Harry Potter fans, you may want to hold on to your wands for this one. The mystical land of Scotland is home to the one and only Hogwarts Express, and you are invited to take a ride in the iconic steam train! Forget faux photos at Platform 9¾ or sitting around aimlessly waiting for Dumbledore to deliver your Hogwarts letter and take matters in your own hands. It’s time to head to Scotland!
The Hogwarts Express is in fact a famous (and highly photogenic) steam train, The Jacobite, taking passengers 135 kilometres through mysteriously misty lochs and the green hills of the Scottish Highlands. It doesn’t just look like the famously magical train, it is the actual vehicle used for filming. Fans can even book a seat in the Harry Potter compartment to ensure the best views of locations along the train journey.
If not for the train, go for the views
As if this magical train could get any better, it runs along a journey often referred to as the ‘greatest railway experience in the world’ thanks to the incredible Scottish countryside it steams through. You’ll travel through vistas straight from scenes in the films and tick off a few of the must-see, non-Harry Potter sights in Scotland, boarding the train near the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis plus passing the deepest seawater loch, Loch Nevis.
Image source: Swaminathan Jayaraman
As you travel over the famous bridge suspended 31 metres off the ground, bringing you to the entrance to Hogwarts (or really Glenfinnan viaduct), you can almost imagine the flying car with Harry and Ron in hot pursuit of the train after escaping his suburban prison at the Dursley’s.
The best part? Single adult fares start at just £35. Are you joking? We’d pay thousands of galleons! If you’re planning a trip, make sure you book tickets early because as you’d expect, rides on the Hogwarts Express sell out fast. The train runs May through October but June through September is the best time to visit with journeys operating four times a day.
If you’re keen to watch the train pass over the Glenfinnan viaduct just like it does in the movies, go for June to September as you’ll be able to view a train puff past plus head off on your own journey. To capture or even just soak in this special moment you can hike from the station to a viewing point which takes just twenty minutes. Before you jump on board, if you’re in the mood for more Harry Potter magic, nearby Glen Coe is well worth a stop, being used as the set for Hagrid’s hut overlooking the beautiful (yet eerie) Torren Lochan. Glen Coe is also where one of the best movie moments from Harry Potter occurred, where Hermione punches Malfoy in the face. We all know he deserved it!
We’re officially calling it! Scotland has more Harry Potter magic than anywhere else on the planet, J.K Rowling even began imagining the magical wizarding world in the cobbled streets and winding alleys of Edinburgh, famously writing the first few chapters in coffee shops around the city. After more Potter charm? Much of the Scottish Highlands were used as a backdrop in the movies, most notably Loch Shiel, the eery location of the Black Lake in both the Prisoner of Azkaban and the Half-Blood Prince.
Potter fans, now that you know that Scotland is the true home of Harry, it’s time to book a trip ASAP!