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Okay muggles, listen up! If you’re a Potterhead, there are many magical spots to experience Harry Potter in York that you can check out. Not only did J.K. Rowling use the medieval Shambles to concoct Diagon Alley in the books, but they also shot some scenes out of the movie here too.
Even better, York has really taken on the Harry Potter theme. The Shambles is filled with famous stores like The Shop That Must Not Be Named, Boy Wizard and the Potions Cauldron. So, you can really feel like you’ve hopped through Platform 9 ¾, taken the Hogwart’s Express and rocked up to Diagon Alley to park your broom, sip a butter beer, or go wand shopping.
In this muggles guide, I’m going to show you all the spots where you can find the magic of Harry Potter in York. So, don your robes, pack your wand, bring your familiar and Wingardium Levi-O-sa!
Although I would LOVE there to be a Hogwarts Express going to York, the closest we have is the Hogwarts Express in Scotland. So, I’m afraid you’ll have to get a muggle express train. From London, the train time to York is only two hours which is pretty good going! Check the National Rail site for tickets.
If you’re going to be driving by car, big tip, avoid Womping Willow’s! Just kidding. But, the journey will be lengthier at four hours from London. You can alight at the York junction on the M1 Motorway heading North.
You’ll be pleased to know that York is relatively compact so many places in this guide are all accessible by foot in the city centre – no broom required!
9 magical spots if you love Harry Potter in York
1. Wander down The Shambles or Diagon Alley
Ah, the place where it all began, J.K. Rowling really did use The Shambles as inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books when she visited. I mean, you can see why!
Cute cobbled streets, narrow lanes, quaint stalls with the most gorgeous signs hanging out the front, timber frame galleries in all shapes and sizes. This medieval street from the 11th Century, really does look straight from a Potter movie with some magic to it!
As a staple stop for anyone visiting York, this gorgeous street will be busy at all times of day. But, if you come really early in the morning or later on at witching hour, you can have it all to yourself!
You’ll find Harry Potter shops, The Shambles Tavern, tuck shops, souvenir stalls and all sorts here. Make sure you leave enough time to explore.
The Shambles is located at Shambles, York, YO1 7LX. Although the shops will close, It’s open 24 hours a day so perfect for witching hour.
2. Spot The Shambles smallest resident at number 10
You may walk straight past this house on the Shambles, so keep a look out for the smallest resident living at number 10. The door is right under the Potions Cauldron, who are proud residents at number 9 ¾!
It’s such a cute addition to the street, I wonder who lives inside? A pixie? A house elf perhaps? I’ll leave that mystery to your imagination…
3. Brew an elixir at The Potions Cauldron
If you visit The Potions Cauldron at 9 ¾, there is a lesson in potion making worthy of Professor Severus Snape himself. But, not quite as dangerous and you have no fear of eating slugs either!
Here you can buy all sorts of Phileas Phials of potions and elixirs to drink, including The Love Potion and The Power of a Wizard. You can add it to your own Slush Puppy for magical abilities!
Or, have a hot potion of a Flat Witch (coffee) or Shot of Magic (espresso) that comes with a Chocolate Frog.
You can also buy Dragon Eggs, see their Hogwarts Castle made entirely out of lego, choose your house with their Sorting Hat, and make your very own wanted wizard sign for illegal potion making. Oops, sorry Ministry of Magic!
I loved this place as I found it more of an experience and really fun, even for big kids! You have to visit the Potions Cauldron whilst you’re in The Shambles.
The Potions Cauldron can be found at The Shambles 9 ¾. It’s open daily from 10am – 7pm each evening.
4. Park your broom and go wand shopping at The Shop That Must Not Be Named
The Shop That Must Not Be Named is the most famous as it was the first Harry Potter store along The Shambles. So, make sure you park your broom and go inside to take at look at their huge collection of Potter gifts including their very own wand collection from Ollivander’s wand shop!
The Nimbus 2000, Hedwig, the Golden Quidditch, House uniforms and robes, quill and ink, spell books and all sorts of magical items can be purchased here! You may have a hard time choosing.
The staff here, or house Prefects, are always at hand to help, donned in house robes! So, don’t feel shy if you have a question.
The Shop That Must Not Be Named can be found at number 30 The Shambles and is open daily from 10am – 6pm.
5. Visit The Boy Wizard and the World of Wizardry Gift Shops
Next door and across the street are more gift shops; The Boy Wizard and The World of Wizardry. Selling official Harry Potter merchandise to buy. They sell clothes, backpacks, card games, house uniform, stationery, magic wands and more!
