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How to Go From Athens to Ancient Olympia On a Perfect Day Trip

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A day trip from Athens to Ancient Olympia might not be one of the first activities that come to mind when visiting the Greek capital.

However, even though Ancient Olympia is undoubtedly a less popular destination among some international travelers, it really is a must for those that are intrigued by the rich history of ancient Greece and who want to witness one of the most extraordinary historical places.

Located on the western coast of the Peloponnese, Ancient Olympia is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, the location where this tradition came to life nearly three thousand years ago.

Its historical significance and marvelous natural beauty will make a day trip from Athens to Olympia one to remember from your next vacation in Greece.

What Is Olympia Greece Famous For?

Olympia is most known for being the birthplace of the Olympic Games and the home of the famous stadium where this longstanding tradition made its first appearance.

The Olympic Games, however, were much more than an athletic competition. Ancient Olympia was one of the most important religious sanctuaries in the country.

In fact, the Olympic Games themselves were part of broader religious festivities that were held in honor of Zeus and Pelops – the mythical king of Olympia.

Pilgrims would visit ancient Olympia every four years to worship the Olympian Gods and watch the games. It is said that for the duration of the festivals, the wars and conflicts throughout Greece would cease to respect what was later named the Olympic peace.

Ancient Olympia day trip
Olympia is among the most important archaeological sites in Greece

Is It Worth Going to Olympia Greece for a Day Trip?

Olympia is a great option for those who want to delve into the country’s rich history by visiting one of the most significant locations of ancient Greece, the place where the Olympic Games used to take place.

It’s also great for those who want to spend time in peace and quiet while on holiday in Greece.

You can find a lot of destinations for a day trip from Athens, but a day trip to ancient Olympia is really unique because it combines ancient antiquities, fascinating ruins, charming little villages, sandy shores, and beautiful landscapes.

The Peloponnese region is especially known for its natural beauty that combines mountainous landscapes with a long coastline and it’s an ideal place to get a feel of what life in rural Greece is like while escaping the more touristy destinations.

ancient olympia -Peloponnese region -greece
Ancient Olympia: A place well worth visiting

Getting to Ancient Olympia from Athens

The Peloponnese region generally is not very well connected with mainland Greece.

Nevertheless, this should not prevent you from planning an amazing day trip from Athens to Olympia.

Below, you will find all the information you need on how to get to Olympia and our recommendations for the best way to do it.

getting Ancient Olympia from Athens
The Temple of Hera, Ancient Olympia, Greece. Courtesy: Andy Montgomery /

How Far Is Ancient Olympia From Athens?

The distance between the city center of Athens and the town of Olympia is approximately 300 kilometers (or about 186 miles).

Getting from downtown Athens to ancient Olympia by car would take about 3,5 hours, depending on the traffic.

Athens to Olympia by Car

Whether you are planning to rent a car in Athens or drive your own car to reach Olympia, it is certainly the fastest way to get there. Besides, traveling by car will also allow you to visit some wonderful locations.

epidavros ancient theatre
If you travel from Athens to Olympia by car a short stop at the ancient theater of Epidavros is a must

There are two ways you can reach Ancient Olympia from Athens by car.

  • The highway connects Athens, Corinth, Patra, and Pyrgos. Olympia is located very close to Pyrgos and you will have no problems getting there by following the signs. This one is the fastest route. The highway is relatively well-maintained. The journey will take around 3,5 hours.
  • The highway connects Athens, Corinth, Tripoli, and Arcadia. If you choose to take this route, make sure to follow the signs and exit the highway just before you reach the end. This option will take you on a longer journey (about 5 hours) since the road is not great, but the scenic views you can witness along the way are definitely worth it. If you have the time, you can also stop at Epidaurus and Mycenae.

Athens to Olympia by Bus

You can also travel from Athens to Ancient Olympia by bus. Local buses (or KTELs as they are called in Greece) depart from the bus terminal named Kifissos.

Unfortunately, Kifissos is not very easy to reach. You must take a taxi or a bus from the city center. Read our detailed guide on how to get around Athens to learn more.

Buses between Athens and Olympia usually run twice a day (yet we advise that you check the schedules beforehand) and the trip lasts a little less than 6 hours.

Athens to Ancient Olympia With a Guided Tour

Booking a guided, small-group, or private tour is unquestionably the best and most comfortable way to get to Olympia without driving or riding the bus.

There are plenty of options for guided tours to Ancient Olympia.

In addition, your guide will provide you with historical and cultural insight into Olympia’s ancient sites and interesting tidbits about the locations you will see along the way, such as the famous Corinth Canal.

corinth canal
The Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea

Things to Do and See in Ancient Olympia

A day trip from Athens to ancient Olympia is most definitely worth your time. It’s a unique place where history really comes to life.

Despite its small size, there are quite a few things to do and see in Olympia and some fascinating places nearby.

Here are our recommendations for the best things to do while on a day trip to Olympia:

See the original Olympic Stadium

Where else would you start? After all, seeing the stadium where the Olympic Games first started is probably one of the main reasons you visit Ancient Olympia.

Apart from marveling at the site that gave birth to a massive worldwide event, you can also try your luck at running on the tracks where the ancient Greeks used to run.

The Ancient Olympic Stadium in Olympia
The Ancient Olympic Stadium in Olympia. Courtesy: Robert Pittman /

Explore the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games

This museum might not be getting the recognition it deserves but it’s an excellent choice for those that want to dig a bit deeper into the history of the Olympic Games.

The Museum of the History of the Ancient Olympic Games in Ancient Olympia, Greece.

It features many antiquities, paintings, and mosaics that narrate the event’s origins and its religious and cultural importance for ancient Greeks.

Visit the archaeological site of Olympia

Apart from the famous stadium, the archaeological site of Olympia has many other attractions.

Here you will find the studio of Phidias, one of the most famous architects of ancient Greece, the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, the gymnasium where athletes trained before the big event, and other important ancient ruins.

archaeological site of Olympia
The Archaeological Site of Olympia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Courtesy: Dimitris Karagiorgos /

Visit the Archaeological Museum of Olympia

This museum houses all the important artifacts and relics that were found on the archaeological site, including large parts of the Temple of Zeus that remain intact to this day.

The Archaeological Museum of Olympia
The Archaeological Museum of Olympia. Sculptures of the east pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.

The Archaeological Museum of Olympia (check opening hours and price tickets) is widely considered one of the country’s most fascinating museums.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Ancient Olympia?

Tourists visit Ancient Olympia throughout the year. However, we recommend planning your trip to Olympia in spring or summer.

This way, you will most probably avoid any chances of rain. The most famous attractions of ancient Olympia, like the stadium and the archaeological site, are outdoors.

Plus, traveling in good weather will make the trip much more enjoyable, as you can stop and enjoy the countryside of the Peloponnese along the way.

We are certain that a day trip from Athens to Olympia will be one of the highlights of your next vacation in Athens.

Your itinerary should not miss its magnificent views, ruins, and history.

A Quick Reminder:

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