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21 April 2016

Star Wars Filming Locations: An Intergalactic Road Trip

In a galaxy not so far away, you can discover some of the spectacular locations that have been featured in the Star Wars film series. With Star Wars Day falling on May the 4th, why not set off on an epic adventure of your own? Follow in Luke Skywalker’s footsteps to Tunisia or explore Queen Amidala’s Palace in Italy. Whether you’re a Star Wars fan or can’t tell your Ewoks from your stormtroopers, here are a few must-see road trip stops that will be sure to transport you to another world.

Bianca Ohannessian is a travel and fashion writer and social media expert. With a passion for fashion and an appetite for adventure, when she’s not writing, she’s out exploring the globe.

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Tatooine Trekking In North Africa

Tatooine

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The desert planet of Tatooine, home of Anakin and Luke Skywalker, is a world of rolling dunes and vast, dusty plains that stretch as far as the eye can see. Tatooine may be located in the galaxy’s Outer Rim in the films, yet in actual fact, you’ll find it nestled in amongst the sweeping sands of southern Tunisia.

With the palm-lined oasis city of Tozeur as your base, jump in a 4×4 and make your way to Chott el Jerid. You’ll feel like you’re trekking through a scene from Episode IV as you approach the iconic igloo-like structure that is the Lars homestead. Although you’ll only find one sun here, visit around sunset to see the lonely building against a beautiful sky full of colours (just don’t get stuck in the desert after dark!). “Star Wars Canyon” at Sidi Bouhlel, known as the Jundland Wastes in the films, is northeast of Tozeur. It’s the fateful place where the Jawas capture R2D2 and Luke Skywalker is attacked by Tusken Raiders before meeting Obi-Wan Kenobi. Explore the stunning canyon or join a camel tour of the surrounding Sahara area.

Then move on to Luke’s homestead, which you can track down in Matmata, on the other side of the glistening Chott el Djerid salt lake. Now a hotel, you can actually spend a night here and really find out what it would feel like to live on Tatooine. The Sidi Driss Hotel is a converted traditional underground Beber home, featuring rustic cavern-style rooms full of local charm.

Lakes, Lava And Palaces In Southern Europe

Caserta-Palace-Garden

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Episode II’s tranquil Lake Country Retreat resides on the banks of Lake Como, in Italy. Villa del Balbianello, as it’s known on planet Earth, juts out into the lake offering breath-taking panoramic views. The charming 18th century building and gardens also double as a wedding venue. Lake Como’s shoreline is dotted with chic restaurants and cafés where you can sit and watch the world go by. There are also stretches of sandy beach where you can wade into the cool waters.

Make your way south and over the sea to Sicily, to magnificent Mount Etna. Europe’s largest active volcano provides the dramatic backdrop to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker’s epic fight scene in Episode III. Take a cable car up the mountain or hike up to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Either way, you’ll be treated to sensational views over the island. Look back towards the volcano after dark and you could catch it spitting orange sparks.

Visit the vibrant city of Naples, to find Queen Amidala’s palace from Episodes I-III. The Royal Palace of Caserta is one of the largest 18th century buildings in the world, and houses an art gallery and library. Filming was focussed on the plush palace interior, but the grounds are also beautiful, with gorgeous gardens, natural woodlands, sculptured fountains and even an on-site silk factory. If you’re curious about the exterior of Queen Amidala’s Palace though, you’ll have to hop over to Spain. Plaza da Espana, in Seville, features in Episode II. Check out the archaeological museum or wander through the gardens.

The Moons Of North And Central America

Desolation-Canyon

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Still dreaming of Tatooine? The USA also offers up its own slice of the arid planet. Take a trip to California’s Death Valley National Park to see Desolation Canyon in all its glory.Some of Episode IV’s Tusken Raiders scenes were filmed around this impressive natural feature. Head over to Dante’s Peak for fantastic views of the park. Or follow Badwater Road through Death Valley, which passes signposts for Star Wars locations and other attractions.

For something a little more green and lush, take a drive to California’s Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. It doubles as the forest moon of Endor in Episode VI, home of the Ewoks. The leafy lunar landscape has 20 miles of hiking routes and nature trails for you to discover, taking you past gigantic trees, including the world’s largest redwood tree.

For an alternative moonwalk, set off south towards Guatemala. Hidden deep in the Central American jungle are the ancient Mayan temples of Tikal, the filming spot for Episode IV’s Massassi outpost on the fourth moon of Yavin. Temple IV features the most in the film, but there are several other majestic pyramid structures to explore, giving you an insight into the Mayan civilisation. The archaeological site is set among tropical flora and fauna, including astonishingly tall ceiba trees and exotic birds, which add to the magical, otherworldly atmosphere.

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