From The Phantom Menace to The Last Jedi, celebrate the eternal battle between the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire by exploring where the iconic movies were filmed.
Star Wars is a global phenomenon very few films, books or television shows can come close to achieving. And we’ve put together a wonderful tour of the places where the iconic films were made. Let’s check ‘em out before someone notices a disturbance in the Force.
1. Guilin (Kashyyyk)
The tropical home world of the Wookies needed an imposing background, and the limestone karst mountains of this Chinese city definitely do the trick. These formations are one of China’s most popular tourist destinations, which also supply a perfect backdrop of Chewbacca’s stomping grounds in Episode III.
Check this out: Asia’s 15 most incredible road trips
2. Tikal National Park (Yavin IV Rebel Base)
The ruins of an ancient Mayan city in Guatemala’s Tikal National Park were a solid choice for the home of a Rebel Base on the jungle moon of Yavin IV in Episode IV. Once one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya, this area is popular for the various temples, altars and artifacts that made the area an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
3. Palace of Caserta – Caserta (Naboo Royal Palace)
Fans may remember this locale as the royal palace on Naboo from Episodes I and II. The palace covers over 500,000 square feet, making it the largest royal residence in the world. The Honour Grand Staircase is one of the more recognizable sights from the movies. And from 1923 to 1943 the palace was home to the Italian Air Force Academy.
4. Villa del Balbianello – Lenno (Anakin & Padme’s clandestine wedding)
This gorgeous villa overlooking Lake Como was built in 1787 for Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini. It actually fell into a state of disrepair by the early 20th century before American businessman Butler Ames renovated the villa and its garden. Now the secret wedding site of Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala belongs to the Grandi Giardini Italiani.
5. Mount Etna – Sicily (Mustafar)
This epic battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin took place on the volcanic planet of Mustafar in Episode III, but the reality of its vividness is the film crew struck while the iron was hot for this shot. Mount Etna, on the east coast of Sicily actually erupted while the movie was filming. Lucasfilm sent some camera crews to the volcano to film several angles of the eruption to use while Obi-Wan was getting legs up on the competition, among other scenes. While we don’t condone touring an active volcano by yourself, there are some guided tours you can take to see the area up close.
6. Hardangerjøkulen Glacier – Eidfjord & Ulvik (Hoth)
One of the most memorable fights in The Empire Strikes Back also happened on one of the coldest filming locations. Yes, this glacier is better known to fans as the snowy wasteland of Hoth. The easiest time to tour the glacier is during the winter, when you can access from the north through the village of Finse. We doubt you’ll run into a wampa during your visit. But if you do, let’s just hope it’s not this one.
Check this out: 5 incredible road trips around the world to drive before you die
7. Plaza de Espana – Seville (Theed, Naboo)
Padme, Anakin and R2-D2 took a stroll through the gorgeous open spaces of Theed, but we know it as Seville’s Plaza de Espana. We can easily take strolls of our own through the square that’s one of the best examples of Renaissance Revival style you can find in Spanish architecture.
8. Grindelwald (Alderaan)
We didn’t spend too much time on Alderaan in the movies. Aside from seeing it blown to smithereens in Episode IV, the planet only received a small bit of screen time in Revenge of the Sith. But the mountainous backdrop during Episode III was memorable as its better known as the Swiss village of Grindelwald. Apart from a stunning view, Grindelwald is a wintry paradise for outdoor adventurers, featuring great skiing, tobogganing and hiking.
9. Phang Nga Bay – near Phuket (Kashyyyk)
You just knew Chewie’s home planet would get a little more love on this list, right? Phang Nga Bay, near Phuket, Thailand, served as some of the backdrop for the aerial battle that went down in Episode III above Kashyyyk. The reality of the area is this shallow bay of islands and limestone formations is home to at least 88 bird species, including the rare Asiatic dowitcher and globally threatened Malaysian plover.
10. Ksar Hadada & Ksar Ouled Soltane – near Ghomrassen, Tataouine (Mos Espa Slave Quarters)
Anakin Skywalker’s old home on Tatooine wasn’t the most glamorous location since it was in the Mos Espa Slave Quarters. But the actual locations used for his digs can be found just north of Ghomrassen and south of Tataouine in Tunisia are quite impressive. You can visit these mostly deserted towns to see where filming was done. Just be mindful of the daytime heat, which can soar to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius).
11. Onk Jemal – Tozeur (Mos Espa lightsaber duel)
Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul had quite the lightsaber fight in Mos Espa. You can actually take a Jeep tour through this portion of the Sahara Desert that lies outside of the Tunisian city of Tozeur to see where the scene was filmed.
