311km (193 miles) W of Athens; 90km (55 miles) S of Patras; 21km (13 miles) E of Pirgos

One of the most popular archaeological sites in the world, the stadium, gymnasium, training hall, and dormitories at the foot of the Kronion Hill evoke Olympia’s famous ancient games, inaugurated in 776 B.C. It’s easy to see why the ancients, with their knack for finding the most beautiful settings for their creations, favored this spot, where the forested hillsides, pine-scented mountain air, and the Alpheios and Kladeos rivers rushing past the remains of temples and public buildings are still transporting. Little wonder that before Olympia became a sports venue, the site was a sacred place, a sanctuary founded around the 10th century B.C. to honor Zeus and his older sister and wife, Hera.

Like ancient worshippers and spectators, you’ll probably find that visiting the mountainside site is a bit of a spine-tingling thrill. When you realize that both the archaeological museum and the new museum of the ancient Games are among the finest in Greece, you'll see why it's wonderful to have more than just a day here, especially if your hotel has a swimming pool. Tip: Check on the admission hours for both the site and museum as soon as you arrive. The actual open hours fluctuate from the official hours more than one would expect.