About mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is the tallest mountain in Greece with its peak Mytikas, being 2,918 meters above sea level. The most fascinating aspect of this mountain are the old tales our grandparents would tell us about the 12 Greek Gods that lived there. Anyone that is familiar with Greek mythology knows that Mt Olympus is the place where ancient gods lived and spent their days.
In 1932 the Greek government acknowledged the beauty of the mountain and proclaimed it a National Park. Soon after, the UNESCO named Olympus “a Biosphere Reserve” and listed it as one of the most important bird gatherings in Europe. Mount Olympus is also about an hour’s drive away from Thessaloniki. Even though the foot of the mountain can be explored by a car, we recommend hiking up the mountain for a more memorable experience.
What to do on Mt Olympus
We recommend hiking as the best way to truly explore and experience the mountain. If you are in decent shape and have an adventurous spirit than you can tackle the trail that starts from Litochoro and goes all the way up to Golana. An astonishing view of Mount Olympus will be waiting for you at the top. While hiking up, you will be exposed to some incredible sights like the canyon of the river, Enipeas. In the mountains you might also come across a monastery where a single monk lives, and a hidden cave called St. Dionysios. The dense forest is preventing people to see far ahead, however, if you close your eyes and listen closely you can hear the sound of splashing water. Can you guess what it is? Well, that is the sound of fresh water springs and small waterfalls that are making quite a sight to see; one of the most famous are the Kastana fresh water springs. Can’t wait to check it all out? Click here (insert link) to find hiking tours through the mountain and explore the wonders!
For those of you that are in search of a bigger adrenaline rush, then mount Olympus has another activity that will leave you speechless: paragliding. You can fly across the sky and see all the jaw-dropping sights from another perspective. This is another experience that you will surely never forget.
Olympus National Park
Since 1981, the park was declared as a Biosphere Reserve and is under the protection of UNESCO. Rare and various birdlife and other animal species are all living harmoniously on the mountain due UNESCO’s protection. The National Park is also home to more than 1500 species of beautiful and rare vegetation. We cannot forget to mention the incredible sights the mountain has to offer, from deep caves and massive rocks to breathtaking gorges and ravines. It is no wonder that Mt. Olympus is considered a national treasure of Greece!
Insider’s tip: Make sure you bring your camera! The backdrop will make your pictures worth a thousand words!
Today, it is commonly known that ancient Greeks worshiped the 12 Gods that lived on Mt. Olympus. Because of its beauty, height and thick fog covering its peaks, Greeks coined this mysterious phenomenon as the home to their Gods. The main gathering point of all 12 Gods was in the Pantheon on the highest point of the mountain or otherwise, Mytikas, as we know it today. There are many legends about this mesmerizing mountain, most of them found in the famous work of ancient Greek historian Homer, Iliad. According to the legend, Zeus’ outline is reflected in the mountain on the Stefani peak, thus called “Throne of Zeus”.
One of the most popular villages to visit on the slopes of Mt Olympus is Old Pantaleimon. This charming mountainous village is widely recognized for its cobblestone streets and its old stone houses that are preserved to this day. It is located 700 meters above sea level and has an astonishing view of the Theirmakos Gulf. The village was named after the St. Panteleimon church, that is located right in the center of the town, surrounded by traditional taverns. Be sure to take some time to enjoy this old town and taste some local specialties.
By know we hope you are convinced to grab your hiking shoes and get out and hit the trails. We highly recommend taking a hiking tour that allows you to explore this beautiful mountain to the fullest. The hiking tour starts in the town of Litochoro where you will meet with an experienced tour guide.
The Litochoro town is located on the foot of the mountain and is 100 km away from Thessaloniki and only 22 km away from Katerini. Litochoro may seem small in size, but it is very charming and welcoming to travellers from around the world. The town is filled with small souvenirs shop, traditional Greek restaurants and coffee shops. This town is also the ending point of the annual Olympus marathon that is held every year right before the summer begins.
Dion is an important village in Greek history as it was believed to be a particular region belonging to Zeus’ territory. According to historians, Alexander the Great used to make sacrifices at this territory before he would go and conquer the East. Today, some of the statues and remains of the sanctuary are preserved in surprisingly good condition. Be sure to explore this legacy of Ancient Greeks when visiting Mt. Olympus. Pro tip - Try to visit the Dion town during the summer months when the annual Olympus Festival is held in the remains of the ancient amphitheatre.
The local traditional dishes in this region are strongly influenced by the Macedonian cuisine. Expect a lot of traditional meat and cheese pies! We recommend trying the traditional hilopites – homemade pasta cut in small squares, usually made with chicken or beef and tomato sauce. Another “must try” is the traditional Greek drink called tsipouro. It is a liquor made of pomace and it has around 40% alcohol content. The locals drink it before a meal accompanied with Greek meze.
Climb the mountain reigned by Greek gods and sit on Zeus’ throne with Greece at your feet!