Real-life travel destinations seen in the Star Wars films

You can explore the exotic Star Wars universe right here on terra firma...

In the 6th century, Skellig Michael was a monastery

By Claire Webb

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Star Wars might be set in a galaxy far, far away, but fans on planet Earth can visit many of the intergalactic saga’s striking locations.

Though most of the latest film, Star Wars Episode IX: the Rise of Skywalker, was filmed in Pinewood Studios, rumour has it that Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert valley and the Scottish Highlands appear.

And in recent years, the billion-pound sci-fi franchise has landed in every continent bar Australia and Antarctica. Scenes have been shot in deserts and on glaciers, in jungles and up mountains, and at popular holiday destinations: the Maldives, Italy’s Lake Como and Ireland’s rugged west coast.

Jyn’s visit to Jedha in Rogue One

JORDAN-TOURISM
As well as supposedly appearing in the Rise of Skywalker, Wadi Rum’s fiery-red sand dunes and towering rock formations also had a cameo in the Star Wars spin-off Rogue One, when the film’s young heroine Jyn Erso travelled to a desert moon called Jedha.

It’s not the first time Jordan’s otherworldly nature reserve has attracted Hollywood directors: Lawrence of Arabia, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Martian and, most recently, Disney’s live-action Aladdin remake were also shot there.

Wadi Rum’s lunar landscape is only an hour’s drive from the Red Sea resort of Aqaba and is best explored on a camel trek or jeep tour. At night you can bed down under the stars in a Bedouin tent or a safari-style camp.

The ancient wonder of Petra is nearby: the city’s temples and tombs were carved into a pink-hued sandstone mountain by the Nabataean people some 2,000 years ago.

Anakin and Padmé’s wedding in Attack of the Clones

A baroque mansion on the western shore of Lake Como was the setting for Anakin’s wedding to Padmé (Natalie Portman) in Episode II: Attack of the Clones and also appeared in the 2006 Bond movie Casino Royale.

Accessible only by foot or boat taxi, Villa del Balbianello and its impeccably manicured garden are open to the public from mid-March to mid-November.

Only 40km north of Milan, Como is Italy’s glitziest lake and has been a playground for wealthy pleasure-seekers since Roman times; George Clooney, Richard Branson and Madonna have all owned holiday homes here. Dwarfed by the craggy peaks of the Alps, the lake is lined with pastel-hued villas, well-heeled towns and charming stone villages.

Ahch-To in the Last Jedi

An uninhabited island off Ireland’s west coast — Skellig Michael — had a star turn in Star Wars Episode VIII: the Last Jedi. This tiny rocky outcrop is a Unesco World Heritage site because it’s home to a sixth-century monastery: over 500 steps climb up to beehive- shaped cells, where monks lived until the 12th century.

It doubled for Luke Skywalker’s Jedi temple on a remote island on the planet of Ahch-To, but film-makers were only there for three days; most scenes were shot at a replica of the settlement that was built on County Kerry’s Dingle peninsula.

Weather-permitting, boat tours depart from the village of Portmagee on Kerry’s Iveragh peninsula — from mid-May to the end of September.

Skellig Michael
Skellig Michael, the shooting location for Ahch-To in Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Scarif in Rogue One

In Rogue One, a new planet with white sand and turquoise sea was added to the Star Wars galaxy. If it hadn’t been occupied by an army of Stormtroopers, Planet Scarif would have been a tropical paradise.

The battle scenes were partly filmed in Laamu Atoll in the Maldives, but the film crew didn’t blow up any beaches: the explosions were shot at an old RAF base in Hertfordshire. An island nation in the Indian Ocean made up of 1,192 islets, the Maldives is a favourite with honeymooners and holidaymakers.

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Over 100 of its little islands are resorts. In the most deluxe ones, guests stay in villas perched on stilts in the sparkling sea, with private pools and personal butlers. As well as offering picture-perfect beaches, the Maldives’ coral reefs make it a snorkelling haven.