London, a city teeming with history, culture, and architectural marvels, has long been a favourite backdrop for filmmakers. For movie buffs, visiting these famous film locations is like stepping into their favourite scenes and reliving cinematic moments. This guide will take you through some of London’s most iconic movie locations, providing tips and insights. Whether you’re a “Harry Potter” fanatic or a lover of romantic comedies, this guide is for you.

Iconic Movie Locations

Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station

For “Harry Potter” fans, King’s Cross Station is a must-visit. The magical Platform 9¾, where Harry and his friends board the Hogwarts Express, has been immortalised in the films. Today, a special area in the station allows fans to pose with a luggage trolley disappearing into the wall, complete with a “Platform 9¾” sign. It’s a perfect photo opportunity and a chance to feel some of that Hogwarts magic. Adjacent to the spot is a themed shop selling various Harry Potter merchandise, from wands to house scarves, ensuring you leave with a piece of the wizarding world. If you want to see more Harry Potter locations in Oxford, take a short train trip from the standard platforms.

Notting Hill Bookshop

The charming bookstore featured in the film “Notting Hill” starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, is a real location and a delight for romantic comedy enthusiasts. Located on Portobello Road, the bookshop’s exterior is instantly recognisable. Inside, you’ll find a selection of books, including travel guides, reminiscent of the shop in the movie. Visiting this spot allows fans to relive the romance and charm of the film’s memorable scenes. While in the area, stroll through Portobello Road Market, known for its antiques, fashion, and vibrant street life, which are also featured in the movie.

The Globe Theatre

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, an iconic location in its own right, has been featured in various films, particularly those depicting the Bard’s works. Reconstructed close to its original site, the Globe offers a glimpse into the world of Elizabethan theatre. Films like “Shakespeare in Love” have utilised this authentic backdrop to transport viewers to the 16th century. Attending a performance or taking a guided tour provides a deeper appreciation for this venue’s history and cinematic allure. The theatre also hosts educational workshops and exhibitions that delve into the intricacies of Shakespearean performances and their film adaptations.

Borough Market

Borough Market, one of London’s oldest and most famous food markets, has appeared in numerous films, including “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” The market’s vibrant atmosphere and diverse food stalls make it a lively filming location. Movie fans will recognise the scenes where Bridget shops and the iconic blue door of her apartment nearby. Exploring Borough Market is a sensory delight, offering cinematic nostalgia and a taste of London’s culinary delights. The market is a foodie’s paradise, from artisanal cheeses to exotic spices. Nearby, the historic Southwark Cathedral and the foodie haven of Maltby Street Market provide additional attractions.

Trafalgar Square

With its grand fountains and towering Nelson’s Column, Trafalgar Square is a favourite filming location for many blockbuster films. It featured prominently in “St. Trinian’s,” “V for Vendetta,” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.” The square’s bustling atmosphere and historical significance make it a perfect setting for dramatic scenes. Visitors can enjoy the square’s lively ambience, art installations, and nearby attractions like the National Gallery. The Fourth Plinth in the square often hosts contemporary art pieces, adding a modern twist to this historic site.

Millennium Bridge

The Millennium Bridge, a modern architectural marvel, has been dramatically destroyed by Death Eaters in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” This pedestrian suspension bridge offers stunning views of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern. Walking across the bridge, visitors can imagine the thrilling chase scenes and enjoy the picturesque skyline of London. The bridge’s sleek design and panoramic views make it a popular spot for photographers and film enthusiasts. On the South Bank, the Tate Modern offers contemporary art exhibitions, while Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is just a short walk away.

Westminster Bridge

Another “Harry Potter” location, Westminster Bridge, is where the Knight Bus squeezes between two iconic red double-decker buses in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” The bridge offers spectacular views of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. It has also been featured in films like “28 Days Later” and “Spectre.” Visiting Westminster Bridge provides a cinematic experience with London’s landmarks as the backdrop. The illuminated buildings create a magical ambience during the evening, perfect for capturing unforgettable photos.

