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If you’re a big Harry Potter fan and happen to be in Scotland, then you should definitely make some time to venture out to the viaduct in Glenfinnan (a superb Harry Potter filming location) to see the Jacobite steam train go past. Or better known as the Hogwarts Express and amazing Harry Potter train! 

This super speedy blog aims to equip you with info on how to see this awesome train go past, where you should stand to see it from a great angle and what times the train crosses Glenfinnan viaduct. I hope you find it useful!

Harry Potter train crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland

When should you arrive at Glenfinnan Viaduct?

TLDR: Plan to arrive at the viaduct 15 minutes from the time stated for a Fort William departure.

For instance, if the train is leaving Fort William at 2.30pm, get to Glenfinnan no later than 2.45pm. You can also see the train on its way back from Mallaig — aim for 60 minutes ahead of the time the train is due to arrive back in Fort William.

But as with anything, promptness is key — if you’re unsure, always err on the side of caution and arrive a little earlier in case you have issues with parking or finding the viewing spot mentioned below.

Given that you can pay to go on the Jacobite steam train and given that it’s a train, it should come as no surprise to you that it runs on scheduled times.

With one day usually seeing the steam train crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct twice (the train starts and ends in Fort William), you can often choose either morning or afternoon to see the train from this free vantage point.

Before you head out, double-check the train times for the day (they change from season to season).

Plan to arrive at Glenfinnan 15 minutes from the time stated for a Fort William departure. For instance, if the train is leaving Fort William at 2.30pm, get to Glenfinnan no later than 2.45pm. You can also see the train on its way back from Mallaig — aim for 60 minutes ahead of the time the train is due to arrive back in Fort William.

This should give you more than enough time to park your car and walk up the small slope to the viewpoint without rushing or missing the train, although you may still need to wait around for a bit before seeing the train.

As with anything, promptness is key — if you’re unsure, always err on the side of caution and arrive a little earlier in case you have issues with parking or finding the viewing spot mentioned below.

Need advice for a Scotland road trip? Check out my 4 day itinerary! >>

Where should you park at Glenfinnan Viaduct?

There is a large carpark along the main road, which is owned by the National Trust. Members can park for free or there’s a small £2 fee if you’re a non-member.

You should search for Glenfinnan Visitor Centre to get the directions for this carpark – here’s the address info you need:

Glenfinnan Monument
Glenfinnan
PH37 4LT

You can also take a look in the gift shop after seeing the train or read up on the history about Glenfinnan and surrounding areas in the on-site exhibition centre.

Where should you stand to see the Harry Potter train?

Standing near Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland after seeing the Harry Potter train

Look just to the left of the visitor centre entrance and you should see a small slope winding around the corner. Follow this for a couple of minutes and before you know it, you’ll have a 360 degree view of the landscape.

From here, you’ll be in an excellent position to see the viaduct and Harry Potter train go past in front of you. And whilst you wait, the view behind is pretty damn good too!

Views across the Scottish lakes when standing near the Glenfinnan Viaduct

At peak times, this vantage point can get quite busy so you might want to arrive a little earlier to get a good spot. In June, there were about a dozen of us waiting for the afternoon train to come past.

Now, just wait for the train and feel a piece of Harry Potter magic shuttle past you. Maybe eat some scones whilst you wait like we did?

Eating scones whilst looking at Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland


Have you been to Glenfinnan before? Are you a Harry Potter fan? Would you look out for the Harry Potter train? Write a little note in the comments…

Are you looking for more inspiration for a road trip in Scotland? Check out this unique itinerary or read my mini-story!

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How To See The Harry Potter Train For Free - including info on where to stand, where to park and what times the Jacobite steam train goes along Glenfinnan Viaduct

18 thoughts on “How To See The Harry Potter Train For Free

  1. I just showed this to my son and he’s now obsessed about going…thanks for sharing and the tips,
    Vanessa

    1. Hehe your son has good taste then Vanessa! Well worth a visit! 😊

      1. That’s probably true, he gets it from me ☺️

  2. Bhalo Haytham says:

    Beautiful photos. I think this is a must for a photographer such as myself.

    1. Thanks so much! Oh yes, most definitely somewhere you need to visit if you get the chance!!

  3. The scenery is gorgeous! I’m a Harry Potter fan, and I would definitely find time to see the Hogwarts Express if I was in Scotland!

    1. Most scenery in Scotland is gorgeous to be fair – such a beautiful place if you ever get a chance to visit! 🙂

  4. kikiinteriors says:

    WOW!! I love Harry Potter – this is amazing – thank you so much for sharing!! My husband is going to love this #bucketlist

    1. Me too – big, big, big Harry Potter fan!! I hope you get to go here someday! 🙂

  5. Jennifer says:

    Going in May and I will be trying this. Thanks for writing about it.

    1. That sounds great, Jennifer! I hope you enjoy your trip… and fingers crossed you’ll see the train! 🙂

  6. Anna says:

    Hi Justine. Thanks very much for this detailed post! I see that the morning train will be leaving Fort William at 10:15 am. If we make sure that we’re at the viaduct no later than 10:30 am as you suggest, how shortly thereafter is the train likely to cross? Hoping you can clarify, as we’re trying to perhaps catch a ferry and I’m wondering if our timeline will be doable.

  7. Hi Anna,
    I’m pleased you like the post! And even better that you’re going to give it a go!
    The train should arrive by about 10.45am but it may end up being a little delayed. In our case, we were waiting for about 25 mins before the afternoon train came along as it had gotten slightly held up.
    But being something of an early arriver, I always prefer to ensure I’ve got plenty of time, which is why really I suggest aiming for 10.30 just in case. But still you should have about 15mins leeway from there anyway.
    I hope this helps and good luck trainspotting! 🙂

  8. Ray says:

    Thanks I really wanted to see such a view.

  9. Sharon says:

    Thank you so much for this info. It was really helpful. We’ve just watched the Hogwarts Express go by and videoed it to send home to the kids.
    I need to mention that the train schedule said the evening train was due into Fort William at 830pm – I double checked at the info centre that the train would go by at 815 and was told “no, 745”. Lucky for us we were early so didn’t miss anything.

    1. Hi Sharon,

      That’s so great, I’m glad you were able to catch the train — I suspect your kids are all kinds of jealous!

      Thank you also for letting us know about the error in our blog post regarding the return train journey, we’ve corrected that now.

      Best,
      Justine

  10. Pratap says:

    This is just perfect.. Thank you!
    From the Car park to the spot, how difficult is the walk? I will be visiting with my 4 year old son and two 65+ adults (my parents)..

    1. Thanks for commenting! I’m glad you found this blog post helpful 🙂

      The walk really isn’t difficult at all. It took us 1-2 minutes and it’s only a gradual incline so we weren’t out of breath when we reached the top. The only thing that’s worth noting is that once you’re up there at the viewing spot, it can be a little rocky in places as it’s not an official viewing platform or anything like that. This shouldn’t cause too many issues but your son will probably need to hold your hand and if anyone has any balance issues then they may need to use someone else to keep them steady until you find the part of the rocks where you want to stand and wait for the train.

      I hope this helps – just shout if you’ve got any other questions about it.

      Enjoy your trip!

      Best,
      Justine

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