Top Climbing Areas in Europe

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Considered the birthplace of climbing, Europe is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit if you’re looking to get on some rock. With every type of climbing imaginable (trad, sport, bouldering, alpine, ice, mixed) at every grade, it's impossible to narrow the options down to just a few routes. Instead, we’ve pulled a few top areas for trad, sport and bouldering. While we’ve highlighted many of the continent’s classic climbing areas, we can’t cover them all. This list will get you started, and you can explore more areas using Mountain Project, REI’s digital community-built climbing guide. As you navigate Europe, you’ll find that most guidebooks use either the UAII or British rating system, but this varies by area. Instead, we’ve used the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) to keep it simple for folks on the west side of the pond. You can find a conversion chart here to make your travels easier.

Dolomites

  • Location: Northern Italy, 99 miles northwest of Venice, Italy 
  • Primary Climbing Type: Traditional and alpine
  • Difficulty: Mostly easy to moderate, ranging from 5.6 to 5.13
  • Rock Type: Limestone
  • Best For: Adventurous, picturesque climbing
  • Season: Late spring to late autumn; alpine routes are best in the summer 

Expansive views and stunning multi-pitch routes put the Dolomites in our top spot. The craggy limestone walls and spires make the region a veritable playground for climbers looking for multi-pitch routes in a remarkable landscape. This is adventure climbing at its finest. Plus, the routes range in difficulty from 5.6 to 5.13, so there is opportunity for everyone to get on some rock. While the most popular routes will be quite clean, the ones off the beaten path may have some loose rock and unreliable fixed placements. A few classic options in the area are the North Face - Comici, a 15-pitch, 5.10+ steep and clean climb that follows a black streak and dihedral to the top; the Southwest Arete of Torre Delago, four pitches of slightly run-out 5.7 climbing up an arete; and the South Face (via Miriam) of the Grand Torre South Summit, a 5-pitch, 5.8+ somewhat polished climb through via a winding route. 

 

The rocky walls of the crag stand high over the valley with gray clouds dotting the sky.

Tofana di Roses scrapes the clouds high over the valley. (Photo Credit: Mountain Project Contributor Martin Bennett)

Lofoten

  • Location: Northern Norway, 97 miles (including a ferry) northwest of Bodø, Norway 
  • Primary Climbing Type: Traditional 
  • Difficulty: Mostly moderate ranging from 5.6 to 5.13
  • Rock Type: Granite
  • Best For: A once-in-a-lifetime trip
  • Season: June, July and August have the most reliable weather

Located in northern Norway, this fjorded archipelago is best described by one word: remote. When you arrive, you’ll be awed by the scale of the landscape as sheer granite cliffs seem to grow out of the ocean. Add in the possibility of climbing under the glow of the midnight sun, and you’ll have an unforgettable experience. To make full use of that daylight, jump on the famous Vestpillaren for 12 pitches of clean crack climbing with just a bit of exposure and outrageous views of the coastline. Another great option is “The Goat” (aka Svolvaergeita), a 5-pitch spire with two “horns” at the top. Historically, people would jump between the horns, but due to erosion of the lower block, the jump is no longer recommended. Instead, simply soak in the views of Svolvaer, a historic fishing village far below. 

Looking down the climb overhanging the ocean at a climber thinking their way through the next moves.

A climber makes their way up Vespillaren. (Photo Credit: Mountain Project Contributor Jim Lawyer)

Peak District

  • Location: Central England, 17 miles southwest of Sheffield, England 
  • Primary Climbing Type: Primarily traditional with some bouldering
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate ranging from 5.5 to 5.13
  • Best For: Cragging trad climbs on the weekends
  • Rock Type: Gritstone and limestone
  • Best Season: Spring through autumn, but climbable all year providing it's dry

With comparatively flat topography, central England may not seem like a climbing hotspot, but it actually is home to some of the most famous rock climbing in Europe. Though shorter than those in Norway or Italy, the cliffs of the Peak District have easy access, which has allowed for extensive development, meaning you likely won’t have to wait in line for a climb, even on busy weekends. Head to the famous Stanage Edge, a gritstone playground, to try your hand at any number of routes. If it’s open, hop on Flying Buttress or Flying Buttress Direct (depending on your skill level) for some big and committing moves. If you rope up on Direct, keep in mind the lower bit is not well-protected. Another great spot is the Unconquerables Area, a series of  famous gritstone buttresses with some of the best climbs in the area. Left and Right Unconquerable are both fantastic, pumpy grit climbs with excellent gear placements and dynamic moves.

