Katakolon (Olympia)
Cruise Port Guide and Review (2020)

Photo by IQCruising of ships docked in Katakolon (Olympia) cruise port

To see and do, how to explore and get around, excursions and must-know for cruisers to Katakolon (Olympia)

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Katakolon (in Greece) is the gateway to the Archeological Site of Olympia, 21.7 miles (35 km) east of the port. Olympia, where the Olympic Games took place in classical antiquity, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most important archeological sites in the Mediterranean.

Coronavirus advise for cruises to Katakolon (Greece)

For updated coronavirus (Covid-19) information and travel advice to Greece and Katakolon visit the website of the U.S. Embassy in Greece. For more Traveler's Health advice to Greece see the CDC Website.

Contents

  1. Where is Katakolon
  2. Where cruise ships dock
  3. Shuttle bus
  4. Cruise terminal
  5. To see and do in Katakolon
  6. Top highlights of Katakolon
  7. How to explore Katakolon
  8. Shore excursions (Shorex)
  9. Discover on your own
  10. Sightseeing
  11. What's within walking distance
  12. How to get around
  13. Must-know: tourist info, language and currency
  14. Safety, emergencies, and basics
  15. Videos of Katakolon

Overview

Katakolon is a regularly visited cruise port of call in the East Mediterranean itineraries during the Spring-Summer season, with as many as 420,000 passengers and 120 cruise ship visits in 2019. The area around the cruise port of Katakolon has a quaint, safe, ambiance, and is both very clean and well kept. Locals are very friendly but not pushy and speak English very well.

Cruise passengers traveling with families should be aware that there are very few remarkable things to do besides visiting the ruins of Olympia, which may not be of interest to most kids. Cruise passengers with disabilities will find it easy to wander around the port area and the small village of Katakolon, although it can be quite a walk to get from the ship to the exit gates of the cruise port.

Where is Katakolon
and the cruise port

The small port village of Katakolon, with a local population of 500, is located in a historical region known as Peloponnese, on the Western coast of Greece, on the shore of the Ionian Sea, 195 miles (313 km) west of Athens.

Where cruise ships dock

Ships dock on a medium-size cruise port with two piers and quays for 3 ships to berth. The exit gates of the port open right into the town of Katakolon. The distance between the cruise ships gangway and the exit gates is around 560 feet (170 meters) for the smaller pier. Passengers on cruise ships docked on the breakwater pier will have to walk around 1/3 of a mile (570 meters) to reach the exit gates.

Katakolon cruise port map

Shuttle bus

Because the cruise port is within walking distance of Katakolon neither the port authority nor the cruise lines provide shuttle buses.

Cruise port terminal, services and amenities

Both piers have terminal buildings with the following basic services:

  1. Duty Free shops
  2. Tourist Information Kiosk
  3. ATM

Outside the port gates, cruise passengers will also find most other services and amenities such as:

  1. Coffee shops
  2. ATMs
  3. Exchange Office
  4. Local tour guides
  5. Post Office
  6. Bus station
  7. Railway station
  8. Public phones
  9. Car and scooter rental
  10. Wi-Fi in most cafés and restaurants
  11. Internet Cafe
  12. Restrooms with acessibilty for the disabled

Things to see and do in Katakolon

Katakolon is a great port for cruise visitors interested in Archeological and Historical Sites, visiting Museums, and for those that enjoy exploring a cruise port on your own. In town, there are innumerous souvenir shops and restaurants on a long waterfront to savor local cuisine al fresco. There are a couple of beautiful beaches between 2 and 8 miles from the cruise port.

Top highlights, sights and attractions

  • The Archeological site of Olympia and Museum
  • To See: The site where the Ancient Olympic Games took place between 776 BCE and the 4th AD has a good number of impressive ruins to visit: the Stadium, the Gymnasium. The Museum nearby is also a must-see. Distance From Port: 25.2 miles (40.6 km) | Getting There:  45 minutes by Train (€10.00, round trip), Bus or Shore Excursion | Visiting Time:  between 2 and 3 hours for site, at least 1 hour for Museum.

  • The historical city of Pyrgos (Elis)
  • To See & Do: Leisurely stroll the quaint city center, visit the Archaeological Museum of Pyrgos and the St Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church. Distance From Port: 15 km | Getting There:  15 minutes by Train (€10.00 round trip), 30 minutes by Bus (€3.40 round trip). | Visiting Time:  between 2 and 3 hours.

