Ever watched Star Wars™ and thought about paying the galaxy far, far away a visit? Well, turns out, you can, as Robin Moul explains...
The fictional planets in the Star Wars™ galaxy are some of the most memorable players in the films, with each bringing their own character to the story. And if you’re anything like us travel and movie fans at DK Eyewitness, part of the joy of watching Star Wars™ is thinking about which planets you’d like to visit – if any of them actually existed, that is!
Well, we have good news on that front, because some of those incredible places can be found right here on Earth. While painted backdrops and CGI obviously play a big part in the films, there was also plenty of work done on location – meaning there are little pockets of familiar Star Wars™ sights to be found across the world.
This list of Star Wars™ filming locations will take you to places that make you feel like you’ve been transported to a galaxy far, far away. And if our suggestions give you a real taste for Star Wars™ travel, check out the “Galactic Backpacking” articles on starwars.com for detailed itineraries.
The desert planet of Tatooine is a true Star Wars™ icon. We return there so often in the Skywalker saga that seeing it on screen feels a bit like coming home. Naturally, the filming locations in Tunisia have long been fan-favourites for Star Wars™ travel. Sadly, terrorist attacks in recent years have led international governments to advise against travel to Tunisia for the time being. But while it may not be possible right now, you can still imagine a trip there when the country is open again.
Star Wars™ fans should head for central Tunisia – particularly around the Chott el Djerid salt lake – where you can find little mementos from multiple films in the franchise. Some are real Tunisian structures, while others are leftovers from the film set (or replicas built for tourists to enjoy). What’s more, while you spend your days exploring the Star Wars™ sights dotted around the Sahara Desert, at night you can stay at another Tatooine location: Hotel Sidi Driss, which was used as the interior of the Lars homestead, childhood home of Luke Skywalker.
Fans of the Star Wars™ prequels are sure to put the glamorous planet of Naboo on their dream travel itinerary. Well, dream no longer, because you can find a hint of Naboo much closer to home, at Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como.
The sunny Italian countryside perfectly captures the idyllic atmosphere of the Lake Country on Naboo, where Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker get a break from their responsibilities (and constant mortal peril). Although the filmmakers may have CGI’d the exterior of Villa del Balbianello to look more other-worldly, the property’s balconies and beautiful lake view are exactly as you remember them from Attack of the Clones. It was here that Padmé and Anakin had their first kiss, and also a secret wedding at the end of the film. It’s a great place for Star Wars™-loving couples to take their own romantic photos, or even to host a wedding – although whether you want to emulate such a doomed love story is up for debate!
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Fans were introduced to the planet of Ahch-To in the recent sequel trilogy, where we finally meet Luke Skywalker again after the 32 years gap (Earth time) between Episodes VI and VII. The planet’s significance to the Skywalker saga and Jedi Order lore means this filming location is an important stop on your Star Wars™ world tour.
The scenes were shot on the craggy, hilly island of Skellig Michael off the southwest coast of Ireland. It sounds pretty desolate, but the mix of wild, natural beauty and monastic ruins make it a fascinating place to explore, and active travellers will love hiking the grassy hills and climbing the ancient stone steps of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You won’t have to hunt too hard for Star Wars™ spots, either, as the whole island is instantly recognisable as from The Last Jedi. You almost expect to see a flock of Porgs around every corner!
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Until Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we’d never seen anything quite like the planet of Scarif in the Star Wars™ galaxy. This stunning, tropical paradise would definitely be one of our top stops on a tour of that galaxy far, far away... if it hadn’t been decimated by the Death Star, that is. Luckily, the filming location is right here on Earth, and it looks even more idyllic since it’s not covered in stormtroopers.
While there are no hints of the Imperial complex to provide a bit of Star Wars™ set dressing for your photos, the Laamu Atoll where the Scarif scenes were filmed is absolutely worth the trip anyway. And fans who want to be close to the Star Wars™ sights can stay at the same hotel as the cast and crew (Reveries on Gan), from which you can reach the wild-looking Baresdhoo, and crescent-moon-shaped Kudafashi and Maafushi islands – all of which appear in the film.
Northern California has an important place on our pilgrimage, with several great sights on the region’s Star Wars™ resumé.
First of all, there are a couple of spots in the Bay Area that are said to have inspired the architecture of Theed, the capital city of Naboo. The majestic Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco certainly exudes the elegant atmosphere of Padmé’s home planet. Another building rumoured to have influenced the buildings of Theed is across the Golden Gate Bridge. Here you’ll find the Marin County Civic Center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and completed after his death. Naboo-fans will certainly feel a spark of recognition when they spy the patina-coloured roof of Wright’s civic center complex, so similar to the teal, domed roofs of Theed.
Another location to add to your list is Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park. Walking in this wild forest beneath the awe-inspiring, old growth redwood trees is the next best thing to visiting the forest moon of Endor – home of the fan-favourite Ewoks. Most of the Endor scenes were filmed on private property further north, but Grizzly Creek Redwoods was used as the backdrop for the awesome speeder bike chase.
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