Greece…sunny beaches, crystal blue waters, beautiful green scenery, history, culture and good food. These are only a few of the things that make Greece one of the most popular vacation destinations worldwide. Hollywood film makers pretty soon realised the cinematic potential of Greece with its wonderful sunny landscapes and white sands as well as the magnificent ancient ruins spread across the country. Greece has become the natural set for several blockbuster Hollywood films in which we follow stories that take place in one of the most beautiful and romantic countries of the world. If you are planning on visiting Greece soon and you enjoy watching movies, we have collected the best Hollywood movies filmed in Greece for you to look forward to before your trip in these beautiful sets!
Written by Savina Skourmalla on 06-07-2023
- Hollywood Movies in Greece – Zorba the Greek
Maybe not many have seen this classic movie starring Anthony Quinn but everyone has heard the movie’s soundtrack that has become almost like a national anthem for Greece and Greeks inside and outside of the country. The movie was shot in Crete and was based on the novel ‘Zorba the Greek’ by famous Greek writer Nikos Kazatzakis. Antony Quinn plays Alexis Zorbas, a poor Greek man from Crete who meets an English author, Basil (Alan Bates), who travels to Crete in order to take over an abandoned mine owned by his father. Next to Zorbas, the uptight Englishman learns how to live, love and enjoy life’s little moments through an evolving and beautiful friendship. In contrast to Basil, Zorba is an exuberant figure who captures the essence and vibe of Greek life at the time. This movie is most famous for its dancing scene, where Zorba is teaching Basil how to dance to ‘sirtaki’, with music composed by renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis. This melody has then become a symbol to Greek culture and is enjoyed and danced even today.
The movie is a wondrous study in Greek culture and literature as it portrays the lifestyle, the customs and the traditions of Crete in the 80ies. The landscape of Crete, in particular the areas of Chania, Akrotiri, Apokrounas and the beach of Stavros where the sirtaki scene was shot is celebrated through a magnificent film about life, relationships and overcoming obstacles.
- Hollywood Movies in Greece – Mamma Mia!
If we could name one movie that has been the reason for an important boost in tourism in Greece that would definitely be Mamma Mia! The legendary musical with Maryl Streep turned Skiathos and Skopelos popular romantic destinations for those who watched the movie. An extraordinary fun fact is that the church in which the young couple gets married in the movie, Agios Ioannis, has become the number one choice for couples who wished to exchange their vows in Greece!
Mamma Mia is definitely one of the most iconic hollywood movies in Greece and it follows the story of Donna, a hotel owner in Skopelos who is planning her daughters wedding on the island. The plot twist is that the daughter (Amanda Sayfied) has invited 3 men that are all her potential biological father creating hilarious comedy scenes all instrumented by iconic songs by ABBA.
This rollercoaster of emotions musical comedy includes not only an interesting and sweet story but also breathtaking views of the islands of Skopelos and Skiathos and the beauty of the Aegean Sea. The huge success of the movie resulted in people learning more about the beauty of Sporades and resulting in numerous bookings towards this destination making Mamma Mia one of the greatest hollywood movies in Greece and a true ambassador to Greek touristic marketing abroad!
- Hollywood Movies in Greece – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
In the tranquil scenery and blue waters of the Ionian island of Kefalonia is where the tragic love story of Captain Corelli took place. Loosely-based on facts and mostly on fiction, the movie is based on the story of Italian captain Corelli (Nicolas Cage) and a Greek girl, Pelagia (Penelope Cruz). The story is set during WW2 and it shows how love blossoms between the atrocities and wrong-doings of the war. The two lovers face a continuous dilemma throughout the drama and have to take important decisions and choose their sides as the story progresses. The film is an ode to love and its power against all forces and despite all differences.
‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ is one of the few 21st century films that were entirely shot in Greece, in the natural settings of Skopelos. Just like ‘Zorba the Greek’ this film is a great study of Greek life, but during the German occupation. It shows the misery and pain war caused to people and how people in Skopelos suffered by the German forces. All that of course comes to contrast with the idyllic and peaceful landscapes of Skopelos with the scenes complimenting the sandy beaches and sparkling blue waters as well as the picturesque alleys and houses of the island.
- Hollywood Movies in Greece – My life in Ruins
Everyone has seen or heard about ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ the movie in which Nia Vardalos, the Greek-American actress, shows what a true Greek family is like. However, not many know of another movie starring the very same actress and that was filmed entirely in Greece. ‘My life in Ruins’ tells us the story of a travel guide, Georgia, who hates her life and job and has lost her purpose in life until a miscellaneous meeting with some crazy tourists and a gorgeous driver takes her to Delphi and Athens.
This particular Hollywood movie shows sights and landscapes not found in other films, such as the magnificent archaeological sites of Delphi, Olympia and eventually Athens and the Acropolis. The panoramic shots of the archaeological sites, the breathtaking mountains and the endless sea views impressed critics and Greeks even more as it promotes the rich Greek culture more and focuses less on romantic sunsets at the beach.
This comedy movie is as fun as it is educational and it manages to combine powerful scenery with a soft romcom that will make everyone want to hop on the bus and join the adventure!
- Hollywood Movies in Greece – Beckett
The newest film on the list which was also entirely shot in Greece has broken many records.
‘Beckett’ is the first Netflix movie that was filmed in Greece and it topped the list of top 10 movies to watch in many countries around the world only a few days after its release.
This action-thriller follows the story of an American tourist (John David Washington) who becomes the target of a political manhunt after an accident. During his desperate attempt to reach Athens and the US Embassy, the movie follows the protagonist’s struggle as he’s being chased and falls deeper into a web of lies and conspiracy.
Beckett crosses many different locations on his way to Athens and some of the filming locations include the cities of Ioannina and Trikala in the Northern part of Greece. Other areas shown in the movie are Zagori and the site of Delphi.
The action-packed scenes in Athens show the metropolitan side of the city in a more modern and less idealistic version of life, with spectacular views of the buildings and streets of the Greek capital.
The tension of the movie will keep you at the edge of your seat but visiting Athens doesn’t have to be a bitter experience like it has been for Beckett. You will actually be surprised to explore the blend of ancient and modern in this vibrant city and explore all of the local areas and some hidden spots by joining a thrilling city bike tour. You can enjoy a comfortable, slow paced ride around the beauties of Athens without worrying about being chased like Beckett did!
Greece has always been popular with tourists and filmmakers alike and there are so many more movies, some older and others in the making, that cleverly make perfect use of the unparalleled Greek land and sea spaces!