When you think of a good hiking companion, you may think of an adventurous friend or family member. Perhaps you are really brave and enjoy the serenity of solo hiking. But, have you ever considered hiking with royalty?
Hiking Mount Olympus is a hike enriched with the presence of ancient Greek gods and goddesses. It is a hike filled with rich history and elaborate stories of Zeus and Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, and many more.
Take in all the majestic beauty of this mountain but also be prepared for changing climates and rocky terrain. The gods definitely won’t make it easy for you! They are Greek gods, after all.
Greek mythology behind Mount Olympus
Hiking Mount Olympus is such a unique hike, not only because of its beauty and lush landscapes but also because of how closely it is tied to Ancient Greek history and mythology. This mountain range was home to the 12 principal deities in the Ancient Greek pantheon.
According to this history, the Greek gods created Mount Olympus after winning the battle between the Titans. Mount Olympus became home to Zeus and his sister, then turned wife, Hera (Greek mythology is infamous for its incest and infidelity) plus their 10 other family members: Ares, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Aphrodite, Poseidon, Demeter, and Hestia.
The gods and goddesses lived lavishly on Mount Olympus. The famous Greek poem, Iliad, depicts the mountain having a large palace and throne for Zeus, king of the gods. Each god and goddess had their own smaller peak and a throne made of jewels and gold. They assembled together on this mountain, socialized with food and wine, and looked down upon the humans below.
Where is Mt. Olympus, Greece Located?
Because Greek mythology is well-known worldwide, Mount Olympus attracts many hikers looking to take in its beauty and feel the presence of ancient greatness. The mountain is located near a small Greek village called Litochoro, around 90 kilometers, or about a one-hour drive south of Thessaloniki.
There are many ways to reach Mount Olympus from Thessaloniki, but some may require more planning and flexibility. It is very easy to catch the public bus from the Macedonia Intercity Bus Station in Thessaloniki to Litochoro. There is one quick transfer in Kateríni and then you will reach Litochoro within one and a half to two hours.
Hiking to Mount Olympus can begin with hiking or driving from the small village of Litochoro to Prionia Trailhead. This route takes you across bridges, lakes, waterfalls, and a monastery which is open to visitors from April to October.
After reaching Prionia Trailhead, you can begin the next leg of the hike along the E-4 Trail. This trail is clearly marked all the way up to the Spilios Agapitos Refuge camp. You can spend the night here, as it is a nice break for hikers and a great place for bonding. The facility has a cozy feel with a beautiful wood-burning fireplace in the dining hall. They even provide large warm blankets which feel heavenly during the colder months. Be sure to make a reservation beforehand on their booking page.
Rest and refuel at the camp and then continue to the summit, called Mytikas. On the way up you will also pass by the smaller peak, Skala. Both offer astounding views but be sure to watch your footing as the trail quickly turns to gravel and loose rocks. There are a few other trails you can take to reach Mytikas, but this route is by far the most popular among visitors. On a clear day, you can see as far as Albania and Bulgaria from the peak.
How high is Mount Olympus?
Mount Olympus officially stands at 2,917 meters, making it the highest mountain in Greece. Greek gods chose wisely. The hike or drive up to Prionia Trailhead is at 1,100 meters and once you reach Spilios Agapitos Refuge camp you are at 2,100 meters.
The final stretch to the peak is the shortest, but most challenging part of hiking Mount Olympus. The path zig-zags up until you reach the first peak of Skala at 2,866 meters. Be sure to take a well-deserved rest here before moving on to conquering Mytikas!
Some hikers leave their heavier bags at Skala before trekking up to the highest peak. If you decide to do this, be sure to take your valuables with you so you can enjoy the spectacular view from Mytikas and then snap a few pictures. Your memories from hiking Mount Olympus are definitely worth preserving.
How long does it take to hike Mount Olympus?
We advise taking two days when hiking Mount Olympus. This way you don’t have to feel rushed and can fully enjoy the majestic scenery. If you start the hike from Litochoro you can expect to reach the Prionia Trailhead in 5 hours, depending on your speed and ability. You can also drive up to Prionia and park your car there.
The 30-minute car ride ascends through the mountain on a tiny zig-zagging road. If you don’t have a car, you can also find a taxi in Litochoro, costing around 25 Euros. During the summer months, you can also find many people hitchhiking up to Prionia.
From then on, Prionia to Spilios Agapitos Refuge, along the E-4 trail, can take you around 3 hours. This is where you can finally rest and enjoy the evening with other like-minded hikers.
Another three hours can be estimated to reach the peak from Spilios Agapitos Refuge. On average, the total time can take around 11 hours. If you are really brave and decide to try it in one day, be sure to get a really early start. Otherwise, it is definitely advisable to spend the night at the camp and split up the hiking between two days.
Best Time to Hike Mount Olympus
Although hiking Mount Olympus is doable anytime during the year, it is better to hike during the summer months. You should encounter good weather between June and September. May and October can also be nice months to hike since they are typically less touristy. Although, be sure to dress accordingly, as you will probably encounter snow during these months at the different peaks.
It is important to remember to dress and pack appropriately no matter what time you decide to go to Mount Olympus. The gods are known to surprise hikers with scorching sun, heavy downpours, wind, and snow!
What to pack for Hiking Mount Olympus
Packing the right equipment is crucial for any hiker. What to pack also depends on your level and confidence in the hike. Overall, these are some essentials that every hiker should pack:
- Good hiking boots (but not brand new to avoid blisters)
- Layered clothing: shorts, trekking pants, shirts (this is super important as the temperature can change drastically as you climb)
- Non-cotton clothes (as absorbent material cotton can take a long time to dry if it rains and can leave you feeling cold. Or, in warmer weather cotton can absorb sweat and leave you feeling really hot)
- Backpack with plenty of water and high-energy snacks, like trail mix, granola bars, and fruit
- Raincoat that is also wind-resistant
- Reusable water bottle
- Fleece jacket
- Toiletries for overnight stays (small towel, hygiene items, Band-Aids)
While some also prefer a helmet and trekking poles they are not essential for hiking Mount Olympus.
After you pack your belongings, book your travel and accommodation, and map out the trail routes, then you are ready to begin the hike of a lifetime! Hiking Mount Olympus is truly something magical. Take in the spectacular views, lush nature, and diverse landscapes. Relish in the ancient Greek history of the gods and goddesses that resided there. And hopefully, Zeus doesn’t thwart any of your plans with heavy storms of thunder and lightning!