Star Wars is known for its exotic and beautiful alien planets, but of course the film crew couldn't travel away from Earth to create the movies. The distinctive and iconic Star Wars shooting locations have become famous, from Tatooine in Tunisia to Yavin 4 in Guatemala.
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Force Awakens is continuing this trend, with the final moments on Ahch-To inspiring many people to visit Skellig Michael Island in Ireland, where these scenes were shot.
The Star Wars movie sets are all stunning in their own way, so here's a list of the filming locations you can visit, and you don't have to travel to a galaxy far far away to do it.
Naboo / Italy
Attack of the Clones may not have been the best Star Wars movie, but there's no denying that those scenes on Naboo featured some gorgeous locations. If you ever wanted to relax at Padme's holiday villa, look no further than Villa del Babianello at Lake Como, where the scenes were filmed.
(Flowing rainbow dresses aren't included in the tour charges, unfortunately.)
Tattoine / Tunisia & Death Valley
The famous Star Wars desert planet was filmed in both Tunisia and Death Valley. The Tunisia Star Wars set took full advantage of the local buildings, as they formed the perfect backdrop for the hive of scum of villainy known as Mos Eisley. Further afield, Hotel Sidi Driss in Matmata was used for the Lars moisture farm where Luke Skywalker grew up.
If you don't feel like traveling so far to visit Tatooine, there's another filming location which was used for this planet — Death Valley in California. The scenes where C-3PO and R2D2 wander the desert planet were filmed on the Mesquite Dunes, and Ben Kenobi's house is somewhere in Artist's Palette.
It's easy to see why C-3PO complained so much during his hike with R2D2, as temperatures often exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer! (Although, to be fair, C-3PO complains most of the time anyway.)
Yavin Base / Guatemala
Yavin definitely ranks highly on the lists of most beautiful Star Wars movie locations, as the crew used the Mayan ruins of Tikal for the Rebel Alliance base.
Interestingly, actor Oscar Isaac was inspired by the use of this location in A New Hope for his character Poe Dameron. Because Isaac is himself Guatemalan, he decided that Poe grew up on Yavin hearing stories about the Rebellion.
"I was born in Guatamala, and one of Guatamala's biggest claims to fame is that it was featured in A New Hope. So I said how cool would it be if that's where Poe was from? And so, they heard that, and that made it into this comic book, and became canon."
The comic in question is Shattered Empire, which follows Poe's mother Shara Bey before she decided to settle on Yavin 4.
Hoth / Norway
Remember that awesome AT-AT fight at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back? Although this is an iconic Star Wars movie set, it's not one that gets visited very often, as it was filmed on the remote Hardangerjøkulen glacier in Norway.
If you feel like taking a chilly hike, the glacier isn't far from the small town of Finse, and it's definitely a gorgeous filming location.
Endor / California
The lovely forest moon of Endor got its distinctive look from the Californian redwoods, specifically those of the Jedidiah Smith Redwood Park, and another filming location just outside the Skywalker ranch in Marin county. This was the location used in the Parks and Recreation episode "Moving Up", as Ben unwittingly visits the Star Wars set.
These woods are stunning, and it's no wonder why George Lucas chose to film Star Wars there.
Jakku / United Arab Emirates
Rey's dusty planet from The Force Awakens was filmed just outside of Abu Dhabi, in the Rub’ al Khali desert. The heat made this Star Wars movie location punishing for the actors themselves, especially with all the running they were doing. When speaking to Empire, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy laughed about how this meant the desert was the perfect Star Wars movie set.
"It was instantly Star Wars-y! Everybody complained about the heat."
Ultimately though, it was the perfect filming location for Jakku, as the geography looks distinct enough from Tatooine but similar enough to strike a narrative parallel.
As it's just outside the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, this desert is easy to get to and it's already a very popular location to visit, thanks to the stunning sweeping sand dunes.
Takodana / England
The woods surrounding Maz Kanata's castle are twisted and lush, reminiscent of a fairy tale forest. For this Star Wars shooting location, the crew chose a particular part of the English Forest of Dean dubbed Puzzlewood, known for its interesting foliage.
This isn't the first time the ethereal labyrinthine paths of Puzzlewood have inspired a classic tale: JRR Tolkein also drew from Puzzlewood's distinctive landscape when describing Mirkwood in Middle Earth. The gulley in which Kylo Ren and Rey fight is known as a scowle, part of a system of ancient caverns that have since risen to the surface, and were used by the Romans to extract iron ore. Such a beautiful place is sure to rank among the best Star Wars movie sets.
Resistance Base / England
The filming location for the Resistance base was chosen carefully. It needed the perfect look — earthy and rustic while reminiscent of a World War II airbase. The crew settled on Greenham Common, an RAF base in Berkshire, England.
Interestingly enough, in 1981 this area became the home of another resistance, as a group of women camped out there to protest the UK Government's use of the site to house cruise missiles.
Ahch-To / Republic of Ireland
Luke Skywalker's retirement island was filmed on the tiny and remote island of Skellig Michael, just off the southern coast of Ireland. The area isn't particularly well known, but quickly became a hot tourist destination after The Force Awakens was released. In fact, there have been some environmental concerns about the use of Skellig Michael Island as a Star Wars filming location, with scientists pin pointing the use of heavy filming equipment as damaging to the rocks and local wildlife.
Star Wars Episode VIII just wrapped filming on the island, and there are already some epic fight scenes rumored to take place on Ahch-To, but these are being filmed outside Belfast on the Irish mainland.
Of course, the list of Star Wars filming locations is much much longer than this, but these places are some of the post picturesque, popular, and accessible for fans. And we can't wait to see the stunning new locations used for the filming of Star Wars 8.