Over the past few years, York has become a hotspot for Harry Potter fans visiting the UK. They come in droves to see the infamous shopping street, The Shambles, which many believe inspired Diagon Alley.
There are a couple of other Harry Potter related activities worth checking out in York such as the Harry Potter filming locations in York and Goathland Stations. Of course, you can’t miss the Harry Potter shop in York either!
Keep on reading to find out all you need to know about Harry Potter in York!
The Shambles (aka Diagon Alley, York!)
The Shambles is a medieval shopping street in York but it is also thought to be one of the inspirations for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films. As such, it’s often referred to as the Harry Potter street in York.
But was Diagon Alley filmed in York?
Sadly, the answer is no.
Whilst it is unconfirmed whether Rowling was inspired by this street, it’s easy to see the resemblance between this road in York and the fictitious magical alleyway we see in the Harry Potter movies.
The timber-framed buildings date back as far as the fourteenth century and the term “Shambles” actually used to be a term for a slaughterhouse and meat market!
There is still some evidence that this street used to be lined with butchers as there are still meathooks hanging on the walls.
Today, the butchers are all gone and the street is lined with quaint local shops, boutiques and cafes. The shop fronts have all been restored and The Shambles was even named the most picturesque street in Britain in the Google Street View Awards!
York, YO1 7LZ
National Railway Museum
Unfortunately, you won’t find the Hogwarts Express in York’s Railway Museum, but hidden deep inside here there is a Platform 9 3/4 plaque.
As the plaque is in the North Shed, where there’s a jumble of Railway related items, there’s no real explanation of why it’s there.
I’m guessing it may have been from when the Olton Hall, the train used as the Hogwarts Express, was displayed here in York National Railway Museum.
As the Platform 9 3/4 sign is hung beneath a very large statue (pictured), it shouldn’t be too hard to find. It’s located towards the back of the shed so walk all the way to the end and then turn back to look for the sign.
Visiting York National Railway Museum
Entry to the museum is free.
York YO26 4XJ
10am – 5pm in winter (from 5 November 2018)
10am – 6pm in summer
The Shop That Must Not be Named
There are now four Harry Potter shops in York and The Shop That Must Not Be Named is the most popular as it’s usually the one with the longest queue.
And yes, you will probably have to queue to even enter the shop.
The Potter mania in York is real! It can get very crowded in here so try to visit as early as possible in the day.
This is definitely my favourite shop out of the three as it stocks a number of unique Harry Potter gifts and items of memorabilia that are not stocked in the other stores.
There are lovely items such as Harry Potter-themed bags and purses, Butterbeer, wands, robes and more.
The interior of the store also feels like something that would actually be on Diagon Alley and the staff are all dressed like wizards!
There’s Harry Potter music playing as you shop, lights hanging from the ceiling and there’s just something very special about The Shop that Must Not Be Named.
York YO1 7LX
10am – 6pm every day
The Boy Wizard
The Boy Wizard is the Harry Potter shop with the bright red front so you simply can’t miss it. Here you’ll find some official Harry Potter merchandise including posters, mugs, Quidditch outfits and more.
The things they stock here are the Harry Potter merch items that I’ve seen sold for years and years and they are often discounted so check out The Boy Wizard for great Harry Potter deals.
York YO1 8BL
World of Wizardry
World of Wizardry is quite similar to The Shop That Must Not Be Named with its navy front and hanging lights. Find cushions, scarves, Butterbeer and more here.
There’s usually a Hogwarts student waiting outside to welcome you too!
The main focus here is obviously Harry Potter but in a corner at the back you will find some merchandise for other fantasy series such as Game of Thrones.
York YO1 7LX
The Potions Cauldron
As if three Harry Potter shops wasn’t enough, a fourth opened up in 2019. The Potions Cauldron is the latest addition to York’s strange Harry Potter obsession and here you’ll find a number of magical concoctions such as Basilisk Blood, Unicorn Essence, Serpent’s Venom and the Tears of a Wizard.
