Grand Goratta in Kalymnos

Rock Climbing in Kalymnos: 2024 Guide

Last Updated on: 13th May 2024, 10:26 pm

Warm salty air. Turquoise water. Incredible food. Killer rock. Welcome to the island of Kalymnos — the Mediterranean’s sport climbing paradise. Be careful reading this article, because after I guarantee you are going to want to plan a trip. While those in the US might think it’s a long way to travel for some climbing, I promise rock climbing in Kalymnos is worth it.

This little Greek island in the Aegean sea has a few things working for it, and I’ll do my best to break it all down in this article.

  1. The first, of course, is the rock. It’s as high quality and bomber as any other spot on earth with a huge variety of styles to meet anyones preferences.
  2. The second is the island culture off the rock. From killer food to gorgeous beaches, there’s tons to enjoy when the climbing day is done or when you need to rest those fingers.
  3. Finally, the accessibility and affordability here is truly unmatched. While getting there might be expensive and a bit difficult, living on the island and exploring what it has to offer is quite easy.
A little Kalymnos hype video

Intro to rock climbing in Kalymnos

Let’s get straight into the important stuff — the rock here is as good as anything out there. I’ve hit my fair share of destination crags and the climbing in Kalymnos is up there with the best. The island was formed by violent seismic activity centuries ago that formed the limestone cliffs it’s known for.

As far as styles go, there is everything from massive overhung routes in caves to long vertical lines that wander up the cliffside. You’ll find pockets, slopers, pinches, and tufas bigger than your body. With somewhere around 3,500 routes, you’ll never run out of things to climb.

A quick note for all you US climbers out there, they use the European grading scale. Make sure you know your coversions before you pick your warm up.

Where to go climbing in Kalymnos

Like I mentioned, there are thousands of routes scattered across 30+ crags on this island. Even though I visited for 8 days, I only got a small taste of what rock climbing in Kalymnos has to offer. With that said, I can definitely get you started with some ideas of what to add on your tick list.

Poet’s Wall

I’m starting with this area because it’s one of closest to the town of Massouri (a great spot to stay but we’ll get to that later). Poet’s is great if you just rolled into town and are looking to hit a couple of routes before the day is over. It has six sections, so there’s a lot to do. The least inspiring of these in my opinion is Poet’s right with only a few routes that range between 5.9 to 11.a. It also get’s hit with sun first so on hot days you won’t want to climb it in the afternoon.

Rock climbing wall in Kalymnos, Poets wall. ocean in background.
Poets wall left side

The main wall has a little bit more going on. It can get crowded, but we never found trouble finding something to climb. The real highlights in this area are Iannis and Kalynda. These walls have a mix of moderate and more challenging climbing that get up into the (5.10s – 5.12s). The routes here don’t have as many tufas, but are steep, long, and loaded with pockets.

Poet’s can easily be a whole day, but once the sun hits it gets pretty greasy. For the best experience, I’d recommend getting there early to beat the heat.

The Grande Gorrata

Grand Goratta rock climbing wall in Kalymnos
Grand Gorotta

No guide of Kaylmnos would be complete without mentioning this legendary wall. The Grande Gorrata is a massive cave up on the stretch of cliff above Massouri. If you’ve seen a picture of Kalymnos, it’s likely this one.

But while the Grande Gorrata is the most famous picture, it’s definitely not the easiest crag for climbing. As with many overhung caves, the climbing in here is quite challenging with the easiest route in the main section coming in at a 5.11d (DNA). On the very far right side, there are some more moderate climbs in the 5.10 range though you’re not quite getting the Grande Gorrata experience there.

We tried to climb DNA but there was a long line for it so we decided to venture elsewhere. On another ‘off day’ we came up to watch people climb some of the harder stuff and hit the moderate warm up’s for a little fun.

Secret Garden

Imagine a wall dotted with tufas and pockets. It starts overhung on one side that gradually moves into a perfectly steep face on the other. The ocean is directly behind you, so close you can hear the waves crashing on the cliffs and feel the occasional wisp of mist in the wind. You’re climbing in Greece, but if you look at the horizon, you can see Turkey. The wall is shaded all afternoon, the routes are long, and you are happy. This is Secret Garden.

