GREECE GOES TO THE MOVIES: 12 FILMS THAT INSPIRE GREEK VACATIONS

It is no secret that Greece is one of the world’s most important touristic destinations. With its unparalleled natural beauty and its profound historic heritage, it has been long attracting not only tourists, but also filmmakers, actors and producers from all over the world. Already from the 1950s, many movies filmed in Greece have contributed to place it as a popular destination in the world tourism map; at the same time, they were able to build and consolidate various romantic stereotypes and perceptions about Greek’s ancient history and mythology, culture, traditions and modern way of life.

If you are stuck in the city, not being able to take a break, never mind! Take this cinematic tour to Greece, admire its natural and cultural wealth through the lens of the world’s largest film studios.… And who knows? Maybe after watching these films you will get inspired to see Greece by yourself!

1) PELOPONNESE: Before Midnight (2013)

Movies in Greece Before Midnight

Stroll in the narrow roads of Pylos and Kardamyli, eat in famous Lela’s taverna, visit the house of sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, and should you want more glamour, spend a night at Costa Navarino Hotel, while you follow the steps of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in the bittersweet third part of Lindlaker’s marvellous “Before…” trilogy. Read more on the film here.

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Before midnightMovies in Greece Costa Navarino

2) SKOPELOS AND SKIATHOS: Mamma Mia! (2008)

Movies in Greece Mamma Mia

These two super green Sporades islands serve as background for this feel-good musical comedy, a must-see for the fans of Swedish group Abba. Don’t miss the lovely Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri in Skopelos, where the wedding’s scenes were filmed -and many couples followed since them. From there you can enjoy breathtaking views of -equally beautiful- islands of Skiathos and Alonissos.

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Movies in Greece Skopelos Movies in Greece Skopelos Agios Ioannis Church

3) CEPHALONIA: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)

This time the emerald-like waters of the Ionian Sea are the setting for this classic love story, based on Louis de Bernières’ book. During WWII, Italian Captain Antonio Corelli (Nicholas Cage) falls in love with Cephalonian Pelagia (Penelope Cruz). The island of Cephalonia saw a spectacular touristic increase after the film… It’s actually hard to resist a visit to the island once you see its magnificent beauty! The amazing beaches of Antisamos and Chorgota, and the lovely villages of Sami and Komitata feature in the film.

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Movies in Greece Sami

4) AMORGOS: Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue, 1988)

Movies in Greece Le Grand Bleu cr

Luc Besson directed this beautiful hymn to nature, freedom and friendship that takes place in the deep blue waters of Amorgos island. Famous Agia Anna’s beach and the monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa can be seen in the film, which has remained as a cult, all-time classic.

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Movies in Greece Amorgos Panagia Hozoviotisa Movies in Greece Agia-Anna-Beach-Amorgos-island

5) KASTELLORIZO: Mediterraneo (1991)

Movies in Greece Mediterraneo

This beautiful Oscar-winning Italian comedy was filmed in the island of Kastellorizo, one of the Dodecanese islands. During WW2, a group of Italian soldiers serve in a small Greek island; while in the beginning the locals face them with reticence, little by little they all realize how much they have in common… The colorful, neoclassical houses in the seafront will captivate you.

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Movies in Greece Kastellorizo Grotto

6) METEORA, CORFU ISLAND: For your eyes only (1981)

Movies in Greece For Your Eyes Only

In the twelfth of James Bond’s film series, phlegmatic 007 is assigned to hunt for a lost British encryption device, which leads him to beautiful Corfu island. Achillion Palace in  Gastouri, atmospheric Agion Spyridon tower in Corfu town and Kanoni Island all appear in the film. In one of the most adrenaline-packed scenes, 007 faces the enemy literally hanging from the rocks of imposing Meteora! In spite of the negative reactions of Meteora’s monastic community, who tried to boycott the film, “For your eyes only” became a massive box office success.

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Movies in Greece For your eyes only Corfu r Movies in Greece Meteora

7) ATHENS, OLYMPIA, DELPHI: My Life in Ruins (2009)

Movies in Greece My Life In Ruins

Although not as successful as “My Big Fat Greek Wedding“, Nia Vardalos’ second comedy features an American academic who travels to Greece to find her mojo (or “kefi” in Greek). With background the beauty of ancient Greek monuments -the Acropolis, ancient Olympia, Delphi– she also discovers the charm of Greek men.

