The Ultimate Harry Potter Bucket List For Your Next Trip to Scotland
Harry Potter fans, if you've got the time and the means to really traverse Scotland, there are several places you absolutely must see. The picturesque country in the UK not only played as the backdrop in many scenes of the Harry Potter films, but as a longtime devotee to Scotland, author J.K. Rowling also drew inspiration from the country while writing. From the cafe where the Harry Potter books were supposedly born to the lakes in each of the movies, Scotland has magic sprinkled all across it. For the ultimate guide on where to go, grab your broomstick — or a flight to Scotland — and keep reading.
The Elephant House
When J.K. Rowling began writing the Harry Potter series, she was a single mother who was struggling financially. She spent much time in the back room of the Elephant House coffeehouse in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland, creating the Wizarding world that we now know and love. Fans of the series have written heartfelt and hilarious messages all over the bathroom walls of the establishment, and it's hard not to feel a connection to Harry Potter and Rowling when settled inside the comfy cafe with a good book in hand.
The Jacobite Steam Train
The Jacobite steam train runs from Fort William in Scotland to Mallaig on the west coast of Scotland. The train ride gives great views of the rolling Scottish hills and passes over the same bridge that the Hogwarts Express runs through in the Harry Potter movies. Unfortunately, The Jacobite is lacking when it comes to pumpkin pasties and chocolate frogs.
The beautiful Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, was known as one of the great railway hotels in the early 1900s, but Harry Potter fans will find that the most important fact has nothing to do with trains. J.K. Rowling finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book of the series, in the grand suite of the hotel. The door knocker is an owl in her honor.
Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh is behind the famous Elephant House. While Rowling hasn't necessarily linked her writing to this cemetery specifically, you can't help but notice that one grave belongs to a Thomas Riddell. Rowling spent much time in the Elephant House writing and has often said that her surroundings in Scotland influenced her stories.
This picturesque loch in Scotland might just look familiar to eagle-eyed Harry Potter fans. Its island of trees, Eilean na Moine, was used as the setting for Albus Dumbledore's final resting place when he died in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Dumbledore's white tomb was placed on Hogwarts grounds, of course, but in actuality, the tomb was on Eilean na Moine, which was then superimposed onto Loch Arkaig, which is a totally different place in Scotland.
Scenes from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban were filmed in the Scottish highlands of Glencoe, namely scenes at Hagrid's hut. The sets are no longer in place, but if you visit Clachaig Inn in Glencoe, you'll easily be able to imagine yourself right there at Hogwarts.
This very real lake is the setting for the very fictional Black Lake in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This beautiful setting also plays backdrop to various other scenes in the movies.