Size: 1,442 square miles
Fun fact: In ancient times, Greeks would run to the peaks of Mt. Olympus in honor of Zeus. Today, the Olympus Marathon keeps this tradition alive.
Follow in the footsteps of the gods at Mount Olympus National Park. Rich in history, culture and biodiversity, this is without a doubt the most fascinating of Greece’s national parks. As the supposed stronghold of the Olympians (the gods, not the athletes), much of the park’s history and attractions are steeped in ancient mythology.
There are a bevy of trekking routes in the park that fluctuate in rigor, with a trail to suit every god-seeker’s hiking expertise.
The mountain’s highest peak is Mytikas, also called Pantheon because it was believed to be the deities’ gathering place — and if you hike here, you can understand why the ancient Greeks purported this. The peak is almost 10,000 feet tall, with a steep, almost vertical ascent that leads to rocky outcroppings ringed with clouds. It’s easy to picture Zeus throwing lightning bolts from this impregnable perch many centuries ago.
At the foot of Mount Olympus is Dion, now a famous archaeological site that was the throne of Macedonian kings and an altar to the gods. Visitors can explore a hypocaust of ancient public baths, religious artifacts (many partially submerged in water) and even a museum of preserved antiquities. Excavations are ongoing, so you’ll see many a history hunter here.