Top 5 Things to Do in Edinburgh for Harry Potter Fans

Edinburgh Scotland | WORLD OF WANDERLUST
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On a recent visit to Edinburgh booked with Creative Holidays, I set off to find the top 5 things to do in Edinburgh for Harry Potter fans.

Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most underrated cities – with stunning architecture, a bustling way of life, impeccable dining options, and incredible history. Oh – did I mention the Harry Potter books started and finished here in Edinburgh? That’s right, J. K. Rowling began writing the Harry Potter books here in Edinburgh at the Elephant Cafe, and completed the last book at the Balmoral Hotel where she booked a room to complete the final book.

So, where are the Harry Potter locations to visit in Edinburgh?

Where it all began - the Elephant House Cafe

Where it all began – the Elephant House Cafe

The Elephant Cafe

The first (and most renowned) location to visit in Edinburgh for Harry Potter fans will be the Elephant House Cafe, located at 21 George Street. Of course nearly every Harry Potter fan visiting Edinburgh will have this on their list of must visit locations, so expect large crowds and a lengthy line in the warmer months. August is THE tourist month for Edinburgh, so unless you’re visiting outside of this month you should anticipate a lengthy wait to be seated. This is where J. K. Rowling used to sit daily to write the first and second books, as it was cheaper for her to pay for a cup of coffee than to pay her heating bill at home. Needless to say she finished on very different circumstances.


The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh

The Balmoral Hotel

The final book was finished inside a standard room at the Balmoral Hotel – one of Edinburgh’s most renowned luxury hotels. J. K. Rowling has said in interviews that she was far too distracted at home during finishing the final book, so she checked into the hotel to finish the 6th book and even inscribed her name in the furniture! You can visit the Balmoral Hotel for a high tea or even book the very room the final book was finished in.

harry potter locations edinburgh

Where Tom Riddle rests

Greyfriars Kirkyard

From the Elephant Cafe, J. K. Rowling could source much of her inspiration for what she saw out of her window. The first of these sights was nearby cemetery Greyfriars Kirkyard – where Tom Riddle’s grave resides – which has now become a sight in itself for hardcore Potter fans to visit and pay their respects to Voldemort.

hogwarts edinburgh

The inspiration for Hogwarts

George Heriot’s School

Built in 1628, George Heriot’s School has four houses, four towers, and was a clear source of inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.


Daytime Fun @ Camera Obscura

Daytime Fun @ Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura

As a final installment, I wanted to find a fun activity in Edinburgh that allowed me to escape reality (like the books so allowed) for the day – so I headed to Camera Obscura for some real life illusions.


World of Wanderlust visited Edinburgh with Creative Holidays – however my opinion is as always, my own.

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    Nick Toye
    February 16, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Your picture of Tom Riddell is wrong. It’s actually behind that wall in another part of the graveyard.

    Nick Toye
    February 16, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Your picture of Tom Riddell grave is wrong. It’s actually behind that wall in another part of the graveyard.

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    I am very much interested to go these palaces as soon as possible .. nice places and professional photo shoot

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    October 19, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    I love this! I’ve been following your Instagram for what feels like years and never actually made it on to your website. I came across it on Pinterest and now I am obsessed. Currently spending three months in England and then off to Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Iceland. Your blog is like my bible! I love it!

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    June 6, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    If anyone wants to do a complete HP tour:

    Fettes school was the inspiration for Hogwarts rather than Heriots. It’s still in Edinburgh but in the new rather than old town, on the opposite side of Queens Street.

    J.k wrote in lots of cafes in the area around elephant house but her main haunt was actually Nicholson steet cafe (now known as Spoon) which I believe was owned by a friend. I think Elephant House is the only place that actively advertises she wrote there which is why it gets all the fame. She was also filmed writing in favourit, opposite the old Edinburgh University medical school, for a documentary which was aired around about the time the last book came out (from memory!). That’s since changed names but it’s still a cafe.

    If you have a wander around the kirkyard you’ll find a few HP surnames in there although the Riddles are the only ones I know of where both the first and surnames match.

    November 10, 2014 at 12:19 am

    I’ve been to Edinburgh last spring! The elephant cafe is amazing, every harry potter fan should go there and enter the bathrooms with a camera, you won’t believe your eyes. i didn’t want to leave that bathroom anymore! the camera obscura is great as well, we had so much fun in there!
    i also have a post on my blog about edinburgh, check it out:

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    Kate @ SeeKateTravelTheWorld
    June 14, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    This is awesome! When I went to Porto, Portugal last year, I saw the bookstore with the spiral staircase that inspired the Gryffindor House moving staircases. Apparently JK Rowling wrote a lot of the books in Porto and loved the city so much, so when they went to make the movie she wanted to incorporate that into the movie. Also When we were in Coimbra, Portugal, all the students were walking around in CAPES! Apparently they wear them for special events at the University, such as graduation, pledging, etc. It felt like we stepped back in time and also traveled to Hogwarts. I kept asking my boyfriend when Dumbledore was coming out 🙂

    Betty J. Ogburn
    June 12, 2014 at 1:44 am

    …Great list–I’ve always wanted to go to Edinburgh anyways, but now I’ll definitely have to, seeing as how it’s like the “Mecca” for Harry Potter!!…

    Isa Dione
    June 11, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    I didn’t know that Rowling finished her book in a hotel, that’s interesting!
    The camera obscura thing looks cool, is it like a place of various dark rooms aligned with different illusions?
    I have never been to Edinburgh, but I will keep your tips on my list of places to see, definitely! Great post!

    June 11, 2014 at 12:31 am

    This town is one of the place I’d like to visit. Surely I’ll visit these places too!

    Lisa - Wee Wanders
    June 10, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    I live in Glasgow and work in Edinburgh and I have only been to half these places – great tips 🙂