Scotland, the most northern point of the United Kingdom, is home to the buzzing cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Scottish Highlands, the Loch Ness Monster, beaches, bagpipes, mythical mountains… and a whole lotta magic.
That’s right, Scotland is not only where J.K Rowling first began writing the Harry Potter series, it’s also the home to countless Harry Potter filming locations. Consider yourself a hardcore HP fan? You best be heading to the highlands, stat…
Edinburgh – the capital of Scotland where J.K Rowling first began her Potter plotting way back in the early 90’s. Harry Potter fans would be mad to miss the distinct parallels Edinburgh’s medieval architecture, stony streets and winding alleys draw to the settings of the series. It was in the quaint cafés of Edinburgh where J.K first put pen to paper, crafting the opening chapters to what would become one of the most enchanting fantasy novels of all time: Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone.
The Elephant House Cafe
Self-branded as ‘The Birthplace of Harry Potter’, this was J.K’s favourite café to get creative. Overlooking Edinburgh Castle, The Elephant House is where the magical world of witches and wizards was imagined. However, whilst much of The Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban was written here, it’s actually Spoon café (then known as Nicholas Café) where J.K wrote the opening chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. Either way, both cafés offer a chance to sit back in the surroundings of where it all began … whilst indulging on coffee & cakes of course.
Glenfinnan Viaduct, Lochaber
The 380 metres long and 31 metres high Victorian Railway Bridge is instantly recognisable from that opening scene in the Chamber of Secrets; the only thing this image is missing is Harry and Ron flying overhead in the Weasley’s magical Ford Anglia car. The head of the Loch Shiel is also the setting for where Harry encounters a Dementor for the very first time in the Prisoner of Azkaban, when the Hogwarts Express stops on the bridge. If you’re keen to relive this experience and risk coming face to face with a Dementor, the Jacobite Steam Train, described as ‘the greatest railway journey in the world’ will take you on an 84-mile round trip from Ben Nevis, stopping in the village of Glenfinnan and crossing the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct where you’ll get the chance to take in the magnificent scenic views.
Steall Falls, Glen Nevis
Primarily known for being the second-highest waterfall in Britain, Steall Fall is also featured in a fair few iconic Potter scenes, but it’s the waterfall’s role as the backdrop during Quidditch matches and the setting for Harry’s battle against a Hungarian Horntail dragon in the Goblet of Fire, which really get our Potter pulses racing.
Black Rock Gorge, Ross and Cromarty
Before heading to the Steall Falls, Harry first hides from the Hungarian Horntail in this impressive, 120-foot deep gorge. The gorge is said to be haunted by a local noblewoman named Lady Balconie. Despite no sightings of the ghostly spirit, locals often claim to hear her cries from the top of the gorge. Or is it just Moaning Myrtle out for a stroll? TBC.
Glen Coe, Highland
Another absolutely incredible location is Glen Coe. Its dramatic landscape and volcanic origins featured as background shots throughout the Prisoner of Azkaban as well as various other Harry Potter films. However, it’s the iconic girl power moment when Hermione smashes Malfoy in the face which makes this location perhaps the most memorable of all.
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Loch Etive, Argyll and Bute
Another Loch to add into the mix, this is the background where Harry, Ron and Hermione escape from the wizarding bank of Gringotts on the back of a dragon after taking the Cup of Helga Hufflepuff (a Horcrux). Once getting out of London and back into the magical lands, the infamous three are forced to leap off the dragon, landing into this ice-cold loch.
Rannoch Moor, Lochaber
This is one of the largest areas of wilderness in Scotland. Also known as the Great Moor of Rannoch, it plays as the sinister location where the Death Eaters halt and board the train in the Deathly Hallows Part 1. If you fancy venturing into the wilderness, this is one of the scenic views you can see when boarding The Jacobite famous steam train.
Eilean na Moine and Loch Eilt, Lochaber
Eilean na Moine may look like one of the most enchanting locations you’ve ever seen but this location is in fact the setting for some of the most somber Harry Potter moments of all time, namely doing double duty as Dumbledore’s final resting place, where Voldemort stole the powerful Elder Wand in Deathly Hallows Part 1.
Loch Eilt is also the sad setting where Harry and the gang find Hagrid skimming stones over the water following the trial of his beloved Buckbeak, in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Loch Arkaig, Lochaber
To add some magical magnificence to Dumbledore’s final resting place, Loch Arkaig was digitally added to Eilean na Moine and Loch Eilt giving the impression of an overwhelming amount of scenery, adding to the monumental opening scene of the Deathly Hallows Part 2.