There are dozens, if not hundreds, of movies about Greece. In this article I’ve included over 30 films about ancient Greece, modern Greek comedy movies and contemporary Greek cinema.
Movies in Greece
The first movies made in Greece appeared in the beginning of the 20th century and were filmed by local directors. The industry really picked up after WWII, in the 1950s and 1960s. This was also when foreign directors discovered our country.
You will probably have heard of certain movies set in Greece that have been filmed here. However, other movies based in Greece have actually been created elsewhere. This includes some blockbuster movies about Ancient Greece.
Greece movies that aim to appeal to international audiences are usually filmed in English. However, a few of the movies mentioned in this article are in Greek, with English subtitles.
Let’s check some of the best movies on Greece! Some of the photos have been taken from imdb.com and pixabay.
Boy on a dolphin (1957)
“Boy on a dolphin” is the first American movie ever filmed in Greece. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this film actually put Greece on the tourist map.
It describes the story of a young Greek woman who finds an ancient statue while diving in the sea. The main star is Sophia Loren, who was greeted by huge crowds when she first set foot in Greece.
It appears that her popularity increased even further after her famous wet dress scene.
Boy on a Dolphin was filmed in several settings on the Greek islands, including Hydra, Poros, Mykonos and Delos. There are some interesting scenes inside the National Archaeological Museum and up on the Acropolis!
Watch the Boy on a dolphin 1957 full movie on YouTube
You can check out more info and reviews here > Boy on a dolphin
Never on Sunday (1960)
Another old Greek movie, “Never on Sunday” describes a love story between an American intellectual and a Greek prostitute. Written and directed by Jules Dassin, this movie features the already established actress Melina Mercouri.
The couple got married in 1966, and Mercouri served as Greece’s minister of culture and sports in the 1980s and 1990s. This is her photo in the Acropolis metro station.
Never on Sunday is one of the most famous Greek romance movies ever made. It was filmed in Athens and Piraeus, and it’s surprising to see how much our city has changed in just 60 years!
The full movie is available on YouTube
You can check out more info and reviews here > Never on Sunday
Zorba the Greek (1964)
In this classic, Oscar-winning Greek movie, director Michael Kakoyannis captured beautifully the essence of what it means to be Greek.
Zorba the Greek describes the friendship that develops between a young English man and a passionate, middle-aged Greek man. It is an interesting comparison of cultures and life perspectives and has become an all-time classic.
The film is based on the book “Life and Times of Alexis Zorbas”, written by our prominent author Konstantinos Kazantzakis. In turn, the book is based on a real-life character whose name was George Zorbas.
Anthony Quinn, who is Mexican-American, delivers an excellent performance. His syrtaki dance has been eternally connected with Greece ever since! Irene Papas is also astonishing in her role, reminding us of a Greek tragedy.
Zorba the Greek was filmed in Crete, our largest island. Even today, you may recognize some of the wild landscapes.
If you only want to watch one Greek related movie, make it this one. You can check out more info and reviews here > Zorba the Greek
Summer lovers (1982)
“Summer lovers” follows the sexual relationship that develops between an American couple and a French woman who meet in Santorini. It features Daryl Hannah before she became famous, and is filmed on a surprisingly unspoilt Santorini.
This movie includes several nude scenes, some of which have been filmed on a naturist beach. I had never heard of it, and I wonder if it was banned in Greece at the time, given its provocative nature.
While I wouldn’t rate this movie highly at all, it offers a fantastic perspective of Santorini almost 40 years ago. This includes the ancient site of Akrotiri! I’ve found it online here.
You can check out more info and reviews here > Summer lovers
Shirley Valentine (1989)
Shirley Valentine is a bittersweet story about a middle-aged English couple whose relationship has gone downhill. Shirley’s best friend invites her on a trip to Greece, and she happily follows.
Much of the movie was filmed in the UK, but the holiday scenes are filmed in Mykonos. In fact, the exact location, which is Agios Ioannis Beach, was nicknamed “Shirley Valentine Beach”.
Watch Shirley Valentine on YouTube
You can check out more info and reviews here > Shirley Valentine
The big blue (1998)
This French movie is based on the real-life story of two of the best free divers of all time, Enzo Maiorca and Jacques Mayol. It describes their rivalry, both underwater and other areas of their lives.
