Welcome to the BEST Harry Potter Tour in Edinburgh!
This takes place every day at 4:30pm and will last approximately 2 hours.
Meet next to the Tron Kirk, in front of Frankie & Benny’s on 130 High Street. Your guide will be in a red shirt.
We will get in touch to confirm your chosen date.
Meeting Spot – The Tron Kirk, 130 High Street, Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Harry Potter Tour Stop 1 – The Balmoral Hotel
First of all, you’ll meet your tour guide at The Iron Duke, 2 Princes Street, EH1 3YY. You’ll then get to see the Balmoral Hotel in her full glory! This is the place where Harry Potter was finished and laid to rest.
J.K. Rowling scribbled “J.K. Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007.” and posted it on her Twitter!
If there are 3 or less people on the tour, we’ll be able to sneak into the hotel and see the J.K. Rowling Suite. To get to the suite, you walk in the main doors and go to the first elevators you see on the right hand side.
Don’t look around or you’ll raise suspicion, just walk straight to the elevators and press the up button. When you’re in the lift, press floor 5. When you get out the elevator, walk out and turn right. At the end of the corridor, you’ll see the J.K. Rowling suite.
Remember: Dell Tours didn’t send you :).
Stop 2 – Top of Waverley Mall
On top of Waverley Mall, you’ll be able to see the valley where the nor’ loch used to be (in Princes Street gardens). Many believe that the inspiration for Hogwarts came from this picture:
This is how Edinburgh Castle used to look before the nor’ loch was drained. Before modern plumbing, residents in the old town used to throw their waste out of the window and it would drain into the nor’ loch. This painting of the nor’ loch is what many believe gave J.K. Rowling the inspiration for Harry Potter. She wanted to combine the castle on the hill and also George Heriot’s School, which we go to later in the tour! This is how the view looks from on top of Waverley Mall:
Edinburgh Harry Potter Tour Stop 3 – North Bridge
Stop 3 on the Harry Potter tour takes us to North Bridge. This view helps you really understand the valley that’s there today and how big the nor’ loch really was.
Stop 4 – City Chambers
Grab your broomsticks! Next we’re going to City Chambers to see J.K. Rowlings handprints!
Further down the Royal Mile from The Writers’ Museum is the Edinburgh City Chambers. Every year, the city of Edinburgh gives out the ‘Edinburgh Award’, which is presented to one incredible Edinburgh resident every year.
J.K. Rowling won the award in 2008 and her hand prints are forever stamped in the courtyard of the Edinburgh City Chambers alongside other Edinburgh legends.
Edinburgh Harry Potter Tour Stop 5 – Mercat Cross
The next stop on our journey is Mercat cross. At this stop, you’ll learn about the mythical creatures of Scotland and how they were incorporated into Harry Potter. The magical creatures in Harry Potter are no accident! J.K. Rowling put a lot of thought into it and it’s based on real Scottish mythology.
Stop 6 – The Magic Potions Tavern
Muggles keen for a taste of Hogwarts can now sample a butterbeer in Edinburgh!
In February, The Magic Potions Tavern launched a bar featuring perilous potions! Now you can magic up your own cocktails to impress your fellow muggles!
Edinburgh Harry Potter Tour Stop 7 – Cockburn Street
Cockburn Street is the lesser known inspiration for Diagon Alley. Some shops have changed since Harry Potter was created. Cockburn Street has a distinct diagon alley feel. People believe J.K Rowling mixed Cockburn Street and Victoria Street as she did with Edinburgh Castle and George Heriot’s School. They believe she used shops on Victoria street and the size of Cockburn street to make her ideal version of the 2 streets.
Stop 8 – The World of Wizardry Shop
Next we’ll stop at the World of Wizardry! Here, you can buy all of your Harry Potter merchandise. We’ll have a quick break so that everyone who wants can go inside and buy their Harry Potter gear. Once everyone’s bought their things, HURRAH! Onto the next place… (Don’t worry if you can’t decide what to buy, we’ll stop at another Harry Potter shop later on the tour)!
Edinburgh Harry Potter Tour Stop 9 – Edinburgh University Courtyard
Anyone can come here, look around and go inside.
Same architectural feature on top of here as on Greengots bank. Glasgow cathedral looks more similar to the courtyard in Hogwarts as it has the archways you can walk through. Glasgow cathedral was founded by St. Mungo. St. Mungo features in the Harry Potter books/movies.
Stop 10 – Spoon Cafe
Most people believe that Harry Potter was first conjured up in the Elephant Cafe. It’s true, many of the chapters of Harry Potter were written in the Elephant Cafe HOWEVER the initial chapters were conjured up and written in what’s now known as Spoon!
