In last place it has to be Borgin and Burkes. Though the items they have in their shop are… interesting, it is overwhelmingly a place full of Dark magic and artefacts. It is where Draco Malfoy purchased his sinister ‘Hand of Glory’ that only gives light to the holder. It was also home to the Vanishing Cabinet that the Death Eaters used to break into Hogwarts on the night that Dumbledore died. One of the most notorious Dark wizards even worked there, when Voldemort took a job with them after leaving school. Overall, it’s a place to be avoided.
Next on our list has to be the apothecary. While Harry may have been fascinated by all the strange potion ingredients, dragon livers and unicorn horns, we don’t think we’d be able to get past the smell. The pungent aroma that emanated from the shop was described as ‘a mixture of bad eggs and rotted cabbages’. That is enough to put us off any shop – no matter what it may contain.
Luckily our next shop, Madam Malkin’s, was not known for its bad smell. Instead, it was known for its wonderful robes for all occasions. From dress robes to school uniforms, you could find everything you needed there. We are sure it was a firm favourite of the fashionistas of the wizarding world. However, while this shop was full of excellent fabrics and designs, it is not higher on our list because how exciting can a shop where you buy your school uniform actually be?
Poor old Gambol and Japes. When Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes came to Diagon Alley you can’t help but wonder what impact that had on their business. Though before the appearance of Fred and George’s shop, it was the go-to place for all your magical pranking needs. We certainly know that Fred, George and Lee Jordan were fans. In the Chamber of Secrets. Harry, Ron and Hermione caught them stocking up Dr Filibuster’s Fabulous Wet-Start, No-Heat Fireworks – and who knows what mischief they were planning.
Next on our list must be the place you can get all your Quidditch bits and bobs. Packed full of broomsticks and robes it has everything a budding player could desire. Whether you’re Ron wistfully gazing at a set of Chudley Cannon robes, or Harry wrestling with himself to not give in and buy a Firebolt, it’s a treasure trove to those who love the wizarding sport. We haven’t placed it higher on the list because it seems to be rather expensive and more of a place to window shop.
Who doesn’t love an ice-cream? And we reckon that the ones you could get at Florean Fortescue’s were some of the very best. We were very jealous when Hagrid greeted Harry with a large chocolate and raspberry ice-cream with chopped nuts. And even though we don’t hear much about him, we were rather fond of the owner Florean. Not only did he help Harry with his homework on medieval witch-burnings in Prisoner of Azkaban, but he also gave him free sundaes every half an hour – what a guy! Unfortunately, when Voldemort was returning to power, he was one of the casualties and his splendid ice-cream parlour was no more.
Bookshops are wonderful places full of hidden gems – whether that is in the magical world or the Muggle world. Flourish and Blotts was no different and had everything a curious witch or wizard could desire. It was a place you could expand your knowledge on spells or wizarding history, a place to buy your school textbooks and (if you really fancied) it was where you could pick up a copy of one of Gilderoy Lockhart’s many works. It was also the shop where we saw Mr Weasley lose his cool and start a fight with Lucius Malfoy – but we should probably gloss over that.
A wizarding shop full of wonderful creatures? What’s not to love. Especially when this shop was where the delightful Crookshanks came from! Half-cat and half-Kneazle, this squashy ginger ball of fur was not only adorable but helpful too. A great judge of character, he saw straight through Scabbers and tried to help Sirius in any way he could. He stole the passwords to the Gryffindor common room and tried to defend him when confronted by Harry, Ron and Hermione (before they knew the truth). And if it wasn’t for the Magical Menagerie then this marvellous moggie would not have been in our favourite trio’s life.
Similar to the Magical Menagerie, Eeylops Owl Emporium was the reason one of our favourite characters became a part of Harry’s story. We are talking about Hedwig of course! She was Harry’s first companion in the wizarding world and his connection to it when he was stuck at the Dursleys’ during summer. Bought by Hagrid on Harry’s first trip to Diagon Alley, she was also a reminder of the best birthday he ever had. And Eeylop’s was great place to buy all the owl nuts your owl could ever need.
In second place is the one and only Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Bright, colourful and crammed full of everything a mischief-maker could possibly want, it was probably the most fun shop to ever open in Diagon Alley. There were Pygmy Puffs in various shades of pink and purple. There was U-No-Poo. There were Skiving Snackboxes. There was Peruvian Instant Darkness Power. The list goes on and on. And to top it all off, it was founded by two incredibly funny wizards who knew exactly what their customers were after. And even when Fred passed away, George continued on (with help from Ron) and brought joy and laughter to thousands of witches and wizards.
How could the top spot not be Ollivanders? Nearly every youngster who passes through the doors of Hogwarts comes equipped with a wand from this famous shop. We can only dream of how it would feel to hold your first wand in your hand knowing it had chosen you. From that moment on, you really are a part of the wizarding world and ready to start your journey to become the best witch or wizard you can possibly be.