What are the best rock climbing cliffs in the world?

What are the best rock climbing cliffs in the world?

The list you’ve all been waiting for is finally here. I frequently talk about my love for rock climbing and some of the most incredible experiences in the last ten years of climbing.

That’s why it took this long to make the ultimate list for the best rock climbing locations in the world. I didn’t want to randomly pick my favorite places from memory.

These rankings are based on facts, input from other climbers, and personal experience. Rock climbing at these nine spots is a truly mystical adventure.

1. Yosemite National Park, United States

Popular Locations & CliffsRed Rock, Hueco Tanks, Red River Gorge, Acadia National Park
Total Climbs249,288 routes
Difficulty5.0 – 5.13
Rock TypeGranite, Sandstone, Limestone
Best Time of the YearSpring and Autumn seasons
Other ActivitiesSkydiving, White water rafting, Kayaking, Deep Water Soloing, Waterfall climbing

The U.S. has the best climbing rocks and cliffs in the world for bouldering, speed, trad, and sports climbing.

What are the best rock climbing cliffs in the world?
Yosemite National Park

There are over 200,000 climbing problems to choose from in the U.S. alone. Yosemite National Park (California) is unanimously considered the best one out of these quarter-million climbing routes.

Beyond Yosemite, other must-climb spots in the U.S. include Red Rock (Nevada), Hueco Tanks (Texas), and Zion National Park (Utah). You’ll need multiple lives to try out all of the climbing problems in these spots.

Cost Breakdown: 

Hotel Cost$94 – $514

2. Kalymnos, Greece

Popular Rocks & CliffsMeteora, Crete
Total Climbs1,367 routes
Difficulty5.8+ – 5.13b
Rock TypeLimestone
Best Time of the YearAll Year
Other ActivitiesSkydiving, Free Diving, Bungee jumping, River rafting, Paragliding

Greece is the best rock climbing location in Europe. Some even consider it better than even the United States and other popular destinations. With over 945 climbing routes under its belt, Kalymnos – an island in Greece, is a haven for climbers.

What are the best rock climbing cliffs in the world?
Kalymnos Greece

Thanks to the Mediterranian seas, the weather around Kalymnos is also awesome. So you can get the full experience without worrying about the “peak months.”

Some of the other world-renowned locations, Peloponnese, Carpe Diem, and Mort aux Chèvres, are also in Greece.

Cost Breakdown: 

Flight from the US$767 – $1070
Hotel Cost$106 – $509

3. Northeastern Italy

Popular Rocks & CliffsThe Dolomites, Val di Mello, Sarca Valey, Rocca Sbarua, Sicily
Total Climbs1,017 routes
Difficulty4, 5.3 – 5.12a
Rock TypeDolomite
Best Time of the YearMarch to October
Other ActivitiesFlorentine Football, Hiking, Valley flying, Kayaking, Mountaineering

You should consider visiting Italy for the views alone. The Dolomites are literally one of the most beautiful Alpine ranges in the whole world. Mountaineering and climbing there is life-changing.

What are the best rock climbing cliffs in the world?
The Dolomite Mountains

Home to some of the famous climbing routes for beginners (Ferrata Brigata, Tridentina, Via Delle Guide) and experts (La Freccia 6b+, Tis Sa Arc, Gran Sasso), Italy is a powerhouse when it comes to rock climbing.

The dolomite (type of limestone) rocks are also beginner-friendly, which could add to the overall experience depending on who you’re climbing with.

Cost Breakdown: 

Flight from the US$598 – $794
Hotel Cost$18 – $1475

4. Patagonia, Chile

Popular Rocks & CliffsChimenea de Santa Clause, Apnea, El Perro Melvin
Total Climbs272 routes
Difficulty5.8 – 5.12c
Rock TypeLimestone
Best Time of the YearNovember to Early March
Other ActivitiesRafting, Kayaking, Hiking, Skiing, Fly-fishing

Chile might not have as many climbing routes as the other locations on this list, but it won’t disappoint. It’s the rock and roll of the climbing world.

Patagonia Deep Water Soloing

If the Chile cliffs look familiar to you, it’s because Red Bull’s psicobloc (DWS) and rock climbing tours and competitions are held in the icy rocks of Patagonia. And Red Bull doesn’t take PR lightly!

Cost Breakdown: 

Flight from the US$510 – $731
Hotel Cost$18 – $465

5. South of France

Popular Rocks & CliffsGoulotte Chéré, Fontainebleau, Verdon Gorge, Les Colonnettes
Total Climbs1,165 routes
Difficulty5.7 – 5.11d
Rock TypeGranite, Limestone
Best Time of the YearJune to September
Other ActivitiesParkour, Surfing, White water rafting, Cliff diving, Flyboarding

You’re not a rock climbing enthusiast if you haven’t heard of Fontainebleau and Les Colonnettes at least once. The forest is approximately 90km south of Paris, and it’s a nature’s marvel.

What are the best rock climbing cliffs in the world?