Filmed mainly in Amorgos, this movie is one of the reasons the Cyclades became so popular among French visitors. It is also a tribute to free diving and the underwater world. If, like me, you like snorkeling and diving, you absolutely need to watch it!
You can check out more info and reviews here > The big blue
My big fat Greek wedding (2002)
This famous movie describes the life of a Greek American woman living in Chicago with her extended Greek family. It focuses on her family relationships and culture, and the challenges she faces when she meets a non-Greek guy.
I think this movie is very exaggerated and stereotypical, but like they say, there is truth in every joke. I couldn’t say whether it’s one of the best Greek comedy movies, but I personally find it hilarious. Plus, it proves that all words have a Greek root : )
The story takes place in Chicago, but most “My big fat Greek wedding” filming locations are actually in Toronto.
The writer and leading actress, Lia Vardalos, is Greek Canadian. I can only assume she has put some of her own experiences in her movie!
You can check out more info and reviews here > My big fat Greek wedding
Mamma Mia (2008)
Mamma Mia started off as a theatrical / musical performance based on famous ABBA songs. The show premiered in London in 1999 and has since appeared in dozens of countries, including Greece.
Following the success of the theatrical play, Universal Studios made a romance movie in 2008.
The story follows a young woman living on a Greek island called Kalokairi, which means “summer” in Greek. Just before her wedding, she finds out that her mother once had affairs with three different men.
As she is not sure who her real father is, she invites all of them to her wedding.
This happy, uplifting movie includes back-to-back ABBA songs, incredible costumes and absolutely great performances. It gets bonus points as the actors, including Meryl Streep, did their own singing. It’s no wonder that it became so popular!
In 2018, a sequel was produced, “Mamma Mia! Here we go again”, but it was filmed in Croatia. Among others, the lineup includes Cher (as Meryl Streep’s mother!) and Andy Garcia.
Fun fact – Kalokairi is a fictional island. Mamma Mia was actually filmed in Skopelos, Skiathos and Pelion. This may well have been the reason why so many direct flights exist from the UK to Skiathos!
You can check out more info and reviews here > Mamma Mia
And here is more information about Where was Mamma Mia filmed!
My life in ruins (2009)
Nia Vardalos has also made another rom-com, a Greek tour guide movie called “My life in ruins”. Her role here is to take American tourists around Greece. As you would expect, her group isn’t very easy to manage, but her coach driver is excellent.
Surprisingly, this includes the Acropolis, where filming permission is very rarely given. Hence, if you are looking for a Greek tour movie, that’s one of the best.
You can check out more info and reviews here > My life in ruins
Before midnight (2013)
“Before Midnight” is the third, and so far the last, movie in a popular trilogy. In the first film, an American guy and a French girl meet on a train and spend one day together.
Ten years later they meet again, and the story is presented in the second sequel.
In “Before Midnight” they are now a married couple with children, spending their vacation in Greece. The movie takes place in various locations in the Peloponnese, including Kardamyli, Pylos, Methoni and Ancient Messene.
One really special place is Patrick Leigh Fermor’s house, which was closed to the public back then!
I am personally very attached to this trilogy, which I’ve followed since the 90s, and I love all three movies. I have to say, this one left me with a bittersweet feeling at the end. Still, I am hoping for a fourth sequel!
You can check out more info and reviews here > Before Midnight
Movies in Ancient Greece
Ancient Greek movies are extremely popular. Similarly with movies on Ancient Rome, they usually combine drama, adventure, history, romance and violence.
Not surprisingly, modern technology has helped bring those movies to a whole new level.
A quick word of warning – don’t expect those movies to be historically accurate, or you’ll be disappointed. Just enjoy them for what they are.
Troy is one of the best-known movies about Greek wars. It is based on Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad, which describes the war between allied Greek tribes and the Trojans in the 13th century BC.
Among all the films on Ancient Greece that I have watched, this is probably my favourite one. (No, not just because of Brad Pitt, who is great as the mighty Achilles).
There is a good balance of warfare, romance and sense of pride, and I found the whole film quite captivating.
