Once you manage to get past the stereotypical triptych of sea, sun & sex, Greece can be a revelation for the climbing adventurer as a land of hidden rock opportunities and idyllic isolated vertical landscapes.
With a tiny (inarguably heroic but sometimes canonized) climbing scene till the late 80s, Greece has seen limited climbing development over the past decades, and only recently experienced a climber-boom following (with a bit of a lag) the global rise of interest for the outdoor sports.
Limestone is the dominant rock variety in the country. Although sometimes a pain to protect, it usually offers a mostly diverse climbing experience, either that being delicate moves on desperate slabs or pumpy endurance overhangs and roofs ornate with gravity defiant tufas. Limestone can be found everywhere across Greece from the majestic crown of Zeus on mythical Mt Olympus to the downtown recrystallized marble crags of Fillopappou near the ancient Acropolis of Athens. The crazy tufa formations of Grande-Grotta in Kalymnos testify to the artistic height limestone sculptures can reach. In fact most Greek mountains are limestone massifs.
Rock climbing destinations in Greece
Athens: The capital of Greece where it all started for Greek climbers and maybe one of the best kept secrets in European sport climbing. The so-called Attica plateau is surrounded by four mountains of respectable size at the foothills of which have sprouted several amazing crags. Today Athens has more than 33 sport climbing crags and more than 1100 lines. And apart from tufa caves that can easily rival those of Kalymnos it has unique marble climbing in 2500 years old quarries. You can buy the Athens Climbing Guidebook here: http://www.athensclimbing.com/
Varasova: The original temple of limestone climbing in Greece is definitely Varasova. An otherwise insignificant peak, Varasova host a great number of high quality trad climbs next to the sea.
Meteora: An outstanding work of nature and proclaimed UNESCO heritage site, the the Conglomerate Towers of Meteora in Thessaly should be high on your visiting list. Meteora climbing- almost a style of its own-has strong Saxonic influences due to the numerous German pioneers who developed the area when Greek climbing was still at its infancy. Delicate moves, scarce bolting, exposure and a mind blowing views is what you should expect from your visit
Kalymnos: Kalymnos needs no introduction,as it has reached amazing popularity heights to the point of being recognized as one of the top sport climbing destinations in the world. Not much else need to be said for the likes of Grantte Grotta, Sykati and Odyssey sectors. The three international climbing festivals held since 2000, have attracted the elite of the sport projecting the islands reputation to heights unknown for Greek crags. Despite that Kalymnos is far from crowded. The number and quality of routes seems large enough to accommodate even more climbers that those already visiting. The newly opened airport seems to eliminate the final drawback of visiting Kalymnos as it has reduced the approach time from 14 ferry-hours to a mere 30 minutes daily flight from Athens.
Patras: (or Achaia) the 3rd largest city in Greece is inarguably the Mecca of hardcore sport climbing in the country. Achaia is home not only to the most competent Greek sport climbers but also to the largest number of super-hard routes above the 8a barrier.
Trikala:. The city of Trikala in central Greece hosts one of the most active climbing scenes in the country and has developed some of the very best sport climbing crags in mainland Greece.
Magnesia: Similarly to neighboring Trikala, the city of Volos and the Mt Pilio host several excellent sport crags with routes in all grades
Lagkada: Just outside the city of Sparta, a great climbing park has been developed at the foothills of Mt Taygetos. Set in an idyllic location Lagkada is one of the most beautiful sport climbing crags in Greece.
Crete: The largest Greek island with numerous rock climbing opportunities in all styles.
Other climbing Links for Greece
routes.gr -An excellent ever-growing online database with information about multi-pitch routes in the Greek mountains.