Dave’s tips for climbing Mount Olympus:
- Fly into Thessaloniki. Relax for a night and drink some (not too much) Ouzo.
- The next morning, take a bus to the main bus transfer station in Thessaloniki.
- At the transfer station, take the bus to Litochoro – the town at the base of Mount Olympus.
- The bus to Litochoro goes to another town first (you may have to transfer, or your bus may go directly like ours did).
- In Litochoro, take a taxi to the Prionia parking lot (25 euro each way!) and get the driver’s number for the way back in case you can’t hitch a ride down after the hike.
- From Prionia (1100m), hike up trail E4 to the hut called Refuge A (2100m), Spilios Agapitos. The hike takes about 2 ½ to 3 hours, 6.4km long gaining 1000m with very little downhill.
- Refuge A is a great hut with food, (bottled) water, and blankets. You will want a sleeping bag or camping sheet. There are no showers or potable running water, but you can buy bottled water relatively cheaply. Sleep overnight and start rested the next morning.
- Leave heavy items in the hut if you plan to come down by this same trail. After a breakfast of bread and coffee (yes, the €4.50 breakfast isn’t too impressive), start up to Skala. It’s a relatively short hike of under 3 hours, but the path is very steep.
- From the peak of Skala at over 2800m, you have the choice of Mytikas (2917m) or Skolio (2911m). Mytikas, the highest point in Greece, is a difficult scramble with potentially fatal consequences if you slip and fall the wrong way. Don’t attempt Mytikas unless the peak is free of high winds, rain, snow, and fog. The alternative of Skolio is not the highest point in Greece, but it’s a safer walk to get there. And it’s still a peak on Mount Olympus.
- The way down is tough because of loose sand and rocks on the steep trail. Here you really want some good hiking boots. Walking poles wouldn’t hurt either.
Another possibility to make life easier would be to rent a car for the 2 days in Thessaloniki. I think this would be cheaper, because we paid €15 each for bus tickets and €25×2 for taxis. Renting a small car for 2d should be less than 80 euro. There is ample parking at Prionia (though it might get full on summer weekends). It would be a lot faster by car as well, without having to wait for so many taxis, buses, etc.
My impressions: this is a serious hike. It isn’t quite as technical as climbing Zugspitze in Germany (because no climbing gear is needed as it is on Zugspitze’s Hoellental route), but the overall energy needed is similar. The vistas are phenomenal! I shot several timelapse sequences with my Nikon D7000 during the climb… those will be in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!