12 Best Harry Potter Filming Locations In Scotland In 2023
Many scenes from the Harry Potter movie franchise have been inspired by Scotland or filmed in Scotland. This post lists the places you can visit which inspired the making of the Wizarding World and Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland.
Hogwart’s Express train and scenes from Hagrid’s Hut are two of the many film locations in Scotland. Many lakes throughout Scotland have featured in at least one of the eight Harry Potter movies.
There is a large number of Harry Potter scenes that are filmed in wild and remote locations. Sometimes the locations are eerie and other times the locations are breathtaking and magical.
This post will explain where to find the best Harry Potter locations so you can get photos and replicate any movie scenes.
J.K. Rowling was inspired by the beauty of Scotland and the character of the cities while she was writing the Harry Potter franchise.
The books do not specifically say that any scenes in Harry Potter were located in Scotland, however, Rowling stated in interviews that she always imagined Hogwarts to be in Scotland.
There are many filming locations throughout the UK. The Warner Brothers Studio in Leavesden, England is where most scenes are shot.
One of the most famous scenes that were not shot in Scotland is the King Cross Train Station in London which was the setting for London Station in Harry Potter.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct
Glenfinnan Viaduct is known as “the Harry Potter Bridge” as it is the railway bridge that the Hogwart’s Express train crosses to get to Hogwarts.
The location is used in at least three of the movies. The most famous scene is in Chamber of Secrets with Ron and Harry and the flying car.
Glenfinnan Viaduct was constructed between July 1907 and October 1898 and opened in 1901. The bridge has been used as a railway line for all that time.
Glenfinnan Viaduct is a large curving bridge, with 21 arches spanning over 380 metres (1,000 feet) long. It stands magnificently in the valley between Loch Shiel over the River Finnan.
There is a small car park which is usually busy throughout the year just off the A830. From the car park, you can walk to a viewpoint to get a brilliant view of the viaduct, Glenfinnan monument and Loch Shiel.
To get to the viewpoint it is a 10-minute walk up a steep hill. Appropriate footwear is required. Car parking costs £3 per car.
The viaduct is an excellent photo opportunity for Harry Potter fans and nature lovers. Look at the West Coast railways page for more information on when to catch the train crossing the bridge for that perfect memorable moment.
To get a closer view of the viaduct you can follow one of the walking paths from the car park or follow the Glenfinnan Trail from the Glenfinnan Train Station.
The trail takes between one hour and two hours to complete. The best views are from the hill behind the viaduct where you can see the full curve of it.
Nearby Accommodation: Torr Caladh
West Highland Train Line
This train line is considered one of the most scenic journeys in the UK. The train travels through stunning landscapes including moorlands, lochs, rural farmland, small villages and mountains.
Opened in 1901, the route runs from Glasgow and branches off to Oban or Mallaig.
There are many locations along this route which are featured in the Harry Potter movies, these include Rannoch Moor, Loch Shiel, Glenfinnan Viaduct and Loch Eilt.
Many scenes were shot in the Hogwarts Express. These places features in scenes were shot in the Hogwarts Express.
The Hogwart’s Express/ Jacobite Steam Train
In real life, the Hogwarts Express is called The Jacobite Steam Train. This is an 84-mile route which takes you through the best parts of the Western Highlands.
You can view many magnificent lochs, mountains, forests and small villages in the Scottish Highlands. One of the most famous parts of the route that a lot of people will recognise from the movies is the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
The route passes through the villages of Glenfinnan, Lochailort, Arisaig and Morar before finishing at Mallaig. Visitors usually take a short break at Glenfinnan Station.
Also, the small railway museum is available to visit. Between April and October when the route runs. Usually, there are two services a day running between Fort William and Mallaig.
Since 1984 The Jacobite train line has operated. Also, the route has positively impacted tourism between Fort William and Mallaig.
Parts of the train and train route feature in the Harry Potter movies.
The locomotive used to pull the Hogwart’s Express in the movie was the GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall and this carriage is on display at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.
