A unique summit to the home of the gods
Step back in time to Ancient Greece, the cradle of Western civilization and the land of the gods! TYou’ll walk through temples, ruins, remote mountain villages, and hike along steep, rocky trails up the craggy peaks towards the home of the mythic Olympians. Not only do you get to enjoy a gods’-eye view of the land you journeyed below, but you get to walk away feeling justifiably heroic. MTS may not be the only company to offer a trip here, but we are the only company to actually reach the summit. You’ll kick off your adventure on the right foot with in-depth cultural tours of Athens, hike into Vikos Gorge, one of the deepest canyons in the world, and visit the cliff monasteries of Meteora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With 4-star accommodations and private use of a mountain refuge at the foot of Mytikas (9,593’)—the highest of Mount Olympus’ six summits—you’ll have plenty of rest and relaxation on the road to becoming your own hero.
6 days moderate to strenuous hiking (max. elev. 9,568'), easy touring
- Kick off your adventure on the right foot with in-depth cultural tours of Athens
- Hike into Vikos Gorge, one of the deepest canyons in the world
- Visit the cliff monasteries of Meteora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Enjoy 4-star accommodations and private use of a mountain refuge at the foot of Mytikas (9,593’)—the highest of Mount Olympus’ six summits
Duration: 11 days Start Location: Athens End Location: AthensDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Athens
Arrive in Athens, Greece. Transfer on your own to the hotel. Meet with the group and the trip leader at 6:00 p.m.in the lobby. We’ll enjoy a “welcome” dinner and trip orientation in a taverna in the colorful Plaka district, located below the Acropolis, a walker’s haven where no cars are allowed.
Day 2 : Athens
Today we’ll have an in-depth visit to Athens, one of the oldest cities in the world (its recorded history goes back at least 3,000 years). In ancient times it was a powerful city-state and center for the arts, learning, and philosophy. Its illustrious heritage is still widely evident, with the remains of many great monuments still standing, including the famous Parthenon, perched atop the Acropolis and built by Pericles in the 5th century BC. We’ll visit this all-time great archaeological site as well as many other monuments of the ancient city.
Day 3 : Mikro Papingo
Transfer to the airport and fly to Ioannina in northeastern Greece (a one-hour flight). Upon arrival, we’ll drive 1½ hours across the Pindos Mountains to the charming hillside village of Mikro Papingo in the spectacular, mountainous Zagoria region (from the Slavic word meaning “behind the mountains”). Zagoria’s friendly and hospitable inhabitants still often wear traditional dress and some of their stone villages have been declared national historical monuments. Mikro Papingo lies at the entrance of the great Vikos Gorge, one of the deepest canyons in the world. We’ll enjoy an afternoon walk in the village along its narrow stone roads and pathways through picturesque gray stone houses. (2 hours walking on easy terrain)
Day 4 : Dragon Lakes
Today we take a roundtrip hike through lush, forested terrain and alpine pastureland to a beautifully situated refugio located on the saddle above Mikro Papingo. Here we will enjoy spectacular views of the Vikos Gorge and the starkly beautiful Dragon Lakes (6,930'). En route we’ll have great views of Aoos, Mount Smolikas (8,650'), and the impressive serrated crest of Gamila (the camel) peak. (6 hours hiking round trip; 3,300' ascent/3,300' descent)
From the refugio, there is an optional hike to the Dragon Lakes themselves. These picturesque remote lakes are the perfect spot to rest your legs and have a snack. (With optional hike to Dragon Lakes, 8 hours hiking round trip; 4,500' ascent/4,500' descent)
Day 5 : Vikos Gorge
The 10-mile-long Vikos Gorge slices through the heart of Zagoria, once a region of wealthy and cultured traders and artisans. From Mikro Papingo we descend 1,800 feet into the gorge, with its dramatic cliffs that carve into the landscape. We then cross the canyon floor to the Voidomatis River, which springs from underground channels into the dry riverbed (the Voidomatis reportedly has the cleanest water in Europe and is also known for its trout). We’ll hike along the river, exploring this magnificent canyon for 10 beautiful miles, losing another gradual 200 feet in elevation. After a picnic lunch, we’ll ascend almost 1,700 feet up by limestone steps to the beautiful village of Monodendri. (8 hours hiking; approximately 1,700'ascent/2,000'descent.)
Day 6 : Arrival in Meteora
Today we transfer three hours to Kalambaka in the province of Thessaly where the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Meteora is located. But we’ll break up our drive by stopping along the way to visit the Bridges of Zagoria, have coffee in the scenic town of Kipi, and enjoy a nice lunch in Metsovo.
Meteora’s vertiginous rock towers are adorned with numerous stone monasteries built into the cliff faces like ornaments, and has been a place of monasticism since the 11th century. The word Meteora literally means 'hovering in the air,' and of course brings to mind the word meteor. We’ll arrive with enough time to check into our hotel before setting out on a relaxed evening hike to the Agia Triada Monastery (The Holy Spirit Monastery). We will not see the inside of the monastery (it is closed!), but we will explore its beautiful exterior, and learn more about its fascinating history.
