Some climbing destinations offer once in a lifetime climbs. Others are known for their party scenes or stunning views. But we’ve decided to create an article of the 20 best rock climbing holiday destinations worldwide – for areas that tick all the climbing boxes.
These are the destinations that offer the lot – different types of climbing, from traditional to sport, with single and multi pitch options thrown in for good measure. There’s also good access, small crowds, plenty of routes, plus all the other factors that make a great spot.
We think that the best rock climbing holiday destinations should also offer climbing for all levels. After all, if you’re travelling with family and friends, it’s unlikely you’ll all be at the same level. And a little variety is always good for working on your technique.
Best rock climbing holiday destinations in Europe
Starting close to home with what we know best it was very hard to narrow this down to just eight spots in Europe. Many great spots have been missed such as Finale Ligure in Italy, Chamonix in France, Labské údolí in Czech Republic, Frankenjura in German, Zillertal in Austria, the Norwegian Fjords, Majorca, Tessin in Switzerland, Hartz Mountains in Germany and I am sure many more.
Costa Blanca – Spain
The sheer variety and quantity of climbing in the Costa Blanca makes this a dead cert to kick off this list of the 20 of the best rock climbing holiday destinations worldwide. The scope, plus the usually excellent weather make this a great place to climb, especially when it’s wet and wintry elsewhere.
All the bases are covered here, from via ferrata and scrambling to sport climbing and long multi pitch routes, all adjacent to the sea in east to access crags. Check out this article about 10 reasons for a Costa Blanca climbing holiday.
Costa Daurada – Spain
Not only is the Costa Daurada home to some of the best single pitch climbing in the world, it’s the sheer concentration of routes and climbing options that make this really stand out. With world famous spots like Rodellar, Margalef and Siurana all within easy reach – it’s easy to see why this is on our list.
The limestone mountains of the Sierra de Prades also benefit from superb weather, lying just to the southwest of Barcelona. With prime sport climbing, single and multi pitch routes that are mostly easy to access and in a lovely climate it is a must visit spot.
We recommend Rock & Sun for climbing holidays to Costa Daurada.
Fontainebleau – France
The Mecca for bouldering lovers, this spot found just 90km from Paris and is home to huge, mysterious rock formations. With everything from small boulders for kids to explore to big slabs, mantels and overhangs for more experienced climbers, there is plenty to do here for all levels of climber.
Many bouldering routes in Fontainebleau are marked and colour coded by difficulty making it a great place for building your climbing skills and strength. It’s possible to boulder here year after year and never tackle the same boulder twice.
Orpierre, Haute Provence – France
Having essentially become a climbing village, there’s everything you need here to enjoy a complete climbing holiday with an easy 10 minute walk to the crags. There’s a policy here that around 30 pitches will be developed and equipped each year.
With 650 routes from 3 to 8c reaching up to 200m there is something for everyone, although the majority are F5 to F6b. Being in the Haute Alpes, it’s as close to the Provincial Crags as it is the alpine crags. It has plenty of single, multi and sport routes to climb, plus climbing support, tuition and shops.
Orpierre is around an hour from Ceuse which has another 350 routes ranging from F5a to F9a+. Ceuse is at 1600m, meaning is it is too hot at Orpierre (700m) you can head there for a change in scenery. Ceuse is often called the best sports crag in France, but the steep, hour long walk in doesn’t appeal to all.
The short walk in at Orpierre and that it is climbable all year round, although August can be too hot, is why it makes this list ahead the highly regarded Ceuse as one of the best rock climbing holiday destinations worldwide. We recommend Rock & Sun for climbing holidays to Orpierre.
Dolomites – Italy
Rock climbing in Italy is more or less dominated by the big wall climbing in the Dolomites. There are multi-pitch routes here up to 80 metres long, and with classic routes of all grades, there is something for all ability levels.
Many of the climbs can be reached by short walks from the road which means you can cram in more climbing during your stay. Huge routes, great climbing and value for money – what’s not to like?
Pembrokeshire – UK
The highlight of south Wales climbing, Pembrokeshire has thousands of routes located in stunning positions across the coastal landscape. As you might expect with sea climbing, just getting to the base of some of these climbs is an adventure in itself.
