Mountain of the Gods – Getting to Mount Olympus

The scene was set, friends of ours Rhys and Sarah were getting married this summer. Anna had been invited to the ‘hen do’ which was a few nights in a cottage in North Wales. I decided that Rhys could go one better than that and suggested a few nights away somewhere a little exotic climbing some mountains! Traditional ‘stag do’s’ aren’t really his thing so he agreed and after some searching, the most convenient option seemed to be a Skyhook adventure to Greece. This was an ascent of Mount Olympus, the highest summit in Greece and the ‘Mountain of the Gods’.

En Route to Mount Olympus

With flights, parking, accommodation, insurance, the guided trip itself and all the other things you need for such a mini-adventure booked, we set off on Thursday. Rhys was driving, so I was dosed up with travel sickness tablets and wearing sea bands! We arrived at Stansted Airport in good time and were soon on a no-frills Ryanair flight to Thessaloniki where we stayed for the night in the Iris hotel near the airport. It was hot and sticky in Greece compared to the winter-like Spring we had left behind in the UK and the adventure had started. Needless to say I didn’t get any sleep, despite the air conditioned room.

Friday morning we were up for breakfast at the hotel and then it dawned on us just how big Thessaloniki was. As the second largest city in Greece with a population of around 1.1 million it was huge. A bus to the bus station would actually be several buses so we ordered a taxi and jumped in. The taxi ride would be over half an hour and then we were planning to catch a couple of buses in order to head south to Litochoro. It was going to be a long, hot journey towards Mount Olympus.

Partway through the drive to the bus station the taxi driver offered to take us all the way to Litochoro. It was going to cost €25 to get to the bus station plus at least €15 each for the buses which would be €55 in total. The taxi driver said it would usually cost €130 but would drive us all the way to Litochoro for €100. That would mean an extra €20-€25 each. Sitting in a comfortable air-conditioned car and making good time seemed preferable to several hot sticky buses, so we think it was money well spent and we were soon in Litochoro with time to spare. The taxi driver even pulled over to let us take some photos of Mount Olympus when it first emerged from the haze.

Mount Olympus in the Distance
Mount Olympus in the Distance

Litochoro – Fountains and Mountains

The town of Litochoro sits at an elevation of 293m in the foothills of the Olympus National Park. It’s a pretty little tourist town with around 7,000 inhabitants.


When we arrived it was north of 30ºC and very sunny so we were seeking shade as we now had some time to kill. First stop was the 55 Peaks outdoor shop which was well stocked with lots of tempting things. I resisted the temptation and simply hired a pair of hiking poles. Rhys almost resisted too but spent a Euro or so on a little rubber wrist band! We bought some fridge magnets from one of the many souvenir shops and took some photos of the various fountains and views to Mount Olympus.

We then headed to a lovely coffee shop with loads of even more tempting cakes and patisserie. These we didn’t manage to resist and we were soon sat in the shade with coffees and sweet treats! These were followed by a delicious and fairly large ice cream.

Having got here early we then wandered around the town for a while, stopping in the shade of some pine trees in some parkland area where we saw a number of Hoopoes. Rhys was in his element, twitching from behind the trees. The park itself was nice to stroll around too, and we also wandered down to a dry river bed at the bottom of town.

Come 2pm we wandered to the Maritime Museum where we met up with Akis (our Guide) and the 13 other people who would be our group for the next few days. I won’t go through everyone but as usual with these things there was an eclectic mix of people all keen to get to the top of Mount Olympus. The group was a little bigger than we expected. We were given climbing harnesses and helmets and then all jumped into taxi’s for a very windy, twisty half hour drive to the trail head at Prionia.

There was nothing here, just a car park and a café at around 1,000m in elevation. From here we would start our ascent of Mount Olympus. The plan was to hike to a mountain refuge today, and spend the night there. Hike and scramble to the summit on Saturday and descend back to the mountain refuge for another night. And then descend back to here on Sunday before a long journey home. This blog post is already quite long so you’ll have to wait for the next instalment to see how we got on.

1 Response

  1. Thursday, June 20th, 2024

    […] a long day travelling from the UK to Thessaloniki and then to Litochoro and finally Prionia, Rhys and I were ready to start our ascent […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Avatar forComment Author

Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.