It’s one of the most popular movies of all time. In fact, since it hit theaters last summer, ‘Mamma Mia‘ has become the highest-grossing musical ever, and Britain’s all-time number one film. The ABBA-themed musical features the likes of Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and newcomer Amanda Seyfried, but the real stars of the film are the beautiful islands of Greece. Find them, after the jump…
The film takes place on the eve of the wedding of 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan (Seyfried), on the Greek island of Kalokairi, where her mother (Meryl Streep) owns a villa. If you want to visit Kalokairi for yourself, be warned, you won’t find it on a map — look instead for Skopelos, the island that played it in the film. Kalokairi, the island’s fictional name, is actually the Greek word for “summer.” To get there, fly to Skiathos and then board a ferry for the one-hour ride to Skopelos.
Located in the western Aegean Sea, east of mainland Greece, Skopelos is part of the Northern Sporades island group, and is one of the most verdant of the Greek isles. Lending it the name, “The Green and Blue Island.” It is also home to the beautiful Agios Ioannis Chapel, where the film’s wedding procession was filmed. To visit Agios Ioannis, head toward the town of Glossa (about 23 km from Skopelos Town). Perched high up on a rocky cliff you’ll find the tiny Greek Orthodox monastery, dedicated to St. John.
The chapel is not the only architectural gem on the island. In 1978, Skopelos was designated a “Traditional Settlement of Outstanding Beauty,” which means the island remains true to its Old World charm. Despite its small size, the island is home to over 350 churches, many of which are private and only opened on holidays and feast days. The 11th-century Agios Athanasios basilica is worth a visit, as is Monastery of Evangelistria, which features stunning views of the island and a 14th-century gold altar.
The island features 67 km of beach, though much is rocky and inaccessible. To get another view of Skopelos, do like the cast of ‘Mamma Mia,’ and head to Kastani Beach. Or for a quieter day at the beach, away from the crowds, try to visit: Agnondas, Adrina or Velanio, the island’s unofficial nude beach.
If you want to get off the island, hop on a ferry to nearby Skiathos, another filming location for the movie. The island features 70 stunning beaches, but if you tired of the sun head to the Bourtzi, an ancient Venetian-style fortress, which is where the cast was spotted cooling off between takes.
When planning a trip to Skopelos, remember that the island is one of the more upscale of the Greek isles, so accommodations may cost a little more — especially since fans of the movie have been flocking to visit. But its remote, relaxing atmosphere, beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, and delicious Mediterranean dining make a trip to Skopelos well worth it. For more information on Skopelos, and the rest of Greece, head to VisitGreece.gr.