How to see the Hogwarts Express!
Every Harry Potter fan will know of the Hogwarts Express and if you’ve seen the films you’ll know of the iconic shot of that steam train barreling across a large bridge held up by giant arches. In the non-wizarding world, the Hogwarts Express is known as the Jacobite Train and that railroad is called the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
On a trip to the Highlands, it is quite easy to visit the Viaduct and get some amazing pictures. Here is everything you need to know to visit!
Visiting the Glenfinnan Viaduct
- You’ll want to make your way to the town of Glenfinnan, just about a half an hour north of the town called Fort William.
- Once you arrive, you’ll find a parking lot to walk to the base of the Viaduct. If the parking lot is full, go just a bit further down the street and you’ll find an old Church that you can park at.
- The trail is quite easy to travel, flat and paved. On the map it will look like a paved drive will take you beneath the viaduct, but it is a private road and will have to be walked.
- Once you find yourself at the Glenfinnan Viaduct, you’ll hike a small hill to the left of the path that will bring you up to this area.
This is an ideal place for photographs. We went in November and there were at least two dozen other photographers shooting this scene. I have read that in the summer it can be crazy busy.
Visiting in the Winter months
November through March is the time where it will be easiest to get these shots without people in them, however, the Jacobite train does not run during these months so you will not have the “Hogwarts Express” sighting.
Visiting in the Summer months.
The summer schedule for the Jacobite Train (roughly June through September) is the easiest to work with for Harry Potter fans as the train passes over the viaduct four times daily, at exactly 10:45, 11:00, 15:00 and 15:15. In May and October, the train only passes twice daily, at 10:45 and 15:15.
Last Tips for Viewing
- Once you’re at the Viaduct base you can walk in all directions, there are dirt paths to take you to different viewing sites. Just keep in mind that it is Scotland and therefore, quite soggy. Boots would be recommended if you want to really walk around and see all of the angles.
- If you’re looking to get images above the railroad, stay left (northwest) of the bridge and follow the trail all the way up. You’ll be able to see a bird’s eye view of the Glenfinnan Viaduct and if you time it with the train crossing you will get the exact image from the films.
This is a site not worth missing! It is thrilling for kids and really just beautiful in design for adults who want to take a look for themselves.
For more things to do in Scotland
check out our tips for Glasgow with kids
and make sure you don’t forget to visit the Isle of Skye, here is our list of favorites with kids!