Star Wars Filming Locations That Are More Than Worth a Visit for Any Fan

Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay, the site of Chewbacca’s home planet, Kashyyyk (Photo:  Wikimedia Commons )

Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay, the site of Chewbacca’s home planet, Kashyyyk (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

While George Lucas and J.J. Abrams would have you believe that “Stars Wars” takes place in a galaxy far, far away, the rest of us know that the movies were filmed, for the most part, in real locations all around the globe (and otherwise on green screens). From the Redwood forests of California to the arid deserts of Jordan, the creators of the film franchise have made use of many destinations to create the various planets and moons that fans have witnessed over the years.

As we celebrate another May 4th — AKA Star Wars Day — here’s a look at some of the real-life locations that have been used to create some of the franchise’s most memorable scenes, from “A New Hope” (1977) to “The Last Jedi” (2017) and everything in between:

1. Skellig Michael, Ireland (Episodes VII, VIII)

The first time we’re introduced to the oceanic planet called Ahch-To, the place where Luke Skywalker has been hiding for a number of years following the demise of Darth Vader and the rise of Kylo Ren, is in the waning moments of “The Force Awakens” (2015). Rey arrives to return the Jedi Master’s lightsaber in rather dramatic fashion, and we get our first glimpse of the Irish island where numerous scenes for the following film would take place: Skellig Michael.

The island sits off the southwest coast of Ireland and is home to a Gaelic Christian monastery dating back to the sixth century, making it the perfect place for Mr. Skywalker and his ancient Jedi texts to get away from it all. If you’re feeling the need to retreat from civilization, too, Skellig Michael Cruises can get you there.

2. Ajim, Naftah, & Mos Espa, Tunisia (Episodes I, II, & IV)

Tunisia might be considered the place where Star Wars was born, given that different parts of the country have been used several times in the filming of the franchise. In Ajim, a port city located on the island of Djerba, fans can find both the cantina where Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi sit down for a drink in “A New Hope”, as well as Obi-Wan’s house.

In Naftah, just over 200 miles to the west, you’ll spy the exterior of Luke’s childhood home hanging out on the edge of Chott el Djerid, a dried-up salt lake, and about 30 minutes from there (and only accessible via off-road vehicle): Mos Espa, the site of the spaceport town where Anakin Skywalker started out as a slave. Find much more on Star Wars’ relationship with Tunisia with this Trip Savvy guide.

Mos Espa, tucked away in the deserts of Tunisia (Photo:  Wikimedia Commons )

Mos Espa, tucked away in the deserts of Tunisia (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

3. Krafla, Iceland (Rogue One)

A more recent entry to the gallery of Star Wars filming locations was Iceland, which was used for some scenes in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016). It is here that you’ll find Krafla, an active volcano that helped capture the feel of Eadu, an Outer Rim planet known for its rain and native nerf herders (according to starwars.com). The rugged planet was secretly home to a laboratory where Imperial scientists were hard at work trying to perfect plans for the Death Star — until members of the Rebel Alliance swooped in and said, “Not in my backyard.”

4. Hardangerjøkulen Glacier in Finse, Norway (Episode V)

Hoth, the mostly inhospitable, icy planet that appears in “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), was the home of the Rebel Alliance’s Echo Base, and not much else. Much too cold for the many creatures you’ll find elsewhere in the galaxy, the planet is home to only a few species, like the carnivorous wampa and the snow-lizards known as tauntauns.

While you probably wouldn’t want to visit Hoth itself, the place where it was filmed — Finse, Norway — is a much more attractive destination. Located in south central Norway, about 75 miles east of Bergen, Finse is a mountain village that rests on the shores of Lake Finsevatnet and is the northernmost place where you can find a railroad in Norway. The snow sticks around for a while, but those interested in checking it out can find out much more by heading over to Lonely Planet’s travel guide.

5. Phang Nga Bay on Phuket, Thailand — Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s Home Planet (Episode III)

While we sadly lost the original Wookie, Peter Mayhew, on April 30th, you can still make a visit to Chewbacca’s home planet of Kashyyyk, which appears in “Revenge of the Sith” (2005). Phang Nga Bay in southern Thailand, which was used to set the scene for Kashyyyk, is probably the most attractive of any destination on this list. Why? One glance at the photo at the top of this post should be answer enough, but if it isn’t, just consider that kayak tours, boating excursions, cliffside views, and caves aplenty await the adventurous traveler.

For the real Kashyyyk experience, make sure to visit the island of Phuket, which bills itself as one of the finest beach destinations in the world. Everything you need to know can be found right here: www.phuket.com.

~~~

Of course, there are many more filming locations you could check out, some of which you can find at this link. Just be vigilant, and maybe you’ll find the droids you are looking for.

-LTH