Five years ago, I applied to study at Christ Church, Oxford. Because of Harry Potter. So many people laughed at my reasoning but with over 30 different colleges to choose from, this seemed like a pretty legit reason to me.
Fast forward to the present and I have just completed my French degree at Oxford University. I have spent the past 4 years wandering around Oxford, pretending I’m a Hogwarts student, and dining in the Great Hall every night, which was literally a dream come true.
Most people comment that the old colleges here remind them of Hogwarts but there are a few locations dotted around the city that really were used in the Harry Potter movies. As such, I’ve created my very own Harry Potter Oxford tour. Without further ado, let me introduce you to six unmissable spots in Harry Potter filmed in Oxford.
Duke Humfrey’s Library
First up is the Bodleian Library. This is the main library at Oxford University and it is open to all students and all subjects. It is one of the largest libraries in the world, second only to the British Museum in London! Inside, there are many smaller libraries, none more special than Duke Humfrey’s Library, aka the restricted section of Hogwarts library. In the Philosopher’s Stone film, we see Harry creeping around here under his invisibility cloak before he is given away by a screaming book.
Whilst you might think that this library would be one of the most popular libraries at Oxford University, I actually found it to be pretty empty most of the time. This library dates back to the 15th century so all the books are incredibly old and delicate. You’re not allowed to bring your bag into this section if you want to study there, you’re not even allowed a small bottle of water! The books that line the desks are alarmed so if you touch them, the guard will be alerted – so it really is like the restricted section!
It is only possible to visit Duke Humfrey’s Library on a guided tour. There are a number of different options available each day ranging from 30 minutes to 90 minutes long. It is advisable to book tickets in advance and you can find out all you need to know here.
The Divinity School
Whilst you’re at the Bodleian, make sure you take a peek into the Divinity School, which was used as the Hospital Wing at Hogwarts. When it was first built it was used for lectures, oral exams and lectures on theology, but it is no longer used today. The iconic Medieval ceiling design is stunning and I love that the real name for the spot used as the Hogwarts Infirmary sounds a little like Divination (probably my least favourite subject at Hogwarts).
It is possible to purchase tickets to visit the Divinity School for just £1 from the Great Gate ticket office. Alternatively, you can choose from a number of guided tours and package deals, which include other Oxford highlights. Read all about the different options here.
New College Cloisters
The Cloisters at New College are instantly recognisable to Harry Potter fans and walking through them will make you feel like you’re walking through the corridors of Hogwarts. These particular cloisters are used in the fourth Harry Potter film, where Draco Malfoy is (hilariously) turned into a ferret by Mad Eye Moody. New College is one of the biggest and oldest colleges at Oxford so it is well worth a visit even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan.
If you are visiting New College during the Winter months (between October and March), then entry is free. However, if you go during the warmer months (March to October), you will need to buy a ticket for £5. Find out more about visiting New College here.
Christ Church Cloisters
Finally, let’s talk about Christ Church, the college I called home for four years. This college is very popular amongst tourists, especially those that want to see all things Harry Potter in Oxford.
A lesser known fact about Christ Church, even to the students, is that the cloisters here were also used in the Harry Potter films too. The space just outside the gift shop at Christ Church served as a Harry Potter filming location and is where Hermione revealed to Harry that his father was a brilliant seeker during his time at Hogwarts.
You will have to buy a ticket to enter Christ Church but this will give you access to all the Christ Church Harry Potter locations and the rest of the college. An adult ticket typically costs £8 or £10 during peak times. You can find out more about Christ Church ticket prices and how to buy them here. I’d recommend purchasing your tickets online so you can avoid queuing on the day! In the summer months the queue can be really, really long.
Christ Church Stairwell
A more well-known Harry Potter filming location is the stairwell, leading up to the Great Hall. These iconic Harry Potter steps were used in multiple films, but they are mostly known for the grand arrival of the students at Hogwarts on their very first day. In The Philosopher’s Stone, Professor McGonagall stands tapping her fingers at the top of the stairs as she waits for the new students to enter. She briefs them about the Sorting Ceremony before leading them into the enormous Great Hall.
This is also the staircase that Harry and Ron hurry up when they arrive at Hogwarts via Arthur Weasley’s flying car in The Chamber of Secrets. They’re hurrying to make it to the welcome feast on time but unfortunately they were soon caught by Mr Filch…
The Great Hall at Christ Church
And I’ve saved the best until last! The dining hall at Christ Church was the inspiration for the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Filming took place at Leavesden Studios (see my review here!) where they recreated this hall, taking inspiration from all the portraits and the long tables. This is the dining hall where Christ Church students dine every single evening as there are no kitchens for students!
This is possibly (probably), the only college that still does not have a canteen for the evening meals, and instead all three courses are served to the students by the hall staff. I have to say, the food is usually average to poor, but with views like this (and seriously cheap food), you can’t complain! Check out this post for even more fun facts about Christ Church!
Christ Church dining hall is definitely my favourite Harry Potter filming location at Oxford and an important part of any Harry Potter tour of Oxford.
So there’s my Harry Potter Tour of Oxford!
All in all, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, then you need to take a day trip to Oxford. The city is simply magical and there are so many Harry Potter filming locations to visit. Walking through these colleges will make you feel like you’re truly walking through the halls of Hogwarts, which is an experience like no other! Reams and reams of tourists come to this beautiful city every day and a large numbers of them sport Hogwarts scarves, keen to discover Harry Potter in Oxford.
How to Get to Oxford
Oxford is really easy to access by either bus or train. If you’re coming from London then you can either take the Oxford Tube (which, funnily enough, is actually a bus) or the train from Paddington. The journey should take no longer than an hour and a half and is usually much shorter if you’re not travelling during rush hour.
So are you a Harry Potter fan? What Harry Potter filming locations have you visited or do you plan or visiting?
For more posts about my time at Oxford, check out these Oxford University blog posts:
A Literary Tour of Oxford: Tolkien, Lewis Caroll & More
Ultimate Guide to Harry Potter in York
The Cauldron London Review: Harry Potter Cocktail Experience in London
How to Choose an Oxford College
Best Places for Brunch in Oxford
Inside 8 Beautiful Libraries at Oxford
A Harry Potter Halloween Feast at Christ Church
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