5 Star Wars Filming Locations You Can Visit (Without Needing the Millennium Falcon)
It turns out you can visit a galaxy far, far away without ever leaving Earth. We’re celebrating the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story by rounding up five unforgettable travel adventures based on real-life Star Wars filming locations.
Could Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands off the north coast of Africa, be where Star Wars fans will finally get a glimpse of Corellia, Han Solo’s home planet? It’s believed that location filming took place in the Costa Calma area of the island which boasts kilometres of white sand and calm turquoise waters—conditions that fit the bill for what we’ve heard of the fictional planet. According to the vacation-planning experts at The Travel Corporation Canada, Fuerteventura is the ideal sun destination for adrenaline junkies like Han Solo. With intense winds that regularly whip up waves measuring two metres, it’s heaven on earth for windsurfing and kite surfing.
Considered by many to be the most beautiful mountains on Earth (or possibly beyond), the breathtaking Dolomites served as the backdrop for a week’s worth of location filming for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Located in northeastern Italy, these towering cathedrals of rock serve up some of Europe’s most stunning scenery. It’s been reported that the towering Monte Piana, standing 2,324 meters tall, will be the setting for several key scenes including an undisclosed “violent brawl.” Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy’s most exclusive ski resort and a beautiful alpine haven during summer, was also used as a filming location, with shooting taking place in trenches dating back to the First World War. Fans can be forgiven if they feel a sense of déjà vu from this return to Italy: Lake Como has previously doubled as the planet Naboo in Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and Mount Etna provided the bold backdrop for the climactic lightsaber battle in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
For travellers wishing to get up close and personal with those iconic Italian filming locations, consider Insight Vacations’ 11-day “Country Roads of Northern Italy” journey, which weaves a route through the mighty Dolomites, and includes a stay a traditional hotel (complete with wooden balconies) in Cortina d’Amezzo. Lake Como, Milan, Venice and Verona round out the impressive itinerary.
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The main shooting location for much of Solo: A Star Wars Story wasn’t on a windswept beach or otherworldly peaks. In fact, most of the filming took place just 30 kilometres outside of London at the legendary Pinewood Studios. Unless you’re in the company of galactic royalty, the studio is off-limits to the public, but that doesn’t mean you can’t soak up some of the movie magic in the London’s biggest tourist attractions. Trafalgar’s 8-day “London Explorer” trip gives you the chance to check plenty of top draws off of your bucket list, but also allows plenty of free time to amble through the city’s sights and sounds at your leisure. After you’ve browsed Westminster Abbey and Borough Food Market, snag a pair of tickets for Madame Tussauds through Evan Evans (it could save you from waiting in line for hours) and lose yourself in the famous attraction’s Star Wars Experience. This unique and immersive installation will bring you up-close and personal with extraordinarily life-like wax figures of your favourite heroes and villains from Episodes I-VI, set amongst a galaxy of locations, including the swamps of Dagobah, Jabba’s Throne Room and the flight deck of the Millennium Falcon.
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Scorching sun, not a soul in sight, and desert stretching in every direction… In the stars, you could be on Tatooine; but on Earth, we’re talking about Tunisia. From its balmy palm-fringed Mediterranean coast to the impossibly vast Saharan sand seas, it’s no wonder George Lucas and team decided to film the first six Star Wars movies here. In fact, the name “Tatooine” was inspired by the real town of Tataouine in southern Tunisia. Although the town never served as a filming location itself, it’s renowned for its cave dwellings, which were created by the native Berber population as refuge from the relentless heat. For travellers wishing to make a pilgrimage to Luke Skywalker’s home, head over to Hotel Sidi Driss located in the village of Matmâta. It was featured in Episode IV: A New Hope, and has been restored to its former glory—Star Wars decorations and all!
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Tikal was once the seat of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Mayan civilization. Located in what is now the northern part of the Guatemalan rainforest, this ancient cultural centre is to the Latin American country what the Great Pyramids are to Egypt. The city flourished between 200 and 850 AD and its iconic ruins include the giant, ceremonial Lost World (Mundo Perdido) Pyramid and the Temple of the Grand Jaguar. Star Wars fans will recognize it as Yavin 4, the jungle-covered moon where Luke, Han Solo and crew take the Millennium Falcon before launching their attack on the Death Star in Episode IV: A New Hope. In fact, the shot where a Rebel oversees the Millennium Falcon landing on Yavin was taken on top of a building known as Temple IV looking east where Temples I, II and III can be seen on film. Fans hoping to recreate this memorable scene can join Contiki’s 13-day “Sol Seeker” adventure. Like Han and crew, you can take in the breathtaking view atop Temple IV at daybreak and perhaps even attempt to summon the Force before making a daring escape through the treetops (there are thrilling ziplining opportunities at the Jungle Lodge). The itinerary’s sun-soaked excitement continues in Mexico and Belize.
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