The enduring popularity of Harry Potter is nothing short of remarkable. Our kids, aged 6 & 8, are part of a new generation of Harry Potter fans, who are every bit as excited about the Wizarding World franchise as the original readers 25 years ago. When our plans to visit Tenerife with kids took us through London, we decided to dedicate our time to seeing the best Harry Potter attractions in London with kids.
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The 9 Best Harry Potter Attractions in London
1. Harry Potter Filming Locations Walking Tour
For our first full day in London, our feature Harry Potter attraction was a 3 hour Harry Potter Locations Walking Tour. There are many Harry Potter filming locations tours to choose from, but we chose this one as it included King’s Cross station, where Platform 9 3/4 is located.
If you book this Harry Potter walking tour of London, we recommend you get to King’s Cross Station at least 30-45 minutes early. Not only will it give you time to find the meeting point for your Harry Potter tour of London, but it’s where you will find one of the must-do Harry Potter things to do in London – getting a picture of your kids (and yourself!) pushing a luggage cart through the wall into Platform 9 ¾ (more on this fun, free Harry Potter experience below).
We absolutely loved our 3-hour filming locations walking tour of London with our kids. We enjoyed the interesting behind the scenes stories about the parts of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films which were filmed in London, and our kids were really excited to see the London locations which appear in their favorite Harry Potter films.
Highlights of our tour of Harry Potter filming locations in London included seeing the train station where Harry, Hermione and Ron boarded the Hogwarts Express (hint – it’s not the train station you think!). We also loved seeing the Harry Potter locations in London which served as inspiration for Diagon Alley and Ollivanders Wand Shop.
Our kids especially loved the tight little alley which was the filming location for Knockturn Alley. Other filming locations they loved included the multiple entrances for The Leaky Cauldron, Gringotts Bank, the Ministry of Magic and the location of Dumbledore’s office.
In addition to the amazing Harry Potter locations in London, our energetic and entertaining tour guide pointed out and talked about some of the major London landmarks as we passed them on our tour.
2. Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour
If you only have time to do one of the Harry Potter things to do in London, make sure it’s the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio tour. If you enjoyed the famous J.K. Rowling books, or especially the movies, the studio tour is a must-see for fans of the Boy Who Lived.
This incredible Harry Potter London experience takes place at the actual Warner Bros. studio studio where a large portion of the eight Harry Potter movies were filmed. The good folks at Warner Brothers had the foresight to save many of the incredible movie sets, costumes, props and much more for Harry Potter fans of all ages to enjoy.
The magic begins when you enter a massive room where a truly massive Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon hangs from the ceiling. The Warner Brothers studio tour is extensive and has one amazing surprise after another.
We think it’s best if we don’t share too many spoilers from the Warner Bros studio tour as it’s truly best for you to discover them for yourself, but we especially loved walking through the film sets for Diagon Alley, the Forbidden Forest, Gringotts’s Bank, the Great Hall from Hogwarts School and even the iconic triple-decker Knight Bus!
If you are a fan of the Harry Potter movies, you will not be disappointed. The sheer size and scale of this immense shrine to the Harry Potter films is mind-boggling. Every step of your walk through the wizarding world will be engaging and entertaining.
How Long is the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Tour?
We read that the Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros. studio would take between 3-4 hours. We’re normally the type of family that goes through attractions in half the time that they say it will take, but sure enough, our visit took us exactly 3.5 hours.
Our 3.5 hour visit to the Harry Potter studios was probably on the fast side as our two kids were so excited, they wanted to race from exhibit to exhibit. We had to constantly slow them down to take a closer look at the exhibits of this amazing Harry Potter activity.
If you get a digital guide, you’ll get tons of additional information about the movie sets, exhibits, costumes, etc., so you can really be there as long as your heart desires.
