Mount Olympus in Greece is known from the Greek mythology where it represents the residence of twelve Greek gods. The peak Stefani is even considered to be the throne of Zeus. Mount Olympus is much more than that, the landscape and surroundings put this elevation easily on the list of the most iconic peaks in the world. Let’s give you an idea how to climb this Greek mountain.
Arriving in Litochoro – Base camp – Preparation
Before ascending the mountain you will arrive in Litochoro, a small city on the bottom of Mt. Olympus. You can arrive easily by bus from Thessaloniki, your car or any ride going that way (if you are into hitchhiking). We arrived at the evening before the day we started our hike up the mountain, which turned out to be a good choice. That way we could prepare ourselves with supplies (there is a small shop to get some food) and start rested early in the next morning.
We stayed at an Airbnb host in the middle of the town for about 25EUR for two guests, you can also check out the Summit to Zero hostel which is around 8km from the base town, accessible with public transportation.
I highly suggest that you are well rested and bring food and water with you, good hiking shoes should also be considered. Hiking sticks are not a must, but it feels good to have some support when climbing up the mountain, any suitable piece of wood you can find on your way is also sufficient. Please bring some warm clothes with you, even in mid-summer it gets quite cold above 2000m.
Equipped with a map, some food, water and warm clothes we started our hike next morning around 8am. It is good to know that there is no public transportation that can bring you to the beginning of the trail, you can take a taxi for 25EUR or hitchhike. The track starts 9 or 12km from Litochoro, direction Gortsia and Prionia.
To get to the beginning of the trail we hitchhiked, most of the people start climbing up Mount Olympus around 9am therefore there was not much traffic going the way towards the mountain. If you plan to do so as well, get yourself a sign and (coming from the roundabout) at the Litochoro police station turn left, cross the bridge and walk around 300m and turn left again, that’s the way that leads to Prionia and Gortsia.
What trail to take?
Trail 2 starting from Gortsia is much less popular, therefore you will not meet many tourists, the nature is also more vivid, landscape changes and there is a good part leading you only through the woods.
Trail 1 is the main route up to Olympus, in Prionia you can refill your water bottles and start the hike. This trail is quite used during the peak season and full of hikers. (quite crowded)
We decided to take the trail 2 up the mountain and trail 1 on the way back. Luckily the people who took us to Gortsia were local firemen with years of experience on the mountain. Since our goal for the day was to reach Refuge camp B (Apostolides) we build a group and hiked up together.
The trail leads you through the woods to the first Refuge D (Petrostrouga), this is a small Refuge good to have some food and tea, rest a little and continue the hike.
The landscape is changing and we are out of the woods, the soil is changing into rocks and we are on our way to the Plateau of Muses.
Upon arrival at Plateau of Muses you can see two Refuge camps, C – Christos Kakkalos a small cozy Refuge and B – Apostolides, the highest Refuge on the mountain with a common room to socialize and ice cold showers if you are brave enough.
As in this Refuge dogs are not allowed to enter, so please consider this. Some guests pitched a tent and slept with the dog outside. I recommend to book the accommodation in advance to make sure they have a bed for you.
The location of Refuge Apostolides is a good spot to start ascending Mount Olympus, which consist of several peaks. Right next to the Apostolides Refuge you can see the breathtaking Stefani, followed by Mytikas, Skala and Skolio.
Ascending Mount Olympus
First be aware of the weather conditions and don’t underestimate the difficulty of the hike. In case of rain in the night, to climb up to the highest peak Mytikas might be very dangerous and not recommended, according to the local fireman. Depending on the route you choose, at some parts wearing a helmet is a good choice, you can borrow these in the Refuge camps.
In case you start from Refuge Apostolides, you can take a shortcut up to Mytikas that goes literally steep up to the summit, it is shorter but as an inexperienced hiker I would not do it alone. You can also take a loop hike as seen on the map and reaching the peak of Skala first and then up to Mytikas. Please don’t underestimate your capabilities and experience, there are few spots where you need to use your hands to climb up the mountain so be aware of that.
How much time do I need to climb Mount Olympus?
As for inexperienced hikers the trail 2 to the Refuge camp Apostolides took us 7:30h with 1h break. From here you need another 3h to Mytikas. The trail 1 is supposed to be faster, approximately 4-5h to the Refuge camp Apostolides or around 7-8h to Mytikas.
Experienced hikers can make it to the summit in around 5h. Litochoro to Prionia takes 4-5h hiking time.
We spent two days on the mountain, with the arrival combined we needed 3 days. To make it up and down in one day is quite a challenge and it would be a pity not to spend more time in that breathtaking environment.
In all of the Refuge camps you can buy warm meals for about 7 – 8 EUR (bowl of spaghetti bolognese) 1 EUR for a chocolate bar and 2 EUR for beverages. Accommodation is about 12 EUR for a bed in a shared room in one of the Refuge or you can pitch a tent for free.
Special Gear requirements
No special climbing gear is needed, solid hiking shoes are recommended (running shoes are not that great), take enough water, food (sandwich or snacks), warm clothes (it’s around 0-10 degrees on the top), a map is a must. Also take some small first aid kit, you will never know what you can use it for, I cut myself on the razor sharp stones and got bitten by some insects that resulted in a swollen ankle.
To climb Mount Olympus is one of the best activities you can do on the mainland of Greece, absolutely breathtaking landscape and a great way to connect with the nature. It’s doable for everyone who loves outdoors and is comfortable hiking for a longer time.
Enjoy the hike and be safe!