Land Ahoy – Cruise Port Katakolo Greece – Highlight Olympia – Home to the Classical Olympics
Our cruise ship, the Celebrity Constellation pulled into the port of Katakolo, also known as Katakolon, at 9:50 am. (Photo Album) We had big plans including Olympia to see the archaeological ruins, visiting a beach and seeing some of the beautiful greek countryside. Wine tasting was also an option we discussed, however we had done a tour and greek wine tasting in Santorini so we skipped it this time in favour of other stops.
The docks are literally in the town! Our small group of 4 walked off the ship and did a quick jaunt down the main street of Katakolo. Like most port towns, it was lined with little tourist shops and cafes. After around 15 minutes, we turned back and headed to the car rental place we had spotted earlier.
Gisela from Dias Rent a Car (main street left) rented us a little car for €40 and we tanked €10 of gas. Although she was very friendly at the beginning, when we dropped the car off, she was extremely surly – I guess she had a bad day! It is worth noting here, if you prefer to take a tour bus to Olympia, the cost is anywhere from €3 to €5 p/p (one way) – there will be people selling it everywhere, so no worries!
Alternatively, the public bus is €1.70 to Pyrgos Town plus €2.20 from Pyrgos to Olympia – €7.80 p/p round trip, approximately 1.5 hours, the train €10 p/p – roundtrip, 45 minutes. A taxi will cost around €80 roundtrip for 4 seats (approximately 4 hours). Because we wanted to see more than Olympia, the above possibilities were not an option. Schedules can be found at www.katakolon.org. I have embedded a map of the area below.
It was a 40 km, 45 minute relaxed drive to Olympia on very good roads, but there were LOTS of beggars at every stop and corner. I think it was around 1/2 way there when we took the time to drive off the highway onto a rugged dirt path heading uphill. Although we second guessed ourselves a few times, it eventually opened up to some amazing mountain views. (please note: we do not recommend doing this).
Olympia town is a cute tourist town with shops, cafes and restaurants. There is ample parking everywhere, just remember exactly where you parked in case you exit at a different point than you enter.
Entrance cost for Ancient Olympia was €12 p/p which includes the Ancient Olympia grounds, the Botanical Gardens and the Museum. It took us around 2.5 hours at a fairly fast pace, but reading everything to see all of the ruins. A Security lady at the Temple of Zeus was extremely rude to the tourists (not to us). She was telling people they could take pictures, but no smiling, no silliness, no, no, no… Maybe she was having a bad day too.
After our enthralling self guided tour of the archaeological ruins, we headed past the Botanical Gardens – although they looked beautiful, we did not stop as we still had so much to do – and arrived at the Museum. It was packed full of people, but if you like artifacts, I strongly recommend going in. You will need minimum 1 hour, much more if you want to read the plaques explaining statues and excavations.
After leaving the museum, we found a little cafe where we sat and all had €1 beers before hitting the road again. Our next stop was Spiaza Beach where the crazy one in our group went for a very cold swim. The beach was empty and houses were still closed, leaving the entire stretch completely to us! It was interesting and sad to see anti German spray painted walls – it seems some locals do not like Germans. After swimming and snacks, we made our way back towards the ship.
At one point, you can see the ship in the far distance – a huge block looking mysteriously out of place in this mainly farm area.
Katakolo Map – Train Station, Public Bus, Port, etc.
Costs per person:
Rent a car + gas: €50 = €12.50
Entrance to Olympia: €12
Total: €25.50 *
* We had brought snacks (fruit, muffin) and water from the ship, but certainly along the road, food and drink would have been very affordable.
Great place to visit – Do it!!!