Glenfinnan Viaduct (AKA the Harry Potter Bridge and the Harry Potter Viaduct) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland. Since the viaduct featured in the Harry Potter films, it’s become an extremely popular place to visit. In this guide, we’re going to tell you about the most essential tips and tricks for visiting the Harry Potter Bridge in Scotland. Importantly, we’ll talk about how to get to the Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint and how to time your visit to photograph the Jacobite Steam Train (Hogwarts Express) running along the viaduct.
Table of Contents
How to Visit Glenfinnan Viaduct (Harry Potter Bridge)
By following the useful tips in this guide, you’ll find out everything you need to know about the Glenfinnan Viaduct, popularly known as the Harry Potter Bridge. Without further ado, let’s find out some more information about the viaduct itself.
Ribblehead Viaduct is another mindblowing viaduct in the UK
1. What Is the Glennfinnan Viaduct?
First things first, for all of you Potterheads, it’s worth knowing that the famous Harry Potter Bridge (AKA the Harry Potter Viaduct and the Harry Potter Railway Bridge) is called the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It’s actually the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland. It was built in the late 19th century and early 20th century and designed by Sir Robert McAlpine. Certainly, the viaduct’s 21 giant arches are an impressive feat of Victorian engineering.
In reality, the viaduct is just a section of the West Highland Railway, above River Finnan, which connects Fort William and Mallaig.
So, exactly where in Scotland is the Harry Potter Bridge located?
2. Where Is the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
The Harry Potter Bridge is located in the gorgeous West Highlands of Scotland. As expected, the viaduct is located in Glenfinnan. To help you get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area.
3. Where Is the Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint?
Perhaps, what’s even more important to know is the location of the Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint. Essentially, there are three main Glenfinnan Viaduct viewpoints. By using the illustrated map below, you can see where each of the Glenfinnan Viaduct viewpoints are located.
The main Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint is the most popular vantage point and the one that I reached to watch the train passing over. Certainly, you’ll enjoy an incredible view from this lookout. You’ll enjoy a fantastic head-on view of the Jacobite Steam Train (AKA the Hogwarts Express) steaming and running along the viaduct. It’s no coincidence that the official Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint is the most visited viewpoint.
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4. The Other Best Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoints
As mentioned, there are other viewpoints to reach to watch and photograph the viaduct and train passing over. There is an increasingly popular lookout alternative, which I’ve labelled ‘Alternate Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint‘. This viewpoint offers more of a side-on view. Indeed, you’ll enjoy another stellar view of the viaduct from this vantage point. Additionally, there’ll be fewer visitors at this viewpoint.
Otherwise, you’ve got the Glenfinnan Viewpoint, which is located near the town of Glenfinnan Visitor Centre. From this viewpoint, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of Loch Shiel and Glen Finnan. Yes, you’ll also be able to see the viaduct; but, it’ll be quite far in the distance. With this in mind, we don’t recommend the Glenfinnan Viewpoint for photographing the viaduct when the train runs along it. Certainly, make sure to head to the official Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint or the alternate viewpoint mentioned above.
5. How to Reach the Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint
Let’s look at exactly how to get to the official Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint. Basically, you’ll walk to the viewpoint from the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre.
6. Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint Walk: Route Options
Most people simply do the out and back walk to the viewpoint from the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre. After all, most people are visiting to simply reach the main viewpoint, snap a photograph of Hogwarts Express and then return to Glenfinnan.
But, there is also a circular walk option if you’d like to explore more of the area and enjoy some different angles and perspectives of the viaduct. Let’s look at the popular out and back walk as well as the circular walk below.
Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint Out and Back Walk
- Type: Out and Back
- Distance: 2.3km (1.4 miles)
- Time: 30 minutes
- Accumulated elevation gain: 40m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Glenfinnan Viaduct and Monument Car Park
- Map: AllTrails
The simplest and most straightforward option for reaching the Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint is to do the out and back walk. From the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Monument Car Park, you’re looking at a roughly 10–15 minute walk to reach the viewpoint. You’ll follow along a well-defined trail that’s very easy to follow. Given the simplicity of the trail, you won’t really need to use a map or anything like that.
If you arrive by train, it’s possible to follow a different trail to reach the viewpoint. From Glenfinnan Station, it’s a slightly shorter walk, taking around 10 minutes to reach the viewpoint.
Glenfinnan Viaduct Circular Walk
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 3.4km (2.1 miles)
- Time: 45 minutes
- Accumulated elevation gain: 90m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Glenfinnan
- Map: AllTrails
As mentioned, the circular walk is another route option for exploring the viaduct. Instead of retracing your steps from the viewpoint to complete the walk, you’ll continue a loop walk. The circular walk passes both the official car park and train station. So, it’s possible to start the circular walk from either location.
