While growing up, I was heartbroken by a bittersweet fact: all of the Harry Potter films were made entirely in Britain, featuring British actors only. My hopes of playing Hermione were dashed at an early age, let me tell you! Luckily, the Harry Potter films also featured some incredible locations around Britain, including London, the English and Scottish countrysides, and even Oxford! (You can put them all together in this epic Harry Potter U.K. itinerary I designed!)
I made the trip to Oxford in 2013 while I was living in London; I was obviously smitten immediately with the stunning architecture and literary heritage of this small English city. Little did I know that many of the sites I saw in Oxford were also Harry Potter filming locations!
I’ve pulled together a list of the top Harry Potter locations in Oxford – most of which were featured in the Harry Potter films. (I also included a few bonuses, just to give you even more to do!) Read on to see where all the Harry Potter Oxford locations are, and how to plan your own trip.
1. Duke Humfrey’s Library
Photo credit: David Iliff via Wikimedia Commons
Hogwarts Setting: The Library, home to vulture-like Madam Pince
While you may have never heard of the Duke Humfrey’s Library in Oxford, you’d probably recognize it immediately if you saw it in real life. It’s the Hogwarts Library, where many important scenes take place in the Harry Potter films (and in the books!).
It’s particularly memorable for the scene in Sorcerer’s Stone where Harry sneaks into the restricted section under the Invisibility Cloack. And again when Harry spots Romilda Vane during a conversation with Hermione in Half-Blood Prince. (“But I am the chosen one,” he says, deviating from the books entirely!)
To visit Duke Humfrey’s Library, you will need a tour ticket. Be sure to arrange it in advance if you hope to wander among the “tens of thousands of books; thousands of shelves; hundreds of narrow rows.” (SS, Ch. TK) (Note: the Duke Humfrey’s library does not have quite as many books as Hogwarts, but it’s close!)
2. The Divinity School
Hogwarts Setting: The Hospital Wing, where kindly but stern Madam Pomfrey helps students recover from a range of magical maladies
Just imagine, laying back in a comfortable hospital bed, planning to rest up after a jinx gone wrong or accidental poisoning… and looking up at that gorgeous ceiling overhead! That’s exactly what the Harry Potter filmmakers dreamed up when they chose to use part of the Oxford Divinity school as the Hogwarts Hospital Wing. You might remember it from the scene in Chamber of Secrets where Dobby visits Harry after his encounter with the rogue bludger.
The Divinity School was also used in another, non-medical scene: it’s where Professor McGonagall teaches the Gryffindors to dance in Goblet of Fire!
The Divinity School is attached to the Bodleian Library in the heart of Oxford, which is right next to Duke Humfrey’s Library – you’ll need to be on that same tour mentioned above to visit here as well.
3. New College Cloisters
Hogwarts Setting: Hallways (Goblet of Fire)
As you’ll soon see, many of the most recognizable Harry Potter film locations in Oxford come from Goblet of Fire. Director Mike Newell chose various cloisters around the campus to serve as the exterior hallways of Hogwarts Castle. (This was a shift from the complicated magical (read: CG) interior staircases from Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets.)
One particular scene featuring the New College Cloisters is when Harry pushes through a crowd of students flashing Potter Stinks badgets at him.
You don’t need any special permission or tour to visit New College and stroll along the Cloisters, which is good as the next location is also located nearby!
4. New College Courtyard
Hogwarts Setting: Hallways and Courtyard (Goblet of Fire)
The New College Courtyard (or Quad) might look familiar too from several scenes in Goblet of Fire. It’s where Harry tips off Cedric about the dragons before the first task of the Triwizard Tournament, and where Malfoy is transfigured into a ferret by Professor Moody. It’s clearly a great place for students to hang out – whether they’re enrolled in Hogwarts or Oxford.
The Courtyard is open to the public, similar to the New College Cloisters
5. Bodley Tower Staircase
Hogwarts Setting: Part of the Entrance Hall
The stunning Bodley Tower staircase is instantly recognizable to Harry Potter fans: it features several times in the movies!
