Kalymnos – is it the most friendly-bolted climbing destination in the world?
Things to know before your next climbing trip
Goats, falafels, scooters, no run outs between the bolts and epic climbing walls. Words that describe Kalymnos for me. This was the first time in this climbing paradise for us, and for sure it’s not the last. In this article below I want to share (hopefully) useful information from my own personal experience for your next climbing trip to the island of Kalymnos, Greece.
How to get to/from Kalymnos? There are several options of how to get to Kalymnos and this is what we did: We flew to Athens and explored the city for three nights. Our highlights included hiking to the top of the Lycabettus hill and watching the sunset, drinking flat white with Sproud pea milk from Samba coffee roasters, eating vegan gyros from Vegan Beat Athens, discovering Cycladic Art museum, and yes, of course visiting Acropolis (I learnt that Acropolis means 'high city' and describes the whole area, and the most famous building of the Acropolis of Athens is called the Parthenon).
From Athens we booked a direct flight to Kalymnos with Sky Express (at the time of writing in November, 2022 there are several flights every week that take around 45 min; the flight costed us around 90 euros per person, check in luggage included). The plane was tiny and the landing was quite memorable as the winds were pretty strong that day. We heard that sometimes the flights to Kalymnos might get cancelled because of the weather as the runway is short at Kalymnos, which fortunately didn’t happen for us.
Another option would be to fly to Kos from Athens as there are more flights to choose from every week and they are slightly cheaper and then take a ferry to Kalymnos. Or fly to Kos from any other European city and then take a ferry to Kalymnos. On our return journey we took a fast ferry from Pothia, Kalymnos to Mastichari, Kos (10 euros one way per person), then a taxi to the airport of Kos (15/20 euros for the ride), then a direct flight to London Gatwick and another flight back home to Lithuania (more than 20 hours of travelling, uff, but so worth it). Where to stay in Kalymnos?
Once we arrived in Kalymnos we stayed in Myrties (next to Masouri) for the first several nights and then moved to Arginonta village (more in the north of the island) for the remaining of our trip. See the map above for reference.
I loved the quietness of Arginonta village and the location: Arginonta area has a turquoise water bay and is full of climbing crags (Arginonta Valley, Little Verdon, Arhi, Cosmic Tree etc). Moreover, it’s almost in the middle between the north and south crags. For example, if we climbed in Secret garden (close to Palionnisos) we would drive up north from Arginonta, alternatively if we climbed in the crags around Massouri (Odyssey, Panorama, Grande Grotta, etc) we would drive south towards Massouri. On the other hand, if you prefer livelier and busier environment – then staying in Massouri might suit you better. This is the place where so many guesthouses, restaurants, climbing shops, mini markets and bars are located. And of course, where so many crags are walking distance away, too. In Arginonta village we stayed at Petra Boutique homes. They have beautiful traditional apartments and villas of various sizes, each with a dreamy terrace overlooking the crystal clear water and the Aegean sea. While staying at Petra homes I have filmed two yoga sessions for climbers that will be available on my Youtube channel soon, too. So, consider subscribing and press bell notification if you haven't done so already and would like to be informed once the videos come out.
Where to eat in Kalymnos? What about petrol station & food supermarkets?
Closest pharmacy, big supermarket and petrol station can be found in Panormos. Every once in a while, we would go down to this village to buy groceries (they had a bigger variety of products and it was slightly cheaper than buying food from the mini markets in Massouri) as well as to top up petrol. On the right side you can see oat milk that was perfect together with the coffee in the morning and that can be found in any mini market or super market in Kalymnos (price 3.40 per package). We haven’t explored many restaurants in Kalymnos, because we loved the food at ‘On the road’ so much that we kept returning there almost every day. Their saying was ‘it’s not fast food, but it’s good food fast’ and oh yes, we can vouch that their food is so delicious and also very good value for money. Make sure to visit them and try their falafel pita’s, Greek salad, hummus, grilled halloumi and falafel plate. Oh, and the portions were very generous, too. And the place was always super busy, which was lovely to see. For your reference, falafel pita cost 3.5 euros Greek salad 7 euros.
We would usually eat breakfast at home; pack some fruits, oat bars and Huel with us to the crag for a midday snack. And then go to the ‘On the road street food’ for dinner. For more vegetarian and vegan options in Kalymnos visit Kalymnos experience Healthy Food Bar. They are the first (if I am not mistaken?) veggie restaurant in Kalymnos, so kudos goes to them for sure. They also run evening yoga sessions and various events, and I very look forward to organise my signature hip mobility workshop at their place next time I’m on the island. Oh, and try out Spanakópita – it’s a pastry with spinach and feta cheese (we also found a vegan version (only with spinach) in one of the minimarkets in Massouri). Crunchy pastry, flavoursome filling (around 2.2 euros per pastry). So so delicious!
Free drinking water machines/stations:
At the time of writing, the tap water is not drinkable on the island. When we arrived to Kalymnos we bought big water bottles of 6 litres to use for drinking. We only found out a couple of days later that actually there are water machines in the island where you can top up water for free that is safe for drinking. I wish I only knew that sooner, so we wouldn’t have bought bottled water! So yes, there is no need to by bottled water and you can top up your empty water bottles anytime for free from these stations that you can see on the left. You can find them on the main road in Massouri where all the restaurants, climbing shops etc are located. How to get around the island?
Renting a scooter, car or sharing a ride with others.
Hands down to our favourite way of getting around Kalymnos – scooters. It’s convenient, fun and economical (at the time of writing it was around 10 euros per day). We used Vasilis scooter rental company. If you decide to use this mode of transportation, please make sure to wear a helmet and drive responsibly (there are many goats all around the island, often standing in the middle of the road).
Other options to get around the island is to rent a car or to take a taxi from the port/airport to your hotel/guesthouse and then walk to the crags or share a ride to the crags with someone you meet.
What about climbing in Kalymnos?
I have climbed in quite many places around the world… but I can say with confidence that Kalymnos is definitely on the top of the list. Epic climbing walls are literally everywhere you look; the bolting is very friendly and the rock formations are so unique. From overhanging tufas and blobs to vertical walls and slabs, everyone will find something what they love. If you know me, you know that sometimes I get scared when lead climbing (especially if bolts are big distance apart), but this time in Kalymnos for the majority of time I felt so good when climbing and could really focus on the movements instead of worrying about the distance of the bolts. So big thanks go to everyone who bolted the routes in Kalymnos. I very appreciate your time, energy and resources. For the best resource about climbing crags and routes make sure to buy a Kalymnos guidebook and visit Climb Kalymnos website. Currently the newest edition is of 2019 and I heard that the another edition is coming out in 2023.
When to go to Kalymnos? From talking with locals and other climbers I was told that the best months for climbing are September, October, November, April and May. If you have been to Kalymnos yourself, would love to know when is the best time in your opinion to go climbing in Kalymnos? Personally for us, we went in the middle of October till beginning of November and the weather was perfect. Not too hot and not too cold. While climbing in the shade several times I was wearing thermal layers (when the wind was colder), and warm jacket was for sure needed while belaying. Also, I preferred to dress warmly when driving the scooter, as often in the shade it was pretty cold for me even during the warm day. However, in the sun it was so warm! It was still perfect to swim and also wear shorts, shirts while hiking and climbing in the sun. Have you been to Kalymnos yourself? What are your favourite crags and routes? Share with me below. Would love to read from you! If you are thinking whether you should choose Kalymnos as your next climbing destination… think no further! You will fall in love with the island. If you have any questions about the above, welcome to send me a message or leave a comment down below. Efharistó, Kalymnos! Till the next one!