Footsteps of Harry Potter in Oxford

Following the footsteps of Harry Potter in the real world is just like magic! Oxford has many important film locations and is a Potterhead shrine with three main buildings and seven important film spots. This tour aims to take you to those venues where you are familiar with the Harry Potter film series, while at the same time, learning about the history of this academic city full of old and world-famous universities in the UK.

Our APTG certified guided love to reveal the common points of the British folklore and mythology that writer J.K. Rowling totally inspired. The ideas, tapestries, portraits from the Tudor & Georgian Dynasties, the roofs and the turrets of Hogwarts Castle are all inspired by some important Colleges in the city. Those are the tidbits that we love to share with our guests to make this trip the most memorable one.

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Locations (12)

1. Christ Church College / Hogwarts Interior

Christ Church College / Hogwarts Staircase
Christ Church College / Hogwarts Staircase

Your journey starts with Christ Church – the grand stairway up to Hogwarts is where Harry, Ron, Hermione and other first years walked up and met Professor McGonagall under the stunning Gothic roof. Here too, at the end of the film, the three are reunited.

An inspiration for Hogwarts Dining Hall for all of the Harry Potter films has been one of Oxford’s most famous rooms. From photographs in the Tudor Great Hall, a studio set has been created and used to make the movies.

Christ Church Dining Hall / Hogwarts Great Hall
Christ Church Dining Hall / Hogwarts Great Hall

Did you know that all moving portraits were from producers that were working on the films to immortalise them in Harry Potter films? The starting point of this idea is simply because of the portraits in the Great Hall.

Next venue in Christ Church is the Stairway. You will remember this spot in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In the Ford Anglia, Harry and Ron fly to Hogwarts, take these stairs and face Argus Filch. It is also the place used for Harry and Tom Riddle’s first meeting.

The last venue in Christ Church is the Cloisters. You remember that Hermione shows Harry the trophy won by his dad in Quidditch as the seeker? The scene was shot outside the bookshop.

Christ Church is one of the famous colleges in Oxford. The School of British Prime Ministers of all times was founded by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Cardinal and statesman of Henry VIII. The Chapel of the College is doubled as the Cathedral of the city.

The Grand Hall of the Harry Potter was filmed in three different spots. On the walls there are portraits of alumni–Prime Ministers, churchmen and philosophers; and Alice in Wonderland writer Lewis Carroll was teaching at the university.

Christ Church has a number of architecturally significant buildings including Tom Tower (proudly designed by Sir Christopher Wren – an Oxford professor, architect, inventor, astronomer and physicist), Tom Quad (the largest quadrangle in Oxford) and the Great Dining Hall, which was also the seat of the parliament assembled by King Charles I during the English Civil War.

2. Alice's Shop

Alice's Shop, Oxford
Alice's Shop, Oxford

Yes, Alice is in Wonderland is real. In the Victorian era, its customers included Alice Liddell, daughter of Henry Liddell, who was Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, which is opposite the shop.

Alice, who used to buy sweets at the shop, was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. We are talking about one of the most famous little shops in the world right up there, just across the road from Christ Church College.

The Alice’s Shop in Oxford is world-famous because the shop itself was written into the Alice adventures over 150 years ago. The small shop was dubbed “Alice’s Shop” locally as soon as the stories became well known, even as it continued as a grocery and sweet shop.

Since the mid-60s, the shop began to sell Alice in Wonderland souvenirs. The Shop is now a treasure trove of Alice in Wonderland themed gifts, souvenirs and memorabilia.

Alice’s Shop is one of the most tangible links to an entire episode in the Alice in Wonderland adventures and offers lovers of the stories a moment of intimate connection with the World of Alice as well as an insight into Carroll’s creation. The story is as sweet as candies in the store. Wanna shop?

3. Carfax Tower

The name “Carfax” derives from the Latin quadrifurcus via the French carrefour, both of which mean “crossroads”. The tower is located in the centre of Oxford’s shopping area since the medieval times. This 6 bells tower is all that remains of the 14th-century Church of St Martin.

The Carfax Tower, also known as St. Martin’s Tower, is a prominent landmark and provides a look-out over the town. In 1896 the City Church was moved to All Saints Church in the High Street. The tower is 74 feet (ca. 23 m) tall, and no building in central Oxford may be built higher than it.

4. Oxford Covered Market

Oxford Covered Market
Oxford Covered Market

Oxford Covered Market features more than 50 traders selling fresh produce, gifts, fashion, flowers and jewellery, and provides a unique showcase for the very best in local crafts, food and drink. The majority of the businesses are independent and with some going back generations.

