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10 Famous Movies that were shot in Greece

Amorgos ● Athens ● Chania ● Corfu ● Hydra ● Kefalonia ● Knossos ● Meteora ● Mykonos ● Oia ● Santorini ● Skiathos ● Skopelos ● 20 May 2021
 
With its magnificent landscapes, lovely beaches, picturesque villages and rich history and traditions, Greece has always attracted many tourists from all over the world. But its spectacular beauty has also inspired many producers who found in Greece the perfect filming location for their movies. As a result, a wide range of movies, from action films to comedies, has been filmed there in the last few years. Most of them were in the Greek islands, but there were also some producers that chose cities of historical significance such as, Athens, for their work. Below you can see some of the most famous international movies that took place in Greece:


1. Mamma mia! (2008)

Director: Phyllida Lloyd     Starring: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth

Plot: Just a few days before her wedding, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) decides to secretly invite three ex-lovers of her mother Donna (Meryl Streep), in an attempt to find out who of them is her father that she never met. The three men accept the invitation believing it is from Donna and then a beautiful and fun story unfolds featuring the songs of the pop group ABBA. 

This successful romantic musical comedy made most of the shootings in Greece. Most of the outdoor scenes were filmed on Skopelos (although in the movie, the island is named "Kalokairi", which is a fictional name). Skopelos is part of the Sporades complex, set on the northern part of the Aegean sea. Apart from the amazing beaches with crystal clear waters, Skopelos is also famous for its beautiful green landscape, and this the reason why the producers chose it.

Many scenes were filmed in Kastani beach, including the scenes where the songs "Lay all your love on me" and "Does your mother know" are performed. A beach bar and a jetty were built there for the needs of the movie, and they were removed after the shooting was completed.

A scene that you sure remember if you have seen the movie is when the cast is heading to the church for the wedding, and Donna sings the song "The winner takes it all". This picturesque church is the church of Agios Ioannis Kastri on Skopelos. As you may remember from the film, it is built on the top of a rock, and you have to climb almost 200 steps to get there! Of course, after the movie, Skopelos became a popular wedding destination, and there were many couples that show interest in getting married in the particular church. However, the interior you see in the film was a set, and it was built based on another local church. The same goes for Donna's hotel ('Villa Donna"), as all related scenes were filmed on a set built at Pinewood Studios. 

Apart from Skopelos, there were also some scenes on the neighbouring island of Skiathos. In most cases, though, the shots were blended with other shots from Skopelos, so it is hard to find any places to recognize from the movie. However, an important scene was solely filmed in Skiathos -  the one in the old harbour, where the three potential fathers meet for the first time while trying to get to "Kalokairi". Finally, there were also some shots that were filmed in Damouchari, which is located in the Pelion peninsula on the mainland. 


The beautiful church of Agios Ioannis built on top of a rock in Skopelos


2. Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001)

Director: John Madden     Starring: Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz, John Hurt, Christian Bale

Plot: During the Second World War, an Italian soldier, Captain Antonio Corelli (Nicolas Cage), arrives on the Greek island of Kefalonia, which is under Italian occupation and meets a young local girl named Pelagia (Penelope Cruz). As time passes, they get closer, and the audience follows their story during the war and the big earthquake. 

The film was based on the novel "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" by Louis de Bernieres. The shootings in Greece took place on the lovely island of Kefalonia. Kefalonia is part of the Ionian Islands, and has always been very popular among tourists for its beautiful landscapes and amazing beaches. The shooting took place in many villages of Kefalonia, such as Sami, Argostoli and Fiscardo. If you actually go to these villages, though, you will see that you will not be able to recognize much from the movie. This is because the producers had to reconstruct some of these places and make the filming in on-site sets in order for the island to look like it did in that period and before the disastrous earthquake that took place in 1953. Of course, the sets were taken away after the filming was over. The producers also built the doctor's house, and the location is close to the ruins of the village Dichalia. The actual village of Dichalia was destroyed during the earthquake. 

Another spot used was Myrtos beach, the stunning, popular and many times awarded beach that also serves as the trademark of the island. Some shooting also took place on the lovely beach of Antisamos. 


The famous beach of Myrtos with the rocky cliffs and turquoise waters


3. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life (2003)

Director: Jan de Bont     Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler

Plot: This action film, based on the Tomb Raider video game, focuses on the adventures of the archaeologist Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) trying to protect the mythical Pandora's box from falling into the wrong hands and used as a deadly weapon. In this mission, she calls for the help of her old lover, Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler).

