At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks

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Whether you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan since 1977 or a casual fan who enjoys the movies, there’s no denying that Star Wars has captured our imagination with its adventurous saga and complex fictional universe.

While many of Star Wars exotic and surreal interplanetary locations are generated via CGI or filmed in a studio, still many of those stunning landscapes are found here on Earth.

And what’s best is that they are accessible for us to see them firsthand. So, why not visit them?

Ksar Hadada, Tataouine, Tunisia

If you’re a Star Wars fan and are planning a vacation that takes you to a galaxy far far away, here are 17 countries with over 40 locations you should visit to see some of the most iconic Star Wars shots and landscapes.

These locations are for every major film in the saga, including Solo and Rogue One.

1. Tunisia

Films: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Episode IV: A New Hope

Not only is Tunisia the country with the most Star Wars filming locations so far, but some of the most iconic Star Wars shots of the first and second trilogy were filmed here.

Any die-hard Star Wars fan should visit Tunisia for at least a few weeks as you’ll be hopping between filming locations across some of the most stunning desert landscapes in northern Africa. 

George Lucas used several locations around Tunisia to film exterior shots of the desert planet of Tatooine. Among these, one of the most notable is the ferry port town of Ajim in the Island of Djerba. 

Djerba, Tunisia
Star Wars, Djerba, Tunisia

The town was used for exterior shots of the Mos Eisley Cantina, and an old mosque served for the exterior shots of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s home in Episode IV: A New Hope.

Also in Djerba is Sidi Jemour, which is seen in the deleted exterior scenes with Luke and Biggs Darklighter. It is also seen as a backdrop in the Special Edition on the scene showing Luke’s land speeder heading towards Mos Eisley.

Another famous location in Tunisia is the Hotel Sidi Driss in the town of Matmatat-Al-Qadimal (Old Matmata), which served as Lars homestead, Luke Skywalker’s home in Tatooine during Episode IV. 

Star Wars Hotel, Matmata

The hotel consists of five pits. Four of them are reserved for lodging, while the fifth is now known as the Star Wars pit. In it, you’ll find the Lars family dining room, which is now the hotel’s restaurant. 

This pit still conserves some of the original set designs from the movie. Even though they were removed after filming in 1976, they were replaced (and left in place) in 2000 to film scenes for Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Beyond its Star Wars fame, Matmata is a unique place to visit on itself. Most dwellings here are built underground and interconnected with tunnels, including the now-famous hotel. 

Matmata, Tunisia

These “troglodyte” dwellings are the traditional housing method of the Berbers in this area, designed to protect themselves from the harsh desert weather.

Another location worth visiting is the sets built in the Sahara Desert, near the town of Tozeur, to film Mos Espa street exteriors, as seen on Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Star Wars Set Mos Espa
Star Wars Set Mos Espa Tunisia

After filming was done, the sets were left to rot in the desert. The dunes have covered one of the sets, but the other one is still accessible for tourism.

To get there, you need to rent a 4×4 to go over the dunes that once were part of the planet Tatooine. 

Near the sets, you’ll also find Sidi Bouhlel, also known as “Star Wars Canyon,” featured on both Episodes I and IV. This is the canyon where R2D2 is abducted by Jawas (the footage is combined with some shot at Death Valley, USA).

Star Wars Canyon Tozeur Tunisia

This is also the canyon where Tusken Raiders attack Luke Skywalker (also with Death Valley footage) and the scene of the wrecked Sandcrawler after the attack by Imperial stormtroopers.

Not too far is Ong Jemel, a rock formation said to look like a sitting camel which appeared on Episode I for the Jedi duel between Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul.

Ong Jemel Star Wars Tunisia

Also by Tozeur is Chott el Djerid, a large endorheic salt lake that was used for scenes of the Lars homestead, and La Grande Dune, which are sand dunes west of Nefta used to film the landing spot of the escape pod of R2-D2 and C-3PO.

Near the city of Tataouine (not to be confused with the planet Tatooine), you can visit the well-preserved fortified granaries in the historic Berber towns of Ksar Ouled Soltane and Ksar Hadada.

