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Get Ready For ‘Rogue One’ By Visiting 17 Exotic ‘Star Wars’ Locations

TheStar Warsuniverse has always celebrated outsiders with a deep sense of wanderlust. Luke and Rey just wanted to ditch their sleepy homes, Han is a “loner, ramblin’ through the galaxy in his old muscle car,” and Jyn Erso reminds us that she’s a rebel in every single Rogue One trailer. The series taps into our deeply ingrained yearning to race off to faraway places and have grand adventures. It’s about choosing your life and really living it. Well… that and space wizards.

When The Force Awakens came out, we created a comprehensive Tatooine and Endor travel guides. But with the buzz over Rogue One: A Star Wars Story heating up, we thought we’d look at a wider range of locales — all of which add to the exotic, worldly aesthetic of the Star Wars universe.

TUNISIA

Tatooine is the most well know location in the Star Wars universe. The home of Anakin and Luke has appeared in multiple movies and its two suns have become iconic.

Tunisia is one of the few countries to have survived the Arab Spring with its stability intact. The economy is hugely reliant on tourist’s dollars, but after two terrorist attacks last year, numbers have taken a dive. That’s a shame because intrepid travelers will find a rich history, beautiful beaches, and wonderfully welcoming people. Help the people of Tunis get back on their feet after ISIS has tried (and failed) to bow them.

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GUATEMALA

Star Wars had some killer locales for a sci-fi movie in the ’70s. Yavin 4 was no exception. The lush beauty of the planet mirrored Luke’s journey and expanding worldview perfectly.

The jungles of Guatemala are a treat to visit, with a huge highlight being the 1,500-year-old temples at Tikal. Exploring these jungles at sunrise — with monkeys capering near your feet and toucans swooping across the sky — is an experience for the bucket list. The fact that Guatemala also touches two oceans, has volcanoes to surf down, massive lakes to swim in, and plenty of colonial architecture makes it all the more attractive.

DEATH VALLEY, CA

Death Valley also stood in for Tatooine in some early scenes in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. It makes sense. It’s a desolate and unforgiving place, even for a couple of droids.

Traveling to Death Valley is a must for anyone on a road trip of the American southwest. Its harsh beauty is so undeniably special — plus, you’ll get to tell all your friends you’ve been to the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level). If you can, try to catch a “super bloom” (or even just a regular bloom) in the spring.

FINSE, NORWAY

Hoth is awesome. The whole opening act of Empire is a testament to director Irvin Kershner’s genius. The AT-ATs, the tauntauns, the epic fight scenes — they grabbed the viewer from the word “go.”

Finse is deep in the heart of southern Norway. If you make it there, you’ll have been to the highest point that the Norwegian railroad travels — where you can bear witness to nearly untouched natural beauty. If you want the real Hoth experience, go in winter and experience the nearly sunless-Norwegian ice planet.

REDWOODS, CA

We’ve covered this one before. There was something so fitting, so right about choosing the Redwoods as the locale for Endor. Teddy bears aside, Endor looks like a pretty awesome and lush place to visit. Who doesn’t want to hop around those tree-houses and cross the rickety rope bridges?

If you’re near the west coast, the California Redwoods are super easy to access. Road trip up the Cali coast on Highway 101 and get the chance to drive straight through a towering tree. Hike down to untouched beaches and marvel at trees that seem to stretch into the heavens.

This is nature one a grand, ancient scale.

BUTTERCUP VALLEY, AZ

Back on Tatooine, Luke and Lando have to rescue everyone from Jabba. It’s not quite the epic opening act from Empire; but it gets the job done. Plus we finally get to see Luke as a full on Jedi.

Tatooine’s sand dunes were filmed outside Yuma, Arizona in the Buttercup Valley. Nestled in the corner of the state, next to the California and Mexico borders, the area has a lot to offer the wayward traveler: sand dunes, game reserves, a plethora of amazing tacos.

What more could you want than awesome nature and tacos?

CASERTA, ITALY

Okay. So now we’re getting into the prequels (insert snarky take down here). All the terrible decisions made in the prequels aside, they did film in some pretty awesome locations. Naboo’s Royal Palace was no exception.

Even if it’d never been a Star Wars set, the Royal Palace of Caserta would still be an amazing place to visit. Built in the mid-18th century, the palace and its gardens are breathtaking. The surrounding area and city of Caserta aren’t too shabby either. You’re also within striking distance of the amazing city of Napoli and all the pizza you could ever hope for.

LAKE COMO, ITALY

More Naboo! The Royal Palace and home of Padma is a pretty picturesque place. We’re amazed anyone would ever want to leave.

Lake Como is famous for being the home away from home for George Clooney, and the guy knows how to pick a good getaway. Como is a jetsetters playground of villas, amazing vistas, and all the pasta a person might ever desire. If you’ve never been to Northern Italy, this is a good place to start. It feels wholly different from the cities further south or the beach towns along the Adriatic. You’ll feel the influences of the rest of Europe much more prominently.

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SEVILLE, SPAIN

Naboo was seriously repped by some of the most amazing places in Europe. Plaza de España in Seville served as a gorgeous backdrop for more of Naboo.

