The Elephant House Cafe Edinburgh, where Jk Rowling wrote Harry Potter is a must see. It's one of the most famous coffee shops in Edinburgh. It's also the stop on every Harry Potter Walking Tour of Edinburgh that separates the true fans from the followers on.
Have you heard of the Elephant House Cafe in Edinburgh? Does the thought of eating here make you get all Wingardium Leviosa? Then you are a true Harry Potter fan.
Edinburgh is a town with serious literary chops, amazing art, architecture and history to explore. But one of the things I was most excited to see when I went to Edinburgh, was the cafe where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book.
Shoot your Selfie at the Instagram Friendly Edinburgh Cafe Where Harry Potter Was Born
Although it's not the only cafe where Jk Rowling liked to write, The Elephant House cafe is the most famous Edinburgh Coffee Shop because it remains almost exactly the same as it was when Jk Rowling came here, and plotted what is now a beloved classic. She was a young mom at the time, and poor. Scotland can be brutally cold in the winter (and sometimes the summer too) JK Rowling spent a lot of time in this cafe writing, and staying warm. She kept her baby in a pram beside her as she dreamed up a whole other world.
I wonder if she had any idea of the impact her books would have on her life, the city of Edinburgh and people all over the world?
There's still something like magic abuzz in this cozy, inviting, pinkish-tinted cafe. The intoxicating, baked-in scent of coffee and cakes immediately puts you at ease.
An eclectic but homey collection of elephant themed items and first edition books, signed by JK herself, work a spell.
Instagrammable Edinburgh at The Elephant House Cafe
Despite celebrity, there's nothing pretentious about this neighborhood cafe. Piles of pamphlets and local event flyers line the windowsills. Faded news clippings and children's drawings cling cheerfully to the walls.
It's a safe-zone in plain sight of the Hogwarts-like castle on the hill above, and the dark gothic cemetery below. It's almost reminiscent of the Weasley's home. All that's missing are the self-stirring pots and floating clicking needles, magically knitting sweaters.
This is actually a great idea for Reels or Tiktok. Imagine filming yourself knitting a sweater here and then pausing to take a sip of your coffee while your project "floats" magically, waiting for you. All you need is some knitting, fishing line and a friend to assist.
Many writers continue to hang out here. There is a constant tip-tip-tapping of other dreamers who settle in by the front window, laptops perched on the bar. You can't fault them for hoping that some of the residual magic can still rub off on a muggle.
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Today, unsurprisingly, the Elephant House is a popular bucket list destination for Harry Potter fans from all over the world. It's part of the international pilgrimage path and a stop on every Harry Potter Walking tour of Edinburgh. There's almost always a line out the door, and you must wait to be seated. We found the crowds thinned and the wait time pretty short in the evenings, however.
Signs on the door ask visitors to make a donation to the cafe's current charity, if you just want to come in and take pictures, which is really lovely. If you're going to be a famous cafe, why not make the world a better place? When we visited they were raising funds to help schoolchildren in a poor area in the North of the Philippines.
They serve light fare as well as tea and cakes at the cafe. I was delighted to see several gluten free options on the menu, including a classic Victoria Sponge.
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If you visit, you MUST use the restroom. Every inch of space is covered with grafitti. My favorite quote was on the back of the toilet. "This way to the Ministry of Magic." You guessed it. The arrow was pointing right into the bowl.
From infants to octogenarians, and from every corner of the world. It's fun to people watch and guess which visitors might be wizards in disguise.
I believe in magic, and that JK Rowling tapped into a vein of storytelling magic and inspiration that runs through the city of Edinburgh. It was fun just to sit and soak in the place where her talent blossomed and her vision launched. The world is a different place for that talent and vision.
The Elephant House Cafe still seems like exactly the sort of place to write and dream in, or just while away an hour having delicious tea and cakes.
Want to know where JK Rowling drew some of the inspiration for the names of her characters? Check out the nearby Greyfriars Cemetery behind the cafe. It's one of the most haunted graveyards in the world.