Just remember to be careful of the wide ranging tides that you’ll find here. Beautiful slab climbing around St David’s and the stunning crags of Range East and Lydstep all add up to make this a superb climbing destination.
The Peak District – UK
The most popular climbing destination in the whole of the UK, this area situated between Sheffield, Manchester and Derby has thousands of routes to choose from. The crags differ in style and rock type, meaning there is lots of variation to play with.
The area is famed for its gritstone edges, including Froggatt and Stanage, which are free of cams and nuts, so expect to get your hands into some cracks. You can also find some superb bouldering, disused quarries and single and multi pitch climbs. In short, it’s got the lot.
Kalymnos – Greece
This small island near Kos benefits from superb weather throughout the year, as you might expect on a Greek island. Most of the climbing is found within walking distance of Massouri, where you’ll find single and double pitch sport routes of all grades.
With overhangs and some superb sport climbing routes, plus bolted limestone crags and good access completing the portfolio, it’s no wonder it’s popular. The fact it’s a Greek island might have something to do with it too. Read our articles to find out more about Kalymnos climbing.
Best rock climbing holiday destination in North America
Again this was tough to narrow down to just a few spots. Tensleep in Wyoming was close to inclusion as was Maple Canyon in Utah. We are completely lacking spots in the Eastern United States but then couldn’t include everywhere goo.
Yosemite National Park – California, USA
El Capitán (The Captain/Chief) is probably the most famous rock face in the world located in the Yosemite NP on the North side of Yosemite Valley. It is a 900m vertical rock formation that at one time was considered impossible to climb. It has now been climbed many times but the world’s best climbers are still drawn to ‘the toughest climb’. There has even had a film and numerous documentaries made about it.
But climbing in Yosemite NP has a lot more to it than the difficult multi-day climbs in the Valley. There are an endless variety of challenges, including maintained crack climbs of the Merced River Canyon and the sunny Tuolumne Meadows domes and much more. However Yosemite certainly favours more experienced climbers.
Joshua Tree, California – USA
This high desert climbing area in Southern California is the most popular in the US. It’s a year round climbing destination, with winter being a particularly great time to visit, when much of the rest of the US is under thick snow.
With loads of crags, runout slabs and mixed routes, as well as the odd spot of sport climbing too, this place ticks a lot of boxes. In total, there’s a colossal 7,000 established routes and plenty more to discover for anyone willing to make the walk into the back country.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado – USA
With more than 265,000 acres of space packed with granite heights, there’s plenty here to get excited about. Between Estes Park and Grand Lake, there are challenges for all level of climber. Beginners will find guided tours of routes to match your ability.
More experienced climbers can even head out for some wild camping and climbing expeditions (although you will need a permit before you go). With varied climbing and the exceptional Rockies scenery, this is a top climbing holiday destination.
Moab, Utah – USA
Climbers are drawn to the big walls, towers and unique rock formations in Moab. With some of the USA’s most famous routes, in spots like Wall Street, Indian Creek and Fisher Towers, you can hike out to some truly exceptional climbing spots.
Nearby there’s some challenging climbing in the Arches National Park, where you won’t need a permit and can take on some tough single pitch climbs.
Banff & Jasper, Alberta – Canada
OK so this is two climbing destinations. But they are under four hours apart and together they make for one of the best rock climbing holiday destinations. Banff National Park has many enticing crags with around 40 areas to explore. The largest are Lake Louise with over 100 mapped routes and Tunnel Mountain with over 50. June to September offer the best conditions although there is spectacular ice climbing available in winter.
Jasper offers a similar varied experience but less crowds on popular crags. You can rock climb some spots from March to October although June to September is the main season. Ice climbing is available in the winter until June. The crags are mostly lime and quartzite, with alpine rock routes like Mt Colin and Mt Edith Cavell. With good provision for climbers of all ages and abilities, this is a top spot.
Squamish can be found halfway between Whistler and Vancouver. Its main draw is The Chief, a crag that seems to grow out of the road through town. Although it casts its shadow over the town this 800m granite rock draws climbers from all over the world.
There are over 1500 routes with more being added all the time. There is plenty of trad and multipitch plus Dreamcatcher – Canada’s hardest route only completed by three people. There are also plenty of easier sport climbing routes and to top it off there is also a plethora of boulders for less vertically challenging climbs.
