Kalymnos - Possibly the best sport climbing destination ever?

Set deep in the heart of the Aegean Sea, lies the quaint and homely island of Kalymnos, just a few miles off of the Turkish coast and close to the well known holiday island of Kos. 10 years ago, you'd have heard of this place only if you were interested in buying some sea sponges or going on a package holiday, since then it has become a world famous climbing destination, home to some of the most amazing sport climbing you'll ever see! Kalymnos attracts sport climbers from all over the globe and is now one of the most aesthetic and sociable of all climbing destinations with many now touting it as having the best concentration of high quality sport climbing on the planet.

Dave Idenden climbing Castor (6c+) at ARhi, Kalymnos, 211 kb
Dave Idendon cruising up the Arhi classic - Kastor (7a). Photo: Alan James

"a world famous climbing destination, home to some of the most amazing sport climbing you'll ever see!"

The climbing is found on the huge cliffs and massive caves that are scattered across the bare limestone hillsides, which when blasted by the sun take on an incredible orange glow as if on fire! Nowadays amongst the crags can be seen climbers of all ages and nationalities, challenging themselves on the many outstanding climbs Kalymnos has to offer. Crowds and queues are now the norm at busy times on the famous lines but the extent and diversity of the quality of climbing on offer is such that the crowds can be left far behind by those seeking a quieter climbing experience.

What does Kalymnos have on offer?

The rock available on Kalymnos appears almost limitless on this island, waiting for you in every corner can be found a new crag made of perfect orange and grey limestone: The possibilities are endless! Over the past few years, the development of new routes on the island has increased greatly with more and more new lines every year (so much so that the guide has changed five times in the past 10 years! and now includes what is approaching 2000 routes). There is everything here, whether you are climbing in the F5s or F9s, there is something for everyone! The most spectacular thing about Kalymnos though, is the sheer volume of high quality routes at every grade and at every crag!

There is everything here, whether you are climbing in the F5s or F9s... sheer volume of high quality routes at every grade and at every crag!

Robbie Phillips - Author of this Article

I have simply been unable to come across a single route that I thought to be of bad quality. In most crags you will expect to have some classics, then the two star routes and finally the down-right garbage routes... in Kalymnos, only expect the classics.

The Layout?

All the main crags are within 15 minutes walk from the small town of Massouri (where all the climbers stay) and it's easy enough to hire a scooter or car if you fancy heading out to some of the crags further afield. The other alternative is to check out the climbing on the neighboring island of Telendos, which you can access easily by ferry every hour on the hour!

The beautiful thing about Kalymnos isn't solely the climbing; it's the whole package! You arrive on the island (more specifically at Pothia, the main town) and are immediately struck with a vibrant scene of Greek island life, beautiful architecture as well as incredibly fascinating people who greet you so welcomingly to their island you would half expect them to be old friends.

"The beautiful thing about Kalymnos isn't solely the climbing; it's the whole package"

The end of a perfect day, 93 kb
The end of a perfect day
© Mike Meysner

You stay in a comfortable apartment studio with restaurants all around you where eating out every night is not uncommon (although most apartments include a kitchen area for those on a budget). Local supermarkets are in abundance, supplying fresh bread and produce as well as everything else you could possibly need to satisfy your dietary requirements whilst staying on the island.

Not to mention the fact that nearly all the best crags are within walking distance from the town and if you fancy getting to the other crags, then hiring cars or scooters is really easy!

"Local supermarkets are in abundance, supplying fresh bread and produce"

Recommended Routes through the grades (All on crags within walking distance from Massouri)

The routes listed below are all featured in the new 2010 Kalymnos guidebook. The list includes the current grades given in the new guidebook for the respective routes.