Oxford Covered Market, which was designed by Magdalen Bridge architect John Gwynn, first opened as a market for meat, fish, vegetables and herbs on 1 November 1774. It was then enlarged several times, rebuilt and fully roofed over during the 19th century.

Original iron roof supports can easily be seen even today. Iron bars projecting from shopfronts that date from the 19th century and were used to hang meat. The Covered Market has been in continual use as a market for almost 250 years.

Fancy a cup of traditional English tea with home-made cookies in this charming atmosphere? Just follow our APTG qualified blue badge tourist guides.

5. Radcliffe Camera

English Palladium Style with its stylish Cotswold stone, Radcliffe Camera is completed in 1737, this domed classical building forms the hub of architectural Oxford and is considered one of England’s earliest examples of around library.

Funded by Dr John Radcliffe, designed by James Gibbs and built between 1737–48, this grand circular building in the middle of Radcliffe Square is an iconic landmark in Oxford and a working library.

The domed classical building is considered to be one of England’s earliest examples of around the library. This lovely masterpiece is actually a gift from Dr Radcliffe showing his appreciation to the town where he became famous.

6. Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library is a working library which forms part of the University of Oxford. It is housed in a remarkable group of buildings which forms the historic heart of the University, and you can explore the quadrangles of these magnificent structures at no charge.

7. New College / Draco Malfoy Ferret Scene

Time to proceed to New College, a venue from the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Remember, Harry argues with Malfoy and Malfoy is turned into a ferret and humiliated by Professor Alastor Moody who is again harshly warned by Professor McGonagall.

8. Duke Humfrey's Library / Hogwarts Interior

Our next stop would be Duke Humfrey’s Library, the venue in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where Harry was searching for a clue to Nicholas Flamel under his invisible cloak in this library, and suddenly Argus Filch, the guard and his cat immediately appeared in the scene.

9. Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs, Oxford
Bridge of Sighs, Oxford

The main buildings at Hertford College are linked together by a corridor called the “Bridge of Sighs,” built-in 1913-14 and named after the Ponte Dei Sospiri in Venice.

The Bridge of Sighs lies right opposite the entrance to the Bodleian Library, famous for its similarity to the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. It was never intended to be a replica of the Venetian bridge, and instead, it bears a closer resemblance to the Rialto Bridge in the same city. Nevertheless, the bridge provides a popular photo opportunity for tourists and newcomers.

10. Clarendon Building

Clarendon Building, Oxford
Clarendon Building, Oxford

Built-in 1712 by the Oxford University Press for the University’s printing, the building is now part of the Bodleian Library. It was built to house the Oxford University Press, which had previously been occupying a large room over the ceiling of the Sheldonian Theatre.

It owes it name to the fact that it was partly paid for by the profits from the History of the Great Rebellion by Lord Clarendon, whose son presented the University with its copyright. It was known as “The Printing House” until the University Press moved to Walton Street in 1832. Today the building is used as an international exam centre.

11. Sheldonian Theatre

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford
Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford

The Sheldonian Theatre, an exquisite Grade I listed building situated in Oxford’s city centre, is the official ceremonial hall of Oxford University. The Theatre is a popular tourist attraction particular because it offers one of the best indoor panoramic views of Oxford’s famous skyline from its Cupola. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built between 1664 and 1669.

12. Divinity School / Hogwarts Infirmary

The Divinity School is the final stop on this tour and also the final scene of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when Harry wakes up after having faced a battle with Lord Voldemort for the first time. This famous lobby with its classic Gothic vaulted ceiling was used as the Hogwarts Infirmary in the first four films.

This is also where Harry and Hermione used the time turner to save Sirius Black and Buckbeak in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and where Professor McGonagall tries to teach Ron how to dance before the festive Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

You know Harry finally meets with “You-Know-Who” or “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”. We have a great Harry Potter surprise right in this location. So what are you waiting for? It’s another Harry Potter’s swish and flick magical experience in real life!

You will be amazed at the Divinity School’s intricate ceiling patterns and gorgeous tall windows. On your visit make sure to take a sit on a bench and imagine oral exams taking places within those magnificent walls.

The Divinity School is a medieval building and room in the Perpendicular style characterised by its rich ornamentation and tracery. The building, which belongs to the University of Oxford, is attached to the Bodleian Library.

Designed between 1423 and 1488 specifically for lectures, oral exams and discussions on theology, was almost ‘certainly the building that popularised Tudor arches’.

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