Beckoning you to find its secrets, realms of ancient relics and ruins, temperate weather, and beaches only points to picture-perfect Greece. It gets even better with a cruise holiday. Full of surprises within your reach, one popular gateway by sea is the port-village of Katakolon on the Greek mainland.
Surprisingly, with only a population around 3,000, Katakolon cruise port is the second busiest in Greece after Piraeus. Each year more than one million cruise passengers arrive from their floating hotels to its shores. Quaint cafes lace the waterfront and there’s even a small beach that draws swimmers right near the port.
The port of Katakolon principally serves as a stopover to visit the ancient site of Olympia. Let your imagination take hold and experience its tales but remember to carry water and take the sunscreen along.
Let the Games Begin
Walk upon the birth land of the Olympic Games in a massive archaeological site. The earliest of Greek born athletes competed here every four years, commencing around 750 BC. Originally, only foot races were the competitive sport with chariot racing and wrestling added later on. Besides serving as a tourist attraction, it is also where the Olympic flame is lit by reflection of sunlight, utilising a lens for our modern games.
All Hail the Gods
Even the Gods approved of this location for their temples. The two most important relics of Olympia are the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of Hera. Several columns from the Temple of Hera are standing with some reconstruction.
The Temple of Zeus originally housed an enormous seated statue of Zeus. It is thought to have been 43ft tall made out gold and ivory and was produced in the workshop of Pheidias, also in Olympia.
Archaeological Museum of Olympia
Whilst in Olympia, visit the Archaeological Museum of Olympia. The most motivating display is a scale reproduction that outlines the site at its peak. This is really useful to gain a feel as to how an extensive Olympia was. Other exhibits contain many artefacts that have been dug up on the Olympic grounds over the period of its excavations.
Some of us just want a relaxing holiday sans running around sightseeing. There are alternatives for your day in port that are worth considering instead.
Besides the beach in port, approximately a mile away is another small beach in the seaside village of Agios Andreas. However, a wide sandy beach waits with chairs and umbrellas are available for rental. Kourouta Beach is popular for seaside lovers and is a 25 minute ride away from port.
Established in 1860, The Domaine Mercouri Winery a family estate is an option to visit. Tours include the original winery filled with old wooden equipment including presses and the barrels used by the grape stompers. Head back to the 21st century in the winery’s new building with the contemporary edge that is now used today. After the tour enjoy red and white wine tasting accompanied by cheese and crackers.
Set out on your own or take a tour arranged right aboard the ship. The appeal of arriving here is being transported back thousands of years of history. Whatever you decide, leave the glitz and music behind on board for a day, and see the sights of Katakolon and its fabulous cruise port.
Written by Veronica Shine