  • Mercouri Estate Winery
  • To See & Do: wine tasting and visit of the winery. Distance From Port: 2.8 km (6.1 km) north of cruise in Katakolon. Getting There: on a shore excursion only. Visiting Time:  between 2 and 3 hours.

Beaches close to Katakolon cruise port

Next to the cruise port, on the right side when exiting the port gates, there is a small bay with golden sand serviced by a beach bar with a few palapas. Know as Plakes beach or Renata beach, this is a good place to have a dip in the ocean but, inevitably, tends to get very crowded. Farther away there are few other serviced beaches, ordered here by distance from the cruise port in Katakolon:

  • Banana beach
  • 1.5 miles (2.5 km) north of the Katakolon cruise port

  • Aghios Andreas beach
  • 2.4 miles (3.9 km) north of the Katakolon cruise port

  • Kourouta beach
  • 15.9 miles(25.5 km) southeast of the Katakolon cruise port
    Official website: www.kouroutabeach.com

  • Zacharo beach
  • 28.1 miles(45.2 km) southeast from Katakolon cruise port

How to explore Katakolon on a cruise

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic cruise travelers may only be allowed to explore Katokolon on a shore excursion. Regardless of public health concerns, shore excursions are always advisable to discover destinations that are farther from the cruise port. Shore excursions are also advisable when a good guide is required or to explore sites that can be time-consuming to explore on your own with public transportation. In one word, there are 5 possible ways to discover Katakolon:

  • Book a shore excursion
  • Sightseeing services around and in Katakolon
  • On your own with public transport (bus and/or train) to Olympia or Pyrgos
  • By taxi, car, or scooter rental
  • On foot to the main attractions of the village of Katakolon

Shore excursions and tours

Obviously, all cruise lines offer many and diverse shore excursions in Katokolon. Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean offer as many 12 shore excursions. Norwegian Cruise Line has available 6 shore excursions. Oceania Cruises organizes 13 shore excursions and Princess has 13 excursions.

There are also excursions offered by the following reputable private online services and local tour operators:

Discover Katakolon on your own

Cruise passengers that prefer to explore cruise ports on your own will find a few attractions to explore on foot in Katakolon. There are also a few sightseeing services, good public transportation, and both car and scooter rental within walking distance of the cruise port.

What's within walking distance and nearby

As mentioned before, the port gates open directly into Katakolon, more specifically into a large rectangular open square where tour buses usually park. On your left, you will find a small beach (Plakes beach) and little else. In front of the port gates is the Port Authority building.

To find all that there is of interest in Katakolon, cruisers should head east - to the right side of the port. Have in mind that Katakolon is really small and only has a main street, a back street, and a waterfront. At the start of the main street, cruise travelers will find services such as car, ATV, and scooter rental, a sightseeing tourist train, and a bunch of souvenir shops.

The main street ends in a large open area known as the central square where the train station is located. On the central square, you will also find the church of Saint Nicholas, the Museum of Ancient Greek Musical Instruments, and the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology. Here are most things to see and do in Katakolon:

  1. Main street
  2. The main street of Kataloon is lined on both sides by shops and more shops selling all sorts of souvenirs and local crafts (in particular sea sponges, leather products, and olivewood carvings), clothing stores, and a few good jewelry shops (Christos and Nicolas are very well rated). On the main street, there are also a few ATMs, the post office, a few small groceries store, and a couple of pharmacies.

  3. Church of Saint Nicholas
  4. This tiny church is a delight to visit but, unfortunately, we have been finding is closed most of the time in over 15 years cruising to Katakolon.

  5. Water front
  6. There isn't one cruise officer or crew member that hasn't been in the waterfront. And, of course, savvy cruisers have also discovered the beautiful setting of the waterfront of Katakolon lined by excellent restaurants for lunch al fresco.

  7. Museum of Ancient Greek Technology
  8. Distance From Port: 0.5 miles | Visiting Time: 20 to 40 minutes. | Entrance: €2.00 (euros)
    Website in English

  9. Museum of Ancient Greek Musical Instruments and Toys
  10. Distance From Port: 0.5 miles. Visiting Time: 20 to 30 minutes. Entrance: Free
    Website in English

  11. Back Street
  12. There isn't much to see or do on the back street of Katakolon unless you want to visit the area where most local residents live.

