Guide to visiting the Harry Potter Viaduct in Scotland: exactly how to see the Hogwarts Express on the Glenfinnan Viaduct

If you are a muggle visiting Scotland soon, Glenfinnan Viaduct (aka Harry Potter Bridge) must be on your bucket list.

Not only is it a bit of a dream come true to see the Hogwarts Express in real life but the viaduct itself is also incredibly beautiful.

It’s also important to note that it’s one of the free Harry Potter experiences in Scotland, which is always a plus!

In this guide, you will discover everything you need to know about visiting the Harry Potter Viaduct.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!

How to see the Harry Potter viaduct in Scotland

In which Harry Potter movies can you see the viaduct?

The viaduct in question is mainly featured in the first and second movie.

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), you can see the Hogwarts Express on it, in Harry’s first trip to Hogwarts.

But the movie that truly shows off this beautiful bridge is the second one, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

You may remember, at the beginning of the movie, Harry and Ron miss the train. They try to catch up with it by taking Ron’s dad flying car. 

After flying above London, they head to the Scottish highlands and more specifically, Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Here is the scene where you can perfectly see the viaduct and the train.

Where is the Harry Potter Viaduct in Scotland

The real life Harry Potter Viaduct in Scotland is named Glenfinnan Viaduct. 

It’s located in the small village of Glenfinnan, about 30 minutes from Fort William.

You can see on the map below the exact location.

How to get to Glenfinnan Viaduct

It’s easy to get to the Glenfinnan Viaduct if you have a car. You simply need to drive there. The roads are in good condition and there is nothing tricky about it.

The viaduct is managed by the National Trust of Scotland.

You will find two car parks. The first one, on the right hand side belongs to the National Trust.

carpark at glenfinnan viaduct

The second, on the left hand side, belongs to the village.

They both cost £3.50 so it’s up to you to choose which organisation you would like to support.

If you don’t have a vehicle, you can opt for a Harry Potter tour. They include a stop at the viaduct, usually timed with the passage of the train.

Here are the best Harry Potter tours:

  • Day tour from Inverness. This tour includes Loch Ness, Glenfinnan Viaduct, the train ride as well as a stop at Fort Augustus. See prices here.
  • Day tour from Edinburgh. This day trip is perfect for people staying in the capital and who want the full Harry Potter experience as it includes the train ride! See prices here.
  • Multi-day tour from Edinburgh. If you also want to visit the Isle of Skye, you may want to consider this 3-day tour from Edinburgh which includes the Jacobite train. See prices here.

WANT TO TRAVEL WITH ME? I am coordinating the WeRoad trip to Scotland in August 2022. If you’d like to join this tour (or another one), you can use the WeRoad discount code COORDPAULINE at checkout for £200 Off! Click here for more info.

How to visit Glenfinnan Viaduct

Whether you opted for self-driving or a tour, you will be starting at the car park. 

From there, you will see the footpath indicated. Walk under the sign and keep walking.

Glenfinnan Viaduct Scotland walking path

You will cross a little wooden bridge.

wooden bridge path to glenfinnan viaduct

Once you crossed, you’ll start getting good views of the viaduct.

View of Glenfinnan Viaduct from the path

After that, you’ll keep going along the river for 5 to 10 minutes.

River under Glenfinnan viaduct

It is a very easy walk that will lead you to the viaduct.

River at Glenfinnan Viaduct

The first step is the viaduct itself which means you will be at the bottom of the bridge.

Glenfinnan Viaduct Photo spot

It’s a good photo spot and a great way to truly appreciate how tall this structure is.

Glenfinnan Viaduct from the bottom

On the left hand side, you will see that the path keeps going up. This leads to the viewing platform.

Glenfinnan Viaduct from the path

Take this path and within 5 to 10 minutes you will reach the viewpoint. There are stone stairs / benches. You can’t miss it.

View of the Glenfinnan Viaduct from the viewing point

If it’s busy, keep going up a little so you avoid the crowds a bit.

How to see the Jacobite Steam Train on the Glenfinnan Viaduct

Jacobite train on Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Jacobite Steam Train (aka Hogwarts Express) crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct about 30 minutes after leaving Fort William.