From the gang’s first arrival at Hogwarts – where Harry turns down Malfoy’s invitation to be friends – to the end of Sorcerer’s Stone where Harry is reunited with Hermione and Ron after his battle with Quirrell/Voldemort, and even in Chamber of Secrets where Tom Riddle meets Dumbledore in Riddle’s memory… this is an iconic film spot!
To visit Christ Church in Oxford, you’ll need to visit on a tour; you can book tickets here. It will also include the chance to the remainder of the Harry Potter Oxford locations on this list, which are all part of Christ Church College.
6. Christ Church Cloisters
Hogwarts Scene/Setting: Hallways
Are you ready for yet another Harry Potter hallway setting? As it turns out, the hallways of Hogwarts were often shot “on location” for the Harry Potter films, whereas the classrooms, dining hall, and common rooms were shot on set – that’s why you can see them at the Harry Potter studio tour!
The Christ Church Cloisters were used in several of the films, which is why they are so recognizable yet hard to place. You might recall them from Sorcerer’s Stone or Half-Blood Prince – it’s hard to tell since they seem to be used so often!
Don’t forget: you’ll need a tour ticket to visit Christ Church!
7. Christ Church Dining Hall
Hogwarts Setting: Inspiration for the Great Hall
Okay, we’re officially going “off book,” in the industry terms… but I really mean “off film,” as this location, the Christ Church Dining Hall was actually not used in the Harry Potter films. As you can see though, its impact on the filmmakers’ vision for the Hogwarts Great Hall is obvious!
The long tables, vaulted ceilings, and even the portraits on the walls all clearly evoke the ambiance of Hogwarts; can you imagine being a student lucky enough to dine here? (Or – the real dream – being one dining at Hogwarts???)
Like other Christ Church locations on this list, you’ll need to visit as part of a tour. Be sure to check openings and closures when you book – the Christ Church Dining Hall closes for events and is occasionally not included on the standard tour.
Bonus #1. The Museum of Natural History
Hogwarts Setting: Inspiration for the props and costumes
I wanted to include a few more bonus locations, since you traveled all the way to Oxford for the Harry Potter locations here!
First up is the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. As evident by the picture, this location was not used as a Harry Potter filming location in Oxford. It was however a place where the producers spent time among the ancient artifacts and relics, getting inspiration for the many details that make Hogwarts seem so real on the silver screen.
The Museum is free to visit (like so many British museums!) but donations are encouraged. Learn more about planning your visit on the Museum of Natural History website.
Bonus #2. The Eagle & Child Pub
After all that time exploring the various Harry Potter locations around Oxford, you might be feeling a bit peckish… I know just the place to refuel!
The Eagle & Child is Oxford’s most famous pub, and has a deep literary heritage: past regulars include J.R.R. Tolkein (The Lord of the Rings) and C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia, among others). You can tuck into a plate of bangers and mash or enjoy a pint in the same location these creative giants once did the same. Given that J.K. Rowling was inspired to make her own pen name similar to theirs, it even has a small Harry Potter connection!
Harry Potter Tours in Oxford
If you’d like a prefect to guide you to see all of the Harry Potter locations around Oxford, there are some great options!
Experience Oxfordshire has a Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland tour that literary fans will love. (Note: Availability may be affected due to the pandemic, so be sure to check their site before planning on this one!)
There are also a number of other guided tours around Oxford of varying lengths. You can book them through GetYourGuide, a popular tour-booking service in Europe and the U.K.
If you want to combine a trip to Oxford with a visit to the Harry Potter studio tour, that’s possible too! You can do it all yourself using this post and my guide to planning an epic visit to The Making of Harry Potter studio tour in Leavesden, or you can book one of these tours.
That’s you, all set! Whether you choose to do-it-yourself and visit these Harry Potter locations across Oxford on your own or book a tour, you’ll have a magical day surrounded by the literary heritage that inspired both the HP books and movies!
Do you have questions about visiting Oxford Harry Potter locations? Let me know in the comments!