Visit Olympia, home of the first Olympic Games
Olympia is the main destination for those taking cruises to Katakolon.
Katakolon port itself is a pleasant little place with a good selection of tourist shops along the main street including those selling gold and silver jewellery.
The seafront has numerous cafés and restaurants. These vary, some serve only drinks, desserts and ice cream and some have wifi, you will need to ask for the password. Those on the seafront have views of the sea and harbour and so command higher prices. If you are not bothered about the view try moving behind the shops for better value food and drink.
This area is a very relaxing place to while away an hour or two.
There is a little train, costing 6 euros each, which takes you on a trip through the port and local villages up to a winery where you can get off and be collected 30 mins later. It then proceeds down to nice hotel with a private beach where you could again, stay to be collected later. A nice little trip.
The beach in the picture opposite was spotted from the ship, turn left at the port entrance.
On our visit in July 2014, people from the local area had put on a mini festival during the afternoon to entertain passengers from the 3 large cruise ships that were in that day.
Samples of food and wine were readily available to persuade people to buy Greek produce and there was a display of Greek dancing. An excellent way to end a day in the lovely port of Katakolon.
Katakolon to Olympia
Olympia can be accessed in a variety of different ways. On our first ever trip to Olympia we splashed out on an excursion, which included a visit to both the Archaeological Museum and the Olympia site itself. We benefited from the services of an excellent guide, who talked non-stop during the journey there about life in the area and the local scenery, as well as giving us lots of information around the museum, about particular exhibits and selected areas of the site itself.
As always on an excursion it can be very frustrating visiting with a crowd and we were left wanting to return under our own steam another time. We did feel, however, that we had had a good introduction to Olympia and its history.
Olympia by train
The most cost effective way of getting to Olympia would appear to be the Katakolon Train. The station and ticket office can be found on the far side of the harbour from the port, at the far end of the main shopping street. You can just about see it from your ship. The return trip costs 10 euros per person, with the journey time being about 45 mins. The ticket office has a timetable for the day in the window and trains seem to run about every 2 hours, depending on how many cruise ships are in port.
Reports on the reliability of the train do seem to vary, however, and the service was stopped for part of 2014. On our last visit we rushed off our ship as soon as we docked hoping to catch the 9am train but it seemed to have left early and there was no sign of a timetable or anyone to ask. Later that morning, however, the train did seem to be running and there seemed to be another 2 trains leaving at 12.10 and 13.50, both of which would have allowed time enough to visit the site and return by train. We would recommend getting the earliest train possible to be sure of returning to the ship in plenty of time for departure.
Olympia by bus
Another low cost way of getting to Olympia is the bus. In 2014 this cost 12 euros each for a return trip and allowed 2 hours at the site.
Olympia by taxi
As you leave the port when you dock you will see a line of taxis on your right. in 2014 we were quoted a price of 80 euros, which included the 30 min journey there, 1 hour at site and the 30 min return journey. If it’s not too busy you may be able to negotiate. A further hour at the site would have cost 15 euros. 1 hour is just about enough time to visit the site, especially if you have been before, but we would advise longer if its your first visit and you would definitely need at least another hour if visiting the museum.
When you arrive at Olympia tickets can be purchased either from the ticket kiosk or the museum. Entrance is 6 euros or there is a combined ticket including the museum for 9 euros.
If you not on a guided tour you may wish to do some research in advance or buy a guidebook as there is not a lot of interpretation at the site. There is a cafe in the museum and toilets both in the museum and at the site, tucked away in a yellow building on the far side from the entrance.
In conclusion, a visit to Olympia can cost from 19 euros per person travelling independently, to 70 euros plus for a pre-booked excursion through your cruise line, depending on how cosseted you want to be. You will also need to take into account how long your ship is in port for. You will need at least an hour to visit the site and at least an hour in the museum, with 30-45 mins travelling each way. An early start would get you back to port in plenty of time to enjoy everything Katakolon has to offer.