Here are the exact times:

  • Morning service (26th April until Friday 29th October, 7 days a week)
    • Departs Fort William at 10:15 and crosses between 10:35 and 11:00
    • Departs Mallaig at 14:10 and crosses between 15:10 and 15:30
  • Afternoon service (26th April until Friday 1st October, Sunday to Friday)
    • Departs Fort William at 12:45 and crosses between 13:05 and 13:30
    • Departs Mallaig at 16:45 and crosses between 18:00 and 18:30
  • Afternoon service (26th April until Friday 1st October, Saturday only)
    • Departs Fort William at 14:40 and crosses between 15:00 and 15:30
    • Departs Mallaig at 18:40 and crosses between 19:30 and 20:05
Hogwarts Express on Harry Potter bridge Scotland

This is a bit of a larger window but that way, you will be sure not to miss it. The Jacobite is known for being early as well as late. It can come 10 minutes before the scheduled time as much as 10 minutes after.

It takes about 20 minutes to walk from the carpark to the viewing platform which means that you need to get there at about the same time as the departure of the train from Fort William.

Pro tip: The carpark can get incredibly busy so make sure to be there in advance. There is a cafe where you can grab some food and drinks and walking around is very pleasant so it’s worth spending a bit of extra time and making sure you’re not missing the train.

Tips to enjoy your visit at the Harry Potter Viaduct in Scotland

Now that you have all the information to prepare your trip to the Harry Potter viaduct, it’s time to discover some tips and tricks to truly enjoy your visit!

1. Make sure to see the train coming from Fort William

When the train comes from Fort William, there is the pretty (and Harry Potter-y) locomotive at the front. This is the one you want! 

If you want to see the Hogwarts Express exactly like in the movies and get that perfect picture, you will need to see it on its way from Fort William to Mallaig.

When it comes back from Mallaig, it’s a different locomotive tracting it. The pretty one is at the back and although you can see it just as well, the steam won’t come out from it.

2. Be there early

We said it already but that’s worth mentioning another time. Although you only need to get there 20 minutes before the train, it would be better to get there earlier than that.

The carparks can be full pretty quickly and once they are, there are no other places to park.

It would be a shame to miss the train, especially since there is a cafe where you can wait and have food.

Also, if you want to go around the foot of the viaduct, it’s better to do so before seeing the train. Most people go straight up to the viewpoint and only go down there on your way back.

If you do it first, you will be on your own which is way nicer.

3. Go further up or on the side

Unfortunately, the viewing platform can be crowded which means that your photos will be too.

If you go a bit further up or on the side, it will reduce the number of people in the frame.

4. Don’t stress!

The train is very loud, you will hear it way before you see so don’t stress about missing the perfect photo.

Also, the Jacobite slows down a lot (sometimes it even stops) so the passengers can truly enjoy the views.

No matter what, you will get more photos than you need! 

FAQs about the Harry Potter Viaduct in Scotland

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Harry Potter Viaduct in Scotland.

What viaduct was used in Harry Potter?

Glenfinnan Viaduct, in the Scottish Highlands, was used in several Harry Potter movies. It is mainly featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Ron and Harry are in the flying car and the Hogwarts Express arrives just behind them.

What time does the Harry Potter train cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct?

The Harry Potter train (Jacobite Steam train) crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct between 30 and 45 minutes after leaving Fort William.

This means between 10:35 and 11:05 for the morning service and 13:10 and 13:35 for the afternoon service.

Where is Harry Potter Bridge in Scotland?

The Harry Potter Bridge in Scotland is the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It’s located in the small village of Glenfinnan, 30 minutes drive from Fort William.

How long is the Harry Potter train ride in Scotland?

The Harry Potter train ride is known as the Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig. It’s 2h15 each way.

Can you ride the Harry Potter train in Scotland?

Yes you can ride the Harry Potter train in Scotland from April to October. It’s called the Jacobite Steam train. Tickets can be purchased online, on the West Coast Railways website.

Is the bridge in Harry Potter real?

Several bridges were used in Harry Potter including the Millenium Bridge in London. The most famous one though is very much real. It’s called Glenfinnan Viaduct and is located in the Scottish Highlands.

You may also be interested in:

The Ultimate Guide for visiting the Harry Potter Studios in London: tips, tricks & Review

Harry Potter in Edinburgh

21 Magical Harry Potter Places in the World That You Must Visit

Harry Potter at Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales National Park