Mamma Mia is my favourite film and I’m not ashamed to say it!
ABBA songs being performed to the backdrop of the Greek Islands. Pure sunshine in a bottle! A cast of Hollywood heavyweights (some tone deaf!) looking like they are having the time of their lives! I wanted in on the action so off I headed to Kalokairi… ok Kalokairi doesn’t actually exist… so off to Skiathos I went!
This was a holiday I booked in 2019, and after two years of cancellations and restrictions (thanks Covid!), I finally packed up my dungarees and made it!
Mamma Mia was mainly shot on the neighbouring island of Skopelos. I say mainly… if truth be told the cast were apparently only there for a few days! Much of the movie was actually shot in Pinewood Studios. But those few days were enough to showcase the beauty of the Sporades islands. In fact, I’d go as far as to say the islands were actually the stars of the movie.
A few scenes were shot on Skiathos itself. Most notably the opening scene of the film where Sophie posts wedding invitations to her three potential fathers and the subsequent scene where they miss the ferry to Kalokairi.
The beaches of Skopelos were the location of some of the musical numbers. Skopelos can be easily reached by boat, with many trips going each day form the Old and New Ports of Skiathos. It takes about 50 minutes to reach Skopelos and there are a variety of trips to choose from. I decided to travel with Kalypso boat on their ‘Mamma Mia Trip’ after reading many positive reviews. The boat visited Kastani beach, the site of ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ and ‘Does Your Mamma Know?’. It also stopped at Panormos and Milia, which although beautiful, I don’t think actually featured in the film?! For a further charge you could be taken by minibus from one of the beaches to visit the iconic Mamma Mia Chapel and climb the 199 steps! I declined to do this and I assumed that I would glimpse the chapel from the boat at some point but sadly I didn’t see it! Can’t believe I went all the way to Greece and missed the chapel! Some of the other boat trips do moor at the beach below the chapel, weather permitting. It is notoriously choppy in windy conditions! If I did it again, I would probably visit with Poseidon, as you (usually) view the chapel from the boat and also visit Skopelos town, which I would prefer rather than hanging around on the beaches with hundreds of other people from the many tour boats! The boat trip was a pleasant day out. The Mamma Mia soundtrack played on loop, but it was a bit naff for a mega fan like myself! I suppose that’s what you get with mass tourism. However the scenery was as breathtaking in reality as on the movie.
Another must for a Mamma Mia fan is to watch the movie at the open air cinema – Attikon on lower Papadiamanti in Skiathos town. The cinema shows Mamma Mia three times a week (Monday, Thursday, Saturday) as well as other recent films on other evenings. There’s a singalong atmosphere, with staff encouraging you to get involved! There is a bar serving Mamma Mia cocktails and a variety of snacks. In peak season it’s best to pre book tickets, either at the cinema one evening or via their Facebook page. The ticket office is open from 7:30pm each evening, with movies starting at 9:30pm. Doors open at 8:30pm and it’s advisable to arrive early as seats are not reserved.
It’s easy to see why Donna (Meryl Streep’s character) fell in love with Kalokairi. I was tempted to find a ramshackle building and stay there myself!
It’s difficult not to fall in love with the Sporades islands, and it’s no surprise that visitors return year after year. Another one ticked off the bucket list, and a summer holiday well spent.