Mount Olympus National Park

Mount Olympus National Park (in Greek: Εθνικός Δρυμός Ολύμπου) was founded in 1938 and encompasses the highest peaks and the northern slope of the mountain with the same name "Olympus." Its total area reaches 3,933 hectares. This park is one of Greece’s most outstanding natural resources, characterized by its mighty natural beauty that hosts a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Besides being a destination to enjoy nature, the park also provides opportunities for scientific research and offers a wide range of activities for visitors.

Information about Mount Olympus National Park

Mount Olympus of Greece

In the easternmost part of central Greece, a short distance from Litochoro, in the Pieria prefecture, stands Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. This impressive massif not only plays a prominent role in Greek mythology, being considered the home of the ancient gods, but also holds significant aesthetic and mountaineering interest. In 1981, more than forty years after the park was created, UNESCO recognized it as a Biosphere Reserve, twenty years before the Samaria National Park, also another highly regarded protected area for Greeks.

Mount Olympus National Park

Located almost in the center of mainland Greece, Mount Olympus is a perfect destination for hikes and organized mountain excursions. It is easily accessible from Larissa, as well as from Athens and Thessaloniki, making it an ideal starting point for exploring the mountainous region.

Olympus National Forest

The boundaries of the Olympus National Forest extend to the Macedonian side of Olympus, covering an area of 40,000 acres, approximately one-fifth of the mountain mass. This forest core is generally oriented north-northeast. Its boundaries are delineated by prominent peaks such as Mytikas, Stefani or Throne of Zeus, Scolios, Skala, Prophet Ilias, Agios Antonios, Pagos, and other smaller peaks. These peaks form a kind of horseshoe around the densely forested Mavrologgos ravine, the Muses plateau, and the Enipea river valley.

Satellite photograph of the Olympus region showing the National Forest. The path from Prionia to the Spilios Agapitos refuge is a notable route in this mountainous area.

How to get to Mount National Park

The most common route to reach Mount Olympus National Park is from Litochoro, located 430 km from Athens, 92 km from Thessaloniki, and 24 km from Katerini. Litochoro can be accessed by private car, by bus through the KTEL company, or by train. The only road leading to the forest connects Litochoro with Prionia, situated at an altitude of 1,000 m.

A less common option is to access Olympus from the Thessaly side. In this case, the base city is Larissa, following the 46 km E.O Larissa-Rhodia-Sykamineas and Elassona road. From Elassona, one can ascend Mount Olympus following the route to Olympiada and Sparmos.

The best time to explore the forest’s nature is in May for lower altitudes and during June to July for higher altitudes. Autumn also offers a rewarding experience for visiting, from September to late October. During the winter, the refuges in Olympus remain closed.


The climate on Mount Olympus varies according to the season and altitude. In the lower slopes, the climate is typically Mediterranean, with hot and dry summers, and mild but quite rainy winters. As we ascend towards the mid-mountain zone, the summer becomes cool and relatively dry. During spring and autumn, rains are frequent, and winter is characterized by being harsh and cold, with frequent snowfall.

At higher elevations, above 2,000 meters, summers are short and have frequent precipitation. Spring and autumn are marked by abundant rains and cold temperatures, while winter is extremely severe and prolonged, with frequent snowfalls that contribute to a high mountain environment.

Flora of Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus National Park is a place of botanical interest, highlighted by its varied and rare flora. With 23 endemic species and many plants originating from the Alps and western Asia, the peaks of this mountain harbor exceptional biodiversity.

Flora and vegetation of Olympus National Park, Greece

Among the endemic species thriving in the forest, notable plants include Viola striis-notata, Erysimum olympicum, Cerastium theophrastii, Viola pseudograeca, Potentilla deorum, and Genista sakellariadis. Also noteworthy are Jankea heldreichii, a relic of the glacial period, and others like Saxifraga scardica, Crocus veluchensis, Carlina acaulis, and Linaria alpina, originating from various regions.

