London is full of hidden gems for everyone from all walks of life. For pop-culture fans, in particular, there are endless sights of filming locations, pop-culture inspiration, and tributes to legends. Whether you like rock n’ roll or Harry Potter, there’s something for you in the city.
Here are cool things to do in London for pop-culture fans.
Note: This is a guest post I wrote for another blog in late 2019/early 2020, which has since sadly, disappeared. So, I didn’t want it to go to waste and decided to upload my London pop-culture spots here. I haven’t changed the content aside from adding my own internal links and fixing some SEO and grammatical errors.
London Pop Culture Sites For The Potterheads
Harry visited London himself several times throughout the books and movies from getting to Hogwarts via King’s Cross Station, entering the Ministry of Magic, and fleeing there with Ron and Hermoine when Death Eaters attacked at Bill and Fleur’s wedding in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
Walking through London you’ll recognize sights from the movies such as Millennium Bridge, also known as the wobbly bridge, which was destroyed by Death Eaters in Harry Potter and Half-Blood Prince. Thankfully in real life, the bridge still stands!
2023 note: Today, I’m not into Harry Potter and no longer buy Wizarding World products. I disagree with the author’s stance on the transgender community. None of the HP spots on this list financially benefit the franchise. Check out why I think The Boy Who Lived should die and these Harry Potter alternatives and quirky fan creations if you want to stay emersed in the Wizarding World. Trans women are women.
1. Platform 9 & 3/4s
Platform 9 and 3/4s is arguably the most iconic Harry Potter sight in London. A trolley and own cage with Hedwig has been installed into the wall where fans can take pictures of themselves heading to the Hogwarts Express.
It used to literally be right between Platforms 9 and 10 where the film location was, however, the site is so busy that it was interfering with people who actually need to take the train to work. It’s now moved downstairs right before the platforms.
When you arrive and see a line, don’t be put off! The staff from the Harry Potter gift shop next to it, have it organized so that everyone gets a chance but it’s still free!
On busy days you’re guided to a line outside the station, and then when the line inside is smaller they take you in to queue there. It moves much quicker than you’d think.
They have their own photographer if you’d like to purchase a professional picture, but they’re fine with you having someone taking pictures with your phone! They let you wear your house scarf of choice and borrow a wand, someone even holds your scarf up to give the impression that you’re running!
2. Knockturn Alley & Diagon Alley
Real-life Diagon Alley doesn’t look much like the magical street in the films. It was more of the inspiration behind it, as the street is full of quirky bookshops, and spiritual stores selling real wands, crystals, tarot cards, and books about witchcraft.
Diagon Alley is Cecil Court, as is sometimes called the Booksellers’ Row. Knockturn Alley isn’t too far away and is instantly recognizable. Someone even put a Hedgwig doll in their window.
Make sure to be quiet and respectful as people actually live here. When you come out on the other side of the Alley you’ll see a bright red sweet shop called Hardy’s, which was the inspiration for Honeydukes! Knockturn Alley is actually Goodwins Court.
3. Grimmauld Place
There are technically two Grimmauld Places in London! The inspiration for Sirius Black’s family home was on Craven Street. J.K Rowling also wanted this to be where the scenes featuring the house were filmed, however, the streets were too narrow for all the equipment so they had to relocate No. 12 Grimmauld Place to Claremont Square
4. London Zoo
When the Dursleys took Harry to the zoo with them for Dudley’s birthday, he strikes up a conversation with a python, which he accidentally sets free and leaves Dudley trapped.
Since filming they’d renovated the inside of the building so it’s bright green now, and not white like it was at the time. They have a plaque up to commemorate it so you know you’re in the right place.
London Pop Culture Locations For Sherlock Fans
If you’re a fan of the BBC show starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, you’ll recognize a few Sherlock filming sights throughout London, from the infamous building Sherlock “fell” off in Season 3, to the big building you see in the opening credits which Londoners call the “Gerkin.”
Even traveling in the iconic black London taxi’s John and Sherlock get so often is exciting, but it also made me wonder just how much money they have seeing as they seem to exclusively travel via taxi rather than the much cheaper bus and tram option!
5. 221B Baker Street
The home of Sherlock Holmes, 221b Baker Street didn’t actually exist in real life when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the books, now that it does the spot is always busy. There’s a guard outside the door as the Sherlock Holmes museum and gift shop is right next door. If you were expecting it to look just like it did on the BBC show or Robert Downey Jr’s movie, you might be a little disappointed, but it’s still nice to see.
The Sherlock Holmes statue, made by John Doubleday, is also in the area. It’s another cool thing to do in London for pop culture fans on a budget.
When you get off the tube at Baker Street, you’ll appreciate the Sherlock artwork of his famous hat and pipe on the walls.