Seville is a wonderland of amazing food and wine, classic Andalusian architecture and art (making it a favored shooting location for Game of Thrones), and a laid back atmosphere that’s highly addictive. We can’t imagine a better holiday than hanging out in a plaza, eating some of the best food on the planet, and getting silly on dark and sweet vermouth.

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GRINDELWALD, SWITZERLAND

Evidently, Princess Leia of Alderaan grew up in a fairy tale land, high in the mountains. We only get a short glimpse of Alderaan in Episode III before seeing it blown up in Star Wars, so there isn’t a whole lot to go on.

Grindelwald, however, has a lot to go on. Nestled in the Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps, Grindelwald is a nature lover’s paradise in winter or summer. Skiing, trekking, biking, eating cheese…Grindelwald has everything you want out of a Swiss trip. It’s right smack dab in the middle of German Switzerland and surrounded by amazing lakes, mountains, and life.

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PHUKET, THAILAND

We finally get to see where Chewbacca hails from! Turns out it’s a cool tropical planet called Kashyyyk. Come on, George, THREE y’s? Just…(eye roll)… Granted, this was really just a way for Lucas to shoehorn an original trilogy character needlessly in an already over-stuffed film, it still provided a pretty cool locale.

Phuket is as beautiful as it looks on screen, maybe even more so. Phang Nga Bay which supports Phuket and mainland Thailand in the south is a true paradise on Earth. The beaches. The food. The Thai whiskey. The nature. There’s a reason Thailand is so popular with world travelers. It’s cheap, strikingly beautiful, and very accessible.

MOUNT ETNA, ITALY

YAY! We made it to the last of the prequel locations — that was much easier than actually having to watch those movies again. Darth Vader’s showdown with Obi-Wan was the climactic battle we’d been waiting three movies to watch. Obi Wan eventually won the high ground on the volcanic planet of Mustafar and left Darth Vader for dead. Why didn’t he just kill him again? Oh, yeah, reasons.

When not in front of green screens, Vader and ol’ Ben were fighting on a real volcano in Italy: Mount Etna. The volcano looms above the amazing island of Sicily. You can easily hike the volcano as long as it’s not spewing liquid hot magma. Plus, you know what’s awesome? You get to visit Sicily. Where else can you village hop like Michael Corleone?

ABU DHABI, UAE

We find our new heroine scrapping destroyed star destroyer parts in a the desert world of Jakku. It’s familiar to lovers of Tatooine, but just a little different.

The filming took place in the Rub’ al Khali desert in the UAE. It’s already famously called the Empty Quarter because it’s the world’s largest continuously sandy desert. It’s massive! It’s also very accessible from Abu Dhabi and one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Emirati culture and life. Rent a camel (or a Land Rover) and head out into the desert.

DERWENTWATER LAKE DISTRICT & FOREST OF DEAN, UK

Rey’s first trip off Jakku took her to a very green place on Takodana (at least it doesn’t have three n’s). Maz Kanata’s castle rested on an idyllic lakeside surrounded by a beautiful old wood.

Derwent Water in the Lake District (UK) is just that idyllic. You can visit the lakes, climb hills, and wander from pub to pub and village to village drinking the day away. About a four-hour drive south through England, you’ll arrive the ancient Forest of Dean. It’s the second largest forest in all of England and has been preserved as such since before 1066. It’s old. It’s English. There are tons of activities for the whole family. It’s a great way to explore the British countryside.

KRAFLA VOLCANO, ICELAND

The Starkiller base looms large in the plot of The Force Awakens. It’s icy surface chills you to the bones. Spoiler alert: it still can be destroyed more easily than any other planet it was built to destroy.

The massive set piece battle to destroy the base was filmed over the Krafla Volcano in Iceland. Traveling to Iceland has never been more fun and enticing. There’s a massive amount of nature to explore. The people are super laid back, and don’t mind tipping a pint or two — yet another reason why this is on literally everyone’s travel list.

SKELLIG MICHAEL, IRELAND

We’re guessing we are going to be seeing a lot more of this location in Star Wars: Episode VIII. Rey finding the first Jedi temple and Luke at the end of Ep. 7 is one of the most iconic moments in the series. They couldn’t have picked a better location. Why don’t location scouts get Oscars? Seriously!

Skellig Michael is one of those magical places you should see at least once. It feels like you’re truly at the ends of the Earth, as you stand atop those wind-whipped stones jutting from the sea. You’ll find the world’s largest population of Gannets living amongst ancient Christian ruins. As an added bonus, you get to travel to Ireland, where Guinness, whiskey, and amazing food await.

THE MALDIVES

All of the locations for Rogue One aren’t clear yet. There seem to be scenes shot in Jordan and Iceland, but no one is really sure where. One locale is certain after the sizzling behind the scenes reel released last week, a climatic battle scene was shot on the Indian Ocean atolls, the Maldives.

The Maldives are one of those places. Postcard beautiful. Full of juxtaposing colors of bright white sands, deep blue seas, and lush green palms. The culture is a unique mixture of island Islam and fishing villages. You’ll find a culinary tradition similar to South Asia’s, but with their own island twists. Now the bad news: the Maldives are currently bearing the brunt of fast acting climate change and rising sea levels, so you might want to get there sooner rather than later.

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