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Join Dobby From Harry Potter & Tour the UK

Do you want to take a London and Scotland Harry Potter Tour? Well then, hire Dobby as your guide. Dobby’s that mischievous house elf and friend of Harry Potter. He’s loyal, he’s a snappy dresser, his magic skills are deceptively powerful and, as it turns out, he’s a great traveling companion. On Dobby’s tour of Harry Potter site in Scotland and London, you will visit his favorite literary sites and magical places.

Dobby’s guide will give you advice on a self-guided walking tour of Harry Potter’s Edinburgh, suggestions for guided tours in Edinburgh, tips for doing the Warner Brothers Studio tour, and both self-directed and guided ways for finding Harry Potter in London.

Dobby from Harry Potter at Elephant House Cafe Edinburgh

Dobby’s Harry Potter Edinburgh Walking Tour

The Elephant House Cafe

According to legend, the Elephant House Cafe is where it all began. Although, according to Dobby, J.K. Rowling already had a few chapters of rough draft going when she resettled from Portugal to Edinburgh. But, with her daughter in tow, she did go to the Elephant House and other Edinburgh cafes to work on the book. I can imagine her there, bent over a cup of coffee, bringing Dobby, Harry Potter and the other characters to life. For this, Dobby is very grateful to Mistress Rowling.

Dobby in Greyfriars Cemetery Edinburgh

Greyfriar’s Cemetary

Just west of the Elephant House is Greyfriar’s Cemetery. They say that the cemetery is haunted by George MacKenzie, the former prosecutor of the Scottish Convanters. The Convanters were 1,200 unfortunate souls imprisoned in the graveyard after the failed revolution of 1679. Strolling through the cemetery, I certainly picked up on the creepy and ghostly. The graves are very old, many are broken and the old prison cells give off an air of desperation. And, as we know from Nearly Headless Nick, ghosts do indeed exist in the world of Harry Potter.

Most notable in the cemetery is the the grave of one Tom Riddle. Now, does the precursor to He Who Shall Not Be Named actually reside there? Or was the name just an inspiration for the character? Dobby knows but he’s not telling. And I’m not going to tell you how to find Tom Riddle’s grave either. Part of the creepy fun is strolling the churchyard and exploring it on your own. Or better yet, take Dobby with you, he makes a great tour guide.

Tom Riddle Greyfriars Cemetery

Hogwarts School in Edinburgh

Dobby and I peeked out the western gate of Greyfriars and saw what could easily be a stand-in for Hogwarts. The Herriot School is a K-12 private day school dedicated to “produce(ing) articulate and personable young men and women who are confident without being arrogant.” So, um, not Slytherins then.

The renaissance architecture, castle turrets and hefty bulk give the school a perfect Hogwartian appearance. I could easily visualize students in black robes hurrying to get to potions class.

Herriots Hogwarts School Edinburgh

Grassmarket Street

Lower Grassmarket Street (north of Herriots school) looks like school shopping day in Diagon Alley. There is even the “Aha Ha Ha” joke shop which resembles Jonks joke shop from the books. Take a stroll down the curving street past the brightly painted storefronts.

Keep strolling all the way to the bottom until you find Grassmarket square. It’s stuffed with restaurants and pubs, making it a perfect place to sip a beer and do some people watching.

Grassmarket Street Edinburgh

Speaking of Beer

Dobby gets tired when he walks around Edinburgh all day. He has short legs after all. So complete your Scotland Harry Potter tour by retiring to Dobby’s favorite watering hole, Sandy Bell’s Folk Bar.

Like many Edinburgh bars, Sandy Bell’s offers live music. But unlike many bars, they also have a selection of musical instruments laying around and if you ask politely, they will let you play. My husband did just that and Dobby and I were treated to a nice concert.

Do some more walking in Edinburgh with this self-guided walking tour of New Town and the Water of Leith.

Dobby visit Sandy Bell's Bar

Planning for Harry Potter in Scotland

Other Potter Tours and Activities

Edinburgh is a great walking city an you can easily manage the above as a self-guided tour of Harry Potter in Edinburgh. But if you prefer a guided experience, check out the following:

Other Activities in Edinburgh

Where to Stay

I stayed at an AirBnB on the edge of Leigh Walk. It was a great price and good location. You can find Edinburgh listings here and if you’ve never used AirBnB, try it out using this free $40 credit.

If you prefer hotels, search for deals on Hotels.com or Booking.com.

Dobby’s Harry Potter Tour of London

Dobby from Harry Potter may have been created in Edinburgh but he lives in London. I asked Dobby to show me a few of his favorite magical spots in London and he happily obliged.

Kings Cross Station

The train from Edinburgh to London terminates at King’s Cross station. Our train came into Platform 7, but while we were there, I had Dobby take us over to Platform 9-3/4.

For many people visiting platform 9-3/4 is a London bucket list experience. So, it was kind of crazy over there. There were all of these Muggles standing in line trying to get onto the platform. Don’t they know that to get onto platform you need to go with someone magical??

Kings Cross Station Platform 9-3/4

The British Library

J.K. Rowling is in my literary pantheon because her books magically turned a generation of middle schoolers into readers. Hook ’em while they are young and you make a reader for life. And as any book-lover knows, a literary tour would not be complete without a visit to a beautiful library.

The British Library has a collection of 150 million works including Da Vinci’s notebooks, the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg bible, Beatles manuscripts and 1,377 catalog items related to Harry Potter. Many of these treasures are on public display and they will be hosting an exhibition for the 2017 20th anniversary of Harry Potter.

