Whether you were introduced to the franchise back in 1977 when the first Star Wars movie came out, or last year with Rogue One, there's no denying that Star Wars has a way to capture everyone's imagination with its adventure, story and its fictional universe full of planets we can barely comprehend.
While many of these exotic interplanetary locations are generated via CGI or filmed in a studio, there are some, especially some of the most iconic places in the Star Wars universe, which are found here on Earth and are accessible for us to visit.
If you're a fan and are looking to plan a vacation with Star Wars in mind, here are seven countries you should visit to reach a galaxy far, far away.
Tunisia is the country with the most Star Wars filming locations so far. For any die hard Star Wars fan, this is a country you must visit for a few weeks as you’ll be road tripping from sight to sight across the desert.
Perhaps the most famous location there is the Hotel Sidi Driss in the town of Matmata, which served as Luke Skywalker’s home in Tatooine during Episode IV: A New Hope. Beyond its Star Wars fame, Matmata is a unique place to visit on itself. Most dwellings here are underground and interconnected with tunnels, including the hotel. These “troglodyte” dwellings are the traditional housing method of the Berbers in this area to protect themselves from the harsh desert weather.
Near the town of Tozeur, you’ll also find Sidi Bouhlel, also known as “Star Wars Canyon,” which was featured in both Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Two sets were built in the Sahara Desert for Episode I. One of them has been covered by the sand dunes, but the other is still accessible for tourism. To get there, you’ll need to rent a 4x4 to go over the dunes that once were part of the planet Tatooine.
Not too far away is Ong Jemel, a rock formation said to look like a sitting camel which was featured in The Phantom Menace for the Jedi duel between Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul.
Also used for Episode I, you should visit the fortified granary of Ksar Ouled Soltane, which represented the slave quarter of Mos Espa – where Anakin Skywalker grew up.
The ancient Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala is considered to be one of the most important and sacred cities of the Mayan Civilization. There are dozens of pyramids there with a myriad of historical details that give us a glimpse into how the Mayans lived there. The peculiar steep stepped pyramids rise over the jungle canopy, giving a surreal view that was perfectly captured in Episode IV: A New Hope as the Yavin IV Rebel Base.
Episode VII: The Force Awakens put the small island of Skellig Michael on the map for the whole world to see. This is where Rey met Luke Skywalker for the first time at the end of the film. The island, which holds the beautiful remains of a sixth-century monastery, is a bit hard to visit as it is only reachable by ferry during the summer months, weather permitting. Access is also limited, so you must secure your ticket to the island ahead of time.
You don’t need a “Star Wars reason” to visit the beautiful atolls in the Maldives. But, thanks to Rogue One, now you have it! The final battle on Planet Scarif was filmed on the beautiful beaches of Laamu Atoll. There’s something surreal about seeing Stormtroopers on the beach, but here they are!
The Plaza de España in Seville served as the setting where Anakin and Padme enjoyed a stroll in Episode II. This palace is one of the most famous landmarks in the city of Seville thanks to its grand architecture. The Plaza de España was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Its architecture mixes elements of the Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture. It is truly a sight that can’t be missed.
China got its share of Star Wars locations thanks to its dramatic limestone karst mountains near the city of Guilin. These represented the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk. The best way to see these karst mountains is to get out of Guilin and head to Yangshuo to hike its trails or take a boat ride down the river.
The desert of Wadi Rum has been used as a filming location for several Hollywood movies and Star Wars is no exception. The almost otherworldly shapes of the mountains and the tangerine color of the sandy flats of Wadi Rum made it the perfect location to represent Planet Jedha on Rogue One. You can take a 4x4 tour of the desert and camp in Bedouin tents, where you’ll experience the local culture and food of the nomadic people living in the area.
There are many more filming locations spread across Iceland, Thailand, the U.K. and the U.S., among others, but the places listed here are among the most iconic that shaped the image of how different planets in the Star Wars universe look.
Have you been to any of these locations? How was your experience?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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