Rock Climbing between Southern Europe and Middle East: A Guide to Cyprus’ climbing opportunities
The first thing that comes to mind when you think about this little Mediterranean country may be its crystal clear waters, its soccer team or your next summer holidays. In most of the cases, it won’t be its rock climbing.
Posted on Wed 18 Jan 2023 · Climbing destinations
Cyprus is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the third-largest and third-most populous island in the Mediterranean. Geographically, Cyprus is located in Western Asia, north of Egypt, east of Greece, south of Turkey, and west of Lebanon and Syria. However, it has been massively influenced by Southeastern European culture over the years. It has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters.
Cyprus is known for its beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters, and tourism is vital to its economy. Its varied landscape includes mountains, forests, and beaches, making it a popular destination for outdoor activities…, especially for climbing.
The climbing community
Stefanos Papadopoulos kneebaring his way up at the crag of “Larnaka of Lapithous,” Kyrenia © Thomas Georgiou / Cyprus Outdoor.
The climbing community has been increasing over the past five years, thanks to the development of outdoor climbing, with several new crags popping up across the island. In addition to outdoor development, three indoor climbing gyms have been increasing in popularity, providing beginner climbers with an outlet to learn and advanced climbers with an outlet for training.
The climbing community in Cyprus comprises locals and ex-pats, and it is estimated that there are around 150 active climbers in Cyprus. The community is small and intimate, but the number of climbers is growing monthly, with more locals taking up the sport and an increasing number of tourists visiting to enjoy the excellent weather, food, and climbing.
There are both summer and winter crags, but the peak climbing season is between November and April when the temperature is more relaxed. Take advantage of that window if you want to fully experience the place with no crowds, perfect climbing conditions, low-seasonal leisure tourism, and a good amount of daylight.
An overview of Cyprus' climbing offer and its potential
A party starts the day with easier routes at Gerakopetra (Paphos) © Thomas Georgiou / Cyprus Outdoor.
Cyprus offers various sport climbing styles and grade ranges. You’ll find something for all tastes: easy slabs and technical face climbing to pumpy, steep overhangs filled with fun tufa climbing. And bouldering, of course! Let’s discover a few of them - we’ll be updating this article in collaboration with Cyprus Outdoors, so you can always get good tips:
- In The Paphos and Akamas District, crags like Dhiarizos and Episkopi will challenge you with some compact and severe cliffs. The area offers multiple trad, sport, and bouldering opportunities on sandstone, providing various climbing grades across all disciplines.
- The Troodos Mountains and Cavo Greco offer soft and creative lines shaped by Mother Nature.
- The Kyrenia Mountain Range will beat your self-confidence as soon as you try to face its hard tufa-climbing.
1. The Paphos and Akamas District
Stelios Kyprou chose a more challenging route than the previous party: Gerakopetra undoubtedly has something for you © Thomas Georgiou / Cyprus Outdoor.
Akamas is world-famous for the Blue Lagoon, the largest and most popular lagoon in the Akamas peninsula – for excellent reason! Here, tourists will find a small beach area with quite a few rocky ledges, with sandy areas you can sunbathe. Luckily, as the water tends to be clear, you can usually see the places to avoid! Not only do sunbathers get their fill of the sun in Akamas and Paphos, but climbers can find various options for fulfilling their thirst for rock.
Kim topping out from one of the various boulders in the Akamas peninsula © Thomas Georgiou / Cyprus Outdoor.
Akamas is not only a valid option for some sport climbing - you can spend multiple days here without scratching the surface of the site’s climbing potential -; it also hosts hundreds of limestone boulder problems, with hundreds more yet to be developed.
The Paphos and Akamas region offers multiple trad, sport, and bouldering opportunities on sandstone, providing various climbing grades across all disciplines. Anyone, from beginners to advanced climbers, can benefit from the wide sport-climbing offer in the Akamas peninsula: grades range from low 5s to routes that kick in at 8b+/8c with many projects still open.
Bouldering-wise, you’ll get the chance to master your skills on some delicious lines, ranging from fb 4+ to 8A. Of course, the potential for more challenging routes is enormous.
One of Paphos's most famous climbing spots is locally known as Dhiarizos (Kourtellorotsos rock, or Rock of Chasampoulion), an excellent compact limestone sports crag up to 28m tall. The routes here span from 3+ to 7c+ with a mix of vertical face climbing and shorter, powerful bouldery routes. The crag is well-orientated, so finding some shade is always possible - a good summer option! Dhiarizos river runs nearby the crag providing a place to cool off after a day of climbing.
Konstantinos Prodromou climbing at Episkopi is the hardest cliff Cyprus has yet to offer… yet. © Thomas Georgiou / Cyprus Outdoor.
Standing proud in the village of Episkopi, in the Paphos region, is the steep and overhanging rock often called the ‘Meteora of Cyprus’.
If you are looking for something steep and powerful, the Episkopi crag in Paphos is a must-visit. The area boasts nature trails, diverse flora and fauna, ancient ruins, hermit’s caves, rivers and streams, and a rare enormous rock that predates humanity.