The forest is dotted with typical Mediterranean maquis shrubs such as holly, cedar, and yew, along with deciduous and coniferous trees like holly, arbutus, privet, heather, maples, elms, cedar, and pine. As altitude increases, species like Fagus moesiaca and F. sylvatica are found in cooler areas, while black pine (Pinus nigra) dominates dry and sunny areas. The Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) forms extensive forests that extend to the alpine meadows.

In the subalpine regions, the presence of the red lily (Lilium chalcedonicum) stands out, along with alpine meadows filled with a variety of flowers. These meadows gradually give way to shrubs and semi-shrubs, where species such as Astragalus, Berberis, Daphne, Buxus, and Juniperus thrive.

Fauna of Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus National Park is home to diverse and abundant fauna, including insects, rare birds, and a variety of mammals. The different habitats present in the forest serve as a refuge for numerous species, from large carnivores to small herbivores and birds of prey.

Mountain goat (Rupicapra rupicapra)

A total of 32 species of mammals and 108 species of birds have been recorded in the forest. However, several of these species are endangered, such as the mountain goat (Rupicapra rupicapra) and the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Despite these challenges, Mount Olympus National Park is known for its notable population of butterflies, as well as the presence of various amphibians and reptiles.

What to See and Do in Mount Olympus National Park

The protected area of Mount Olympus offers a diversity of outdoor activities, trails, and cultural excursions. In addition to its beautiful natural landscapes, the park hosts ancient archaeological sites, small communities, and sacred places. If you want to book a guided tour, there are many options available on Get Your Guide.

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Holy Monastery of Agios Dionysios of Olympus

Holy Monastery of Agios Dionysios of Olympus

This ancient monastery, consisting of two different complexes, is a place of great spiritual importance. The older monastery, founded in 1542, was partially destroyed during World War II and later rebuilt. The monastery houses the tomb of Agios Dionysios and offers a trail through the vegetation leading to the Sacred Cave of Agios Dionysios.

Church of Prophet Elias

Church of Prophet Elias

Located at an altitude of 2,800 meters, the Church of Prophet Elias is known for being the highest in the Balkans. Built in the 16th century by the monk Dionysius, it offers spectacular views from the Plateau of the Muses and is a popular destination for panoramic walks.


Litochoro, Greece

This small Greek town, located between Mount Olympus and the Thermaic Gulf, is an ideal starting point for exploring the area. It retains its original charm with its narrow streets, traditional houses, and artisan workshops, and offers a variety of accommodations.

Archaeological Site of Dion

Dion, a picturesque town in Macedonia, is located on the eastern slopes of the mighty Mount Olympus. Since ancient times, it has been revered as a sacred city by the Macedonians, harboring a rich history and fascinating cultural heritage. Excavations at Dion have revealed remains dating mainly from the 5th century BC, a time of splendor under the reign of King Archelaus.

Archaeological Site of Dion

The Archaeological Park of Dion is a site of great historical importance, including the Ancient Theatre, where theatrical performances are still held, the Ancient Livithra, and the burial place of the legendary poet and musician Orpheus. Additionally, the park houses an impressive Archaeological Museum, displaying a wide variety of artifacts discovered during the excavations in Dion and its surroundings. You can enjoy a 1-day excursion to Dion and the village of Old Panteleimon.

A visit to Dion would not be complete without exploring the magnificent Castle of Platamonas, one of the best-preserved fortresses in Greece, dating back to the Frankish period. This imposing structure offers a window into the medieval history of the region and provides stunning panoramic views of the surroundings.

Holy Monastery of the Virgin Mary Kanalon

Founded in the 11th century, this monastery has undergone various reforms over time and now houses a female monastic community. Located near Leivithra, it is a place of peace and spirituality amidst nature.

