The Star Wars galaxy often seems infinite: a vast array of planets and moons, all with unique climates, landscapes, inhabitants, languages, and architectural styles. For decades, Star Wars fans have vicariously experienced the thrills and suspense of exploring new worlds alongside our beloved characters. And of course, some of us plan our holidays around film locations and other destinations inspired by our beloved sci-fi franchise. We’ve already covered how to travel like a wizard. Now it’s time for the ultimate Star Wars vacation guide.
So, where do you want to go?
TATOOINE: Luke may have been desperate to escape his home planet Tatooine (typical Luke quote: “If there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from”). But there’s no accounting for taste! Plenty of people would love to visit. Take a trip to Death Valley National Park, USA to get a taste of the galaxy’s most famous desert planet. You may recognize the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes as the place where R2-D2 and C-3PO crash-land and split up in A New Hope. R2 is then kidnapped by Jawas in the Golden Canyon. Can’t get enough Tatooine? Start planning a trip to Tatouine, Tunisia, which not only sounds uncannily familiar, but also is very close to Ksar Ouled Soltane, a 15th-century fortified granary that served as a film location in Phantom Menace. Other Tatooine scenes were shot in Matmata.
HOTH: The icy planet of Hoth gets a bad rap as a tourist hotspot in Empire Strikes Back: who wants to be attacked by a wampa, rescued and zipped up inside a tauntaun, and shot at by AT-ATs, all while basically freezing to death?! Fortunately, none of that is likely to happen to you at Hardangerjøkulen, Norway, where scenes from Hoth were filmed. Hardangerjøkulen is the country’s sixth biggest mainland glacier and a great place for skiing! You’ll likely stay in the mountain village Finse, which puts you right in between two incredible national parks: Hardangervidda and Hallingskarvet. While in Norway, you’ll likely be tempted to visit other popular spots like Geirangerfjord, Trollstigen, and Preikestolen—but I’d encourage you to give lesser-known spots a chance! Tourism to Norway has been rapidly increasing (apparently all thanks to Frozen), and you’ll enjoy less crowding if you avoid the main tourist destinations.
CORUSCANT: one of the best-known planets of the Star Wars universes, Coruscant takes the concept of “mega-city” to a whole new level. But amid all the colossal skyscrapers and incredibly dense urban sprawl, you’ll also find the Jedi Temple, which long served as an oasis of tranquility and contemplation. Where to go on Planet Earth? Try Tokyo, Japan’s vast capital city and a vibrant metropolis: stop in the countless shops, eat everything, and marvel at the sheer size and pace of city life. When you’re ready for a break, head to the temples of Asakusa. For more big city excitement, try Bangkok, which likewise features plenty of markets and shopping centers, delicious food, and of course incredible sights: don’t miss Wat Pho, Wat Arun, or the Grand Palace. Finally, Coruscant fans can’t go wrong with a visit to New York City! Yet another massive metropolis, NYC has an endless list of things to do; you could spend weeks just visiting the museums alone. Make sure to take a walk in one of the many parks, see a few famous landmarks, catch a show, and eat something ridiculous and Instagram-able.
NABOO: fans of Naboo’s beautiful nature, charming atmosphere, and striking architecture have plenty of holiday options. If you’re just looking for romantic atmosphere amid exquisite palaces and pavilions, visit almost anywhere in Spain, Portugal, or Italy, where you’ll find endless possibilities for enjoying nature and relaxing in picturesque towns. In Spain, I’m a fan of Santiago de Compostela; in Portugal, consider renting a car to visit three famous UNESCO World Heritage sites, Alcobaça Monastery, Batalha Monastery, and the Convent of Christ in Tomar. You can also travel to filming locations used in Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Anakin and Padmé’s secret wedding was filmed at Villa del Balbianello on the shores of Lake Como. Other Naboo scenes were shot in Seville’s Plaza de España and the Royal Palace of Caserta, located half an hour outside Naples.
AHCH-TO (a.k.a. where Luke is now): The Force Awakens brought Skellig Michael, Ireland to the attention of millions of Star Wars fans around the world. This destination is seriously unbeatable: an island monastery founded during the Early Middle Ages, which you’ll access via boat trip across rough, choppy seas, followed by a lengthy climb up uneven stone steps. Boats leave daily to Skellig Michael from April to October (weather permitting), but only limited spots are available, and thanks to The Force Awakens, Luke’s hide-out is more popular than ever. You’ll need some advance planning, so take a look here and here to get started!
JEDHA: prior to its brutal destruction, Jedha’s Holy City attracted pilgrims and worshippers from across the galaxy. The moon contains vast reserves of kyber crystals, used to build lightsabers. In fact, some say the name “Jedi” derives from Jedha! The Empire may have blown up the Holy City and its stunning architecture, but lucky for us, the real-life inspiration for it remains a safe and beautiful place to visit: Wadi Rum, Jordan (pictured above). The spectacular desert valley features enormous rock formations, natural arches, and petroglyphs carved in rock by the Nabateans. Visitors can sleep in simple tents, enjoy delicious meals, and explore the desert on a Jeep tour. While in Jordan, don’t miss the many other historical and cultural attractions, from world-renowned Petra to the isolated Desert Castles. Save money by getting a Jordan Pass if you’re planning to visit multiple sites.
SCARIF: You’ll recognize the Laamu Atoll in the Maldives as the site of Rogue One’s final showdown. If not for the Empire’s military complex, Scarif would be an idyllic tropical paradise. Much more pleasant to visit the real-life version! Visitors to the Maldives can relax on the pristine beaches or get active and go scuba diving, snorkeling, and surfing. The country has a reputation for super-luxury travel, but it is increasingly possible to visit on some semblance of a budget.
Header image via Amelia Kennedy