Both served as the slave quarters of Mos Espa – where Anakin Skywalker grew up on Episode I.

Ksar Ouled Soltane Star Wars Tunisia

Star Wars has influenced Tunisia’s tourism to the point that now they have several Star Wars dedicated tours, including this one to Mos Espa’s Set in the middle of the desert, and this 5-day tour to every Star Wars location.

2. Spain

Film: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Solo: A Star Wars Story

The majestic Plaza de España in Seville served as the setting where Anakin and Padme enjoyed a stroll in the City of Theed on Naboo, as seen on Episode II: Attack of the Clones. After their walk through the plaza, the pair goes into hiding in the Lake Country.

Plaza de España in Seville, Spain

This palace is one of the most famous landmarks in the city of Seville, thanks to its grand architecture.

Built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, the Plaza de España’s architecture mixes elements of the Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture. 

It is a sight that can’t be missed. Make sure to visit during sunset to get some great shots during the golden hour.

For Solo: A Star Wars Story, Planet Savareen was shot on the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, specifically on the white sand beaches of Cofete and Barlovento in the Jandía Natural Park.

3. Guatemala

Film: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

The ruins of the city of Tikal in Guatemala is one of the most important and sacred remnants of the ancient Mayan Civilization.

With a myriad of architectural details, its dozens of pyramids and temples give us a glimpse of how the Mayans lived in this city. 

Great Plaza and Temple I

Tikal by itself is a wonder that should be visited, but as a Star Wars fan, there’s a whole different experience added to it, especially when you see the city and jungle from the top of Temple IV.  

The peculiar steeply-stepped pyramids of Tikal rise over the jungle canopy, giving a surreal lost city feel that was perfectly captured on Episode IV: A New Hope as the rebel base in the Massassi Temple on the Fourth Moon of Yavin IV. 

A view of Tikal sunset in Guatemala

While you can explore Tikal by yourself, if you want to get an in-depth experience, I recommend doing this tour.

4. Iceland

Films: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

As one of the most beautiful countries on Earth, with some almost otherworldly icy and volcanic landscapes, it’s no surprise Iceland has served as a filming location to represent part of the Star Wars Universe.

The famous Eyjafjallajökull Volcano was used for some of the snow scenes on the surface of Starkiller Base, a planet converted into a superweapon (much bigger than the first and second Death Star) built by the First Order – as seen by the end of Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Reynisfjara, Iceland
Black Sand Beach, Iceland

Not too far from Eyjafjallajökull is Reynisfjara beach – commonly known as Black Sand Beach. Reynisfjara served as the setting for the planet Eadu at the beginning of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

I have a post that shows you how to plan a budget road trip in Iceland. Otherwise, this tour will take you to both locations.

5. Norway 

Film: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Norway was the perfect location for filming the icy cold planet of Hoth, as seen on Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

The snowy opening battle scene was filmed on the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, the sixth-largest glacier in Norway – located between Oslo and Bergen.

Just at the foot of the glacier, the small town of Finse was used as the Rebel Alliance’s Echo Base on Hoth. 

Finse, Norway

As the story goes, a snowstorm hit the small town during filming, which forced them to film some key shots just outside their hotel doors – the Finse 1222 Hotel. It was so cold that the crew would run inside the hotel in between shoots to warm up. 

These scenes include Luke Skywalker’s escape from the Wampa cave, and Luke’s interaction with the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi before Han Solo rescues him.

6. Ireland

Films: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

The small island of Skellig Michael in Ireland was put on the map for the whole world to see after Episode VII: The Force Awakens used it for its cliffhanger closing-scene setting. 

Star Wars Skellig Michael Island

Today, it is a popular tourist attraction for Star Wars fans because this is the island planet of Ahch-To, Luke Skywalker’s refuge at the end of Episode VII. It is also here where Rey received her Jedi training in Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

The island, which is located about 7 miles off the southwest coast of Ireland, has the remains of a beautiful sixth-century monastery built more than 600 feet above sea level, along with its hundreds of rock steps to reach it.

