Mt Olympus is the grandest of the Greek mountains. As the highest mountain in Greece, Mt Olympus has a colossal cultural significance. According to Greek mythology, it was the homeland of the Gods. And the Stefani peak was considered the Throne of Zeus. Stefani, however, is not the highest peak of Mt Olympus. Mytikas is the tallest summit in Greece, instead.
Coming from the Netherlands, hiking Mount Olympus Greece is one of my favorite hiking adventures. Sure, Mytikas is elusive to reach. But once on the top, you can’t stop marveling at the iconic Greek skyline and the dramatic views that extend over sea and land. Let’s explore the best trailheads of the legendary mountain, then!
How high is Mount Olympus
As one of the highest mountains in Greece, Mt Olympus stands proud at 2,917 meters. It features 46 peaks that exceed over 2,000 meters, too.
The highest peaks are Mytikas (2,917m), followed by Skolio (2,911m) and Stefani or Zeus’s Throne (2,909m). These neighboring peaks form a rock U-shaped horseshoe overlooking the glacier Megala Kazania valley. On the north and south of Mytikas, there are two additional peaks, Agios Antonios and Profitis Ilias. Both of them are about 2,800m. Southeast of Agios Antonios, you may find the high peaks of Pagos, Metamorphosis, Fragou Aloni, and Kalogeros at an altitude of approximately 2,500m. West of Agios Antonios, there’s a ridge formed by the Kitros and Flambrouro peaks (both 2,500m).
Mt Olympus, though, has ravines, as well. The most renowned chasm is the Enipeas River valley. It begins from 2,500m and extends to Littochoro, a town on the outskirts of Mt Olympus. At an elevation of about 1,000m, in the middle of this valley, there’s the Prionia Spring. That’s the largest spring of Mt Olympus.
On the northern side of the mountain, there are two ravines. These are the Xerolaki and the Papa Rema. On the western side, the main ravine is the Stalagmatia. It ends up just a bit south of Kokkinoplos village. The Skandaliara and Malta gorges form the eastern side of Mt Olympus.
When is the best time to go hiking Mount Olympus in Greece?
The best season for hiking Mt Olympus is from June to the end of September. Visiting this Greek mountain range in summer is really great, as the microclimate keeps the searing heat away, resulting in a pleasant hiking experience. That said, avoid going to Mt Olympus in Spring because there are constant thunderstorms, with trees falling by lightning. Plus, floods are a common problem, too.
What’s the weather like on Mount Olympus
Being so close to the sea and with such a high elevation, Mt Olympus has unique weather conditions. In the summer, clouds are common, as the moisture rises from the sea to the East and the Elassona valley to the West to create above the summits afternoon thunderstorms, which are rare, though.
From May to June, also known as the early season, the atmosphere is still cold from the winter. As such, spring frosts and hail the size of cherries predominate the landscape. Also, due to the large temperature gradients and moisture availability between the mountain heights, thunderstorms dominate.
From mid-July to late August, there’s significant weather variation between the upper and lower mountain. Some may be swimming in the sea, while others might struggle against snow and hail. During Fall, the weather is stabilized and way more predictable as the summer storms recede. So, Fall seems ideal for Greece hiking. That said, staple weather is not necessarily good weather but a long period of the same climatic conditions. For instance, in October, there may be intense sunshine or heavy downpours for consecutive days!
Where to stay
Hiking Mount Olympus Greece is a multi-day excursion, so a place for passing the night is necessary. You can camp outside if you like, but considering the occasional thunderstorm, it might be safer to spend the night indoors. Fortunately, 9 refuges are operating on the mountaintop on an annual basis. On top of that, there are also 6 more mountain huts, the so-called necessity refuges. You may find them at crucial points along the major routes leading to the peaks.
Refuge A – Spilios Agapitos Refuge
The Spilios Agapitos Refuge is a property of the Hellenic Federation of Mountaineering & Climbing. Located in Balkoni and at an altitude of 2.060m, this mountain hut is the second-largest refuge in Greece. It accommodates 110 people and has a fully equipped kitchen, a restaurant, and restrooms. Additionally, it offers rescue services and has a heliport, too. You can find it open from the middle of May to the very end of October.
