London clearly loomed large in writer J.K. Rowling's imagination when she came up with the whole Wizarding World. Even as Rowling wrote the first novel in the Scottish city of Edinburgh, her thoughts stayed in the capital, where she had once lived. She chose a London station, King's Cross, for the location of Platform 9 and ¾, the starting point for the Hogwarts Express, which takes young Harry Potter — and the readers — out of ordinary Muggle life, and into the Wizarding World.
Rowling used lots of real-life London places as inspiration for locations in the books. Want to follow in her footsteps, and see London through the eyes of Harry, Hermione, and Ron?
Platform 9 and ¾, King’s Cross Station
This is where it all begins. Platform 9 and ¾ is located in London mainline station King's Cross, part of King's Cross St Pancras. Don't forget your Harry Potter wand, scarf, and glasses (unlike these Fantastic Beasts stars), so you can get the iconic Potter fan photo taken under the platform sign. If you need to stock up on Wizarding World goods, there's a Harry Potter shop right there, which is modeled on Ollivander's Wand Shop. They've got everything you need, from Harry Potter kawaii lunch bags to Deathly Hallows Slider Charms. Best to be prepared as you venture out into the wilds of London.
Ministry of Magic
A short trip from King's Cross to Westminster station along the Victoria line ("Trains! Underground! Ingenious, these Muggles," as Ron’s dad marveled ), and you’ll be at the Ministry of Magic in no time. The walk from the station to Great Scotland Yard is full of Potterific delights. Harry and Mr. Weasley walked along Horseguards Parade and Scotland Place as they made their way to the Ministry of Magic for Harry's hearing on charges of using magic in front of Muggles in The Order of the Phoenix.
Gringotts Wizarding Bank
The Strand is your next stop, for a look at the Australian High Commision, aka Gringotts Wizarding Bank. It’s the second safest place in the Wizarding World, after Hogwarts, according to Hagrid, and indeed, the Philosopher’s Stone is stowed safely in a vault. Harry, Hermione, and Ron broke into the bank in 1998 to find a horcrux. Their actions led to the building being left in ruins. Thankfully, the Australian High Commission is still standing proud — but they definitely don't provide half-blind dragons for you to get home on.
It's a busy shopping street completely unseen by Muggles and accessed by tapping a special brick in the wall of The Leaky Cauldron pub three times. In reality, Godwin's Court off St Martin's Lane is an alley of 17th-century houses and bow window shop fronts. Wander down this turning off the busy Charing Cross Road, and it's easy to imagine J. K. Rowling doing the same, imagining her characters peering in the shop windows as their parents bought school supplies.
The Leaky Cauldron is meant to be the entrance to Diagon Alley, but has in fact been filmed in two different locations: Leadenhall Market (first film only) and Borough Market (all the rest). Borough Market is a good pit-stop on your way to the river for the rest of this road trip — and it's filled with stalls that give out free food samples too. A flower shop named Chez Michele that sit underneath a railway arch on the edge of the market serves as the entrance to the magical pub.
Getting closer to the River Thames, here's the inspiration for the Azkaban prison. Back in medieval times, this area was where people went to have fun, in the gambling dens, bull and bear baiting pits and the brothels. Unsurprisingly, the crime rate rocketed and a prison was set up, probably in the 12th century, and it eventually burned down in 1780. Rowling popped her version of the prison on an island in the North Sea, and characters who've spent time inside include: Sirius Black, Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange, Lucius Malfoy, Rubeus Hagrid, and Dolores Umbridge.
Golden Hind Galleon Ship
Welcome to the inspiration for the Durmstrang Ship in Goblet of Fire, which brought Durmstrang Institute students to Hogwart for the 1994 Triwizard Tournament. During their stay at Hogwarts, the ship was anchored in the Black Lake in front of Hogwarts Castle, with the students and their headmaster sleeping aboard every night. The Golden Hind was captained by Sir Francis Drake, and circumnavigated the world from 1577b to 1580. This is a full-sized reconstruction, containing pieces of the original and ready to sail the high seas at any given moment.
House of MinaLima
This gorgeous gallery and store is the perfect ending for your Harry Potter London road trip. Owners Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima have an incredible claim to Potter fame: they created the graphic universe of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts film series. House of MinaLima is filled with their work for the films. In fact, they’re just about to open the exhibition launch of Graphic Art of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Revel in the Wizarding World to your heart's content!