Lonely Planet Writer

The Mamma Mia! sequel is here and its locations are just as enchanting as its musical numbers

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is ready to return to the big screen with its ear-catching Swedish pop songs, over-the-top seventies costumes and stunning Greek islands charm. With the exception that in this sequel, Greece isn’t really Greece.

Lily James, Cher and Amanda Seyfried at the world premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again in London. Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images

The first movie, which came out in 2008, brought the whole cast (comprising of big names like Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Julie Walters) to the island of Skopelos in the Sporades archipelago. The beautiful Aegean island was perfect to play the equally beautiful but fictional Kalokairi, where Streep’s character Donna has her hotel and where her daughter Sophie gets up to pre-wedding shenanigans involving her three potential dads.

A view of Skopelos Town at sunset. Photo by Laura Zulian Photography/Getty Images

Now, ten years later, the movie’s sequel sees a newly pregnant Sophie return to her childhood home – but the movie production decided not to return to Skopelos, which has now become a top wedding destination. This time around, the island of Kalokairi is portrayed by the tiny island of Vis, off the Dalmatian shore of Croatia.

The island of Vis serves as the island of Kalokairi in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Photo by Igor Novakovic/Getty Images

With its small population of almost 4000 people, Vis can be reached only with a two-hour ferry ride from the nearby city of Split, the largest city of Dalmatia. The island served as a military base for the Yugoslav army until 1989, and it’s because of this isolation that its beautiful natural landscapes have been preserved until today.

An aerial view of Split seen from the cathedral belltower. Photo by cuellar/Getty Images

Vis’s beaches and caves and rugged bays have certainly done the trick for the Mamma Mia producers, who flew in their cast and crew for six weeks last September, renting out private villas and yachts and the only two hotels on the island to accommodate them all. If you feel like going on an ABBA-inspired tour of the island, know that most of the scenes were filmed in the western town of Komiza, where a couple of private restaurants were also used as backgrounds for the movie’s musical numbers.

The town of Komiza was the background for most of the shooting. Photo by Lottie Davies/Lonely Planet

Most of the beach scenes were shot on Barjoska Bay and Stiniva, but the movie’s production team built a wooden jetty from scratch in Barjacy to mirror the one in the first movie from where Donna takes a big dive into the Adriatic after the iconic Dancing Queen number.

Stiniva beach seen from above. Photo by SimonSkafar/Getty Images

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is not the first big Hollywood production to arrive in Croatia – one of the country’s most famous cities, Dubrovnik, has been serving for years as King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

The old town of Dubrovnik is one of the many locations for HBO’s Game of Thrones. Photo by John and Tina Reid/Getty Images

You can learn more about the island of Vis through its official website here, while Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again comes out in cinemas on 20 July.