Most people should enjoy this film. Just don’t expect it to go by the book, pun intended! The script has allowed for many, many changes from the original version of the Iliad.
As an example, the 10-year Trojan war is condensed into only a few days. Still, I think that it’s one of the best Greek war movies ever made.
Interestingly, this isn’t one of the dozens of movies shot in Greece or Turkey. Film locations were actually Malta and Mexico! However, the Trojan horse used for the movie was eventually donated to the Turkish government.
Troy is one of rather few Greek movies on Netflix.
You can check out more info and reviews here > Troy
It’s hard to leave Alexander outside the list of movies about Greek history. This 3-hour long film describes the life of Alexander the Great, the King of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon.
The movie unfolds during the period where Alexander conquered much of the known world, reaching all the way to India. It also focuses on Alexander’s relationship with his best friend, Hephaistion.
Now, while Ancient Greece movies are generally popular in Greece, this one had a rather icy reception. The main reason was that it portrays Alexander’s bisexuality, which didn’t go down very well at all.
Even though it has a famous director, a superb cast and some incredible costumes, Alexander has received mixed reviews all over the world. I also think that better Greek war movies exist.
No scenes of this movie were shot in Greece. Filming locations were Morocco, Malta and Thailand.
You can check out more info and reviews here > Alexander
“300” is one of the best-known movies based in Ancient Greece. It’s also the first that comes to mind if we think of films about Spartans. In fact, I can’t really think of any other movies about Sparta!
This cult movie follows the Battle of Thermopylae, between the allied Greek city-states and the Persians, in 480 BC. During this battle, a mere 1,400 Greeks defended their land against an enormous army of over 100,000 Persians.
As expected, the Greeks lost the battle, but their courage and pride has remained legendary.
Among the Greek war films that have been made in the last 20 years, this is probably the most iconic. This is partly because of the technique used to recreate the atmosphere of the comic book it was based on.
Following its success, a (terrible) spoof came out later, the “300 Spartans” comedy movie.
You can check out more info and reviews about one of the best Ancient Greek movies here > 300
Contemporary Greek cinema
For people who can’t speak Greek, most of the local movies remain inaccessible. This is a short selection of important Greek movies that you could look out for.
“Rembetiko” delves in an underground culture which developed in the early 20th century. It follows the lives of a group of musicians who sang rembetiko, a genre of Greek music which has been compared to the blues.
This is what their instruments looked like.
The background is Greece’s recent history, stretching from the disaster in Smyrna to after the Greek civil war in the late 1940s.
I consider Rembetiko one of the best Greek history movies I know of. Apart from the historical background, it will introduce you to one of our most unique types of music. It’s also an interesting change from all the movies on Ancient Greece.
Watch the full movie (with English subtitles) on YouTube
You can check out more info and reviews here > Rembetiko
Cheap smokes (2000)
This Greek movie focuses on the life and whereabouts of a Greek artist living in Athens. Like other movies by director Renos Haralambidis, it gives a realistic, if one-sided, perspective on contemporary Athenian life.
Most of the movie is filmed during the evening and night, and the locations are typical of a semi-deserted Athens in August.
Cheap smokes is available (with English subtitles) on YouTube
You can check out more info and reviews here > Cheap smokes
Politiki Kouzina / A touch of spice (2003)
This popular Greek movie is one of my favourites. It describes the life of a Greek boy growing up in Istanbul, who develops a keen interest in his family’s cooking.
After he moves to Athens, he continuously misses his grandfather, who taught him a lot about not only culinary arts, but also life.
This is a great film with a lot of deeper meanings. You will enjoy it even more if you are interested in Greek food or Turkish cuisine.
You can check out more info and reviews here > A touch of spice
Nyfes / Brides (2004)
“Nyfes” is set in the early 20th century, just before the destruction of Smyrna. It describes the lives of 700 Greek, Russian and Turkish women emigrating to the USA to get married.
Arranged marriages and letter correspondence were quite common during those hard times. But ultimately, a love story develops.
Parts of the story unfold on board the ferry transporting these women across the Atlantic. Other locations include Andros, Crete, Kastoria and Athens, where the director, Pantelis Voulgaris, was born.
Watch this movie along with Rembetiko and Politiki Kouzina, and you will discover a whole new face of Greece.
