The 3 Things All Harry Potter Fans Must Do In London

When in London…. do all the Harry Potter things! Don’t get me wrong, there are an abundance of things to do in London to really get to know the culture and history of this popular hub. For a Harry Potter fan like me, there is nothing better than escaping to the wizarding world to make the most of your time in London. Get started on your magical journey with a few of my favorite Harry Potter things to do in London.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

The Making of Harry Potter WB Studio Tour London

My all-time favorite is the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. This entire studio tour is dedicated to the making of Harry Potter. It goes behind the scenes into detail on the creation of the movies, complete with real sets and props and even interactive exhibits like getting to fly with a broomstick or practicing your wand skills.

Magic Broomstick WB Studio Tour London - Harry Potter Things to do in London

Don’t mind me, I’m just practicing.

Depending on how enthusiastic you are, you could spend an entire day here, so plan accordingly. I have already been twice and I would visit again in a heartbeat should the opportunity arise. In fact, I love this tour so much that I even wrote an entire post about it. Check it out for the full scoop.

Quick Tip

The studio tour has grown significantly in popularity since I first visited back in 2012. If you have the flexibility, plan your trip during off season for smaller crowds and lower prices (check their ticket pricing calendar on their website — look out for “saver tickets” for the best rates). Be sure to buy tickets in advance as you cannot buy them at the door.

 

Tour for Muggles

Tour for Muggles - Harry Potter Things to do in London

This little alleyway, Goodwin’s Court, was the inspiration for Knockturn Alley. They tried to film here for the movies but the crew wasn’t able to get their equipment through since it was so narrow.

To find a little magic in the heart of London, the Tour for Muggles is for you. The tour is led by a wizarding expert, who will reveal Harry Potter filming locations and places that inspired JK Rowling. The one exception that won’t be covered is Platform 9 ¾, since it’s so easy to visit on your own. More on that below.

Harry Potter Things to do in London Tour for Muggles

Do you recognize this filming location? It’s from Deathly Hollows Part 1 where Harry, Ron, and Hermione transform into three ministry workers to get into the Ministry of Magic.

The tour lasts about two and a half hours, and will leave your brain full of interesting facts that even the biggest Harry Potter fans may not have known. I won’t spoil them for you… you’ll have to join the tour to discover them for yourself!

Quick Tip
Make sure you have a valid oyster card as you will be traveling on the tube for part of the tour. There is also a substantial amount of walking, mostly outside, so dress accordingly.

 

Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station

Harry Potter Things to Do in London - Platform 9 3:4

From my London trip back in 2012. It’s not so easy to do this anymore!

Let me reminisce about the good old days for just a moment… there used to be a time when Harry Potter fans were able to walk right up to Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station and have a friend snap a quick photo. Those days are no more. Not too long after I visited for the first time, they opened up a Harry Potter shop right next door and their staff now takes professional photos during their business hours if you want them.

Platform 9 3/4 WB Studio Tour London - Harry Potter Things to do in London

Platform 9 ¾ at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

Granted, it looks much cooler now as they added a much more realistic trolley that actually has some luggage on it and you can use some props from the store (like a scarf that makes it look like you’re running through the wall to get to Hogwarts). Which is why, for those who are big fans, it’s still worth the trip there. Who knows, maybe you’ll make it through and end up at Hogwarts!

Quick Tip
Continuing the trend, this is also insanely more crowded than it was when I first visited in 2012. Try and get there early to avoid long lines to get your photo taken. Alternatively, you could skip it all together and take a photo at the much less crowded version that was recently added at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.

 

Is it just me, or is anyone else ready for a Harry Potter marathon? You better believe I had one right before my trip to London! While these are just a few of my favorite Harry Potter hot spots in London, there are plenty more magical sights to be seen in the city.

 

What are your favorite Harry Potter things to do in London? Share them in the comments below! 

 

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Special thanks to WB Studios London for making my studio tour experience possible. All opinions are my own.

How Muggles Make Magic: The Making of Harry Potter

You may have traveled your way around the world, but your journey will never be complete until you visit the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Enter: Warner Brothers Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter. Your gateway into much more beyond the muggle world.

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J.K. Rowling

If you arrive by public transport, the magic begins before you even arrive. The studios are 20 miles northwest of London so you’ll need to plan out how to get there, but it’s an easy journey by train. Then there are shuttle busses (£2.50 for a round trip ticket) that will take you from Watford Junction directly to the studios.

