In celebration of Stars Wars Day, we’re looking at the filming locations the Star Wars saga has made famous over the years. From vast deserts and redwood forests in the United States to grand palaces and glacial lakes in Italy, and tropical islands in Thailand and the Maldives, here are 15 Star Wars filming locations you can visit in real life.
1. Death Valley National Park, United States
George Lucas used Death Valley National Park in California to shoot scenes of the desert planet Tatooine in A New Hope. He used the area between the Mojave Desert and the Sierra Nevada for the scene where Obi-Wan Kenobi meets Luke Skywalker, R2-D2 and C-3PO for the first time.
Twenty Mule Team Canyon in Death Valley was also used to film the scene where R2-D2 and C-3PO journey to Jabba’s Place in Return of the Jedi.
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2. Lenno, Italy
You can visit the same Lake Retreat where Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala hid in Attack of the Clones. George Lucas filmed the scenes at the Villa del Balbainello in Lenno, Italy, overlooking the Lake Como. It was also the location for Anakin and Padme’s weddings in Attack of the Clones. The villa was originally built in 1787 as a monastery before becoming part of the National Trust of Italy in 1988.
Several Star Wars places can be found in Tunisia, a North African country bordering both the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert. The Hôtel Sidi Driss in Matmatat-Al-Qadimal was used as Luke Skywalker’s childhood home (the Lars homestead) in A New Hope.
The set returned in 2000 to film scenes for Attack of the Clones. It’s now known as the ‘Star Wars hotel’ and when you dine in the hotel restaurant, you’ll be eating in the Lars family dining room.
George Lucas also used various locations in Tunisia to film scenes of the desert planet Tatooine. An old mosque in the ferry port town of Ajim was used to film exteriors of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s home, and the town was also the site of the Mos Eisley Spaceport in A New Hope.
4. Grindelwald, Switzerland
The spectacular mountains of Grindelwald were the backdrop of many Star Wars filming locations, including Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The crew also used these stunning snowy peaks for the planet Alderaan, Princess Leia’s home.
5. Tikal, Guatemala
The ruins of Tikal, an ancient city in the rainforest of Guatemala’s Tikal National Park, inspired George Lucas. He used the Mayan ruins as the exterior of the Massassi Outpost, headquarters of the Rebel Alliance, in A New Hope. Tikal is one of the largest archaeological centres of the Maya civilisation and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. Plaza de España, Spain
George Lucas used the gorgeous Plaza de España in Seville as the exterior for Theed on Naboo. You’ll recognise the beautiful architecture from the scene where Anaki and Padme walk through the plaza in Attack of the Clones. This happens before they go into hiding in Lake Country (Lenno, Italy).
7. Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
Head to dreamy Phang Nga Bay in Thailand and you may recognise Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s birthplace. Located between Phuket Island and Thailand’s mainland, Phang Nga Bay is part of Ao Phang Nga National Park. You’ll find the same emerald, waters limestone cliffs, mangrove forests and sandy islands, as seen in Revenge of the Sith.
8. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Director Rian Johnson used the coastal city of Dubrovnik as the Star Wars location for Canto Bight, a lavish city on the planet Cantonica. You’ll recognise it from the scenes in The Last Jedi where Finn, Rose and BB-8 head to the casino. They’re on a mission to find a master codebreaker to disable the First Order’s hyperspace tracker weapon.
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9. Laamu Atoll, Maldives
Laamu Atoll is a collection of tropical islands rimmed by glittering turquoise waters and coral reefs in the Maldives. Director Gareth Edwards chose Gan and Berasdhoo (two large islands) as the location for Scarif, a remote island in the Outer Rim.
The Rebel Alliance breaks into an Imperial Base on the tropical planet Scarif to steal the Death Star blueprints in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Gareth Edwards called the Maldives ‘paradise’ in a 2016 Star Wars Celebration panel:
“Scarif is based on a paradise world, so we had to go to paradise to film it.”
10. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat on the planet, stretching for over 10,000 square kilometres across southwest Bolivia. Rian Johnson used the salt flats as the Star Wars filming location for planet Crait, a Resistance haven. The planet is where the First Order fought against the Resistance in The Last Jedi. The striking scenes depicted the dazzling white salt surface covering the stark red soil of the mineral planet.
11. Redwood National Park, United States
Visit Redwood National Park in California, and you may recognise the Forest Moon of Endor. It was the home of the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. The Star Wars crew filmed several scenes in the redwood groves in Marin County, including the Ewok ambush. You can also find Skywalker Ranch, the movie ranch of George Lucas, near Marin County.
12. Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy
George Lucas used this Italian palace for the Theed Royal Palace on Naboo in Attack of the Clones and The Phantom Menace. Located in southern Italy, it’s one of the largest royal residences in the world. Architect Luigi Vanvitelli originally designed the palace for Charles III, Duke of Bourbon in the 18th century. Today, it’s a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site.
13. Skellig Michael, Ireland
Photo credit: Niki. L
Skellig Michael is a rugged island off the southwest coast of Ireland. It was the filming location for the island planet of Ahch-To in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. The jagged peaks were the home of exiled Luke Skywalker and the site where Rey received her Jedi training.
You may recognise the rock staircase and monastery that sits over 600 feet above sea level. A group of monks built the Gaelic monastery between the 6th and 8th centuries.
14. Rub’ al Khali, Abu Dhabi
Several scenes from the desert planet of Jakku were filmed in the Rub’ al Khali desert. They used a section known as the ‘Empty Quarter’, just a few hours away from Abu Dhabi. It’s the site of Rey’s home planet and Finn and Poe Dameron’s crash landing in The Force Awakens. Rub’ al Khali is the world’s largest contiguous sand desert and the Star Wars crew filmed there for six months.
15. Mount Etna, Italy
Mount Etna was erupting during filming, so George Lucas sent a team to shoot the explosion. They used the flowing lava for the iconic lightsaber battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith. You can find this steaming active volcano on the east coast of Sicily in Catania.
Have you visited any of these Star Wars filming locations? Let us know in the comments below…