How to get the most out of a visit to the Harry Potter Studios Tour in London when you live in the North.
At Strawberry Holidays I get asked a lot about the Harry Potter Studios Tour in London. People want to know the best way to see the tour and a little of London. Or how to make the long trip down south worthwhile. Especially, if you’ve got children tagging along.
Firstly, let’s clear something up. The Harry Potter Studios official name is Warner Brothers Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter, but that is such a mouthful that for the purposes of this blog we’re going to call it the Harry Potter Tour or the studio tour.
The studios, although based in Watford, London are over 20 miles from London city centre that we all know and love for it’s fantastic tourist hotspots. It’s a good hour on the train and bus, and close to 50 minutes when travelling by car. So it’s not the easiest to “fit in” while you’re on a short break to London.
There is no right or wrong way to “doing the studio tour”, it’s all about how much energy you want to exert, how well your kids travel, or your enthusiasm to do as much as you can in a weekend. The only thing I can tell you is The Nomadic Holroyds have enjoyed 2 trips to the Studios and we approached them in very different ways…
Trip 1 – London and Birmingham
At this time, the Holroyds consisted of two parents, and one very excitable three year old, Abigail. We knew that London wasn’t really an option, Abi was out of the pram but not yet able to walk far. So a weekend of traditional sight-seeing was off the agenda.
We had two nights, two days and a little girl’s bedtime routine to work around so here’s the itinerary:
Friday late afternoon/evening – drive the 207 miles to Watford.
Friday evening – have a late dinner at the hotel.
- Saturday morning – drove just 1.5 – 2 miles from the hotel to the Harry Potter Studio Tour
- Saturday morning until early afternoon – soaked in as much of the tour as possible
- Saturday afternoon – drove for about 90 minutes the 101 miles from Watford to Solihull, Birmingham
- Saturday evening – enjoyed dinner at a nearby restaurant to the hotel
- Sunday morning – an earlyish start from the hotel to Cadbury World, Bournville, Birmingham.
- Sunday morning until mid-afternoon – enjoyed the tour of the (in my opinion) BEST chocolate factory in the world.
- Sunday late afternoon – drove the 116 miles home which took a couple of hours.
The benefits of breaking up the journey made a massive difference when travelling with a little one.
Cadbury World is an immense experience, often overlooked.
Even in 2013 you needed time to go through the Harry Potter Studio Tour, now with the Hogwart’s Express, the Forbidden Forest and so much more, you need over half a day.
For someone like me who LOVES the capital, it is a little disheartening to be so close to London and not see her.
Trip 2 – London BABY!
This time round Abigail was 6, going on 7, she was even more Harry Potter mad but she also was learning all about London, the Monarchy, The Great Fire and much more.
We knew this time round we had to cram in as much as possible – and boy did we!
- Friday evening – drove the 230 miles from Darwen to Brentford. Stopping for dinner along the way.
- Saturday morning – early start into the centre of London where we spent the whole day walking the city, taking in key sights, my pedometer said 15km in total!
- Saturday evening – we took Abi to her first West End show, Wicked.
- Sunday morning – headed over to Watford centre, enjoyed a nice lunch
- Sunday afternoon – spent the afternoon at Harry Potter Studios
- Sunday evening/ night – drove the 209 miles home.
We saw a lot, and even though we packed a lot into the weekend because we didn’t cut into our time with back and forths to the hotel, and we walked as much as possible, we saw a lot of great sights.
Staying a little further out of the city, but still only 30 mins on the bus & underground, meant we got excellent value for the hotel, which had a pool (great for cooling tired feet), and free parking!
If you forget anything at the hotel or want to freshen up, staying so far out makes it a little difficult.
Trip 3 – In the works
Based on our previous experiences and the experiences of our clients that have made the trip down south to the tour. Here’s my ideal itinerary for a short 2 night break that includes the Warner Brothers Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter.
Day 1 – Morning
A train (or two) to Watford, dropping the bags at the hotel, before jumping on the shuttle bus from Watford centre to the studios.
Day 1 – Evening
Enjoy a meal in the centre of Watford before a comfortable stay at the hotel.
Take an early train to London city centre, spending the full day sightseeing, maybe take in a matinee, enjoy a dinner in the West End. To give the London attractions the time they deserve, we’d either explore and see as much as possible or split the day into 2 attractions.
I would spend the morning meandering through the epic shopping centre at Watford, taking a brunch or early lunch before the return train home.
As mentioned before, there’s no right or wrong to make an exciting trip such as this, from experience I can only recommend that you plan an idea of things you want to see and then plan your short break to ensure that you get the most of your time and budget.
If you’re looking for a short break to London including tickets for the Warner Brothers Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. Give us a call. 01254 497402.