Apparently there are a few fans of the Harry Potter series out there – a few hundred million, at least. It’s the best selling book series of all times, with over 500 million copies sold. It’s been translated into 67 languages. The movies took in around $8 billion at the box office, and have been rebroadcast on TV and digitally downloaded countless more times. Then there are theme parks and merchandising offshoots that put even more cha-ching in billionaire author J.K. Rowling’s pockets. All these stats make this little tale of a boy wizard more than just popular, it’s a bona fide global phenomenon with multiple generations of devotees. So what’s the next step after you’ve read all 7 books and watched all 8 movies several times through? Plot your own Potter pilgrimage. Here is a muggle’s guide to 15 real life Harry Potter destinations you can visit to bring your favorite fantasy world to life.
1. Elephant House, Edinburgh
In a sense, this is where it all began. Before she became richer than the queen, JK Rowling was a struggling single mom who took refuge in this Edinburgh coffee house to pen her first Harry Potter novel. You’ll find it at 21 George IV Bridge near the National Museum of Scotland. She liked to sit at a table near in the back that overlooks Edinburgh castle. Check out the bathroom where legions of wizard wannabes have scrawled some witty (and some crude) messages on the walls.
2. #4 Privet Drive
As every fan knows, this is the address of house that Harry grew up in with his insufferable aunt, uncle and cousin. He slept in a cupboard under the stairs until he went off to boarding school at age 11, and came back here for summers between school years. Sorry, the fictional town of Little Whinging doesn’t really exist but the house that was used in the exterior shots of the first film does. It’s at 12 Picket Post Close in the English town of Bracknell, Berkshire about 10 miles west of Heathrow in the London outskirts. A set was built for subsequent films but based on this actual house and neighborhood. Watch out for Dementors if you visit.