I’m not going to lie, London itineraries have been done to the death. Big Ben and Buckingham Palace will always appear on them and don’t get me wrong, for good reason. But I’ve come up with an alternative itinerary for 4 days in London, aimed at people that may have already seen all the icons. My itinerary has been INSPIRED by Harry Potter but with a difference, it’s not necessarily a guide to all the Harry Potter movie locations, it’s more a mash up between a classic sightseeing itinerary and a Harry Potter guide…using some of the Harry Potter locations to showcase some of the different AREAS of London that I believe are worth visiting!
London Itinerary: 4 Days
Starting point: London Liverpool Street train station
Leadenhall Market dates back to the 14th century. It’s one of London’s oldest markets, originally selling meat and fish, however it is now home to shops, cafes, bars and restaurants all under an impressive Victorian built roof. It is also the filming location for the exterior of the Leaky Cauldron pub/entrance to Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone. I visited early in the morning before the majority of the businesses were open and was able to enjoy the architetural pleasures of the market without crowds. It’s definitely worth seeing!
So Harry Potter has brought us to this part of London, while in the area, cut through Spitalfields market and on to Brick Lane! I love Brick Lane for its street art (it’s everywhere!) and creativity! You’ll find the Brick Lane market, food trucks, and if you’re after something a little different, ‘Junkyard golf’ is a fun indoor mini golf course made out of lots of recycled objects. One of the courses even has a slide!
Directions: Walk back to Liverpool Street and jump on the westbound Central Line (red) to Marble Arch.
Shopping at Primark
Now if you want to stock up with reasonabily priced (read as cheap) Harry Potter merch and goodies, you have, have, HAVE to go into Primark. It’s pretty much right opposite the Marble Arch tube station on Oxford Street. For overseas visitors which may not know the joys of Primark, it’s a large shop selling well priced budget friendly clothes (I’m obsessed) but they have a wide selection of Harry Potter clothes, pyjamas, home decor etc, it’s amazing. *TIP* They only use paper bags though so if you visit on a rainy day, it’s worth packing a separate shopping bag or having enough room to stuff everything into a backpack because the bag will disintegrate and turn into nothing (just like a Harry Potter spell)!
(If you walk along Oxford Street, you’ll end up at Tottenham Court Road which is where Hermione apparates to in the Deathly Hallows book…in the film it’s different, they end up at Piccadilly Circus!)
Primark is also right on the corner of Hyde Park, a really nice big open space in London, which for a while, makes you forget that you are in a crazy busy city! You can walk through the park to Hyde Park Corner tube station. If you cross the road and carry on into Green Park, you’ll end up at Buckingham Palace, which is an option, but in this case, jump on the eastbound Piccadilly line (dark blue) to Piccadilly Circus.
The Potion Room Afternoon Tea
From here, the next stop is the Cutter and Squidge ‘Potion Room’ for a Harry Potter themed afternoon tea! Disclosure: Cutter and Squidge aren’t affiliated with Harry Potter and therefore the experience isn’t advertised as being Harry Potter. The afternoon tea is based around a potions class and lasts for around 2.5 hours. Reservations are required and there are 3 time slots avalible throughout the day (12pm, 3pm and 6pm), peak times book out quite far in advance as there are only 15 spaces for each time slot. Adult tickets are £49.50 with a VIP ticket setting you back £79.50. The menu looks absolutely amazing!
Starting point: Kings Cross train station
Platform 9 and 3/4
Unfortunately platforms 9 and 10 at Kings Cross are separated by a train track but there is a random wall within the station that has a luggage trolley half poking out which is perfect for photo ops! I visited so long ago my picture was taken on a 35mm film camera and the quality isn’t great, this is the one from the WB Studio Tour but the Kings Cross one is very similar:
The trolley is reachable all through the day and it’s free to take pictures with your own camera. There’s a professional photographer between 9am and 9pm with ‘Hogwarts house’ scarves that you can wear for the photos which are then available from the gift shop next door.