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 The Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

8) SANTORINI: Summer lovers (1982)

Movies in Greece summer lovers

When a conservative American couple goes on summer vacations to Santorini island, the amazing beauty of the place, and their acquaintance with a bohemian French archaeologist will lead them to develop a particular relationship between the three -and to have the vacations of their lifetime. It is certain that if you see this movie you will want to visit this magnificent island -not necessarily to engage in a threesome 😉 – but just to walk its narrow, atmospheric streets and dive into the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

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Movies in Greece Santorini 2 Movies in Geece Santorini

9) HYDRA: Boy on a Dolphin (1957)

Movies in Greece Boy on a Dolphin

This was the first American film shot in Greece. Sophia Loren is a poor diver who collects sponges in picturesque Hydra island. While diving, one day she discovers a gold statue of  a boy riding a dolphin, which is said that can fulfill your every desire. The film is considered still to these days one of Hollywood’s classics.

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Movies in Greece Hydra

10) MYKONOS: Shirley Valentine (1989)

Movies in Greece Shirley ValentineThis award-winning British romantic comedy- drama is based on a play of the same title. An English middle-age woman, bored with her life, has the opportunity to travel to Greece. Inspired by the beauty of the island of Mykonos, her meaningless life changes forever… It is rumored that the play is actually based on a real life story, and that has inspired many middle-aged women to move to Greece following Shirley Valentine’s steps…

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Movies in Greece Little-Venice-Mykonos-Greece-house_1920x1200_DxOo1 Movies in Greece Mykonos11) RHODES: The Guns of Navarone (1961)

Movies in Greece Guns of NavaroneInspired by the Battle of Leros during the World War II, this classic film describes a fictional battle between the Germans and the Allied for the domination of Navarone island. It stars Gregory Peck, David Niven, Irini Papas and Anthony Quinn. The movie was filmed in the island of Rhodes, which after the film became world famous. Even Anthony Quinn was so impressed by Rhodes that decided to buy a beach in the island. Unfortunately, he was not able to do so due to the infamous greek bureaucracy, but the beach has kept his name: Anthony Quinn Beach.

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Movies in Greece Rhodes old town Movies in Greece Rhodes Saint Paul Beach

12) CRETE: Zorba the Greek (1964)

Movies in Greece Zorba the GreekNo list on films in Greece would be complete without mentioning this quintessential film, which certainly contributed to place Greece among the world’s top tourism destinations, and made syrtaki a mainstream dance. This Oscar-winning movie is based on Nikos Kazantzakis’ book and features music by legendary Mikis Theodorakis. It was filmed in the island of Crete; among the places seen in the movie are the city of Chania, the Akrotiri Peninsula, Apokoronas region and the Beach of Stavros Town, where the famous syrtaki scene was filmed.

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Movies in Greece Chania

 

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THE BEST OF ATHENS

There are many reasons why we love Athens. Maybe is not as beautiful as other European cities, some people find it gritty and polluted, but it has a great energy… It’s like you can feel in the air all those 7000 years of civilization…

Whether you are planning to come to Athens for the first time, you have come many times, or even if you live here, check out my list with the best, not-to-be-missed of Athens…

BEST MONUMENT: THE ACROPOLIS

The Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

If you do only one thing while staying in Athens, undoubtedly this should be this unique masterpiece, “the symbol of World Heritage”, as UNESCO named it. Go up to the Sacred Rock, marvel at the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion, imagine Athens in the time democracy was born…

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BEST MUSEUM: THE ACROPOLIS MUSEUM

Acropolis museum outside 1_943_393_1Acropolis museum inside the-new-acropolis-museum-at-yatzer_13

Admire timeless beauty at one of the best museums in the world.…Its impressive architecture, the sublime collections and the breathtaking views of the Acropolis will leave you speechless…

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BEST CONCERT VENUE: THE ODEON OF HERODES ATTICUS

Irodio Theater 888554

If you are lucky enough to come to Athens between June and September, don’t miss the opportunity to see a concert at the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus…. Every year, as a part of the Athens & Epidaurus festival, many acclaimed Greek and international artists perform here. The astounding acoustics, the Parthenon as a background, its amazing architecture will add up for a one in a lifetime experience…

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BEST PLACE FOR A STROLL: PLAKA

Anafiotika

You may spend hours wandering the narrow streets of Plaka…This atmospheric neighbourhood located at the foot of the Acropolis is plenty of restaurants, gift shops, art galleries and ancient monuments…

