Travelling on Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express train in Scotland is a double five-star magical experience. Not only will you live out your Harry Potter fantasy of going to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but you’ll also enjoy one of the world’s greatest railway journeys.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the journey as we show how you can ride Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express.
Note: Seats for the 2021 season are available. The Harry Potter train is popular and always sells out months in advance. Don’t delay and book today!
- Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express Train
- How to Ride Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express Train in Scotland and What to Expect
- Train and Travel Tips: Get the Most Out of Your Trip
- Hogwarts Express at Warner Brothers: The Making of Harry Potter, London
Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express Train
The Hogwarts Express train makes its first appearance in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and goes on to appear in all the films. The train forms a central part of the story; as it’s the transport to Hogwarts, and where Harry meets many characters, including Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
To experience the enchanting Hogwarts Express experience, you must travel on the Harry Potter train in Scotland. Not only will you follow in the footsteps – or rather train tracks – of Harry and friends on their journey to Hogwarts but you’ll also see some of the movie’s locations.
On the train itself, you can eat chocolate frogs and sit in Harry Potter style compartments. And for all passengers – Harry Potter fans or not – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to revel in a classic British steam train trip from yesteryear.
Memorable scenes featuring the Hogwarts Express
One of the most famous scenes from the series – in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – features Harry and Ron Weasley in the flying Ford Anglia crossing the bridge to Hogwarts. On realising the Hogwarts Express is right behind them, Ron swerves off the bridge, and Harry tumbles out of the car. Then Ron skilfully navigates the flying Ford Anglia between the arches of the bridge, before saving Harry.
The bridge from that scene is one of Scotland’s most famous landmarks, the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which you will go over along the way. As well as the bridge to Hogwarts, you’ll also see the loch used to film Hogwarts Great Lake and the island containing Dumbledore’s Grave.
We think the best Hogwarts Express experience is to ride the train in Scotland, but of course, at the Train Hacker, we would say that. The actual steam locomotive and carriages used for filming, however, can be seen just outside London at Warner Bros: Making of Harry Potter.
For the experience of a lifetime, Potter fans, here’s how you can relive your Hogwarts Express fantasy and ride Harry Potter’s train.
How to Ride Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express Train in Scotland and What to Expect
In Muggle world, the Hogwarts Express is a steam train known as The Jacobite which runs on the West Highland Line between Fort William and Mallaig in Scotland.
Travelling along the West Highland Line is a breathtaking experience with stunning scenery of kaleidoscopic-coloured moors, snow-capped mountains, shimmering lochs and rugged coast. Taking the Jacobite steam train along the ‘iron road to the isles’ conjures a unique kind of magic for both Harry Potter fans and railway enthusiasts.
Described as the ‘greatest railway journey in the world’ the 84 miles (135 km) round trips outward bound leg starts at Fort William, near Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.
Around 40 minutes into the journey, the train slows down – and may pause – as it crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct. While you’re looking around for Harry and Ron in the flying Ford Anglia to appear, you cannot miss the spectacular view to your left of Loch Shiel and surrounding mountains.
Loch Shiel from the Glenfinnan Viaduct is a picture-postcard classic view of the Scottish Highlands and Potter fans may recognise it, as it’s one of two locations used to film Hogwarts Great Lake. After the viaduct, the train doesn’t go onto Hogwarts, but you’ll be far from disappointed about the rest of the trip.
After the viaduct, the train makes a short stop at Glenfinnan before continuing its journey. Around 3 miles (5 km) after the station, on the right-hand side, you’ll start to run alongside Loch Eilt.
Towards the end of Loch Eilt – again around 3 miles (5 km) later – you’ll be on the part of track used for filming the Hogwarts Express in the movies, and also near the island of Dumbledore’s grave.
The Jacobite continues through stunning Highlands countryside and coastal scenery before finishing at the busy fishing port of Mallaig. Most passengers will spend a short time here before returning to Fort William; however, for others, Mallaig is the jumping-off point for ferries to the Isle of Skye.