A millstone with a chalked smiley face sits next to the trail leading to the crag above.

Smiles lead you to Stanage Edge. (Photo Credit: Mountain Project Contributor Andy Fielding)

Kalymnos

  • Location: A Greek island off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea
  • Primary Climbing Type: Sport
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult ranging from 5.5 to 5.14 
  • Best For: A cragging vacation in a sport haven
  • Rock Type: Limestone
  • Best Season: Spring to autumn

Getting to the island takes a lot of time and effort. But with one of the largest concentrations of epic routes in Europe, Kalymnos is a sport climber’s paradise that’s well worth the trip. With more than 3,000 climbs of varying style, everyone can find something to send. A 70-meter rope will suffice for most of the longest climbs, but 80 meters would be better for lowering off. Since the area is all limestone on the coast, you can find overhanging routes with massive holds and tufas, pocketed and knobby slabs, and slightly overhanging or vertical walls with small features requiring delicate approaches. Grande Grotta is the most famous crag and holds some of the most sought-after routes such as DNA, a steep and burly 5.11d that will test your endurance; Aegialis, a 5.12d pump-fest; and Monahiki Elia, a 5.10b that makes for a great warm up with a classic Kalymnos feel. The Odyssey is another great spot that has tall walls and stiff climbs. Marci Marc is a tall, sustained and impressively dynamic 5.13a, and the 5.11a Feta will get your blood moving as you navigate the techy overhang.

A close up of a lead climber perched high above the Mediterranean.

A climber contemplates her next move. (Photo Credit: Mountain Project Contributor Top Rope Hero)

Céüse

  • Location: Southern France, 71 miles south of Grenoble, France
  • Primary Climbing Type: Sport
  • Difficulty: Difficult ranging from 5.10 to 5.15
  • Rock Type: Limestone
  • Best For: A fun holiday for the advanced sport climber
  • Best Season: Spring and summer

The prominent cliff band of Céüse commands your attention as soon as you arrive in town. This crag offers almost every type of route imaginable, you just have to migrate sectors to find what you’re looking for. Demi Lune houses a large concentration of easier climbs and can be crowded. However, the views from this vertical face are stunning. Angel Dust is a fantastic, technical 5.12a requiring delicate footwork and thin movements, and the popular 5.11a Harley Davidson follows huecos and pockets up steep rock to a complicated crux. The Berlin wall has a variety of climbs that will test your skills and your constitution. Think you can handle the sandbag? Check out Makach Walou, a 5.13a which navigates a vertical face via steep jugs, polished pockets and crimps, gradually thinning out to a crimp-fest to the anchor. 

A few climbers pick their way up the vertical rock walls of Demi Lune.

A few parties climbing at Demi Lune. (Photo Credit: Mountain Project Contributor Zach Alberts)

Frankenjura

  • Location: Bavaria, Germany, 26 miles northeast of Nuremberg, Germany
  • Primary Climbing Type: Sport
  • Difficulty: Easy to difficult ranging from 5.1 to 5.14d
  • Rock Type: Limestone
  • Best For: Endless options to play on or project
  • Best Seasons: Spring and autumn; summer can be nice as many of the crags are shaded

Deep within the forested valleys of Bavaria lies Frankenjura, one of Europe’s most famous sport climbing destinations. With about 1,000 crags and more than 10,000 routes, climbers of any skill level can find something to project. Most of the routes are vertical to overhanging on pocketed limestone. Given the sheer number of climbs, as well as the distance between the crags, it’s a good idea to come with a plan of attack as well as a car. WeiBenstein is popular for its wide range of difficulties, but we suggest heading to the Röthelfels for some classic climbs on tall walls. Schaumschläger is a popular 5.10 that is sustained, fun and easy to follow. Püttlacher Wand offers easy access to tough climbs, mostly ranging from high 5.10 to 5.12. It’s shaded most of the day, making it a great spot for afternoon projecting. 

