One of my favorite places in the world to visit is Edinburgh, Scotland. It is such a bustling and joyous city with a dark and mysterious history. And it is considered one of the birthplaces of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling! This city is full of incredible Harry Potter spots that I fell head-over-heels in love with the first time I visited. Today, I am going to be sharing some of those great bookish places!
The Elephant House Cafe
This is not only one of my favorite cafes in the world, but it is one of the best and most exciting places for Harry Potter fans. This cafe is considered “The Birthplace of Harry Potter.” They even have that title in one of their front windows! It is a great cafe, with even better food! The cool nerdy parts of this cafe are slightly hidden. Sometimes they will have a table that is reserved for J.K. Rowling herself, and the other hidden jem is the bathrooms. Yes… I really just said that: the public bathrooms are a hidden jem. That is because the wonderful fandom of Harry Potter has taken it upon themselves to nerdify these bathrooms with bookish quotes, thank you notes to J. K. Rowling and the series, and little drawings of Harry Potter and the wonderful characters in the Wizarding World. The cafe does not exactly say you can write on the bathroom walls, but they also do not publicly say you can’t. It is honestly a Potter fan’s right of passage to take a sharpie into the bathroom and make your nerd mark on the Potter Fandom walls.
Victoria Street, Edinburgh
Once you have finished with the wonderful food at The Elephant Cafe, I recommend walking up the street and then turning down Victoria Street. This famous street is a rainbow of colorful buildings with incredibly eclectic shops. It is also considered one of the main alleyways in Edinburgh that inspired Diagon Alley. This is honestly one of my favorite streets to walk down, because I always smile at the brilliantly colored buildings. There are even two great stores for Potter Nerds, one being a fully Harry Potter themed store, and another being an eclectic antique and nerd themed store. I recommend taking the time to look in all the stores on this street for some great merchandise and to really get the feel of what inspired J. K. Rowling when she created the famous Diagon Alley.
Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh
A graveyard? Yes, a graveyard. This graveyard, which is one of the most famous ones in Edinburgh, is one of the coolest places on the planet. Not because of all of the immense history that lies in it, or the even numerous ghost stories that inhabit the grounds, but because of some of the names of the people resting inside. This graveyard is considered to be the place where Rowling got some of her inspiration for the series’ most famous names, including McGonagall and Tom Riddle. If you walk along each of the graves with a keen eye, you can spot some pretty cool graves. Past the main building and towards the back of the graveyard, you will find a gate that looks out onto the courtyard of a school. This school is said to be where Rowling got the inspiration for the four houses of Hogwarts, since the school has different houses with different house colors.
The Ghost Bus Tours
Technically, this bus tour is not part of the Harry Potter Walking tour that you can take in the city. (I recommend that tour as well with every fiber of my being. They even hand out wands.) This tour isn’t even affiliated with Harry Potter. But — and yes there is a but — the bus looks exactly like the Night Bus from Harry Potter, and the tour guide — if he is still the same tour guide that I had two summers in a row — looks like a mix between David Tennant and the guy who works the Night Bus in the third Harry Potter movie. It is also a great ghost tour that shows you incredible parts of the city. It is an amazing tour to take!
The Balmoral Hotel
The final place on this list is, in fact, a hotel. The Balmoral Hotel is the place where Rowling finished writing the Harry Potter series. Yes, she finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this very building. They even named the room she stayed in after her and called it the J.K Rowling Suite. It is hard, of course, to visit this place in the city because it is still a working hotel and people can (I believe, I am not 100 percent sure) still stay in that specific room; but it is a really cool Potter fact to know when visiting Edinburgh!