At 2918 feet, Mount Olympus isn’t the tallest mountain in Europe, but it is one that is so steeped in history it must be worth a visit at least once.
In Greek mythology, ‘Olympus’ was the name of the home of the Twelve Olympian gods of the ancient Greek world. The king of those gods was Zeus and a trip to Olympus would be perfectly complemented by a visit to the Lassithi Plateau, the birthplace of the Greek God of the Sky.
Greek Mythology has become incredibly popular in recent years, making a trip to Mount Olympus more than just a climb of a mountain. It’s long be the subject of films, with Helen of Troy starting things off in 1924 and Clash of the Titans focusing on the story of Zeus’ son in 2010.
Stephen Fry’s excellent set of books has further brought Greek Mythology into the public eye, as did the 2018 Ubisoft game Assassin’s Creed Odyssey which featured many locations and characters from the stories. There is also a wide range of titles on Foxy Games based around the mountain including Rulers of Olympus and Gods of Olympus. It’s never been easier to immerse yourself in the culture, but the very best way to do it is visit the location yourself.
What can one expect from Mount Olympus in the 21st century? As well as rock climbing and skiing, it is a mecca for walkers with an extensive network of trails and paths. In total there are over 200km of trails that include classic routes to the highest peak as well as easier trails that meander through the lower forest area.
The Prionia Trail is popular and is part of the E4 international hiking path which extends from Portugal to Cyprus. The Mount Olympus section of the trail starts in Litochoro and takes you through the Enipea Canyon past lakes and through valleys. It can get crowded though, so if you’re after a less crowded trail it might be worth looking elsewhere.
It is a challenging 11-hour hike to the summit, with the first leg requiring an 8-hour trek to reach the Spilios Agapitos Refuge. You can get rest for the night there, with the building prepared for 110 sleeping guests. The next day there’s a three-hour climb for experienced hikers to the top from the south. Over the course of the whole hike, this trail covers 20 kilometres and clocks in at well over 11 hours from start to summit.
The Gortsia Trail is likely to have fewer hikers on it and isn’t such a challenging climb. It begins in woodland before presenting a decision for hikers; a steep climb or a longer meandering one. Both take you to Skourta at 2,475 metres where you continue through to the Stefani peak.
The pay off at the top of Olympus is stunning. The Litochoro trail will reward you with views as far as Bulgaria and Albania, whilst the Gortsia trail gives you views across Greece and right out to the sea.