Film-inspired holidays in Europe: Six destinations to cure your Mamma Mia! blues

If the film’s cinematography can influence your next trip choice, you’re not alone. If you’re planning to set out on a trip around Europe just like Donna of Mamma Mia! did (albeit on a smaller scale), we’ve got you covered. Croatia or Italy, the Czech Republic or Austria, there are plenty of film-inspired trips to pick from.

film inspired holidays

According to the research carried out by Mintel, a global market research company, as many as seven in ten 16-24-year-olds said that they were inspired to visit a place after they saw it in a film or TV series, while more a half of the people in the participating group declared that film and TV inspire their holiday choices. Packing a punch into your Croatia trip and seeing Mamma Mia! locations followed by the sceneries you saw in Game of Thrones? Why not?

“Films such as the new Mamma Mia! can have an incredible influence on holidaymakers’ destination choice. The original film reportedly saw a surge in holiday booking to Greece (editor’s note: Skopelos), and now the sequel is likely to have the same effect on bookings to Croatia. It’s not just movies which can drive the popularity of a holiday destination; ITV2’s Love Island is likely to see a rise in holiday bookings to Mallorca among younger Brits who are particularly influenced by the power of the small screen,” said John Worthington, Senior Travel Analyst at Mintel.

“But it isn’t always good news for holiday destinations featured in films and on TV. Although locals can profit from large swarms of visitors, destinations run the risk of ‘overtourism’. Overcrowded streets and landmarks and a general lack of infrastructure can leave a destination struggling to cope with excessive numbers of tourists,” he added.

But it’s not just about the big screen: as many as 67% of people in the age group 19-38 decided on their next destination after seeing it in their social media feed. And people are happy to share their snaps on Instagram: 43% of all respondents agreed that they like to post their holiday pictures on social media, with the number rising to 67% for under-24s. Yes to wannabe filmmakers and those who snap away!

Inspired by the research, we’ve listed six European summer routes inspired by films that aren’t situated further away from the UK than a short flight (Coppola’s Lost in Translation Tokyo might be a little too far just yet…) – feel free to pick and choose!

Dubrovnik, Split and the island of Vis, Croatia

split croatia film inspired holidays
Split, Croatia. Source: Pexels.

For hardcore fans of Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik and Split will be heaven on earth – Fort Lovrijenac and Old Town have been home to many scenes of the hit HBO series. But only two hours away from Split lies the small island that served as a backdrop to the Mamma Mia! sequelYou can reach Vis by ferry, which is still a fairly budget option at roughly £7. Much quieter than its party counterpart Hvar, it’s a picturesque spot – the wonders of which have been highlighted by the film – with plenty spaces to try delicious seafood, rest on clean beaches, or walk around to explore the 17th-century sights.

mamma mia here we go again film location croatia film inspired holidays

Amalfi Coast, Italy

amalfi coast italy film inspired holidays

Amalfi Coast, Italy. Source: Pexels.

As the story goes, it’d be difficult for an ordinary human being to find Themyscira… but if you feel like finding Wonder Woman, a trip around the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy is your best bet. The filming of the first part of the film took place there after careful consideration, and it shines through in the sequences that open the film. And let’s not forget that Fellini himself filmed a few scenes for Roma there! You can easily explore it on your own – you can fly to Salerno Costa d’Amalfi or Naples International, and head from there using ferries and buses. Positano and Amalfi are among the famed towns of the municipality, but there’s a handful smaller towns to explore if you’re planning a longer trip.

amalfi cost italy wonder woman location film inspired holidays

Madrid and Barcelona, Spain

barcelona madrid spain film inspired holidays
Barcelona, Spain.

The Spanish capital has served as a background and inspiration for one of the most celebrated Spanish directors Pedro Almodovar, as well as his idol Luis Buñuel. He learned the ropes of filmmaking there, participated in the creative scene of La Movida movement, and paid homage to the city into many of his films. Madrid was also featured in Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows, due to be released in the UK. Barcelona provided background for Almodovar’s All About My Mother, while the Hollywood film with Scarlett Johannsson, Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall in leading roles Vicky Cristina Barcelona extensively explored the most famous sights of the city. You can get a train between two cities and try to explore both in slightly more than a week!

madrid barcelona spain almodovar film inspired holidays

Salzburg, Austria and Freiburg, Germany

salzburg austria film inspired holidays

Salzburg, Austria. Source: Pexels.

A little bit of old-school Hollywood magic, anyone? Salzburg welcomed The Sound of Music more than fifty years ago for many of the famed scenes, but the film fans are sure to find many locations from the film – the city reports more than 300k fans wandering around Mirabell Palace and Gardens, Karajan Square and Residenzplatz every year! Having explored the birthplace of the musical, you can follow a route to a completely different dance-inspired film and take an overnight train towards Basel and then Freiburg – the city where parts of de Palma’s Suspiria were filmed. Coven of witches in the Tanz Dance Academy, we’re waltzing right in.

salzburg austria the sound of music film inspired holidayssuspiria freiburg film inspired holidays

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, Görlitz, Germany and Wrocław, Poland

karlovy vary grand budapest hotel split croatia film inspired holidays
Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

Internationally recognised for its film festival, the picturesque town has a lot of colour to offer – and it’s been appreciated by Wes Anderson himself, who used its Palace Bristol Hotel/Grandhotel Pupp as an inspiration for his Oscar-winning Grand Budapest Hotel. The Republic of Zubrowka might be non-existent (Poland is just across the border, though, and it has the original Żubrówka if you fancy a shot of vodka, and with it comes Wrocław, featured in Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies…) but the picturesque town is perfect for a little spa break thanks to its famed hot springs.

gorlitz germany film inspired holidays
Görlitz, Germany. Source: Creative Commons photo by Polybert49 (Flickr).

The director shared that Prague inspired his film, and he wanted it to be filmed in many locations across Eastern Europe, so it might be worth it to stretch your film-inspired trip to other cities that can be easily accessed by coaches or trains. The majority of the film has been shot in Görlitz, a town on the Polish-German border, that was also a backdrop for Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, as well as The Reader and The Book Thief.
grand budapest hotel karlovy vary film inspired holidays

Vienna, Austria, Bratislava, Slovakia and Budapest, Hungary

budapest hungary red sparrow film inspired holidays
Budapest, Hungary.

Jennifer Lawrence’s latest, Red Sparrow, was largely shot between three cities in East-Central Europe, and if you follow the Danube river, you might find some of the finest places to explore in each of them. The majority of the film was shot in scenic Budapest – the Hungarian capital is rich in breathtaking sights and gives many leisurely opportunities thanks to its famed baths built upon the city’s hot springs. Vienna is a cultural capital, rich in museums that host the most famous artists in the world (Klimt, Bruegel, Lichtenstein, Warhol) as well as fascinating modern art (The Museum Quarter is definitely worth exploring). Picturesque Bratislava offers a crossover between the history and modernity, a place that doesn’t lack postcard-perfect sceneries. All of these cities are well-connected, and the trip between each shouldn’t take you longer than two hours on the train.

budapest red sparrow film inspired holidays

Kasia Kwasniewska

Editor in Chief

Passionate about far too many things. Loves reading, watching films, eyeing (and producing) good design, listening to music and stuffing her face with chocolate on a daily basis. Cooks from time to time, and drinks far too much coffee to be a normal human being. Liked my work? Buy me a coffee!

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