14 Real Life "Star Wars" Locations that You Can Actually Visit

14 Real Life “Star Wars” Locations that You Can Actually Visit

Who says the planets from the Star Wars series are in a galaxy far, far away? Hop on to your nearest starfighter and travel to these real life locations from the blockbuster sci-fi franchise!

Have you ever wondered about the fantastic scenes in Star Wars? The exact locations where the directors looked around and concluded that it was perfect to be an alien settlement, an Imperial stronghold, or a war-torn battlefield? While some of them were built ground up with computer-generated imagery, there are still those that are filmed in locations around the world.

Well, wonder no longer, because here’s a list of 14 real life Star Wars destinations on Earth that you can actually visit. Now you and your friends can pretend to be Jedis and take plenty of photos with the perfect backdrop, straight from the movies themselves!

1. Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy

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Image credit: Robin Wylie

Famous for: The epic finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber duel on Mustafar, a fiery volcanic world, in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

The actors were not actually in Mount Etna, as the volcano is still dangerously active for any human visitors to be inside the crater! Instead, the scene’s background was computer-generated with captured footage of real life eruptions, making it look as if both combatants were fighting in a searing arena. Mount Etna also clinches the title as one of the tallest active volcanoes in Europe, and is known to erupt spectacularly, filling the air with ash, fire and smoke!

How to get there: Tour buses from the nearby town of Catania can bring you right below the summit, or if the conditions do not allow it, around the volcano’s side. Furthermore, hiking tours can bring you to less-visited areas, with experienced guides leading physically capable tourists to the crater itself!

2. Canary Wharf Underground Station, London

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Famous for: The interior of the Imperial military base on planet Scarif, featured in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The sleek architecture and design of Canary Wharf Underground Station perfectly blend with the futuristic theme of the evil Galactic Empire, to the point that you’ll never spare a second glance at the cleverly disguised train doors or the escalators throughout the movie! The scenes were filmed on an early Sunday morning when the station was closed to the public, so viewers won’t be able to spot bewildered Londoners in an army of Stormtroopers!

How to get there: Canary Wharf Station can be easily accessed through the Jubilee line in the London Underground. Sitting in the middle of Canada Water and North Greenwich, the station lies only a few stops away from the Stratford end of the line.

3. Wadi Rum, Jordan

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Image credit: Maureen

Famous for: The location of the desert moon Jedha, a historical and spiritual site of the Force, as shown in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The beauty of the fictional moon of Jedha accurately reflects the unspoilt landscape of Wadi Rum. The rich history of the Jedi Order is also mirrored with the long line of inhabitants in the valley who left their marks on the granite rocks. Coincidentally enough, the literal translation of Wadi Rum is actually “The Valley of the Moon”! Wadi Rum has also made appearances in other famous movies such as Matt Damon’s The Martian, as well as in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

How to get there: Buses from the nearby cities of Amman and Aqaba can get you there with a short detour from Highway 15, commonly known as the Desert Highway. Plenty of tour guides stand ready to offer you various modes of transportation, such as camels, jeeps and treks, to navigate through the harsh land.

4. Skellig Islands, County Kerry, Ireland

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Famous for: The planet of Ahch-To at the end of Episode VII: The Force Awakens, where Rey finally meets the self-exiled Luke Skywalker and hands him his old lightsaber.

The Skellig Islands are actually made up of two rocky islands, Skellig Michael, or Greater Skellig, and Little Skellig. The latter is privately owned and off-limits to any form of visitors, as it serves as a crucial preservation ground for a native community of northern garnet. Tourists can still, however, drop off at Skellig Michael and explore the ancient ruins of a Christian monastery, the exact same one that Rey went through to reach Luke.

How to get there: Getting to Skellig Michael can be tricky, as the licensed boats from County Kerry accept very limited passengers for the journey, as well as the constant threat of bad weather. Make sure to visit Ireland during the summer, as the boats do not sail to Skellig Islands in winter, and book your spots early on.

5. Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, Norway

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Image credit: Jørn Eriksson

Famous for: The ice planet Hoth, where the Galactic Empire discovers and launches a full invasion on the local Rebel Alliance base in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

The Hardangerjøkulen glacier is known as one of the largest glaciers in Norway. It is located in between the municipalities of Eidfjord and Ulvik in the county of Hordaland. The crew spent most of their time filming at Finse, a peaceful mountain village with a sparkling lakeside situated at the foot of the glacier. Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker in the movie, was asked to run out into a snowstorm at one point so that the filmmakers could get their footage!

