Where was Mamma Mia filmed? The hit 2008 Hollywood movie Mamma Mia is set on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi.
However, it is the beautiful islands of Skopelos and Skiathos in the Northern Sporades that provide the real-life backdrop for the movie.
Even today, more than 15 years after its release, Mamma Mia continues to inspire a new generation of travelers to visit Greece. Director Phyllida Lloyd and her team scoured over 20 different Greek island locations in their quest to find the perfect setting for the movie.
Eventually, they settled on filming most of the scenes on the sleepy Greek island of Skopelos. It was a great choice.
Skopelos, known locally as “the blue-green island” is the greenest island in the Mediterranean. Despite the fact that Greece is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, little Skopelos has managed to escape the tourist hordes.
Even now, after the huge success of Mamma Mia, it hasn’t been victim to the same over-tourism as places like Zante, Santorini, and Mykonos. To this day, Skopelos remains one of the last sleepy Greek island idylls.
This article has been written by a Travel Writer that spent 9 months living on Skopelos island (me!) It will run through all of the Mamma Mia filming locations in Greece.
Mamma Mia Filming Locations in Greece
The majority of the Mamma Mia movie was filmed on location in Skopelos. There were some scenes filmed on neighboring Skiathos island, some on mainland Greece, and some in Shepperton studios (now Pinewood Studios) in the UK.
Mamma Mia was the first movie interpretation of the Broadway musical of the same name. It was written by British playwright Catherine Johnson.
The movie features Abba songs by the Swedish pop group “Abba”, as performed by a glittering Hollywood cast.
The likes of Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Julie Walters starred in the movie. They made renditions of Abba classics that became just as popular as the originals!
(Although arguably, actor Pierce Brosnan’s terrible singing became more of a comedy factor rather than anything else!) The movie follows the story of Sophie, a young woman that lives with her mother on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi.
She is in the midst of planning a wedding with her fiance Sky (Dominic Cooper). However, she has never met her father.
After rummaging around in her eccentric mother’s belongings, she finds a diary that indicates that there are three men that could potentially be her father. Sophie decides to invite all of them to the wedding on the island, hoping that at least one will respond and that she will be able to figure out who her father is.
The movie documents the hilarious events that follow.
Mamma Mia is arguably one of the best movies about Greece to watch in preparation for your trip.
However, even if you haven’t seen it, it is worth trying to make your way to the various filming locations if you visit the Sporades.
Where was Mamma Mia Filmed? Every Filming Location
All of the Mamma Mia filming locations in Greece are discussed below. You can easily get to them all independently, or you can opt to take a Mamma Mia tour from either Skopelos or Skiathos.
You can visit all of the Skopelos and Skiathos locations in a day or two. However, both islands are well deserved for a week or two of your time.
Skopelos Mamma Mia locations
Many scenes from Mamma Mia were filmed in Skopelos. Arguably the most famous shooting location is the little whitewashed chapel of Agios Ioannis in Northern Skopelos.
The Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri
The Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri is a clifftop church in Northeastern Skopelos. Since the movie’s release, it is now affectionately referred to as “The Mamma Mia Church”.
The church is perched, almost precariously on a craggy rock that juts out from the sea.
This is where the wedding scene was set in the movie. However, the interior of the church is tiny – the size of someone’s living room.
So, the actual scene was filmed at a movie studio in Hollywood. The church also featured in the background during the musical rendition of “the winner takes it all”.
The name of the church means “St John on the Castle”. It is believed that a defensive castle once stood on this clifftop, centuries ago.
The climb to the top of the small church is a hair-raising one. You need to climb up over 250 worn stone steps.
They twist and turn around the cliff and offer views down to waves crashing violently against the rocks below. The views from Agios Ioannis Kastri are breathtaking.
There are also some interesting religious icons within the church. When you’re done exploring, you can relax on the nearby beach or grab some Greek street food at the busy beach cafe at the foot of the rocks.
Getting to Agios Ioannis chapel
There is no public transport that runs to Agios Ioannis Kastri. Arguably the most convenient, and budget-friendly option is to either rent a car and drive there yourself (if you are staying in Skopelos). Alternatively, you can take an organised boat tour from Skopelos or Skiathos.
Tours like this one can take a lot of hassle out of the logistics of planning your trip.
Travel from Glossa to Agios Ioannis Kastri
You can also take a cab from Glossa to the church. Your driver will wait for you while you venture inside.
This should cost more than 25-30 euros.