The scenes shot in Greece are the ones you can see in the opening of the movie. That is when the earthquake occurs and the Luna Temple, a temple supposed to be built by Alexander the Great, comes to light. The filming took place on the impressive and well-known island of Santorini. Due to its incredible beauty, this volcanic island is one of the top Greek destinations, and that is why it has also been repeatedly chosen for filming by producers. In the film, you will have the chance to see shots of the picturesque village of Oia, as well as some beautiful underwater scenes. 


The beautiful village of Oia overlooking the Aegean Sea


4. The Two Faces of January (2014)

Director: Hossein Amini     Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Oscar Isaac

Plot: This thriller movie takes place in Greece in 1962. Chester McFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and Colette McFarland (Kirsten Dunst) are an American couple enjoying their vacation in Athens. While visiting Acropolis, they meet Rydal (Oscar Isaac), an American tour guide scamming tourists, and they decide to go out for dinner with him. Later Chester accidentally kills a private detective, and Rydal witnesses him carrying the body. After that, the three of them are trying to escape from Greece, but their story keeps getting more complicated. 

The film is based on the novel "The two faces of January" (1964) written by Patricia Highsmith. Most of the shooting took place in Greece and, more specifically,  Athens and the island of Crete. The rest of the scenes were filmed in Istanbul, Turkey. 

In the film, you will see some scenes in Acropolis, Athens, which is actually something very rare, as it is particularly difficult for a production team to receive permission to film in this monument. There are also some memorable scenes in the ruins of Knossos (which is close to Heraklio), and in the picturesque town of Chania. 


The impressive monument of the Parthenon in Athens


5. The Big Blue (1988) - original title: Le grand bleu

Director: Luc Besson     Starring: Jean-Marc Barr, Jean Reno, Rosanna Arquette

Plot: The film focuses on the rivalry between two childhood friends, Jacques Mayol (Jean-Marc Barr) and Enzo Molinari (Jean Reno), who grew up to become well-known free divers. We also watch the love relationship between Jacques and an insurance broker, Johana Baker (Rosanna Arquette). 

The two characters are based on two real free divers (Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca), but the story has been fictionalized to a great extent, so you will find many differences from their real lives. The shootings that took place in Greece were mostly on the island of Amorgos (which is part of the Cyclades complex), and you will get to see some amazing underwater scenes in the Aegean sea. In the film, you will mostly see Agia Anna beach, a rocky beach with beautiful crystal clear waters in a deep shade of blue. The beach is also very close to Panagia Hozoviotissa Monastery, the impressive monastery that is now the most important sight of the island. 


The stunning rocky beach of Agia Anna in Amorgos


6. For your eyes only (1981) - James Bond series

Director: John Glen     Starring: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Topol

Plot: After a British spy ship gets sunk in the Ionian sea, James Bond (Roger Moore) begins his adventure to retrieve the ATAC system that was in it, which must not fall into the hands of their enemies. In this mission, he will have the help of Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), who has her own reasons to become involved in this story.

The movie is the twelfth of the series, and it is based on two short stories from Ian Fleming's "For your eyes only" (1960). It includes many scenes filmed in Greece as Bond has to travel there to retrieve ATAC and face his enemies. Most of the shooting took place on the beautiful island of Corfu, located in the Ionian sea. In the film, you will see shots of the town of Corfu and a lot of the Old Venetian Fortress as it featured many scenes. Other filming locations in Corfu included Kanoni and Pagi village. 

Apart from Corfu, filming also took place in the famous Meteora area, where monasteries are built on impressive mountain formations. The breathtaking landscape of Meteora made it the perfect location for the adventures of Bond to take place. The monastery that was used for the filming is the Monastery of Holy Trinity. 


The Monastery of Holy Trinity in the majestic Meteora



7. Boy on a Dolphin (1957)

Director: Jean Nagulesco     Starring: Alan Ladd, Clifton Webb, Sophia Loren

Plot: Phaedra (Sophia Loren), a sponge diver living on the island of Hydra, Greece, accidentally discovers in the sea a statue of a boy on a dolphin which has great archaeological value. She then has to decide if she is going to give it to Dr. James Calder (Alan Ladd), an archaeologist who wants to give it to the country's authorities, or to Victor Parmalee (Clifton Webb), who wants to sell it to the highest bidder. 