How to get there: The remote village of Finse can only be exclusively accessed by the Oslo-Bergen railway, as there are no roads leading to it. Buying your railway ticket online and in advance is highly recommended. You may also choose to upgrade your seat, at a reasonably small price, for first-class equivalent accommodations on the train!

6. Ajim, Tunisia

Image credit: Stefan Krasowski

Image credit: Stefan Krasowski

Famous for: The Mos Eisley spaceport in Tatooine, where Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker first bump into the notorious smuggler Han Solo and his furry sidekick, Chewbacca, in Episode IV: A New Hope.

Located on the south side of the island Djerba, Ajim is a modest port town where the locals live off from fishing and tourism. The nearby sandy beaches are known for their natural charm, untouched by human development. The original buildings that were once used to film the spaceport in 1977 are also still intact and open for visitors, including the more famous ones such as the house of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the signature Mos Eisley Cantina!   

How to get there: Interested tourists can fly directly to Djerba-Zarzis Airport, where it will be a 20- to 30-minute ride to Ajim. For those already staying on the mainland of Tunisia, they can opt to take the shorter route via ferry at the city of Jorf instead, which is right next door to Ajim itself.

7. Tikal, Guatemala

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Image credit: Laurent de Walick

Famous for: The Rebel Alliance’s main base of operations on the planet Yavin 4 in Episode IV: A New Hope.

Deep in the rainforests of Guatemala, Tikal is one of the largest remaining ruins of the ancient Mayan civilisation. Many fans will fondly recognise the towering limestone structures and the lush greenery from various scenes in the movie. As you climb up to the building known as Temple IV, you will enjoy panoramic jungle views that are the same ones in the famous scene of a Rebel soldier overseeing the Millennium Falcon’s landing on Yavin 4.

How to get there: Tour companies are readily available in the nearby town of Flores, selling guided tours that will pick you up directly from your hotel. The Mayan site opens at 6am and closes at 6pm. It gets crowded very easily, due to its popularity among tourists, so be sure to start your journey early!

8. Rub’ Al Khali, Abu Dhabi

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Image credit: judithcharnowski

Famous for: The harsh desert world of Jakku, where Rey was left behind by her family and brought up in Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

The Rub’ al Khali, also known as the Empty Quarter in Arabic, is one of the largest connecting sand deserts in the world, with dunes stretching to parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) and Yemen. The desert, which was portrayed in the movie as a solitary world, is actually home to a number of local nomad tribes, such as the Banu Yam and the Bani Yas. You won’t, however, find any wrecked spaceships strewn about in the sands!  

How to get there: Interested travellers can visit Rub’ al Khali from gateways in the U.A.E and Saudi Arabia, where permits are required to enter the desert itself. This can be easily resolved by booking with one of the local tour agencies. To travel the desert itself, it’s highly recommended to join a convoy or a caravan, as the area can be quite inhospitable to the inexperienced!

9. Villa Del Balbianello, Lake Como, Italy

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Image credit: Christine Wagner

Famous for: The area of Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala’s secret wedding at the end of Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Built in 1787 on top of a Franciscan monastery, the Villa Del Balbianello can be found at the south-western branch of Lake Como. The villa is well known for their elaborate terraced gardens and amazing views of Isola Comacina, a nearby small wooded island. The splendour of the interior design complements the atmosphere to create happy memories with loved ones, even if you were forbidden to do so by your Jedi Masters!

How to get there: The Villa Del Balbianello opens from mid-March to mid-November, from 10am to 6pm. Open every day, except on Mondays and Wednesdays (unless public holidays). Tourists can board a boat from the village of Leno to reach the villa and join a local tour. The tour prices are significantly cheaper if you make reservations before visiting!

10. Lake Mývatn, Iceland

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Image credit: Andrea Schaffer

Famous for: The air skirmishes between the Resistance and the First Order in Starkiller Base during Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Lake Mývatn can be found near Akureyri, the largest town in Iceland. Formed by a volcanic eruption 2300 years ago, the waters act as a hub for a huge number of birds that flock to the area in the summer to feed on the midges, as well as ancient volcanic landforms, such as lava pillars and vents. The surrounding icy landscape also serves as the perfect area for aerial dogfights between speedy starfighters!