The British Library Literary tour

Warner Brothers Studio London Tours

Magic got made when Rowling first published the Harry Potter series. And then it got made again when the books were turned into movies. In the movies, Harry Potter’s world was faithfully realized in rich visual detail. And Dobby  was also transfigured from the books onto the big screen. Dobby is a big time movie star now but he was kind enough to go slumming with us on the Warner Studio tour. Good thing too, as he had some great stories to tell about his time spent on set with Ron and Hermoine.

We started in the Great Hall. And what a great hall it is. Vast enough to hold all of the students, teachers, ghosts, the odd giant and all of the delicious food that Dobby and the other house elves prepared.

Harry Potter Tour of Warner Brother Studios Great Hall

Here we see the movie version of Tom Riddle’s gravestone. It’s replete with an imposing angel of death headstone. How befitting.

Warner Brothers Studios London Tom Riddle

In the character studio, Dobby showed us how puppets, masks, and mechanical contraptions were used to breathe life into the magical creatures.

Dobby at Warner Brother Studios

And here we are again at Platform 9-3/4.

Platform 9-3/4 Warner Brother Studio Tour

You can see here how much Diagon Alley resembles Grassmarket Street in Edinburgh. Although on the set, everything is just a bit off kilter. The paint is peeling and the buildings lean into and loom over the street. Magic is, at times, disorienting and so is Diagon Alley.

Diagon Alley Warner Brothers Studio

In both the books and the movies, the first big dose of magic flies in with the persistent profusion of Harry’s Hogwarts acceptance letter. Those silly Dursley’s, they should have known that they couldn’t keep magic out of the house.

Privet Lane Warner Brother Studios

Throughout the Warner studio tour, Dobby had been hopping here and there, showing us his favorite parts of the set. He had a lot of fun bouncing on the chair in the Gryffindor common room, mixing up noxious gas in the potions classroom and stealing a Nimbus 2000. But it was with a hushed reverence that he steered us into the final room of the tour. As we walked into the room, we audibly gasped at the beautiful scale model of Hogwarts.

This 360′ model was featured in scenes like the kids’ first arrive at school as they floated across the lake in their skiffs. It’s featured when Harry is flooded with joy while flying Buckbeak the Hippogriff. And again as the Dementors cast their morbid pall while searching for Sirius Black. Its a pile of plaster and clay that, with the help of lighting, music and the magic of special effects becomes a primary character in the movies.

Hogwarts Model Warner Brothers Studio

I have written about geeking out as a Ravenclaw at Universal Studios Orlando and how real the rides seemed at Universal Studios Los Angeles. But they are theme parks after all, and you don’t have to be a fan of Harry Potter to enjoy the experience. But the Warner Brother Studios Tour is another matter. You need to at least have seen some of the movies in order to appreciate what is on offer there. And it’s even better if you are a rabid fan. The attention to detail invested into these sets is truly extraordinary.

In the potions classroom, no two bottles are alike. The chairs in the Gryffindor common room are worn out from the butts of slouching teenagers. The leather-bound books in Dumbledoor’s office are real. As are Buckbeak’s feathers. Everything…little….thing, painstaking handmade. It is no wonder then, why the movies were so successful at bringing Rowling’s vision to life.

“Dobby is Free!”
——–Dobby, The Chamber of Secrets

Dobby is a free elf and he was not obligated to show me around the UK but I am grateful that he did. He was a whimsical traveling companion and he gave me a Harry Potter tour that helped me further appreciate the origins of this fantastical world. Thanks Dobby!

Planning for Harry Potter in London

Two Ways to do the Warner Studios Tour

  1. Do It Yourself. DIY is a more flexible and less expensive option as long as you are comfortable navigating around a train station. The Warner Brothers studio tour costs £35 per person. I also purchased the audio tour but don’t recommend it as the exhibits have excellent signage. The train leaves from London Euston station to Watford Junction. Try to take the Virgin train rather than the Overground, it’s much faster. Once in Watford Junction, WB runs a shuttle bus every 15 minutes that will take you to the studio. Buy your tickets directly from the studio here.
  2. Guided. This is a good option for people who want an easy luxury bus ride. Most tours are ~$92.

For an alternative view of the Warner Brother tour, check out this review from Where is Tara.

Other Potter Tours in London

While in London, you could also consider taking a walking tour of the East End. Dobby loves the street art on Brick Lane.

Dobby says…snap your fingers and Pin this Post

Dobby from Harry Potter is the best tour guide. With a snap of his fingers, he'll take you on a magical Harry Potter tour of the UK

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Eva Casey

Sunday 21st of August 2016

You have no idea how much I enjoyed this post, being a rabid Harry Potter fan myself! I actually just returned from London where I was lucky enough to see the new play! I didn't, however, get to go on the studio tour. Next time! I have been to Edinburgh, and thoroughly enjoyed traipsing around Jo Rowling's old haunts. However, I searched and searched in that graveyard and didn't find any Tom Riddle! Boo. Hi Dobby!!

Sara Essop

Friday 19th of August 2016

My daughter and I are Harry Potter fans and we enjoyed this post together. We've done The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando and we've been to Platform 9 and 3/4 in London as well as the British Library, but after reading this, I've realised we still have so much more to do.

Carol Guttery

Saturday 20th of August 2016

Yes- I'm sorry that we didn't have time for the Jacobite train in Scotland

Marilyn

Thursday 18th of August 2016

You are going to get the whole world going on a Harry Potter tour. What fun thanks to Dobby

Carol Guttery

Thursday 18th of August 2016

It was fun. Dobby is a hoot