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Kalymnos: The Best Rock Climbing Destination in Greece

Climber in Kalymnos Island
Rock climbing in Kalymnos. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 2.5

The Greek island of Kalymnos has recently been selected as the second-best climbing destination (after Sardinia) in Europe by, one of the leading leisure sites.

Kalymnos has somehow managed to stay off the mainstream tourist radar, but the secret has been out among climbers for years, says.

Like much of the Mediterranean, Kalymnos has famously steep and challenging limestone marked by deep pockets and towering tufas. But, there’s plenty of rock for new climbers here, it adds.

Kalymnos welcomes 10,000 climbers every year who normally spend about a week on the island.

Since rock climbing is better enjoyed during cooler months, this also means that Kalymnos is a popular Greek off-season destination.

Kalymnos as a first-rate rock climbing destination

Kalymnos is a top destination for fitness lovers and rock-climbing fanatics.

The island is home to more than 3,500 climbing routes that are pre-equipped with permanent drilled-in bolts. All that’s required for climbing are appropriate footwear, rope, and quickdraws (slings with two carabiners to attach the rope to the bolts).

Kalymnos also possesses vast tracts of unexplored rocky terrain. As experts agree, even though it’s never without some risk, as accidents are bound to happen, it is one of the safer forms of climbing.

Climbing cave Kalymnos rock
Sikati Cave, Kalymnos. Crédit: alpguideCC BY-SA 2.0

These are the reasons why climbers of various age and ability are attracted to Kalymnos.

Spots for families and rock climbers of all ages

Kalymnos is often chosen by rock climbers of all ages, including teenagers, families, and older climbers, as there are many routes that range in difficulty on the island.

One of the island’s most famous climbing spots is the Grande Grotta—a vast cave boasting a forest of large stalactites.

At night, after spending the day exploring the island’s caves, rock climbers usually gather in bars and tavernas of Massouri to relax.

Other than climbing, Kalymnos is also famous for its past and its connection to sponge harvesting, a thriving industry for which the island is internationally known.

Although an ancient tradition, the practice still comprises a vital part of the economy and local identity.

In fact, immigrants from Kalymnos built the town of Tarpon Springs, Florida in the US, where their descendants continue to dive for precious sponges to this day.

Pothia, the main town of Kalymnos

Pothia, the island’s main town, is a maze of brightly colored houses and seaside spots, which are perfect places to relax during any climbing vacation. Only a short distance southwest of Pothia is Therma, an area with hot therapeutic springs.

This famous rock climbing destination welcomes adventurers all year long. Many of them have fallen in love with the natural scenery and often return to the island.

This was also the case with a very original couple of climbers from Luxembourg who organized the most extreme wedding on the Greek island three years ago.

Marc Morocutti and eight-months-pregnant Sandy Kirtz pledged their eternal love while hanging from one of the unique and spectacularly beautiful climbing spots that overlook the nearby island of Telendos.

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