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Greetings from the Mediterranean! This blog post is a bit overdue, but when I first started writing, I was sailing on a Mediterranean cruise with my sister Lindsey all around Greece! We boarded the stunning Celebrity Beyond in Rome, Italy and had 10 days of adventure onboard this brand-new cruise ship. I am BEYOND (see what I did there) excited to share that this trip is in partnership with the Cruise Travel Outlet Inc. and Celebrity Cruises! I will be sharing more about the cruise agency and the ship below, but for now, let’s dive into everything you need to know about how to visit Olympia, Greece!
Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by Cruise Travel Outlet. This trip was comped by the outlet and Celebrity Cruises in exchange for directed leads and sponsored content. All opinions written about the ports visited and ship experience are my own.
What To Know Before You Go
As of recently, I began including this section in my blog posts. I think starting out with some basic information about a destination is key for planning a trip of your own, so without further ado – here’s what you should know to visit Olympia, Greece.
Since Greece is an EU member, the currency used here is the Euro. Cash will be required in many places around the island.
Greek is the primary spoken language, although you’ll find English spoken throughout restaurants, hotels, and by tour guides around the island. Especially near ancient Olympia.
The weather in Katakalon / Olympia stays comfortable throughout the entire year. Winters can see 50-60° days, and summer can get quite warm. The hottest months in Katakolon are July and August, where the average daily temperature is in the high 80s.
From late April to late October, the site and museum are open daily during the daylight hours so visitors have more time to enjoy the monuments and galleries. From November 1 to March 31, tickets for the site and museums (open from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.) are half price. In the winter, there are typically no lines.
The water is not potable on most of Greece’s islands. Stick to bottled water throughout the duration of your visit. If you ask for water in a restaurant, it will be natural or sparkling bottled water.
Pro-tip: To visit Olympia, Greece like a pro, you’ll want to pack tons of water, especially if you’re visiting during the summer months. The historic site gets direct sunlight and can be extremely hot.
Visit Olympia, Greece Like A Pro: Background Information
As the name suggests, Olympia is famous for being the site of the original Olympic Games! Now I know what you might be thinking – wasn’t that Athens? Kinda.
Athens is home to the first modern Olympic Games, aka the ones we know and love every 4 years. However, the first competitive games, in which athletes traveled in from all around the world, were held in Olympia. The track here is the site of some of the first ever running competitions in the world. It sits right next to a river where athletes would arrive by boat. Olympia is an ancient site on Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula that hosted the original Olympic Games.
The Olympic Games took place here every four years from 776 BC to 393 AD. The site was also a place of worship dedicated to the Greek God Zeus from about the 10th century BC. Here you will find incredible sculptures such as the Temple of Zeus, as well as the famous Hermes of Praxiteles and the statue of Nike of Paionios.
To maintain tradition, a torch is lit by a mirror, using the sun’s powerful rays, in front of the Temple of Zeus every two years and is processed around the track to the Olympics monument in Olympia. No matter where the games are held in the world, this tradition occurs here at the start of the games – both winter and summer.
How To Get There
Olympia is an area near the port of Katakolon in Greece. It’s quite east in Greece, closer to Turkey. This port was once a tiny fishing village until the cruise industry discovered it and started using it as a port stop. Today, it’s still quite quaint, with many fishing boats, but also a few cruise ships. The actual port has a small main road with several boutiques, cafes, and ocean-front restaurants. In my opinion, you can definitely explore this entire strip in less than an hour.
If you’re visiting from Athens, you’ll need to fly into the small, regional airport of Patra!
Traveling from the cruise port to the historic site
There are a few ways to travel to Olympia from the port: Taxi, public bus, or tour. Taxis will cost about 80 Euro for 2 people (a bit pricey), and tour excursions can range from $50-$200 per person. Although tours are nice because they include roundtrip transportation to and from the port, along with guided information, they were a bit out of our price range. For this reason, we opted for a coach bus that was sitting right in the port with a big sign in the window reading “Bus to Olympia”. This cost only 15 Euro per person round trip! Regardless of your choice, know the ride from the port to Olympia is about 40 minutes one-way.
Pro-tip: Cruise ships notoriously charge higher prices for their excursions because they take a cut. Although they are the most convenient option, I’ve had a lot of luck finding a local guide in the port or pre-booking my own tour through a third party. This is what my family and I did on our eastern Caribbean cruise a few years ago.
What To Do In Olympia
Once you’re in Olympia, there’s a few ways to spend the afternoon. Notice I said afternoon – you really only need half a day here. If you’re arriving via cruise ship, that’s all the time you’ll have anyways before you need to board for the next port!
Stroll through Olympia Village
First, the downtown village of Olympia is quite charming and definitely worth strolling through. You’ll notice how all the streets here are lined with flags from around the world – a detail I absolutely loved! Here you’ll also find lots of stores selling Olympics themed souvenirs, along with restaurants, coffee shops, a bank, etc. There’s even a jewelry store that claims to have one of the original Olympic torches… take that one with a grain of salt.
Visit the ancient ruins
The ruins are the #1 thing to do in Olympia. The historic archaeology site features ruins dating back to the 4th century BC, including the Temple of Zeus, the original racetrack, and the gymnasium where athletes practiced. There is an entry fee to visit – usually included in the price of a tour, and be sure to pack a hat because it gets HOT in here!
Pro-tip: If you don’t want to pay to wander through the ruins and would rather get an aerial view of them, just walk up the paved road that runs adjacent to the site. From here you can get a panoramic view of the ruins and a perfect view of the track.
Visit the Archaeology Museum
Adjacent to the ruins is the Olympia archaeology museum. This museum also has a 12 Euro entrance fee and features pieces of ancient structures such as columns and statues. It’s also air conditioned, so a nice place to walk through after sweating in the ruins during the summer months. The Archaeological Museum of Olympia exhibits finds from the site, including a statue of Hermes attributed to the sculptor Praxiteles.
Visit Olympia, Greece Like A Pro: Cruise Travel Outlet
As mentioned above, this is one of many blog posts from my Mediterranean cruise series sponsored by the Cruise Travel Outlet Inc! Cruise Travel Outlet is an independent associate of Travel Leaders Network, one of the world’s largest and most respected travel networks, which gives them tremendous buying power with preferred suppliers, as well as exclusive value added services and access to thousands of exclusive offers saving clients hundreds of dollars over their competitors. The key to Cruise Travel Outlet’s 32 years of success is their unapparelled service and commitment to making sure every aspect of your experience your expectations. They helped my sister and I plan the cruise of our dreams to Rome, the Greek Islands, Malta, and Barcelona. Fill out this form if you’re interested in learning more about saving big on your dream cruise. The team is ready to help you make your dream a reality!
If you’re a first-time cruiser, check out this blog post which covers all the things to know about cruising!
That’s it for my recommendations for Olympia! Again, it’s quite small, so no need to spend the night here, but be sure to check these things off your list if you ever find yourself wanting to visit Olympia, Greece.
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