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“Worth it and cool, have reasonable expectations” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Ancient Olympia

Ancient Olympia
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Ancient Olympia Half-Day Tour from Katakolo Port
Ranked #3 of 26 things to do in Olympia
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136 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“Worth it and cool, have reasonable expectations”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 11, 2014

Olympia is simply one of the best sites for trying to understand the legacy of Greece. The site is large and there are not scads of interpretive signage, but the ones that are present are good. It is easy to navigate and one can find good, inexpensive guidebooks to the site. The competitive spirit and the belief that humans can reach nearly to the gods through competition are part of the Greek legacy and this is on display at Olympia. But it is also a religious site so you can get a good sense of the importance of religion in the ancient Greek world. You can see that the compeition was wrapped up in the religion, in a way more profound than you see at Delphi or elsewhere. You can also see the important role played by displays of success, both as honor and as conspicuous consumption, another aspect of religion. It is also the best track for actually running a race on, though Nemea is a close second. The associated museums, both of them, are fabulous and well arranged and well-signed to tell the story of the site. Many items, not just the Hermes of Praxitiles are well worth examining and contemplating.

Olympia is one of those great sites that can absorb many tourists, but when all the cruise ships send a zillion people I can agree that it gets a bit unpleasant. We went on a Friday and the crowds were not as bad, and a guard she said that Friday is often a less-crowded day. The guards whistle at people for standing on or leaning on the stones because one person may not noticeably damage it, but zillions of people visiting each year and standing or rubbing up against the same stone will destroy it. When there are many people more people do silly stuff and the guards whistle at them more. The associated town has been a tourist center since the games began so in that way it also is a part of the attraction.

The site is also easy to navigate because it is much more level than most Greek sites. Delphi is undeniably more beautiful, but for those who cannot handle slopes it is more of a headache too so Olympia is simply easier to get around and appreciate regardless of your age and health. Have realistic expectations and you will not be disappointed.

Visited July 2014
1 Thank Telkontar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
124 reviews
58 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
“The Original Olympic Village”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 11, 2014

The ancient site of the first holding of the Olympic games in about the 5th century BC is in the western Peleponese, about 4 hours away from Athens by road but only half a hour from the port of Kataklan, which is where we started our visit from. We disembarked our cruise ship and bought a couple of tickets for a bus ride from a company called Geotravel which was located at the start of the main street. They ran buses at intervals and we waited about 15 minutes to board for the journey, plus a five minute walk to where the bus was parked. When we got to the Olympia site there was another walk of about half a mile and then a ten to fifteen minute queue to purchase entrance tickets. It's a good idea to also buy the ticket for the nearby museum at the same time if you want to go there too as the admission is reduced by 50% for the second attraction.
So eventually we gained admission and wandered around the Olympic Village, the ruins of which cover a square area of about half a mile in each direction with remnants of buildings and temples dotted around in a reasonable orderly fashion. Of the ruins some are certainly Greek but others do seem to be from the later Roman use of the site. The original stadium is off to one side. It is reached by passing under a small arch. All that is left now is mostly a large flat field where the events took place, the stone start line, part of the judges and dignitaries area and other relics. Altogether though it was a pleasant and most edifying experience. Not as crowded as some of the tourist attractions that we have been to although again there was some pressure on time as we wanted to see the museum also and had a deadline to return to the tour bus.

Visited June 2014
Thank Doug W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
137 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 9, 2014

Good displays which aided understanding of each area. Didn't like large number of bus tours which moved around en masse with their guides who continually pushed aside independent travelers preventing them from reading information displays.

Visited July 2014
Thank dubliner_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Roseville, Minnesota
Level Contributor
202 reviews
85 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 126 helpful votes
“Sort of cool but not the best in Greece”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 9, 2014

Some people will go here simply because they have to go to where the Olympic games were held. If you're one of those people, then don't bother reading the reviews. However, if you're really trying to make difficult decisions about your itinerary, then I would offer a word of caution about Olympia. It *is* a very big site, and there *are* a lot of ruins. Most importantly, there's the gateway to the stadium, but the stadium itself has no extant seating and is just a flat gravel stretch. We were here on a somewhat hot July day and this held little fascination for my boys (ages 9 and 11). The rest of Olympia has really weak ruins--very little to spark the imagination. Delphi, home of the Pythian games, is the better of the two sites, if you had to choose. It is also unfortunate that Greece hasn't picked up from other countries a few tips as to how to present a historic site. In much of Europe you can find re-enactments, or at least staff who try to tell you something about it. Olympia had the most annoying staff: older women with loud whistles, who were blowing them quite actively, whenever anyone so much as stood on an old stone block (the possible damage that could be caused is quite difficult to imagine, even with the utmost sensitivity to historical preservation). Instead of blowing whistles at people like grumpy playground monitors, try doing a bit more to make a visit an experience (as is done so much better at British and French castles, for example). A Greek friend I spoke with said that this is the product of the civil service, in which people just settle in and get very complacent. A visit to Olympia also includes the archaeological museum, which is good, and the city, which is a tourist trap. Olympia is quite a ways away from other sites in Greece that are worth seeing (Epidaurus and Mycenae, e.g.) so if you have to make a hard choice, I wouldn't feel entirely bad about skipping Olympia.

Visited July 2014
1 Thank pdwschmidt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Athens, Greece
Level Contributor
20 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“worth visiting”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 5, 2014

first of all it is no doubt the place that the ancient greek calture meets the today! meaning that all the monuments are well situated and the surrounding area is very clean and well equiped. there are many information plates that enlighten the visitor for what is watching, and a very usefull map as you enter the place, so as not to miss anything! tbe staff is very helpfull and well informed! you can visit tbe place without a tour guide..if you have your personal books and notes about the history of the place you are ok! the most important if you go at summer period is to wear a hut and have water..but the big trees of the place also offer full shadow! the prices are reasonable and you can t miss the museum! it is so worth visiting!

Visited August 2014
Thank sylvia c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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