As you know, at Travel Made Me Do It, we’re all about hiking and exploring the great outdoors. We often opt for the longer walking route. But, after having a severe episode of knee pain after completing the multi-day West Highland Way, I decided it was best to keep the walking to a minimum. So, personally, I completed the out and back walk for that reason. Of course, at the very least, you’ll need to do the out and back walk to reach the main viewpoint. Otherwise, the circular route option is a nice option for some additional walking.
7. How to See the Glenfinnan Viaduct Train
Of course, seeing the Harry Potter Bridge is made all the better by seeing the Jacobite Steam Train (Hogwarts Express) run along the railway. Below, we’ll detail how to time your visit with seeing the mighty Hogwarts Express!
8. Two Types of Train On Glennfinnan Viaduct
First and foremost, it’s important to know that two types of trains generally run along the Harry Potter Bridge in Scotland. Mostly, there are ordinary passenger trains. Certainly, these aren’t the trains you’ll be interested in. It’s the Jacobite Steam Train (AKA the Hogwarts Express and the Glenfinnan train), run by West Coast Railways, that I’m sure you’ll be interested in.
Jacobite Steam Train (Hogwarts Express)
The Jacobite Steam Train is what’s become known as Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films. Undoubtedly, to make the most of your experience visiting the Harry Potter Bridge in Scotland, you’ll have to visit at a time when the Hogwarts Express is steaming along the viaduct.
To help time your visit with the running of the Hogwarts Express, you’ll need to know the Glenfinnan Viaduct train schedule, specifically the Jacobite Steam Train service.
9. Current Glenfinnan Viaduct Train Times
You can find the most up-to-date train times of the Jacobite Steam Train on the West Coast Railways website. Certainly, it’s best to double-check the train times before setting off on your adventure. That way, you’ll know exactly what time the Hogwarts Express is running, so you can plan your arrival at the viewpoint at just the right time!
It’s important to know that the Jacobite Steam Train usually only runs from April to October. Only during these months is it possible to enjoy the magical experience of seeing the Hogwarts Express run along the viaduct.
During most seasons, there’s a morning and an afternoon service running seven days a week. In 2023, the morning service runs from the 3rd of April until the 27th of October. Whilst, the afternoon service runs from the 1st of May until the 29th of September. So, from May to September, the Jacobite train is running twice a day from Fort William to Mallaig and then back again. This means, during these months, you have four chances to see Hogwarts Express along the Harry Potter Viaduct.
Below, we’ll look at the Jacobite train timetables and what time you should arrive at the Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint.
Sunday to Friday and Saturday Timetable
For the ultimate experience, you’ll want to visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint at a time when the Hogwarts Express is raging along the viaduct. Currently, the Friday to Sunday and Saturday timetables are identical. So, we’re not sure why these timetables are presented separately. Anyway, using the typical train timetable, we’ve suggested a viewpoint arrival time that times with when the Jaocbite train should run along the viaduct.
|Departing Fort William (Morning Service)
|Departing Fort William (Afternoon Service)
|Departing Mallaig (Morning Service)
|Departing Mallaig (Afternoon Service)
Essentially, Jacobite trains departing Fort William tend to arrive at the viaduct approx. 30–45 minutes afterwards. So, at the very latest, you’ll want to make sure you’ve arrived at the viewpoint by at least 30 minutes after trains depart Fort William.
But, let’s remember, this is all a huge tourist attraction. So, there’ll likely be lots of people waiting at the viewpoint. With this in mind, it may be best to arrive half an hour before the anticipated viaduct arrival time, so you can get yourself a good spot at the viewpoint. The walk from the official car park to the main viewpoint takes around 10–15 minutes too. So, you’ll have to factor this in with your timings for your visit.
So, if you wanted to see the first Hogwarts Express of the day, we recommend starting the walk at around 9:45am. That way, you’ll arrive at the main viewpoint by 10am to shotgun a good spot. You’ll then be perfectly positioned and ready to snap the Hogwarts Express at around 10:30–10:45am.
10. Glenfinnan Viaduct Photography Tips
Other than arriving early at the main viewpoint, there are some other worthwhile tips regarding photography of Harry Potter Bridge and the Hogwarts Express. Indeed, a tripod is super handy to ensure you take a steady shot.
Whilst, we highly recommend using the burst mode if your device has this feature. Sure, it’s difficult to capture the steam train at the exact right moment. By using the burst mode, you’ll capture hundreds of photos of the passing steam train. Thereafter, you can go back through the burst series of photos and choose your favourite to post on Instagram!
11. How to Get to Glenfinnan
Now you know all about timing your visit to the Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint to take that magical photo of the Hogwarts Express. We’ll now look into some more logistics to help you plan your trip. First, let’s at how to get to Glenfinnan in the first place.