Kastani beach is, without hesitation, one of the most gorgeous beaches on Skopelos island. It boasts a picturesque white pebble shore that runs parallel to translucent turquoise waters.
The beach, which sits beside Skopelos’ Milia beach and is backed by lush, dense forests exudes tropical island vibes. The beach has something for everyone.
On the right-hand side of the beach, there is a beachside bar and taverna where you can rent sunbeds, umbrellas, and cabanas for the day and indulge in traditional Greek food. If you walk to the left-hand side, the experience is more rugged.
You will escape the crowds and find a section of the coastline all to yourself. You can simply drop your towel on the pebbled shore and relax in the peace and quiet.
In Mamma Mia, the scenes for “Lay All Your Love on Me” and “Does Your Mother Know?” with Christine Baranski were filmed here. Kastani beach was also the setting for the scene where Donna (Meryl Streep) and Sophie’s dads wave goodbye to the other cast members after Sophie’s wedding is called off.
Kastani beach looks slightly different in reality compared to how it looks in the movie. The wooden pier was created specifically for the film and doesn’t exist in real life.
Getting to Kastani Beach
Kastani Beach is situated on the western coast of Skopelos. It is approximately 15km and a 25-minute drive away from Skopelos town.
If you are staying on the island of Skopelos, you can take the island bus which will drop you right outside the beach entrance. Alternatively, dedicated Mamma Mia tours like this one take you to Kastani Beach, Agios Ioannis Kastri, and other island highlights.
Glysteri beach & surroundings
The Mamma Mia Directors have hinted at Glysteri Beach, and the lush green area behind it, as being additional filming locations for Mamma Mia. Some of the outdoor scenes and beach scenes are believed to have been shot at Glysteri.
The steep cliff behind the beach is where Sophie and her dads sang before jumping into the sea.
The slopes of Mount Delphi, close to Glysteri are supposedly where the scenes were filmed where Sophie is about to leave for her wedding. This region is well worth visiting if you like hiking and nature.
Several Skopelos hiking trails weave through the woodlands close to Mount Delphi. One of the most spectacular is the short trek to the pirate graveyards of Sendoukia.
Cape Amarandos is a gorgeous part of Mamma Mia island. The two little pine trees that sit on top of a craggy rock that juts out into the northwest Aegean sea are an iconic image of Skopelos.
They can be seen in the background of some of the musical numbers. For instance, when Sophie is on a boat with her fathers (Stellan John Skarsgård, Colin Firth, and Pierce Brosnan).
She also runs through the woodlands with her mother’s diary during the song “honey honey”.
Amarandos is affectionately referred to as “piscina” (swimming pool) by Skopeliti locals. This is because the waters here are crystal-clear and perfect for swimming.
This untouched, rocky cove is made up of several different individual rock pools. You could easily while away an entire day here swimming, sunbathing, reading, and having a picnic.
Pick up a few snacks from the convenience store. Then, backtrack out of the hamlet and head down the dirt trail on your left-hand side that leads to Amarandos.
Mamma Mia locations Skiathos
Several mamma mia film locations can be found in and around Skiathos. For instance, many scenes shot on boats were filmed while sailing around the island.
One such example is the scene for the song “Our Last Summer ”.
Skiathos town, specifically the ferry port area, was the place where Sophie met her three fathers for the first time. She is also seen mailing her wedding invitations from the area around the bell tower after the opening scene of the movie.
Skiathos town and its surrounding beaches are worthy of several days’ exploration. From there you can venture onwards to Skopelos.
The convenient Skiathos bus runs a circuit around the island, making it easy to explore it in depth even without your own transport.
Where Was Mamma Mia Filmed?
Shooting Locations in Mainland Greece
The quaint Pelion village of Damouchari was used for a number of beach scenes in Mamma Mia. Footage of the village’s “blue beach” was then combined with shots captured in Skiathos and Skopelos.
The olive groves and pine forests that surround Villa Donna and Donna’s hotel can be found at Douchari, just outside of Volos. It takes approximately 30 minutes to reach Damouchari from Volos.
The scenes for “Dancing Queen” are set in Villa Donna.
Volos and the Pelion region
If your schedule permits, you should spend a couple of days in Volos, and then rent a car to explore the nearby Pelion villages. The Mamma Mia village of Damouchari is beautiful and well worth visiting, as are the villages of Afissos and Makrinitsa.
Volos itself may well be one of the most underrated places in Greece. During the summer months, laze on the dreamy beaches of Agios Dimitrios, Anchialos, Pigadia, and Alykes.
