If you’re a Harry Potter fan heading to the UK, chances are that London and Edinburgh are pretty high on your list of places to visit. London features heavily in the Harry Potter books (Kings Cross, Ministry of Magic) and appears in all the movies, whilst Edinburgh is where the books were written – but they aren’t the only places where you can get your Harry Potter fix. There are cities all over England that offer up something for Potterheads, and York is most definitely one of them.
Known predominantly for its Viking heritage, stunning architecture and rich history, York is a secret Harry Potter haven for fans of the books and movies. On a recent trip, I made it my mission to uncover as much magic as possible, so here are five things to do if you find yourself in the city.
This quirky, cobbled street in the centre of York is said to have been the main inspiration for Diagon Alley in the movies – much like how Edinburgh’s Victoria Street inspired J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley in the books. Having walked down the wonky, narrow alley many times whilst visiting York, it’s easy to see the resemblance.
The Shambles is dated back to the 14th century. It used to be home to a load of Medieval Butcher shops, but now it houses not one, not two, but three Harry Potter themed Stores. Which leads me to..
Harry Potter Gift Shops
York is home to three shops based on the Harry Potter franchise; The Shop That Must Not Be Named, The Boy Wizard, and World of Wizardry – all located down the same street, and all filled to the brim with Harry Potter merchandise and gifts.
Some might think it a little excessive to have so many stores within such close proximity of one another, but if you’re a Potter fan, you will be in your element – trust me. The staff are friendly and enthusiastic in every one, and each shop is decorated to perfectly encapsulate the wizarding world, which is a treat in itself.
York Train Station
Unknown to most, York also appears in the very first Harry Potter movie – The Philosopher’s Stone. Do you remember that iconic scene in London’s King’s Cross, when Hagrid walks Harry across a bridge towards Platform 9 ¾, before completely disappearing. Yes? Well that bridge is actually at York Train Station.
Seriously, If you head to the pedestrian bridge when the station is quiet – avoiding rush hour – you should be able to picture Hagrid and Harry standing there.
Just around the corner from York Train Station is the Railway Museum; a free, immersive museum filled with a collection of historically significant locomotives. It used to house a real life Hogwarts Express – unfortunately that has now moved on – but you can still check out all the trains that inspired its design.
The museum is filled with little Harry Potter references, such as signs, there’s also a carriage called the Countess of York which serves up a fancy afternoon tea, so you can pretend you’re on route to Hogwarts, being served cakes by the Trolley Witch.
Finally, if you want to learn a little more about the magic behind Harry Potter, Barley Hall has an interactive exhibition on called Magic and Mystery which is filled with information on alchemy and astrology.
You can create your own wand, learn about potion ingredients and what they are used for, or discover charms and predict the future – Trelawney would be so proud. There’s even a little section on Merlin, who may or may not have attended Hogwarts as a Slytherin.
Goathland Railway station
Goathland isn’t exactly in York itself, but if you don’t mind going on a little road trip to the North York Moors, you won’t be disappointed. This railway station was used in the Harry Potter films as Hogsmeade station – where Harry and his classmates would end up after leaving Platform 9 3/4, before heading to Hogwarts.
It’s one of the most adorable stations you’ll ever visit, and oozes real life magic. You can see Harry Potter everywhere you turn – there’s even a little shop filled with gifts and goodies. I wrote a little post about my trip to Goathland if you want to learn more.
I hope you liked my list. If you’re planning a trip to York and end up going to one of these Harry Potter themed locations, make sure to let know, and if you’ve already checked one of them out – what did you think?