Directions: From Kings Cross get the southbound underground on the Piccadilly Line (dark blue) to Leicester Square.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
With all itineraries, make sure the days work for your trip as opening times for different attractions vary, so things may need to be tweaked. For example Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a theatre show that’s split into Part 1 (2hr 40) and Part 2 (2hr 35). BOTH parts are only shown together on 3 days of the week (Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday) otherwise Part 1 is on a Thursday evening and part 2 on a Friday. There’s roughly a 2 hour gap between the shows.
If you buy a ticket for both parts on the same day, you have the same seat for both performances. Just like the afternoon tea, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets fill up MONTHS in advance. When I decided to go home for Christmas in August, I booked up Cursed Child tickets straight away, over 4 months in advance and could only get an individual seat for a ridiculously high price as it was over Christmas.
*Tips for attending as a ‘tourist’* – …for want of a better word! There is a size limit on bags being taken into the Palace Theatre and professional cameras aren’t allowed in. Personal cameras can be taken in but it’s in the ‘agreement’ that they aren’t allowed out AT ALL in the auditorium. I’m not sure what they consider professional photography, but I once had my £100 bridge camera ‘pulled up’ at the O2 Arena (I explained it was just a cheap camera and I got away with it).
Starting Point: Camden Town underground station (Northern Line)
Day 3 of my 4 days in London itinerary takes you to Camden Town, one of my favourite places in London! OK, so Camden Town has nothing to do with Harry Potter, but bear with me! It’s a little like Brick Lane in the sense that there’s lots of street art, markets, street food, music venues and creativity, but it’s honestly like nowhere else in the world that I’ve been!
When I first started visiting Camden around 2005, it was very ‘alternative’. Lots of goths, punks, studded belts, big platform boots, tattoos, mohawks, I thought it was brilliant. Although some of that still exists, the atmosphere has shifted to more of a mainstream feel, especially around the markets! There are 2 main areas of Camden Town: turn right out of Camden Town tube station and walk up the road, the High Street has giant 3D objects sticking out the front of the shops!
As you reach the canal, you’ll come to the ‘Stables Market’. As the name suggests, it used to be horse stables for when horses used to pull barges along the canal which is facinating in itself! But now the markets can only really be compared to a rabbit warren with narrow tunnels leading in all different directions!
Some of my favourite places in the Stables Market include: the freshly squeezed orange juice stall, Chin Chin Labs liquid nitrogen ice cream and Cyberdog (I’ve never bought anything from there but they sell CRAZY neon coloured futuristic style clothes and will often have podium dancers dancing to electronic music!). The Stables Market is a great place to go to find all different types of street food.
After you’ve finished exploring the markets, head to Camden Lock for a walk along the Regent’s Canal in the direction of Regents Park. I’ve walked the route all the way to Little Venice which is a really nice walk, but for the purpose of this itinerary, we’ll only go as far as London Zoo! You can’t miss it, some of the enclosures border the canal! Harry Potter fans will know that London Zoo is in the Philosophers Stone, where Harry first discovers he can talk to snakes (spoiler alert!) and ends up setting a python free around the zoo!
BUT FIRST! Rather than crossing the bridge over the canal towards Regents Park and the Zoo, if you ‘turn right’ away from the canal, you can do a de-tour to Primose Hill. It’s another of London’s parks, but if you walk to the top of the hill, you can get a view of the London skyline in the distance and there’s an infomation board pointing out the various landmarks that can be seen.
ZSL London Zoo
ZSL London Zoo was founded in 1826. The history of the zoo is very interesting, it was home of the world’s first reptile house, insect house and aquarium and the first vistors were charged just 1 shilling (12 pence in today’s money) to enter. ZSL (Zoological Society of London) also own Whipsnade Zoo and across the 2 locations, they have 803 species, totaling 22915 individual animals in their care!
Directions: From ZSL London Zoo, walk through Regent’s Park to Regent’s Park tube station. Jump on the southbound Bakerloo (brown) line to Elephant and Castle…you can’t miss it, it’s the last stop on this line!