The Jacobite: Book Direct with Departures from Fort William and Mallaig
The Jacobite steam train between Fort William and Mallaig runs between early April till the end of October 2021. Seats book up fast, so it’s best to make a reservation as soon as possible.
The operators of The Jacobite – West Coast Railways – provided the Hogwarts Express steam engine and carriages for the Harry Potter films. Some of the first-class carriages used on The Jacobite are similar to those used in the movies.
The Jacobite: 2021 Dates and times
The Jacobite has a morning round-trip service from Fort William between 2 April and 29 October 2021, and an afternoon service between 26 April and 1 October. In both cases, trains run seven days a week.
Sunday to Friday service
|Morning Service||Afternoon Service|
|Dep. Fort William||10:15||12:45|
|Arr. Fort William||16:03||18:53|
|Morning Service||Afternoon Service|
|Dep. Fort William||10:15||14:40|
|Arr. Fort William||16:03||20:32|
The Jacobite: 2021 Fares
The Jacobite offers First and Standard Class Single and Day Return fares.
|First Class||Standard Class|
|Adult Day Return||£69||£46|
|Child Day Return
(16 & under)
|Private table for two||£154|
Harry Potter style compartments
Harry Potter style first-class compartments are open to book on morning services only. These enclosed compartments seat six people with a door that leads to a corridor running the full length of the carriage.
Food and drink
Jacobite high tea, an artisan cheese selection, chocolates and champagne are available when booking. And on the day, there’s more snacks and beverages.
On some services, Potter fans can buy chocolate frogs, liquorice wands and brews, and purchase other Harry Potter souvenirs.
Booking The Jacobite
We recommend you book your trip on The Jacobite as early as possible. It sells out months in advance, and there’s only limited availability the rest of the time.
If you’re unable to book a seat directly, there are Scottish Highlands tours from Edinburgh that include riding Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express.
2021 Scottish Highlands Tours from Edinburgh Which Include the Hogwarts Express
While riding the Harry Potter train is a magical experience, I highly recommend seeing more of the Scottish Highlands. For a full Scotland adventure, combine a trip on the Harry Potter train with a tour of the Highlands.
And with direct bookings on The Jacobite selling out so fast, it may be the only way you can take the train. We recommend these 2020 Scottish Highlands tours from Edinburgh which include a trip on the Harry Potter train.
Tours of the Scottish Highlands which include the Jacobite are popular. Don’t delay and book as soon as possible.
1-Day Hogwarts Express & Scottish Highlands from Edinburgh
The perfect way to experience the Jacobite steam train and the Scottish Highlands on a roundtrip day out from Edinburgh.
- Ride Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express from Fort William to Mallaig
- See locations from the Harry Potter films and gorgeous Highlands scenery
- Enjoy lunch in the picturesque seaside town of Mallaig
- Explore Glencoe and see the vast wilderness of Rannoch Moor
- Get insider Highlands knowledge from your local guide
1-Day Jacobite Steam Train & Highlands Tour from Inverness
Discover the beauty of the Scottish Highlands and ride the Jacobite steam train on a roundtrip day out from Inverness.
- Jacobite – Harry Potter Hogwarts Express – steam train ride
- Enjoy lunch in the scenic fishing town of Mallaig
- Enjoy Highland classics like Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Ben Nevis and the Caledonian Canal
- Learn about the history and culture of the region from a Scottish guide
3-Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands Tour from Edinburgh including Hogwarts Express Ride
Head into the Scottish Highlands and follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter and jump on board the Hogwarts Express for an unforgettable journey.
- Ride the Jacobite steam train ride (the Hogwarts Express) from Fort William to Mallaig
- Scottish Highlands highlights: The Great Glen, Eileen Dolan Castle, Loch Ness and Glencoe
- The Isle of Skye highlights: Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr, the cascading waterfalls of Kilt Rock and Dunvegan Castle
- Tour starts and finishes at Edinburgh
5-Day Isle of Skye, Loch Ness and the Jacobite Steam Train from Edinburgh
Take a tour of the best of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands and ride the Harry Potter train. You’ll experience Scotland’s finest scenery, national parks, history and cities.