Nyfes is available on YouTube, although only in Greek
You can check out more info and reviews here > Nyfes
Dogtooth follows the lives of three teenagers confined inside their home. It focuses on their relationship with their dominant parents, presenting an oppressing reality.
This was the breakout movie for Yorgos Lanthimos, one of our internationally acclaimed directors, like Kakoyannis, Voulgaris and Theo Angelopoulos. He’s made several films since then, including the Oscar-nominated “The Lobster“.
One of his latest movies is a mystery / horror movie with Nicole Kidman, called “The Killing of a Sacred Deer“.
I must admit that I have not managed to watch the whole of Dogtooth. Both times I tried, I found it both depressing and disturbing! If you watch any of his movies, I’d love to know your opinion.
You can check out more info and reviews here > Dogtooth
Eteros Ego (2016)
Directed by the Greek director Sotiris Tsafoulias, “Eteros Ego” (Another Me) is a crime movie based in contemporary Greece. Its main elements are murders, police investigations, a corrupted legal system and quotes from Pythagoras.
Among the contemporary Athens movies that I am aware of, this is by far my favourite. Following its success, the director proceeded to creating a popular thriller series.
The rights to the first two seasons may soon be obtained by Netflix, so watch this space!
Until then, you can watch the full movie on YouTube
You can check out more info and reviews here > Eteros Ego
Ta kamakia tis Rodou (1981)
I’ve saved this short documentary for last. You are unlikely to find it featuring in any lists of films about Greece. However, if you are interested in movies about Greek life, I totally suggest watching it.
The Greek word “kamaki” literally means a harpoon, or a fish spear. Back in the 1980s, this word was used to describe men who went after women.
This movie is specific to Greek men living on the islands, including Rhodes. It follows their adventures when flirting female tourists, mostly from Northern Europe.
Sexist? For sure. Cheesy? Definitely. Ludicrous? Absolutely. Still, 40 years down the line, this Greek movie has a cult following. Plus, if you want to get a glimpse of the real life back then, it doesn’t get much better.
And yes, it is both incredibly insulting and insanely funny.
Before you watch it, have a look at this article with some useful words in Greek!
More movies about Greece
Is this all? No way! There are many, many more films shot in Greece. Some of them are better than others!
- The guns of Navarone (1961), filmed in Rhodes
- America America (1963), partially filmed in Athens
- Jason and the Argonauts (1963), which was actually shot mainly in Italy
- The Greek Tycoon (1978), with certain scenes filmed in Mykonos and Athens
- James Bond: For your eyes only (1981), including scenes filmed in Corfu and Meteora
- Mediterraneo (1991), filmed in Kastellorizo
- Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001), filmed in Kefalonia
- Jason Bourne movies (2002 – 2016), including scenes in Athens and Mykonos
- Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), with some scenes filmed in Santorini
- The sisterhood of the travelling pants (2005), including scenes in Santorini
- El Greco (2007), with scenes filmed in Athens, Crete and Rhodes
- The guide (2010), filmed in Athens and Serifos
- The Two Faces of January (2014), including scenes in Athens and Crete
- Trip to Greece (2020), filmed in several Greek settings like Delphi, Epidaurus, Pelion, Mani, Kefalonia, Ithaca and Hydra!
- Beckett (2021), which presents a slightly one-sided face of Athens during some wild demonstrations. Yet, you will see some areas of the centre that visitors don’t always get to see, including the train station. You won’t see the famous Little Kook cafe though!
As for Clash of the Titans (2010), a fantasy film based on Greek mythology, it was actually filmed in the UK and Spain.
In addition, there are hundreds of the best Greek comedies and other Greek classic movies that can only be enjoyed in Greek. These are largely available on greek-movies.com and on YouTube.
And finally, if you like Greek mythology, here’s my list of the best Greek mythology movies.
Your favourite movies about Greece
Which movies about Greece have you enjoyed watching? I’d love to know, so feel free to leave a comment below!
Hello! I am Vanessa from Athens, and I love helping people discover more about my country. Researching our customs and culture, and finding out facts about Greece and Greek trivia, is my passion! I hope that this article has inspired you to watch a few movies about Greece that you hadn’t heard of!