Star Wars Skellig Michael Island Steps
Skellig Michael Island

Skellig Michael 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 should secure your ticket to the island ahead of time. 

7. Maldives

Film: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

You don’t need a “Star Wars reason” to visit the gorgeous and paradisiac atolls in the Maldives, but thanks to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, now you have it! 

Laamu Atoll aerial, Maldives

It was here, on the beautiful beaches of Gan and Berasdhoo Islands on the Laamu Atoll, where the climax of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was filmed. 

This is when the Rebel Alliance, led by Jyn Erso, breaks into an Imperial Base located on the planet Scarif to steal the top-secret blueprints of the Death Star. 


Scarif is a remote tropical paradise planet in the Outer Rim, so the Maldives was the perfect setting for it! There’s something very surreal about seeing Stormtroopers on the beach, but here they are! 

8. United Kingdom 

Films: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode VII: The Force AwakensEpisode VIII: The Last Jedi, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

While Tunisia is the country with the most locations, The United Kingdom is country seen in the most number of Star Wars films (Six films), especially in the newest trilogy.

George Lucas used England’s Whippendell Wood for two scenes in Naboo’s forest in Episode I: The Phantom Menace. 

The first scene is where Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi meet Jar-Jar Binks, and the second shows the woodlands as a sacred place for the Gungans, Jar-Jar’s species.

Star Wars Whippendell Wood, England UK

For Episode IV: A New Hope, the RAF Cardington in Bedfordshire was used for the interiors of the Rebel Base in the Massassi Temple on the Fourth Moon of Yavin IV (which we saw the exteriors in Guatemala). 

Two disused WWII airship sheds were used for these interior Rebel Base hangar scenes. Shed 1 was used in Episode IV: A New Hope, while Shed 2 was used for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

London’s Canary Wharf tube station was used as the setting for the Imperial Security Complex on Scarif, as seen on Rogue One.

Canary Wharf Tube Station, London

The Norman Foster-designed station’s escalators and glass safety doors are particularly noticeable in the film’s exciting chase scene through the station, which had to be filmed between midnight and 4 am when it was closed to the public.

For Episode VII: The Force Awakens, we have the stunning lakes of Derwentwater and Thirlmere, both in Cumbria, England.

The former served as the lakeside setting of Maz Kanata’s Castle on Takodana, while the latter was used for the low-level X-Wing flight sequences over Takodana.

If you can’t recognize it, it’s because the background on the flight sequences was flipped horizontally. 

Derwentwater, England UK

Also, on Episode VII, you’ll see the woodlands of Puzzlewood and the Forest of Dean as part of the forest scenes on Takodana.

For Episode VII and Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, the disused missile silos in the RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire formed the backdrop for the Resistance Base.

For Solo: A Star Wars Story, the Fawley Power Plant Station in Southampton was used as Planet Corellia, the hometown of Han Solo. A power plant (enhanced with CGI) made sense since Corellia is a place renowned for its stellar shipbuilding industry.

Lastly, Ivinghoe Beacon served as a hill location covered in grassland for Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. The Beacon has also been used as a filming location in four Harry Potter films.

9. United Arab Emirates

Film: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

A large section of the Rub’ al Khali desert, commonly known as “The Empty Quarter,” was used to film several scenes on the planet of Jakku for Episode VII: The Force Awakens. 

These include Rey’s scavenger marketplace, as well as Poe Dameron and Finn’s crash landing, among other scenes on the planet.

Located just a few hours away from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Rub’ al Khali desert is the largest contiguous sand desert in the world. 

Safari in the United Arab Emirates

To keep the film secrecy, J.J. Abrams and the Star Wars crew spend six months filming here under the production title of “Avco,” named after the L.A. movie theater, where Abrams watched for the first time the original Star Wars in 1977.

Today, several 4×4 tours will take you to the Empty Quarter on a day trip or even a camping trip in the desert.

10. Croatia

Film: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

The city of Dubrovnik gained fame thanks to Game of Thrones, but now Star Wars fans can claim part of that fame thanks to the scenes shot for Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik serves as Canto Bight, a lavish casino city on the planet Cantonica. It is here where Finn and Rose embark on a mission to find the master codebreaker to disable the First Order’s new weapon.

