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  • Writer's pictureAlana Chapko

Kalymnos, Greece Travel and Climbing Beta



Intro:

We traveled to Kalymnos, Greece March of 2024. We had an absolute blast climbing there and enjoying easy island life. There are definitely a few things we wish we had known before arriving, especially since we were traveling there during the off season. Hopefully, this blog post answers some questions and helps you to plan your next trip!


We also offer a 6 day all inclusive guided climbing retreat in Kalymnos with a low ratio and opportunity to focus on climbing some of the amazing multi-pitch climbs in Kalymnos. If this interests to you check out our retreats page. https://www.theclimbingguides.com/kalymnos-greece-climbing-retreat


Table of Contents:

Routes We Enjoyed


Steep cave climbing into the sunset (Dolomas 5.12b)

Getting There

There are two main ways to get to Kalymnos and a few other more adventurous ways.

  1. Fly to Athens and book a separate fly through Sky Express directly to Kalymnos. This will often take the least amount of time, and about the same cost as option 2. However the small planes cannot fly when the weather is bad. If this happens you can always resort to option two. During the off season there is a flight only 3 times per week so it also may not line up with your travel days. 

  2. Book a flight to Kos, this can be through Athens or some other major European cities. Then take a 30 min ferry ride to Kalymnos. The flight to Kos is cheaper but by the time you pay for the taxi from the airport to the ferry and the ferry, it is not much cheaper than option 1 and a much bigger hassle. There are however flights everyday and it is more reliable in bad weather.   

  3. Take a series of ferries from Athens and check out some of the other islands along the way.

  4. Fly into Antalya or Bodrum and climb in Turkey too! If you climb near Antalya there are busses to Bodrum or Datca and from Bodrum you can take a ferry to Kos and the to Kalymnos. Conversely if you come to Kalymnos and want to spend some time in Datca you can take 3 ferries to get there. 

Top of Platons 5 pitches 5.9

Time of Year

October is the month most people think of climbing in Kalymnos, however we talked to a number of European climbers who said it becomes un-climably crowded in October. It can also be quite hot in October. There is a higher chance of bad weather late November through March, but also if you lose a day or two of climbing to bad weather you will probably still get in more climbing than when it is hot and crowded. There are a nice mixture of sunny and shady crag options, so you can crag in Kalymnos year round. However, most of the multi-pitch climbing is in the sun. There are also lots of caves that you can still climb in when it rains. We spent 18 days in March and only one of those days did it feel kinda miserable to be out climbing. 


The one downside is that there will not be very many restaurants or minimarkets open in Massouri during the off season. Things just started opening up towards the end of March. There is still a grocery store and restaurants in Panorama that stay open year round. 





Where to Stay

We stayed at Studio Triantafillos which is pretty much as close as you can get to the most popular crags. It has easy walking distance (20 min or less to the trail head) for the grande grotta, panorama, kalydna, poets, iliada, odyssey, school, olympic wall, Spartan/sparticus, Jurassic Park, and the ferry to Telendos. We really liked it there, the owners are extremely kind. The rooms are quite nice with a kitchenette (stove, sink, fridge, pots, pans and dishes), and a porch with amazing views especially of the sunset. Hot water and wifi. It was 30 euro/night for 2 people, which seemed like one of the cheaper options near the climbing.


Lodging in Armeos and Massouri are the closest to the most famous climbing areas. We found in 18 days that there was plenty of climbing and we didn’t need to rent a vehicle to go to other areas. If you want to venture further you can easily rent a car or scooter from a place in Massouri which I’ll talk about more in the getting around section. 


You might be able to find a cheaper place, especially for long term stays in Panorama, however this will require renting a vehicle to get to the climbing. There are likely more restaurants and grocery options open in the off season in Panorama. 


Sunset View From Studios Triantafillos


Groceries and Restaurants

The closest major grocery store is AB in Panorama (2+ miles from Massouri). If you are not planning on renting a car or eating out for all your meals it is worth asking your taxi driver to stop on your way. There are a number of mini mart style grocery stores in Massouri. They have most things you would need, but are light on options particularly for fresh foods and a bit more expensive. These mini marts will be open April-October, and maybe a bit into the shoulder season. When we arrived in mid-March one mini mart was open and about half stocked. 


