Victoria Street in Edinburgh the inspiration for Diagon Alley

7 Magical Harry Potter Places To Find In Edinburgh

There are plenty of reasons tourists flock to Edinburgh each year. However, when JK Rowling cited the city as her inspiration behind the Harry Potter series, Potter-fans began to seek out the connections between the wizarding world and the Scottish capital. From graveyards to cafes, Edinburgh is a treasure chest of hidden Harry Potter tributes. Here’s what you should be looking out for.

1. Victoria Street

‘Apparate’ to the colourful shopfronts and winding cobbles of Diagon Alley – otherwise known as Victoria Street, right in the center of Edinburgh. There’s no mistaking where Rowling got her inspiration from, but the Diagon Alley plaque will be sure to let you know you’re in the right place.

Victoria Street in Edinburgh the inspiration for Diagon Alley

2.Greyfriar’s Kirkyard

Traditionally the resting place of the UK’s most loyal dog, Greyfriars Bobby, the graveyard has been attracting visitors for a totally different reason. Rowling would frequent the graveyard in search of name inspiration for her characters. Located among the numerous gravestones are a number of names Potter-fans will recognize. Keep a lookout for the Riddell family, including Thomas Riddell, William McGonagall, and Elizabeth Moodie.

Greyfriars Kirkyard where JK Rowling was inspired by character names

3. The Elephant House Cafe

Once an unsuspecting city cafe, The Elephant House Cafe now regularly has fans queueing out of the door for the chance to grab a bite to eat in ‘the birthplace of Harry Potter’. If you do manage to squeeze through the door, be sure to visit the toilets for some magical Harry Potter graffiti.

4. George Herriot’s School

Four towers, four houses, and a co-ed boarding school? It’s unsurprising that fans cite George Heriot’s School as the inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. JK Rowling herself has never substantiated the claims, however, the 17th-century architecture and its situation of being overlooked by Greyfriar’s Kirkyard make it a likely source of inspiration.

George Heriot's school the inspiration behind Hogwarts School

5. Balmoral Hotel

The Elephant Castle may be where Rowling started the Harry Potter books, but the Balmoral Hotel is where she finished them. In the exclusive 5* hotel, the author famously wrote: “JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007″ on a bust of Hermes in her suite.

It’s now the JK Rowling Suite,  where you can experience first-hand the very room the series was finished. We gotta warn you though, it comes with a price tag of $1300 per night.

Balmoral Hotel where JK Rowling finished the Harry Potter series

6. JK Rowling’s Handprints

In 2008, Rowling was awarded the Edinburgh Award. Soon after, her handprints were displayed in front of the Edinburgh City Chambers. You’ll easily spot flagstone in front of the building, alongside other famous Edinburgh residers past and present.

Edinburgh City Chambers where JK Rowlings handprints are displayed

7. Spoon Cafe

Spoon Cafe is another hugely famous Rowling writing spot. In 1997 the young single mum would sit in the cafe to write the first Harry Potter books. It was previously named Nicholson’s Cafe and was owned by Rowling’s brother-in-law. Luckily, he would offer her free coffee whilst she worked.

harry potter Edinburgh

Alice Dodd