To get the full Harry Potter experience you can book the Harry Potter-style compartments. These compartments are very popular and usually sell out months in advance.
If you arrive at the Fort William station one hour before departure, you can get a ticket on a first come first serve basis. However, there might be sold out. I would recommend trying to book tickets in advance.
Loch Shiel is a freshwater lake and is one of the four largest lochs in Scotland. You can get amazing views across Loch Shiel from the Glenfinnan Viewpoint, between Glenfinnan Viaduct and Glenfinnan Monument.
Loch Shiel is an important background scenery for most of the eight movies. One of the most notable scenes is when Harry Potter flies over the lake on Buckbeak the Hippogriff.
Also, the loch was a popular scene in the Goblet of Fire movie, where the Triwizard Tournament was being held.
Unfortunately, Hogwarts was added digitally to the scenes so you will have to use your imagination for the castle next to the lake.
Nearby Accommodation: Blythswood
Glencoe Valley is one of the most magnificent landscapes in the whole of Scotland. Located in the northwestern highlands, near the small village of Glencoe.
Back in 1692, it was a terrible site of a massacre, nowadays it is a National Scenic Area.
This wonderfully photogenic and scenic area was used as a setting for any movies in the Harry Potter franchise including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
One of the best-known Harry Potter film sets was built in Scotland was set in Glen Coe.
Hagrid’s Hut set with a pumpkin patch, gatehouse, bridge and sundial stone circle was set in Glencoe.
This famous scene was where Hermione punches Draco, where Buckbeak was chained up prior to his sentence and where the bridge which leads to Hogwarts was here.
Most of the filming was done in across from Clachaig Inn in Clachaig Gulley. There are plenty of hikes to choose from in the Glen Coe area.
Also, there is a visitor centre run by the National Trust for Scotland. This centre has an exhibition, toilets, a viewing platform, a shop and a cafe.
Also, in the village of Glencoe visitors stop at the Glencoe Folk Museum to learn about local history.
Nearby Accommodation: Ardno House B&B
Located in Glen Coe is a large extensive area of highland wilderness known as Rannoch Moor.
This is a boggy moor area, covering 50 square miles, full of peat bog and lochans. The desolate area is full of flora and fauna, including red deer.
Where does this charming piece of Highland wilderness feature in the Harry Potter franchise? All you Harry Potter fans might recognise it from the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie.
Rannoch Moor features in the scene where the death eaters board the train in search of Harry.
For great views of Rannoch Moor, it is best to get a train through the area. This can be the Jacobite Steam Train or any other train line which runs through the West Highland area.
If you are exploring Rannoch Moor on foot make sure you bring appropriate hiking gear.
The best way to access Rannoch Moor is by car, there are a few parking places along the A82 where you can stop for some quick views.
Steall Falls is a waterfall which drops 120 metres, making it Scotland’s second-highest waterfall.
Located in Glen Nevis, near the UK’s largest mountain, Ben Nevis. Glen Nevis is approximately seven miles from Fort William.
To get to the falls you can follow a short hike for approximately half an hour. Once, you get close you can admire the water crashing down the side of the mountain.
This impressive fall and glen were used to shoot Quidditch matches and broomstick flying lessons. Also, you might recognise the waterfall from scenes in the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Steal Falls is a strong feature in the background when Harry fights the Hungarian Horntail dragon. While the falls are real, the tournament arena is not real, unfortunately, as it was an added effect later in the movie.
For adventure seekers, you can continue walking past the falls and onto the Ring of Steall hike, which is a rewarding 10-mile hike across four Munros.
Make sure you check the weather forecast and wear suitable hiking shoes and appropriate clothing for this trek. There is a parking area at Steall Falls hike at the end of a single-track road en route to Glen Nevis.
Nearby Accommodation: Glen Nevis Youth Hostel
Loch Arkaig is a loch located north of Fort William. It is a 12 mile long freshwater lake which has islands in the middle.
