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Panoramic view of Olympia ancient ruins, Greece

Things to do in  Olympia

The one, the only, the original

As the home of the original Olympics, it’s no surprise that Olympia holds UNESCO World Heritage status. Lovers of ruins will find crumbling majesty aplenty in this atmospheric valley, from the remnants of the ancient stadium and the gymnasium to the Temple of Hera, where young women light the Olympic flame every four years or so. Three on-site museums include the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, one of Greece’s most important museums. It houses priceless sculptures, including Praxiteles’ Hermes and the Infant Dionysos and relics from the Temple of Zeus.

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All about Olympia

When to visit

As is the case with many ancient Greek attractions, Olympia shines its brightest during the shoulder seasons—late spring and early fall. The weather is warm and generally clear, but the summer peak hordes are nowhere to be seen. Late spring is particularly lovely, as wildflowers bloom among the ruins and the little town of Olympia near the site comes into blossom, too.

Getting around

Ancient Olympia is not small. Expect to travel several miles when strolling (or rolling) from the bus or train station in the nearby town of Olympia. The site is at least a 3.5-hour drive from Athens and there are no direct buses, so many travelers opt to visit Olympia as part of a multi-day tour of the Peloponnese peninsula. Trains run from Katakolon, where cruise ships dock, in summer.

Traveler tips

There’s a lot to see at Olympia, but don’t miss the quirky Archimedes Museum, dedicated to the great 3rd-century BC mathematician. The model of his hydraulic clock is an easy way to assess his genius. If you’re visiting over the summer peak, be sure to check out the Olympus Festival in July and August. Expect folkloric, ancient, and modern performances at sites including the Theater of Ancient Olympia (Floka Amphitheater), a newly built classical-style amphitheater.

People Also Ask

Is Olympia Greece worth visiting?

Yes. Although in ruins, ancient Olympia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the home of the original Olympics, and one of Greece’s most atmospheric ancient sites. The Archaeological Museum of Olympia houses finds from the site, including a Praxiteles sculpture, and is one of the country’s most important museums.

What is Olympia Greece famous for?

The little town of Olympia, Greece, is famous for the nearby archaeological site of ancient Olympia, where the original Olympic games were held for many centuries. Plated in gold and ivory, Phidias’ statue of Zeus in Olympia’s Temple of Zeus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

How much time do you need in Olympia Greece?

A day is easily enough for most travelers to explore ancient Olympia, including the three museums on site—and many travelers hit the highlights in half a day. Some intensive ancient Greece tours will spend just an hour or so on the site before heading off to other Peloponnese attractions.

Is Olympia close to Athens?

No. The archaeological site of ancient Olympia (and the town of the same name) lies in the Peloponnese peninsula, about a 180-mile (290-kilometer) drive west of Athens. It takes at least 3.5 hours to drive from Athens and at least 5 hours to reach Olympia on public transit.

Is Olympia Greek or Roman?

Olympia is a Greek name that refers to Olympus, a mountain where ancient Greeks believed the gods lived. The ancient city and sanctuary of Olympia in the Peloponnese, Greece, hosted the original Olympic games, which were for Greek athletes only. The girl’s name Olympia comes from the same Greek roots.

Does the Temple of Zeus still exist?

The Temple of Zeus at Olympia was famed for its huge scale and precious artworks, including the giant statue of Zeus which was one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. Today, it’s in ruins, with one restored column giving an idea of how vast the original temple was.


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