The Agia Triada Monastery was founded by the monk Dometius in the 15th century and was the monastery used for the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. To reach the monastery, we’ll take 140 steps cut into the rock, past the church of Saint John the Baptist with wall paintings from 1682. On our way back to the hotel, we’ll stop for a sumptuous dinner at a nice restaurant in Kalambaka. (2 hours easy hiking; approximately 600’ ascent/600’ descent.)
Day 7 : Meteora
Today we will hike to the rock towers of Meteora to visit the Megalo Meteoro Monastery, built by the monks in the 13th-15th centuries. This is the best known of the monasteries, and is built upon the highest rock in Meteora. The monastery was founded by Athanasios the Meteorite, one of the most well-known figures in Orthodox monasticism. Eventually it became the richest and most powerful of all the monasteries, and today it contains some of the most beautiful wall paintings and post-Byzantine mural art that can be found in Greece, as well as an impressive museum collection. On our way to the monastery, we’ll learn more about this unique region and have a glimpse into the lives of the hermits who used to live on these rocks, when rock climbing was a deeply spiritual experience (of course, for some of us, it still is).
After our visit to the monastery, we’ll take a short bus ride down into the village of Kastraki, where we’ll enjoy a traditional lunch in a local taverna. The afternoon is yours to rest and enjoy your hotel (and take a swim in the pool!), or you can opt to return to the monasteries by bus and explore them further. We’ll meet again in the evening for dinner. (4 hours hiking; approximately 1,200'ascent.)
Day 8 : Litochoro
We begin our day by driving three hours to the village of Litochoro at the foot of Mount Olympus. After lunch in a local taverna, the afternoon is free to enjoy the town: there are a number of stores for some shopping, or you may choose to relax at the hotel (where you can take advantage of its spa facilities) or take a swim. For those who wish to stay on the move, we’ll offer an optional easy hike above the town. Dinner is on your own tonight.
Day 9 : Hiking Mount Olympus
After a 20-minute transfer to Panonia in Mount Olympus National Park, we’ll begin our ascent to the Kakalos Refuge on the Plateau of the Muses. This is a long, challenging day, with a steep 5,200-foot ascent along a wide, well-maintained trail. You’ll carry a daypack with your overnight belongings as we’ll spend the night in this private but basic refuge (bunk beds, very basic toilet facilities, no showers, but nice and clean). We’ll be the only group here tonight. (7 hours hiking; 5,200’ ascent.)
Day 10 : Summit of Mount Olympus
We’ll get an early start for our optional hike to the summit of Mytikas, the true summit and highest peak on Olympus. (The mountain’s massif has a series of six summits—the highest is Mytikas at 9,593'.) We’ll ascend about 2½ hours to the very top of the “Throne of the Gods,” with the possible use of ropes and helmets for the last 100 feet. Those who don’t wish to summit can continue with the assistant guide to the Agios Dionisios Refuge to wait for the rest of the group. After both groups reunite, we’ll have lunch at the refuge, then descend to Panonia where our bus will pick us up and transfer us back to Litochoro for a festive farewell dinner. This will be a long day of hiking, with some rough terrain and exposure for about an hour (summit hike). (9.5 hours hiking; 100’ of steep scrambling; approximately 1,000'ascent/6,173'descent.)
Day 11 : Depart
After breakfast, transfer by vehicle to Athens International Airport, arriving by 1:00 p.m. Please schedule your international flights no earlier than 3:00 p.m. (5 hours driving.)
DATES: Best time to go: June, September - October Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.
Divani Palace AcropolisAthens
With courteous service and superior amenities a given, Divani Palace's prime draw remains the stunning views of the Acropolis from the hotel's 7 stories' worth of luxury rooms. The hotel is is walking distance to many of Athens's premier attractions.
Mikro Papingo 1700Mikro Papingo
This luxury boutique hotel is named 1700 for the year the oldest building in town - the hotel's restored historic building - was built. Impeccably restored to a classy "eco-chalet," Mikro Papingo 1700 provides a serene haven for guests. Primely situated at the top of Papingo for the best view to the Timfi mountains, the Vikos gorge, and the small and large Papingo settlements below.
Arturos/Zarkadas Guest HouseMonodendri
The Zarkada family built this guesthouse in the Zagori tradition and the style of Epirotic architecture, providing guests with the hospitality of a traditional guesthouse within the comfortable setting of a modern hotel. The guesthouse is on par the old manor houses and natural beauty of Monodentri, with rooms that look onto the Vikos gorge.
Divani Hotel MeteoraKalambaka
A deluxe hotel in Kalambaka village, surrounded by the towering Meteora rocks. The subdued textiles of designer Andre Warwick adorn the rooms, where oak furniture and luminous wood floors shape spacious sitting areas and terraces.
Hotel Olympus MediterraneanLitochoro
This romantic little hotel, situated on a quiet street near the center of Litochoro, is a sophisticated favorite for local travelers. Each of the elegant rooms features a fireplace, and balconies with a view over the town's red roofs, the towering mountains, and the Aegean sea in the distance.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
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