Eilean Loch Airceig has a ruined chapel on the islands dedicated to St Colomba. Loch Arkaig is used in shots, in combination of Loch Eilt to show Dumbledore’s resting place in the Dealthy Hallows.
The loch is best accessed by car. This is a great place for scenic walks, birdwatching and wildlife spotting.
Also, you can learn about the Jacobite rebellion and the Scottish clan history at the Clan Cameron Museum.
Nearby Accommodation: Teapot Cottage
Loch Etive, also known in Scottish Gaelic as Loch Eite, is the sea loch in the Argyll and Bute area of Scotland. The loch is fairly long and narrow stretching over thirty miles long.
The loch featured in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movies, Part 1 and Part 2. This is the location where Harry, Ron and Hermione end up after escaping from Gringotts in London.
Also, the north part of the Loch at Gualachulain was the setting got the camp that Harry, Ron and Hermione set up.
The Glen Etive is very scenic and is a popular place to go for those who wish to do some hiking. Also, visitors often pay a visit to Dunstaffnage Castle, Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace and the historic coastal town of Oban.
Near Mallaig on the west coast of Scotland is a large freshwater lake called Loch Morar.
Loch Morar is one of the largest lochs in Scotland and it is the deepest freshwater body of water in the British Isles, depth reaches over 1,000 feet.
Loch Morar was one of the many lochs used for shots of Hogwarts Lake.
Throughout the movies, Loch Morar was used primarily for close-up scenes. The best views of the loch are from the west end.
The loch is viewable from the West Highland Line, so keep an eye out for the lake from the window. The train station is a 25-minute walk from the western shores of the loch.
Black Rock Gorge
Black Rock Gorge is a narrow canyon cut into red sandstone that is just outside the town of Evanton in the area of Easter Ross in Scotland. The gorge is 1.5 kilometres in length and 36 metres in depth.
Black Rock Gorge is located 15 miles north of Inverness. To walk around the gorge it takes one and a half hours to complete the 2.5-mile hike.
In the Harry Potter films, the Black Rock Gorge features in the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in the Triwizard Tournament. Harry is trying to escape the dragon in this canyon.
Nearby Accommodation: Novar Arms Hotel
Loch Eilt is a freshwater loch located in the Scottish Highlands between the villages of Glenfinnan and Lochailort.
The loch has a number of small islands. The little island on the loch is called Eilean na Moine. Loch Eilt can be viewed from the trains along the West Highland Line to Mallaig.
The little island in the loch is known as Dumbledore’s grave. In Deathly Hallows Part 1, Voldemort comes here to steal the Elder Wand.
Also, the loch features in the Prisoner of Azkaban where Hagrid is throwing stones into the loch following Buckbeaks sentencing. Moreover, the loch appears in many shots of the exterior of Hogwarts.
Nearby Accommodation: Druimbhan
Bo’ness Motor Museum
If you want to see the flying blue Ford Anglis driven by Harry Potter and Ron Weasley along the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, you can head to Bo’ness Motor Museum.
The museum is a 35-minute drive west of Edinburgh. As well as having the car used in the 2002 movie you can view a number of other historic cars used in many James Bond films.
Nearby Accommodation: Wester Muirhouse
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland where J.K Rowling first began plotting the Harry Potter series back in the early 90s.
The Old Town of Edinburgh has many features that fans will notice in the Harry Potter franchise.
Stony streets, medieval architecture and winding alleys play a part in the setting of Harry Potter. The first opening chapters were plotted and written in the charming cafes of Edinburgh.
In Edinburgh, you can immerse yourself in many experiences like walking tours, potion cocktail classes, the Department of Magic Escape Rooms and sampling Butterbeer in The Dog House.
Elephant House Cafe
The Elephant House Cafe is self-branded as “The Birthplace of Harry Potter”. Set in the Old Town, near Edinburgh Castle, the University of Edinburgh and Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, it is easy to see how J.K Rowling got her inspiration for the wizarding world.
Also, much of the Chamber of Secrets and the Prisoner of Azkaban was written here.
