Olympia is one of the largest and most picturesque sites in Greece, set in a valley of wild olive and plane trees and beside two rivers.
It is the birthplace of the most important athletic event of all time, the Olympic Games, which was celebrated every four years by the Greeks, and is a must-visit, to be included on any classical fly drive itinerary or tour. In the beginning the site of Olympia was a sacred place which only the temple priests were allowed to inhabit and the first Olympic games to take place (776BC) were dedicated to the Olympian gods. Olympia is where the Olympic torch is lit several months prior to the modern day Olympic Games and it is still lit in the same way (using a mirror and the heat from the sun) and at the same place (Temple of Hera). The flame is then carried in a fire pot to an altar in the ancient Olympic stadium, where it is used to light the first runner's torch.
As the games developed in popularity a new stadium was built. Today you can visit this stadium and perhaps go for a run! The site of Olympia much more than the stadium though so allow plenty of time to have a good look round.
A visit to the on-site museum is highly recommended- here you will find some of the finest Classical and Roman sculptures in the country. It also has sculptures from the Temple of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Where to stay
"Thankyou, all went according to schedule with out a hitch. The Amalia in Nafplio and the Europa in Olympia were excellent. The Pantheon in Gythio was well placed on the sea front and the staff were very pleasant but the building had seen better days and the breakfast was awful. What struck me as particularly bad, was twin pipes approx 1 foot long near the foot of my bed, which were disused and had been sliced off at an angle, so as to leave a dangerous spike. This was room 109. The Lazaretto at Monemvasia was very interesting and the staff were pleasant. No glasses or soap were provided and the washrooms were rather cramped, so that one banged ones elbow on the shower glass side panel while getting on and off the WC. I felt it was worth it as I have a particular interest in leprosy, but that is not usual. The setting for breakfast was marvellous and the restaurant next door was good. The Enalio studio in Lecheo gave us a very good breakfast but the greek Taverna they recommended 5 mins away was very poor. The washrooms were cramped but this was only for one night and fullfilled the need satisfactorily. The owner/manager took great pains with the breakfast. The car was very good and the boot adequate. On arrival there was some difficulty as Kyros stand in was at B4 departures gate and not at Arrivals. We had to ring him as we could not find him. All in all we had a very good holiday thanks to you!!"
Beryl Palmier, September 2012
"We are safely back from a truly memorable holiday, and we do want to thank you so much for all you did to make it such a success. Everything worked like clockwork and we had a wonderful time. I find it hard to believe that we have never been to Greece before - but we are already planning our next trip! The weather was perfect, the people very friendly, and all the Classical Sites and museums just wonderful. We managed to avoid the worst of the crowds - we are not good with coach parties!! I am a true anti-social Rushton (Liz's and my fathers were brothers!) when it comes to crowds. Our half-day tour of Athens and the Acropolis was wonderful and we had a marvellous guide - Michaela, who you may know. We met her again, quite by chance, at Olympia, where she was taking another party. We were very glad we had changed our one-night stands to two nights - and wished we had spent three nights at Nafplion. Another time! I have to say that our only criticism was of the Hotel Neda at Olympia - definitely not up to your standard, and it seems rather run-down. I don't know how long it is since you, or someone from Argonaut Travel, have visited it? It was way below the standard of all the other hotels, and the management seemed rather lackadaisical. The breakfasts were not up to scratch either. If we went again, we would definitely be asking for a better hotel. We are talking about taking our motor bike on a trailer to Brindisi, leaving the car and trailer there and hopping on a ferry to Patra, and doing another, similar, tour by bike. How would you feel about putting that together for us? It would not be until next September at the earliest, as our son is getting married in Australia in April, and we have a mass family evacuation Down Under first. Having heard my glowing reports, my brother is now keen to do a similar tour - but again, that won't be until after Australia. I will make sure he gets in touch with you when he is ready. Very many thanks, Dawn. I am so glad I found you on the internet!"
S Dearling, October 2012