Welcome Muggles! Did you know there is a whole wonderful world, hiding just on the edges of what we can see? Of course you did (if you’re a Harry Potter fan at least)! It’s the world of wizards and witches, fantastical creatures and otherworldly places. While we may not be able to go there ourselves, we’ll take you on a magical (I know we use this word a lot, but it fits here) journey through some of the wizarding world’s most amazing sights.
Spoiler Alert: Some minor spoilers may be hinted at
Where is the Wizarding World?
Simply put, it’s all around us! Anywhere there are people; there are wizards, witches, and fantastic beasts. Some live hidden away in their own community, while others grew up amongst us and flit between the two. You may not be able to see evidence of it, but just know that magic is everywhere!
Getting to the Wizarding World
While you might not be able to perceive the wizarding world, you may be lucky enough to stumble upon it. That being said, many of the most important buildings are concealed by enchantments and/or are unplottable (like Hogwarts, which simply appears as an old ruined castle to us). You could always attempt to run through the divide between Platforms 9 and 10 at London’s King’s Cross Station if you desire (much to the chagrin of the staff). Of course, the best way to get in is to simply hope you get a letter at age 11 (there’s still time…).
How do I get around the Wizarding World?
Once you ‘arrive’, you’ll find that magical folk have us beat when it comes to getting around. Despite the distinct lack of airplanes, wizards and witches can travel by broomstick, portkey (essentially group transportation using a mundane object), trains, Floo powder (jumping into a fireplace and hoping for the best), and more. With proper training, they can even learn to apparate – i.e. appear immediately somewhere else.
Language in the Wizarding World
No…wizards and witches do not speak some strange satanic tongue. You’ll hear the same languages you would in the Muggle world.
Where to go in the Wizarding World
Located deep in the Scottish Highlands next to a large loch is one of the most famous magical institutions in the entire world – Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Open to children from the age of 11 throughout Britain and Ireland, Hogwarts has served as the preeminent place of learning for the Isles since the 10th century. Upon arrival at the large castle, students are sorted into one of four houses by way of a talking hat (as is tradition). Once that’s done, they enjoy seven years of magical education (both practical and theoretical) and the occasional(ly frequent) child endangerment.
While what goes on inside the walls is a tale that could last seven books (or perhaps eight moving pictures), the castle and grounds themselves are more than worthy of a visit. Besides the loch (home to a giant squid, merpeople, and much more), inquisitive students will find the aptly named Forbidden Forest, the magnificent Great Hall, and so many towers, hidden chambers, and secrets that it would take several lifetimes to explore.
Your adventure doesn’t end at the edge of the Hogwarts grounds either, because just next door happens to be the only all-wizarding village in Britain. While there are certainly close-knit magical communities or small, wizard only areas throughout the country, nowhere else can quite compare to Hogsmeade. Popular amongst students, locals, and travellers – the village is home to numerous shops including Zonko’s Joke Shop and the sweet shop known as Honeydukes, pubs such as the popular Three Broomsticks Inn and the slightly more ‘rustic’ Hog’s Head Inn, and much more…like the infamous Shrieking Shack.
Once Hogwarts students reach their third year, they can get a permission slip from their parents or guardians and visit Hogsmeade on certain weekends throughout the year. While we might be unclear on the…effects of butterbeer on 13 year olds, we can assume that the shops and pubs do a roaring business on the days when teenage wizards and witches overrun the village.
Few places outside of Hogwarts and the Ministry hold as much importance for the British and Irish Wizarding community as Diagon Alley. Hidden away in London, the alley is a cobblestone street populated with every sort of shop an aspiring spell wielder could need. For those who are Muggle-born, Diagon Alley often acts as their first window into the wizarding world, and it’s sure to leave a lasting impression.
That’s not to say us ‘non magic folk’ can simply waltz on in off the tube. To find Diagon Alley, you have to enter by way of the Leaky Cauldron pub and tap the correct brick in the back courtyard. Once you enter, you’ll find the country’s premier wandmaker (Ollivanders), the goblin run bank ‘Gringotts’, a bookshop, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Be warned though, take a wrong turn and you might find yourself in the adjacent Knockturn Alley – a slightly less reputable collection of stores and people.
Okay, so this may not be the easiest or most fun place to visit in the British magical community (it is an office after all), but the Ministry of Magic is undeniably impressive. While each country has its own governing body (‘MACUSA’ stateside for example), Britain and Ireland is governed by the Minister for Magic from a vast, hidden complex in Whitehall, London.
Overseeing everything from education and magical sports to ‘mysteries’ and hunting down the darkest elements of society using skilled witches and wizards called ‘Aurors’, the Ministry keeps the wizarding community of Britain in check and provided for, while keeping them hidden from us.
Of course, Britain and Ireland aren’t the only places to feature schools, stores, and a governmental structure. For example, if you were born in say…France, and had magical powers, where would you go? Well the answer is the magnificent Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. Located somewhere in the Pyrenees (and also welcoming students from across the Low Countries and Iberian peninsula), the school is a renowned institution – even once educating the famous alchemist Nicolas Flamel.
The palace and grounds themselves are as beautiful and luxurious as you would expect. Permanent ice sculptures decorate the interior, wood nymphs sing songs for students in the Dining Hall, and its ostentatious fountain (named after Flamel) is even rumored to have healing qualities.
But what about this side of the pond? While many of the histories and stories of the wizarding community in America are just now being revealed to us, we can safely say that the resident magical school is more than worthy of a place on this list. Known as the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the institution takes much inspiration and credit from Hogwarts, from its co-founding by an Irish witch to the four houses (in this case named for four distinct magical creatures).
You can attempt to find Ilvermorny atop Mount Greylock in Massachusetts (a state that hasn’t always had a cordial relationship with magic), however you’ll likely find a concealing mist will obscure the castle from view. Thanks in part to its unique origins (which you can read more about HERE); Ilvermorny is considered one of the more open and tolerant magical institutions – only reinforcing its prestigious place in the wizarding world.
Prices in the Wizarding World
While details are sketchy when it comes to currency and prices outside the UK and Ireland, we do know that the Isles use Gold Galleons, Silver Sickles, and Bronze Knuts. Luckily for you, it’s extremely easy to remember their worth – with 1 Galleon worth 17 Sickles and 1 Sickle worth 29 Knuts (that was sarcasm by the way). In the US, the currencies used are the Dragot and the Sprink.
Staying safe in the Wizarding World
To put it lightly, there are many dangers in the wizarding world. These can come from magical creatures (especially those classified XXXX or XXXXX), dark wizards, spells gone wrong, transportation mishaps, ‘jokes’ or ‘pranks’, getting found out by Muggles, sports like Quidditch (interesting that you don’t need permission to play this, but you do in order to go to Hogsmeade), and more. Even the magical schools such as Hogwarts have a…spotty safety record at best. So do your research, practice your spells, and be careful – but if you do all those, you’ll be in store for a great adventure!
Can’t figure out how to get into the wizarding world? Luckily you have a couple options, including: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando (plus Hollywood and Japan) as well as Warner Bros. Studio Tour London! If you plan on visiting any of them, we offer the best deals on US dollars, British pounds, and Japanese yen at your nearest Continental branch or for home delivery through FXtoGO.
Want to keep exploring fantastical realms? Check out our Travel Guide for the dark and dangerous Seven Kingdoms!
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