WB Studio Tour London

Warner Brothers Studio Tour Harry Potter

Whether or not you believe in magic, WB Studios knows how to create a magical experience. This was my second visit, and I would return again and again. I may have even stayed longer the second time! I recommend planning for at least a 3-hour stay.

I don’t want to spoil too many of the surprises that lie around every corner, so I’m sharing a few of my favorite sets that you will experience on the tour. First is Dumbledore’s office. The room is astronomy focused, a decision by the designer based on Dumbledore’s fascination with the universe and the heavens.

Dumbledores Office The Making of Harry Potter

Dumbledore’s Office

Down in the dungeons of Hogwarts is the potions classroom, where more than 500 bottles of peculiar ingredients line the walls. Some of them even have their own handmade labels!

Snapes Potions Room The Making of Harry Potter

Potions Classroom

The Burrow, home of the Weasleys, is another interesting set. The original was actually over 44 feet tall, the tallest built for the film series. This set is a small part of the original, which was designed to look like Mrs. Weasley built it all herself.

The Burrow - The Making of Harry Potter

The Burrow

Just when you think it’s all over, grab yourself a butter beer and maybe even a butter beer ice cream. Then (spoiler alert!) continue your way through the studio tour, because the best is yet to come. Make your way through the external sets, like the Dursley’s house, the Knight Bus, and the bridge to Hogwarts.

Dursleys House The Making of Harry Potter

Dursley’s House

Knight Bus WB Studio Tour Harry Potter

Knight Bus

Bridge to Hogwarts WB Studio Tour London Harry Potter

Bridge to Hogwarts

Make your way back inside to learn more about the faces, wigs, and makeup that create each character in the Harry Potter series. Soon, you’ll come to one of my favorite parts of the entire tour… Diagon Alley! Take a stroll down the cobblestones as you pass Ollivander’s wand shop, Gringotts, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, and more.

Diagon Alley The Making of Harry Potter

Diagon Alley

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” – J.K. Rowling

What’s truly magical is every ounce of work from every single individual that was poured into the making of each film. The amount of detail and care that was thoughtfully carried out to bring J.K. Rowling’s stories to life is what makes Harry Potter the international sensation that lives on today. From Fawkes’ individually hand-painted feathers to the hand-built Chamber of Secrets door powered by an electric motor, each and every person played an important role in the Harry Potter series. Each one of these 4,000 people who contributed to the making of Harry Potter bears a wand box with their name on it in the last room of the tour.

Wands The Making of Harry Potter WB Studios London

Thousands of wand boxes, each of them bearing a name of someone who played a role in the making of Harry Potter

Hogwarts Express The Making of Harry Potter

Hogwarts Express

So what are you waiting for? Hop aboard the Hogwarts Express and make your way over to the WB Studios!

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” – J.K. Rowling

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Special thanks to WB Studios London for making this experience possible. All opinions are my own.

Venturing Out to a “Smaller” Side of London

The special little things are all around London if you take a closer look. Sometimes being in a big city can blind us from seeing the small treasures that are right in front of us. When traveling through London, there are so many intriguing small neighborhoods to explore that you might not see listed in your guide to the most popular sites in the city. These villages are where the real magic happens. They are the best places to go to get a closer look at what being a local means in London, and where you can find all kinds of experiences not listed in your guidebook. There is a neighborhood in London for everyone, even for picky travelers!

Shoreditch

If the urban and artsy scenes are your jam, you’ll want Shoreditch first on your list of London neighborhoods to visit. This inner city district mixes spunk with grit, with empty walls transformed into canvases of graffiti and trendy cafés and restaurants lining the streets. After dark, the neighborhood comes alive as bars and clubs like the quirky Bedroom Bar open their doors to the night owls.

Kensington

If a neighborhood on the classier end of the spectrum is more your style, make Kensington your next stop. This luxurious part of town sits right next to the well-known Kensington Palace and boasts luscious outdoor areas like Hyde Park and Holland Park. Even if your wallet isn’t overflowing with cash, enjoying a walk among the beauty and glamor of Kensington is worth the visit.

Hyde Park London England

Hyde Park – Photo by Marissa Sutera

Hampstead

Escape the bustle of central London and stroll through the adorable boutiques or take a dip in one of the swimming ponds in Hampstead. The classic pubs and cafés in this neighborhood offer a refreshing combination of old meeting new, which likely contributes to it being one of the wealthiest sections of the city.

Greenwich

As you might expect, Greenwich is brimming with green spaces. Enjoy the scenery and have a picnic at Greenwich Park, or you take a city cruise along the River Thames. For something different from the norm, stand on the world-famous Greenwich Meridian Line, which divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the earth. With plenty to do both indoors and out, Greenwich is a welcoming family friendly part of town!