4 Ways to Get to the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour
The Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour is located in Watford, UK, which is well north of Central London. There are four ways to get from London to the Warner Bros. studios:
- If you live in London or have a rental car, it’s easy to drive to the Warner Brothers studio. Parking is free in the massive studio parking lot. If you bring your flying car, watch out for the Whomping Willow!
- It’s also possible to get to Watford by public transportation. Simply take a direct train from London Euston to Watford Junction and then take an electric shuttle bus to the Studio Tour. Shuttle buses run every 15 minutes and are complementary with your admission ticket.
- Our London hotel was near the Heathrow Airport, so we elected to take an Uber to Warner Bros. From Heathrow, it took us about 30-40 minutes and cost roughly £40 each way.
- For most Harry Potter fans the easiest way to get to the Warner Brothers studio tour from central London is to arrange tickets for the Harry Potter Warner Brothers tour with round-trip transportation included.
Tips for Visiting the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio with Kids
1. Skip the Digital Guides
We don’t recommend you rent any digital guides if you visit the Warner Bros. Harry Potter studios with kids. We rented four of them, and immediately regretted it. Our kids didn’t want to use them as this Harry Potter museum is already so fun and stimulating, that the added complexity of a digital audio guide was unnecessary and a waste of money.
We put the kids’ audio guides in our daybag almost immediately. We kept ours on for a little bit, stubbornly listening to them at each stop, but it was simply too much to manage when you already have two hyper-excited kids running between the amazing Harry Potter exhibits.
For what it’s worth, we thought the audio guides were great. If you are visiting the Warner Brothers Studio Tour with older kids, or without kids, then the digital guide is a great addition to your tour. Otherwise, we don’t recommend it.
2. Eat lunch after 11:30
There is a well-placed café halfway through the experience. We were surprised that the menu was limited to four choices of sandwiches on small buns. But, as we sat down to eat, we started seeing people walking past with hot dogs, hamburgers etc.
We ordered our food at the cafe around 11:20 AM and it seemed like the menu magically expanded at 11:30. Our sandwiches were ok, but I wish someone would have told us to wait a few minutes for the better menu. The butter beer was a lot of fun though!
3. Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station
This free London Harry Potter attraction at King’s Cross Station is a must-do in London. For this fun photo opportunity you will be assisted by staff from the nearby Harry Potter store. First a staff member will provide you a scarf from you favorite Hogwarts house (Gryffindor is the most popular of course, but you can also choose from Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff).
Shortly after picking your Hogwarts scarf, it’s time for your classic Platform 3/4 picture. To make it as realistic as possible, another (off-screen) staff member will throw the scarf in the air just before you snap your picture. This nice touch makes makes it look like you are really moving fast through the wall leading to Platform 3/4 – just like Harry, Ron and Hermione did in the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Although it’s free to use your own camera to take your souvenir Platform 9 3/4 photo, the photo op leads you right into the official Harry Potter store at King’s Cross station. As you’d expect, this store simply bursting with outstanding souvenirs for your kids to take home.
4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Play
If you are visiting London with older kids (and a few extra quid in your pocket), another of the can’t miss Harry Potter things to do in London is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play.
Playing at the Palace Theatre, this multiple Tony award winning play is the 8th story in the Harry Potter series. The Cursed Child story takes place 19 years after Harry, Ron and Hermione saved the wizarding world from the evil Lord Voldemort. This time, it’s their children’s turn for adventure at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
When we visited London with our kids, we really wanted to take them to see The Cursed Child play, but it’s nearly 6 hours long (with a lengthy intermission). We felt this was a little too long for our kids attention span.
If the running time of the Cursed Child isn’t a concern for you, you must book your seats as early as possible. Good seats for 3 or more people are often very limited 3-4 weeks before the show date.
A Shorter Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Play
A much shorter 3.5 hour version of the Cursed Child play has started to run at select theaters around the world. As of press time, the London play was still the 6-hour version.