There are tons of tours in Dubrovnik (with many of them GoT-oriented) that’ll show you the best spots in the city.

11. Bolivia

Film: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

As Earth’s largest salt flat, the Salar the Uyuni is one of the world’s most stunning and surreal natural landscapes – created when prehistoric lakes dried up during the last Ice Age, leaving behind more than 10 billion tons of natural salt.

Salar De Uyuni, Norbert

There is no wrong time to visit the Salar de Uyuni as it is always a breathtaking sight.

During the rainy season, the shallow water over the salt creates a mirror film that makes everything look like it’s floating, while in the dry season, the flat expanse distorts all perspectives, allowing you to create some pretty creative forced perspective shots.

Salar De Uyuni Perspective, Bolivia

Star Wars, as visually stunning as it is, saw the Salar’s 4,000 square miles of white salt as another masterfully creative planet setting for Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

This was the filming location for Crait, the mineral planet covered in white salt and red soil. It is here where the Resistance held its last stand against the First Order on Episode VIII.

You need a tour to visit the Salar de Uyuni. I recommend either a one-day tour or a three-day tour like I did (which includes the beautiful Eduardo Avaroa Reserve).

12. China

Film: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

China got its share of Star Wars locations thanks to its dramatic limestone karst mountains near the city of Guilin. These shots were composited into the film for the backdrop of the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk. 

Yangshuo, China

The best way to see these karst mountains is by getting out of Guilin and heading to Yangshuo to hike its trails. Or, take a boat ride down the river from Yangshuo. These majestic mountains will mesmerize you.

These tours will show you the best views of the Xianggong Mountain and the river in Yangshuo.

13. Thailand

Film: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

With its breathtaking limestone karst formations along its southern coasts, Thailand also served as backdrop shots for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

The beautiful tropical island backdrop of Phang Nga Bay was used for the planet Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s birthplace. 

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Some of the shots taken in Thailand were combined with China’s shots to create a unique environment.

I recommend doing this kayaking and snorkeling tour in Phang Nga Bay to see the most beautiful spots around these karst formations. 

14. Jordan

Films: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Many films have been shot in the desert of Wadi Rum in Jordan, including The Martian, Lawrence of Arabia, Transformers, Prometheus, and many others. 

Of course, Star Wars also saw the otherworldly shapes of the desert mountains and the tangerine color of the sandy flats of Wadi Rum as the perfect filming location for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

In Rogue One, you can see the martian-like landscape of Wadi Rum as the Planet Jedha, while in Episode IX, it is used for the desert planet of Pasaana.

When you visit Wadi Rum, you can take a 4×4 tour of the desert and camp in Bedouin tents. There you’ll experience the local culture and food of the nomadic people living in the area. 

Wadi Rum viewpoint, Jordan

Trust me; it’s an unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful deserts in the world.

Whether you’re camping or going for the day (I recommend camping one night!), I recommend checking these tours to visit the iconic spots in the desert. 

15. Italy

Films: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Solo: A Star Wars Story

Initially built for Bourbon King Charles III in the 1750s, the Palace of Caserta in southern Italy, just northeast of Napoli, is the largest royal residence in the world. 

In the Star Wars Universe, though, it served as the setting for the interior shots of the Theed Royal Palace on Naboo in Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Episode II: Attack of the Clones. (You can get tickets to the palace here)

Palace of Caserta in Italy

On Episode II, the Lake Retreat, where Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala go into hiding, is set at the Villa del Balbianello in Lenno, Italy.

The Villa del Balbianello served as a monastery from its origin in 1787 until 1988 when it was handed over to the National Trust of Italy.

The villa is also used for Anakin and Padmé’s wedding scene overlooking Lake Como – one of Italy’s most beautiful lakes. (This tour will give you access to the villa as well as other highlights in Lake Como. You can also check this list of tours from Milan to Lake Como.)

Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como, Italy

For Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas used Italy’s most active volcano, Mount Etna, for plate photography for the epic lightsaber battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan at the end of Episode III

Mount Etna, Italy

Mount Etna was erupting during filming, so Lucas sent a crew to film its flowing lava. These days it is not erupting, so you could go trekking there!

For Solo: A Star Wars Story, the spectacular Italian Dolomites served as the backdrop for the snowy planet of Vandor, especially during the armored cargo train heist. 

Italy Dolomites

If you look closely, you can see the famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three peaks of Lavaredo), a UNESCO World Heritage site in Belluno province, on many panoramic shots of that scene. Monte Piana was also used as a filming spot for Vandor.

16. United States

Films: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi 

Most of the location shots in the United States were mostly pickup shots after shooting in Tunisia for Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Death Valley, USA

For Episode IV, Lucas used the Death Valley National Park in California to bring Tatooine to life, most notably in the scene where Obi-Wan Kenobi meets Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, and C-3PO for the first time.

Also, the following well-known spots in the national park were used for these other scenes:

  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes – The scene where R2D2 goes his separate way after he and C3P0 crash their escape pod on Tatooine (this is combined with footage shot in Tunisia)
  • Artists Palette & Golden Canyon – The canyon where R2D2 is abducted by Jawas (this is also combined with footage shot at Sidi Bouhlel, Tunisia)
  • Artist’s Drive – It’s here where the miniature Sandcrawler was filmed for the shot of R2D2 being carried up to it by Jawas
  • Desolation Canyon – The canyon where Tusken Raiders mount Bantha before Luke Skywalker is attacked (combined with Sidi Bouhlel footage)
  • Dante’s View – An establishing panoramic shot of Mos Eisley (combined with Sidi Bouhlel footage of Luke and Obi-Wan standing on a rocky outcrop)

For Episode VI, the Twenty Mule Team Canyon in the Death Valley was used for the scene where C-3P0 and R2D2 walk up to the Palace of Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine.

Death Valley, Twenty Mule Canyon, USA

Also filmed there was the “lost scene” of Luke Skywalker working on a new lightsaber in a cave overlooking the Millennium Falcon and his X-wing, followed by R2D2 and C3PO starting their trek to Jabba’s palace.

The Death Valley can be visited independently or on a day trip from Las Vegas. If you’e not going on a tour, I also recommend driving through Death Valley National Park to get the best experience.

The Buttercup Valley, in the Yuma Desert in Arizona, was used for Episode VI’s Sarlacc Pit sequence.

This sequence was so crucial to the movie that Jabba’s Sail Barge and the Great Pit of Carkoon (where the Sarlacc lived) took more than five months to build when filming in 1982. Also, over 5,500 cast and crew members were part of this shooting.

Redwood Trees and Sequoias, USA

The only filming location in the United States that did not depict Tatooine was California’s Redwoods National and State Parks. The giant redwood trees found in the park are now synonymous with the Forest Moon of Endor, the Ewoks’ homeworld, in Episode VI

Several scenes were filmed in the park’s redwood groves, such as the speeder bike chase and the Ewok ambush. This area is among the best of Redwoods National Park and should not be missed.

17. Switzerland

Films: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Like China and Thailand, Switzerland’s Grindelwald mountain range served for plate photography used in background shots for Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. These gave life to Alderaan, which was Princess Leia’s home planet.

Alps of Switzerland

As you can see through this comprehensive list, our planet Earth served as an inspiration to some of the most iconic and surreal fictional worlds found in the Star Wars Universe.

Some locations look very similar in real life and on-screen, while some are a hyperbole of their reality.

But what stands true is that we have a beautiful and diverse planet Earth that deserves to be explored, enjoyed, and preserved to keep inspiring us to create even more daring and adventurous sagas.

Have you been to any of these locations? How was your experience? 

Star Wars: Every Filming Location All Die-Hard Fans Must Visit

Images 16, 17-19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, and 38 from Flickr Creative Commons.
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  1. wow, amazing article. actually my kids are loved to go in all places, as if they all are big fans of star wars series. Thank you publishing lovely article.

  2. you missed several of the sights in Tunisia… like the external of the Lars homestead, several others in Djerba,