Litochoro – Prionia – Refuge Spilios Agapitos
Mountain Olympus is a hiking heaven with an extensive network of trails (more than 257 km) of different levels of difficulty. Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and the palace of Zeus and all the other Olympian Gods, according to the ancient Greeks. A fascinating mountain to explore with amazing views and home to diverse flora and fauna. Most of the trails begin from Litochoro, a small town approximately 100 km outside of Thessaloniki. The most popular path is the international E4 which starts from Litochoro through the stunning Enipeas Canyon and Prionia and ends at the Refuge Spilios Agapitos, at a height of 2.100 meters (6.890ft). Because all refuges have difficult Greek names, they also referred by letters of the alphabet. The refuge on this route, Spilios Agapitos, is referred to as Refuge A. The distance is approximately 16 km and the advertised time to complete the trail is 9 hours but it usually takes longer including photos and food stops.
The path itself is excellently maintained and well-marked. On the way up, you will come across seven beautiful wooden bridges and the Holy Cave with the Holy Spring of Agios Dionysios. About half an hour further up the trail you will find signs to the old Monastery of Agios Dionysios which was built in 1542 by the monk, but destroyed by the Germans in 1943. The monastery is open from April to October and is well worth a visit. Around 10 minutes after the monastery, the path starts to descend and shortly after you will come across the spectacular waterfalls of Enipeas. The route is quite tiring due to many ascends and descends but the beauty of the nature will surely reward you. However, it is not a pram friendly trail and we wouldn’t suggest it to anyone on the waiting list for a knee replacement.
Prionia is the highest spot accessible by car with a parking space and a café-restaurant that is open all year round. Located at an altitude of 1.100 meters is a perfect place for a stop to rest. The trail from Prionia to Refuge A, starts after the cabin and passes through dense forest. At 1390m, there are a couple of benches with great view and a spring, which usually dries out in the summer. The last section is a bit steeper and takes you to the refuge, built on a location called “Balkoni” (meaning balcony in Greek), due to the amazing view of the ocean and the mountain peaks above.
You will not need any climbing equipment for the hike. Just wear proper clothes and good hiking shoes, make sure you have some extra clothes in your backpack because it can be hot at the start, but much colder at a higher altitude and be sure to have enough water with you, although it is safe to drink water from the river. Keep in mind that the trail can be a little more dangerous when it has been raining, as the leaves on the trail become slippery. The fastest way to climb to Refuge A is by starting your ascent from Prionia, the highest you can get by car. A taxi ride from Litochoro to Prionia costs around 30 EUR. Going to Prionia from Litochoro by car can save you up to 6 hours, but you will miss the beautiful hike through the Enipeas Gorge.
Thousands of people from abroad climb this part of the trail every year. Some of them have never climbed a mountain before, and just want to feel the magnitude of the "Mountain of the Gods". Since Olympus is a high mountain, the weather can be unpredictable. The best time to climb Olympus is from May to October. For those who are interested in getting further up the mountain there is a hike that starts in Prionia and finishes below the summit. Along the way there are refuges where you can stay overnight.