The history and mythology of the UK and Ireland have inspired countless works of fantastical fiction, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Whether you’re into wands and wizards or beards and battle-axes, here are some of the best places to visit around the UK and Ireland, ordered by series.
For fans of… Harry Potter
‘The boy who lived’ is now an iconic part of British pop culture. Even years after the series ended, fans (and the author too) continue to obsess over minute details of the world of Harry Potter.
Luckily, Gryffindors and Slytherins alike can see some of the series’ most memorable locations in person. Whether it’s a tour of popular film locations like Platform 9¾, Diagon Alley, or the Millennium Bridge (famously destroyed by Death Eaters, but thankfully still intact in real life), or a behind-the-scenes look at how the film was created, Potter fans have plenty of options here.
Did we mention Hogwarts exists, and you can visit it?
For fans of… The Lord of the Rings
These days, the setting most closely related to the Lord of the Rings series is New Zealand. Luckily for you, Tolkien’s inspiration for Middle Earth started a bit closer to home, so there’s no need to start booking your long-haul flights just yet.
Hobbit enthusiasts can follow the designated ‘Tolkien Trail’ around Birmingham, where the author has his roots, and see iconic local landmarks that inspired everything from the menacing two towers (Edgbaston Waterworks and Perrott’s Folly) to the serene forests of the elves (Moseley Bog).
For fans of… The Last Kingdom
Always wanted to feel like you were part of a medieval-style banquet, surrounded by quarreling knights, scheming advisors, and noble heroes? You’re in luck. These feudal festivities take place in a stunning vaulted-brick basement, built on the former quarters of the mystical-sounding Portspoken Knights.
Live out your dreams of being a ferocious warrior, court poet, or wise old monk while performers entertain you throughout the evening. Partially based on some real British history, raise your goblet of mead and enjoy the feast!
Even better? This month, kids get in free!
For fans of… Supernatural
It’s time to get spooky. Whether it’s the ghost bus or the Edinburgh dungeon, there are plenty of frights to go around in Scotland’s old capital. Why not try the scariest walking tour in Scotland, if you’re feeling especially brave?
The latter is so scary, kids aren’t allowed! Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
For fans of… Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter
We had to give you something a bit more wholesome after that ghost tour. Beatrix Potter was inspired by the natural beauty of the Lake District, where she lived and wrote her beloved Peter Rabbit series.
With a visit to the scenic surroundings here, you’ll soon understand why.
Pay tribute to the author at the World of Beatrix Potter museum, and try to spot a rabbit out in the wild for yourself. Who knows, maybe he’ll say hello back?
For fans of… Vikings
If you’re looking for Vikings, there’s almost ironically no better place to be than the United Kingdom. One of the most frequent targets for raids, large-scale invasions, and Great Heathen Armies, the ancient kingdoms of Britain were exposed to some of the most turbulent events of the age.
Don’t miss a trip to York, where traces of Viking history can still be found and explored, including ancient settler homes and excavations at the Jorvik Viking Centre. Other cultural and historical venues including the National Museum of Scotland and the British Museum also have vast collections of Viking artifacts, from swords and armour used in battle to more personal, private items.
For fans of… Game of Thrones
As you may have heard, the most iconic show of the decade has just started its final season. There’s no better time to go on your own epic quest, and dive into the GoT universe by visiting iconic spots from the series, which was partially filmed in scenic Ireland. See the caves where Melisandre’s creepy shadow baby was born, visit Castle Greyjoy, and travel along the King’s Road itself.
You can also visit the touring Game of Thrones exhibition in Belfast, featuring props, costumes, and original set decorations from the series. Watch out for White Walkers, and try not to attend any weddings.
Make sure you check out our review of GoT-related activities, which includes locations in Iceland and Spain as well!