Check out our guide to rock climbing in Squamish for more info.
Best rock climbing holiday destinations: Rest of the world
Having used up 14 of the 20 best rock climbing destinations up on europe and North America we are pretty limited for the rest of the world. We tried to include spots in each continent (exception being Antarctica) and would have loved to include somewhere in the Himalayas, East Africa, the Middle East and well everywhere really!
Patagonia & San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
The stunning landscape of Patagonia is perhaps not surprisingly home to some of the South America’s best climbing. Extreme mountaineering areas, like Torres Del Paine, Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre are world famous and provide stunning backdrops to the less extreme climbing that is also available.
But if heading all the way to Argentina you should also head further north to San Carlos de Bariloche for a more varied climbing experience. Between September and April you can climb the Golden Granite Frey Spires in the Huapi National Park. With around 200 traditional and sport routes to explore, it makes it into out 20 best rock climbing holiday destinations worldwide.
The Grampians & Arapiles, Victoria – Australia
Offering more climbing than any other Australian destination, there are thousands of routes in the Grampians to tick off. Spread out over a vast forest and rock national park, some climbs will require lengthy approaches along dirt tracks and paths. However there are great facilities for beginners, making it a good place to learn.
For experienced climbers looking for a less restricted climbing experience drive two hours to Mt Arapiles, where almost all routes are within easy walking distance of the access roads. But the Grampians are hard to beat, with ragged crags, waterfalls and mysterious rock formations that beg to be explored.
Wharepapa, North Island – New Zealand
In a country famed for outdoor pursuits and blessed with mountains that Wharepapa stands out as New Zealand’s best all round climbing destination. Wither all year round climbing Wharepapa is very popular, helped by it’s location just over two hours south of Auckland.
With some exceptional crags, including Secret Valley, Smith Rock, Froggatt Edge and Waipapa and over 800 routes in total – it’s got a lot to offer. Most climbs involve a short, easy access and the quiet rural setting appeals to people looking to really focus on climbing.
Yangshuo – China
This small town near Guilin in China is home to the famous karst mountains. All around this site there are hundreds of climbing routes that have become very popular with travellers in the area. The famous Paper Cut crag (pictured) has routes ranging from 5.13a / 7c+.
There have been some concerns in the past about safety but as the area’s reputation grows, this is becoming less of a problem. An outside entry to this list of 20 of the best rock climbing holiday destinations worldwide, but one to watch over the next few years for sure.
Krabi Region – Thailand
The monumental limestone rocks in Krabi attract climbers from all over the world, in particular to Railay and Ton Sai. It’s a great place for beginners, with mostly sport climbing on offer although there is some tougher multi pitch if you progress quickly or are already proficient.
With more than 700 bolted routes graded from F4 to F8c, and plenty of space for everyone, it’s a quality climbing destination blessed with stunning scenery too. Oh and throw in a laid back Thai lifestyle, beautiful beaches, friendly locals and great food and it is one of the best rock climbing holiday destinations worldwide. Find out more about climbing in thailand.
Rocklands – South Africa
Found in the Cederberg Mountains around three hours north of Cape Town, this semi-desert setting is famed for its world class bouldering. However, there is some fine sport climbing too, over a variety of grades, mostly single pitch. You have to obtain permits to climb here, and some of the climbing is on private farms, so you will have to get permission first. The rock is fine grain sandstone of medium hardness which can be tough on the skin.
Todra Gorge – Morocco
Situated in the High Atlas Mountains amongst some massive limestone cliffs is the Todra Gorge, home to some bolted sports climbing routes up to 300 metres long. It’s one of Morocco’s biggest and most well developed climbing areas, with over 400 routes across a wide range of grades. Many of the routes are within walking distance from accommodation, so you won’t spend too much time travelling.
So there you have our 20 best climbing holiday destinations worldwide. Let us know what you think, and feel free to tell us more about your favourite destinations in the comments. We’re sure to have overlooked one or two of your favourites tell us why your spot should be included.
About half of these destinations are visited by Rock & Sun Climbing Holidays. Lucky for you AWE365 have arranged a discount for you.