5. Oxford Day Trip
Only 90 minutes from London, Oxford is a fantastic destination for a Harry Potter day trip. Dating back to the 11th century, a visit to the Oxford University and the nearby Christ Church College are worth it on their own merits, but for Harry Potter fans, it’s another excellent opportunity to see additional filming locations from the movie series, including the inspiration for the majestic dining hall at Hogwarts.
6. Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition
One of the newest Harry Potter London attractions is the photographic exhibition. New for 2021, Harry Potter fans are invited to see a collection of behind-the-scenes images from the film series. Located in Covent Garden, the Harry Potter photographic exhibition treats fans to hundreds of photographs from some of the movies most iconic and pivotal moments.
While you are visiting the Harry Potter photographic exhibition, be sure to get a photo taken of you flying over London on a Quidditch broom, enjoy a bottled butterbeer and then leave for home with your personal Ministry of Magic ID card.
7. Boy Wizard Afternoon Tea
Going for a wizard themed afternoon tea is a fun way for fans to combine a true UK tradition with some magical fun. There are many wizarding themed (i.e.: not officially licensed Harry Potter) afternoon teas in London to choose from:
Wands and Wizard Exploratorium – conveniently located in London’s theatre district, just a minute away from the Palace Theatre, guests will enjoy casting spells, brewing their own interactive tea and savoring scones, sand-witches and desserts.
- Cutter and Squidge – at the Afternoon Tea at The Potion Room, you’ll don your cloak, have a seat in your school-style desk and learn to concoct your own potions from the Potion Master.
- Georgian House Hotel – just south of Buckingham Palace, the Georgian House Hotel offers a variety of wizard themed afternoon teas and wizard potion making.
- Wildflower Teas – another day trip from London, enjoy your Harry Potter afternoon tea on a retrofitted classic double-decker bus.
8. Family-Friendly London Exploration Game
This digital exploration game is a fun Harry Potter experience in London for the whole family. After downloading the app, your family will solve puzzles and follow clues in order to discover new places and stories. Along the way you’ll visit and learn about many Harry Potter sites in London.
9. Potion Making
In addition to wizard themed afternoon teas, the Wizarding Exploratorium also offers potion making classes. Pour your first drink by magic wand, then choose two potions to brew at your table. Potions are available with or without alcohol.
The Best Harry Potter Shops in London
The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9¾
Our filming locations walking tour began at King’s Cross station – one of the most famous Harry Potter places in London. In addition to having a really fun Harry Potter photo op of your kids pushing a luggage cart through a brick wall to get to Platform 9 3/4, there’s also an excellent, official Warner Bros. Harry Potter store at King’s Cross.
As you’d expect, the Harry Potter shop at King’s Cross Station is extraordinarily busy, but it’s popular for a reason. It’s jam-packed with high-quality, officially licensed merchandise. No matter which Hogwarts house you identify with, there are plenty of souvenirs for you.
If you have a sweet tooth, you can take your pick of the treats that Harry and Ron loved to buy on the Hogwarts Express, including Bernie Botts All Flavored Beans, and everyone’s favorite Chocolate Frogs.
House of Spells London
We didn’t think any Harry Potter store could get better than the Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4, but the folks at the House of Spells London may have done it. A multi-level novelty shop in London’s Theatre District, the entire ground-level floor is dedicated to Harry Potter merchandise (the upper level is for Lord of the Rings, etc.).
Both stores have excellent quality merchandise, but we felt the selection of Harry Potter souvenirs was better at the House of Spells. They had some excellent clothing options, many books, games, puzzles and much, much more.
Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour Store
As you’d expect, there are gift shops all the way along the Harry Potter tour at the Warner Brothers studio, but the final gift shop at the end of the tour must be the largest Harry Potter store in the world. The size and scope of the gift shop at Warner Brothers Studios is hard to fathom – it’s truly massive.
We had naively thought that we had purchased all of our souvenirs on our filming locations tour, but we were soooo wrong. The power of the Warner Brothers merchandisers overpowered our abilities to say “no” and we ended up with a bag full of additional Harry Potter stuff.
