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Top Climbing Places for Families in Europe

Top Climbing Places for Families in Europe

As the amount of climbers continues to grow worldwide, the amount of climber families is also growing. There is no need for parents to neglect their love of climbing outside just because they begin to have children.

Yes, bringing kids on a climbing trip definitely adds some additional difficulties into the mix when previous problems focused on climbing conditions and where to go
and when; however, if you want a family, and want to keep climbing, you have to make due.

Traveling with your family, no matter the type of trip, is more difficult than traveling solo or with another adult. Add the typical inconveniences of family travel to the usual difficulties of a lack of parking, fatiguing or lengthy approaches, or a lack of comfortable accommodation and you might consider canceling the trip all together.

Don’t cancel. Instead, check out this list of some of the best places around the world that are family-friendly and offer fantastic climbing!

Fontainebleau, France

 Paul Robinson on  Elephunk (8B/V13) . Photo by Alexandra Kahn

Paul Robinson on Elephunk (8B/V13). Photo by Alexandra Kahn

Fontainebleau is a beautiful and historic town located within the forest of Fontainebleau. Throughout the forest thousands of high quality boulders lie on flat, sandy approaches, which vary in length.

The landings are great, there is a lot of room to set up blankets, chairs, play pens, toys, anything that would provide the family with the comforts necessary for a full day outside.

There are multiple small towns in which to get delicious treats such as pastries and baguette sandwiches and gites (where you stay) can be found throughout the various towns in the forest.

On rest days, take the 40 min train trip to Paris and explore the city, or even walk around the palace and town of Fontainebleau itself.

  • Why suitable for families: Mostly sandy landings, short approaches, many places to sit and watch, great city to explore with many food options plus many other towns, plenty of accommodation options throughout the area, climbing gym for rainy days, pad rentals through the gym.
  • Type of climbing: Sandstone, Sloping Holds, Technical Bouldering, Plenty of slabs
  • Where to stay: There are many options for gites in all the small towns throughout the Fontainebleau forest.
  • Where to eat:  La Chocolaterie, Marché de Fontainebleau (open air food market on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday morning), and tons of other restaurants of all different ethnicities throughout the city. You can also find plenty of spots for traditional French food, pizza and Mediterranean kebab pitas in the neighbouring towns
  • What else to do nearby: Visit the palace in Fontainebleau and explore the cities, Paris is 40 minutes by train, other beautiful villages to explore in the area, many places to go for walks
  • Pad rentals&climbing gear: Pad rentals and a climbing gym for rainy days
  • When to go: Fall and Spring. It does rain a lot so this is something to keep in mind
  • Fees/Permits: No
  • Airport: Paris. Car needed
 Chris janiszewski on  El Varano (7C+/V11) . Photo by Alexandra Kahn

Chris janiszewski on El Varano (7C+/V11). Photo by Alexandra Kahn

Albarracín is a World Heritage Site worth seeing in its own right, but it is also home to one of the largest concentration of high quality boulders in the world.

A beautiful Spanish fortress wall surrounds this sleepy town, forests cover the hillsides and farms spread out in all directions. Whether you are looking for technical or thuggy, there is something for everyone.

  • Why suitable for families: Easy and flat walks, safe landings, short drive, variety of climbing, temperate climate.
  • Type of climbing: Sandstone bouldering, roofs, vertical, crimps, pinches, slopers
  • Where to stay: There are some apartments to rent in the town of Albarracin. In addition there is  places Sandstone Guesthouse and Don Pepo Guesthouse where many climbers stay. There's also a campsite in the village, and some parking places where it's possible to stay with a van. 
  • Where to eat: There are many options in town but they have weird hours and usually they open only after 7/7.30pm. There are more options in Teruel as well as a big grocery store. There's also two smaller grocery stores in the Albarracín and a GREAT bakery in town on the way to the boulders which sells out quickly. 
  • What else to do nearby: Walk around the beautiful historic town, go to the Museo de Albarracin, visit the castle via a private tour, tour the churches, rock art within the bouldering areas, the beach is not too far away, a dinosaur museum nearby, attend a cultural event https://fundacionsantamariadealbarracin.com
  • Pad rentals&climbing gear: Pad rentals and other supplies at the climbing store called Sofaboulder.
  • When to go: Late fall, winter, spring
  • Fees/Permits: No
  • Airport: Valencia, Madrid or Barcelona. Car needed.

Margalef, Spain

 Margalef. Photo by Maya Ayupova. 

Margalef. Photo by Maya Ayupova. 

Margalef is one of the famous rope climbing areas in the mountainous region of Catalonia. With breathtaking views, a variety of climbing styles and enough climbing that nothing feels overcrowded, it’s a great place for a climbing trip.

Not to mention its close proximity to many other crags of different styles, including Siurana, should you wish to sample something entirely different.

