Sardinia is a beautiful island located off the west coast of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to its turquoise waters and white sandy beaches, it has lots to offer to climbers of any level that cross its path. From bouldering to multi pitch, Sardinia contains a buffet of climbing styles that will satisfy any climbers appetite.
The island is known for its world class climbing and has 6 main climbing areas that together total over 4,000 routes. So, suffice to say, there is no shortage of climbing on the island, not to mention it’s growing! The growing popularity of climbing in Sardinia has resulted in the development of hundreds of new boulder problems and routes just in the past couple years, and the potential for even more development is still huge.
So, it’s no wonder why Sardinia is such a desirable destination for climbers. It is in fact a climbers dream vacation. It has so much climbing to offer for any skill level and in various styles. Then add that to the incredible location and the availability of cheap flights to the island and you may be wondering why your not on your way there right now! 😉
Type Of Climbing
You can find climbers of all types in Sardinia because of the variety of climbing it has to offer. To be precise, it has bouldering, sport climbing (single and multi pitch), trad climbing (single and multi pitch), and deep water soloing. That pretty much covers every type of rock climbing. Sardinia caters well to every climber.
If you’re a sport or trad climber, you can find good climbing in all areas of the island, with the most popular crags (Cala Gonone, Domusnovas, and Isili) located near the center and on the west coast of the island.
For boulderers, you can also find bouldering all over the island. You can go north to the Gallura area, south around Cagliari, and central near Nuoro. Or if you’re up for a bit of adventure, there are tons of boulder fields scatted all over the island just waiting to be developed.
To add to all the different types of climbing, Sardinia also offers several different types of rock. Bouldering is mostly on granite and routes are mostly on limestone, but you can also find some problems and routes on basalt too.
It is known mostly for it’s incredible world class limestone routes. The majority of sport and trad climbing crags are limestone, however, you can also find some crags that are comprised of granite and basalt too.
Despite the massive amount of limestone routes this destination has to offer, the majority of the rock on the island is actually granite. Granite makes up some of the routes but the majority goes to insane amount of boulders there are scattered all over the island.
When To Go
Best time: End of September to end of November & March to end of May
The most ideal times to visit Sardinia for climbing is during the spring and fall. It is possible to climb during the winter season at many of the crags, but it can get very cold, especially at higher elevations where peaks are likely to be snow capped, and many of the facilities are closed during this time. The summer months can get very hot, but climbing could be possible if you find a shady and high crag, however, the summer is also a very expensive time of year, more specifically in August.
The coldest month of the year is February, which averages from 10-12ºC (50-54ºF) and the hottest month is August, which averages from 25-30ºC (77-86ºF).
The driest month of the year is typically July which averages 0mm of rainfall during the month, and the wettest goes to November, which averages between 50-150mm of rainfall during the month.
Sardinia is divided into 6 main climbing areas,
each described in more detail below:
The province of Nuoro is located in central-eastern Sardinia and is home to one of the best known and most visited crags in Sardinia – Cala Gonone. Climbing in Cala Gonoe is mostly single pitch sport routes on hard limestone. The majority of routes require a single 60m rope and 12 draws is sufficient. There are also several other regions around the province of Nuoro that offer single and multi pitch sport climbing and trad climbing as well as some bouldering.
Located in the northern part of the Island, this area includes Sassari, Alghero and Olbia. The main climbing here is in Osilo, which is located in the province of Sassari. This area consists mostly of single pitch sport routes on limestone with a wide range of grades, but also offers some bouldering on Granite. To the west in the Alghero area you can also find magnificent routes up to 140m long on the incredible sea cliffs of Capo Caccia and some deep water soloing. Then, to the east in Olbia, you’ll find a wide variety of sport routes on limestone that eventually turns to granite as you venture further north for some bouldering. Two of the three international airports can be found in Sassari, one on the east coast in Olbia and one on the west coast in Alghero.
