Mount Olympus in Greece is one of the most beautiful places on this planet. I have good reasons to believe this. I’ve traveled to Mount Olympus twice, and I enjoyed every minute of the ride and of the trekking both times. Although I haven’t made it to the top, where the Greek Gods sit among fluffy clouds, I’ve been impressed with the feeling of well-being and tranquility I’ve lived on this mountain. Besides, there are big lizards and butterflies everywhere, as well as an impressive variety of flora.
For many years I thought Mount Olympus wasn’t a real place. It was on my first trip to Greece, to Halkidiki, back in 1998 when I found out Olympus was a real mountain, and not only the mythological home of ancient gods. The highest peak of this mountain, Mytikas, is almost always in the clouds. It makes you want to climb it to see if those almighty gods are still home. The photo below has been taken on the beach in Olimpiaki Akti in the beginning of June. You can still see the snow patches on the peak.
Where Is Mount Olympus in Greece?
Mount Olympus is located nearby Katerini, on the border between Macedonia and Thessaly. You can reach it by car from Thessaloniki in less than two hours. If you come from Athens, you’ll need 6-7 hours of driving (including a few stops on the way). You need to get to Litochoro, as that’s the starting point for hiking Mount Olympus.
From Litochoro, you have two options to climb the mountain; the Prionia trail and the Gortsia trail. Both Prionia and Gortsia are accessible by car, and you’ll find a cab in Litochoro to take you to any of these starting points of the Mount Olympus hike. Prionia is the highest point accessible by car. Here you’ll leave your car in the parking, and you’ll start the ascension in a stunningly beautiful scenery, among rocks, trees, and cold mountain creeks.
Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece. It is 2917m high, so climbing it isn’t the easiest of all things. You need to be in good shape to do it. In addition, you need proper equipment and a good understanding of how hiking works. I’d strongly recommend you to hire a guide or to join a hiking group, if you intend to reach the peak. If you only want to hike for as long as you feel comfortable and then go back the same way, you can go by yourself.
There are mountain creeks with clear waters everywhere on the track. I’ve been on Mount Olympus in Greece twice, each time during the month of June, and the water was freezing cold. However, this can be a great refreshment for your tired feet, should you get there on a very hot day.
The first portion of the trail is safe for children. There are even places with tables and benches to take a rest, should you need it. As a matter of fact, the concrete makes it quite dull. However, the clearings and the waterfalls are worth the trouble of walking all the way.
Nearby Seaside Resorts and Best Places to Sleep around Mount Olympus
Any kind of hike will probably take you at least one full day. If you only want to enjoy the green scenery, the waterfalls and the rivers, you’ll only need one day. Consider about two hours to climb from Prionia to the point where the steep slope begins, two hours to enjoy the mountain and to take photos, and about one or two hours to return to the car park.
Nei Pori (Neoi Poroi)
If you seek for silence, peace, and a long promenade by the beach, Nei Pori is a good choice. The resort is rather small. Most of the streets here are either parallel or perpendicular to the beach, so you`ll find your way around with ease. There’s barely any nightlife in Nei Pori. If you want to go out by night to dance or party until small hours, avoid Nei Pori, as you won’t find your happiness here. However, if you only want a place to spend a couple of nights before and after your Mount Olympus hike, this is one of your most convenient options. Here you can find cheap accommodation and several restaurants and tavernas with great Greek food.
Special tip: with the sea to your left, walk until the end of the promenade, and stop by the last but one restaurant. They have a nice lawn in front, and a telescope. They would let you watch the moon through the lens. If you have kids, they will be thrilled to try this out. We didn’t have any kids, but still enjoyed it a lot. Besides, they make the best grilled octopus with vinaigrette sauce in Nei Pori.
This resort is perhaps the busiest and the most touristy on the Olympic Riviera. If you want to offer your old mother a nice vacation, you can safely send her to Paralia Katerini, as she’ll probably enjoy it. However, if you want to experience off the beaten track experiences, find yourself another place to stay.
Olympic Beach (Olympiaki Akti)
This is actually an extension to Paralia Katerini. Olympic Beach, also known as Olimpiaki Akti is a very small and quiet resort. I’ve stayed in Olympic Beach a few years ago. I remember they didn’t even have an ATM machine by that time. However, Paralia Katerini is at only two minutes’ drive. You can enjoy the less crowded beachfront promenade and still find anything you need within walking distance. There are many accommodation options right on the beachfront promenade. I’ve taken the photo below from the balcony of my apartment.
This is an old photo of the Olimpiaki Akti beach. I hope they haven’t destroyed this last piece of wild beach since my last visit on the Olympic Riviera. I’ll get there again this September, and I’ll update this article with newer photos.
Platamon (or Platamonas) in both a seaside resort and a town. It has an old castle on top of a hill and a few sandy beaches. There are some villas that offer beachfront accommodation with neat views (like the one in the photo below).
Poseidon Beach Camping
As you get off the E75 motorway, very close to the Platamonas Castle, you’ll reach Poseidon Beach Camping. This campsite offers direct access to sandy beaches, and it has wi-fi, electricity, toilets, showers and a nearby restaurant. According to some campers, Poseidon Beach Camping is acceptable for transit, but not necessarily the best place to stay for a longer time.
Best Times to Visit Olympus Mountain in Greece
The second half of June should be best for visiting Mount Olympus in Greece. The days are longer, and this offers you more daylight to hike. Besides, the air is not as hot as in July and August. If you don’t necessarily want to make it to the top, you can safely choose the month of September for your trip.
What to Prepare for a Mount Olympus Hike