 Angie Scarth-Johnson watching climbers at Laboratori in Margalef. Photo by Alexandra Kahn

Angie Scarth-Johnson watching climbers at Laboratori in Margalef. Photo by Alexandra Kahn

  • Why suitable for families: Minimal to no approach, tons of different grades
  • Type of climbing: Sport climbing. In general shorter pitches. Mixture of vertical and overhanging. Every grade.
  • Where to stay: You can stay at the Refugi at the base of the climbing area, in the town of Margalef, or nearby in Cornudella de Monsant (which is where most people stay for Siurana) because there are more food and accommodations options (Living Siurana).
  • Where to eat: The nearest real grocery stores are in the town of Reus. There are not many restaurants to choose from so its best to plan on cooking.
  • What else to do nearby: On the road between Margalef and Siurana there is a place with mini golf. There are many places to walk and hike and small Spanish villages to enjoy. Rest day trips to Tarragona (beach city), Reus (nice old city with lots of life), or Barcelona
  • Pad rentals&climbing gear: There is a great climbing store in Cornudella de Montsant, Goma2.
  • When to go: Fall, winter, spring
  • Fees/Permits: No
  • Airport: Barcelona. Car needed.

 

Kalymnos, Greece

 Photo from North Cape sector by Irina Bogolepova. 

Photo from North Cape sector by Irina Bogolepova. 

Kalymnos needs no introduction for rope climbing enthusiasts. Home to climbing festivals, excessive scooter travel and some of the most iconic and picturesque seaside cliffs in the world, it’s a dream destination for anyone who loves the ocean and climbing.

While a little warm, the deep water soloing and the other cliff’s close proximity to the ocean, give a consistent relief.

 Tim De Maziere making his way up the tufa roof.  Ivi Ole 7b+ , Kalymnos. Photo by Hanna Vartia.

Tim De Maziere making his way up the tufa roof. Ivi Ole 7b+, Kalymnos. Photo by Hanna Vartia.

  • Why suitable for families: Tons of activities, variety of climbing and grades, great weather, lots of food and accommodation options
  • Type of climbing: Limestone sport climbing- overhangs, slightly overhanging or vertical, slabs. Mostly single pitch. Plenty of tufas!
  • Where to stay: Hotels or studio apartments, book well in advance.
  • Where to eat: Grocery stories, bakeries, mini markets and restaurants.
  • What else to do nearby: Castles, Museums, Beaches, Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, hiking, Cycling, cave explorations, visit other islands
  • Pad rentals&climbing gear: Plenty of climbing stores.
  • When to go: Fall and Spring
  • Fees/Permits: No
  • Airport: Kalymnos, Kos or Rhodes (depending where you fly you might need to take a ferry). Car not needed

Leonidio, Greece

  Nifada  sector in Leonidio. Photo by Michael Schreiber.

Nifada sector in Leonidio. Photo by Michael Schreiber.

Leonidio is on its way to becoming the next Kalymnos with the recent climbing festival and hype Alex Megos spread with his climbing video. With its convenient location on mainland Greece, it’s even easier to get to the beautiful Mediterranean life that infuses both climbing and the ocean.

While still new and in need of some cleaning and time, this area is on its way to being one of the newest European rope climbing hot spots for climbers of all levels.

  • Why suitable for families: A beautiful village by the ocean that makes a great all around vacation. Not too far from a major airport, lots of food and accommodation options, great weather
  • Type of climbing: Limestone sport climbing but the climbs are newer and helmets are recommended.
  • Where to stay: Camping, hotels, guesthouses
  • Where to eat: Supermarkets, bakeries, pizza restaurants, taverns that even have vegetarian and vegan options
  • What else to do nearby: Mountain biking, diving, monasteries, visit Athens
  • Pad rentals&climbing gear: Climbing shops.
  • When to go: Fall, winter, Spring
  • Fees/Permits: No
  • Airport: Athens, 3.5 hour drive from airport. Car needed

 

Åland, Finland

 Landscape in beautiful Åland. Finland. Photo by Rudy Ceria.

Landscape in beautiful Åland. Finland. Photo by Rudy Ceria.

Beautiful seaside climbing, forests and farms makes up the area known as Åland. Red granite boulders and bushes covered with blueberries and lingonberries sprinkle the area. There is a variety of grades for all levels and a unique landscape to explore and relax in.

  • Why suitable for families: Super easy approaches, lots of activities to do, wild berry picking in the climbing areas.
  • Type of climbing: Granite bouldering
  • Where to stay: Cottages, hotels, campsites, bed and breakfasts
  • Where to eat: Grocery stores so get ready to cook most of your meals. Restaurants in Marienhamn.
  • What else to do nearby: Cycling, sea kayaking, visit ruins, mini golf, sauna.
  • Pad rentals/shop: No
  • When to go: Spring and fall. Summer can work also. 
  • Fees/Permits: No
  • Airport: Either fly to Helsinki and ferry to the island or fly to Mariehamn. A car will be needed.
 Niccolo Ceria on  Normipäivä (8B) , Åland. Photo by Rudy Ceria

Niccolo Ceria on Normipäivä (8B), Åland. Photo by Rudy Ceria


Text and photos without photo credits by Alexandra Kahn

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