This post was created in collaboration with Strawberry Tours, who kindly gifted me a Free Harry Potter Walking Tour with no obligation to contribute at the end. All opinions, as always, remain honest and my own.
As an avid Harry Potter fan (and a proud Hufflepuff by the way), I was thrilled when I discovered that there are loads of Harry Potter attractions in London aside from the Warner Bros Studio Tour. One that really caught my eye was the Strawberry Tours Harry Potter Walking Tour.
What is the tour?
As the name suggests, Strawberry Tours host a walking tour of London, where you can visit landmarks from the films and areas that inspired J.K.Rowling as she was writing the first book; The Philosophers Stone (or Sorcerers Stone for any Americans out there). The difference with this tour is that it is free. Strawberry Tours believe that everyone should be able to come to London and see and explore, no matter what their budget.
How does a free walking tour work?
The tours work on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis – whether that’s nothing or £20. You are under no obligation to pay the guide for your tour, but even a little goes a long way.
The tour begins at the Leicester Square, at the pillars between the Lego Store and M&M World. This is where we first met our host, JJ. He gave us a brief talk here before we walked on to a quieter spot to hear the house rules and a bit of background for those who hadn’t read the books or seen the films (yes. These people exist. Shocker, right?)
I’d like to point out now that JJ was a fantastic host. He was so energetic and engaging throughout the tour, and even played a little house points quiz with us as we went from one attraction to another. In some places, which I’ll get to in a minute, things beyond anyone’s control did affect the tour sightly, but he handled it so well, thinking of other ideas of things we could do or see or simply telling us more fun facts to make up for it.
What do you see on the Strawberry Tours Harry Potter walking tour?
The walking tour isn’t as spread out as I had expected, which I suppose makes sense for a roughly 2-hour tour. Generally, you are around the Leicester Square area of London.
In terms of the attractions you visit, mostly these are inspirations for JK Rowling with a few filming locations thrown in too. We visited Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley, Ministry of Magic telephone box entrance, Trafalgar Square and Honeydukes sweet shop. My personal favourite was Knockturn Alley, as this was the location where it felt the most magical and like you had just stepped into the movies.
When we visited the inspiration for Diagon Alley, it was sadly full of scaffolding so it was hard to get a sense of the atmosphere, but the shops themselves which actually inspired Rowling were so quaint and some just a bit bizarre! This is where lovely JJ stepped in and was obviously disappointed he couldn’t give us the full experience, but he instead gave us some free time to browse the shops and told us a little bit more about each one, which was a nice touch.
In terms of the filming locations, it was really interesting as initially, I found it hard to recognise what part of the film we were “in” until we were shown handy photo props that showed what the film crew had added to the locations and how they had dressed them.
Something I did notice was that online they seem to list a lot more attractions than what we visited, but perhaps this is for a longer version of the tour than what we went on?
So, would I do another Strawberry Tour?
Yes, I would. Overall, the Strawberry Tours Harry Potter Walking Tour was a really good quality experience and would be a great activity for anyone who enjoys the books or films (or both!). Considering it’s a pay-what-you-can-afford tour, you get so much information thrown at you and the guides really do know their stuff! I think you would get as much from this in terms of knowledge and magic as you would from any paid walking tour. For me, the only criticism I would have is that personally I feel I would have enjoyed seeing more filming locations, or areas that you can feel the magic in and imagine the book or film – rather than inspiration. But that’s a personal preference!
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Strawberry Tours to anyone – especially this Harry Potter Walking Tour.
Have you ever done this tour, or perhaps a similar free walking tour? Let me know in the comments!
If you enjoyed this post, check out my other adventures here.