Within Greece, Volos is famous for its tsipouradiko restaurants. In these places, if you order some tsipouro, you will be served free meze dishes to accompany this strong Greek beverage.
The more tsipouro you order, the better and better your mezes get! However, arguably you may not even be able to see your meze plates by the end of this!
Where Did the Mamma Mia Cast Stay?
The Mamma Mia cast and crew stayed at various hotels on the islands of Skopelos and Skiathos while they were filming. Other cast members rented villas across Skopelos island.
The Skiathos Palace Hotel, the Skiathos Princess Hotel, the Adrina Beach hotel, and the Mandraki housed many of the cast members during filming. The Mamma Mia crew were also seen dining at a number of Skiathos and Skopelos restaurants.
They reportedly stopped by the Windmill, Polikratis, and Asprolithos. You will also find photos outside various Skopelos businesses of the film crew stopping for coffee and Greek pastries.
Where Was Mamma Mia Filmed?
Getting to the Mamma Mia Filming Locations
If you are planning a trip to Greece around visiting Mamma Mia filming locations, your best option is to fly to Skiathos international airport. There is no airport on the island of Skopelos.
Flying into Skiathos
Various international airlines fly from a variety of destinations across the United Kingdom and Europe to Skiathos. If you are travelling from farther afield, you can fly to Athens, and then take a domestic flight to Skiathos.
Ferry travel in Greece
If you are already in mainland Greece, you can also reach the Mamma Mia filming locations via ferry boat and public transport. Ferries run between Volos and Skiathos, Skopelos, and Alonissos several times a day.
The journey time depends on the specific type of boat you travel on – either a car ferry or a high-speed catamaran. The ferry journey from Volos to Skiathos takes approximately 3 hours whereas the journey on the faster boat takes an hour and a half.
Skopelos is a little further from the mainland. The journey here takes between 2 hours and 45 minutes, and 4 hours and 30 minutes, depending on whether you take the hydrofoil or the slower car ferry.
You can also take boats to Skiathos from Mantoudi port, on Evia island, and from Agios Konstantinos.
Where Was Mamma Mia Filmed?
Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again
It should be noted that although the original “Mamma Mia” movie was filmed in Greece. The sequel was shot on the tranquil Croatian island of Vis in the Adriatic sea.
Movie producers cited Greek bureaucracy and the cost of production as some of the reasons why they decided to move the filming of the second movie to a new location. The second movie sees a pregnant Sophie renovating an old Greek tavern on the fictional island of Kalokairi, and explores her mother Donna’s past relationships with the three prospective fathers.
Young Donna is played by British actress Lily James. It is a shame that the movie production was not kept in Greece.
However, that just means that you have an excuse to explore yet another beautiful Mediterranean island!
FAQs about Mamma Mia Filming Locations
Do you have any further questions or queries about the musical mamma mia or its island setting? Some frequently asked questions on the topic are detailed below.
Hopefully, you will find the information that you are looking for there. If not, feel free to reach out to me.
Can you visit the place where Mamma Mia was filmed?
Yes. You can visit the various filming Mamma Mia filming locations either independently or on a tour. That includes the Mamma Mia church that sits at the top of a rock in the northern part of Skopelos, the old port of Skiathos, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the Sporades.
Did they actually film Mamma Mia in Greece?
Yes. The movie Mamma Mia was filmed on location in Skopelos, Skiathos, and Volos in Greece.
Was any of Mamma Mia filmed in Santorini?
No. No scenes in Mamma Mia were filmed in Santorini. The movie was filmed in Skopelos, Skiathos, and the Pelion peninsula.
Is Hotel Bella Donna a real place?
Sadly, the Hotel Bella Donna does not exist. The scenes at Donna’s hotel were filmed around Skopelos and Pelion as well as at movie studios in England.
The hotel is not a real place that you can visit.
Why wasn’t Mamma Mia 2 in Greece?
Mamma Mia 2 was moved to Croatia due to issues with bureaucracy and production costs in Greece.
Does Kalokairi exist?
Kalokairi is a fictional Greek island that formed the backdrop of the movie Mamma Mia. Its real-life location is the tourist destination Skopelos island in the Sporades.
Where was Mamma Mia filmed? Final thoughts
Do you have any additional questions about planning a trip to Greece, or finding Mamma Mia filming locations? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
I have lived in Greece since 2017 and spent eight months living in Skopelos. I am happy to assist with any queries you may have.
Safe travels! Geia sou! Melissa xo