5 Enchanting Universities in England That Look Just Like Hogwarts

5 Enchanting Universities in England That Look Just Like Hogwarts

When your Hogwarts acceptance letter hasn’t arrived yet, these universities will have to do.

Who hasn’t fantasised about getting lost in the vaulted halls of Cambridge? You don’t have to be an intellectual or a scholar to appreciate the historic landmarks at Durham University, or the dreamlike spires at Oxford. Whether you’re gearing up for a new chapter of your life or tracing the footsteps of Britain’s pioneers, these universities in England will surely enchant all who enter. 

And their graduates? They made history. 

1. University of Cambridge

universities in england: cambridge

Image credit: llee_wu

Standing proudly on the global rankings is the University of Cambridge, one of the leading academic institutions in the world. Dating as far back as 1209, it was established by students who had escaped from Oxford due to riots and disputes. 

Think of Cambridge not as one giant stomping ground, but as a dynamic, sprawling campus of 31 autonomous colleges. In any of these colleges, an inquiring soul may find immense courtyards, grand dining halls, ancient chapels, and flowering gardens. Or a stately reading room like the one you see below, teeming with books.

universities in england: cambridge

Image credit: mister_toodles (left); mister_toodles (right)

There’s a funny story told at St. John’s College, where the university has its own Bridge of Sighs along the River Cam. Rumour has it that the “sighing” comes from pre-exam students, who are overwhelmed with stress. Seems quite relatable, don’t you think?

Additionally, the river is also a starting point for guided tours, as students ferry visitors around the campus grounds. 

universities in england: cambridge

Image credit: mister_toodles

From the sciences to the humanities, the resounding influence of Cambridge’s graduates can still be felt today. 

Famous alumni include Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, Sir Ian McKellen, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Helena Bonham Carter, Sylvia Plath, and more. 

2. King’s College London

This is not, as I originally thought, the university that Hamilton meant when he sang “I’ma get a scholarship to King’s College. I prob’ly shouldn’t brag, but dag, I amaze and astonish...” in the musical banger “My Shot.” It turns out that in the song, he was really referring to Columbia University in New York, originally named King’s College by King George II. 

But I digress! King’s College London is not only one of the oldest and most distinguished universities in England, but it also has the advantage of being right in the heart of the capital. With four campuses near the River Thames and one in south London, King’s is perfect for people who would like to get their experience from the great city itself. 

Also read: 14 Things to Do in London on Your Very First Visit

Image credit: Colin

Between its prestige for cutting-edge research and the impressive Maughan Library, it’s no wonder that King’s College London has produced so many brilliant minds. It has educated Alain de Botton, Florence Nightingale, Virginia Woolf, Rosalind Franklin, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Thomas Hardy, and so on.

3. Durham University

Traces of medieval heritage can be found all over Durham University, which happens to be more than 600 years old. The historic city of Durham abounds with cobbled streets, grassy hills, a beautiful bridge over a river, quaint buildings, and inspiring architecture. 

Visit the 11th-century Durham Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also happens to house one of the colleges in Durham, University College. Yes, this means what you think it means — some of these students get to study and live in a castle! How lucky! 

Fittingly enough, many places in Durham have also served as filming locations for the Harry Potter movies. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Durham Cathedral appears as the snowy courtyard where Harry releases his white owl, Hedwig, into the sky. 

4. Royal Holloway, University of London

universities in england: royal holloway

Image credit: Laurie Nevay

Downton Abbey fans will be delighted at this vibrant institution. The Founder’s Building of the Royal Holloway, University of London featured as a backdrop in the Christmas special of the BBC hit drama’s fourth season, among other popular movies and series. 

Completed in 1886, the building has 135 acres of parkland and takes after the design of the Château de Chambord in France. It was opened by leading ruler at the time, Queen Victoria, whose statue looks on proudly in the north quadrangle. 

Image credit: David Iliff

Among many universities in England, the Royal Holloway continues to be one of the most stunning campuses in the country — maybe in the entire UK. 

From the English novelist George Eliot to the Anglo-Italian explorer Freya Stark, many students have been fortunate to call Royal Holloway their alma mater. Could you be one of them? 

5. University of Oxford

Image credit: chensiyuan

You won’t find any flying broomsticks or potions classes at the University of Oxford, but it’s a pretty close call. Remember the scene in Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone where Harry sneaks into the Hogwarts Library with a cloak of invisibility? That was filmed inside Duke Humfrey’s Library

Of course, we can’t forget the massive room of the Christ Church’s Great Hall, whose arched windows and long tables set the scene for the houses of Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. 

Also read: Experiencing the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London — The Making of Harry Potter

Coined the “City of Dreaming Spires” by the English poet Matthew Arnold, Oxford boasts vast courtyards, medieval arches, high-ceiling dining halls, ancient cathedrals, and imposing towers in plenty. And here’s a fun fact: each of the colleges has at least one library of their own! 

Image credit: David Iliff

Tracing its origins as early as 1096, Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Even better, it ranked first on the Times Higher Education world university rankings from 2017-2020.  

Notable alumni (called “Oxonians”) include Sir Walter Raleigh, Adam Smith, Oscar Wilde, John Locke, Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Grant, Nigella Lawson, Malala Yousafzai, Lewis Caroll, Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. 

Also read: Best Day Trips From London

What must it feel like to enter these scholarly gates? For many people, these universities in England provide a glimpse at Britain’s storied past, as well as a contemplation of a brighter future.

And who knows? You might find yourself there one day! 

About Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany wrote articles on travel, food, and pop culture for TripZilla. As she plans her next adventure, she enjoys writing about the coolest places to stay around the world and where to find them.