Most of us have childhood memories tied into one or more of the Star Wars films, but even if you’ve never geeked out on Han Solo, Obi Wan, Kylo Ren or Rey, you can’t deny the stunning landscapes George Lucas visits to ground his vision in the real world.
You may have thought that the new films (especially) were created in a studio, but in fact, locations all over the world stand in for various fantastical planets in the Star Wars universe. Here are just a few places you can put on your bucket list today:
1. Death Valley, California
Death Valley is featured prominently in the original Star Wars (Episode IV), and stands in for the Tatooine Desert and a number of comic scenes with R2D2 and C3P0, including R2’s capture by Jawas. Dante’s View is also used in the panoramic establishing shot of Mos Eisley, the town where Han Solo and Chewbacca first meet Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan at the iconic Mos Eisley Cantina.
2. Skellig Islands, Ireland
We find out at the very end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that Luke Skywalker has been holed up in some sort of self-imposed exile on an island of spectacular, otherworldly beauty. That spot turns out to be an off-the-coast island in County Kerry, Ireland called Skellig Michael. There’s also a 6th Century Christian Monastery on the island, accessible by climbing 618 steep steps.
3. Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, Norway
Anyone who’s been there knows that Norway has cornered the market on the staggering natural beauty of glaciers. This one is put to good use during the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V).
4. Redwood National Forest, Del Norte County, California
Home to the disarmingly adorable creatures knows as Ewoks, the planet of Endor which is featured in Return of the Jedi (Episode VI) was filmed in Redwood National Forest in northern California.
5. Buttercup Valley, Yuma Desert, California
Another iconic scene in Return of the Jedi, involves a terrifying space alien known as a sarlacc. The sarlacc is not much more than a grasping, writhing mass of teeth that lives in the Great Pit of Carkoon somewhere on Tatooine. It consumes various unlucky souls during it’s brief appearance and you can revisit this nightmarish spot in the optimistically named Buttercup Valley next time you’re in the southern California portion of the Yuma desert. Enjoy!
6. Reynisfjara, Iceland
These days, no self-respecting action adventure movie can resist the gorgeous vistas of Iceland, and the recently released Star Wars: Rogue One, was not about to miss out on these bona fides. The black sand beaches of Reynisfjara is the location for the planet Eadu.
7. Wadi Rum, Jordan
In Rogue One, some true believers in the Force make something of a pilgrimage to the planet Jedha. Jedha is covered in an eerie landscape of otherworldly red sand. You might think this was a feat of CGI, but you’d be mistaken. In fact, Jedha exists in the country of Jordan. You might also remember it from the Matt Damon movie, the Martian, where it stood in for none other than the Red Planet.
8. Tikal, Guatemala
The Guatemalan ruins of Tikal make a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it small appearance but leave a big impression in the original Star Wars film. Tikal will forever be known in Star Wars fan circles as the Yavin IV Rebel Base.
9. Rub’ al Khali, Abu Dabi
Remember when Poe Dameron goes to try and find the missing pieces of Luke Skywalker’s map? Or where Finn and Rey first meet and escape on the Millennium Falcon? How can we forget! Star Wars: The Force Awakens had us from the start with a new twist on the old desert landscapes we have come to expect (and love!) from the Star Wars franchise. This time, Rub’ al Khali hits all of the right desolation notes for viewers.
10. Tozeur, Tunisia
Ok, so we’ve come to the end of our list, We can’t overlook Tunisia, which was used for many Tatooine scenes in Star Wars, along with Death Valley (mentioned above). George Lucas even returned to Tunisia in 1997 to film Phantom Menace. Peep where the traditional Berber Architecture depicted the slave quarters in Episode I. The fictional city of Mos Espa, home to Anakin Skywalker, was constructed from scratch near Tozeur and also used for episodes II and III. Many of the sets are still standing in the Saharan desert locations and are worth a visit.”