Home of the Gods!
- The gorge of Enipeas River
- Climbing - the routes
- Refuges of Olympus
- Shelters in case of emergency
Magnificent and imposing, with countless natural beauties and incomparable landscapes, Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece (2,917 m), is always an attraction for nature lovers, hikers and climbers. It stretches along the Pieria prefecture, in the south of Western Macedonia, close to the boundaries with Thessaly.
At the highest peak the imagination of the ancient Greeks placed the home of the twelve gods of antiquity and lower, in the ravines and forests, the residence of the Muses who protected the arts. Its name, according to various versions of linguists, means sky, high mount, brilliant, highest strength and more.
Since 1938 it is declared as a National Park for the geological formations, as well as the fauna and flora, with many rare species, while in 1981 it was declared by UNESCO as protected section of the global biosphere. Also, since 1985 is protected as an archaeological and historical site.
Mount Olympus is an extensive but compact massif and has several peaks over 2,000 meters. The highest peaks are Mytikas at 2,917 meters, Stefani at 2,909 meters, Skolio at 2,911 meters, Aghios Antonios at 2.817 m, Prophet Elijah at 2,803 m and Kalogeros at 2701 m.
Depending on the flora is distinguished in three zones.
The first zone starts from the foot and reaches 800 meters. There are crops, mainly vineyards, olive and fruit trees and many broadleaf evergreen trees – oaks, chestnut trees and arbutuses.
The second zone starts at 800 and ends at 1,800 m. It is a forest area with beech trees, firs and conifers.
The third zone stretches from the 1800m and above. It has little grassy vegetation, but with rare species, of which 23 are found only on Olympus.
At the foot of Mount Olympus at an altitude of 300 meters, is located Litochoro, the second most populated municipality of Pieria, after the capital city of Katerini, with 7,000 inhabitants. It is a tourist resort all year round as it combines mountain and sea, located near the coast of Pieria.
Litochoro is the starting point for ascending to Olympus, while at a short distance are the beaches Stathmos (Station), Variko, Plaka and Gritsa. Ten kilometers further north is the ancient Dion , sacred town of the Macedonians, and south the castle of Platamonas.
Access by road and rail is easy, since the city is located 5 km from the Athens – Thessaloniki highway. The distance from Katerini is 24 km, from Larissa 65 km and from Thessaloniki 92 km.
From the main square an uphill street leads to the shopping center – the picturesque bazaar – where narrow streets begin and bring us to the old town of Litochoro, which has been declared a preserved traditional settlement.
The old town reminds the medieval period with squares, streets and houses, characteristic examples of the Macedonian architecture – stone houses, one or two storey with arched doorways, reception rooms with many windows and wooden gates protected by roofs.
From Litohoro we can start walks in the surrounding natural beauty. Near is the forest of Aghios Ioannis (Saint John), a recreation area with fir trees, a hostel and a restaurant. We can get there after half an hour walk or by car.
Another beautiful location is Myli (mills) with old watermills, trees, streams and a small tavern. We go there starting from the square and having on our right side the river Enipeas and its enchanting valley. Departing from Myli and following the water we cross the gorge of Enipea and reach the old historic monastery of Aghios Dionysius.
Near Litochoro is the gorge of the river Enipeas, one of the most beautiful natural areas of Greece.
The gorge has a length of 10 km. Starting from the well known location Prionia, where are the sources of the river, it passes north of Litochoro and ends at the sea. In the background is formed the valley of Enipeas, with beautiful landscapes, as the waters of the river reach in ponds and then, falling from the rocks, are lost in sinkholes.
Through the gorge runs the international E4 hiking trail. After Litohoro, the path elsewhere follows the flow of Enipeas or runs through dense forests, reaching after 3,5 hours of hiking the old monastery of Aghios Dionysius (St. Denis) at an altitude of 850 meters and then to Prionia. The road to the monastery, for those who prefer the car begins 2 km before the location of Prionia.
Olympus attracts with its natural beauty all year round nature lovers and hikers, but also a constant challenge for climbers.
The highest peak, Mytikas, at 2,917 m, was conquered on August 2, 1913 by two Swiss, Frederic Boissonas, photographer and publisher, and Daniel Baud-Bovy, writer and art critic. The mountain guide was the hunter, Christos Kakkalos from Litochoro, who later became the first official guide of Olympus.
Olympus is crossed by many trails. There are several routes for hikers and climbers; most interesting for its natural beauty and variety of the landscape is the ascent from the east side, with Litochoro as starting point. Those interested can request information from the Greek Mountaineering Association, the Association of Greek Mountaineers of Litochoro and the Municipal Information Office.
Two are the main routes; there is also a third one but more difficult.
Initial destination is the site Prionia, a beautiful location with a small waterfall, where we go by car or on foot. There is space for car parking and a small cafeteria-restaurant. The distance from Litochoro is 18 km. In the middle of the distance, in Stavros (945 m), is the refuge “Dimitrios Boundolas”. Two kilometers before Prionia, a road to the left leads to the old monastery of Aghios Dionysius.
If you prefer to go hiking to Prionia, you take from Litochoro the international E4 hiking trail, which crosses the gorge of Enipeas River, passes by the monastery and ends at Prionia.