By Car: Things to Know About Driving
The best way to get to Glenfinnan is to drive there yourself. Indeed, having a car means you can perfectly time your visit around the timings of the Hogwarts Express. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring a car.
Glenfinnan postcode: PH37 4LT
If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.
Glenfinnan Viaduct Car Park
Recently, a new car park was built next to the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre. This certainly makes access to the Harry Potter Bridge, in Scotland, very convenient. You’ll find the car park off the A830 road, located here. The car park costs £3.50 to use. Of course, prices are subject to change. Please let us know in the comments if you paid a different parking rate.
By Public Transport
It’s possible to use public transport to get to Glenfinnan. Ideally, you’ll want to get yourself to Fort William. From Fort William, you can get a train or bus directly to Glenfinnan. We recommend using Google Maps and Trainline to help plan your journey using public transport.
Trainline is one of the best online platforms for booking trains. By using Trainline, you can easily find the best available prices and times for your journey. We always use Trainline to book our train journeys in the UK and in Europe.
That’s right, you can catch the train directly from Fort William to Glenfinnan Station. That way, you’ll ride along the Glenfinnan Viaduct before even photographing it from a viewpoint. That’s exactly what I did. Sure, a standard passenger train on ScotRail isn’t quite the same experience as catching the actual Hogwarts Express (Jacobite train). But, still, at least you can say you’ve travelled along the famous Harry Potter Bridge in Scotland, at a fraction of the price of the Jacobite Steam Train.
12. Glenfinnan Viaduct Tours
Another option for getting to Glenfinnan is to do a tour. Without a doubt, if you’re staying in Edinburgh or Glasgow, an organised tour is an excellent way to see the Harry Potter Viaduct. GetYourGuide offer fantastic tour options from both cities.
The most highly-rated tour, starting from Edinburgh, is the Glenfinnan, Fort William and Glen Coe Day Tour. Certainly, during your time in Scotland, you should visit the breathtaking Glen Coe!
GetYourGuide also offers this Glenfinnan, Mallaig and Glen Coe Day Tour from Glasgow. Without a doubt, these tours are a great option if you don’t have a car. Additionally, the tour transfer from either city to Glenfinnan is much quicker and more direct than getting public transport.
13. Riding the Jacobite Train Over Glenfinnan Viaduct
Other than photographing Hogwarts Express roaring over the Harry Potter Bridge, riding the Hogwarts Express itself is an unforgettable thing to do. Indeed, to really make the most of your visit, you could walk to a viewpoint and photograph Hogwarts Express one day. Then, you could ride the Hogwarts Express itself the next day. To book a ticket on the Jacobite Steam Train, head directly to the West Coast Railways website.
Glenfinnan Viaduct Train Prices (Jacobite Train)
When it comes to booking the Hogwarts Express, it’s only return tickets on offer, rather than one-way tickets. Below, you’ll find the usual pricing for catching the Jacobite Steam Train. As mentioned previously, prices are subject to change. Make sure to check the official West Coast Railways website for the most up-to-date information about prices. Please let us know in the comments if the prices have changed so that we can update this post.
|Child (16 years or younger)
It’s also possible to reserve a compartment for £385, which seats up to six passengers.
Other Things To Do In Glenfinnan
Other than seeing the Harry Potter Bridge, there are plenty of other worthwhile things to do in Glenfinnan, Scotland. Let’s look at some of the other best things to do in the area during a visit.
The Glenfinnan Monument is a famous 18 metre high monument located near the shores of Loch Shiel. Dating back to 1815, the monument was built in tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who fought and died for Prince Charles Edward Stuart. The monument is just a stone’s throw away from the main car park. So, it’s very easy to squeeze in a visit to the monument after checking out the Harry Potter Viaduct.
Glenfinnan Visitor Centre
The main car park is positioned right next to the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre. So, really, it’s even more convenient to visit the visitor centre. If you want to find out more information about Glenfinnan and its history, definitely head to the visitor centre. Otherwise, this is a good place to use the loo before heading out to one of the viewpoints.
Visit The Glenfinnan Railway Museum
Located at Glenfinnan Station, the Glenfinnan Railway Museum is worth a visit if you’re into your trains.
Mallaig is a beautiful small port located on the west coast of Scotland. Given the fishing village’s beauty, it’s become a popular place for tourists to visit. Certainly, Mallaig has become a go-to destination in many organised tours of the West Highlands. Check out these awesome GetYourGuide tours below.
Glenfinnan is only a small village, so accommodation options are limited. Undoubtedly, the best Glenfinnan accommodation option is The Prince’s House Hotel. Otherwise, we recommend staying nearby in Fort William, which has plenty of fantastic accommodation options.