The Fontainebleau sandstone cliffs are simple enough that even kids can try climbing there. But that’s where the family fun ends. Verdon Gorge and Les Colonnettes routes require more than just skills to complete, so you might wanna skip them if you’re just starting out.  

Cost Breakdown: 

Flight from the US$730 – $1018
Hotel Cost$44 – $1473

6. Railay, Thailand

Popular Rocks & Cliffs20 Kilos of Steel, The Best Route In Minnesota, Bhet Mak Mak, Tomahawk
Total Climbs986 routes
Difficulty5.4 – 5.12b
Rock TypeGranite, Limestone
Best Time of the YearNovember to March
Other ActivitiesWhite Water Rafting, Scuba diving, Kiteboarding, Skydiving, Surfing

The two prominent beaches of Thailand, Tonsai and Railay, are killing it in extreme sports tourism. They’re one of the best locations for rock climbing, skydiving, kayaking, and any water-related activity.

What are the best rock climbing cliffs in the world?
Railay Thailand

Plus, it’s the cheapest location on this list. You only have to give a few dollars to the boatmen on the shore for a quick ride to the islands from the Tonsai beach. It’s convenient too because almost everything is managed by Basecamp Tonsai.

Cost Breakdown: 

Flight from the US$949 – $2311
Hotel Cost$20 – $315

7. Zermatt, Switzerland

Popular Rocks & CliffsMatterhorn and Eiger
Total Climbs544 routes
Difficulty5.4 – 5.12-
Rock TypeGranite, Limestone, Gneiss
Best Time of the YearSummer Season (May – September)
Other ActivitiesSkiing, Skydiving, Rafting, Paragliding, Tandem Skydiving

Switzerland may not have the most dangerous climbing routes on this list, but it’s not called “heaven above Earth” for nothing.

What are the best rock climbing cliffs in the world?

If you’re like me and this is more than just “climbing” to you, Switzerland should be on the bucket list. The Swiss Alps in Zermatt offer about 38 peaks of more than 13,000ft in cliff height.

And don’t get fooled by the relatively well-known beginner routes such as Blue Sky of MIne and Half Traverse. Because the Swiss Alps also have two of the most infamous routes a climber can solve – Matterhorn and Eiger.

Cost Breakdown: 

Flight from the US$794 – $848
Hotel Cost$135 – $716

8. Majorca, Spain

Popular Rocks & CliffsLoskot and Two Smoking Barrels, Buena Sombra, Magrana, Crosta Panic
Total Climbs2881 routes
Difficulty5.10c – 5.13c
Rock TypeLimestone, Granite, Sandstone
Best Time of the YearSpring and Fall seasons
Other ActivitiesBungee jumping, Kitesurfing, Skateboarding, Paragliding

I know that some of you are gonna disagree with me about putting Spain this far down on the list. It’s fair, too – Majorca (Mallorca) is the birthplace of DWS climbing, after all. But just hear me out.

What are the best rock climbing cliffs in the world?
Mallorca, Spain

While Spain is amazing and one of the most beautiful climbing locations globally, it’s also very dangerous. The world-class routes in Spain start from 5.10c and go as high as 5.13c.

The best climbing seasons in Spain, Spring and Fall, also bring rain and slippery rocks, which are red flags for non-experts. That said, if you’re an experienced climber, Spain is easily one of the top 4 choices.

Cost Breakdown: 

Flight from the US$522 – $627
Hotel Cost$59 – $902

9. Squamish, Canada

Popular Rocks & CliffsKlahanie Crack, Skywalker, Diedre, Penny Lane, Flying Circus, Exasperator
Total Climbs16,037 routes
Difficulty5.4 – 5.12a
Rock TypeGranite, Limestone
Best Time of the YearSummer season
Other ActivitiesCN Tower EdgeWalk, Mountaineering, Swimming with Whales, Bobsleighing

Any climber worth their mettle can’t make a top nine list without listing Squamish and The Bugaboos in Canada. Even without these two, Canada has an absurd amount of climbing routes – 16,037.

What are the best rock climbing cliffs in the world?
Squamish Valley

It’s another climber’s haven – doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or climbing with friends and family, you can’t go wrong with Canada.

The best part is that almost all the world-class spots, both beginner and advanced, are in British Columbia – near Vancouver and Squamish.

Cost Breakdown: 

Flight from the US$317 – $557
Hotel Cost$104 – $445

Just to be fair, these nine may have the best cliffs in the world for rock climbing, but they aren’t the only ones. The Peak District (United Kingdom), Rocklands (South Africa), and Fiordland National Park (New Zealand) almost made the list as well.

Now that you’ve got the deets, pick one of ‘em and start planning your next trip. Be sure to check out my other “Best Places To Go” listicles if you want to pick a location that offers all your favorite pastimes.

Jonathan Spaeth

I got into extreme sports about 20 years ago and am a die-hard adrenaline junkie. Just like in business, I choose my outdoor adventures based on how much they scare me. My goal is to share the lessons I've learned over the past couple of decades braving the unknown to encourage you to do the same.