The 1 Place in Scotland That All Harry Potter Fans Should Visit at Least Once
Scotland is a veritable mecca for Harry Potter fans, considering J.K. Rowling herself lives there and wrote a large majority of the series there. Everywhere you turn, you can see Rowling's inspiration or something that could easily be found in one of the films. While our Harry Potter travel bucket list can take you all over the world, it's important to make a stop at where it all began: the Elephant House Cafe in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The cafe in the heart of Edinburgh touts itself as the birthplace of Harry Potter, because Rowling spent countless hours in this shop penning Harry Potter. She sat in the back of the restaurant, overlooking Edinburgh Castle and Greyfriars Kirkyard, where a grave for a man named Tom Riddell can be found. I'm not saying there's a guarantee that that gravestone was the inspiration for Voldemort's real name of Tom Riddle, but the likelihood is there.
The cafe, which opened in 1995 and includes more elephant decor and memorabilia than you could ever dream of wanting, serves gourmet coffees, teas, and food, but it's no surprise that many people come here to feel the Harry Potter magic and leave notes on the bathroom walls for the wizard himself and the brilliant author who created him. To get a little bit of that magic for yourself, scroll through to see pictures of the cafe and even Tom Riddell's grave. Then next time you're planning a Harry Potter-themed vacation, keep Edinburgh in mind . . .
The back room
Supposedly, this is where Rowling spent much of her time writing. The large back windows face the Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetery, which is full of Scottish history.
Elephant touches throughout
The entirety of the cafe is covered in elephant art and trinkets, as well as information about elephants. Most of it is for sale, also, in case you're looking for a souvenir.
The birthplace of Harry Potter
The cafe is in the heart of Edinburgh, on George IV Bridge, very near the Royal Mile. Because old-town Edinburgh is very small, it's within walking distance of pretty much everything.
All elephants all the time
The Elephant House also accepts donations for elephant-related causes and suggests that visitors who are dropping in to soak up the magic donate if they aren't going to make a purchase.
Rowling at The Elephant House
The cafe pays tribute to Rowling, who is arguably its most famous patron, and people from all over the world come by to leave notes for her on the bathroom walls.
The bathroom walls
Fans have completely covered every surface of The Elephant House bathrooms with messages about how Harry Potter has affected their lives and other symbols and quotes related to the series. Employees used to clean them off, but they have since given up. They do, however, have to replace the toilet seats often as they break from people trying to reach bare spots on the ceiling and walls.
Tom Riddell's grave
Just out back behind the cafe is Greyfriars Kirkyard, where a Tom Riddell is buried. Our tour guide for the day showed us to the grave, which is in a far corner of the cemetery and very unassuming. This particular Tom Riddell was no one special in history, but apparently his name was inspirational enough for Rowling to use as Voldemort's given name.