Enipeas Gorge

This picturesque gorge offers a unique experience for nature lovers. Along a hiking trail of approximately 9 km, you can explore waterfalls, natural pools, and the monastery of Agios Dionysios. It is a perfect place to enjoy a refreshing swim in crystal-clear waters.

Orchids of Olympus

The floral richness of Mount Olympus is due to the diversity of ecosystems it hosts. Among the many wonders that hikers and climbers can find on their journey are exquisite orchids. For enthusiasts, Olympus is a destination of great interest, as the mountain is home to around 50 different species of these unique flowers.

Orchids of Mount Olympus, Greece

In areas located between 300 and 500 meters of altitude, above places like Vrontos and Dion, you can find species such as Anacamptis pyramidalis, Anacamptis morio, Dactylorhiza romana, Neotinea tridentata, Orchis simia, Ophrys mammosa, O. oestrifera, O. oestrifera-minuscula, and Ophrys helenae.

Between 500 and 1000 meters of altitude, especially on the northern slope and around the Xerolakki valley, you can spot Ophrys zeusii, Orchis purpurea, Cephalanthera rubra, and C. damasonium. Meanwhile, on the eastern and northern slopes, inhabiting between 1000 and 1400 meters, there are species such as Dactylorhiza saccifera, Epipactis atrorubens, and Cephalanthera rubra.

The best time to admire these orchids and other flowers of Olympus is from April to July, when they display all their beauty in different corners of the mountain.

Swimming in the Orlia Lakes

Mount Olympus surprises us with beautiful spots, such as the small natural lake formed by the Orlia waterfall. Here, the mighty red rock of the mountain softens, creating a welcoming and peaceful environment for outdoor water activities.

Following the course of the Orlia stream, we enter a green and lush landscape, guided by the murmur of the water that leads us to the largest waterfall, with a height of 18 meters.

During the warm summer months, this place becomes an oasis of freshness, where you can take a revitalizing dip, pause to relax, and simply contemplate the natural beauty that surrounds us.

Along the green path that borders the stream, we find other small natural lakes of Orlia, each with its unique charm, inviting us to immerse ourselves in the harmony of Olympus’s nature.

Hermitage of Pythia

The centuries-old history of Pythia dates back to antiquity and extends through the Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods. This region, along with Azoros and Kolichio, played a crucial role in ancient Tripolitania Peraviana, as mentioned by Homer, even participating with its military forces in the legendary Trojan War.

In addition to the fascinating archaeological site of Pythion, which invites visitors to explore its past, the hermitages are also notable in this region.

The best-preserved hermitages are situated on the southern slope of Kastri hill. The Hermitage of the Ascension, at the base, and that of the Holy Cross, a little higher up, house remarkable frescoes dating from 1339. It is also worth visiting the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin. Continuing upward, near the church of Aghioi Anargyroi, there is one of the oldest single-arch stone bridges in the area, adding even more charm to this region steeped in history and spirituality.

Archaeological Park of Dion

The Archaeological Park of Dion captures the rich heritage of the ancient Macedonians. Dedicated to the worship of Zeus, the principal Greek god, Dion became the religious center of the Kingdom of Macedonia towards the end of the 5th century BC. This archaeological park extends over about 1,500 acres and includes remains of the city wall, the sanctuary of Zeus, theaters from the Hellenistic and Roman periods, private and public buildings, a stadium, and a necropolis. The highlight is the Ancient Theatre, where theatrical performances are still held during the Olympus Festival in summer.

Cave of Agios Dionysios

The Cave of Agios Dionysios on Mount Olympus is a place of great natural beauty and spirituality, where Agios Dionysios lived as a hermit from 1542. It is located on the route from Litochoro to Prionia, near the old monastery founded by the saint. The cave, easily accessible on foot and open to the public, houses a beautiful chapel and is visited annually by thousands of pilgrims, making it one of the most distinctive sites on Olympus.

