Harry Potter destinations scattered across Edinburgh. This is what brought us to write this informative guide for finding the best Harry Potter activities and influences in Edinburgh and the history behind them.
This post is about creating the Best Edinburgh Harry Potter Guide for first-time visitors and devoted Harry Potter fans. We break down the rumors from the facts and let you know whether or not this Scottish town is truly the inspiration behind harry potter or is a fan-made theory.
Commonly Asked Questions For Edinburgh Harry Potter
Was any of the Harry Potter books filmed in Edinburgh?
No, Edinburgh does not feature any harry potter film locations that were used in the famous harry potter films, however, it is home to many cafes that J.K. Rowling frequented while writing the popular series, as well as rumored harry potter inspired destinations.
Did Edinburgh Castle inspire Hogwarts?
some say it was part fo the inspiration of Hogwarts, as it sits atop a hilltop just like Hogwarts
Is there Harry Potter World in Edinburgh?
No, but there is the museum of context will sell harry potter galore and offers fun activities and photography sessions.
Is there a Harry Potter tour in Scotland?
yes, there is a ton of harry potter tours available that will take you on a tour of Edinburgh Scotland, and show you all the hot spot for harry, potter. Most of these tours are paid tours but some are free, expect to tip at the end of free tours as that is the norm.
How many Harry Potter shops are there in Edinburgh?
There are a few harry potter shops located around Edinburgh, but the most famous shop and highly recommended by fans around the world is the Museum Context Shop. This shop has a ton of Scottish souvenirs, as well as awesome Harry Potter Merchandise, harry Potter Characters Merchandise, and more.
What Harry Potter locations are in Edinburgh?
There is so many harry potter influenced and inspired activities and destinations while visiting Edinburgh Scotland, youll find, cafes where jk rowling worked on the famous series, Diagon alley, inspiration, rumored Hogwarts influence, and more!
Is Victoria Street in Edinburgh Diagon Alley?
No one knows for sure if Victoria street is the real-life version of Diagon Alley, however many whispers that this popular harry potter fan favorite is inspired by the Scottish old town popular street.
Is Harry Potter based on Edinburgh?
It’s hard to imagine harry potter not having some sort of origins related to Edinburgh Scotland, after all, Edinburgh Scotland is where J.K. Rowling lived while working on her famous children’s book series: The Harry Potter Series.
Which Cafe in Edinburgh did J.K. Rowling write Harry Potter?
The Elephant Cafe and the spoon cafe are the two most talked about cafes where J.K. Rowling spent her time in. However, there are other secret cafes she worked in that have never been revealed to the public and one lost in history that she mentions visiting… Continue reading to find out what secret cafe this was!
Why is the Elephant Cafe closed?
There was an unfortunate fire back in August 2021, thus the elephant cafe has been closed until necessary repairs can be made.
The Best Edinburgh Harry Potter Walking Tours
- The Potter Tour – This is a massive Harry Potter Walking Tour with over 4 hours of content! You’ll learn all there is to know about Edinburgh’s influence on harry potter, how JK Rowling wrote her finest pieces of works, and even learn Scottish pilgrimage history.
- The Potter Trail – What we love about this tour is they have multiple types of tours available, whether you love touring with a group, privately, or taking a free tour they have one that will fit your needs. The potter trail free tour offers an in-depth view into the iconic Edinburgh old town that features landmarks that are said to have inspired the Harry Potter series such as victoria street and candle maker row.
- Edinburgh: Harry Potter magical Guided Walking Tour – See the real Tom Riddles grave while you navigate through Greyfriars Kirkyard, then explore other Edinburgh Harry Potter locations to see the inspiration behind the famous harry potter book.
- Edinburgh: Harry Potter Walking Tour – This 2-hour walking tour is pretty comprehensive, youll see the inspiration behind harry potter, where it was written, tom riddles grave, quidditch and how it came to be in harry potter, and more!