Grande Gorrata might gets more hype, but this wall is the best on the island (at least out of what I climbed). Beyond the beauty of it, the climbing is just plain fun. There’s a solid range of moderates and more challenging climbs getting all the way up into the 13’s if you’re up for it.

One of the more popular climbs is Frapagalo, and 11.b with a giant tufa about 1/3 of the way up you can sit on. Despite all of its bulges, the route feels pretty safe to climb and all the falls are clean. If there’s a line, no problem. Everything else on this wall is epic.

The approach can be a little challenging, so make sure you consult the guidebook so you don’t get lost.

Other noteworthy crags

There’s no shortage of climbing on this island, and what you decide to climb is going to be unique to your style and what you enjoy. I can’t pick that for you, but I can point you in the direction of a couple other areas you might enjoy.

Rock climbing wall in Kalymnos with climber
Way more vertical than it seems! Great climbing


This crag is located on top of the hill before you drop down into Myrties. You have to head up some backrodes, but eventually will see a turnout with a bunch of scooters. From here you hike up towards the cliff and at the top on the right, you’ll find the wall.

The main part of Symplegades is made up of two walls that face each other. Because of this one wall get’s morning sun and afternoon shade, while the other is the opposite. This makes it great for all day climbing. With that said, I didn’t love this area. The left side as you walk in (the side with morning shade) has the better climbing, but I found it to be not as fun as other crags. It’s very pocket heavy and steep which isn’t bad, but there’s not much variety outside of that. It’s a bit smaller, and folks compete for the shaded side making it feel a lot smaller on hot days.

I should note that while climbing here, there was an earthquake which was spooky and made us a little skeptical to continue, That may of colored my experience a bit. All in all, it’s still a fun crag so if you have the time give it a go.

Arginonta Valley

This crag is located just inland from the town of Arginonta hence the name. From the town, you take a road next to the one restaurant and continue back in the valley until you reach a gravel turnout (only a minute or two). We got routed onto a road that took us up a hill so if that’s the pin you have, don’t go that way.

The crag itself has three walls and stay shaded for most of the day. One section is fairly steep, but if you continue up, you’ll find a cave with some short, pumpy routes on excellent rock. This is another place you can spend a full day, I highly recommend a dip in the ocean at the town after!

Jurassic Wall

I didn’t actually climb here, but heard great things. One of the big draws is that is a trek to get to. It requires a big hike that most folks aren’t up for which means you might be able to get rid of some of the crowds.

I can’t speak to the climbing, but a couple of people told me that it was quality. Check it out and let me know!

Other things to know about climbing in Kalymnos

Fair warning, rock climbing in Kalymnos is defined by steep hot approaches in the sun. Most stuff, especially the walls right above town, are 20 – 25 minute walks straight uphill in the sun. The good news is it’s all downhill when the day is done!

The other thing you should know is there are goats. Lots of goats. Like everywhere. Expect to see them while your climbing, and expect them to try to go inside your climbing bag if you leave food in it unattended.

Approach up to Grand Goratta in Kalymnos
Approach to Grand Gorotta

Best places to stay in Kalymnos for rock climbers

While climbing is the most important part of your trip to Kalymnos, it’s not the only thing that matters. Picking the right spot to rest your head at night can make or break the experience. Luckily there’s no shortage of affordable quality spots.

The best towns to stay in are Mirties and Masouri. They are right next to each other and sort of blend together. Masouri is closest to the climbing. Right behind it there are trails that lead up to a huge stretch of cliff line that is home to many of the most popular crags including poets and Grande Gorrata. Mirities is also close by, but just a little further.

The other great thing about these two towns is they are loaded with bars and reasturants. Finding a spot to eat in the high season can be tricky — we struggled in September when it wasn’t even at its peak. It’s nice to be able to walk on down to the next spot if you can’t get in where you want to go.

As far as accommodation goes there is truly something for everyone. I had some friends that rented a nice Airbnb (they were on their honeymoon) with a beautiful oceanview, private beach, and full kitchen. There’s also places like the Blue San (Tina Studios) that offer rooms for 2 for $50 a night. These come with a small fridge, cooktop, and private balcony.

