Only 1hr 15min by comfortable bus from Salonika and є14 return, stands the village of Litóhoro, gateway to the Mount Olympus National Park.
The full ascent is a two-day endeavour in June-August, but there are numerous hiking trails around the park, one of which is the 12Km/5hr moderate climb to Prionia, starting by the small village cemetery.
I trekked about 2hrs of the trail, but was pressed for time and had to return back, but not before I could admire the tantalising curve of the Thermaicos Gulf below, through a landscape of marigolds, chestnuts, pines and limes.
I changed my route and followed the trail around the Enipéas gorge to its source, a powerful waterfall where Zeus supposedly washed his feet. (Don’t wash yours, the water ends up in the village taps).
When I got back, I had slow-cooked lamb with tomatoes, olives and bulgur in one of Greece’s most imaginative restaurants Gastronomio, presided over by award-winning Chef Andreas Gavris. Although he could be a hit in any European capital, he has chosen this spot to live, work and create such dishes as grilled calamari with lentils or rabbit stew in buttermilk. Of course, he bakes his own breads – and offers a cheeseplate with thirty local varieties.
I don’t know whether I want to return to Litóhoro to climb Mount Olympus or to eat again at the restaurant.
Ah, choices, choices..
Eat at Gastronomio as recommended above. Mains ; €10-12
Stay at Hotel Enipeas by the Central Square +30 2352 084 328 dbls €50. The hotel is right next to the river and the water’s flow lulls you at night.
For a cheaper option, try the Seaside Hostel 5km below Litohoro by the sea. +30 23520 61406; dorms €15. They also organize hikes to Mt Olympus.