It’s only relatively recently that Greece has realised the true potential of its awesome natural assets when it comes to rock climbing. The predominant rock variety found throughout the country is limestone which makes for a diverse climbing environment that can suit the requirements of beginners looking for gentle climbing routes as well as experienced climbers looking for something more challenging.
Some spots have established themselves as firm favourites with the international climbing crowd, for their rewarding routes and dramatic scenery. The 7km long Varasova mountain range in the west of Greece is a popular destination with a high number of climbing routes and there is plenty of good climbing to be had in the Attica plateau in the Athens area.
In the Peloponnese Mount Taygetos, near the city of Sparta is also popular and is the site of an excellent climbing park. For island climbing destinations, Kalymnos in The Dodecanese has been recognised as being one the 10 best climbing sites in the world and Crete also has many good routes.
Greece is dominated by mountains, and the mainland is dominated by more than 300 rocky masses which vary in elevation. In fact, the majority of Aegean islands are mountain peaks too – all that remain of the now-submerged landmass of Aegeis, which was once the link between mainland Greece and Asia Minor.
The principal mountain range, The Pindus, serves as the backbone of the mainland, extending down through central Greece into the Peloponnese and Crete. Mt Olympus (Macedonia), known from Greek mythology as the abode of the gods, is the highest mountain in the country, rising to 2,917 m (Μytikas peak). About 40 of the national mountain ranges reach elevations over 2,000m.
The mountains of Greece are renowned for their diversity as well as landscapes of singular beauty. Their unique forests rank among the oldest natural wooded lands in Europe. Due to the astoundingly rich flora and fauna they support, many of these environments have been designated as National Parks. Infrastructure development over recent decades has provided for their protection and ensured they are ideal destinations for winter and alpine tourism. For more information on Greek mountains Click here.
Mountain climbing is a specialised activity. In mountaineering, distance is of little significance, the emphasis being to cover the rise in elevation. Typically, climbers achieve a 300m rise in an hour, meaning that a 1000m ascent requires about 4 hours, including stops. A usual mountain ascent lasts 7-10 hours, descent included.
Rock climbing (referred to as alpinisim in winter conditions) is practised on mountain peaks and steep inclines (eg cliffs) and requires knowledge of climbing techniques and the use of auxiliary equipment. In Greece, many spots lend themselves to free rock climbing, while schools offering the possibility of artificial climbing also operate.
Information on mountain routes and trails – including access, facilities, organised excursions, alpine refuges local hiking routes and mountain-climbing and rock-climbing conditions, is provided by the Greek Mountaineering and Rock-Climbing Association (Ε.Ο.Ο.Α.) and local hiking and mountaineering clubs.