Magical Places To Eat and Enjoy Some Drinks
The Caudron – This place is not Harry Potter-related, it’s an adorable magic potions tavern-themed bar featuring sessions where you can wield your very own wand and learn how to make various brews ?. We definitely recommend this place if you’re visiting Scotland and love everything magic, especially for us wizard fans!
The Dog House – Another magical bar that features their very own custom brewed butter beer, which is similar to the famous harry potter version but with the addition of alcohol! Give this place a visit if you’re in the mood for delicious drinks and a place for misfits to feel at home.
Howies – Howies, is a staple in Scotland, youll find this restaurant in Diagon-inspired victoria street which is nestled in old town Edinburgh. The food they offer here is a variety of Scottish delicacies such as Cullen skink, steak, salmon, and delicious puddings such as chocolate, creme brulle, and affogato.
A List of Harry Potter Spots in Edinburgh
Visit The Cafes That J.K. Rowling Frequently Visited
The Elephant House Cafe – The Birth Place of Harry Potter?
Often touted as the birthplace of the popular Harry Potter series, it’s a no-brainer why this popular cafe landed on our top things to do in Edinburgh for Harry Potter fans! The Elephant House Cafe was frequently visited by the creator of the popular magical series and was most notably used during the writing of the first harry potter book. However, we will note that technically Harry Potter was first written in her flat in Manchester London, and that is the true birthplace of Harry Potter, as noted by Annie from Insider. Her Flat in London is commonly referred to as the harry potter apartment since this is where she created the wizarding World.
Regardless of this technicality, J.K. Rowling still spent time in this cafe and could be found writing Harry Potter And The Sorceress Stone while overlooking Edinburgh Castle in the distance. She also continued to visit this cafe over the years and spent time working on the second and third novels.
Spoon Cafe – Nicolson’s Cafe
Spoon Cafe, previously known as Nicolson’s cafe was a place that JK Rowling could frequently visit and wrote large parts of her first book in the popular series. She would pick her favorite corner table and start writing. Luckily she got away with this constant visiting and hours spent at the cafe because her brother-in-law owned the place.
Eventually, the place was sold, and further down the line became the spoon cafe. You’ll find crispy biscuits, scones, and other delicious baked goods. As well as a full arsenal of coffee-based drinks and tea.
Not many people know about this lowkey spot that J.K. Rowling used to frequent to write the harry potter series. This cafe is located in the Traverse Theater on 10 Cambridge Street, this theater cafe is a popular place to visit for both locals, tourists, and people working in the theater business such as actors, actresses, directors, screenwriters, and more.
Thus, it’s a no-brainer why J.K. Rowling came into contact the John Tiffany (the soon-to-be director of the cursed child) while working on the magical Harry Potter series. She even mentioned on her personal site not realizing who Tiffany was at first when meeting to discuss the direction of the cursed child, but originally they used to say hello to each other all the time back in the day during her writing days of the Potter series.
Edinburgh Castle or Hogwarts?
Visit Edinburgh Castle, this grand Scottish fortress was the defense of the capital for centuries and has stood proudly atop an extinct volcano till this day. Although you’re probably wondering what relation Edinburgh Castle has to Hogwarts? Well, to be honest, no one really knows and J.K. Rowling has never openly admitted that Edinburgh Castle was the inspiration behind the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Despite all that, Edinburgh Castle is believed to be an inspiration behind Hogwarts due to its similarities and due to J.K Rowling constantly walking past it while on her way to various cafes. So we definitely recommend visiting this spot, and making the choice yourself, is Hogwarts slightly related to Edinburgh castle? Or is it an unlikely dream from harry potter fans? As for us, we definitely see the resemblance but have also noted other castles around the world that remind us of the popular harry potter school.
Victoria Street – The Inspiration Behind Diagon Alley?
Picture a slowly declining curve that wraps around Edinburgh’s old town and is embellished with worn-out cobblestone with everlasting charm. As you make your way through victoria street, you’ll notice the colorfully painted shops that feature boutiques, mom-and-pop shops, cafes, and restaurants, all brewing with intricate charm.