The province of Oristano is located in the central western part of the island and is one of the most popular climbing areas in Sardinia. The area of Isili, to be specific, is a very popular area with hundreds of single pitch sport climbing routes and is famous for it’s super steep roof climbing. Oristano has a mixture of climbing on limestone, basalt, and granite. With the exception of the climbing in Isili, all the rock climbing in Oristano has recently been developed which means that there is a lot more potential in the area. A 60m rope and 12 quickdraws will get you on most of the routes in this area.
Ogliastra is a mountainous province in eastern Sardinia. This area offers some of the most diverse range in the types of climbing in all of Sardinia. There is single and multi pitch sport routes , deep water soloing, and bouldering. Some of the crags in the Ogliastra area are up in the mountains (at over 1,000m altitude) so you can find lots of cool climbing in the midst of summer.
This area is located on the south western part of the island and is one the largest climbing areas of Sardinia. The most popular area, Domusnovas, has over 500 routes alone! There is a large variety of climbing for all levels and styles. There is one wall named Punta Pilocca which is claimed by many as the best climbing in all of Sardinia.
Cagliari is east of Iglesias in the south eastern part of Sardinia. Climbing in this area has started to become more popular over the years due to the discovery of new bouldering sites that offer bouldering on beautiful granite. There is a very high boulder concentration on Granite to satisfy any boulderer as well as limestone sport and trad for rope lovers. The largest climbing area in Cagliari is called Geremeas and is devoted to bouldering with more than 100 developed problems and several more just waiting to be discovered. There is also an international airport near the southern coast.
- Sardinia Rock Climbing Guidebook – Main guide book for all of Sardinia
- Cala Gonone Sport Climbing Guidebook – Guide book for the popular area, Cala Gonone, and surrounding areas
- Alghero and Sassari Sport Climbing Guidebook – Comprehensive guide book for all climbing around Alghero and Sassari in northern Sardinia
- Sardinia Bloc Scouting – Bouldering Guide To Gallura – Bouldering guidebook for Gallura Area
- Faces Above The Sea – Selective guidebook covering some of the Mediterranian’s finest climbing in 7 different countries
Getting There and Getting Around
The most popular way climbers make their way to the island is via air, which also is often the cheapest option since many major carriers and budget airlines fly into the island. Sardinia has 3 international airports (Alghero Airport, Olbia – Costa Smeralda Airport, and Cagliari-ELmas Airport), each of which you can fly into depending on what area you’ve decided to go to or which offers the best deal. The island is about 250km long by 135km wide, so travel on the island by car can be simple as long as you follow the main roads.
There is also the option to take a ferry to the island if you prefer. However, it is obviously slower and since flights can be cheap, why not just hop on a plane and gain some more climbing time?
Getting around on the island is easiest with a rental car. There is public transport, but it is limited and apparently difficult to use. Also, since Sardinia is quite large and offers climbing all over the island a car makes it convenient if you wish to check out some of the other areas.
There are lots of different types of accommodations throughout the island of Sardinia, from hotels to Bed and Breakfasts, to villas and apartment rentals and even camping. There are options for any budget.
One very popular accommodation amongst climbers is a bed & breakfast called The Lemon House. It is located in Ogliastra on the east coast, just a short walk to the sea and a 10 minute drive to the closest climbing area. The Lemon House is run by outdoor enthusiasts and caters to climbers, cyclists, mountain bikers and hikers. They have a lot of local knowledge and will be able to help you out with any of your climbing plans. They even have a mini indoor bouldering wall, fingerboard, campus board, and crash pad for you to use, and even sell some climbing related products.
You’ll have plenty of options to fill your rest days while in Sardinia. Here’s just a couple that you can enjoy:
- Relaxing on the beach and swimming in clear blue water
- Mountain Biking and Cycling
- Site Seeing
- Kite Boarding
- Bird Watching
Like the sound of climbing in Sardinia? Did your palms get a little sweaty just reading about it? Then Sardinia may just be the spot for your next climbing trip!
Have you climbed in Sardinia? Share your comments and thoughts below!