6. St. Bartholomew’s Hospital
Not only is St. Bartholomew’s Hospital where John and Sherlock met in the first-ever Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlett but it’s also where Sherlock jumped off at the end of Season 3 of the BBC show. The hospital can be found in the Smithfield area of the city.
7. The Sherlock Holmes Pub
The pub dedicated to Sherlock Holmes Pub is located on Northumberland Street and is a perfect spot for a drink after a day of sight-seeing.
The pub is full of artwork and plaques to represent the books, the BBC show, the 2009 film, and Elementary so you’ll be satisfied no matter what kind of Sherlock fan you are. Upstairs you’ll find a recreation of Sherlock’s study in 221b Baker Street based on the description from the books. However, you can’t enter as it’s locked but it’s still worth having a look at.
Pop Culture Things To Do In London For Whovians
Although the Doctor travels literally anywhere, he’s quite accustomed to London and there are a few sights Whovians can check out while they’re in the city.
8. The Who Shop
The Who Shop opened all the way back in 1984 and is still thriving today! From memorabilia to their own museum, it’s a dream for Doctor Who fans who can buy merch of their favourite incarnation of the Doctor.
9. The Tardis
The Tardis is the most recognizable image from Doctor Who.
The Earls Court Police Box was renovated to look like it, but unlike the real Tardis, this one isn’t bigger on the inside! That said, the doors actually can’t be opened so we can’t know for sure if the Doctor isn’t hiding in there. The Earl’s Court tube station is only a few minutes away so it shouldn’t be too hard to find.
All of the above fan-favourites have walking tours to take you to some of these spots and give you some information. We took a Harry Potter walking tour by Strawberry Tours, which is great if you’re on a budget as it’s a “pay what you feel” thing. You shouldn’t definitely tip your guide though because they’re fantastic!
Pop Culture Sites In London For The Young At Heart
10. Peter Pan In London
The author of Peter Pan, J.M Barrie lived in London near Kensington Gardens where he found inspiration for the tale. The gardens can be found in Hyde Park, which is massive so it’s actually quite the trek to find the statue!
Although Peter Pan largely takes place in Neverland, the Darling family lived in London. Lovers of the Disney adaption will be happy to see Big Ben as the kids rested on the clock’s arms before flying to Neverland.
In 2004, a film based on J.M Barrie’s experience writing Peter Pan came out, with Johnny Depp playing the writer himself. A lot of scenes take place in the gardens where the Peter Pan statue now stands.
Pop Culture Locations In London For Music Lovers
London isn’t just a haven for TV and movie fans, there are also cool things to do in London for music lovers too! Some of the world’s most beloved and legendary musicians are from the London from David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Queen, Pink Floyd, and Led Zepplin, George Michael, and many many more.
If you’re flying into Heathrow, take a moment to reflect on the fact that before Queen took-off, Freddie Mercury worked there! You might also like these rock musical movies.
11. David Bowie Memorial, Brixton
After David Bowie passed away, fans erected a memorial of the late singer in his home of Brixton. The mural in Ferndale, London, is an image of Bowie with his iconic Alladin Sane lightning bolt.
You should also visit Heddon Street which features on the cover of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album. Heddon Street has a plaque up to pay respects of the album.
12. Abbey Road
Most Beatles tributes are in their native Liverpool, but London still has some sights worth checking out. Which is why I needed to shout them out on this list of cool things to do in London for pop culture fans.
The Abbey Road cover is the most famous image of the band, and fans can recreate the album cover for themselves. You can get to Abbey Road by getting off the tube station at St John’s Wood, cross Finchley Road, and turn right at the end of Grove End road.
If you’re worried about missing it, there’s a good chance of other Beatles fans already being there. In fact, I’d say driving down Abbey road is probably very stressful for native Londoners.
You’ll also catch sight of graffiti left by fans on the walls of the street. The Beatles store on Baker Street is also worth visiting. The tiny, and always packed store, is right next to 221b Baker St so drop by while paying homage to Sherlock Holmes.
13. Eat In The World’s First Hard Rock Café
London has two Hard Rock cafés. The one that started it all is in Westminster and opened in 1971! So, of course this had to be included in my round-up of fun things to do in London for pop culture fans.
Since then the franchise has gone worldwide and there are at least 185 Hard Rock cafés around the globe. The original location own instruments from Jimmi Hendrix, John Lennon, Led Zepplin and more. Be warned that there is a long wait time to be seated and order, so pop into the gift shop or have a drink at the bar while you wait. The food is definitely worth the wait.
The other Hard Rock Café is in Piccadilly Circus. Check out my music bucket list.
What do you think of these cool things to do in London for pop culture fans? Have you been to any of these London pop culture spots? Let me know in the comments below! You might also like these more tropical things in London like the Rainforest café.