Rock climbing has become an increasingly popular sport in recent years for young and old, and almost everyone in between. In fact, this surge in numbers is only expected to grow with this sport with its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Apart from being fun and exciting, rock climbing is a great way to get full-body exercise and explore some of the most scenic destinations in the world. While there are myriad epic slabs worth climbing tucked away in different tips of the world, Greece tops the list for several reasons.
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Why choose Greece for your next Rock Climbing Adventure?
Even after the aftermath of the 2007 global recession, Greece remains a top-tier tourist destination, as it offers an enchanting mix of the world’s greatest ancient monuments, a plethora of sugary-white beaches, and tantalizing food options.
But that’s not all, this southeastern European country’s countryside, waterfalls, forests and peaks are just as paradisiacal, starting from the stunning peaks of the Central Macedonian to the breathtaking waterfalls across the north.
Greece is highlighted with over 300 mountains and exhilarating accents, making it a treat for both beginner and seasoned rock climbers. Further, some of the best rock climbing in Greece locations are regarded as some of the epic climbing areas in the world, and are infused with historical significance as well such as Kalymnos.
Best Rock Climbing Spots Greek Islands
The Kalymnos island has been inhabited since the pre-Minoan times, and even though it spans 110 square km (43 sq. mi), it offers 3400+ routes, which are easily accessible with a short hike or scooter. Most of the routes when climbing on Kalymnos feature tufas, and are steep, but there is also a multitude of pockets, and tons of moderates on the lower angle grey limestone, making it an ideal choice for those with grades between 5a to 9a (5.7 to 5.14d).
Sport climbing in Kalymnos can be broken down into three main styles – extremely overhanging with blobs, slightly overhanging or vertically smooth with white and orange walls, and sharp grey slabs flourished with water packets. Getting to Kalymnos Island can be done by either flying directly to Kos Island from any major cities during the summer months up to November 1st, or flying to Athens if making a longer journey.
Speaking of Athens, it is perhaps one of the most underrated rock climbing Greek island spots, and offers a rock climbing experience similar to Kalymnos. It features the same tufa climbing that Kalymnos is known for, and has a strong presence in Mavrosouvala – a popular destination for hard climbing. This amazing cave measures 50m high by 80m wide, and is located just 45 kms south of Athens.
Ikaria – another Greek island in the Aegean Sea located around 12-hour drive from Kalymnos, and 16 hours from Athens is rich in stunning natural beauty, granite rock formations and diverse topography. Ikaria Island features around six crags including Droutsoulas, Platanopi, Maggano, and provides an ideal setting for expert and beginner rock climbers.
Best Rock Climbing Greek Islands – Hidden Gems
If you desire to venture out on a Greece rock climbing vacation surrounded by enriching culture, here are two legendary climbing settings.
1. Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is billed as the highest mountain in Greece, and is home to 52 peaks exceeding 2000 meters and gorges. It has been a natural park in Greece since 1938, and is visited by thousands of visitors per year. Skolio (2,911m) is the second highest peak, and is a great place for rock climbing along its north face.
Other peaks such as Stefani and Mytikas are woven with routes that may be a bit challenging to climb, hence are classified as Class III climb. When you explore these peaks, you will face scrambling loose rocks and additional obstacles. Therefore, it is important that you be aware of your surroundings, and carry extra gear such as a helmet, durable pants and jacket.
The best time to climb the peaks in Mount Olympus is during the summer, but climbing near the end of the summer is not recommended, given the possibility of torrential rain and hail arriving as early as August. With regards to price, it varies depending on operators, but tends to start as low as €150 for a three-day climb. And considering its jagged terrain and various inclines, Mount Olympus is a great option for climbers of all skill levels.
2. Vikos Gorge
Set in the Pindus Mountains of northern Greece, the Vikos Gorge according to the Guinness Book of World Records is listed as the world’s “deepest relative to its width” gorge. It features mesmerizing beauty, is a treat for bird lovers, and offers a vast amount of amount of unclimbed rock.
It is regarded as one of the most popular hiking destinations in Greece, and consists of limestone and dolomite formations, some of them dating back 150 years. Crossing the canyon takes roughly six hours, and the best time to visit is during the summer months. There are different rock climbing areas in the around the gorge geared towards both beginner and advanced climbers such as Kipoi, Kokoris bridge and Misiou bridge.
When looking for the best rock climbing spots in the world, Greece truly has a lot to offer starting from the rugged mountains on the outskirts of Athens to stark sea cliffs located off one of the many Greek isles. Kalymnos however is regarded as one of the world’s most premier rock climbing destinations, but there are many other locations in Greece that are worth climbing such as the Meteora Rocks in Central Greece and Crete Island.