Spoon’s used to be called Nicholson’s and was owned by J.K. Rowling’s brother in law. J.K. was poor at the time and just moved to Edinburgh with her daughter. J.K. was anxious to break free from poverty and spent hours at Nicholson’s writing the first book.
Spoons has no plans on monetising the fact that J.K. Rowling used to write there. The Elephant cafe has all the attention and they also don’t want to annoy the regular local customers with flocks of tourists coming to visit!
Edinburgh Harry Potter Tour Stop 11 – Potterow
Next we fly to the famous Harry Potter tunnel, Potterow Port. Located on the University of Edinburgh’s campus, the old tunnel surrounded by old and new buildings inspired the scene where Harry and Dudley, Harry’s cousin, gotchased by Dementors.
Dementors are among the most digusting creatures that walk this earth. Theycreate decay and despair, they drain all the hope and happiness out whoever they come across… If you go too near a Dementor, every good feeling and happy memory will be sucked out of you and you’ll be left as miserable as Draco Malfoy! It seems like Draco just needs a hug!
Many say that Potterow, an area which J.K. often frequented, may have been the inspiration for Harry’s surname.
Stop 12 – The Elephant House
The Elephant House built a fantastic business off being ‘Birthplace of Harry Potter’ as the sign in the window says. We know that it was Nicholson Cafe however she did write many chapters of the first 3 books in The Elephant House!
If you want to eat here, expect a massive wait due to the swathes of Harry Potter fans! In the windows, you’ll be able to see George Heriot’s School (Hogwarts) and also Edinburgh Castle!
While you’re there you must check out the bathroom!! Fans kept leaving graffiti in the bathroom with Harry Potter quotes and messages. After continually repainting over the vandalism, The Elephant House eventually gave in and let the customers have free reign on the bathrooms! Remember, it’s not vandalism if they don’t care :D.
Edinburgh Harry Potter Tour Stop 13 – Greyfriars Kirkyard
J.K. Rowling says she doesn’t remember which actual gravestones she got inspiration from. Most people think it’s because she doesn’t want loads of crazy H.P. fans flock there. Harry Potter fans are known to go crazy climbing over graves to get where they’re going!
On these tombstones you’ll be able to find Elizabeth Moodie and Euphemia Reid.
Elizabeth Moodie was the inspiration for Alistair Moody (mad eye Moody). Euphemia Reid was the inspiration for the name of Harry Potter’s paternal grandmother. You can learn the story behind Harry’s grandparents on Pottermore.com. On Pottermore.com, you’ll learn that Harry’s grandparents made a lot of money because his grandfather was a potions master. They couldn’t have kids early on so his grandfather put a lot of focus into his career. That’s why Harry always had so much gold in the bank!
in Grayfriars Kirkyard, we’ll find the grave of Tom Marvolo Riddle (changed to I am Lord Voldemort when rearranged).
Here we’ll also find the gravestone of infamously bad poet William McGonagall (who’s name inspired Professor McGonagall).
Stop 14 – George Heriot’s
In addition to Edinburgh Castle, we also take you to the other inspiration for Hogwarts, George Heriot’s School. We can see George Heriot’s through the gates right next to William McGonigall’s grave. George Heriot’s School was built in the 1600’s. It’s one of the most elegant buildings in Edinburgh with the Hogwart’s style turrets.
It’s said to have not only provided inspiration for the design of Hogwarts, but also the houses of Hogwart’s which comprised of Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw!
Edinburgh Harry Potter Tour Stop 15 – Diagon Alley/Victoria Street
In addition to Cockburn Street, we also take you to the other inspiration for Diagon Alley. Victoria Street is another huge inspiration for Diagon Alley. What do you think of the picture?
Stop 16 – The Boy Wizard Shop
In addition to taking you to the World of Wizardry, we’ll also take you to The Boy Wizard store. The Boy Wizard is an official Harry Potter stockist. Maybe the line will be out the door, it often is. If the line isn’t too bad, here’s another great opportunity to buy Harry Potter merchandise! You can often find the same items cheaper at The World of Wizardry Shop however there won’t be as big a selection there as there is here.
Edinburgh Harry Potter Tour Stop 17 – The Writer’s Museum
In addition to seeing J.K.’s handprints at the Edinburgh award for her writing, we’ll also take you to the Writer’s Museum! The Writer’s Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday.
The museum is one of the most interesting museums in Edinburgh. The museum features many famous Scots writers like Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and of course adopted Harry Potter sensation J.K. Rowling!
At the Writers’ Museum, there’s an early first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on display. In addition, you’ll even see the first annotations and drawings on the pages!
Finally, that’s it on the Harry Potter tour. If you’ve not booked the Harry Potter Edinburgh tour already, WHY? It’s an amazing experience! Book here:
We will get in touch to confirm your chosen date.
The tour takes place every day at 4:30pm and will last approximately 2 hours.