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 three times already, and I enjoyed every minute of the ride and of the trekking every time. 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.
Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece. It’s highest peak, Mythikas, is 2917m, 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. Make sure you wear hiking shoes and have enough drinking water with you, as reliable water sources may be scarce. Also, let someone know about your intention to hike solo. Although I enjoy traveling solo, when it comes to hiking, I prefer to do it as part of a group, and with someone who knows the area.
How To Climb the Olympus Greek Mountain?
Mount Olympus has hiking trails for all levels of skill and fitness. If you choose yours wisely, you’ll have a great time in this natural paradise.
From Litochoro, you have two options to climb to the top of the Olympus Greek 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.
Is There an Option of a Short Walk on Mount Olympus?
If you only want a very short walk on the mountain, starting from Litochoro and without needing a car, you can go to the Bath of Zeus, a small waterfall that’s within less that one hour of walking on a beautiful and fairly easy trail along the Enipeas canyon.
The trail to the Bath of Zeus is safe for children and for elderly people. You can enjoy it even if you aren’t too fit.You need a good pair of walking shoes, though, in order to prevent injuries.
Along the path, you’ll find places with tables and benches to take a rest, should you need it. As a matter of fact, the concrete and the iron handrail make this trail quite dull. However, the clearings, the waterfalls and the entire scenery are worth the trouble of walking all the way to the end point of this path.
The Zeus’s Bath trail starts from the center of Litochoro. As you pass the roundabout and the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, follow the path along the creek. Once you pass the starting area which is scattered with large rocks, you’ll get to the beginning of the walking path. There’s barely any climbing, so you don’t need
European Long Distance Path E4 – Litochoro – Agios Dionisios Church Agios Dionisios Cave – Prionia
The European long distance path E4 starts from Spain, from the Pyrenees Mountains and ends up in Crete, at the “white Mountains.” If you want to hike Mt. Olympus from Litochoro to Prionia, you’ll take the E4 path. The hike takes about 5 hours and it goes through a forest.
Mount Olympus Hiking for Beginners & Vacationers
If you aren’t really into hiking but you do enjoy a nice walk on the mountain, I’d recommend you to drive from Litochoro to the Monastery of Agios Dionisios. There’s a parking lot in front of the monastery. It is safe, as there’s also a souvenirs shop nearby, so there will be some people around for the most part of the day.
The Agios Dionisios Monastery is well-worth visiting. Consider at least 30 minutes for that, as you’ll want to take lots of photos.
Next, you can take the E4 path to get to the Holy Cave of Agios Dionisios. As far as I remember, we walked for about 30-40 minutes from the church to the cave. The waterfalls along the path will make you want to spend some time there, watching the water, taking photos, and enjoying the cool air.
This can be a very nice day trip from the Olympic Riviera, should you want to trade the beach and the sea for the fresh mountain air for one day.
If you decide to walk the entire path to Prionia, you can take a bus or hitchhike to get back to Litochoro. Ensure that you check the bus timetable before you embark on this adventure, as you won’t be able to sleep in Prionia. If time allows and you aren’t already exhausted, you can hike the E4 trail from Prionia back to Litochoro.
Mount Olympus Climbing for More Advanced Hikers
If you want to climb above the forest area of Mount Olympus, you shouldn’t start your walk from Litochoro. You’ll take a bus or a cab to Prionia or to Gortsia and you’ll start your mountain hiking trip from one of these two points.
Prionia to Refuge A (Spilios Agapitos)
At 1,100 m elevation, 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.
Before you start climbing, you can have a coffee and a meal at the cafe-restaurant in Prionia. I warmly recommend the goat soup here.
Prionia has public toilets and a fresh water source. Take advantage of all these before hitting the trail again.
From Prionia, you can get to refuge A in about 3 hours. This section of the hike is extremely popular, so you’ll surely meet lots of other people along the way. The first part of path crosses a dense forest, interrupted by occasional clearings.
At about one hour from Prionia, just before the slope gets more difficult, there’s a clearing with a waterfall, and a wooden bridge crossing the creek. This is a spot of breathtaking beauty. It made me fall in love with Mount Olympus for good.
Getting to Refuge A, having a snack there and returning to Prionia the same day is a full day trip that doesn’t require athletic abilities. However, it requires good hiking shoes and adequate mountain equipment.
Gortsia to Petrostrouga Refuge
If you want to start from Gortsia, you’ll be able to leave your car in the small parking nearby the starting point of the trail. Gortsia is a about 1,100 m altitude. You’ll start from Litochoro, on the same road that leads to Prionia, but you’ll leave it earlier. Look for a wooden chalet and a narrow road on your right, at about 30 minutes driving distance from Litochoro. That’s where you’ll park your car.
The ascent to the Petrostrouga Refuge (2,000 m) takes about three hours and it passes through a lush forest. The descent would require about two hours. If you want to try this hike as a day trip from Litochoro, make sure you start early in the day, so that you can have some leisure time up there, at Petrostrouga.
I hiked only a small portion of this trail, as we were actually heading for Prionia, so we didn’t want to waste a lot of time exploring other options. As far as I’ve noticed, the Gortsia trails is less crowded than Prionia – in fact, I don’t remember seeing more than two or three hikers along the way.
There are mountain creeks with clear waters everywhere on the track. I’ve been on Mount Olympus in Greece three times, twice in June, and the water was freezing cold, and once in September, when the water was still cold but a bit more manageable. Cold or not, this can be a great refreshment for your tired feet, should you get there on a very hot day.
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. Chocked full of people wandering around in flip-flops and with their bellies in sight, Parala Katerini is not for the faint at heart. The small shops selling everything from fridge magnets to bathing suits rival the souks of Marrakesh.
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 too many years ago for the information I have to matter to you any longer. 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.
This is a very small resort by the sea, just where the road starts climbing toward Litochoro. There’s a camping site which has access to a beach. While it has good ratings on Booking.com, you need to be careful if you think about staying here. The bungalows look a bit run down and they don’t have toilets inside. Nonetheless, the people managing the place seem nice and helpful.
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 Time 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