There are a number of great restaurants in Massouri featuring fresh fish and typical Greek dishes. It is relatively easy to find vegetarian and vegan friendly foods. Most will be open April-October with a few open the rest of the year. You’ll have more options in Panorama if you are there during the off season. In general all the places we ate and menus we looked at in Massouri were similarly priced. Panorama seemed to be a bit cheaper. We particularly liked:

  • Smuggler’s Restaurant and Bar, which was one of the few restaurants open when we arrived, great fish!

  • Marinos which is in Panorama and quite a bit cheaper than the food in Masouri, they have a rotating menu

  • Panos Family Restaurant Really delicious, with a family feel

  • Kokkinidis Restaurant Loved the falafel here!

  • Sofrano is a great cafe which has pastries, breakfast, and lunch with a nice outdoor seating area overlooking the water. 









Getting Around the Island

If you are staying in Massouri or Armeos you can get by without renting a vehicle. It is also possible to rent a vehicle for a day or two at a time if you want to go to some of the crags further away, or go into the larger towns of Panoramos or Pothia. There are many car and scooter rental options right in Massouri. A lot of people opt for scooters which are cheaper for 1-2 people. For groups of 3-4 a car is a cheaper option. It is necessary to rent a vehicle for the whole time if staying farther away. Car rentals seemed to be around $30/day for a small 4 passenger car, and $12/day for a 50cc scooter. There are discounts the longer you rent for. You need an international drivers license. You might find it hard to find an automatic car on the island, all of the rentals seemed to be manual.


There is also a bus that runs every 2 hours between Pothia and Armeos. It costs 1.5-2 euro. It is usually not at exactly the time listed in the time table. The various bus stations are relatively obvious. I had a lot of trouble flagging down the driver and had the bus drive by me quite a few times. Maybe I was doing something wrong, maybe you need to be really aggressive about flagging the bus driver down. Either way it doesn’t seem to be the most effective way to get around the island, but it does work.  Look for a white sprinter van with blue lettering.


Lost Goat - the name of the climb and a good description of me

Other Logistics

Water

The water that comes out of the taps in Kalymnos is drinkable, but salty so we only used it to cook. You can find fresh drinkable water here in Massouri https://maps.app.goo.gl/Zexau6F4hqPAPVgo9. You can search for Temak on google if staying somewhere else or look for a white structure with a red roof. 


Getting to Telendos Island

You can take a ferry from here https://maps.app.goo.gl/NbSeiJVxPhHhpmNy8 to either the main town on Telendos or to the multi-pitch approaches on the southside or Irox/ North Side. The main ferry leaves every 30 minutes and costs 3 euros each way. If you walk from the main port of Telendos it takes 45 min-1 hour to get to most of the climbing areas. The ferry that takes you directly to the climbing is around 10 euro per person each way, depending on the season. We didn't take this ferry but you can inquire at the ferry dock for more information on departure time and price.


The short boat ride to Telendos Island

What to Bring

Ropes

A 70m rope will allow you to climb most things especially if you are mostly climbing 5.12 and under. There are some extensions, mostly in the 5.12-5.14 range that require an 80m rope or even two ropes. There are still plenty of climbs in the 5.12-5.13 range that you can do with a 70m. Basically I wouldn’t go out and buy an 80m or bring a second rope unless you’ve looked at the guidebook and have a climb you really want to do that requires it, but an 80m will give you even more options than a 70m if you own one.


We only had a 60m rope because we core shot our brand new rope in Wadi Rum the week before, big bummer. We thought we would be severely limited by this and even considered buying a new rope when we arrived, but a 60m ended up feeling only very slightly limiting. We climbed plenty of classic 5.11s and 5.12s. So if a 60m is what you have, or you don’t want to travel with a 70m you’ll still have a good time. The guidebook also tends to overestimate the length of routes, which is nice for safety, as always tie knots!


