“Hogwarts is a very real place to me, and although I have never lived in Scotland, I’ve always imagined it to be in this mystical place […]”. This is what J. K. Rowling says in one of her interviews. Well, obviously, if you travel for a day from King’s Cross Station in London, you’ll end up in Scotland.
Although most Harry Potter scenes were filmed at Warner Brothers Studio in Leavesden, England, the film team shot several notable scenes in Scotland. All eight of the films include some scenes shot in this magical country and if you keep reading, we’ll help you find them! Hop on your broomstick and discover all the Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland!
1. Harry Potter Filming Locations: The Elephant House Cafe
Well, The Elephant House Café must be the first on this list regardless of the fact that this café is not a filming location. However, the importance of this place is unquestionable since The Elephant House Café is widely known as ‘The Birthplace of Harry Potter’. This was J. K. Rowling’s favorite café to get creative. It was the place where the magical world of witches and wizards came to life. Isn’t it exciting to have a cup of coffee where much of The Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban was written?
So, sit back in the surroundings of where it all began…
2. The Jacobite Steam Train (Hogwarts Express)
It may sound unbelievable but the Hogwarts Express is a real train and you can ride it! It has been operating since 1984 and it rumbles between Fort William and Mallaig. Many parts of its route are shown in all eight of the Harry Potter films. This is definitely a must-do if you are a fanatic of J.K.Rowling’s stories.
The locomotive that used to pull the Hogwarts Express in the movies was the GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall, however, the Jacobite is very much similar in appearance to the one used in the films. Book a seat on the Jacobite Steam Train in the first-class “Harry Potter style” compartments and enjoy the sweeping cinematic scenery.
3. Harry Potter Filming Locations: Glenfinnan Viaduct, Lochaber
One of the most iconic scenes of the train is when it goes over the beautiful Glenfinnan Viaduct. The 380 meters long and 31 meters high Victorian railway bridge is instantly recognizable for everyone. Who wouldn’t remember the famous flying car scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Ron and Harry encountered the Hogwarts Express? Furthermore, the viaduct also plays a crucial role in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when the Hogwarts Express is stopped on the bridge by Dementors searching for Sirius Black.
4. Loch Shiel
We can see this gorgeous loch sparkling in many scenes of the eight movies. For instance, this is the lake that Harry and Hermione see from the Astronomy Tower in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It’s where Buckbeak dips a toe in the water. It is also where Harry encounters a Dementor for the very first time. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire this lake is the setting for the underwater stage (Second Stage) of the Triwizard Tournament. In how many other scenes can you recognize this lake?
5. Harry Potter Filming Locations: Glen Coe, Highland
The fantastic Glen Coe was a key location for the filming of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The stunning mountainsides provided the background scenery to Hagrid’s hut, as well as the turreted gatehouse of Hogwarts and the bridge leading to Hogwarts. Moreover, do you remember when Hermione slaps Malfoy‘s face at the sundial stone circle? Glen Coe was the backdrop in that scene as well.
6. Loch Arkaig
Do you remember the scene when Ron, Harry, and Hermione break into Gringotts Bank and escape on the back of a dragon? Of course, you do. That was an action-packed scene! So, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Loch Arkaig is where the three main characters landed after the bumpy ride. Furthermore, Loch Arkaig and Loch Eilt were digitally blended together; that’s how we got the scene of Dumbledore’s grave at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. (May he rest in peace!)
7. Harry Potter Filming Locations: Steall Falls, Glen Nevis
Steall Falls is Scotland’s second-highest waterfall, having a beautiful 120 meters single drop. The waterfall is located about seven miles from Fort William and it appears in a few iconic Harry Potter scenes. Not only is it a backdrop to some of the Quidditch matches but it is also the setting for Harry’s battle against a Hungarian Horntail dragon in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Though the arena is not real, the waterfall in the background certainly is!
8. Rannoch Moor, Lochaber
Rannoch Moor is one of the largest wilderness areas in Scotland. It is a boggy area spreading over 50 square miles, full of peat bogs and small lakes. This desolate area provided the backdrop for a sinister scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. It is the location where the Death Eaters stop the Hogwarts Express train while it’s on its way to Hogwarts. If you would like to embark on an adventure to the wilderness, again you can take the Jacobite steam train.
Traveling through Edinburgh? Click here for the top 10 places to see and things to do!