Edinburgh is a city steeped in rich history that goes back hundreds of years. And yet, countless tourists flock to Edinburgh for a much less historic reason; namely, the fact that J. K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books in this very city. Which is why, living in Edinburgh and being a certifiable Harry Potter addict, it seemed appropriate that I should visit all the spots that have even the slightest connection with the series. Thanks to the support of TravelCast.tv, an exciting new video platform, I am thrilled to present you with this Harry Potter tour, Edinburgh style.
A Magical Harry Potter Tour, Edinburgh Style
There’s a part of my personality that doesn’t often appear on my travel blog, but anyone who knows me knows this to be true: I am a nerd.
Like, a really big nerd.
One of the things I am nerdiest about is Harry Potter. For my 24th birthday, I shamelessly hosted a Harry Potter themed birthday party, equip with Moaning Myrtle rising from the toilet, dangerous amounts of polyjuice potion, and a replica of Harry’s 11th birthday cake. Taking all this into account, it was no wonder I jumped at the opportunity to host a Harry Potter Tour of Edinburgh.
From locations that inspired J. K. Rowling’s creations to the very cafés where she wrote the books, this tour is full of local Edinburgh finds that every Harry Potter fan should know about. So get ready to embark on your magical Harry Potter tour of Edinburgh?
1. Edinburgh Castle
While Rowling does not claim that the castle itself inspired the books, I've been living with a view of this castle for the better half of a year and I've become convinced that there's no way a woman living in Edinburgh writing about witches and wizards wouldn't be at least a little inspired by it. I mean, come on. It's a castle. In Edinburgh! So naturally that's where our Harry Potter tour of Edinburgh begins.
2. “Diagon Alley” aka Candlemaker Row and Victoria Street
Just around the corner from the Edinburgh Castle are two popular shopping streets, Candlemaker Row and Victoria Street. It's believed that these streets were the inspiration for Diagon Alley. When you walk these winding roads, you'll understand why.
3. Greyfriars Kirkyard
One of Rowling's weirder hobbies is walking around in graveyards to get ideas for character names. Tom Riddle and McGonagall are the most famous Harry Potter names in Greyfriars Kirkyard, but keep your eyes open because there are a few more familiar names scattered around the headstones.
4. The Elephant House
If you've done any research into Harry Potter sites in Edinburgh, you've come across The Elephant House. They are very proud of the fact that Rowling started writing the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone, in their cafe. However, she did most her writing in a different café across town... more on that later...
5. Balmoral Hotel
From starving artist to bestselling author, Rowling had a bit more cash to burn when it came to writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the final book in the series). Which is why she was able to book the presidential suite in this stunning hotel to finish her masterpiece.
6. Edinburgh City Chambers
You know the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Well this is the Edinburgh version. Outside the Edinburgh City Chambers you'll find Rowling's hand prints forever memorialized in gold leaf. Because Rowling's talent is eternal.
As I mentioned earlier, Rowling did most of her writing in a small café across town from The Elephant House. At the time it was Nicolson's, owned by Rowling's brother-in-law. Nicolson's is long gone, but a cute café still stands where it once stood, waiting for a new generation of writers to leave their mark.
8. The Dog House
Technically this pub has no connection with Rowling or the Harry Potter books. However, they do serve their very own butterbeer. It's kind of sickening and not quite the magical deliciousness I like to imagine actual butterbeer would taste like, but it's butterbeer nonetheless. So if you're a true fan, you'll at least try a sip.
9. George Heriot’s School
Rowling has admitted that this castle-like building is the actual inspiration for Hogwarts. It has a four-house system that inspired the four Hogwarts houses (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff). It's also where Rowling's daughter goes to school... a little witch in the making? I think yes.
Enjoy your Harry Potter Tour of Edinburgh!
If you're a fan of Harry Potter, Edinburgh needs to be on your bucket list. Honestly, it's a bit of a pilgrimage for Harry Potter geeks like myself. When you make it to Edinburgh, make sure to check out the above Harry Potter sites and let me know which ones are your favorite in the comments below!