Camden Town

This neighborhood is known as the heart of alternative culture in London, with a vibrant live music scene and performances ranging from punk to jazz to hippie. Originally known as Buck Street, Camden Market is another highlight of Camden Town, where vendors sell their clothing, jewelry, and more.

Camden Market London

Camden Market – Photo by Marissa Sutera

Complete your trip with the perfect hotel in London, no matter which neighborhood might be your favorite. With public transportation so easy to use in London, departing from your centrally located hotel is an incredible way to discover the little things around the city. Venturing outside of central London will show you how each neighborhood’s unique charm contributes to making London the interesting and well-known destination it is today.

Top Alternative Vacation Destinations

While the tropical beach destinations and theme park vacations are standard for many, there are so many other unique trip opportunities around the world that you could be missing out on. Although they may not be the perfect choice for everyone, I’ve compiled a list of a few alternative vacation destinations that will keep things interesting for your next trip and are sure to leave a memorable impression!

Countryside Cottages in The New Forest

There is something special and refreshing about any sort of getaway that let’s you escape from the normal and the every day routine and experience the new and exciting. It’s extra inciting when that getaway involves wide open countryside and a warm, cozy cottage to top it off. Relax in holiday cottages in The New Forest that will make you feel right at home, or head out to explore the award winning museums, wildlife parks, and more in the area!

Embrace Winter in the Mountains

Even if skiing or snowboarding are not your thing, there is plenty for everyone to do at most ski resorts. For example, the countless activities at Copper Mountain mean that anyone from large families to your great aunt Sally can find something they enjoy. Whether that’s ice skating, shopping, snowshoeing, dinner sleigh rides, tubing, or warming up at the many delicious restaurant options, all parties will be pleased with the many options available.

Colorado Skiing Eldora

Go Camping in Botswana

This one may be a stretch for those who aren’t so sure about the whole sleeping outside thing, but I assure you that camping in Africa is something you do not want to miss out on doing at least once in your life. Botswana offers plenty of camping options, particularly in the Chobe National Park area. The park is the third largest in the country and has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa. You’ll see plenty of wild animals if you choose to go on one of their many safari options!

Camping in Botswana

Explore the Unknown in Antarctica

Towering icebergs like you’ve never seen before will be the backdrop for your adventure, observing thousands of penguins walk nearby and patiently waiting to see the abundant marine life. Antarctica is a destination that is increasing in popularity and is certainly one that’s on my list! Many travelers visit Antarctica via cruise ship, but if you have stacks of cash you’re looking to spend you can opt for a guided land exhibition or sightseeing by air.

No matter which choice seems the most appealing to you, I strongly believe everyone needs a break from the beach and theme park destinations every so often. While these options may not be your typical choice when thinking of where you’ll take your next vacation, I hope that wherever your final choice is that you will consider stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. You may even be surprised how much you enjoy the alternative!

Where is your dream alternative vacation destination? These four are just scraping the surface. Would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below! 

Day 14: The End of the Final Frolic in London

We continued to frolic through London as we made our way to Harrods, one of the most famous department stores in the world.

I have never seen anything like it. My mouth was open the entire time we were there from the shock of it all. The first place we headed was the sweets and then the food area. Bad idea. I wanted to eat everything there, even the things I don’t like! All the food they had there looked so delicious. And you can’t forget the dessert of course… my favorite part of every meal! They had everything you could possibly think of, I felt like I was in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Not only did the desserts look delicious… they were beautiful! Baking truly is an art.

All kinds of doughnuts… even sparkly ones!

Tiramisu and more, yum!

We headed upstairs to further explore this enormous dreamland, and I think I had to pinch myself by this point to make sure I was awake. It was the most spectacular ice cream parlour I have ever seen. They had all different flavors of gelato and an entire menu of sundaes. The unfortunate part was that they were about 15 pounds each… which is equivalent to about $30. Yes, that is for one sundae. But still in our dream state, three of us handed over our money and decided to split a giant, delicious sundae.

The presentation was so pretty I didn’t even want to touch it, but at the same time I couldn’t wait to dig in. After snapping a whole bunch of pictures we each took a spoonful of cold chocolatey goodness.

