Even if the Harry Potter movies hadn’t been filmed there, Oxford would still be an incredibly magical city. Maybe it’s the Australian in me, but wandering around a city where many of the buildings are over 600 years old is pretty damn special. I only went there because of the Harry Potter connection, but I had such a great day that I’m now recommending it as a destination to everyone I know. Here is where I visited to get the full Harry Potter experience.
Stop 1 – Christ Church College
Entry fee: £8
This is a good one to visit early in the day, as it can get pretty busy. I got there right on 10am when they opened, and there were already three tour groups lining up. Yikes. Within Christ Church there are a couple of hotspots that HP fans have to check out. The first thing is the Bodley tower and the Hall Staircase. This is where they filmed a couple of scenes from Philosopher’s Stone. McGonagall stood at the top of this staircase to welcome the first years to Hogwarts, and it’s also where Draco delivered the iconic line: “red hair, hand me down robes? You must be a Weasley.”
The Dining Hall is also well worth a visit, even though they didn’t actually film anything in there. It does have major Hogwarts Great Hall vibes though, and that’s because the filmmakers visited and used it as inspiration to create the Great Hall film set. It’s a damn awe-inspiring room just to be in.
Lastly, you can walk through the cathedral to the cloisters, a small courtyard surrounded by covered walkways. Just opposite where is now a gift shop, you might recognise a stretch of hallway where Hermione pointed out Harry’s father’s name on a Quidditch trophy.
Stop 2 – Bodleian Library
Entry fee (guided tour): £8 (or £6 for a half-hour tour)
Just a short walk away from Christ Church College, you’ll find the Bodlean Library, one of the oldest in Europe. There are two filming locations here, but you’ll need to go on a guided tour to get into the library itself. Trust me: it’s worth it. It’s so incredible to walk into a library that was built back in the 1300s, with some of the original books still there.
You’ll start your tour in the Divinity rooms, which was used in Harry Potter as the Hogwarts infirmary over four films. Bonus points if you bring along a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and recreate the “Alas! Earwax!” scene.
Then the tour takes you up to the library, and you’ll see where the scenes were filmed of Harry exploring the Hogwarts library’s restricted section in the first film.
Stop 3- New College
Entry fee: £5
This is the last stop for filming locations in Oxford, and definitely my favourite. Don’t let the name fool you: it was opened in the late 1300s. The college’s cloisters were used for the scene in Goblet of Fire where Mad Eye Moody (aka Barty Crouch Jr.) turns Draco into a ferret. It’s a BEAUTIFUL and peaceful courtyard, especially because – once a small tour group moved on– I had it all to myself. The whole college is actually pretty damn amazing. There’s a huge garden area at the back that you can walk around, and it’s a lot more chilled out and slowed-down than the rest of the busy and touristy city.