Olympus, imposing in all its majesty, and home to the twelve Gods of ancient times, looms high above Litohoro and Summit Zero. It is the highest mountain in Greece, at 2918m, and was declared as a national park in 1938 owing to the wide array of flora and fauna, boasting many rare endemic species. Trees include vines, olives, oaks, chestnuts, beech, firs and mountainous conifers. The landscape and natural beauty is forever changing depending on altitude, position, and the time of year you choose to visit.
Olympus attracts nature lovers, hikers and climbers from all over the world. Mytikas, the highest peak, was finally conquered in 1913 by two Swiss climbers and a local hunter, Christos Kakalos, as their guide. There are two main ascents, as well as other ascents and interesting walks in and around the mountain. Summit Zero, on the shade of Olympus, is the ideal location from which to start and end your treks and hikes, and we can provide you with all the help and advice you need, such as guiding assistance and booking your stay at the mountain refuges.
The First Ascent
This route passes through Prionia which you can either walk or drive to from Litohoro. It is a beautiful walk to Prionia (1100m),starting from the end of Litochoro (Myli), through the Enipea canyon, which will add an average of five hours to your journey. En route you’ll come to Agios Dionysios Monastery, founded in the sixteenth century by a monk who lived in a nearby cave (a short trek away) as a hermit. During the Ottoman occupation the monastery became a refuge and hideout for the Olympus freedom fighters, before being destroyed by the Turks in 1928, then once again it was a sanctuary for the Greek Resistance in the Second World War, before the Germans destroyed it again. However, what remains of the monastery (which is undergoing restoration works) is well worth a visit, as is the new monastery, and its exhibits of relics and icons, which is on the main road that you drive on up to Prionia. Once there, there is a small wooden cabin serving food and refreshments, and a natural spring to fill up with water before embarking on the next stage of your journey to reach the Spilios Agapitos Refuge (Refuge A). This takes approximately three hours. It is a newly renovated refuge, open from May to October, offering food, drink and shelter for up to about hundred people. From there you can continue to reach the highest peak, Mytikas, in about two and a half hours. As well as ascending to the peak there are other popular routes to the other peaks and the Plateau of the Muses. One can also continue along the international E4 path towards the Thessaly side of the mountain, where you’ll pass the peaks of Skala and Skolio, before finally reaching the village of Kokkinopilos.
The Second Ascent
With Litohoro as a starting point, again you take the road towards Prionia, and about midway there you reach a refuge on the roadside called Stavros which provides food and lodging and a place to fill your canteens. Continuing along the road you’ll eventually come to a path off to your right which starts the climb through the forest, leading to Barba and then Strango, Shortly before arriving at Strango there is a path which branches to the left, and a further ten minute walk along this path takes you to the cave where a hermit painter once lived, aptly named the Asylum of the Muses. Back on the path, you’ll reach a place called Petrostrouga, at 2000m, after approximatley two and a half to three hours of walking from Strango. From there you continue to the Plateau of the Muses, and then onto the Christos Kakkalos Refuge (Refuge C), which is a similar distance again. A further short hike, of only about fifteen minutes, also takes you to the Yiosos Apostolidis Refuge (Refuge B). Both refuges are open all summer, offering food and shelter for about one hundred people between them, and are less than thirty minutes to the peaks of Mytikas, Stefani, Profitis Ilias and Toumba.
Olympus and its accessibility means that there is something for everyone. Families and children, as well as serious climbers and the annual marathon runners (who ascend and descend the mountain in record breaking times), can all enjoy the bountiful gifts of nature it offers. The mountain is diverse and varied, with captivating scenery including lagoons, ravines, slopes and peaks, the open sea in the distance, and the enchanting ten kilometre Enipea river and gorge. Part of the E4 international mountaineers’ path, which runs from the Pyrennes in Spain all the way to Crete, it ranks among the most stunning and spectacular mountainous points in all of Europe. Steeped in history and greek mythology, the mountain never fails to attract hoardes of tourists to enjoy its natural beauty year after year.