Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Mon August 31 2015

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  • A Cruising Couple | August 31, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    A Guide to Kalymnos, Greece: The Peak of Climbing in Europe

    A Guide to Kalymnos, Greece: The Peak of Climbing in Europe

    Photos courtesy of A Cruising Couple unless otherwise noted

    Santorini has its world-renowned sunsets. Rhodes hosts one of the best-preserved ancient fortresses in the world. And Mykonos has such riveting nightlife that travelers have been known to miss their ferries day after day. Each of Greece's many islands offers something unique to its visitors. As for Kalymnos — a Greek island you may never have heard of — that something is world-class rock climbing.

    After visiting busier and more touristed areas of Greece, the peace and calm of Kalymnos came as a welcome relief. The entire island can be navigated by scooter in less than a day, a journey featuring stops at picturesque small beaches, lounging at cafes and expansive ocean views as you drive along the open roads. Kalymnos a must-visit for any traveler to Greece, but the island is especially magnetic for those seeking to conquer its peaks.


    The climbing potential of Kalymnos wasn't fully realized until an Italian climber created routes in May of 1997. He later came back with his photographer, and in 1999, climbing photos in Kalymnos were published in Alp and Rotpunkt magazines. After the feature, climbing in the area quickly caught on.

    The first international climbing event took place in October of 2000 with 180 participants. Kalymnos has since hosted multiple climbing events, attracting some of the biggest names from around the world.

    Do It Yourself

    If you've come with your own gear in hand and you're looking to tackle some routes yourself, here are a few tips to get your started. Kalymnos Climbing Guidebook One of the best resources to consult before and during your trip is the Kalymnos Climbing Guidebook. Read up on the routes you'd like to climb, what type of gear you will need and how to navigate the trails.

    Rent a Scooter

    There are various shops around the island to rent transportation. There is only one main road that runs along the coast of the island, and you likely won't need anything more powerful than a 50cc scooter. We acquired one for a reasonable 15 euros a day. Of course the longer you rent, the better the rate.

    It might be a good idea to bring an international driver's license or motorcycle license just so the shops don't give you any trouble. Even though we had rented scooters in Santorini and Rhodes just days before, we were almost refused a scooter because we didn't have an international license.

    Finding a Buddy

    If you are looking for a climbing buddy, check the community board outside the Kalymnos Adventure Center. Climbers will post their climbing ability and phone number so you can team up with evenly skilled partners.


    Photo via Flickr/Pat_Demassy  


    You can rent harnesses and shoes from the various shops on the island. However, ropes cannot be rented, so you'll need to either bring/buy your own or find someone on the forum board willing to share.

    Deep Water Solo


    Although we have done plenty of climbing, we had never been deep water soloing before. This is a type of climbing where water, not unforgiving rocks, is at the base of the route. It ended up being our favorite activity on the island! In the small port of Varys, on the east side of Kalymnos, there is a cave with some great deep water soloing routes for all levels and abilities.

    We recommend renting a standup paddleboard or a kayak from the shop at the end of the pier. The cost is 5 or 6 euros per hour depending on what you rent. The cave is about a 10-minute paddle on the left side of the port as you exit, just before you hit open water. Take your time and enjoy the beautiful scenery, maybe even trying some SUP yoga while you're at it!


    Climbing Tours

    With over 2,300 routes on the island, Kalymnos has something for everyone. From beginner climbs to professional routes, you'll no doubt be able to find something challenging yet accessible. If you don't feel comfortable going on your own or you'd like to hire a guide, there are a few places you can do so.

    Many of the shops have multi-day climbing courses where you can learn the ropes (literally). You can choose between a beginner top-rope course or, if you have a bit of experience, intermediate lead climbing. Kalymnos is an ideal place for beginner climbers to take their skills to the next level, as the routes here are very safe and well protected. There is also advanced private instruction available from certified instructors if you want some quality one-on-one coaching.

    Essential Kalymnos Climbing Contacts:

    • Climb Kalymnos Summer Course

    • Kalymnos Climbing Center  

    Location: Massouri, Kalymnos

    Phone: +30 22430 48160

    • Kalymnos Climbing Guide

    Phone: +30 69 83 67 41 62

    • Kalymnos Climbing School

    Location: Panormos, Kalymnos

    Phone: +30 22430 47463

    And if you’re not a rock climber, don’t worry. Kalymnos still boasts beautiful beaches, great food, friendly locals and a plethora of island hopping excursions

    Have you been rock climbing on Kalymnos? What tips would you add?

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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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