How to get there: You can easily reach Lake Mývatn by taking one of the many buses from the cities of Akureyri, Husavik and Egilsstadir, which will stop you nearby. Else, you could rent an automobile, or a bicycle if you’re fit enough, for a more direct option to the lake!

11. Guilin, China

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Image credit: Mike

Famous for: The backdrop for the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Although proper filming did not actually take place in Guilin, their renowned limestone karst mountains were featured in the backdrop during scenes of the Battle of Kashyyyk. The imposing rocky peaks, battered and formed by nature since 400 million years ago, is a great match to the long-lasting tenacity and the strength of the fictional Wookiees!

How to get there: The city of Guilin can easily be reached by flights to Liangjiang International Airport. From there, you can arrange with any tour agents to bring you to one of the many limestone karsts in the area. Popular ones include the Red Flute Cave, an underground cavern filled with stalactite and stalagmite, and Elephant Trunk Hill, which has a natural arch that resembles an elephant dipping its trunk into the water.

12. Puzzlewood, Gloucestershire, England

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Famous for: The planet Takodana, where Rey encounters the main villain Kylo Ren for the first time in Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Located in the heart of the Forest of Dean, The woods of Puzzlewood is both mysterious and charming to visitors. The almost magical feel of Rey dashing through meandering pathways, ancient gnarled trees and secret caves, lends credence to the fantasy atmosphere of the movie. Interestingly enough, Puzzlewood has also inspired a great number of noteworthy literature, including J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter.

How to get there: The best way for visitors is to make their way to the small market town of Coleford, where they can follow the brown tourist signs which will guide them directly into Puzzlewood!

13. Redwood National and State Parks, California

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Image credit: Miles Sabin

Famous for: The forest moon of Endor and home of the lovable, tiny Ewoks in Episode IV: Return of the Jedi.

If you’re looking for cute, furry little bears, then look no further than Redwood National Park in California! Home to the tallest trees in the world, the massive park is also perfect for all sorts of trekkers, whether they’re in for a short hike or a full-fledged camping trip. Sure, you won’t see the amazing Ewok treehouses like in the movie, but you’ll be compensated with the vast beauty of the ancient redwood forests themselves.

How to get there: The Redwood National Park is located in the northernmost part of California, and tourists can get there by landing at the nearby airports of Del Norte, Arcata or Rogue Valley. From there, you can hop on the Redwood Coast Transit (RCT) that will take you there directly If you’re confident in your navigational skills, then opt for a scenic drive through a few highways on your own!

14. Whippendell Woods, U.K.

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Image credit: Renzo Borgatti

Famous for: Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi bumping into the notorious Jar Jar Binks in Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Although it’s a scene that many Star Wars fans would like to erase from their memories, there’s no denying that Whippendell Woods is a great choice to reflect on the natural beauty of the planet Naboo. The forest has stood around for a long time, with some of the trees still proudly standing tall since the 1600s. There’s also plenty of diverse flora and fauna for visitors to experience, and no “meesa Jar Jar Binks” there to ruin it for you!

How to get there: Whippendell Woods is located near the edges of the town of Watford. Visitors can reach it by following the footpaths from the nearby Cassiobury Park and West Herts Golf course. Admission is free and the entrance opens from dawn till dusk. It’s highly recommended to come by during the last week of April and the first week of May, when the bluebells are in full blossom!

Also read: The Most Majestic Filming Locations You Will Find On Earth

With this list, you’ll be all set to follow in the footsteps of celebrities such as Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Daisy Ridley, and start your own path in the Star Wars universe! So pack your bags, charge your camera, bring your droid friends, and drop by these places for a thrilling intergalactic time. May the Force be with you!

About Author

Youliang Teo
Youliang Teo

When he’s not caught up with the real world, Teo Youliang dreams of simply grabbing a rucksack and setting off on an adventure of a lifetime. Whether it means venturing through unknown places, meeting new faces, or frustratingly figuring out a travel map for hours, you can be sure that there isn’t any other place he’d rather be. He’s also content with a hot cup of tea, and writing stories at the comfort of his home.

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