Me, Rachel, and Denni about to dig in to our sundae

Who knew gelato could taste so fresh?! After indulging in our scrumptious sundae we kept going on our journey through Harrods. We saw clothes, furniture, shoes… everything you could imagine. They even had chandeliers in the elevator! Everything was priced ridiculously high, of course. I will definitely return for some real shopping if I ever get rich. At least Harrods had air conditioning, unlike other stores we stopped in while in London. We had 70 and 80 degree (Fahrenheit) weather the whole week we were in London. Yet most places either did not have air conditioning or did not feel the need to turn it on. Most of the tube lines did not have any either. So we were pretty toasty no matter where we went. We continued our shopping (browsing, actually) when we left Harrods. After spending a decent amount of time in Topshop and Zara we headed back to the flats to get ready for dinner.

We went out to eat with almost the entire study abroad group, which is over 20 people. That is a lot of people to eat at one place in Europe. Many places we ate in were pretty small and not used to big groups, so we tried to split up when there were a lot of us going to eat. Since this was our last night, we decided to all eat together at place our professors recommended for the best fish and chips. It was called The Golden Hind, and if you are ever in England you need to go here for fish and chips. They don’t sell alcohol there but you can bring your own. It was a very simple place, but worth a second trip. We called ahead so they knew a huge group of us was coming and they said they could take us. We got there and they brought us downstairs to this room that we had all to ourselves. Now it was not a very big room, but it was big enough to fit us all comfortably. I don’t like seafood, so I went with the only other thing on the menu- a salad. It was hands down the best greek salad I have ever had. So delicious! And I actually tried the fish, because everyone was raving about it. And tasty it sure was. It did not taste like fish at all. I guess that’s why this was the best fish and chips place!

Rachel, Emily, Michelle, Sarah, and me in front of The Golden Hind

I have to mention the service as well. We had one waiter serving all of us in the room. I don’t think I have ever seen that kind of service in America. First of all, this guy was going up and down the very steep and narrow stairs to carry all our food and drinks down. Then there was also the whole issue with the water. Just before our food was served our waiter noticed some water on the ground. Turns out a pipe or something had burst in the bathroom and water was slowly beginning to creep out. By the time we had finished eating, there was a thin pool of water across the entire floor of the room. Our waiter apologized to us a million times, as did the owner who came down to apologize as well. We assured them that it made no difference to us since we were college students so it really didn’t phase us. We said it was very authentic… like we were eating fish and chips right on the water! Overall, they handled the situation very well and if I was ever back in London I would return here without a doubt. It was a great dinner on our last night.

We still needed one last frolic through London before we called it a night. We took the tube over to Leicester Square to find some gelato. We found this amazing place called Rendezvous. It had so many different flavor choices, I feel like I tasted 20 of them before I decided what I wanted.

Gelato Rendezvous

Leicester Square

Soon we had to leave Leicester Square and we took our last tube ride back to the flats. We also made sure to get a final group picture at King’s Cross Station.

Denni, Emily, Linnea, Sarah, Rachel, Michelle, and me

We got back to the flats and still had to pack everything for the next morning. We had to be ready to go at 4am… pretty rough. So I got about 2 hours of sleep, hoping it would be easier to sleep on the plane. The next morning we woke up still in darkness, which is always strange to me. After long lines and intense security at Heathrow Airport, we finally got to the terminal. But only after making one last stop at Pret, of course. I wanted to get something for breakfast since I hadn’t really eaten anything, and I decided to get some lunch too since I wasn’t sure if we were getting any on the plane. So ending the trip with a bang, I had an entire bag stuffed with food from Pret. No shame. Every bite of it was delicious. And it was all gone within the first few hours of the flight. As for sleeping on the plane, that didn’t go as well as planned. We were on a nice 747 plane, each with our own personal TV right in front of us. Needless to say, it was pretty distracting. I tried to sleep but I just couldn’t resist. They had so many great TV shows and movies I could watch. They even had New Girl, which I just couldn’t pass up. If you’ve read my old post about New Girl you know how big of a fan I am. They even had Terra Nova!! I am so sad that show ended. I will probably blog about that sometime in the near future.

Needless to say, I had a spectacular trip over two weeks in the British Isles. It went by so fast, but it was well-worth every second. We took advantage of as much as we could, learned a ton, saw a ton, and had a great time along the way. I met an amazing group of people and had so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I will never forget. It was two weeks that changed my life, and my decision to apply was one of the best I have ever made. You always think you have so much time… I even thought so myself. You think ‘I could just wait until next year’ or ‘I’ll just do it next time.’ But things change and you may find yourself on a very different path a year from now or when that “next time” comes around. So don’t wait for that time to come. Take action now before you miss your opportunity. Every moment counts.

Little Matters,

Marissa