This film was actually the first Hollywood film to be shot in Greece. It was also Loren's first English-speaking film. The script was based on the novel "Boy on a Dolphin" (1955) written by David Divine. Many scenes were shot on the picturesque island of Hydra, as most of the action takes place there. Hydra is part of the Saronic islands and is a popular destination, not only because of its beauty but also because it is relatively close to Athens. It is known for its charming mansions and the fact that no cars are allowed on the island. 

Apart from Hydra, in the film, you will have the opportunity to see shots from various Greek locations and monuments, such as Athens (including Acropolis), Meteora, Rhodes, Delos, Mykonos and Poros. 


The port of the island of Hydra


8. Shirley Valentine (1989)

Director: Lewis Gilbert     Starring: Pauline Collins, Tom Conti, Julia McKenzie

Plot: Shirley Valentine (Pauline Collins) is a 42-year-old housewife from Liverpool, England, who is feeling trapped and stuck in her life. When her friend Jane wons a trip for two to Greece and invites her, she decides to take the opportunity and follow her. There she meets Costas (Tom Conti), an owner of a tavern, and starts an adventure that makes her focus more on herself and slowly transforms her completely. 

The film is based on the play "Shirley Valentine" (1986) written by Willy Russell. Shirley rediscovers herself on the well-known island of Mykonos, and many scenes of the movie were filmed there. The most recognizable spot is Agios Ioannis beach, a beautiful sandy beach that offers views over the island of Delos. The beach received so much attention after the movie that it is now also known as the Shirley Valentine beach. 


The famous windmills in Mykonos



9. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants  (2005) 

Director: Ken Kwapis     Starring: Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera

Plot: In this film, we see the story of four teenage best friends that are about to spend their summer apart for the very first time. Before leaving, they go shopping, and they discover a pair of jeans, that weirdly enough, fits very well all of them despite their different body types. They decide that they should share it for the summer, and we then follow their different summer stories and witness what happens when they wear the "magical" jeans. 

The movie is based on the novel "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (2001) written by Ann Brashares. One of the four friends, Lena Kaligaris (portrayed by Alexis Bledel), spends her summer in Santorini, Greece, visiting her grandparents. We then watch her story on the island, where she becomes involved with a local boy, Kostas Dounas (Michael Rady). Filming for these scenes took place on the amazing island of Santorini. As Lena explores the island and falls in love with Kostas, the audience has the chance to admire for once more the beauty of the village of Oia. 
There was also a sequel to the movie, the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" (2008). In the sequel, many scenes were filmed on Santorini, including Oia village and other beautiful locations. 


Sunset in Santorini island

10. The Bourne Identity (2002)

Director: Doug Liman     Starring: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper

Plot: Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is rescued from the sea by a fishing boat, but he suffers from amnesia and can't remember his past or identity. He starts following clues and travels to discover his identity while at the same time he realizes that someone wants him dead. In this journey, he meets Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente), a German woman, who initially helps him get to Paris and becomes involved in his case. 

This action thriller film was based on the novel "The Bourne Identity" written by Robert Ludlum in 1980. While the movie mostly takes place in Paris and Prague, the end of the movie, where Broune finally meets Marie again, was shot at the island of Mykonos. In the movie, Marie has her own scooter rental business in the charming and popular area of Little Venice in Mykonos Town. This romantic town area with the lovely houses and the famous windmills was the perfect scenery for their meeting after their adventure. 


Houses and restaurants in the area of Little Venice, Mykonos



Where to Stay

Hotel in Argos, Greece Morfeas Hotel
Morfeas Hotel
2, Danaou str., 21200 Argos, Greece

Morfeas Hotel is in a central location in Argos, 14 km away from Mycenae and 12 km away from Nafplio. The property is close to supermarkets, shops and restaurants. The International Airport of Kalamata is 128 km away.

Hotel & Studio in Andros, Greece Blue Bay Resort Village
9 10
Blue Bay Resort Village
Delavogias, Batsi, 84501 Andros, Greece

Blue Bay Resort Village is located 1.5 km away from the centre of Batsi, close to Delavogias Beach. Andros Port is 8.2 km away and Andros Town is 24.7 km away.

Hostel in Athens, Greece Athens International Youth Hostel
7.8 10
Athens International Youth Hostel
16, Victor Hugo str., 10438 Athens, Greece

Athens International Youth Hostel is a friendly, budget hostel located in a quiet residential street, close to the historic center of Athens and just 3 minutes walk from the nearest metro station. The main square of Athens, Syntagma, is at 1.5 km, while the lively Monastiraki Square is at 1.3 km. Plaka, the historic and picturesque part of Athens with narrow cobblestone streets can be reached within a 18-minute walk.


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