It’s all good though… the gift shop was a fun way to end an incredible day of Harry Potter fun at the Warner Brothers studio.
House of Minalima
For a more unique Harry Potter themed shopping experience, stop by the House of Minalima. This beautiful store is filled with beautiful artwork created by the duo who imagined and created the graphic universe of the Harry Potter film series. You can shop online too!
Best Places to Stay in London for Harry Potter Fans
Muggle-Friendly Places to Stay in Central London
Most of the best Harry Potter things to do in London are found between King’s Cross Station and the Millenium Bridge. The epi-centre of the Harry Potter attractions in London are near the Palace Theatre, where the Cursed Child play is currently running.
According to Booking.com, the highest rated Top Picks for Families near the Palace Theatre are:
- Covent Garden Hotel
- The Soho Hotel
- St Martins Lane London
- Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel
- W London
Of course, staying in the heart of London’s theatre district can get a little expensive. If you’d like a wider selection of kid-friendly accommodation in central London, check out the Top Picks for Families near King’s Cross Station and the Millenium Bridge.
Vacation rentals are also a great choice for families in London. Family-friendly amenities include separate bedrooms, kitchen and laundry facilities, plus they often cost less than a comparable hotel room.
Georgian House Hotel – A Wizard-themed Hotel in London
Home to one of the Harry Potter afternoon teas, the Georgian House Hotel keeps the fun going with a series of wizarding-themed rooms. The Georgian House Hotel is not officially a Harry Potter themed hotel, but no matter, their fun accommodations will nonetheless thrill fans.
Whether you choose the Enchanted Chambers or Wizard Chambers, each room has castle-inspired details resulting in a gothic and mysterious feel. A stay at the Georgian House Hotel is perfect for Potterhead families.
Kid-Friendly Places to Stay in Watford, UK
If you are planning on spending a day or two at the Warner Bros. studio and wish to avoid the ultra-high hotel prices in London, consider staying at a kid-friendly hotel in Watford. Keep in mind, the Watford Junction train station is just a 15-20 minute train ride from Euston Station. That’s pretty quick!
The following three highly-rated, family-friendly Watford hotels are all within easy walking distance of the free shuttle bus to the studio tour:
- Holiday Inn London Watford Junction
- Holiday Inn Express London – Watford Junction
- Jurys Inn London Watford
Harry’s House – Wizard Themed Accomodation in Watford, UK
There are so many fun wizard design elements to this kid-friendly vacation rental, but the one guests rave about the most is dining under the floating candles. A great place to stay for a visit to the Warner Bros. studio tour, it’s only a 10-15 minute drive from the studios or a 10 minute walk from the free shuttle bus at Watford Station.
Essential Harry Potter Merchandise
Harry Potter Books
If you or your kids haven’t yet read the Harry Potter book series, you really must. It has remained a classic fantasy series for over 25 years for a reason. The classic 7-book Harry Potter paperback set is very reasonably priced, but you can upgrade to a variety of limited edition book sets.
Harry Potter Audiobooks
In our family, we started to read the Harry Potter books to our kids, but wow, that’s a lot of reading out loud!! We eventually switched over to listening to the entire Harry Potter book series on audiobook in the car.
Although it was fun to read the books to our kids, if we’re being honest, the kids enjoyed listening to Harry Potter in the car so much more. Jim Dale is an incredibly talented narrator with a remarkable talent for creating different character voices.
Get your first Harry Potter audiobook for free with an Audible Premium Plus 30-day trial.
Harry Potter Movie Series
Given that London was a major filming location for the Harry Potter movie series, many of the attractions focus on the movies. You can purchase the Harry Potter movie series on DVD/Blu-ray, but we prefer to own a digital copy of all 8 movies.
If you love the Boy Who Lived as much as we do, we’re sure your family will love these Harry Potter things to do in London!