Katakolon

Katakolon, a tiny seaside town 

One of the largest ancient sites in Greece

The great Doric Temple of Zeus

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Katakolon/Olympia

The thousands-year old cradle of sport

A holiday to Greece during an MSC cruise of the Mediterranean means history and myth. Katakolon is a tiny seaside town in Greece in the bay of Agios Andreas, only 20 km away from the ancient site of Olympia.
 
The historic associations and resonance of Olympia, which for over a millennium hosted the most important Panhellenic games, are rivalled only by Delphi or Mycenae. MSC Mediterranean cruises offer comprehensive excursions to Olympia. It is one of the largest ancient sites in Greece, spread beside the twin rivers of Alfiós and Kládhios, and overlooked by the Hill of Krónos.

The sheer quantity of ruined structures can give a confusing impression of their ancient grandeur and function, but the site itself is picturesque, definitely deserving a visit on an MSC excursion. The entrance to the site, located just 200m from the modern village, leads along the west side of the Altis wall, past a group of public and official buildings. The Prytaneion was the administrators’ residence, where athletes stayed and feasted at official expense.

You can see the ruins of a gymnasium and a palaestra (wrestling school), used by the competitors during their obligatory month of pre-games training. Beyond these stood the Priests’ House, the Theokoleion, a substantial colonnaded building in whose southeast corner is a structure adapted as a Byzantine church. The main focus of the Altis precinct is provided by the great Doric Temple of Zeus.

Built between 470 and 456 BC, it was as large as the Parthenon, a fact quietly substantiated by the vast column drums littering the ground. The temple’s decoration, too, rivalled the finest in Athens; partially recovered, its sculptures of Pelops in a chariot race, of Lapiths and Centaurs, and the Labours of Hercules, are now in the museum.

Must see places in Katakolon

  • The original Olympic Stadium

    The original Olympic Stadium

  • Olympia

    Olympia

  • Korouta Beach

    Korouta Beach

Discover our excursions

5 results found

Download the cruise excursions programme (PDF)
  • OLYMPIA & MUSEUM approx. 4.5 hours

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    KAT04

    Spend a few hours off the ship and follow the trail of ancient Olympians on this fascinating tour to the archaeological remains of Olympia, only a short coach drive from Katakolon. Ancient Olympia is the town that gave rise to, hosted the Olympic Games in classical times, and is still the place where the Olympic torch is lit for our modern-day Summer Olympics, which were reinstated in 1896. Although Ancient Olympia was already re-discovered in 1766, excavation work only began in 1829 and responsibility for the site then passed to the “German Archaeological Institute at Athens” in 1870. Your trip around this UNESCO World Heritage Site will give you a chance to see the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, the gymnasium, the hippodrome and the stadium, which was designed to hold up to 40,000 spectators. The tour also includes a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, which was opened in 1982 and is home to an astounding collection of artifacts found in the course of excavation work. Among the museum’s most notable exhibits are particularly fine collections of beautifully detailed sculptures and bronzes as well as numerous terracotta artifacts and mosaics. The complex also includes a book and souvenir shop, which you may also like to visit. Your Olympic tour ends with a scenic return drive to the port and your ship. Please note: this tour is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair. Only cameras without a flash allowed inside the Museum.
    • Best seller

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      4:30 h

  • OLYMPIA AND SHOPPING approx. 4 hours

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    KAT01

    From the port of Katakolon your coach first heads inland through the Greek countryside to Olympia, the archaeological site of the ancient Olympic Games. A team of German experts in the 19th century excavated the area, in the course of which many important artifacts were unearthed. According to legend Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, built Olympia. The tour includes a chance to view the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, the gymnasium, the hippodrome and the stadium, which was constructed with a maximum capacity of 40,000 spectators. You will also have some free time to do a spot of shopping before the tour ends with your return to the port and your ship. Please note: this tour is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair.
    • Shopping

    • Best seller

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      4 h

  • TRANSFER TO THE BEACH (approx. 3 hours)

    SEA & SUN

    KAT03

    Spend a few hours in pure relaxation mode and take advantage of this tour to Kouroúta beach, which forms part of the Amaliada municipality and is situated an approx. 30-minute coach ride from the port of Katakolon. The beach is an ideal spot to take in the beautiful views, enjoy the Greek sun, swim, lounge on the sand or go for a gentle walk. Do take some sunscreen, a hat and a bottle of water, although amenities can also be found at the beach. Your tour ends with your return to Katakolon and your ship. Please note: the tour operates from June until the end of September. Sun loungers and parasols are available free of charge for guests ordering food or drink.
    • No guide available

    • Possibility of swimming

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      3 h

  • A TASTE OF THE ANCIENT GREECE approx. 4 hours

    SOMETHING SPECIAL

    KAT05

    Designed to give you a taste of ancient Greece, this tour takes you inland from the port of Katakolon to the site of ancient Olympia, which was excavated by a team of German archaeologists in the 19th century, yielding a wealth of historical artifacts. Greek mythology has it that Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, built Olympia. Your tour around the archaeological site will take you past the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, the gymnasium, the hippodrome and the stadium, which held up to 40,000 spectators – quite a crowd even by modern-day standards. To round off your “Olympic” experience, you will also have a snack and watch a typical Greek folklore show in a pleasant restaurant in Olympia. The tour ends with your return to the port of Katakolon and your ship. Please note: this tour is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair.
    • Snack included

    • Best seller

    • Limited seats

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      4 h

  • “MAGNA GRECIA” ESTATE & OLYMPIA approx. 4 hours

    SOMETHING SPECIAL

    KAT11

    The ancient town of Olympia was the site of the very first Olympic Games and this tour gives you an opportunity to discover the archaeological remains of this iconic place. Excavated by a team of German archaeologists in the 19th century, the site offers a unique look at the way these ancient Grecians lived. In line with Greek mythology, the king of the Greek gods, Zeus, constructed the city. Look forward to seeing the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, the gymnasium, the hippodrome and the stadium, designed to hold up to 40,000 spectators. Next up are the beautiful vineyards of “Magna Grecia”. A welcoming cocktail will be served on your arrival, after which you will be shown how homemade wine and olive oil are produced. A light Greek snack will also be served at the estate before you return to the ship. Please note: this tour is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair.
    • Snack included

    • Best seller

    • Limited seats

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      4 h

The excursions in the programme above are intended to provide MSC Guests with an idea of the different tours that can be arranged in each port of call; this programme is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise.
Shore excursions programs and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.

 

Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

Greece

Under the protective wing of the gods

Under the protective wing of the gods

It would take a lifetime of island-hopping to fully appreciate the 227 inhabited Greek islands scattered across the Mediterranean Sea.
With sapphire water lapping at rocky coastlines sprinkled with secret coves and sandy beaches, they are the stuff of dreamy travel posters, the very definition of the eulogized Greek summer of sun, sea and sand.

For anyone with a cultural bone in their body a cruise to the Greek islands cannot fail to inspire. Every culture has left its mark, and almost every town or village has a link to the past, whether it’s a delicately crumbling temple to Aphrodite, a forbidding Venetian fort or a dusty Byzantine monastery decorated with exquisite frescoes.
But the call to cultural duty will never be too overwhelming on a Greek islands holiday. The hedonistic pleasures of languor and warmth – swimming in balmy seas at dusk, talking and drinking under the stars – are just as appealing.
Sprawling, globalized Athens is an obligatory, almost unavoidable introduction to Greece: aside from the show-stopping Acropolis it offers a truly metropolitan range of cultural diversions, from museums to concerts; well-stocked shops; gourmet restaurants and stimulating clubs.