A variety of methods of magical transportation are used by characters in the Harry Potter books, ranging from difficult apparation to the Knight Bus. Depending on the age of the witch or wizard, his or her level of skill, and how quickly they need to travel, an assortment of magical transportation options are available. Many methods such as broomsticks and portkeys involve enchantment of various physical items, while others like apparation and Floo powder are entirely magical.
Physical methods of magical transportation include broomsticks, flying carpets, portkeys, the Knight Bus, and the use of thestrals. Broomsticks and flying carpets are physical items that are enchanted to carry the rider. In England, the setting of the Harry Potter novels, flying carpets are a banned method of magical transportation, because they might be seen by muggles. Wizards are permitted to use broomsticks for magical transportation, as long as they do so with care. Both require some skill, although riders can quickly learn how to control their transport.
Portkeys are items which are enchanted to whisk a witch or wizard to a location on the other side. Most portkeys are set up to be used only once: to get to a location and then return to the starting point. A wizard taps an object like a shoe, saying “Portus” to enchant it. Usually portkeys activate at a particular time, allowing several witches and wizards to grab hold of the item before it activates and yanks them to another place.
The Knight Bus can be summoned by any witch or wizard in need who puts up a thumb. The Knight Bus combines magic and mechanics: it can be driven like a normal bus, or it can hop from destination to destination. However it is used, the Knight Bus sounds like a rocky ride for the passengers. Wizards can also use thestrals, winged horses that are invisible unless the wizard has seen someone die. Thestrals can be mounted and ridden like horses, and have an excellent sense of direction, making them a good method of physical magical transportation when you're not sure how to get where you are going, and need to arrive there with some stealth.
Purely magical transportation such as Floo powder and apparation are also commonly used. Floo powder can be used by wizards of all ages, assuming that a fireplace which is connected to the Floo network can be found. The wizard stands in the fire and casts a handful of Floo powder over the body, clearly enunciating the desired destination. The powder hurls the wizard through the Floo network to the other side, a process which is rather discombobulating. The preferred method of magical transportation for wizards who have reached the age of 17 is apparation, which allows a wizard to vanish from one location and reappear in another almost instantly. Apparation is quite dangerous, as it can cause severe bodily harm known as "splinching" if performed badly.