The study of magic first granted spellcasters the ability to communicate with beings from and on other planes using spells such as contact other plane. The first gateways allowing travel between the planes were opened by Kaldorei sorcerers guided by the Burning Legion. Knowledge of planar travel was lost for millennia following the War of the Ancients, though the summoners of Quel'Thalas and the human magocracy inadvertently opened momentary pinholes between Azeroth and the Elemental Plane as they called upon the power of the elementals. Finally, with the invasion of the Horde, the mages of Azeroth once again took up the study of planar magic and began to make journeys of their own.

Today, plane shift and other spells that allow planar travel are widely known, though spellcasters must study for years before they are skilled and powerful enough to employ them. Even those who are able to make such journeys rarely do so due to the danger involved — perhaps because of the influence of the chaotic Twisting Nether, selecting the place of arrival on another plane is difficult, with a large chance for error (as described in the spell description). The spell gate was created to allow greater precision, but it requires magical ability limited to only the highest-ranked spellcasters. Powerful spellcasters who will hire their services to take adventurers on planar journeys can be found across Azeroth. However, the charge for their services is commensurate with the danger involved to the caster, and few will remain on a dangerous foreign plane waiting for adventurers to request a return trip to their home.

The invasion of the Horde came through a stable portal — the legendary Dark Portal — opened between the planes by Medivh, one of the most powerful wizards in the history of Azeroth. This portal was a gate spell made permanent by affixing it to a carved framework of enchanted stone, and it allowed thousands of orcs to simply walk from Draenor to Azeroth. Even once the stonework of the portal was destroyed during the Second War, the planes had become so intertwined that months later the magics of the Dark Portal coalesced once again to create a stable gateway used by the Alliance to mount a counterattack into Draenor. It is unknown if Medivh, the Horde or the Burning Legion created more permanent gateways hidden somewhere on Azeroth, but it remains a possibility.

Well-known across Azeroth, however, are the many permanent gateways that allow travelers to jump to distant parts of the world instantly. However, the spells used to create these gateways are of the same flavor of teleportation magic as contact other plane; and whenever an ancient portal is unearthed, unused since the time of Queen Azshara, there remains the possibility that what lies beyond its shimmering surface isn't Kalimdor or Booty Bay but instead another plane. Though the discovery of a new portal can mean increased prosperity for nearby settlements, the local inhabitants must often first pay adventurers to venture into the portal and find what lies on the far side.

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