Via Ferrata , Gerakios

Finger Piercing 4a, Afternoon

Demeter 4b, Zeus

Dorian 4c, Summertime

Poker Face 5a, Ivory Tower

Eurycleia 5b, Odyssey

Drei Strolche 5b+, School

Didi, Hermana de Alma 5c, Summertime

A Czech climber attempts to redpoint Daniboy 8a, 99 kb
A Czech climber attempts to redpoint Daniboy 8a
Robbie Phillips, Oct 2010
© Will Carroll
Mustass 5c+, Poets

Anacreonte 6a, Poets

Monahiki Elia 6a+, Grande Grotta

Carpe Diem 6b, Panorama

Harakiri 6b+, Spartacus

Taz 6c, Grande Grotta

The Siege of Thermopylae 6c+, Spartan Wall

DNA 7a, Grande Grotta

Aegean Sea 7a+, Panorama

Tornado Lou 7b, Olympic Wall

Spartacus 7b+, Spartacus Sector

Aegialis 7c, Grande Grotta

Marci Marc 7c+, Odyssey Sector

Aurora 8a, Kalydna

Priapos 8a+. Gande Grotta

Racomelo 8b, Iannis

Nadir 8b+, Odyssey

Fake Friends 8c, Kalydna

Titantrope 8c+, Spartan Wall

Los Revolucionarios 9a, Odyssey

[Missing photo!]

Neill Busby enjoying tufa loving goodness!, 87 kb
Neill Busby enjoying tufa loving goodness!
Robbie Phillips, Oct 2010
© Will Carroll
Robbie Phillips climbing Daniboy, 8a, 95 kb
Robbie Phillips climbing Daniboy, 8a
Robbie Phillips, Oct 2010
© Will Carroll


When do I go?

The best time of year to go to Kalymnos is during either the Autumn (September – November) or Spring (March – May). As soon as it gets into the summer months, expect it to be HOT!!! Not only that, but floods of Greeks (from the mainland) fill the island in a wave of beach holiday madness, and you don't want to be around when this happens. In the winter months (December – February), it is possible to climb, however it can get very wet. As well as this, the whole island pretty much shuts down, restaurant, hotels, shops, etc... Many of the inhabitants of the island live only on the island during the holiday season, so when it ends, they move back to mainland Greece to wait out the cold spell...

How do I get to Kalymnos?

There are a number of methods of arrival for Kalymnos: Britain – Kos – Kalymnos The most popular out of all travel methods, fly EasyJet to Kos (Usually in the area of £80 - £180 depending on when you go and connecting flights). When you arrive, simply get a taxi (€15) from the airport to Mastachari (pronounced Master-Harry, Harry with a chhhhh sound : P). From there, you simply have to wait for the ferry for Kalymnos to arrive, which could be all night if you're unlucky with flights. Ferries run all day from around 9am. There are also two ferries to choose from, the slow and fast ferry. The slow ferry takes 45-50 minutes and costs around €4 whilst the fast ferry takes 20-25 minutes and costs €6, just depends on how sea sick you get I suppose? When you arrive on Kalymnos, getting a taxi to Massouri (Climbers village) is quick and easy, usually taking around 10-15 minutes to get there and costs roughly €15. Massouri is where you will be spending the majority of your trip, find your accommodation and get climbing : ) Britain – Athens – Kos/Kalymnos – Kalymnos This is also a popular method of arrival, but slightly longer and a bit more tricky in some circumstances. You can either get Easy Jet or Ryan Air to Athens but once your there, you have a choice... You can take the leisurely and relaxed approach by taking a ferry direct to Kalymnos, you can take an Olympic Air flight direct to Kalymnos Airport, or you can go from Athens to Kos on Olympic Air and finish of the rest of method 1 (see above). Britain – Kalymnos Wouldn't it be nice? Unfortunately, UK airports have not yet introduced direct flights to Kalymnos "International" Airport, and even if they had, I somehow doubt that we simple climbers would be able to afford them anyway

Guidebooks and Route Information?

The new guidebook is just out and can be purchased at the climbing shops on the island or from When new routes are bolted, they are added to the smaller additional leaflets that can be bought from the Glaros Bar in Massouri. The cost of this is a simple donation to the bolt fund, so be generous and we will see more top quality routes developed on Kalymnos for many years to come!

What gear do I need?

A long rope and plenty of quickdraws.

Where do I stay?