- Jacobite – Harry Potter Hogwarts Express – steam train ride
- Stunning landscapes on the Isle of Skye, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, Loch Ness and the Cairngorms
- Enjoy classic Scottish history sights, towns and cities including Oban, Stirling, Eilean Dolan Castle, Inverness and Culloden Battlefield
- Tour starts and finishes at Edinburgh
Edinburgh is one of Britain’s most magnificent cities with plenty of things to do for tourists. However, Scotland is full of beautiful places. Why not take a day trip from Edinburgh by train and visit cosmopolitan Glasgow, historical Stirling, seaside North Berwick, Pitlochry’s whisky distilleries, the ‘home of golf’ at St Andrews or Falkirk’s Kelpies.
Harry Potter Film Locations to Look Out for on Route
On the journey from Fort William to Mallaig lookout for these locations used in the Harry Potter movies.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct featured as the Hogwarts Express bridge in the Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban and the Goblet of Fire. Crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct is impossible to miss, and the Jacobite will go very slowly and may even pause.
Here are some clips featuring the Glenfinnan Viaduct from the Harry Potter films:
- Harry and Ron are crossing the bridge in their flying Ford Anglia in the Chamber of Secrets. See clip 47 secs.
- Dementor attack in the train while on the viaduct in the Prisoner of Azkaban. See clip 53 secs.
- Crossing the viaduct on the way to Hogwarts in the Goblet of Fire. See clip 1 min 17 secs.
Loch Shiel was one of two locations used as Hogwarts Great Lake (alternatively known as the Black Lake) and featured in the Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire and the Half-Blood Prince. Look left while you’re on the Glenfinnan Viaduct for a marvellous view of Loch Shiel.
Here are some clips featuring Loch Shiel from the Harry Potter films:
- Buckbeat dipping his toe in the water in the Prisoner of Azkaban. See clip 2 mins, 35 secs.
- The second task of the Triwizard Tournament in the Goblet of Fire. See clip 41 secs.
- Hogwarts and the loch in the background when crossing the viaduct. See clip 1 min, 20 secs.
- Harry and Hermione are looking out across the loch in the final scene of Half-Blood Prince. See the beginning of the clip.
Loch Elit featured in shots of Hogwarts grounds and an island on the loch – called Eilean na Moine – was used as the place of Dumbledore’s grave. They appeared in the Chamber of Secrets, the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Goblet of Fire, the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2.
Around 3 miles (5 km) after the stop at Glenfinnan, Loch Eilt will come into sight on the right side of the train. About the same distance again, just before the loch goes out of view, you will see Eilean na Moine lying a short distance from the shore.
Here are some clips featuring Loch Eilt and the island Eilean na Moine from the Harry Potter films:
- Harry and Ron are flying over the Hogwarts Express and Loch Eilt in the Chamber of Secrets. See clip 1 min 58 secs.
- Harry, Hermione and Ron are finding out Buckbeat’s fate from Hagrid as he skims stones in the Prisoner of Azkaban. See the beginning of the clip. Eilean na Moine is the island to the right of Hagrid.
- Shot of the train and the loch before the Dementor attack on the bridge in Prisoner of Azkaban. See opening 12 secs of the clip.
- Hogwarts Express is travelling alongside the loch, and Harry releases Hedwig his pet Snowy Owl in the Goblet of Fire. See clip 1 min 11 secs. From the same clip at 1 min 17 secs Eilean na Moine is the island to the left of the flying white owl.
- Voldemort stealing the elder wand from Dumbledore’s grave, filmed on Eilean na Moine (although the island is superimposed onto another loch, Loch Arkaig). End of Deathly Hallows – Part 1. See the beginning of the clip. It is repeated in the opening scene of Deathly Hallows – Part 2. See the beginning of the clip.
Train and Travel Tips: Get the Most Out of Your Trip
I’ve done this trip myself and highly recommend spending some time at both ends of the railway at Fort William and the Isle of Skye (via a ferry from Mallaig). Here are my tips to get the most out of your trip.