Giosos Apostolidis Refuge
Located between the Profitis Ilias and Tumba peaks, this refuge is at an altitude of about 2.700m. It belongs to the Hellenic Hiking Association of Thessaloniki, has a capacity of 80 people, and operates from the beginning of June to late October. Climbers wishing to visit it when hiking in Greece in different months have to consult with the operators. During the winter, the antechamber is constantly open, as well, in case of a necessity refuge. Also, this shelter has a fully furnished kitchen, bathrooms, and a restaurant.
Christos Kakkalos Refuge
Located near the Mouson Plateau, at an altitude of almost 2.700m, this refuge took its name from Christos Kakkalos, the first person who reached Mytikas in 1913. Kakkalos managed to lead the campaign of the Swiss alpinists and photographers Frédéric Boissonnas and Daniel Baud-Bovy.
At an altitude of 1.950m, the Petrostrouga Refuge is operated by the Hellenic Rescue Team and is spacious. It accommodates 90 people, surrounded by beautiful beach trees and bushes. It’s open year-round and makes a solid base for winter hikes. In summer, the refuge is transformed, with climbers having the opportunity to try climbing routes.
Refuge B – Vrysopoules Refuge
Just above Mavratza Gorge, on the southern side of Mt Olympus, and at an altitude of 1.800m, the Vrysopoules Refuge accommodates up to 25 people. In addition, this refuge is located within the Mountain Ski Warfare Training Center (ΚΕΟΑΧ) of Hellenic Army Special Forces. So, before trying to pass the night there, you need to notify the military base.
Koromilia Leptokarya Refuge
A new refuge, the Koromilia Leptokarya Refuge has a capacity of 16 people and is settled at an altitude of 950m. You may access it through a dirt road. Regrettably, it’s not equipped with kitchen utensils.
Krevatia Vrontou Refuge
With a capacity of 20 people and a scenic view to the northern side of Mt Olympus, the Krevatia Vrontou Refuge is at an altitude of 950m. It makes a fantastic base for exploring the lower parts of Greek mountain range.
Refuge D – Stavros Refuge
At an altitude of 950m, this refuge is along the way from Litochoro to Prionia. It’s named after Dimitrios Boundolos, a renowned Greek alpinist killed in an avalanche at Annapurna South of Himalayan in 1985.
Refuge J – Koromilia Dion Refuge
This is a new refuge at an altitude of 1000m. You can access the mountain hut via the forest road Agios Konstantinos or the path that crosses Orlia Gorge. It also facilitates canyoning in Orlia Canyon for those interested.
Necessity Mountain Huts
These small refuges are for emergencies in winter. Some of them have beds, but, for the most part, they only offer shelter from hazardous weather. Remember that in case of need, they may accommodate more people than stated in the table below:
|Agios Antonios||Agios Antonios peak||2.817m||9 people|
|Ano Pigadi||Dirt road from P. Leptokarya||1.400m||18 people|
|Christakis||Route E4, Kokkinopilos-Skala||2.550m||10 people|
|Kostas Migkotsidis-Vrisopoules||After an intense ascent from Vrisopoules||2.450m||6 people|
|Livadaki-National Park Outpost||Simaioforos peak||2.100m||5 people|
|Salatoura-Pyrofylakio||Mavratza Gorge||1.850m||6 people|
Click here for a complete overview of all the refugees in the Mount Olympus National Park.
What to bring when hiking Mount Olympus Greece
Your hiking experience in the Greek mountains defines the gear you bring to Mt Olympus. That said, some staple items may ensure your safety and make your hike even more enjoyable, too. For instance, trekking poles, a helmet, and a camera might not be essential but are definitely great to bring along. Take a look at this list of equipment suggestions for ascent:
- Water & Energy Snacks
- First Aid
- Sun Protection
- Extra Clothes
- Trekking Poles
- Hiking Boots
- Sleeping Bag & Sleeping Pad
- Durable Pants & Windbreaker Jacket
- Bear Spray
- Pots & Pans
- Plates, Cutlery & Cups
- Gas Bottle
A tent is not necessary on Mt Olympus, as you’re going to sleep at the mountain refuges. And if you plan on hitting the mountain during the offseason, when the Greek countryside sleeps, an ice ax, climbing equipment, and crampons might be wise gear choices to face the harsh weather conditions. For more information about the best items to put in your backpack, check out the comprehensive backpacking checklist we prepared for you.