The Ezousa valley, where the village is located, has inspired many paintings and works of art, and the area’s serenity appeals to those seeking the vivid sounds of nature. Episkopi village and its crag are located on the outskirts of Paphos. It is often referred to as the ‘Meteora’ of Cyprus – a term used to describe Greece’s monasteries built on natural sandstone rock pillars – and is one of the most interesting geological formations in Cyprus and arguably one of the largest, formed millions of years ago after the African tectonic plate was separated, and Cyprus emerged from the sea.
This sector hosts some of Cyprus’ most challenging climbing routes thanks to the steep and powerful climbing. There are a handful of 5-star dead-vertical climbs ranging between 6b and 7c, but the majority of climbs are graded 7a or harder, all the way to 8b+, with some more challenging projects still waiting to be freed, including a possible first 9a route in Cyprus. Anyone here wants to see Adam Ondra, Stefano Ghisolfi, or Seb Bouin working on it?
Aphrodite Constantinou on the Drouseias’ sandstone, a prime bouldering area in Paphos © Thomas Georgiou / Cyprus Outdoor.
Last but not least, move towards the picturesque villages of Drouseia and Ineia: without leaving the Paphos region, you’ll find several sport crags and a not-to-be-missed bouldering area. The main wall is Gerakopetra, but other sectors are scattered around different heights, styles, and difficulties. The rock here is compact sandstone, which provides excellent friction, making it a perfect environment for routes that combine vertical face climbing with tricky slab sequences. Routes here range from 3+ to 8b+, with some projects still open.
A close-up of some of the finest holds Drouseia bouldering area has to offer. Climber: Joshua Steliou © Thomas Georgiou / Cyprus Outdoor.
In the same area, there is an enormous amount of bouldering to take part in - there are over 300 problems currently established, with the potential for hundreds more. Boulders in all shapes and sizes are scattered throughout the hills of Paphos, so there is something for everyone: overhanging roofs, steep and crimpy faces, slabs, compressions, and even plenty of highballs for those looking for a bit of adrenaline. Difficulty ranges from font 4+ to 8A, but for strong climbers, there is the potential for many challenging new first ascents.
Any sunset lover here? © Philip Hadjisoteriou
The views from the crags and boulders are beautiful in this area, overlooking the Akamas (Nature 2000 protected park) coast and with unforgettable sunsets.
2. The Troodos Mountains and Cavo Greco
Cyprus’ Troodos Mountains are a hidden gem as you can climb here and practice other outdoor sports, such as ski-touring or snowboarding during winter. Moving South East, Cavo Greco becomes a valid option for whoever wants to experience nature-sculpted limestone walls.
Cavo Greco overlooks the beautiful coast of Agia Napa, giving you an excellent chance to take breathtaking photos to show to your climbing crew once you get back home - don’t forget to tag @cyprusoutdoors and @mapo_tapo, so we know this article was somehow helpful!
The rock here is coarse limestone but is open to the elements due to its location and is very weathered and sometimes fragile. Loose rock can be a problem on some crags; therefore, great care must be taken when climbing and abseiling.
The style of climbing is varied, with bulges, slabs, and overhangs. There is also an abundance of trad climbing here, although great care must be taken when placing gear due to the nature of the rock.
3. Kyrenia Mountain Range
Stefanos Papadopoulos teaching us how to pose on sheer walls while attempting his project in Buffa Wall, Kyrenia © Thomas Georgiou / Cyprus Outdoor
Heading North, you’ll step into a relatively high number of crags throughout the Kyrenia mountain range: Garga Suyu, Larnaka of Lapithos, Red Balcony, and Vasileia being the most popular. The rock here is primarily made of hard crystalline limestone, which creates beautiful steep and vertical walls with many types of climbing. The rock is generally solid and well-climbed, and due to the number of crags, there is something to climb all year round, whether it’s Summer or Winter. There are pockets, tufas, roofs, caves, tiny crimps, and beautiful cracks providing climbing styles for everyone. Grades range from 4+ to 8b, with many projects still open.
The Canyon sector in Kyrenia will blow your mind. Watch out: rock quality is prime. Climber: Jenny Schauroth © Thomas Georgiou / Cyprus Outdoor.
Kyrenia also hosts Pentadaktylos crag (“Five Finger” in English), named after one of its most distinguishing features, a peak resembling five fingers. Pentadaktylos offers an abundance of trad climbing ranging from easy cracks to hard overhangs - depending on what you’re looking for in a day of trad, you are likely to find it here. The rappel points have been bolted to ensure safe descents.
Climbing in Kyrenia in Summer means being able to climb in the morning and afternoon and then drive down to the beach for a swim after a day on the rock. However, this is the case for any crags you choose from in Cyprus.
Koulia Panteli battling against Larnaka of Lapithos’s wall © Thomas Georgiou / Cyprus Outdoor
If you need more specific information about Cyprus’ climbing spots, alongside grades and updates from visiting climbers, we suggest checking Cyprus Rocks, UKC, for reliable sport-climbing info and 27crags for accurate and first-hand bouldering news and topos.
Thanks for reading! The article has been produced working closely with local climber and manager of the Cyprus Outdoor community, Thomas Georgiou. This collaboration is part of Mapo Tapo's column "Trust the Locals", designed in collaboration with local climbers and climbing developers worldwide. Together, we aim to inspire people to discover new climbing destinations through responsible tourism.