Leadenhall Market

With its ornate Victorian architecture, Leadenhall Market served as Diagon Alley in the “Harry Potter” films. The market’s cobblestone streets and beautiful glass roofs create a magical atmosphere. It’s easy to see why this location was chosen to represent the bustling wizarding shopping district. Visitors can explore the market’s boutique shops and cafes and enjoy the enchanting surroundings. The market’s intricate design and historic charm make it a favourite spot for both tourists and locals. Nearby, the Gherkin and other modern skyscrapers starkly contrast the market’s old-world charm.

Behind the Scenes

The magic of film often comes with its challenges and fascinating behind-the-scenes stories. At King’s Cross, the actual filming of Platform 9¾ took place between Platforms 4 and 5 due to the station’s layout. This logistical decision helped capture the station’s busy atmosphere without disrupting its daily operations. In “Notting Hill,” the bookshop scenes were meticulously staged to capture the quaint, cosy feel that became so iconic. The film’s production involved local businesses and residents, creating a sense of community during filming.

The Globe Theatre’s authenticity posed unique challenges for filmmakers, requiring precise historical accuracy in costumes and set design. The theatre’s open-air structure and period-appropriate materials added to the authenticity but also required careful planning to work around London’s unpredictable weather. Meanwhile, Borough Market had to accommodate film crews amidst its bustling daily operations, a testament to the market’s cooperative spirit. The market’s traders often participated in the filming, adding a touch of realism to the scenes.

Visiting Tips

To make the most of your visit to these famous film locations, consider the following tips:

  • King’s Cross Station: Visit early morning or late evening to avoid crowds at Platform 9¾. Don’t forget to check out the Harry Potter shop nearby for themed souvenirs. Weekdays are less busy than weekends, and special events or holidays can draw larger crowds.
  • Notting Hill Bookshop: Weekdays are less crowded, allowing you to explore the bookshop and nearby Portobello Road Market more leisurely. Look out for the blue door and other film locations in the neighbourhood. Due to the full market setup, Saturdays are the busiest, so plan your visit accordingly if you want a quieter experience.
  • The Globe Theatre: Book tickets in advance for a performance or a guided tour. The theatre’s exhibitions and workshops offer deeper insights into Shakespeare’s works and the filming process. Summer performances are particularly popular, so early booking is recommended. The theatre’s shop also offers unique Shakespeare-themed gifts.
  • Borough Market: Visit on weekdays for a less crowded experience. The market is busiest during lunch hours, so plan accordingly. Take time to explore the surrounding area, including Bridget Jones’s apartment. Early mornings are ideal for a more relaxed visit and for seeing the traders setting up their stalls.
  • Trafalgar Square: Early mornings or late evenings provide the best light for photography and fewer crowds. For a full cultural experience, enjoy nearby attractions like the National Gallery. The square is also a hub for public events and celebrations, so checking the event schedule can enhance your visit.
  • Millennium Bridge: Early mornings offer the best light for photos and fewer pedestrians. Combine your visit with a St. Paul’s Cathedral or the Tate Modern tour. Sunset walks across the bridge provide stunning views of the city illuminated in golden light.
  • Westminster Bridge: Visit during off-peak hours to enjoy the views without the crowds. Combine your walk with a visit to the Houses of Parliament or the London Eye. Evening visits offer a different perspective, with the illuminated skyline creating a magical backdrop.
  • Leadenhall Market: Weekdays are less busy, allowing you to enjoy the market’s beauty and shops at a leisurely pace. Look for the Harry Potter plaque marking the location of the Leaky Cauldron. The market is also beautifully decorated during the holiday season, adding charm.

Wrapping Up

London’s iconic film locations offer movie buffs a unique way to experience the city. Each site provides a glimpse into the cinematic world, from the magical Platform 9¾ to the romantic Notting Hill Bookshop. By visiting these locations, fans can relive their favourite movie moments while exploring the vibrant city of London. 

So grab your camera, embrace your inner film buff, and embark on a cinematic journey through one of the world’s most famous cities. With each step, you’ll uncover the stories behind the scenes, enriching your appreciation for both the films and the remarkable city that brought them to life.