The Harry Potter guide to Edinburgh

Grassmarket is basically Diagon Alley

Edinburgh is not merely the birthplace of one of the most loved series of this century but it is (in several cases) the inspiration behind it.

If you’re wondering why I’m so fond of Edinburgh, it’s because it’s every Potterhead’s dream come true. Whether you’re walking by the Grassmarket or touring the Old Town, bits and pieces of Harry Potter will appear.

The Elephant House

This cosy, writers’ friendly cafe on George IV Bridge proudly calls itself  “the birthplace” of JK Rowling’s masterpiece.  Although JK did write parts of the book series in the cafe, it isn’t quite the birthplace of the series (at least not according to my research). Nonetheless, whether you’re a Potterhead or not, make sure to pass by and enjoy a  book ( harry potter…?) and the warm atmosphere over a cup of tea and cake.

Greyfrairs Kirkyard

Two people are buried here whom their names were the inspiration behind two important characters in the book: Tom Riddle, and Mcgonagall. In Tom Riddle’s case I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse to be the inspiration of the Dark Lord’s name.

Ironically, William Mcgonegall was the inspiration behind Minerva’s last name in the books, he was known to be one of the worst writers in the history of English literature.


Ever wondered how JK Rowling got the name of her hero? There is a passageway in Edinburgh that’s called Potterrow port, and some say it might be the place JK Rowling got her hero’s last name from. Sounds intriguing, though one can only speculate.


Look familiar? The cobblestone, the alleyways, the colourful store fronts? If you pretend these stores sell wands and magic books then it’s like taking a walk through Diagon Alley for your first year at Hogwart’s supply.

Edinburgh Castle

It needn’t any kind of imagination to see Hogwarts in this photo. The castle is perched above the city on Castle rock, just like Hogwarts is perched over the Black Lake, and the Forbidden forest.  Make sure to pay the castle a visit because much like Hogwarts, this historic fortress is rich in its own stories.

George Heriot’s School

Just behind the kirkyard there is a Castle like boarding school that has its own houses, and uniform, very much like Hogwarts.  It’s popular knowledge that JK Rowling modelled the housing system of Hogwarts after Heriot’s: Castle, Lauriston, Raeburn and Greyfriars. The corresponding Hogwarts houses are: Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Gryffindor and Hufflepuff.

Give yourself a magical tour through the Harry Potter books by simply touring around Edinburgh and exploring all the pockets and alleyways that lay within it.  And to the Potterheads out there: it’s a dream come true.