Valley of Tempe

The Valley of Tempe, situated between Mount Olympus and Kissavos, with the Pinios River flowing through it, is a 10 km stretch notable for its Mediterranean beauty, accessible by car. Walking along the boardwalk leads to the waters of the Pinios River. The place, full of trees and flowers among the rocks, is a refuge for rare bird species. It also houses the chapel of Agia Paraskevi and a cave with a sacred water spring, attracting religious pilgrimages.

Panteleimona Beach

Panteleimona Beach, located below the imposing Castle of Platamonas, is famous for its lush vegetation and crystal-clear waters. It attracts thousands of visitors, both Greek and foreign, thanks to its well-organized infrastructure, which includes a wide selection of hotels, accommodations, water sports, cafes, bars, and seafood taverns, offering everything needed for a carefree vacation.

Wine in Rapsani

The Rapsani Wine Experience on Mount Olympus offers an immersion into the region’s viticulture, known for its Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) red wines, which blend three native varieties: Xinomavro, Stavroto, and Krasato. Visitors can explore local wineries and the Wine and Vine Museum of Rapsani to discover the area’s over three-century-old wine history. This picturesque place also captivates with its stunning panoramic views.

Tea and Oregano Harvesting

Harvesting tea and oregano on Mount Olympus is an activity that takes advantage of the region’s unique biodiversity and rocky soil. These plants, known since ancient times for their antibacterial, antioxidant, and therapeutic effects, as well as their robust aromas and excellent flavor, find ideal growing conditions on Olympus. The best time to harvest these herbs is from late June to August, preferably early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the summer heat.

Monuments of Mount Olympus

Monastery of Sparmou

The Monastery of Sparmou, located on the slopes of Mount Olympus, was built in the 16th century. In the 18th century, it housed around 150 monks and possessed vast property. Its katholikon, a small basilica without aisles with a narthex, is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and decorated with beautiful 19th-century murals.

Village of Agios Dimitrios

The village of Agios Dimitrios, located 33 km from Katerini, is known for its rich history and natural beauty. Founded in the 15th century, it played an important role in the national resistance during the German occupation, leading to severe reprisals by the occupying forces. The village retains old stone houses with wooden balconies and offers local products in its shops and taverns. The area is also famous for its "pezoules," where the renowned beans of Agios Dimitrios are cultivated.

Archaeological Site of Livithra

The archaeological site of Livithra, located in a deep ravine near Litochoro, is famous for its connection to the myth of Orpheus. Considered a place of ancient rituals and the supposed burial site of Orpheus, Livithra offers an impressive view with its acropolis and ruins surrounded by nature. Since 2016, the site has functioned as an archaeological and experiential park, providing visitors with information and services to explore its rich history and natural environment.

Ancient Theatre of Dion

The Ancient Theatre of Dion was built in the Hellenistic period over a more rudimentary theater from the time of Archelaos (5th century BC). Originally, the rows of seats were made of brick and the orchestra floor of packed earth, while the stage and backdrop were made of marble. The theater was abandoned towards the end of the 2nd century BC. Today, after being renovated with modern seating, it is used for cultural events and the Olympus Festival.

Excavations in Azoros

Excavations in Azoros, begun in October 1995, revealed a unique wall built with polygonal stones and the tomb of a woman with a baby. This archaeological site also includes public buildings and an important Byzantine cemetery with a cross-shaped church. Above the excavation area, the peak of Kastri was the acropolis of the ancient city, where two early Christian basilicas have been found.

Excavations in Pythio

Excavations in Pythio have uncovered the 4th century BC Temple of Poseidon, along with other nearby religious areas. A headless statue of a man, identified as the god Apollo, was also found. Archaeologists are now striving to uncover its magnificent temple.

Archaeological Site of Spathes

The archaeological site of Spathes, near Agios Dimitrios on the way to Elassona, is a Copper Age cemetery (1300-1200 BC) located on a wooded slope of Mount Olympus. Box-shaped tombs containing pottery, swords, and jewelry of the Mycenaean civilization were discovered, suggesting that the region may have been inhabited by Mycenaeans or that its prehistoric inhabitants had trade relations with southern Greece. One of the swords is similar to one found at the Acropolis of Mycenae.

