“The Greek Islands are held with great affection in the hearts of us Brits – every year, three million of us head there for our holidays, and it is easy to see why. I have a strong affinity with the islands as my mum is Greek, although she despairs that I still can’t speak the lingo. But I’ve only holidayed here, and never really explored beyond the tourist trail myself. Until now. This is a voyage of discovery and I’m taking you with me.”
– Julia Bradbury
This new six-part series for ITV features Julia Bradbury exploring the hidden side of the dazzling, sun-drenched Greek Islands.
The Greek Islands are loved by Brits – with three million flocking there every summer. Julia Bradbury has a special affinity with them as her mother is Greek, and that heritage has always been a big part of her life – yet despite enjoying her summer holidays on the islands she doesn’t know much about the real Greece.
In this series she uncovers the hidden side of well-known islands like Corfu, Crete and Santorini as well as uncovering some lesser-known island gems like Symi, Thirassia and Skopelos, location for global smash Mamma Mia, island-hopping her way to her ultimate destination, Chios – the island of her heritage.
She goes off the well-trodden tourist track to discover secret beaches, exquisite coves and unspoilt countryside. Immersing herself in age-old traditions and sampling some of the best food and drink, Julia shares vivid and surprising insights into some of our most popular holiday island destinations.
Julia says, “I am going to see the hidden side, from the historical and rugged terrain of Crete to the glamour of a sunset in Santorini. But I’ll also be taking in the lesser-known islands from the architectural splendour of Symi to the natural wonder of Skopelos, before ending my journey on the island where my family story first began.”
Episode 1 – Crete
In the first episode, Julia visits the picturesque, rustic and rugged island of Crete, a favourite island with British holiday-goers, but Julia steps away from tourist trail and heads deep into the heart of the island to explore the Dikti mountains and its striking plateau of windmills.
She meets goat shepherd Giannis, who shows her how he makes cheese using age-old traditional methods. Back on the coast in the town of Rethymno, Julia tries the delicacy baklava, meeting filo pastry expert Giorgos, who has been producing it for 75 years. She also meets master artisan Nico, who expertly makes the Cretan lyra, a stringed instrument said to be the ‘soundtrack to Crete’.
Her journey ends with a visit to the stunning but poignant neighbouring island of Spinalonga – once an exiled leper colony.
Episode 2 – Corfu
This week, Julia visits the lush Ionian island of Corfu, often called the least Greek of all the Greek islands. Her trip begins in the capital Corfu Town where she discovers a surprising, cosmopolitan city more like a little slice of Italy than Greece. After sampling the delights of its famous kumquat flavoured ice cream, a cookery lesson in making Corfu’s signature savoury dish, pastitsada, reveals the island’s centuries-old love affair with exotic spices.
Her adventure continues in a magical forest of ancient olive trees, where she meets a pair of brothers who are passionate about revolutionising production of Corfu’s oldest and most important export – olive oil. Julia ends her time on the island by trying out the secret to staying young that all Corfiots swear by.
Episode 3 – Santorini
In this episode, Julia’s journey brings her to the impossibly glamorous island of Santorini in search of the perfect sunset. Her trip begins in one of Santorini’s most exclusive hotels where she discovers how one of the Aegean’s poorest islands became a playground for the rich and famous. In search of the secret Santorini away from the bustling crowds, she heads inland for a walk on the wild side, hiking through a forager’s paradise to the hilltop village of Pyrgos to watch the sun go down. After sampling a local delicacy made from fava beans that takes her back to her childhood, she heads out to sea to find out how local fishermen are joining forces with environmentalists to keep Santorini’s pristine waters plastic-free. Her journey ends with a hop across to neighbouring island Thirasia, where she encounters a sleepy island untouched by mass tourism.
Episode 4 – Sporades
Known as the Paradise Islands, the Sporades’ lush pine forests and coastlines are simply breathtaking. On Skiathos, Julia boards a fishing boat in search of a secret world of hidden coves and deserted beaches. Heading inland, she visits the hillside Monastery of Evangelistria, one of Greece’s most important religious sites, before island-hopping to neighbouring Skopelos for a taste of marriage, Greek style. After trying on the island’s traditional wedding dress, her trip ends at the tiny Chapel of St John.
Episode 5 – Rhodes and Symi
This week, Julia arrives in the Dodecanese, a far-flung group of islands at the gateway between Europe and the East. In the medieval capital of Rhodes she uncovers a treasure of trove of Byzantine Art and has masterclass in painting historic frescoes.
Travelling inland to the mountain village of Apollona, she gets a taste of Greek Girl Power from some inspirational female entrepreneurs producing an age-old superfood made from honey and sesame.
Her trip ends with a visit to the neighbouring island of Symi, an architectural wonder like nowhere else in Greece. After sampling Symi’s famous shrimps, Julia takes to the water and immerses herself in the island’s rich history with a lesson in the ancient and dangerous skill of sponge diving.
Episode 6 – Chios
In the final episode of her Greek odyssey Julia reaches her ultimate destination – the island of Chios – where her family’s story began.
This week she’s joined by her mother Chrissi and together they explore the home of their ancestors.
In search of the fascinating history of mastica, a natural resin only found on Chios, they visit a farm to find out how this mystical and miraculous tree sap has been harvested for thousands of years.
In the perfectly preserved medieval fortified village of Mesta, one of the architectural wonders of Chios, they have a masterclass in traditional dance.
After following in the footsteps of legendary Greek poet Homer, who is reputed to have been born on the island, their trip comes to an emotional end when they track down the house where Julia’s great-grandparents lived.