15 Must-See Magical Harry Potter Sites in Edinburgh

Harry Potter Sites in Edinburgh Scotland

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Have you read all the books and watched the films? Growing up in Edinburgh meant that I got as close as I could to my dream of being a real-life boy wizard. Not only did J.K.

Rowling write the books in cafes in Edinburgh, but many of the sights, sounds and smells of the city inspired her characters and locations.  If, like me, you’re a major Harry Potter fan, you’ll need to check out the inspiration for Diagon Alley, Gringotts Bank and even the name of The Dark Lord himself. 

If you’re visiting Edinburgh, or are a local looking to learn more about the inspiration behind the novels, check out our guide and plan your own Harry Potter walk of Edinburgh. 

There are plenty Harry Potter things to do in Edinburgh to keep you entertained on a trip to the capital, so whether your planning a self-guided Harry Potter tour of Edinburgh, or are planning to book a professional Harry Potter walking tour of Edinburgh, keep reading to learn about the sites that inspired J.K. Rowling in Edinburgh.

Harry Potter Things to Do in Edinburgh

1. The Elephant House

Known as the Harry Potter café in Edinburgh, it’s hard to miss this bright red eatery on George IV Bridge.  It’s one of the most well-known Harry Potter locations in Edinburgh.

You’ll see a sign in the window that says this is the “birthplace of Harry Potter.”

Whilst this is partially true, this is not actually the place where Rowling wrote the first book, The Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone for our US audience!).  

The Elephant House Edinburgh Harry Potter

The first book was written at the other end of Chambers Street, in the Nicolsons Café, above Black Medicine.

When you visit the Elephant House, check out the bathroom walls, which are scrawled with Dumbledore’s Army signups.

Spoon Cafe Food Harry Potter Edinburgh

There’s even a (tiny) plaque dedicated to the first chapters outside Black Medicine Coffee. 

See if you can find it!

Luckily, this is a Harry Potter landmark that Rowling herself has confirmed as true! Huzzah!

Just across the road from The Elephant House is McGonagalls Gin & Whisky Emporium, which has a little Potter vibe to it.

You may also like Where to eat in Edinburgh.

Black Medicine Cafe JK Rowling Plaque Food Harry Potter Edinburgh

2. Artisan Roast

“J.K. Rowling Never Wrote Here” – or so the sign says. In a comical nod to The Elephant House, Artisan Roast plastered this handwritten chalk sign on its wall.

But Rowling did write something here, one time – look carefully at the bottom of the sign and you’ll notice Rowling has appended it with “And I never will.” This is an example of a classier version of ‘J.K. Rowling woz ‘ere.

Check out Artisan Roast on Broughton Street in the New Town.

3. Potterrow

Home to the University of Edinburgh’s student’s union, it could be that Rowling took inspiration for Harry’s family name from this street name.

Just behind the union, there’s an underpass called ‘Potterrow Port’ which is spookily similar to the dingey location of Harry and Dudley’s Dementor attack, complete with blinking lights and graffiti.

Potter Row Port in Edinburgh

4. Greyfriars Kirkyard Edinburgh Graveyard

No Harry Potter experience of Edinburgh would be complete without a visit to Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Not only will you find a whole host of famous character names here, but the owl-eyed might notice this graveyard shares a lot of similarities with the scene from Goblet of Fire.  

In the scene, Harry and Voldemort engage in an epic battle located in a misty graveyard with a little church in the background. 

Not convincing enough for you?  There’s even a brief moment when the grave of Thomas, Mary and Tom Riddle comes into shot, which closely resembles one of the graves in Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Cemetary.

Greyfriars Kirk Graveyard Edinburgh. Harry Potter

The graveyard at Greyfriars is teeming with names you’ll recognise from the books:

  • Anne and Robert Potter – the Potter family
  • William McGonagall – Minerva McGonagall (Professor of Transfiguration)
  • Elizabeth Moodie – Mad Eye Moodie (Professor of the Dark Arts)
  • Margaret Louisa Scrymegeour Wedderburn – Rufus Scrimgeour (Minister of Magic)
  • Thomas Riddell – Tom Marvolo Riddle (Lord Voldemort)
Riddell Greyfriars Kirk Harry Potter Edinburgh

Notice some spelling differences? 

There are a few theories here. 

One is that Rowling wanted to prevent tourists from associating the graves directly with the characters (that didn’t seem to work out!) 

Another reason might be spelling differences in old names.

The Riddells are believed to have lived just ten minutes away, off the Lawnmarket and Royal Mile, in Riddle’s Court—notice the spelling difference?

