Visiting Ancient Olympia our tour takes you to one of the most important sites of Ancient Greece. Its famous games were held from around 800 BC and for the next 1200 years all the way into Roman times.
The Archaeological site of Olympia is located in the west of the Peloponnese, set in a peaceful valley alongside a river. When visiting the site it’s easy to imagine the arrivals from all over the Greek world stepping ashore. The hundreds of statues that adorned the site as offerings & tributes to the gods have mostly vanished, but visitors can still see much of the remains including those of the Temple of Zeus, Hera, Pelopion, and workshop of Pheidias. The great altar of Zeus, where the largest sacrifices were made is also present.
During our Ancient Olympia Tour, it’s easy to imagine the life of the visiting Athletes. Walking through the ruins of the buildings they trained in & were taught from. Part of the original tunnel & stadium through which they emerged to complete is also intact and most impressively, the original marble starting blocks of the running events. This gives a real ‘in the footsteps’ sensation.
The Temple of Zeus
The games were dedicated to the God Zeus and among its many Temples was the Temple of Zeus in which the Statue of the god & one of the wonders of the classic Greek world was situated.
Designed by the Sculpture Pheidias & which took around 10 years to complete, the throned figure stood a giant 12 meters tall and was covered with precious stones, and gold & Ivory panels. Surrounded at its base by a bath of oil, when the sunlight streamed through the temple doors the reflections appeared to make the statue come to life. Bearing in mind that to the ancient Greeks the gods were much more in contact and could appear in real forms to mortals, what a ground-shaking experience that must have been to simple people who stood there.
At around three & a half hours from Athens, our Ancient Olympia Tour is a long day trip from Athens but if you are short of time we carry out this tour regularly – See below for details.
More comfortably, we recommend a visit as part of any Multi-Day sightseeing trip to the Peloponnese, a region packed with additional highlights & UNESCO sites such as Ancient Mycenae and the Great Theatre of Epidaurus. Most often these are part of our ‘Classical Greece’ two, three & four-Day tours you can view from our Multi-Day Tour Page but are also fully tailorable if you want certain additions.
The local village of Olympia is small & feels well devoted to tourism. Being heavily influenced by larger coach arrivals it also has the feel of mass transit we like to avoid so less time is spent there unless you wish to pick up a gift from the local souvenir shops.
In general, this area has less to do, perhaps with the exception of a visit to the excellent Olympia Land Winery. Consequently, we focus solely on the Archaeological site before moving on or staying a night at one of the two better Hotels in the area. Whereas some of the other sites in the Peloponnese can be shorter stops, the Archaeological site of Olympia is one of the larger in Greece & along with its museum normally takes the morning to cover so dedicating the day to this major site is always worth it.
4 of our most popular Olympia-Tours are listed below, but you can see all Day-Tours, Multi-Day Tours, and Packages from our main menu, & ask us to tailor any further options you like.
Take a guide! Even if you’ve read up on Ancient Olympia there’s nothing like having an expert beside you to bring things to life. The small pieces you will pass by easily in the museum as well as the sets of sculptures that adorned the Temple of Zeus have amazing stories to tell & really add to your experience.
The indoor SPA pool in the five-star Arty Grand Hotel we stay at. We know it’s not historical but it’s so relaxing for mind & body & never too crowded.
The on-site Museum. Along with the many other buildings on-site, the museum is home to many important pieces including much of the original statues from the frieze of the temple of Zeus which tells a great mythological story. Don’t miss the small pieces either which help bring things to life. In particular, we love the drinking cup recovered from the workshop of Phideas with his name scratched into the bottom, much like you would personalize your own favorite cup at home!
Restaurants & Hotels
For Hotels, many are outdated & in need of renovation, especially some of the more central ones in the village. We recommend the Arty Grand or Europa Hotels. Both excellent, well run with friendly staff & good facilities.