20 Star Wars Filming Locations You Can Actually Visit
Whether you're an old-school Princess Leia lover or a Darth Vader diehard, what better way to spend Star Wars Day than planning a visit to one or more of these 20 earthly destinations that played a part of a galaxy far, far away in one or more of the film franchise's episodes. May the fourth be with you!
Wadi Rum, Jordan
Much of the fictional Star Wars universe is created on soundstages and with special effects. This will most certainly be true in the final film of the Skywalker nine-ology (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), which hits theaters in December. So far Disney will confirm only one real-life filming location—the Wadi Rum desert in Southern Jordan. As for what part it plays in the plot, both the studio and Lucasfilm Ltd. remain mum. However, the photo does show the newest trilogy’s burgeoning hero Rey ready for battle with her lightsaber drawn. Feel free to speculate and post about it on Reddit with all the other mega-fans. Also, check out these corny Star Wars jokes you can use in your posts.
Skellig Michael, Ireland
Rey found Luke Skywalker hiding on Ahch-To, a punishing but gorgeous island planet, in the final moments of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. Then in Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, Rey pesters Luke until he trains her there among its hills and rock formations. The shoot made Skellig Michael, a towering sea crag located roughly seven miles off the southwest coast of Ireland in County Kerry, a tourist magnet. Many visit to walk the hundreds of rock steps as she did. They lead, according to World Heritage Ireland, to a monastery built between the sixth and eighth centuries 600 feet above sea level by ascetic monks.
Creator/Director George Lucas chose this Northwest African sandy country as a stand-in for desert planet Tatooine, the planet Luke Skywalker grew up on according to Smithsonian Magazine. Several locations appear on screen including the Shubiel Gorge near Tozeur. It’s where R2D2 was abducted by Jawas and Luke was attacked by Tusken Raiders in the original full-length film Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope that started it all in 1976. The ferry port town of Ajim was used for the exteriors of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s home, which in real-life was an old mosque according to Mental Floss, and the Mos Eisley Spaceport. Tunisia also shows up in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Episode II Attack Of The Clones.
Hotel Sidi Driss, Tunisia
The subterranean Hotel Sidi Driss in Matmatat was visited by the SW crew on several occasions over the course of 24 years. It made its first appearance as Luke’s boyhood home on the planet of Tatooine in A New Hope. Production returned in 2000 for the prequel Attack of the Clones. Four of the hotel’s now famous pits are sleeping quarters and the fifth functions as the restaurant and guests eat in Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s dining room. The set dressings and props now decorate the unique lodgings. They were not left the first time around according to Atlas Obscura.
Death Valley, California
Because one desert was apparently not enough to truly capture the dusty, arid conditions of Tatooine, the New Hope production set up camp in this U.S. National Park. Some footage was spliced with Tunisian reels to achieve the final product. The panoramic point Dante’s View was used as an establishing shot for Mos Eisley. R2D2 and C3PO crash their escape pod into the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. The Jawas kidnap the golden droid and take him to their sandcrawler in Artists Palette on Artists Drive and Golden Canyon. Tusken Raiders ambush Luke in Desolation Canyon. They, like the Jedi, returned in Episode VI, to shoot in Twenty Mule Team Canyon and meet Jabba The Hut. Death Valley made the list of 12 best vacations for Star Wars super-fans.
A small isolated railroad stop town between Oslo and Bergen was the site of several scenes from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. Several bits of the battle of Hoth, the icy planet where the Rebel Alliance set up its Echo Base, were filmed on the nearby Hardangerjøkulen glacier. According to Mental Floss, director Irvin Kershner turned bad weather into his good luck in 1979. When a snowstorm moved in, he grabbed two important moments outside the Finse 1222 Hotel: Luke escaping the Wampa cave and his interaction with the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi prior to Han Solo saving him.