Give these vials a shake and you’ll find they shimmer. Magic! It’ll cost £15 to add all four of these to your Hogwarts trunk and the whole set makes a fun gift for a Potter fan.
At the back of the shop, you can mix your own potions and admire a 6000 piece Lego Hogwarts. This area is actually where wizards used to hide when magic was outlawed in York so there’s some real history here!
The Potions Cauldron
York YO1 7LZ
The Enchantment Chamber, York
The Enchantment Chamber is an award-winning Harry Potter hotel is York so this is the obvious place to stay if you’re seeking out Harry Potter in York.
With a four-poster bed, roaring “fire” and owls in cages, this one-bedroom apartment takes inspiration from the Harry Potter world and is designed to look like the Gryffindor common room.
What looks like a pile of suitcases in the corner turns out to be the wardrobe and there are small nods to Harry Potter all around. There’s a wand so you can practice your magic, quills, potions bottles and more. The back of the door is the wall to get through to platform 9 3/4 and the entry way looks like a carriage on the Hogwarts Express.
44 Cocoa Suites
York YO1 9AE
York Rail Station
I’m sure the question on the tip of your tongue is: Was Harry Potter filmed in York? There’s some confusion over this matter but it seems that in fact no actual Harry Potter scenes were filmed in York.
It’s extraordinary really that this city is so widely associated with the Harry Potter series when it was never actually filmed there.
I myself was previously informed by Make It York, York’s official tourist board, that York Rail Station was used instead of King’s Cross in the first Harry Potter film in the scene where Hagrid first hands Harry his Platform 9 3/4 ticket.
However, this is not the case and the real reason you cannot locate that footbridge at King’s Cross anymore is that it was removed in 2008 and now lives in Surrey! You can read more about that famous footbridge here.
York, YO24 1AB
Goathland Railway Station
Whilst all the Harry Potter spots in York above can be found in the city centre, Goathland Railway Station is in North York Moors National Park.
This is just under two hours away by train from the centre of York so it’s not exactly close but it’s well worth making a day trip to visit the station that doubled up as Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter films.
You can make a day trip from York to the Moors and combine a trip to Goathland Railway Station with a trip to Whitby Abbey, which is where Bram Stoker found his inspiration for Dracula.
On your way to Whitby you can ride a train that looks very similar to that used as the Hogwarts Express, though it’s not the exact same model.
The train used in the films is an Olton Hall but the steam locomotives owned by NYMR are models: BR Standard, LNER or LMS. You can read all about their NYMR steam locomotives here.
A Whitby / Goathland Return ticket costs £23 per adult and £10.50 per child and you can find out more on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Website.
Now there are a couple of Harry Potter tours in York that you might find floating around on the internet but I actually recommend that you don’t go on one.
There is only one Harry Potter filming location in York city centre and it is a very minor one so there is little point attending one of a paid York Harry Potter tour when I’ve given you all of the above for free!
Having scoured reviews of these Harry Potter tours, it appears the “Harry Potter” element is severely lacking, even if the tour guide’s knowledge of York itself is extensive.
There you have it! All you need to know about Harry Potter and York. If you’re looking for some sort of “Harry Potter World” York then I’m afraid you will be disappointed but there are lots of Harry Potter shops in York to look out for instead.
Getting to York
York is very easy to get to by train. It’s just 2-2.5 hours from London King’s Cross (which is where the Hogwarts Express departs from!). Book via the Trainline for the cheapest tickets.
If you’re travelling to York by car, you can leave your car in one of six Park & Rides sites surrounding the city. Parking spaces here are completely free and then you can hop on the bus to York city centre.
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If you liked this post, check out these:
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A Guide to Harry Potter in London
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Things to Do at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter LA
York 2 Day Itinerary
8 Reasons to Visit York
Book Lover’s Guide to York
[This post was first written in 2018 and updated in 2020 as more and more Potter comes to York!]