Greyfriars Kirkyard Gate Edinburgh

5. Victoria Street & Cockburn Street

A tip for non-locals – it’s pronounced Co-burn street. 

Don’t get that one wrong!

These two sweeping streets located in Edinburgh’s Old Town are said to inspire Diagon Alley.

Wizards and witches can purchase wands, broomsticks and butterbeer on this magical shopping street.

Harry Potter and Hermione Figure Victoria Street Edinburgh
Cockburn Street Edinburgh

Anyone walking these streets, with their hodgepodge and higgledy-piggledy layout, will feel like they are walking down Diagon Alley.

Even some shops on these streets might remind you of their magical counterparts.

  • The Old Town Bookshop – Flourish & Blotts
  • The Bow Bar – The Leaky Cauldron
  • Aha Ha Ha Jokes and Novelties – Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes 
  • Robert Cresser Brush Shop – Quality Quidditch Supplies (no longer there – it’s now a Harry Potter museum and Edinburgh’s Harry Potter shop!  There’s no Harry Potter shop at Edinburgh Airport, so make sure to buy your Potter presents here!)

However, She Who CanNot Be Named has never confirmed whether Victoria Street or Cockburn Street inspired Diagon Alley.

Victoria Terrace West Bow Edinburgh

Good news for Edinburgh, however!

Rumours that the Harry Potter author has debunked Gandy Street in Exeter.

Even though Rowling still has not confirmed or denied that Edinburgh inspired Diagon Alley, this adds more weight to the argument!

Read nextMost Instagrammable Places in Edinburgh.

6. The Bank of Scotland Headquarters

This grand building at the top of The Mound is home to the Bank of Scotland. 

Its domed roof and imposing facade will remind you of Gringotts Bank. 

I don’t think any tellers would be too happy to be called goblins, though!

While you’re here, visit the Museum on the Mound, which is under headquarters. 

You’ll be able to see a million pounds in real life among many historical artefacts!

Harry Potter Glasses

7. J.K. Rowling’s Handprints

Check out the prints of the very hands that wrote the books.

Head down to the City Chambers on the High Street/Royal Mile to see how closely your hands match! Could you be the next literary hero?

JK Rowling Hands City Chambers Edinburgh Harry Potter Edinburgh

8. George Heriot’s School/Hogwarts School Scotland

Just up from Greyfriars on Lauriston Place is George Heriot’s School, a prestigious private school that Rowling’s children attended.

Although some say the building resembles Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Rowling has confirmed that this building is not the inspiration for the magical school.

Although it may not look as imposing as the version in the movies, Rowling’s drawings match the shape of this building.

It’s hard to imagine that, when writing the books and gazing out of the window of The Elephant or Nicolson’s, Rowling didn’t notice the incredible architecture of Heriot’s—even if it wasn’t the original inspiration.

The quad inside is similar to where Harry, Hermione and Ron hang out, with tall and grand stone pillars.

The colours of the houses—Lauriston (Green), Greyfriars (white/yellow), Raeburn (red), and Castle (blue)—match those of the houses at Hogwarts.

So, even if it isn’t entirely accurate to say that Hogwarts is based on Heriot’s, it’s still worth walking past to get a feel for what Hogwarts might be like.

George Heriots Edinburgh Harry Potter Edinburgh

9. Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle and Harry Potter also have connections. 

Many point to Edinburgh’s famous castle as the inspiration for the Hogwarts school building. 

Perched atop a rock, it looks very grand from all around.

During the Military Tattoo, the Castle Esplanade is transformed into an event venue with spectators towering steeply around the show. 

Anyone who has watched Harry snatch the Golden Snitch will recognise this as inspiration for the Quidditch Stadium.

Edinburgh Castle Esplanade Military Tattoo

Many people are unaware that Princes Street Gardens, located at the foot of the Castle Rock between the Castle and Princes Street, was once the ‘Nor Loch,’ a body of black water.  Many have likened this appearance to the Black Lake at the foot of Hogwarts.

Rowling even tipped a nod at these connections by launching her sixth and penultimate novel, Half-Blood Prince, here.

Visit Edinburgh Castle from your sofa on a virtual tour of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle on Cliff Summer Edinburgh

10. The Balmoral Hotel

Arguably the most prestigious hotel in Edinburgh, Rowling stayed here in Room 552 and finished her final book, the Deathly Hallows, in this very suite.

The suite door is painted purple and has an owl door knocker!

To mark the occasion, Rowling signed a marble bust of Hermes within the room. 

The bust has since been safely locked in a glass cabinet in the room.