The forested and overhanging walls are right near the road, and quite popular

A few groups cragging in Weissenstein (Photo Credit: Mountain Project Contributor Shawn Health)

Siurana

  • Location: Northeastern Spain, 32 miles northwest of Tarragona, Spain
  • Primary Climbing Type: Sport
  • Difficulty: Moderate to hard with the majority of climbs over 5.10
  • Rock Type: Limestone
  • Best For: Those looking to train power and endurance
  • Best Seasons: November to March

Though best known for its stiff grades and technical, vertical walls (you won’t find any holiday grades here), there is a decent amount of easier climbing in Siurana, so don’t be put off by its reputation. Plus, Margalef, another world-class sport climbing destination full of steeply overhanging pumpy climbs, is less than an hour away. Though the region’s generally thin and crimpy style isn’t for everyone, the number of climbers that flock here in winter might make you suspect otherwise. El Pati is well-known for its incredibly difficult routes—including the famous 5.15a La Rambla. However, two of the more popular routes are climbable by mere mortals. Crosta Panic is a 5.11d that moves from a technical slab into a pumpy roof pull, and 5.11c/d ¡Ay Mamita! features juggy climbing and a tricky crux. Right next door is Espero Primavera, an area known for its sunny, long and technical slab climbs. Mandragora is a classic Siurana route that should be on everyone’s list. The 5.12c is all about endurance as it follows smooth pockets and edges. If techy slab is your thing, pop on Remena Nina, a tall 5.12a with thin and reachy moves. 

The red and orange walls of Siurana are in stark contrast to the dark green lushness of the forest.

The huge walls of Siurana rise above the valley. (Photo Credit: Mountain Project Contributor Brett Bloxom)

Fontainebleau

  • Location: Central France, 43 miles southeast of Paris, France
  • Primary Climbing Type: Boulder
  • Difficulty: Easy to hard from V0 to V15
  • Rock Type: Sandstone
  • Best For: Amazing diversity in style and difficulty
  • Best Seasons: Summer

With seemingly endless rock, Fontainebleau has become one of the most popular bouldering destinations in the world. It’s easy to find routes to suit any ability, and with much of the climbing nestled within the Fontainebleau forest, the area is well-shaded, making it a pleasant summer stop. The approaches are all relatively short, and the sandy ground adds a little extra cushion to your bouldering pads. Given the area’s size and diversity of style, it’s difficult to recommend any single route, but folks generally check out a few prime areas if they’re only around for a short trip. The climbs at Franchard Isatis range from V0 to V10 (there are even a couple of V11s), so there’s plenty to choose from no matter your skill level. If you’re looking to pull something a little tougher, Cuvier Rempart houses the largest number of harder climbs, with over 60 routes between V9 and V15/16. Of course, with hundreds of easier routes in Cuvier Rempart, there’s plenty to keep beginner and intermediate crews entertained, too.

A climber wears a resolved face has he pulls a sloping side pull on a challenging boulder.

A climber pulls a hard move. (Photo Credit: Mountain Project Contributor Jeff Panetta)

Albarracin

  • Location: Eastern Spain, 112 miles northwest of Valencia, Spain
  • Primary Climbing Type: Boulder
  • Difficulty: Intermediate; most routes range from V3 to V8 with a few harder problems
  • Rock Type: Sandstone
  • Best For: A plethora of climbs in a beautiful setting
  • Best Seasons: Year-round but the height of summer might be too warm

This area is easily accessible with short walk-ins on good trails, and given its higher elevation, it’s climbable most of the year. It stays cooler in the hotter months—except the dead of summer—and is dry for much of the winter. The climbs are located in a shady sandstone canyon that cuts through the surrounding limestone mountain ranges, creating a scenic spot to spend a day bouldering. It’s also within the boundaries of a protected natural area, so be sure to obey all the rules and respect all posted closures. There are more than 1,000 problems, so there are numerous styles to try from slabby crimps to overhanging bucket-fests. The spots with the most routes are Techos, Tierra Media and Arrastrado, but you should pick up one, or both, of the guidebooks to find your way around.

A climber navigates their way up the chalk-covered red rock wall.

Sending a slopey and overhanging problem. (Photo Credit: Mountain Project Contributor Tavis Ricksecker)

Magic Wood

  • Location: Southeastern Switzerland, 98 miles southeast of Zürich, Switzerland
  • Primary Climbing Type: Boulder
  • Difficulty: Moderately easy to hard with most routes between V3 and V11
  • Rock Type: Gneiss
  • Best For: Intermediate and advanced climbers looking for projects
  • Best Seasons: Summer; best from June to September

This alpine gem houses around 1,000 problems in a very small river valley, and though the approaches are short, they can also be quite steep. While there are easy problems here, the quality generally increases with the grades, so intermediate to advanced climbers will likely enjoy this spot more than beginners. Overhangs, crimps and poor landings epitomize the climbing, so make sure to bring enough pads and spotters. The Beach houses classic, river-side climbs, and Bach and Kamel are not far away. When you’re not climbing or spotting, enjoy the scenery, which includes a babbling river running merrily down a forested alpine landscape with jagged snow-covered peaks in the distance.

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