The Cauldron bar
Another wizarding experience, newly re-opened in London, is ‘The Cauldron‘. Just like the ‘Potion Room’ afternoon tea, The Caudron is not affiliated with Harry Potter…and like the Cursed Child, it’s not open 7 days a week, it’s shut Mondays and Tuesdays.
Visitors to The Cauldron have to be 18+. You can book a 1hr 45 experience in which you are served mead (honey wine) and then you brew 2 potions which have different ‘traits’ (such as smoking, colour changing etc). To get in with the theme, you are given a wand to use as well as a cloak to use while at The Cauldron. Tickets start from £29.99 (off peak).
Starting Point: Euston train station
WB Studio Tour
A Harry Potter inspired trip to London wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Warner Bros Studio Tour! Unfortunately it’s not on the London Underground network, however it is fairly simple to get there! From Euston station you can get a 20 minute train to Watford Junction which IS covered by the Oyster Card if you’re using one! Once at Watford Junction, there’s a special WB Studio Tour shuttle bus (taking 15 minutes) that will whisk you straight to the front door of the Leavesden Studios!
I cannot recommend the WB Studio Tour enough! I’ve been twice now and there’s SO much to see that on my second visit I was finding things that I hadn’t noticed during my first visit! The 2 major sets that you can walk though are The Great Hall (I nearly cried when I first saw it) and Diagon Alley, but you’ll also see Hagrid’s Hut, the Weasley’s Kitchen, Dumbledore’s Office, the Gryffindor Common room and MANY more! You can now see the Hogwarts express and have a picture going through the wall at Platform 9 and 3/4, so it’s up to you if you think it’s worth doing the experience at Kings Cross station too!
I usually hate green screen ‘tourist’ photos, but at the Harry Potter studios it just felt like the RIGHT thing to do! After all (…this time…sorry couldn’t resist!) you could ride on a broom OVER HOGWARTS CASTLE! Butterbeer is a must too and the gift shop has pretty much every bit of official Harry Potter merch going!
With travel to and from London, this could well be an all day trip. Both times I’ve visited, I’ve been at the studios for around 3 hours. They keep adding more and more ‘stages’ so it could well take longer than that now!
Related Reading: WB Studio Tour vs Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Where To Stay
London obviously has many different accommodation options, so here are just a few ideas!
Disclosure: Some of the following links are affiliate links
The Georgian House (Pimlico)
The Georgian House is a small B&B located in Pimlico and 2 of the rooms are wizard themed! You can choose to stay in the ‘Enchanted Chambers’ or ‘The Wizard Chamber’. The room rates start from £239 and the price includes a full cooked breakfast.
Gir Lion Lodge (London Zoo)
You can actually glamp at London Zoo! (Hopefully no pythons will be on the loose 😉 ). Gir Lion Lodge IS expensive, setting you back $378+ for 2 adults, but the price does include free zoo entry, private guided zoos, a buffet dinner and a full English breakfast.
Sunborn Yacht Hotel
A unique place I’ve stay in London, is the Sunborn Yacht Hotel in the Royal Docks near the O2 Arena and Excel centre! Prices start from around £119, which I think is a good price for the experience you get!
Travelodge London Liverpool Street
The Travelodge isn’t actually at the station, it’s about a 5 minute walk away. I was staying here when I visited Leadenhall Market, which is just down the road! You can get rooms from a bargain price of £26 a night which is AMAZING for a busy city, near one of the busiest train stations AND it’s not a hostel and actually a decent hotel! This is my family’s ‘go to’ London hotel if we can’t be bothered to get the train back to Essex!
*HELPFUL LONDON TRAVEL TIP* The cheapest and easier way to get around London is using the London Underground with an Oyster Card. Bank cards with touch technology work the same way as an Oyster Card, just touch in and out at each station!
Related Reading: 5 Unusual Things To Do In London
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