Now, visitors with some serious cash to splash can book into this very room – now named the J.K. Rowling Suite – and sit in the very chair where Rowling finished writing her final book.

If you’d like to find out more about The Balmoral, you can read our Balmoral Hotel review.

We stayed in the Deluxe Castle View room, 314.

Read next Where to Stay in Edinburgh – by a Local.

JK Rowling Quote Signature Balmoral Hotel Edinburgh Accommodation Harry Potter

11. The Rowling Parking Meter

Sorry, folks.

One thing we can be sure of is that Rowling did not utilise the services of a parking meter when she was writing The Deathly Hallows.

This may be one of the more comical ‘landmarks’ attributed to the Potter series. And, although a tour was overheard purporting that Rowling used an Edinburgh parking meter, she has confirmed that she cannot drive!


It’s unrelated to the books, but The Dene in Stockbridge will give you all the Potter vibes.

Stockbridge is a pretty neighbourhood that is well worth spending an afternoon in if you have more than a day in Edinburgh.

Second-time visitors might even want to stay here!

If you are into architecture, walk along the Water of Leith from Stockbridge to Dean Village to see the old mill buildings in the city.

You won’t believe it is Edinburgh!

Dean Village Edinburgh Historic Houses_

12. The Cauldron (Frederick Street)

Want To Try Out Being a Wizard For Yourself?

Alcoholic Harry Potter drinks and Harry Potter-themed bar in Edinburgh. 

The Cauldron is an immersive magical experience. 

Don a cloak, wave your wand and utter those magic words to brew your potions (cocktails.)

13. Juniper (Princes Street)

If you prefer a muggle to brew your cocktail, head to Juniper and order a ‘Strawberries and Steam’ smoking cocktail teapot.

You may also like our guides on what to eat in Edinburgh and which restaurants to visit.

14. Monteith’s

Fancy a butterbeer?  Get to Monteith’s and order a Hot Buttered Beer.

Hot Toddy Drink Edinburgh Pub Monteiths

15. Tattu (West Register Street)

Shiny new Chinese restaurant. 

Order the magical ‘Dragon Egg Nest’ or smoking ‘Cherry Blossom’ for dessert. 

Harry Potter Tours Edinburgh

Potter Trail: Harry Potter Walking Tour Edinburgh

Both private and group tours are offered to visit the very important landmarks that influenced She Who Cannot Be Named’s writings.

Take a tour of Greyfriars Kirk to find Voldemort’s grave, look at the loos inside The Elephant Cafe, and discover Scotland’s very own Diagon Alley with your very own tour guide, wizard.

Richard, our wizard, and his team are all performers and trained tour guides so you are guaranteed a good show whether you are a Potterhead or not.

Quote everythingedinburgh5 at checkout for 5% off. Reserve your slot here.

Any referral we receive will be added to The Potter Trail’s donation to the Scottish Trans Alliance, which was made in response to JK Rowling’s recent actions.

Harry Potter Magical Guided Walking Tour Edinburgh

Take this magical 2-hour walking tour of Edinburgh to discover the sights that inspired the novels.

Get sorted into your Hogwarts House, visit Tom Riddle’s (Riddell’s) grave and take part in a fun audio-visual quiz!

Read next | Some of the best walking tours in Edinburgh.

Hogwarts Road Sign Evening Harry Potter

Harry Potter Airbnb in Edinburgh

Hey, Muggles, do you want to stay at the Edinburgh Wizarding Residence on Grassmarket? This one-of-a-kind Airbnb will make you believe you’re in Diagon Alley.

Located on West Bow, Victoria Street, aka Diagon Alley, this one-bedroom apartment offers a magical stay for up to four guests.

It overlooks the Grassmarket in the centre of Edinburgh’s Old Town and city centre, making it easy to walk to The Royal Mile and Princes Street.

Amenities include heating, washing facilities, a fully-equipped kitchen, and Wi-Fi.

The host has designed each room to resemble an area of the Wizarding World and even created a hidden storage space in the hallway.

Harry Potter Train From Edinburgh

Want to experience the journey to Hogwarts for yourself? 

Take this one-day tour to experience some of Scotland’s stunning scenery, visit the sites in the Highlands that inspired Rowling and take the Hogwarts Express from Fort William!

The tour leaves very early in the morning from Edinburgh, and the price includes the train ride from Fort William to Mallaig over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

The train itself is a smoking Jacobite Train! History and Harry Potter rolled into one.

Here’s our guide to tours that leave Edinburgh for the Highlands.

Harry Potter Train Viaduct Bridge
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