Archaeological Museum of Dion

The Archaeological Museum of Dion, inaugurated in 1983, showcases the life and culture of the inhabitants of ancient Dion from the Iron Age to the early Christian centuries. The exhibits, including statues, tomb sculptures, mosaics, and coins, come from Dion and its surroundings. A highlight is the hydraulis (water organ) from the 1st century BC, a unique ancient musical instrument.

Castle of Platamonas

The Castle of Platamonas, a meso-Byzantine monument from the 10th century, dominates the hill of the coastal town of the same name. It controlled the strategic eastern pass of the mountain and is one of the best-preserved castles in northern Greece. Built over the ancient fortified settlement of Herakleio, it has a Frankish construction appearance with more recent repairs. Over the years, it was the center of numerous sieges and conquests until it fell into Ottoman hands in 1386. Today, after its maintenance, it is an important medieval landmark in the Olympus region, attracting many visitors.

Church of Agios Dimitrios in Dion

The Church of Agios Dimitrios in Dion is a single-nave construction with an open portico on both sides, probably built in the 16th century. Its west façade still preserves murals created in 1740.

Lake Kati

Lake Kati is a mountainous reservoir surrounded by an impressive forest landscape of beech and fir trees, located near Paleos Panteleimonas, Paleoi Poroi, and Palia Skotina, or from the western side of Thessaly, after Kallipefki. Accessible via dirt roads, either by mountain bike, car, or on foot, the area around the lake offers spectacular views, ideal for nature lovers.

Kazania Cave

Megala Kazania is the largest cavity on Olympus, with a depth of 700 meters, facing north towards the peaks Mytikas and Stefani, and bordered to the southwest by the summits Skala and Skolio.

Where to Stay in Mount Olympus National Park

For visiting Mount Olympus National Park, some nearby localities ideal for accommodation include Litochoro, known as the gateway to Mount Olympus for its proximity and accessibility to hiking routes. Katerini, a larger city with a wide range of hotels, is another convenient option. Leptokaria and Platamonas offer accommodations near the beach, combining visits to the mountain with coastal relaxation. These localities provide a good base for exploring the National Park and enjoying the outdoor activities the region offers.
The refuges within the national park are as follows:

Refuge of Agios Antonios

The Refuge of Agios Antonios is located on the Agios Antonios summit of Mount Olympus, at an altitude of 2,817 meters. With a capacity to accommodate up to nine people, this emergency refuge offers protection during adverse weather conditions and is equipped with first aid supplies. It was built in 1961 by the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of Aristotle University for meteorological observations related to the climate of Mount Olympus.

Refuge of Koromilia

The Refuge of Koromilia is one of the most recent refuges on Mount Olympus. Located in Koromilia of Dion at an altitude of 1,020 meters, it can accommodate up to 16 people and is accessible by road.

Refuge of Krevatia Vrontou

The Refuge of Krevatia Vrontou, located on the northern side of Mount Olympus, offers accommodation for up to 20 people and has a restaurant. Situated on a plateau at an altitude of 1,005 meters, it is an ideal starting point for hiking, mountain biking, and climbing. It can be accessed by car from Vrontou or on foot from Agioi Apostoloi.

Refuge of Petrostruga

The Refuge of Petrostruga is located in the midst of a magnificent forest of beech and ancient pine trees, at an altitude of 1,925 meters. The path to the refuge begins in Gortsia, accessible from Litochoro by road. This refuge, with a capacity for 74 people, has a fully equipped kitchen, restaurant, fireplaces, and wood stoves in each room, as well as a nearby emergency helipad. A 20-minute walk away is the cave inhabited for many years by the Greek painter Vassilis Ithakisios.