It’s really helpful that there are a few shops down this street to spread out the crowds, they get extremely crowded inside with big queues at the till so make sure you leave lots of time for shopping!
The Boy Wizard and the World of Wizardry can both be found on the Shambles. The Boy Wizard is open 9am – 5pm daily aside from Saturday’s at 9.30am. The World of Wizardry is open from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. 11am – 3pm on Saturdays and closed Sundays.
6. Buy the favourite Wizarding beverage; Butter Beer!
Another thing that I loved about the Potions Cauldron was the tasty Butter Beer they had in store. After visiting Hogsmeade at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida, I was craving their Butterscotch Beer by the Flying Cauldron. Finally, here I could get my fix without flying a few thousand miles!
It’s not as sweet as the draft version and that was perfect for me. So, pop into the Potions Cauldron for the favourite wizarding beverage. They don’t take Sickles here though, bottles are £2.50 each!
7. Cross the King’s Bridge in York Train Station
Although Hagrid and Harry Potter crossed the pedestrian bridge together in the movie in King’s Cross Station in London, the shooting location is actually the King’s Bridge in York Central Railway Station!
Yes, I couldn’t believe it either actually! But it is true. Let’s go back to the first movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The Hogwart’s Express is due to depart on the 1st of September from King’s Cross Station in London. Hagrid is walking Harry to Platform 9 ¾ and hands Harry his tickets! Hagrid then says “Blimey, is that the time?” and vanishes!
After that, the filming resumes at King’s Cross station for the rest of the scenes. Recognise it now?
York Railway Station can be found on Station Road in York, YO24 1AB. You don’t need to buy a ticket to enter the platform.
8. Visit Diagon Alley at witching hour
Out of all the times that I visited The Shambles, my favourite time was in the evening. The sun had gone down, the stars were out, the crowds (and kiddies) had gone home for the day and the street twinkled with street lamps and fairy lights!
It was downright magical at this time of the day and it looks SO much better in photos too. You can almost imagine Professor McGonagall shape shifting from a cat out of no where in the night!
There isn’t anything to do here in the evenings save a visit to the Shambles Tavern which is a bar serving craft beers. So, if you did want a pint, you’ll receive a warm welcome inside.
The Shambles Tavern can be found on The Shambles. It opens at 8.30am serving food until 7pm and closes at 11.30pm, seven days a week (Sunday hours differ).
9. Spot some Harry Potter magic at the National Railway Museum
The National Railway Museum in York is free of charge and a HUGE place to visit, perfect for a rainy day. Although there isn’t a Hogwart’s Express train, you can still find a sprinkle of Harry Potter Magic. It is hidden somewhere inside, but I’ll help you out with directions.
When you enter the North Shed, where the Flying Scotsman is located, head towards the back. If you look up to the roof, you’ll see all sorts of numbered train signs. At the very back, after number 9 you will eventually find Platform 9 ¾!
This is the only Harry Potter Easter Egg in here I’m afraid, but I’m sure there will be more with time. If you’re struggling to find it, ask the staff. They’ll know where to direct you!
The National Railway Museum is free of charge and can be found Leeman Road YO26 4XJ. If you didn’t fancy a walk you can catch the shuttle outside of York Minster for £3. It’s open daily from 10am – 6pm.
Where to stay in York
After you are tuckered out from all that magic, you’ll need a place to rest your head, or practice your spells (I won’t tell the Ministry of Magic if you won’t!) and where better than a place fit for royalty?
The Principal Hotel in York is the ideal location to base yourself for a few days of sightseeing as it’s at the heart of the city centre adjacent to the central railway station. That means that all the Harry Potter spots in York are only a few minutes walk away! For example, the Shambles is only 10 minutes from there.
Many of the rooms feature a spellbinding view of York Minster and they even have their very own private garden, so it’s like a mini oasis in the city.
If you’re curious to find out more, you can read my whole review about my stay here.
Harry Potter film locations in Yorkshire
So, this is the full list of Harry Potter spots in the city centre of York, but there are a few more Harry Potter film locations that you can visit in Yorkshire if you’re craving more magic;
- Visit Malham Cove and the see natural limestone rocks from Deathly Hallows Part One.
- Goathland Railway Station was used as a shooting location to film Hogsmeade Station. It’s based in the North York Moors Railway. Here, Harry and the other students were dropped off by the Hogwarts Express to start their school year at Hogwarts! You can also buy a ticket to ride a steam train here that looks very similar to the train in the Potter movies. Click here to find out more.