2019 / 2020 is the perfect time to visit one of the most famous destinations in the world – get set to book Olympia for your next getaway. A holiday to Olympia takes you to the most prominent site of Ancient Greek history, and the home of the original Olympic Games. Olympia is saturated with ancient ruins and archaeological sites, as well as being one of the most beautiful destinations in Greece. Located on western side of Peloponnese, the traditional Greek village of Olympia adjoins the ancient sites, and the wider region of Elia in which Olympia is situated is home to some stunning natural wonders.
Journey into the past with a visit to the ancient sites, or revel in nature at some of the nearby forests and waterfalls. Visit one of the nearby beaches and bathe in the crystalline sea or sink into soft golden sands. Catch a glimpe of the monasteries and museums, or explore the wineries and olive mills. Whatever your mood, with a holiday to Olympia you are spoilt for choice with sightseeing, activities, tours and experiences.
No holiday to Olympia would be complete without a tour of Ancient Olympia. The Archaeological Site of Ilida is an ongoing excavation of the ancient city of Ilis, previously the Capital of Elia, and the majestic pillars of the Temple of Apollo remain standing high in the rocky Arcadian landscape. The ancient temples of Zeus and Hera can also be found in Ancient Olympia, and of course, the most celebrated relic of Ancient Greece, the Olympic Games Site. If all that doesn’t suffice, there are several museums in the region. The Archaeological Museum of Olympia exhibits the most impressive collection of artefacts from the sanctuary of Zeus, and the Museum of the History of the Ancient Olympic Games houses a rich variety of ancient art from the various temples. The Museum of Ancient Greek Technology meanwhile displays the phenomenal Greek contribution to modern science.
The natural attractions in Olympia are just as impressive as the historical ones, with the oak forest at Foloi, 20 stunning natural waterfalls of the stream of Haratsari, known as the Nemouta waterfalls, and the canyon of Alphaeus and its river, which is also an ideal location for rafting.
The modern village of Olympia has adapted to meet the needs of its visitors, and as such, a holiday to Olympia means great wining and dining opportunities. There are a few highly recommended restaurants in the area that are a must. Taverna Bacchus, named for the Greek god of wine and festivity, is a stone built Taverna in Ancient Pissa, serving a specialty of meatballs with rice, and often a complimentary carafe of wine. The Garden Taverna is located in the shade of the olive trees in a garden overlooking the valley, and offers Greek cuisine with a continental twist. In the main square, there are a few restaurants gathered in the same area, including the Aegean Taverna, which offers traditional Greek cuisine alongside many vegetarian dishes.
There are two wineries just outside of Olympia in western Peloponnese, the Olympia Land Estate and the Mercouri Estate. The Olympia Land Estate is a family-run winery that has been producing quality wines for over 150 years, and the Mercouri Estate is similarly run by the 4th generation of the family that erected it in 1864.
A holiday to Olympia is the perfect cultural escape for the entire family. Most of the hotels in the area offer family packages and facilities, and rooms to accommodate children. There is plenty for children to see and do in the area, from learning about the ancient ruins to visiting the site of the ancient Olympic Games, learning about the cultural history of Olympia in one of the many museums, to an interactive learning experience in the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology for the scientifically minded. Tours of the ancient sites can be booked, and the natural environment surrounding the area offers some prime opportunities for forest exploration and water activities.
Katakolo port and village is only a 30 minute drive away, and the resort has a pretty beach with warm shallow waters that are perfect for small children to swim in. Here, there are also carriage rides and a tourist train that are perfect for entertaining the youngsters.
Action & Adventure
There are plenty of opportunities to get active and adventurous on a holiday to Olympia. Many of the ancient sites require a short walk or hike to get to, and the Neda waterfall is quite an adventure with its stream and narrow riverbed. For more action, there are a few adrenaline fuelled activities to engage in. There is the option for rafting or kayaking along the river Alpheus, with some rough currents and white waters to add an extra level of exhilaration. Close to the modern town of Olympia, in recent years a motocross track has been opened in the village of Platanos, which hosts the Southern Greece Motocross Championship every year. Hire a quad bike or a motocross bike and feel the thrill of the motocross track.
The village of Olympia itself is landlocked, but it is very near the western coast of Peloponnese, and there is a wealth of great beaches just a short distance away. Zacharo beach has been given a Blue Flag for the clarity of its waters, and Skafidia beach retains a wild and scenic beauty. Leventochori beach is partially organised and offers sun loungers and umbrellas for hire, and its golden sands are surrounded by rocky outcrops and lush green vegetation.
St Andrew beach is near to the port at Katakolon, and has thick sand and rocky outcrops, with a café and traditional restaurant for refreshment. For a fully organised tourist beach, Kourouta beach is popular in the region with golden sands and blue sea, offering sun loungers and umbrellas, as well as a selection of cafes and restaurants for a variety of meals and drinks.
Olympia has kept its traditional Greek village charm, meaning that there is no extravagant night life to speak of. There are several cafes and taverns with relaxed atmospheres that are open throughout the evening, but nothing lively that’s open late. Still, a holiday to Olympia can involve a dynamic nightlife. Just 30 minutes away lies the port and beach resort of Katakolon, where there are all night clubs and lounge bars, and venues playing Greek music until the small hours, allowing you to enjoy a night of dancing and frivolity before returning to the peace of Olympia village.
A romantic holiday to Olympia is ideal, with its ancient heritage sites and beautiful natural surroundings. Travel back in time with a visit to the Ancient Olympic Games site, or a trip to the temples of Zeus and Hera. Get stuck in to the history of Ancient Greece at one of the museums, or go for an atmospheric walk amongst the trees. The oak forest of Foloi has been preserved in its natural state, and there are no artificial pathways, making it perfect secluded walk through the woods. The Nemouta waterfalls are some of the most breath-taking natural phenomena in the region.
The waterfall at Neda is the perfect opportunity to bask in each other’s company while getting acquainted with the natural wonders of Olympia and there is a wonderful natural thermal spa at Kaiafas, which is said to have natural healing properties.
Olympia is a destination that is packed full of culture and ancient history. The historical sites tell the story of Ancient Greece, and the temples to the old gods enable visitors to immerse themselves in Ancient Greek myth. The museums celebrate the ancient culture, and exhibit the contributions to western thought, science and medicine. In addition to the archaeological sites and the traditional village of Olympia, there are a number of festivals that take place every year.
The Ancient Olympia Festival takes place throughout July and August, and many events take place in the Floka Theatre just 3 kilometres from Olympia. These events include musical concerts, theatre performances and lectures, and Greek folklore shows. In December, Olympia is also home to the International Film Festival for Children, the aims of which are to aid development of audio-visual culture and creativity in children and young people.