9 Magical Places All "Harry Potter" Fans Must Visit In Edinburgh
Fancy visiting Voldemort's grave, the real-life Diagon Alley, or even bumping into J.K. Rowling herself? Come to Edinburgh.
1. The Elephant House Café
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!"
2. Greyfriars Kirkyard
This ancient churchyard beside the Elephant House was a popular haunt 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?
3. "Diagon Alley" (Victoria Street and Candlemaker Row)
Victoria Street is a colourful, historical, and beautiful split-level cobbled road not far from the Elephant House, and it's thought to have been the inspiration for the fictional Diagon Alley, along with the adjacent Candlemaker Row. There's a Diagon Alley plaque and mural in Candlemaker Row, and even a joke shop on Victoria Street, although sadly it isn't run by Fred and George Weasley.
4. The Writers' Museum
This amazing, witchy old building celebrates the fact that Edinburgh became the first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004. It primarily pays tribute to historic Edinburgh-based writers Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson, but it also hosts exhibits about J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter as well, making it a fantastic place for anyone who loves books and reading.
5. Spoon Café
This popular café overlooks Edinburgh University's Old College, and it was another one of J.K. Rowling's favourite writing spots. In 1997 it was called Nicholson's Café, and it was owned by Rowling's brother-in-law, who was happy to let the financially challenged young mum enjoy free coffee and hog the big window seat for as long as she liked. What a hero.
6. Edinburgh City Chambers
The City Chambers is a huge council building on the Royal Mile, which features a fantastic Hollywood-style plaque that pays tribute to winners of the prestigious Edinburgh Award, presented to "outstanding" Edinburgh residents. J.K. Rowling won in 2008, which means that the hands that created your favourite books are immortalised in bronze in the chambers' courtyard.
7. George Heriot's School
Heriot's is another impressive sight that, like Greyfriars Kirkyard, can be seen from the windows of the Elephant House Café. Built in 1628, this prestigious, castle-like school is said to be the inspiration for Hogwarts, and the Hogwarts house system as well. It's not usually open to the public, but it does sometimes host events during the Edinburgh Festival in August.
8. Cramond and Barnton
The harbour suburb of Cramond is a gorgeous place for a stroll, as is neighbouring Barnton, one of the fanciest areas in Edinburgh. It's home to J.K. Rowling, who moved from her home in the Merchiston area of Edinburgh to this amazing turreted mansion in 2015, and can often be spotted in local shops or walking on Cramond beach. You never know, if you visit you might just bump into her!
9. The Balmoral Hotel
And last but by no means least, we have the place where it all ended: The Rowling Suite at the Balmoral Hotel, 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 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.
Oops! The Diagon Alley plaque and mural are actually on Candlemaker Row. An earlier version of this post said that they could be found on Victoria Street.