Sightseeing in Katakolon cruise port

  • Fun Train sightseeing
  • The Katakolon Tourist Fun Train has 3 stops (Korahoori beach, Mercury winery, and St Andreas beach) in a 30-minute tour. You have the option to stop off at 2 stops and hop on the next train. Price: €6.00 (adults) | €4.00 (children)

  • Beer Bike sightseeing
  • The Katakolon Beer bike is really an open beer car for up to 15 people. The price of €5.00 (euros) includes 2 beers, which is also the maximum allowed.

How to get around and
transportation in Katakolon cruise port

  • Taxis and Uber
  • Cruise travelers will find taxis outside the port exit gates. Taxis may offer specific excursions prices. A typical 4-hour tour should cost around €80.00 (euros) per car (up to 4 passengers) including waiting time. Drivers speak fairly good English. Taxis tend to be in excellent condition, are metered, air-conditioned, are reasonably affordable, and only accept cash in local currency. Although you will find a good number of taxis by the port, you may want to book with local online services offering tour such as: www.katakolotaxi.gr, katakolon-taxi-tours.gr, www.katakolo2olympia.gr, www.taxikatakolo.gr.
    Uber does not operate in Katakolon.

  • Train - Railway Station
  • The railway station is around 0.5 mile from the cruise port exit gates. When cruise ships are in port, there are regular trains to both Pyrgo (15 minutes) and Olympia. Updated Info and schedules on the official website:www.trainose.gr in English.

  • Public Buses
  • There is a regular public bus service between Katakolon and Pyrgo (cost: €1.70 euro | around 30 minutes trip), and from here to Olympia (cost: €2.20 euros | around 30 minutes trip). There are 2 buses in the morning (7:40 AM and 9:30 AM) which allow enough time to travel to Olympia (via Pyrgo) and back to Katakolon. The bus stop is close to the cruise port, just before the start of the main street - lookout for the KTEA bus sign.

  • Private Buses
  • There is also a private bus service that offers trips to Olympia and back, taking 45 minutes each way, for €10.00 euros (round-trip) with 2 hours to explore the archeological site and the museum. This service is only available to book online. For more information check the website of Katakolon to Olympia Bus Service.

  • Car Rental
  • There is a good number of car rentals in Katakolon, including well-known companies like Avis. The price for a day rental starts around €50.00 (euros). Have in mind that the cost of gasoline in Europe is much higher than in the USA.

  • Scooters and ATV's
  • Cruise travelers who would like to rent a scooter or an ATV when calling at the port of Katakolon will nor be able to do it online. Once in port, turn right at exit gates and look for the stores behind the Customs House (Port Authority building). There are quite a few places where offering scooters and ATVs. Or follow the Avis car rental sign to rent a bicycle close by.

Must-know: tourist info,
language and currency

  • Tourist Info
  • There are Tourist Information Kiosks next to the duty-free shops on both piers in the Katakolon port.

  • Language
  • Greek is the official language but English is widely spoken. Katakolon is such a tourist site in itself that the English speaking cruise passenger will easily communicate with locals pretty much everywhere.

  • Currency
  • The legal tender in Greece is the Euro (€) (EUR). US$ dollars or any other currency are NOT accepted in Greece.

Safety, US travel advisory and basics

For comprehensive and updated information about traveling to Greece see the U.S. Department of State website page evolving advisory. The US Embassy in Greece also has useful COVID-19 Information for travelers.

Katakolon Basic Info at a Glance

 Entry Requirements:Passport is required for U.S. citizens. Most EU visitors are required either a valid photo ID or a valid passport.
Emergencies:General Emergency - 112
Driving:Driving is on the right and generally speaking it is easy to drive around. Road signage is good and clear.
Electricity:The standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. Typical European two round prongs are used.
Drinking:Legal drinking age is 18 years.
Smoking:Smoking is prohibited in restaurants and public buildings. Bars and some restaurants may allow smoking outdoors.

Videos of Katakolon cruise port

Watch a 2:37 minute video of the fun train in Katakolon cruise port.

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