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BEST PLACE TO STAY: HOTEL GRAND BRETAGNE

Grand Bretagne Hotel

You will feel like royalty at this emblematic hotel, considered to be one the World’s Best Hotels. Style and luxury, high standard services and the amazing view will make your stay in Athens unforgettable. But even if you don’t stay at the hotel,  a meal at the GB Roof Garden is a must, with breathtaking views of the Acropolis, Lycabettus Hill, the Parliament and Syntagma Square…

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BEST DINING EXPERIENCE: FUNKY GOURMET

Funly gourmet funky-gourmet-orange-explosion

Funky gourmet 2Located in a charming neoclassical house in downtown Athens, this restaurant, awarded with 2 Stars Michelin is featured among the best restaurants worldwide. Innovative dishes and unusual combinations, presented in a creative and theatrical way, will provide you a unique dining experience….

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BEST PLACE TO BUY ONE-OF-A-KIND CURIOS: MONASTIRAKI FLEA MARKET

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMonastiraki flea market resized

On Sunday morning, head to Avissynias Square in Monastiraki where the flea market takes place. There you can find the most amazing stuff, from clothes, books, painting to antiques. And while you take a break, you can grab a bite at Avissinia Cafe.

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BEST GREEK FAST FOOD: SOUVLAKI!

Souvlaki pita gyrosUnless you are vegetarian -too bad for you!- indulge yourself with this traditional greek fast food. There are plenty of souvlaki places (they got really ubiquitous after the crisis), many of them way too touristic, especially around Monastiraki. You may try at these more “local” places in the center of Athens: Kosta’s Souvlaki and Lefteris o Politis.

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BEST PANORAMIC VIEW: LYCABETTUS HILL

Likavittos at night 6943470795_950fa3f864_zLycabettus hill view of the AcropolisClimbing up to Lycabettus hill is like going to the top of the Eiffel Tower to see Paris, or to the Empire State Building to see New York City… This beautiful hill is the highest point of the city (277m) and offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Attica basin up to the Aegean Sea. It can be reached by car, by foot (take the path that starts at the end of Aristippou Street in Kolonaki), but also by a  funicular leaving from Ploutarchou and Aristippou Streets… The best time of the day to venture there is around sunset…

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BEST PLACE FOR A COCKTAIL: A FOR ATHENS

A for Athens 2Photo courtesy of alexinwanderland.com 

Just across the Acropolis and above Monastiraki Square, the rooftop of this design hotel offers astounding views of Athens’ historical center. But the view is not the only reason to visit to A for Athens Cocktail Bar. Its head bartender, award-winning Thodoris Pyrillos, prepares most of the classical cocktails, but also his own signature ones. A for Amazing…

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BEST COFFEE BREAK SPOT: BLACK DUCK GARDEN- ATHENS CITY MUSEUM BISTROT

Athens city museum bistrotBlack DuckThis atmospheric, well hidden cafe is a true oasis in the center of the city. Located in the garden of the Museum of the City of Athens, is exactly what you need to chill out after been exploring the city…

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A FEW MORE NOT-TO-BE-MISSED SPOTS

Changing of the guard Parliament

Changing of the Guard at the Parliament

 

 

 

 

 

Kallimarmaro

Panathenaic Stadium

 

 

 

 

Ancient Agora

Ancient Agora

 

 

 

 

 

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus

 

 

 

 

 

Acropolis moon 2599990431_69b87e08f7_oPhoto credits

Acropolis: Wikimedia commons; Acropolis museum: theacropolismuseum.gr, yatzer.com; Herodium: all-athens-hotels.com; Plaka: bluetravelstories.com, Wikimedia commons; Hotel Grande Bretagne: grandebretagne.gr; Funky Gourmet: funkygourmet.comathenspotlighted.gr; Monastiraki: sites.google.com, Wikimedia commons; Souvlaki: kalamatian.gr; Lycabettus Hill: Wikimedia commons, taxi-apollon.gr; A for Athens: alexinwanderland.com; Black Duck Garden-Athens city museum bistrot: athinorama.gr, ​blackduckgarden.gr; Change of guard: athenstourgreece.com; Panathenaic Stadium: tvxs.gr; Ancient Agora: Jorge Lascar Flickr.com; Hadrian’s Arch and Temple of Olympian Zeus: todayifoundout.com