I went looking for something like this while I was abroad and staying in London and found nothing—or what I did find was unsatisfactory and focused primarily on the Harry Potter films, ignoring the many references to London in the books entirely. So, I’ve created a safari that I wish that I’d had and hope that others will find their Internet searches less in vain. The only film-related item on this list is the London Zoo, which is not specified in the book, but which I think the Dursleys, Piers, and Harry probably did visit in chapter two of book one. I may do another film-related list, but those are available online already if you don’t want to wait for me. I’ll update this post with a link to the list if I do make one. A few of the items on this list are not related to Harry Potter at all, but simply things that you should look for while you’re in the area anyway.
This post will ignore the 550 words rule entirely; this is not a usual post from me.
Bonuses are location specific to the above listed item, unless otherwise specified. Each item is worth one point, unless otherwise specified.
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE
CHAPTER TWO: THE VANISHING GLASS
___ Visit the London Zoo, where this scene of Sorcerer’s Stone was filmed.
“It was a sunny Saturday and the zoo was crowded with families” (SS 26).
___ Ice cream
___ BONUS: Ice cream at the London Zoo
“The Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice creams at the entrance and then, because the smiling lady in the van had asked Harry what he wanted before they could hurry him away, they bought him a cheap lemon ice pop” (SS 26.)
“It wasn’t bad, either, Harry thought, licking it as they watched a gorilla scratching its head who looked remarkably like Dudley, except that it wasn’t blonde” (SS 26).
___ Knickerbocker glory
___ BONUS: Knickerbocker glory at the London Zoo
“They ate in the zoo restaurant, and when Dudley had a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory didn’t have enough ice cream on top, Uncle Vernon bought him another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first” (SS 26).
___ Visit the reptile house at the London Zoo.
“After lunch, they went to the reptile house. It was cool and dark in there, with lit windows all along the walls” (SS 26).
___ Boa constrictor
“Dudley quickly found the largest snake in the place. It could have wrapped its body twice around Uncle Vernon’s car and crushed it into a trash can—but at the moment it didn’t look in the mood” (SS 27).
CHAPTER FIVE: DIAGON ALLEY
___ Ride the Underground.
“Although Hagrid seemed to know where he was going, he was obviously not used to getting there in the ordinary way. He got stuck in the ticket barrier on the Underground, and complained loudly that the seats were too small and the trains too slow” (SS 67).
___ A bookstore on Charing Cross Road
___ A music store on Charing Cross Road
___ BONUS: If the bookstore and music store are next to one another on Charing Cross Road
“Their eyes slid from the big book shop on one side and the record shop on the other as if they couldn’t see the Leaky Cauldron at all” (SS 68).
___ BONUS: For a photograph of Eleanor’s Cross
___ Hamburgers in Paddington Station
“Up another escalator, out into Paddington Station; Harry only realized where they were when Hagrid tapped him on the shoulder.
“ ‘Got time fer a bite before yer train leaves,’ he said.
“He bought Harry a hamburger and they sat down on the plastic seats to eat them” (SS 86).
CHAPTER SIX: THE JOURNEY FROM PLATFORM NINE AND THREE-QUARTERS
___ Visit King’s Cross Station.
“They reached King’s Cross at half past ten. Uncle Vernon dumped Harry’s trunk onto a cart and wheeled it into the station of him. Harry thought that this was strangely kind until Uncle Vernon stopped dead, facing the platforms with a nasty grin on his face” (SS 90).
___ Visit 9 ¾ in King’s Cross Station.
___ Get your picture taken.
“Now the third brother was walking toward the barrier—he was almost there—and then, quite suddenly, he wasn’t anywhere” (SS 92).
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: THE VERY SECRET DIARY
___ Find somewhere that sells planners (that is “diary” in British English) or journals (which is how Harry seems to think it ought to be used) on Vauxhall Road.
“Harry turned to the back cover of the book and saw the printed name of a variety store on Vauxhall Road, London” (COS 231).
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
CHAPTER THREE: THE ADVANCE GUARD
___ Find what could be Grimmauld Place.
“Harry touched down right behind her and dismounted on a patch of unkempt grass in the middle of a small square. […] The grimy fronts of the surrounding houses were not welcoming; some of them had broken windows, glimmering dully in the light from the streetlamps, paint was peeling from many of the doors, and heaps of rubbish lay outside several sets of front steps” (OOTP 58).