The small village of Massouri is where all the climbers stay. The accommodation varies from nice little studio apartments (usually with bathroom, balcony and kitchen area) to proper hotels with swimming pools and catered breakfast! The studio apartments are a favourite amongst climbers, usually costing between €16 - €25 a night for the room. This can cost as little as €8 a night per person! Check out Saki's Studio Apartments in Massouri

What's the scoff like?

Massouri is kitted out with dozens of high quality restaurants and cafes, all at very cheap prices. All the supermarkets are stocked up well with everything you might possibly need for those days when you fancy eating in, or on your way to the crag and need to buy some lunch. On my own trips, I opted for preparing my own meals mostly and one day a week eating out. I have managed to comfortably eat in for a meager price of €2.50 - €4 a night on average and my very cheap one night out a week (which includes half a chicken!!!) was €7.50!!! Fancy a drink? The Greek beer is called Mythos and a pint of this stuff would send you back €2.50, not that bad really?

Where can I buy gear and food?

If your running low on some gear or need a new guide book, there are two well supplied climbing shops, "Wild Sports" in the centre of the village and "The Climbers Nest" on the outskirts towards the crags. Both include a good range of climbing clothing, gear, books and accessories. Be warned though, the gear tends to be a bit steep in price (your on an island in Greece, where else are you going to get gear?).

What else is there apart from the climbing?

Rest Days... boring? Not at all! There is plenty to do on your days off. Why not jump in the sea for a swim, or if you don't fancy the sea, there are a number of public access swimming pools. The beaches are beautiful and can be very relaxing to just sit and do nothing for the whole day. Scooters and cars are cheap and easy to rent (as long as you have a driving license), so why not check out the other parts of the island? There are many touristy spots all over Kalymnos including Pothia where you can go shopping. Kalymnos also has a vibrant and colourful underwater ecosystem, so why not grab a snorkel and some goggles and go snorkeling? There's enough here that you should never be bored, even on rest days!

Photo Gallery

Last route of the day

Last route of the day
© StuM

Dave Barrans on Aegialis 7c

Dave Barrans on Aegialis 7c
© StuM


© StuM

How small?! Adrian going for another tiny hold on Spartan Wall (F8b+), Kalymnos

How small?! Adrian going for another tiny hold on Spartan Wall (F8b+), Kalymnos

The end of a perfect day

The end of a perfect day
© Mike Meysner

lowering off the best route ever after the onsight

lowering off the best route ever after the onsight
© mwatson

Daniel Sromek is climbing in spartacus sektor, Kalymnos

Daniel Sromek is climbing in spartacus sektor, Kalymnos
© Adam Kokot

Dip your toe in

Dip your toe in
© Mike Meysner

The big cave

The big cave
© Mike Meysner

Telendos at Dusk

Telendos at Dusk
© Mike Meysner

Aegialis, Kalymnos.

Aegialis, Kalymnos.
© Sean Bell

Telendos Sunset, Kalymnos

Telendos Sunset, Kalymnos
© Dan Arkle

[Missing photo!]

Sponsored Link

Kalymnos from ROCKFAX

Kalymnos has been added to the Rockfax App with full coverage of the whole island, updated with all but the very latest new routes.

Kalymnos is well established as one of the most popular climbing destinations in Europe for sport climbers regularly attracting climbers from all over the world to enjoy the superb climate, relaxed holiday atmosphere and brilliant well-bolted routes.

This App-only guide contains a remarkable 2,600 routes which is enough for a lifetime for most people. Alternatively you can buy it in smaller packages if that suits. The free sample crag for this App package is the amazing venue of Odyssey which has been created in a magnificent single topo - just check it out to see what superb detail we have managed to get in these topos!

It is available now via the Crags Tab > Downloads for 14.99 or as 17 separate bundles.

Find out more...

Robbie Phillips  silhouetted against the island of Telendos, 36 kb
Robbie Phillips silhouetted against the island of Telendos
Robbie Phillips, Oct 2010
© Will Carroll
Thanks go to Robbie Phillips for the words and Will Carroll for many of the photographs.

Robbie Phillips is sponsored by: Edelrid, Evolv and currentbody.

Robbie has a website:

Will also has a website:

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