1. Photography on the train
Bring your best camera as you’ll get some beautiful photos. Harry Potter aside, Scotland’s west coast has breathtaking scenery throughout the year.
For the best scenic shots, shoot your photos from the doors at the end of the carriages. The Jacobite has traditional, old British train carriages with windows that slide down, so you don’t have to worry about shooting through dirty windows or reflections.
Don’t be greedy and hog the space around the carriage doors. Be polite and courteous to other passengers who may want to take photos from there as well, especially when going over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
2. Glasgow and Edinburgh to Fort William by train
Train travel lovers and rail pass holders will love the Glasgow Queen Street to Fort William leg of the West Highland Line. Of course, if you’re starting your Jacobite steam train journey from Mallaig, you can travel in the other direction.
The journey time between Glasgow Queen Street – the start of the West Highland Line – to Fort William takes around 3 hours and 45 minutes. From Edinburgh, the journey takes just under 5 hours, changing once at Glasgow Queen Street.
3. Fort William travel
Fort William is known as ‘the outdoor capital of the UK’ and lives up to its reputation. We did some walking and sightseeing at Glencoe, Glenfinnan (and got up close to the viaduct) and took a gondola up to the Nevis Range.
To get straight into the heart of the action, the Caledonian Sleeper train from London to Fort William will whisk you up to the Highlands. Known as ‘The Deerstalker’ it’s another one of Britain’s most excellent rail trips. During the spring and summer months, you’ll wake up to see the Scottish Highlands in all their glory.
We hired a car for a few days to explore the area and can recommend Jamie at Fort William Car Hire. He conveniently delivered our vehicle to Fort William station and provided an excellent and good-value service.
Fort William has a diverse and high-quality range of hotels and guest houses near the station and further afield. Take your pick from these places to stay.
4. Isle of Skye travel
Rail travellers who are going to the Isle of Skye (and you really should as it’s incredible!), can up the train again at Kyle of Lochalsh. From there you can travel east along the beautiful Kyle Line to Inverness.
Skye Car Hire – who we used – can deliver a car to you at Armdale, the island ferry port which connects to Mallaig. From there, you can spend some time on the Isle of Skye and drop the car off later at Kyle of Lochalsh.
We stayed at the wonderful and highly recommended Hallaig Guest House in a remote area near the Trotternish Ridge. It’s an ideal place for exploring Isle of Skye favourites – the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr. Our hospitable hosts cooked the most delicious seafood meals, including fresh salmon from the river next to the guest house.
We also spent a couple of nights at the Marmalade Hotel in Portree, an ideal base for visiting other parts of the island, while soaking up the evening atmosphere of the island’s capital.
Hogwarts Express at Warner Brothers: The Making of Harry Potter, London
If you can’t ride Scotland’s Hogwarts Express, the Platform 9 3⁄4 set at Warner Brothers: The Making of Harry Potter is the next best thing. Situated just outside London, Platform 9 3/4 is a lot more than a recreated film set.
At Warner Brothers: The Making of Harry Potter you’ll see:
- ‘Orton Hall’ British steam no. 5972, the steam locomotive used throughout the Harry Potter series of films
- Interior carriage set for shots filmed inside the train (complete with unique windows that the visual effects artists used to create iconic train scenes from the movies such as the escape of Harry’s first Chocolate Frog and the Dementor attack)
- Platform 9 3/4 luggage trolley as it disappears into the yellow brick wall
- A selection of prop luggage used in the films
Warner Brothers: The Making of Harry Potter has a lot more to experience including, the Great Hall, Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley, props, costumes and a showcase of special and visual effects.
Tickets for Warner Brothers: The Making of Harry Potter
Like the Hogwarts Express in Scotland, The Making of Harry Potter sells fast. Buy tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment, especially during the summer school holidays.
Here are some Warner Brothers: The Making of Harry Potter tours from London which include transfers. Check the tour dates for each of them as each one shows different availability.
Hopefully, you’ve found this useful for planning a 2020 trip to see Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express train in Scotland. Enjoy the ride!