Mount Olympus ranks among some of the most iconic mountains in the world. Unlike most other mountains that are popular tourist attractions, however, the Mount Olympus hike is known not only for its impressive peak at a height of 2,917 m, but also its great mythological importance.
It’s believed that the valleys in Mount Olympus were home to eleven of the twelve most popular Greek gods, while Zeus – the most supreme of these gods – had chosen the Stefani peak as his throne.
Mytikas, the highest point of the mountain, used to be the meeting place of all the gods when making important decisions regarding the mortals they ruled.
This mythological appeal draws over 10,000 tourists to the mountain. Despite its popularity, however, it can be hard to find a complete source of information for climbing the Mount Olympus.
But do not worry if you’re here right now, as this guide will tell you exactly what you need to do on your 2- or 3-day hiking tour to Olympus.
Note: Believe it or not, the Mount Olympus hike is not the highest-rated hike in Greece right now. That honor goes to the Fira to Oia hike in Santorini. Read our post on the Fira to Oia hike here.
Map of Mount Olympus Hike
You don’t really need a map to climb the Mount Olympus, but you will likely be able to get more out of the experience and explore the mountain better if you can find one.
It will also make the climb a little easier as you would have less trouble finding water sources and tracking your progress up the mountain.
Choosing the Starting Point on Mount Olympus
The town of Litochoro is the ideal starting point for the climb. You can reach this town easily as there are many buses from both Thessaloniki and Katerini.
There are also frequent buses that take you from the coastal area of the town to its center, from where you can start the climb.
You also have the option of driving further up the mountain, but you will have to take a taxi as buses only take you to the center of the town.
Trailheads of Mount Olympus Hike
You need to go to the east side of the mountain and choose from the three different points from where you can start your climb.
One of them is the town of Litochoro, which allows you to hike up the valley. However, it’s not exactly hiking up, but rather hiking up and down a couple times before finally hiking up until you reach the Prionia trailhead. It may take you around 4 hours to get there, and about 11 hours in total to reach the peak part of the mountain.
The second point is the Gortsia trailhead, and it takes about seven hours from the trailhead to the top. There is no water source at the Gortsia trailhead though.
Finally, you also have the option to start your climb directly from the Prionia trailhead. It’s the most popular trailhead, though a large part of the crowd is there just for exploring the nearby area and not for climbing the mountain.
However, this trailhead is also popular for the amazing views you get when climbing up from there, and also the fact that it offers the most amount of protection from the sun in the form of the many trees along the way.
The Four Mount Olympus Refuges
As far as a place for sleeping is concerned, you have four refuges to choose from. Each have their own advantages, so you need to consider your preferences and convenience to choose the one that fits the bill the best for you.
The most popular refuge is Refuge Agapitos, or Refuge A. It’s located about 4 hours from the Prionia trailhead and allows you to reach the Mytikas summit in about two hours.
It’s cheap and houses 150 people, but you need to book well ahead of time if you’re visiting in the summer.
On a side note, these refuges are usually referred to as refuge A, B, C and D, as they have long Greek names not easy to remember.
So coming to the Refuge B and C, they are more conveniently located for many tourists as you can reach the Mytikas summit in just 45 to 90 minutes depending on the route you choose.
However, they are both about 5 hours from the Gortsia trailhead. They are just within about 15 minutes from each other though, so you can quickly get to the other if the one you reach first is fully booked.
Refuge D isn’t an ideal choice if you want to visit the Mytikas summit, but a perfect option if you’re just there for enjoying some mild hiking.
Picking Your Trail
Now that we have covered the three trailheads and the three refuges (for summiting Mytikas), let us get to the three different trails to reach Mytikas.
Prionia trailhead and Refuge A
This is the most popular trail that involves starting from the Prionia trailhead or the Litochoro town and reaching the Refuge A on day 1.
Then start your hike to the top early in the morning on day 2, and finally hike right down to where you began from on day 1.
This is the simplest route you can take, although you should keep in mind that the distance between Refuge A and Mytikas is the longest among the three trails. Unless you start very early, you will reach the summit too late for a clear view of the world below you due to the obscuring clouds.
Gortsia trailhead and Refuge B or C (same route when hiking back down)
You start from the Gortsia trailhead and reach either of the two refuges in the Plateau of Muses on day 1. On day 2, you hike up to the summit and then go all the way back down to the Gortsia trailhead.
The advantage of choosing this trailhead is the short distance between the refuges and the summit and the transportation option available at the trailhead.
Gortsia trailhead and Refuge B or C (different route when hiking back down)
As we mention above, you would take the same routes we discussed above until reaching the summit during your Mount Olympus hike. However, when hiking back down, you can choose the route that takes you to the Prionia trailhead through Refuge A.
This would allow you to see the other part of the mountain too, and also offer plenty of transportation options from Prionia.
Finally, there’s also the option of exploring some of the many other routes if you’re fine with making it a 3-day hike.
Summitting Mytikas on the Mount Olympus Hike
I’m sure you can do with some quick information regarding summitting Mytikas too. Now, there are actually more than a couple peaks at Olympus, but the Mytikas, Skolio and Stefani are the most famous.
Mytikas is the highest point and the hardest to climb, and many casual hikers choose to not visit it. Most of them go for the Skolio instead, the easiest to climb among the three.
The Stefani is a middle option, but it can still be challenging for some casual hikers.
Last but not the least, do not get crazy or too adventurous once you’re “up there.” Be very careful if you’re summiting the Mytikas, and do not try to go faster than your body can handle.
This is especially because you will need to use your hands to climb to the peak of the Mytikas. A fall from there may very well mean death!
Do you have any questions we didn’t answer in the post about the Mount Olympus hike? Feel free to ask in the comments below.