Precautions to take
Before hiking Mount Olympus Greece, you need to take some precautions. For example, there are lots of loose stones at the top. So, be extra careful as you move to avoid harming fellow hikers.
What’s more, if you don’t feel comfortable doing the hike alone, opt for a guided tour. Besides, according to the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS), the most widely used rating in the United States for defining the rock climbing difficulty of excursions, Mt Olympus is classified as a Class III climb. It’s not a challenging hike. That said, only the fact that Mt Olympus is rated harder than Mt Kilimanjaro means that climbing to the top of the mythical Greek mountain isn’t meant for completely inexperienced climbers. In every case, a good fitness level to do the ascent is mandatory.
Also, most of the peaks, such as Stefani and Mytikas, have courses packed with technical climbing. As expected, these contain extra obstacles than rock scrambling and require technical gear and good preparation beforehand.
Description of the two trails
It is possible to go hiking Mount Olympus Greece via two different trails. One is called the Prionia Trail and the other one is called the Gortsia trail. We’ll showcase them both below.
The Prionia Trail
- Location: 18.7 km (11 miles) from Litochoro
- Distance: 19.5 km (12 miles)
- Elevation gain: 1,911 m (6,269 ft)
- Difficulty: Hard
- Type: Out and back
As part of the E4 international hiking course, this trail takes you through enchanting wooden bridges, valleys, gorges, and even lakes. On top of that, this course offers incredible views, while surrounding trees act as a natural shield against the sun. The 3-hour trek gets extremely demanding before reaching Mytikas. As you head to the highest peak of Mt Olympus, loose gravel is everywhere, so proper hiking gear is essential. Atop the mountain, though, the dramatic views are the best reward for your efforts!
The Gortsia Trail
- Location: 24.0 km (15 miles) from Litochoro
- Distance: 24.0 km (15 miles)
- Elevation gain: 2,069 m (6,788 feet)
- Difficulty: Hard
- Type: Out and back
This trail is a little easier and less crowded than the Prionia Trail. And if you choose it to conquer Mytikas, keep in mind there’s intense sun exposure. As you begin the hike, there’s a thick forest that climbs through one steep and one circular branch. After you overcome these branches, you’ll arrive at two refuges. Once rested, continue to the Stefani peak, where scrambling leads you to the Mytikas summit via a couloir. At the top, take a moment to celebrate your achievement and feel like a Greek God!
Day hiking tours at Mount Olympus Greece
Sometimes, I don’t feel like climbing to the summit. But, at the same time, I want to keep exploring the stunning landscapes around the mountain of the Gods. Perhaps, you have felt the same way yourself. If so, no worries. Sign up for one of the following tours instead:
- Easy hiking tour: In this tour, take a journey in authentic Greek nature, as you explore the foothills of Mt Olympus. In addition, get ready for a refreshing swim in crystal-clear river waters and a light hike in the Agia Kori ravine. Finally, experience a wine tasting at a family-run winery!
- Enipeas Gorge Hike: This tour is ideal if you’re looking for a comfortable hike. On this day trip, you hike Enipeas Gorge and also visit the famed Agios Dionysios Monastery. As an outdoor enthusiast, you have the chance to swim in natural river pools, too!
- Day trip from Thessaloniki: If you’re into archaeology, this day trip from Thessaloniki, the second-largest city of Greece, is a pure treat! On this tour, you visit the archaeological site of Dion and admire the sanctuary of Zeus while, at the same time, get dramatic views of Mt Olympus from its foothills.
At this point, we reached the end of the hike! Let me thank you for reading this. If you’d like to add anything about hiking on hiking Mount Olympus Greece, please do so in the comments!
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