___ BONUS: Add one point for a square out front, one for peeling paint, one for broken windows.
___ BONUS: If it is twenty minutes’ walk from King’s Cross
CHAPTER SEVEN: THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC
___ A telephone box
___ BONUS: If there’s a pub nearby
___ BONUS: If it is near a dumpster
“The farther they walked, the smaller and less imposing the buildings became, until finally they reached a street that contained several rather shabby-looking offices, a pub, and an overflowing dumpster” (OOTP 125).
___ BONUS: Add one point for missing panes of glass, one point for a graffitied wall nearby, one point for a crooked telephone.
“ ‘Here we go,’ said Mr. Weasley brightly, pointing at an old red telephone box, which was missing several panes of glass and stood before a heavily graffitied wall. […] It was a tight fit; Harry was jammed against the telephone apparatus, which was hanging crookedly from the wall as though a vandal had tried to rip it off” (OOTP 125).
___ Visit Bethnal Green.
“ ‘ “Third regurgitating public toilet reported in Bethnal Green, kindly investigate immediately.” This is getting ridiculous’ ” (OOTP 133).
___ BONUS: Banksy’s “Yellow Lines Flower Painter” on Pollard Row and Pollard Street
___ Visit Elephant and Castle.
“ ‘We had two last week, one in Wimbledon, one in Elephant and Castle’ ” (OOTP 133).
___ BONUS: Find an elephant.
___ BONUS: Find a castle.
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: ST. MUNGO’S HOSPITAL FOR MAGICAL MALADIES AND INJURIES
____ Old-fashioned, red brick department store with a shabby air and dummies in the ground floor window
____ BONUS: One point each if the dummies are wearing crooked wigs, or false eyelashes, or nylon
____ BONUS: If the nylon is green
____ BONUS: If the building is “closed for refurbishment”
____ BONUS: If it’s actually called Purge and Dowse Ltd.
“They had arrived outside of a large, old-fashioned, red brick department store called Purge and Dowse Ltd. The place had a shabby, miserable air; the window displays consisted of a few chipped dummies with their wigs askew, standing at random and modeling fashions at least ten years out of date. […] Harry distinctly heard a large woman laden with plastic shopping bags say to her friend as they passed, ‘It’s never open, that place’ ” (OOTP 483).
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
CHAPTER ONE: THE OTHER MINISTER
___ Peer down Downing Street, looking for #10.
“It was nearing midnight and the Prime Minister was sitting alone in his office, reading a long memo that was slipping through his brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind” (HBP 1).
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS
CHAPTER NINE: A PLACE TO HIDE
___ Visit Tottenham Court Road.
“ ‘Where are we?’ said Ron’s voice.
‘Tottenham Court Road,’ panted Hermione. ‘Walk, just walk, we need to find somewhere for you to change’ ” (DH 161).
___ Photograph an alley off a side street of Tottenham Court Road.
“She led them down a side street, then into the shelter of a shadowy alleyway” (DH 161).
___Visit a small, shabby 24-hour café between Tottenham Court and Charing Cross. (Time to get out your A to Z.)
___ BONUS: For Formica tables
___ BONUS: For booth tables
“Harry slipped into the booth first and Ron sat next to him opposite Hermione, who had her back to the door and did not like it: She glanced over her shoulders so frequently she appeared to have a twitch” (DH 164).
CHAPTER TWELVE: MAGIC IS MIGHT
___ Photograph an alley beside a theater.
“She pointed her wand at the padlocked and heavily graffitied fire door beside them, which burst open with a crash. The dark corridor behind it led, as they knew from their careful scouting trips, into an empty theater” (DH 237).
___ BONUS: If it is near the site that you chose for the Ministry of Magic.
___ Public toilets
___ BONUS: If they are near (50 yards away approx.) this theater.
“They stepped out of the alleyway together. Fifty yards along the crowded pavement there were spiked black railings flanking two flights of steps, one labeled GENTLEMEN, the other LADIES” (DH 240).
TOTAL SCORE: ___/51
I have not done this safari myself. Some of these may be impossible. But even if they are, you’ve gone out and explored London, and that’s really the point—or it was the reason that I wanted to go on such a scavenger hunt. My score is a rather pathetic 11, though some of these I may have done without realizing it.
Please feel free to comment with your scores and/or pictures; I’d be very curious how well this works.
All quotes are from the American versions of the books, published by Scholastic between 1997 and 2007. This safari has no affiliation with Scholastic, J. K. Rowling, or Warner Bros., the owners of the Harry Potter series. Nor is it at all connected with Pottermore or Sony, though I borrowed from them the idea of organizing this by chapter and including quotes.