Mount Etna, Italy
Another conveniently timed natural disaster was used to get the desired look when George Lucas was completing the epic Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith end battle between Obi-Wan and his protégé Anakin. The fight took place at a mining facility on Mustafar, a volcanic planet that eventually became the location of Darth Vader’s fortress. Mount Etna was erupting during filming so Lucas sent a team to shoot flowing lava to add realism to the plate photography and background according to Mental Floss. Probably best if you visit the island Sicily—and these 12 other volcanoes that could erupt next (or already are)—during a dormant phase.
Del Norte County, California
Whether you personally love or hate the nonsense-mumbling alien teddy bears from Return of the Jedi, the Ewoks and their rudimentary weapons helped save our on-the-run rebel heroes from the original trilogy and invited them to take refuge in their tree houses. Their home, the forest moon of Endor, took inspiration from the picturesque Redwood groves of Northern California, a couple of counties above Lucas’ headquarters, Skywalker Ranch, and home.
A different forest was used when it came time to stage a fight between Kylo Ren and Rey in The Force Awakens. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver swung their sabers around in the Forest of Dean section of Puzzlewood in England. According to Business Insider, the woodsy wonderland also inspired J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling when they were creating their own fictional forests for The Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter respectively.
Fawley Power Station, Hampshire, England
If you’re team Han, you’ll want to swing by the 300-acre plot that contains the decommissioned Fawley Power Station in the English county of Hampshire. According to The Location Guide, the opening scenes of Solo: A Star Wars Story, the origin tale of one of the most iconic characters of all time, were shot there. Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) are caught in a high-speed chase as they attempt to sneak off the planet Corellia. But hurry if this Brutalist building is on your bucket list as The Daily Echo newspaper reports that there is a plan being promoted to blow it all up in a series of controlled explosions over the next two years in order to make way for housing. Here are 15 more locations you need to visit ASAP before they disappear for good.
How nerd-tastic can one city be? Well, in the case of this beautiful and ancient seaside city known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, very. Before The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson sent Finn and Rose there to find a renowned codebreaker in the Canto Bight casino, it was the capital of the seven kingdoms and the Lannister stronghold on HBO’s Game of Thrones where it is the real-world equivalent of King’s Landing.
Laamu Atoll, Maldives
There was trouble in paradise for the unlikely heroes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that falls in between the first two trilogies. Laamu Atoll in the Maldives, a growing honeymoon destination, was the site of the film’s massive final battle, Architectural Digest explains. Director Gareth Edwards, just as George Lucas before him, designed skirmishes with World War II engagements as models. The villains had established a base on the planet of Scarif and were keeping the blueprints for the Death Star there. We think Edwards might have just wanted an excuse to go to South Asia and the breathtaking Indian Ocean. “Scarif is a paradise world so we had to go to paradise to film it,” he said during a panel at the 2016 Star Wars Celebration. He added that they enlisted Maldivian soldiers, who had no idea what Star Wars was, to play Stormtroopers.
Canary Wharf Station, London
This Docklands district Underground station on the Jubilee line opened in 1999 and in 2016, it became another Stormtrooper-filled spot on Scarif in Rogue One according to BuzzFeed. Edwards revealed at the 2016 Star Wars Celebration that the reason he used that particular Tube station was personal. “My first job in television was just around the corner and I used to pass it every day,” Edwards said, “[I thought,] ‘This is something from the future. This is like a sci-fi movie, If I ever do sci-fi in my life, I’m gonna film it here.’ We were trying to figure out how to do these really long shots that involve a lot of running and building big massive sets and we were trying to be clever about it. I was like. ‘Let’s film it at the Docklands.’ They were like, ‘Ha ha ha, very funny.'” But Edwards got to fulfill his dream despite it being a logistical nightmare. They had to wait until the station closed and had to be finished at 4 a.m. when it reopened for commuters. They barely made the deadline. “As we left, everyone wearing suits came in and we were like, ‘Morning, morning.'” It also appeared in 2002 in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later.
Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
The impressive and looming limestone karsts and secluded tropical bays of Phang Nga Bay in Thailand have been a popular vacation destination long before Hollywood came calling. But its stock in trade certainly isn’t hurt by its association with Star Wars. It was used as plate photography for the planet Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s birthplace, where the Rebels stage a counterattack against what will become the Empire, in Revenge of the Sith, according to Mental Floss. For certain scenes, shots of Guilin, China were combined with ones from Thailand to enrich the textures.
Whippendell Wood, Watford, England
Naboo was also the home planet of the Gungans, an amphibious sentient species that produced one of the most controversial (and almost universally annoying) characters in the entire written and cinematic SW canon — Jar Jar Binks. In The Phantom Menace, Jedi Qui Gon (Liam Neeson) runs into (literally!) the creature when the Trade Federation attacks his village. As the two flee through the woods, they reconnect with Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) who questions, “What’s this?” The scenes were filmed in the Whippendell Wood, which were once a part of the Cassiobury estate, now one of the best parks in the country according to a Keep Britain Tidy poll, in Watford, Hertfordshire in England.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Spreading across more than 4,050 square miles, Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat and a major source of the world’s lithium, according to National Geographic. It was also the site of an eye-catching major battle in The Last Jedi. The rebels make a last stand of sorts on the planet of Crait, where under the dry white surface crimson sand sits. Of course, traipsing around the salty plain won’t kick up blood-red dust as the fighters and bullets do in the movie, but the endless horizon at 12,000 feet above sea level makes for spectacular vacation photos and it’s now home to the world’s first salt hotel amidst one of the 15 most stunning natural wonders you’ve never heard of.
Rub Al Khali Desert, United Arab Emirates
Another day, another desert planet. According to Visit Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass, the Rub Al Khali (aka the Liwa Desert and the Empty Quarter), in the westernmost region of Al Dhafra was the first filming location for The Force Awakens and in the in the Star Wars-verse is known as the isolated world of Jakku. Director J.J. Abrams said of the six-month experience, “Filming in Abu Dhabi was an incredible thing. Star Wars is a western and a fairy tale … shooting [there] was just that.” Abrams and company descended on the desert in May 2014 to film things like Poe Dameron and Finn’s crash on Jakku, Rey’s scavenger market, and Finn and Rey’s first meeting. They worked in secret under the title Avco, which is actually the name of the now-defunct movie theater in Los Angeles where Abrams saw the original in 1977.
Like with the Mount Etna situation, Lucas supplemented green screen action with real-life photography to enhance the realism of the background of another setting in Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. A camera crew was dispatched to Grindelwald to capture some gorgeous Swiss Alps scenery to use as the backdrop for Alderaan, the snowy-peaked and doomed home base of Princess Leia, according to Architectural Digest. Test your Star Wars knowledge: How many of these 14 facts that everyone gets wrong do you know?
Lake Como, Italy
This is another circumstance where art imitates life. Villa del Balbianello, an 18thcentury mansion perched on a Lake Como, is a very popular and exclusive wedding venue. In Episode II: Attack of the Clones, it’s manicured gardens, historic buildings, and photogenic balcony provide the backdrop to Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala’s love story, their secret wedding, and ultimately the romantic night that produced Luke and Leia (although that wasn’t shown in the final edit of the family film) before Anakin went full dark side. It all took place while they were on her home planet of Naboo. The duo also picnicked in a nearby meadow full of Shaaks, which along with a waterfall and the mountains were added and enhanced in post-production with special effects.
Canary Islands, Spain
According to The Location Guide, the cast of Solo: A Star Wars Story spent about three weeks shooting on Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands, after they’d finished up in England and the Dolomites. When the Millennium Falcon is badly damaged during a slave revolt on Kessel, Han and company wind up landing on Savareen, which is the area of the island known as Cañada La Barca in real life, and have to deal with multiple doublecrosses. It was not the first time the franchise had filmed in Spain. The Plaza de España in Seville subbed for the exterior of Theed on Naboo in Attack of the Clones. Anakin and Padmé walk through the plaza before the pair go into hiding in the Lake Country. Read on for 65 other real-life locations used in TV series and films.