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8 Things to Do When the Making of Harry Potter Tickets are Sold Out

Don't despair if tickets are sold out, there's still plenty for Potterheads to do in London.

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Hi, I'm Claire!

Claire Bullen is an award-winning food, drinks, and travel writer and editor who has lived and worked in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Paris, and London. She is the author of The Beer Lover's Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, and the editor at GoodBeerHunting.com. Her writing has also appeared in Time Out New York, The Daily Meal, Pellicle Magazine, and beyond.

For the die-hard Harry Potter fan, few experiences rival the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. But if you aren’t able to snap up last-minute tickets—or if you want a less-crowded way to follow in the footsteps of the Boy Who Lived—London offers up plenty of other magical alternatives. Here’s how to plan the perfect Harry Potter tour around town.

1. Enter Platform 9 ¾ in King’s Cross (kind of)

No owls or wands required.

In the Harry Potter books and films, the journey to Hogwarts begins when students run through a (seemingly) impenetrable brick wall at King’s Cross Station to access Platform 9 ¾. But even if you don’t have your Hogwarts letter in hand, you can still share in the experience—strike a pose with the luggage trolley that’s half-embedded in the station’s wall before visiting the adjacent Harry Potter Shop to pick up souvenirs (and Hogwarts house gear).

2. Explore London’s preeminent library

Head to London's temple of learning.

Just moments from King’s Cross Station is the British Library, both the country’s national library and the largest in the world in terms of its collection holdings. Visit this temple to literature and learning, and soak up its erudite ambiance. The landmark has previously hosted exhibitions dedicated to Harry Potter, and it still keeps a number of magical items—from The History of the Phoenix to Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks—in its exhibition space.

3. Take a walking tour of London’s magical highlights

Learn behind-the-scenes stories from the books and movies.

For devoted Harry Potter fans, the next best thing to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is an enchanted walking tour of the city’s most magical corners. Dozens of itineraries are available for visiting witches and wizards, some of which can be booked last minute. Depending on the tour you choose, you can look forward to exploring filming locations, discovering literary landmarks, learning about J. K. Rowling’s life in London, and more.

4. Drop by a literary-minded pub (or two)

See the locations that inspired London’s literary greats.

London is a literary place—in addition to J. K. Rowling, authors the likes of Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, and John Keats have all made the city their muse. Many also spent time in atmospheric, centuries-old pubs, such as the Spaniard’s Inn in Hampstead, the Fitzroy Tavern in Fitzrovia, or the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in the City of London. Pick your favorite literary pub, order a pint of beer (sans butter), and grab a seat by the fire. It may not quite be the Leaky Cauldron, but it’s the next best thing.

5. Get lost in an independent bookstore

Browse the shelves at London’s top bookstores.

Harry Potter inspired generations of young and old readers alike to get lost in books. If you consider yourself a bibliophile, use your time in London as an excuse to explore the city’s top-notch independent bookstores, from Foyles on Tottenham Court Road to Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street and beyond. Or, take a literary tour of top London neighborhoods, such as Borough Market. And if your own copies of the Harry Potter books have become tattered with age, now’s your excuse to pick up some shiny new editions.

6. Indulge in wizard-friendly sweet treats

Just do your best to avoid booger-flavored jelly beans.

Anyone who’s read the Harry Potter books will have drooled over descriptions of Honeydukes and the candies it sold, from Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans to chocolate frogs. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then opt for a sweet treat tour of the city or make your way to Hardys Original Sweetshop. With a convenient location just off Trafalgar Square, Hardys offers a huge array of candy and chocolate, including treats inspired by Harry Potter.

7. Visit “Harry Potter” filming locations

See if you can recognize where key scenes were shot.

Out on a sightseeing tour of London? Many of the city’s top landmarks also played a starring role in the Harry Potter films, which means you should keep your eyes peeled as you explore. See Millennium Bridge (destroyed by Death Eaters in the film), visit the Reptile House at the London Zoo (where Harry discovers his gift for Parseltongue), explore Leadenhall Market (a stand-in for Diagon Alley), and more. Tailored filming location tours are another option.

8. Get tickets to “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

“Harry Potter” takes to the stage.

One of the West End’s most popular shows in recent years, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child debuted in 2016 and the 2-part play forges a new chapter in the Harry Potter story, picking up where J.K. Rowling left off. While tickets to the show typically sell out far in advance, you can peruse the theater’s website to try and snap up any last-minute, returned tickets throughout the day, or try your luck at the Palace Theatre box office. Can’t get in? A West End theater tour may be the next best thing.

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