Ten years after the jukebox musical Mamma Mia! inspired thousands of movie fans – and hundreds of brides and grooms – to visit Skopelos in Greece, the sequel is shaping up to be just as successful.
But Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again didn’t go again – not to Skopelos, or even to Greece. Instead, the Croatian island of Vis was the setting for the latest Abba-fest.
Lured by tax breaks from the Croatian government, director Ol Parker shifted filming from the Aegean to the Adriatic – plenty of picturesque architecture, sun-kissed beaches and azure skies, but just not Greece. Skopelos is reportedly pushing back, billing itself as the original and genuine albeit fictional island of Kalokairi.
Vis – a two hour ferry ride from the port of Split – certainly exercised its magic during the six week shoot last autumn: Lily James and Pierce Brosnan Instagrammed their bike rides and boat trips; Amanda Seyfried paddleboarded; and Colin Firth spared no efforts in sampling the waterside cafes.
Whether Vis or Skopelos gets the bigger tourism boost remains to be seen – but the locations are uniformly amazing.
It’s not difficult to see why location scouts chose the sleepy seaside town of Komiža in the southwest of Vis as their principal location. With its pebbly coves, turquoise waters and terracotta-roofed houses, it could easily pass as a Greek island. Komiža is a low-key sort of place with just a handful of guesthouses and seafood restaurants. One of the most popular, Jastožera, does a nice line in lobster but now has a new claim to fame, appearing in a scene with Colin Firth and co-star Stellan Skarsgård under the guise of a Greek taverna. The town is also the launch point for boat trips to the Blue Grotto, a sea cave on the neighbouring island of Biševo. jastozera.eu
Set on a natural harbour, Vis town is the island’s capital. Its elegant sweep of tall Venetian mansions forms the backdrop to light-hearted scenes featuring comedian Omid Djalili as a customs officer. Close by, the terrace in front of the Pansion Dionis was transformed into a village square for flashback scenes with Lily James playing a younger version of Meryl Streep’s character Donna. Luxury hotels are in short supply on Vis, so the stars stayed in restored mansions and palazzos in the old district of Kut. The film’s wrap party was held at Fort George, a 200-year-old castle, now home to a restaurant, bar and gallery on a hilltop overlooking Vis town. dionis.hr, fortgeorgecroatia.com
Like the original film, one of the highlights is an all-singing, all-dancing Abba number in a spectacular waterfront location. The crew had to construct a wooden jetty in Barjaci, a remote bay in the west of the island. Before making its screen debut, the beauty spot was better known as the site of a Second World War gun battery. Vis has remained largely untouched by mass tourism as it was placed off-limits by the Yugoslav army, who used it as a military base until 1989. Sightseeing tours of the island’s abandoned military installations usually include a visit to Barjaci. navigator.hr
Stiniva and Srebrna
Two of the island’s most photogenic beaches – Stiniva and Srebrna – both lie on the south coast. Stiniva suffered the usual ramifications of being voted best beach in Europe in 2016, but it remains picture-perfect, surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of steep white cliffs. It can only be reached via a steep track or by boat, but this doesn’t deter the day-trippers who engulf the tiny beach during the summer months. Nearby Srebrna, carpeted with white pebbles, is where a young Donna takes a romantic moonlit walk with her suitor Sam (Jeremy Irvine) in one of the flashbacks.