Why go rock climbing in Turkey?
No matter your interests, there’s bound to be something to draw you to Turkey. The country’s varied geography makes it a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. You can practice pretty much any sport you can think of, and even ski and then swim in the sea all in the same day! Foodies will enjoy Turkey’s slow-food culture and delicious cuisine blending Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Anatolian palettes, and all visitors will discover a rich and vibrant culture moulded by millennia of history and cultural exchange… And the climbing? Well it’s pretty phenomenal too!
As in many European countries, limestone dominates Turkey’s climbing scene. However, this doesn’t take away from the variety. From the awe-inspiring big walls of Aladağlar and Degegöl to the laid-back sport climbing around Olympos and Geyikbayiri, the hardcore alpinist and committed sport climber will both find something to their taste. If you’re more of a boulderer, don’t fret: you can enjoy the unique experience of bouldering amongst ancient Carian ruins at Lake Bafa.
Depending on how much time you have, either pick one area that most suits your fancy or plan a road trip visiting a few different ones.
A map showing the best climbing areas in Turkey © Francesco Bonvecchio
Rock climbing in the Aladağlar National Park
The Aladağlar National Park, located between the cities of Kayseri and Adana, is the birthplace of Turkish climbing. Spanning over 550km squared, the National Park is blanketed with a black and red pine forest interspersed with stunning limestone peaks—60 of which are over 3,000m high! Since the early 1900s, the region’s seemingly endless peaks have attracted climbers from all over the world looking to put their skills to the test and, as a result, today you’ll find all sorts of climbing opportunities from single-pitch sport to huge bolted and trad multi pitches.
Sport climbers should start in the Cimbar Valley, located just outside the village of Karamuk (also known as Demirkazik). This is the most accessible sport climbing area in Aladağlar, offering over 250 easy-angled single and multi-pitch routes 4+ to 7a+, up to 300m long. For those climbing in the higher grades the Kazikli Valley near Cukurbag is worth a visit: a huge limestone and conglomerate canyon offering hundreds of routes up to 8b+ on either vertical or overhanging terrain.
The main attraction in Aladağlar, however, are the multi pitches. Hundreds of bolted and trad routes from 200m to 650m long lie scattered throughout the mountains, making for some adventurous climbing with an alpine feel. We suggest connecting with the locals and seeing what they recommend!
The best time to visit this area is summer.
Benjamin Trautmann lowering off from Getto Blaster (7c) at the Hörgüc Getto crag, Olympos © Matthias Baur
Rock climbing in Antalya
Antalya on the Southern coast of Turkey is the place to head for some sun-drenched sport climbing with a Mediterranean vibe. The most popular climbing destination here is Geyikbayiri, an area located 25km from Antalya boasting over 1,000 single-pitch sport routes up to 9a. Expect everything from technical faces, to hard Céüse-style pockets and even three-dimensional routes navigating stalactites and bomber tufas. With 300 days of sun a year, short walk-ins, well-bolted climbs, and that Mediterranean limestone we all dream about, it’s pretty much the dream!
Visit in early spring, late fall or winter for the best sending temperatures.
If you’re looking for a change of scenery then head to Olympos, a scenic sport climbing area located about a 1.5 hour drive south of Geyikbayiri. In summer, Olympos is a popular backpacking destination thanks to its bountiful beaches, lush forests, subtropical climate and numerous other attractions from ancient Greek ruins to teeming bars. Thankfully, the prime climbing season is pretty much the inverse of the tourist season, and so you’ll be able to enjoy the 400+ limestone sport routes in relative peace. Most of Olympos’ crags are just a stone’s throw from the beach and there’s even some great deep water soloing - but you’ll need to hire a boat.
Rob Lowe in Magara, Geyikbayırı. © Magdalena M. Nowak
Climbing in Dedegöl
The Dedegöl Massif is a lesser-known climbing area located about 3 hours north of Antalya. Here a huge 600m-tall grey limestone wall erupts from the surrounding peaceful greenery, offering over 100 multi-pitch routes of all grades. Quality rock; pitch after pitch of exceptional climbing on pockets, tufas and crimps; phenomenal views and a beautiful base camp setting make this place well worth the visit.
For more information and route recommendations, you can reach out to Cem Manav, a professional rock-climber and mountaineer and owner of Climbinn gym in İzmir.
Local climber Cem Manav. © Serdar Çobanoğlu
Bouldering in Lake Bafa
If you’re looking for some bouldering in a truly unique setting, then head to Lake Bafa about 2 hours south of Izmir. Here oddly shaped granite and gneiss boulders lie scattered against a backdrop of olive trees, ancient ruins, and the mighty Besparmak mountains, making for some scenic climbing indeed!
An interesting fact for history nerds (like me!): the village of Kapikiri around which the sectors are concentrated is built on the ancient Carian port city of Herakleia. With over 550 established routes across a range of grades and some beautiful hikes nearby, there’s more than enough around Lake Bafa to keep you occupied for at least a few days. Get ready for some of the best sunsets you’ll ever see!
Boris Egorov climbing Olympos Games (8b) in Geyikbayırı. © Marcin Szymkowski
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We hope this post has inspired you to take a climbing trip to Turkey in the near future. To discover more incredible off-the-beaten-track climbing destinations, get your hands on a copy of the Climbing Travel Guide. 50 climbing destinations from around the world, 100+ professional quality photos, and over 1000 crags all lie waiting for you to discover.
Cover photo © Marcin Szymkowski .