12. Hotel Sidi Driss – Matmata (Luke Skywalker’s boyhood home)
One look at the photo above for some Star Wars fans will recognize it as the inside of the Tatooine homestead of Beru and Owen Lars, who took care of a young Luke Skywalker. What some might not know is their home is actually an underground hotel you can stay at in Matmata. The troglodyte setting is perfect to brave the scorching heat of the desert climate. And who could pass up on a chance to stay at Luke’s old house?
13. Chott el Djerid – near Tozeur (Lars homestead exterior)
Some of you may ask about the igloo entrance to the house. That was actually filmed on the dry salt flats of Chott el Djerid. It’s a bit strange to see this igloo sitting out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s very popular with the tourists… especially those looking to get that final shot like in Revenge of the Sith.
14. Ajim, Island of Djerba (Mos Eisley Cantina and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s home)
This Tunisian town may be known for sponge fishing, but it’s known for all sorts of cool things for Star Wars fans. On the outskirts of town is where you’ll find Obi-Wan’s home from A New Hope. Another must-visit for fans is going to the filming site of the Mos Eisley Cantina, which gave us an unreasonably catchy song. Good luck getting that out of your mind. The island was also used for the Mos Eisley Spaceport, but we doubt you’ll find the droids you’re looking for while exploring.
15. Whippendell Woods – Watford, England (Naboo forest)
Jar Jar Binks isn’t exactly beloved by many fans, but at least the scenery from one of his moments was pretty nice. Whippendell Woods was the spot where Jar Jar first meets Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan in Episode I. But nature lovers will remember the feel of walking down the numerous footpaths that take them through trees that have been here since the 1600s over one of the more ridiculed characters in the canon. The woods are actually near the studios where some of the movies were made, so you can actually find the locations where they filmed if you start your walk into the forest from the studio end.
16. Death Valley National Park – California, Nevada (Several Episodes IV & VI scenes)
Sometimes all you need to film the right shot is in your own back yard. George Lucas used Death Valley National Park to its fullest for A New Hope. The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes were used when R2-D2 decided to go out on his own after he and C-3PO crash their escape pod is one of the more notable. As is Twenty-Mule Team Canyon, which is where our favorite droids walk up to the Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine during Return of the Jedi.
17. Redwood National and State Parks – near Crescent City, California (Endor)
While we can’t party with the Ewoks, we can go to their homelands of Endor. Yep, we can check out where speeder bike chases and the second Death Star’s shield generator were located. These spots can be found in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park – a part of the Redwood National and State Parks – in Northern California. The ginormous redwood trees and lush vegetation bring the forest moon to life in a way a green screen never could. Take a hike or ride a bike along the 20 miles of trails in the park to feel like you’re in a world full of natural beauty.
18. Rub’ al Khali desert – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Jakku)
Jakku is the home world of Rey where she meets BB-8 and Finn for the first time before they take off on their space adventure. Although similar to the desert world of Tatooine, director J. J. Abrams decided to relocate from the previous location of Tunisia to Abu Dhabi to give the “planet” a different feel. Although the sets no longer stand, tourists can take a desert safari where you can drive over sand dunes, ride a camel, and enjoy the sunset.
19. Krafla Volcano and Myvatn Lakes – Iceland (Starkiller Base)
Sharp-eyed fans were quick to notice that the winter scenes that showed up in the first trailer of The Force Awakens were shot in Iceland. The Myvatn Lakes is popular spot for locals and visitors alike who’re looking to take a dip in the naturally heated geothermal baths; it’s also a great place to catch the northern lights. With Krafla Volcano being just a short drive away, it’s no surprise that the New Order decided to setup Starkiller Base here.
20. Skellig Michael – County Kerry, Ireland – (Ahch-To)
The name of this UNESCO World Heritage Site wasn’t revealed in The Force Awakens, but we know that ‘Ahch-To’ is clearly fit for a Jedi who doesn’t want to be found. Visitors can climb the five hundred stone steps and retrace the path of monks who settled on Skellig Michael more than a millennium ago. The island is only accessed via boat from May to September – advance booking is required.
21. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia (Crait)
First seen by fans in The Last Jedi, Crait isn’t known as the hottest holiday spot in the galaxy but it’s the perfect place if you just want to get away from it all. There’s not much that calls this planet home, but you might spot the odd Vulptex if you’re lucky. If you do visit, bring good shoes and a pair of tinted goggles. It’s covered in Sodium which effectively turns the ground into a very bright and slippery mirror. Joking aside though, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat and can be visited all year-round, though rain can make visits in December and January difficult, and June to August is high-season and tours can be more expensive. The spectacular mirrored effect caused by the seemingly endless horizon means you’ll have hours of fun playing around for photographs.