Harry Potter Trail Tour Edinburgh

8 Magical Destinations for Harry Potter Lovers

Maybe your kids go crazy for the books. Or the whole clan loves to watch the movies again and again. The kids might be into dressing up, or writing fan fiction. However you love Harry Potter, you’re not alone. 

You also don’t have to leave visits to the Wizarding World to your imagination. Around the world, there are a number of Harry Potter sites that are exciting—and maybe even educational—for the whole family. Grab your wand and read on for our picks for key destinations every fan should visit—no broom required. 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Orlando, Florida

Entrance to Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios
Credit: Universal Studios

There is nothing quite like a visit to Universal Orlando to become fully immersed in the Wizarding World. Most visitors prefer to experience the Wizarding World the same way Harry did after he gets his letter from Hogwarts: Start in Diagon Alley, take a run through Gringotts’s Bank and grab Harry’s favorite strawberry and peanut butter ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s ice cream parlor.  Head to Olivander’s Wand Shop and let a wand choose you. Then, use your interactive wand to perform spells like making a skeleton dance throughout the Wizarding World. Snag a chocolate frog at Honeyduke’s candy shop before hopping aboard the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade. Once there, you can visit the Hogwarts Castle, take a spin on Hagrid’s motorbike through the forbidden forest and grab a Butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks. Can’t make it to Florida? There are additional Wizarding Worlds at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan. universalorlando.com

The Harry Potter Exhibition

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania., and other locations

Harry Potter_ The Exhibition Art
Credit: Franklin Institute

Far from a stuffy museum show, the highly interactive Harry Potter Exhibition makes its debut on Feb. 18 in Philadelphia and will hit the road after leaving the City of Brotherly Love in November. To make sure visitors leave the Muggle world behind, everyone enters through King’s Cross Station. They are then sorted into houses and assigned a wand so that they can become truly immersed in the Wizarding World. The exhibit has 10 distinct areas, including Hogwarts Castle, The Forbidden Forrest, and Hagrid’s Hut. It’s the first of its kind, going beyond the originals to include Fantastic Beasts and The Cursed Child. You will see props from the films and test your magical skills, and can even enter a Quidditch competition. harrypotterexhibition.com

The Potter Trail

Edinburgh, Scotland

Harry Potter Trail Tour Edinburgh
Credit: Steven Millar

Have you always wanted to see where the real-life Voldemort is buried? Go window shopping in the actual Diagon Alley? See the coffee shop where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? If so, head to Edinburgh, Scotland, whose sites and history inspired the author. Explore the Potter Trail on a walking tour of the city.  Along the trail you will be sorted into houses, earn points and cast spells. Can’t make it to Scotland? Virtual tours are available from the comfort of your living room—you only need to bring a wand. All guides are trained comedic performers, so you’re bound to have a chuckle, too.  pottertrail.com

The Harry Potter Store 

New York City

TheThe Harry Potter Store NYC
Credit: Warner Brothers

The Harry Potter Store has all the wizarding swag you expect—plus some exclusives you won’t find anywhere else. However, a magical shopping experience isn’t the only reason to head to this store. The Atrium of Awe spans all three floors of the shop and is guarded by a majestic Griffin cast from the one that guards Dumbledore’s office in the films. At the onsite wand shop inspired by Ollivanders, Wizards can select the perfect wand or chose a replica from the films. Elsewhere in the massive store, visitors can find the same treats sold at Honeydukes, step into a Magic of Ministry phone booth, pose with Hagrid, grab a Butter Beer and more. Anyone who wants to be fully immersed in the Wizarding World can book tickets to experience the store’s two VR attractions. harrypotterstore.com

The Making of Harry Potter

London, U.K.

Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour
Credit: Warner Brothers

Head to London to see how Rowling’s series was brought to life on the big screen. On the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, you can see Dumbledore’s office, head to Platform 9 ¾ and withdraw magical money from Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Costumes, props and animatronics used in the films are also on display, including the fearsome Basilisk.  Keep an eye on the studio’s schedule for special events, including the chance to dine in Hogwarts’ Great Hall around Valentine’s Day and the opportunity to defend against the Dark Arts around Halloween. A second Harry Potter Studio Tour is set to open in Tokyo in 2023. wbstudiotour.co.uk

The Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition

London, U.K.

Harry Potter Photographic Exhibit
Credit: Warner Brothers

The Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition in Covent Garden goes beyond stills on the wall. See behind-the-scenes photos from the movies, take a selfie in front of a larger-than-life Hogwarts acceptance letter and glaze up at the Weasley’s enchanted flying car. You can also try your hand at jumping on a broom in front of a green screen to see how Harry, Ron and Hermione were able to “fly.” Less adventurous visitors can settle for a personalized Ministry of Magic identification card.  After you view the exhibition, stick around to visit London’s only Bottled Butterbeer Bar. And consider staying at the Georgian House, where you can take a potions class and sleep in enchanting Wizard chambers instead of ordinary Muggle quarters. harrypotteronlocation.co.uk

College of Wizardry

Czocha, Poland

College of Wizardry Poland
Credit: Witchard

If spending a few hours exploring Harry Potter’s world is not enough for you, check out  the College of Wizardry, an immersive, multi-day experience that takes place in a 12th century castle in Poland. Wizards and witches spend a long weekend sleeping, eating and performing spells together. Although there is no official affiliation with Harry Potter, fans will notice similarities as they get sorted into houses, compete for the house cup, perform magic with some assistance from special effects and more. witchards.com

Harry Potter Tour of Oxford

Oxford, U.K.

Harry Potter Tour Oxford
Credit: Footprint Tours

Oxford University is not just a stunning historical site and world-class university. It was also the inspiration for some Hogwarts traditions, and key moments in the Harry Potter movies were filmed there. Footprint Tours takes you behind the scenes to visit iconic Wizarding locations, including the cloisters of Christ Church, the Divinity School that doubled as the Hogwarts Hospital, and more. You can also learn about other similarities between the famed university and the school of magic, including how Oxford students are “sorted” into houses. Brush up on your trivia. because this tour also includes a Harry Potter pop quiz.  footprints-tours.com

Jamie Davis Smith is an attorney, disability advocate, and mother of four who lives in Washington, DC.