In Prionia is the entrance of the National Park of Olympus. We take water and we follow the E4 path that climbs, marked with signs and red marks. After marching two and a half hours through dense forests, we arrive in the refuge “Spilios Agapitos” (2,100 m).
From the refuge we follow the path, always with red marks, we pass the site Skala and at about two and a half hours we are on Mytikas, the highest peak of Olympus.
From the same refuge we can follow paths to the Plateau of the Muses or other peaks, but also to Mytikas passing by the site Luki; the ascent from Luki needs special attention.
From the same refuge we can also continue following the E4 path, to pass by the peaks Skala and Skolio, as well by the refuge in Vryssopoules, and get to the village Kokkinopilos on the mountain side toward Thessaly.
The first part of the second path is the same road from Litochoro to Stavros; here we can take water. Continuing, after 3 km, we reach the position Gortsia or Diastavrossi (crossing). To the right begins a path that climbs through woods of beech and fir trees, leading to the sites Barba (1,450 m) and Strango (1,910 m), where we can find water.
Shortly before Strango, a path to the left leads in ten minutes in the cave where he the painter Basil Ithakissios lived for long periods; the Muses' Asylum, as he named it.
From Strago the path leads, after marching two and a half hours in the location Petrostrouga (2,000m), and then at the peak Skourta (2,485 m). Continuing, we pass by the locations Laimos (Neck), Kangelia and Perasma (Pass) and we enter the Plateau of the Muses. After a wonderful route of three and a half hours in total, we reach the refuge “Christos Kakkalos” (2,650 m) and then to the refuge “Yossos Apostolidis” ( 2,760 m).
From these refuges we need twenty minutes to reach the peak Prophet Elias and Tuba, and one hour to reach the peak Stefani or the peak Mytikas from Luki.
The third route also starts from Litochoro. It is a great route, passing by the locations Golna, Tsouknida, Livadaki, where is a small emergency shelter, and Kalogeros. It is advisable to have the assistance of a local mountain guide.
On Olympus there are nine refuges, while at appropriate points of the principal routes to the top there are six small buildings for emergency situations offering shelter during the winter.
The nine refuges
Location: Koromilies of Leptokarya, access by a dirt road
Capacity: 16 persons / Tel Municipality of East Olympus 23520 31 242.
Location: Krevatia (beds) of Vrontous
Capacity: 20 persons.
Function: all weekends / Tel Municipality of Dion-Olympus 23513 51000 – Management Body of the National Park of Olympus 23520 83000.
View to the north side and the steep slopes of Olympus / starting point for hiking and mountain bike and sport climbing routes.
Location: Stavros (Cross); on the road from Litochoro to Prionia
Capacity: 30 persons (equipped kitchen and restaurant).
Function: summer: daily / rest of the year: holidays and weekends / Tel 23520 84100.
The surrounding area is a take-off area for a hover-fly.
Location: Koromilia of Dion
Capacity: 17 persons, beds in three rooms (4-5-9).
Possibility to install tents around the refuge / Access by forest road from Constantinos and the path of the stream Orlia / path to Petrostrouga and the Plateau of the Muses.
Location: above the ravine Mavratza; south side of Olympus
Capacity: 25 persons (no blankets) / Tel 24930 62163/24930 23467.
Petrostrouga (Greek Rescue Team)
Location: in a forest of beech trees
Capacity: 90 persons.
Function: all year round / Tel 2310 310 649.
Climbing routes on a nearby rock are used in summer.
“Spilios Agapitos” (the second largest refuge in Greece – Greek Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing)
Location: Balkoni (Balcony)
Capacity: 110 persons (equipped kitchen, restaurant).
Function: mid May - late October / Tel 23520 81800 - 23520 81 839.
Rescue services / helipad.
“Christos Kakkalos” (Greek Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing)
Location: Plateau of the Muses, on the eastern edge
Capacity: 23 persons.
Function: end of May – end of October.
“Yossos Apostolides” (Greek Mountaineering Club of Thessaloniki)
Location: at the narrow passage between the peaks Tuba and Prophet Elias
Capacity: 80 persons (equipped kitchen, restaurant).
Function: June - early October / rest of the year: after consultation / Tel 23510 82840 / Thessaloniki 2310 224 710.
In winter the front room is always open as an emergency shelter.
Ano Pegadi (Upper Well)
Altitude: 1,417 m
Capacity: 18 beds (kitchen, fireplace, wood stove).
Access by car from St. John of Litochoro (19.5 km, dirt road) and from the Old Leptokarya (22.5 km, dirt road)
Salatoura (Greek Rescue Team)
Altitude: 1,850 m.
Location: Salatoura, above the ravine Mavratza
Capacity: 6 persons (kitchen, water, heating, telephone) / old fire lookout station.
Altitude: 2,100 m
Location: Livadaki, under the peak Semaeophoros (2,382 m)
Capacity: 5 persons (fireplace) / consultation with the Mountaineering Association of Litochoro.
Altitude: 2,450 m
Capacity: 9 beds.
Altitude: 2,550 m
Location: Megali (Big) Gourna; on the route Kokkinospilos-Skala (E4 path)
Capacity: 10 persons
Altitude: 2,817 m.
Location: at the top Saint Anthony
An old science center and meteorological station belonging to the University of Thessaloniki / equipped with essential items (Greek Rescue Team)
Capacity: 12 persons