When I was there we stayed in Koralli Studios for about $60 a night. The room had two single beds (perfect if your climbing partner isn’t your romantic partner) a balcony, cooktop, and fridge. It was everything we needed as we didn’t spend much time in the room.

Ocean view from climbing hotel in Kalymnos
View from our balcony at the Koralli Suites

Kalymnos is full of cheap options like this, but it also has shwanky boutique hotels with pools if you’re looking for something a little more fancy. I’m sure there’s great accommodation in other parts of the island, but you might find yourself driving more to get to the crag.

Getting around Kalymnos

Speaking of driving around, you absolutely need means of transportation to have a great experience here. The rock climbing in Kalymnos is pretty spread out, so you’ll want to have a way to get around. There is a public bus, but it doesn’t run very often and might not go everywhere you want to climb. You could rent a car, but why do that when you can rent a scooter.

As soon as you’re off the plane, you’ll notice that this town is crawling with little scooters. It’s the primary mode of transportation for climbers, and for good reason. They’re easy to park, good on gas, and fun as hell. If you have never rode a scooter before, try to get a little practice in before you rent one. If you can’t do that, renting a car is fine, just more expensive and can’t always get you as close to the crag as a scooter can.

The other plus side of a scooter? They only cost 12 euro a day. Be sure to book one ahead of time especially if you’re going in peak season.

Best restaurants in Kalymnos

Food can make or break your climbing trip. Finding the right balance of eating enough food to stay fueled, while also enjoying your meals and staying on a budget can be hard. But not here. Rock climbing in Kalymnos means finding plenty of delish and affordable food everywhere you look.

sunset view from restaurant in Kalymnos for rock climbers
An example of the happy hour views you get in Kalymnos

Dining for rock climbers in Kalymnos

This will depend largely on how you choose to eat and whether or not you drink. My girlfriend and I would usually go out to dinner and order 2 or 3 dishes to split along with half a liter of wine to share (2/3 of a bottle). This would run us about $32 dollars or $16 each. Not bad at all!

My favorite spot was Panos. The food was killer and they bring you a massive dessert and extra drink for free with every meal. It’s a must go. The Aegean Tavern is a bit more expensive, but also has some good food. Stellios and Maria Restaurant has great food and an awesome owner, also a must-hit. If you’re looking for something cheaper, Ontheroad Streetfood sells euros for $4.

Panos restaurant in Kalymnos
View of Panos from the outside

Pro-tip! Make a reservation on your way back from climbing or even the night before. These places fill up fast and it can be hard to find a table.

Of course if you choose to buy food and cook yourself, it will be a bit cheaper. Personally, I love to eat and always send a little more when I travel to enjoy the local cuisine. We bought some greek yogurt and granola at the super market and ate that for breakfast. Usually for lunch, I’d buy a spinach pie from the market across the street from where we were staying along with a coffee. The coffee costs about $2 and the spinach pie $3.

If you’re looking for a post climbing beer, you can grab a .5 liter bottle of a local Greek lager for $4 – $5 dollars. Be careful as these prices paired with sunshine and sends tend to make 1 beer turn into 2 or 3. Or don’t be careful — let your hair down and have a couple if that’s your thing.

Happy hour for climbers in Kalymnos

If you’re looking for a drink in Kalymnos, you really don’t have to go far. Most restaurants or cafes cater to folks looking for a post climbing beer. Ambiance cafe is a great spot with amazing views, solid snacks, and a pool table if you want to play a round.

If you’re craving a craft beer, your options are limited. Craft beer isn’t huge in Greece — you might find a bar that sells one or two but usually that’s it. The one exception is Fatolitis Snack Bar. Here you can find a big selection of craft beers from around Greece. I tried a couple and you really can’t go wrong.

Finally, no write-up of bars in Kalymnos would be complete without the Scorpion Pub. It’s the only “night-life” on the island opening around 7 and closing around 12 or 1. They play a lot of classic rock, so if that’s your thing you’ll feel right at home.

Wrap-up: Rock climbing in Kalymnos

If you made it this far, I’m guessing you’re going to go! I couldn’t be more excited for you. Rock climbing in Kalymnos is an incredible experience and one of the best places you can do the damn thing. Any questions? Drop them in the comments. See you out there.

Craving more inspiration for trips? Check out our guide to rock climbing in Oaxaca.

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