Harry Potter Trail Tour Edinburgh

10 Magical Experiences 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 visit the Wizarding World only in your imagination. Around the globe, there are a number of Harry Potter sites and experiences 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 Studios

Orlando, Florida; Universal City, California; Osaka, Japan 

Entrance to Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios
Credit: Universal Studios

Each of the three Universal theme parks has an immersive Harry Potter-themed area, complete with a replica Hogwarts castle butterbeer vendors, and mini Hogsmeade you can stroll around. Universal Orlando Resort has the largest and most elaborate setup, which includes several rides. 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 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 dine at the Three Broomsticks. The Wizarding Worlds at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan are worth visiting, too. 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 has been journeying around the world, and this year will be in New York City and Paris. 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 Forest, 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 choose 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. and Tokyo, Japan

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 the sets for Dumbledore’s office, the Great Hall, and Professor Sprout’s greenhouse, head to Platform 9 Âľ 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 June 2023. wbstudiotour.co.uk

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 several Hogwarts traditions, and key moments in the Harry Potter movies were filmed there. Footprint Tours takes you behind the scenes to visit iconic 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 includes a Harry Potter pop quiz.  footprints-tours.com

Wizards London Bus Tour

London, U.K. 

Platform 9 three-quarter from Harry Potter Movies at Kings Cross Station in London, UK

A number of real-life London sites made appearances in the Harry Potter movies and its offshoots. On this three-hour coach tour, you can visit the real Kings Cross Station, the exterior used for Gringott’s, and the spot where the Knight Bus squeezed through oncoming double deckers. Along the way, you can spy Muggle landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben and London Bridge. britmovietours.com


Chicago, Illinois

Since 2009, LeakyCon has gathered the most avid Harry Potter fans together for three days of panels, programs, performances, and interactive sessions. This year, the con takes place in early August. Past event have included house meetups, fashion panels and discussions of everything from collecting chocolate frog cards to wizard rock. LeakyCon 2023 special guests will include the actors who played Victor Krum and Percy Weasley in the movies, with autograph and photo sessions available. Don’t be surprised to see some Lord of the Rings fans hanging around too—the organizers are bringing other magical fandoms into the tent. leakycon.com

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Multiple locations worldwide

This special-effects-filled theatrical production isn’t just a gimmick–it’s received rave reviews from The New York Times, the London Evening Standard, and other major publications. Based on a story by J.K. Rowling, the play takes place 19 years after the final showdown against Voldemort. Harry now works for the Ministry of Magic, and his son and Draco Malfoy’s son somehow befriend each other. There are flaming wands, duels that send wizards cartwheeling through the air, and other spectacles that will leave adults as breathless as their kids. The play is currently being staged in New York, London, Tokyo, Melbourne, and Toronto. harrypottertheplay.com

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

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