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15 Life-Changing Things All Harry Potter Fans Must Do In Scotland

Can you really call yourself a fan if you've never visited Dumbledore's island tomb?

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1. Go to Glen Etive.

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After escaping from Gringott's on the dragon in Deathly Hallows Part 2, Harry, Hermione, and Ron leap into Loch Etive and have to dry out on the shore. They also camp in nearby Glen Etive in Deathly Hallows Part 1. It's the spot where Hermione ties her scarf to a tree after Ron and Harry argue. Oh, and it's gorgeous too, even more reason to visit.

2. Meet Errol's sister at the Scottish Owl Centre.

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As well as housing the majestic Hedwig lookalike pictured, the Centre is also home to Oulu – a 15-year-old Great Grey and real-life sister of Ron's pretty useless but loveable bird Errol. You can watch Oulu and her friends take part in flying displays and handling sessions, or get a photo shoot with her for £30.

3. Visit the site of Dumbledore's tomb.

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This little island (Eilean na Moine) is the site of Dumbledore's final resting place; it's also the place where Voldemort steals the Elder Wand in Deathly Hallows Part 1. It's located in Loch Eilt, where Harry and co. find Hagrid skipping stones out over the water in Prisoner of Azkaban after learning Buckbeak is to be put down.

4. Or Tom Riddle's grave.

Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh was a popular haunt (pun intended) of J.K. Rowling. It's been in use since the 16th century and is filled with atmospheric gravestones, some of which inspired the names of Harry Potter characters. Keep your eyes peeled for the grave of Voldemort, aka Tom Riddle (Riddell), and William McGonagall. Maybe he's Professor McGonagall's granddad?


5. Head to Clachaig Gully.

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During the filming of Prisoner of Azkaban, the crew built a replica of Hagrid's Hut beside Torren Lochan in Clachaig Gully complete with a pumpkin patch and smoking chimney. Sadly, the hut (and Hagrid) aren't there anymore, but the scenery will feel very familiar once you're there.

6. Do some writing at The Elephant House in Edinburgh.

J.K. Rowling was a struggling single parent when she wrote parts of the first book in this pretty café’s back room, bringing Harry to life while looking out of the window at the lovely view of Edinburgh Castle. One of the highlights (these days) is the amazing Harry Potter-themed graffiti in the toilets: "Accio marker pen!"

7. And don't forget to visit Spoon Café as well.

This popular café overlooks Edinburgh University's Old College, and it was another one of J.K. Rowling's favourite writing spots. Here she is pictured writing in her favourite window seat back in 1997, when it was called Nicholson's Café, and it was owned by her brother-in-law, who was happy to let her drink free coffee all day. Hero.

8. Take a steam train trip across Glenfinnan Viaduct.

This iconic Victorian railway viaduct at the head of Loch Shiel was first seen in Chamber of Secrets, when Ron and Harry pilot the flying Ford Anglia to Hogwarts. It's also the place where Harry encounters a Dementor for the very first time in Prisoner of Azkaban, when the Hogwarts Express stops on the bridge.


9. Or take the Caledonian Sleeper across Rannoch Moor.

The Great Moor of Rannoch is one of the largest areas of wilderness in Scotland. It's one of several Harry Potter locations on the West Highland Line, and you can ride the sister train to the Hogwarts Express right across it. It's also the place where the Death Eaters halt and board the train in Deathly Hallows Part 1.

10. Visit Loch Shiel.

This gorgeous loch near Glenfinnan was one of two lochs used as a stand-in for Hogwarts Lake in the Harry Potter films. It's the place where Buckbeak dips a toe in the water in Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry and Hermione also look out across it from the Astronomy Tower in a beautiful shot at the end of Half-Blood Prince.

11. Go for a walk in Glencoe.

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This dramatic volcanic glen features in several background shots from Prisoner of Azkaban onwards, including the scene where Hermione punches Malfoy in Prisoner of Azkaban, arguably the most satisfying moment in Harry Potter history.

12. Take a selfie at Diagon Alley.

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Victoria Street is a beautiful split-level cobbled road thought to have been the one of the inspirations for Diagon Alley, along with the adjacent Candlemaker Row. There's a Diagon Alley plaque and mural in Candlemaker Row, and a joke shop on Victoria Street, although sadly it isn't run by Fred and George Weasley.


13. High five J.K. Rowling.

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Edinburgh City Chambers has a fantastic Hollywood-style plaque outside that pays tribute to winners of the Edinburgh Award, presented to "outstanding" Edinburgh residents. J.K. Rowling won in 2008, so that the hands that created your favourite books are immortalised in bronze in the chambers' courtyard.

14. Check out the mighty Steall Falls.

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Steall Falls in Glen Nevis is the second-highest waterfall in Britain, and can usually be seen in the background during Quiddich matches. The falls are also the place where Harry takes on the Hungarian Horntail dragon in Goblet of Fire.

15. Stay at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.

Specifically, The Rowling Suite, aka Room 552. J.K. checked into this luxurious suite overlooking the city so that she could concentrate while finishing The Deathly Hallows. At £1,000 a night it's not exactly the cheapest place to make a pilgrimage to, but it's certainly one of the most important. Thanks for 20 years of magic, Jo.

H/T Visit Scotland. Click here for tips on how to plan your travel itinerary for an ideal Harry Potter-themed trip to Scotland.


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