Climbing Shoes

A more aggressive sport climbing shoe is nice for the steeper climbing style here, especially if it has a small toe point to get into the small pockets usually found on limestone. If you plan on doing a bunch of multi-pitches you’ll also want a more comfortable, stiff shoe that you can stand on your toes all day in. The multi pitches are mostly less than vertical and usually sunny, so comfort is important!


Climbing shops

There are numerous climbing and clothing shops in Massouri, so if you forget anything you will definitely find here. The prices for gear seemed similar to the United States, no island tax! We were pleasantly surprised to find that the climbing shoes were quite a bit cheaper than in the US with a bit more variety of models than you would find in a normal climbing shop. So you might find yourself coming home with and extra pair of shoes! It seems the climbing shops were also all having sales on a variety of things in March.


Guidebook

The complete Kalymnos guidebook, by Aris Theodoropolus and Katie Roussos is extremely well written. It has tons of beta and something like 4,500 climbs. It can be purchased here https://climbkalymnos.com/guidebook/ or at one of the climbing shops in Kalymnos and costs 50euro (it's a heafty book) and a portion of the proceeds go to the community, climbing development, and crag maintenance. You can also get an app version of the guide book at vertical-life for something like 6 euro a month. Purchase of the book comes with a free 3 year subscription.


Climber on Dolomas with all of the wall stretching out into the sunset behind him

Rest Days

Some possible rest day activities: 




The ancient town at the Castle of Chora

Me trying to get better at climbing steep tufas (and resting)

The Climbing

There is climbing in Kalymnos for everyone! From wonderful 5.6 low angle gray limestone to step 5.14 tufas and pockets and everything in between. All of the climbing is bolted. There are even routes that climb tufas in the 5.10 range. The steep cave tufa pulling tends to start in the 5.11+ range. There are a nice range of less than vertical balancy, and juggy climbs as well. The guidebook has 4,500 climbs!  


Kalymnos is not known for it’s multi-pitch climbing, but it has a nice selection of 3-12 pitch climbs 5.9-5.13. We found the multi-pitch climbing to be quite fun, with absolutely incredible views and was one of the highlights of our trip.. 


Topping out Three Stripes 6 pitches 5.9. Look at those VIEWS!

Routes We Enjoyed

Kalydna

This was our favorite crag, maybe because it had some slightly more vertical climbs that still involved tufas for those of us that are still learning how to climb overhangs. We particularly liked Kaly-Nikhla 6b+ (5.11a) Ixion 7a (5.11d), the start of Extra into the finish of Fiction 6b (5.10d) and Nickel 7a+ (5.12a).


Odyssey

This is the oldest crag at Kalymnos and has a large range of options 5.10-5.14, pretty much all 30m or less. Some nice variety of tufas and face climbing. We really liked Feta 6c+ (5.11c) and Elies 7a (5.11d). Athina 6b+ (5.11a) is a good intro to steeper climbing.


Iliada

This crag has a nice variety of steep tufas, pockets and lower angle face climbing. It is one of the first walls to get sun and is more sheltered from the wind so great option for colder days. We enjoyed Ekavi 6a (5.10-), Penelope 6b (5.10d), Paris 6c+ (5.11c), Nestoras 7a (5.11d), Ektor 6c (5.11b), Beautiful Helen 6a+ (5.10c), and Dolonas 7b (5.12b).


Poets

This is a very extensive crag above town, we only got a taste of the climbing, but it seem like there are tons more good options. We enjoyed La Mer et Le Vent 6c+ (5.11c), Sevasti 7b (5.12b), Un Culte 6b (5.10d), Wala Wala 6a+ (5.10c), and Happy Wife 6c+ (5.11c).


Multi-Pitches

We climbed Three Stripes 6 pitches 5c (5.9), Wings For Life 12 pitches 6a (5.10-), Platon 5 pitches 5c (5.9), Kalymnos 2000 5 pitches 5c (5.9), and Lost Goat 7 pitches 6a (5.10-). They were all quite fun. Three Stripes and Wings For Life were our favorite! There may be more plant life on the multi-pitches in the spring, but it doesn't affect the climbing much.


Sam following the wild traverse on Wings For Life 12 pitches 5.10-

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