Stay at The Prince’s House Hotel
- Convenient location
- 2-AA Rosette fine-dining restaurant on-site
Nearby Wild Camping
Scotland is famous for its wild camping. Certainly, there are some decent wild camping spots near the Harry Potter Viaduct. Perhaps, one of the best nearby wild camping spots is at Loch Eilt.
Facilities at Glenfinnan Viaduct
You’ll find a souvenir shop, a cafe and toilets at the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre. For more amenities and facilities, you’ll want to head to the town of Fort William.
Famous Glenfinnan Viaduct Harry Potter Scenes
To help inspire your visit to Harry Potter Bridge in Scotland, we thought it appropriate to remind you of some of the famous films and scenes involving the viaduct. Of course, I’m sure you Potterheads will know a lot more. Please feel free to let us know about any more scenes involving the viaduct in the comments below.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: heading to Hogwarts for the first time along the viaduct. What a moment!
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: who could forget Ron and Harry flying in a car over the viaduct?
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: a more sinister scene when the Dementors stop the train midway over the viaduct to torture poor Harry.
Below, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Why Was the Glenfinnan Viaduct Built?
To allow the West Highland Railway trains to conveniently cross over the River Finnan. This would help transport fish much quicker and efficiently.
Who Designed the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
It was designed by Sir Robert McAlpine (AKA Concrete Bob).
When Was the Glenfinnan Viaduct Built?
The building of the viaduct took place between 1897 and 1901.
What Is the Glenfinnan Viaduct Made Of?
It’s mostly made of concrete.
How Long Is the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
It’s 380 metres long.
Where Does the Glenfinnan Viaduct Go?
It travels between Fort William and Mallaig.
How to Pronounce Glenfinnan Viaduct?
It sounds like glen-fi-nuhn vai-uh-duhkt.
Why Is the Glenfinnan Viaduct So Famous?
Because it featured in the Harry Potter films. This is why the viaduct is also called the Harry Potter Bridge and the Harry Potter Viaduct.
Was the Glenfinnan Viaduct Used in Harry Potter?
It certainly was!
What Time Does the Harry Potter Train Cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
Please read the Jacobite Steam Train Times for more information.
Can You Walk to the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
Yes, you can walk to several nearby viewpoints, whilst the main trail leads you nearly directly underneath it.
How Long Does It Take to Walk to the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
From the main car park, it takes around 10–15 minutes to walk to the main viewpoint.
Where Is the Best View of the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
The official Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint provides the best head-on views of the railway and the Hogwarts Express running along it.
Is It Free to Visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
Yes, although, parking isn’t for free.
Can You Walk Over the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
No, it’s illegal and you’ll be fined heavily.
Do Normal Trains Go Over the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
Yes, ScotRail passenger trains use the viaduct to go between Fort William and Mallaig.
Can I Fly My Drone at Glenfinnan Viaduct?
No, it’s forbidden by the owner of the property. Although, it’s possible to call the owner, who lives nearby, to arrange payment of £10 to fly your drone! You’ll find the number on the forbidden signs. Personally, I didn’t yet own a drone when I visited. So, I didn’t personally experience this. But, this is the word on the street!
DJI Air 2S
Are Dogs Allowed at Glenfinnan Viaduct?
Yes, dogs are allowed in the area.
Are There Toilets at Glenfinnan Viaduct?
There are toilets at the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre.
Can You See Glenfinnan Viaduct From the Road?
No, not really. Given the viaduct is only 30 metres-high, and you’ll be some distance away, from the road, it’s not possible to clearly see the viaduct.
Can You Drive to the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
Yes, you can drive to the main car park next to the visitor centre.
How Far Is the Glenfinnan Viaduct From Fort William?
As the crow flies, Glenfinnan is around 21km (13 miles) west of Fort William. It’s around a 30 minute drive between Glenfinnan and Fort William.
Who Owns the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
The viaduct itself is owned by the Network Rail. But, the land on which the viaduct stands is owned by the Leith family and managed by resident estate manager Alistair Gibson.
Is It Worth Visiting Glenfinnan Viaduct?
Yes, absolutely. Whether you’re a Potterhead or not, the Harry Potter Bridge, in Scotland, is worth seeing. Truly, it’s an unforgettable moment to watch the Hogwarts Express cross the viaduct.
Final Thoughts and Tips
- Get to the viewpoints early: as mentioned, the viewpoints can get very crowded. This is especially true in summer and during school holidays. Personally, I visited in April, when crowds were fewer and this definitely kept the number of visitors to a minimum.
- Pack an umbrella and a rain jacket: it’s Scotland after all! Make sure to pack wet weather gear, so you don’t get soaked whilst you’re waiting for the Hogwarts Express to arrive.
- Explore more of the West Highlands of Scotland: honestly, Glen Coe is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Make sure to spend as much time as possible in the West Highlands.
For more Scotland content, please read our NC500 guides.