J.K Rowling wrote the opening chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Either way, you can order a cake and coffee and see where the Wizarding magic began.
Victoria Street are located in the Old Town of Edinburgh. This is a narrow curved street in central Edinburgh Grassmarket area is believed by some to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley.
Diagon Alley is the cobblestone street where witches and wizards can buy supplies from the many wizarding shops.
Also, Victoria Street is one of the most photographed streets in the city due to its most vibrant colourful boutiques and old sandstone buildings.
In 1873, Robert Cresser set up a brush shop which is thought to be the inspiration for Olivander’s Wand Shop. The brush shop closed in 2004, now it is home to the popular Harry Potter Shop called Museum Context.
The museum has plenty of merchandise and souvenirs for Potter fans including wands, robes, plush toys and books. Also, there are plenty of photo opportunities in the store too.
Greyfriar’s Kirkyard is one of the most famous graveyards in the UK. There is so much history to discover from robbers, ghosts and poltergeists, and Scotland’s most famous loyal dog, Greyfriar’s Bobby.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is not a scene in Harry Potter. However, it is a location where J.K. Rowling got the inspiration for some of her characters.
The graveyard is also known as “Harry Potter Graveyard”. Wander around the graveyard to find the names of Tom Riddle and McGonagall, as well as a local school which looks a little bit like Hogwarts.
From the Flodden Wall, you will get a great view of George Heriot’s School, the inspiration for Hogwarts.
George Heriot’s School
George Heriot School is said to be the inspiration for Hogwarts.
The building is an impressive Romanesque building, with four towers. The school has four houses just like at Hogwarts.
This has lead to the conclusion from many Harry Potter fans that George Heriot’s building inspired the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
However, J.K Rowling has revealed that this is in fact a myth.
The Balmoral Hotel
At the east end of Princes Street, just a few meters away from the Scott Monument, there is a Victorian Building that has been one of the landmarks of Edinburgh: The Balmoral.
The Balmoral is a luxury five star hotel which opened more than 100 years ago.
Room 552 in the corner of the corridor on the fifth floor of the hotel is known as The J.K Rowling Suite.
This room is said to be where J.K Rowling wrote the last book in the Harry Potter series, the Deathly Hallows in 2007. The door of the suite is decorated with an owl and a small golden sign.
University of Glasgow
The main building at the University of Glasgow is said to have an uncanny resemblance to Hogwarts.
Also, the courtyard inside looks like where Harry learned to fly his first broomstick.
Despite the resemblance, the University of Glasgow was not used as a filming scene in Harry Potter but you can still imagine the wizarding magic when you visit.
Where did they shoot Harry Potter in Scotland?
Most of the shooting of Harry Potter was done in the northwestern Highlands near Fort William. Glenfinnan, Mallaig and Glen Coe all feature valleys and lochs which were used for filming Harry Potter.
Also, there is a destination near Inverness which was used in a tournament scene in the Goblet of Fire.
What loch is in Harry Potter?
There are several lochs in Scotland that appear in the films of Harry Potter, these are Loch Shiel, Loch Morar, Loch Eilt, Loch Etive and Loch Arknaig.
The most famous loch is Loch Shiel which is located next to Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Loch Shiel is the loch where Harry Potter was flying over on Buckbeak in the Prisoner of Azkaban. Also, this loch was the location of the Triwizard Tournament in the Goblet of Fire.
Was Harry Potter filmed in Edinburgh?
There is a connection between Edinburgh and the Harry Potter series, as J.K Rowling got the inspiration for the Harry Potter franchise from the city. However, Edinburgh was not used as a destination to film the series.
The best way to visit most of the filming locations is by car. The locations are extremely remote and public transport is limited and sometimes unreliable.
Also, the destinations are quite far apart, and your journey will be a lot smoother with a car.
Day tours are available from Edinburgh, this is a great itinerary for a quick-stop tour where you can see the highlights. Car hire is available in a number of locations in Scotland, mostly in the larger cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.