As you make your way through the historic street, you’ll begin to notice it almost feels like you’re in Diagon Alley and looking for your Hogwarts supplies. After all, doesn’t this appealing street seem like it’s a part of another world? While we can get wrapped up in the charm of victoria street, it still remains unknown whether JK Rowling really gathered her inspiration from this old town landmark, but we can see the resemblance.
Musuem Context – 40 Victoria Street
Wow, if you’re even the slightest fan of harry potter, which you are I mean hello you clicked on this post about Harry Potter inspiration in Edinburgh! Anyways, The museum context is a muggles dream for the wizarding world of Harry Potter. You’ll find wizard trinkets that even warlocks would be jealous of, after all, there are over 3 floors of enchanting artifacts up for grabs! Make sure to bring an extra bag for your magical wears, you’re gonna need it ?.
Greyfriars Kirkyard – The Inspiration For He Who Must Not Be Named
Venture into this spooky and haunted graveyard and you’ll find the infamous Tom Riddle’s grave under the name Thomas Riddle. The Greyfriars Kirkyard is said to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in Europe. This spooky cemetery is located in the old town part of Edinburgh and is said to date back to the 1600s, making this cemetery over 400 years old and full of history.
It’s said that you can find the famous names of characters in the movie series such as McGonagall, Black, Thomas Riddle, Potter, Cruikshank, and more! If you have the time, take a stroll through the cemetery and find them all. However, keep in mind at the end of the day this is a cemetery where people were laid to rest, so please practice good manners.
J.K. Rowling Suite – Balmoral hotel Roome 552
The luxurious Balmoral Hotel is a beautiful and historical hotel that is located in Edinburgh Scotland. This stunning hotel is nestled in old town on princes street. Securing a spot in the historical part of Edinburgh makes this gorgeous hotel that much better, as would serve as an amazing stay if luxurious hotels are up your avenue.
Focusing back on why the Balmoral Hotel is a must-visit for our list of the best things to do in Edinburgh for harry potter fans. Back in 2007 J.K. Rowling grew restless with the countdown towards the closing of her incredible series, and could not focus as she usually would have in her writing room that was comfortably located in her own home. Thus, she decided to do the next best thing, since cafes were out of the question due to her fandom, she instead secured a luxurious suite and the 5 star hotel the Balmoral Hotel.
Rowling continued her writings for several months until the conclusion of the Harry Potter series and the end of the final book harry potter and the deathly hallows. To celebrate the grand finale, J.K. Rowling tweeted out to fans that she did a bad thing in Suite 552 by writing on one of the busts the series’ official end date and signing it( she also noted it was wrong what she did and not to do as her). Instead of getting in a heap of trouble like any normal guest, the bust was secured behind glass and is shown off to the world in honor.
If you’re looking to visit this iconic room, the famous suite 552 aka the J.K. Rowling suite will set you back over $2000 US dollars, a hefty fee for Harry Potter fans. Although worthwhile if it’s your goal to complete every nostalgic thing related to the heartwarming series from our childhoods.
So Is Edinburgh Scotland Really The Secret Inspiration Behind The Harry Potter Story?
So the question you’re all wondering is whether or not Edinburgh truly inspired JK Rowling, or was it all just a mumble jumbo from eager fans? The honest truth? No one really knows, JK Rowling has either declined any notable singular influences such as Edinburgh Castle or ignored the subject altogether and has instead pushed the narrative that Harry Potter is mostly from an overly working imagination and completely new matter that came to be one day while waiting for a delayed train. Whatever the case, it’s hard to not notice the resemblance between the Magical World of Harry Potter and the dreamy historical town of Edinburgh.
Regardless, of whether Edinburgh is the secret inspiration behind Harry Potter or not, Edinburgh is a beautiful and magical place to visit. Take the trip for yourself and see if you see the magic relation between the non-magical world and the wizardly world…
Just To Note, On whether or not we noticed the magical presence of harry potter in Edinburgh…