Where To Go Climbing In Sardinia

You may not know it yet, but climbing in Sardinia is world class.

The Italian island of Sardinia, floating in idyllic Mediterranean waters, is a rock climbers paradise. The jagged and rocky landscape, brimming with limestone mountains of all shapes and sizes, is a place where world-class climbers are honing their skills, as well as where beginners are learning the ropes. In fact, there are over 4000 sport climbing routes in Sardinia!

These 4000 climbing routes can mostly be found in the five main climbing areas: Cala Gonone, Baunei/Ogliastra, Isili, Supramonte, and Domusnovas, near Iglesias. These routes are well-traveled and traversed, as climbing in Sardinia dates back more than 70 years. Whether you are seeking mammoth crags to climb, slabs to scale, or cliffs to clamber around, Sardinia is the place to do it. Moreover, with a gorgeous Mediterranean landscape and sparkling turquoise waters surrounding you, you couldn’t ask for a better environment to go climbing in.

So, if you’re ready to chart your routes for climbing in Sardinia, let’s get to covering Sardinia’s best climbing areas.

Climbing in Sardinia
Cala Fuili, near Cala Gonone – one of the best places to go climbing in Sardinia

The Best Places To Go Climbing In Sardinia

Climbing in Cala Gonone

Cala Gonone is a seaside town in the central-east region of Sardinia. It’s famous for the Grotta del Bue Marino caves (the Sea Oxen Grotto) and the turquoise waters and beach of Cala Fuili. There are also a few other beaches to check out, from Spiaggia Centrale to Cala Cartoe and the ancient archaeological site of Nuraghe Mannu. There are plenty of reasons to brave the gut-wrenching hairpin turns on this Italian roadway to reach the town of Cala Gonone; hiking is definitely one of them.

Remember how I just mentioned that oh-so-gorgeous Cala Fuili beach? Well, guess what? That beach just happens to be an oh-so-amazing climbing spot. High above the turquoise waters on a limestone bluff that hugs the shoreline, the 60-foot prow has 5.8 to 5.10 grade routes. I recommend trying out the Spigolo Fuili route, which clocks in at a 5.9 grade, as plates of sturdy limestone plus nice little cracks shepherd your path. Best of all, you get to cool off with a dip in the crystalline waters after your climb! Sardinia really is a climber’s paradise.

In Cala Gonone, there’s also the inland canyon to scale that has plenty of challenging routes to climb and pitches to go over. The canyon is called Codula Fuili, and these caves along this canyon are some of the most challenging climbs you’ll find in Cala Gonone. However, since there is no running water streaming through Codula Fuili and most of the canyon is also in the shade, it’s an excellent spot to start as a beginner; there are easy routes to follow.

Moreover, there’s a lovely sea breeze that will consistently waft through. I’m not talking about a sadly sporadic sea breeze; this is a deliciously divine sea breeze you can count on. Trust me, that makes the whole time you’re climbing even better.

Grotta del Bue Marino
Photo by Alexander Kopp @shutterstock

Another veritable climber’s playground is Biddiriscottai, a seaside cliff and cave that offers climbers a nice selection of easy-peasy and downright-difficult routes. Sitting to the north of the village of Cala Gonone, Biddiriscottai is one of the less frequented hiking spots in the area. However, the routes are well-bolted, so you can follow the path along the cliff base and travel across the boulders until you reach the cave — that’s where the most fun climbing happens! The cave has a flat ceiling that comes in around 50 feet high.

Lastly, you can’t miss one of the most prominent and popular climbing cliffs in this region of Sardinia — La Poltrona. The name itself, La Poltrona, seems like an ode to Harry Potter’s patronus charm, and there is definitely something magical about this 500-foot amphitheater of slabs. La Poltrona has more than 80 climbing routes that travel up to six pitches high.

Keep in mind that La Potrona faces the sun, so during the summer months, it’s far too hot to climb anytime between 10 am and 4 pm. If you’re in the mood for an early morning climb, or a late evening climb before the sun sets — La Poltrona is the way to go.

Punta Giradili
Punta Giradili is a prime climbing location

Climbing in Baunei & Ogliastra

The village of Baunei has 11 sport-climbing sectors and quite a few multi-pitches. Best of all, all sectors are located ridiculously close to the sea!

Climbing Punta Giradili is an absolute must! It’s actually the crag with the longest multi-pitches on the entire island of Sardinia. The routes go up to 15 multi-pitches. There are actually two ways to approach it – from the top or the bottom. From the bottom, you’ll walk up a footpath for 40 minutes. From the top, you can park and walk a 40-minute footpath down. I recommend starting from the top, as you can climb using a single rope rather than two!

The main cragging area is called Jerzu. It’s one of the most famous climbing areas in all of Sardinia. The Jerzu crag is way up high in the mountains and has approximately 400 to 500 sport climbs. For some specifics, Jerzu sits just a few kilometers off of Sardinia’s east coast and is located 45 minutes from Baunei in the Ogliastra Province. As a heads-up, most of the climbs can be found around an altitude of roughly 800 to 900 meters!

Most of the routes are technical and have been criticized for being a little fingery, but there have been some new routes added of late for intermediate-level climbers. That being said, the routes do range from 5.10b to 5.13a, so Jerzu isn’t really a suitable spot for beginners.

Ulassai is another great climbing spot. Also known as “The Canyon,” it sits just three miles south of Jerzu and, blessedly, is mainly shady. When things at Jerzu get too hot and heated on the vertical climbs during summer months, head over to Ulassai!  Ulassai actually has over 120 pitches, which cover the spectrum from nice and easy 5.6 grades to solid 5.10 grades and even extreme 5.14c grades!

Rock climbing in Isili

Climbing in Isili

Isili sits in the center of Sardinia, slightly to the south. It’s a landlocked area but is one of the biggest hubs for climbing in Sardinia. It’s most well-known for its overhangs that force you to defy gravity.

In Isili, there are a total of 13 sectors, with hundreds of routes for beginners and wizened climbers alike — ranging from easy to difficult, with 5.8 to 5.14 grades. The easiest to climb is Pietra Filosofale. The Cervo Spaziale crag is one of Sardinia’s busiest crags, so keep that in mind when planning! Urania, the section in the north part of the crag, has the most extreme routes that are all 5.13d, 5.14a, and 5.14b grade.

climbing in Sardinia
Gorropu Canyon is a favorite for climbing in Sardinia

Climbing in Supramonte

Supramonte dwells fairly close to Cala Gonone on the North-East of Sardinia, tucked a dozen kilometers inland. It’s home to cliffs that shoot up to 1,000 feet high! The most notable are Monte Oddeu and Gola di Gorrupu. The Supramonte mountain range is the second-highest range in Sardinia.

Most famous climb is the ridiculously challenging Hotel Supramonte that is located in the Gorropu canyon. Hotel Supramonte is positively stacked with hard pitches — 10 of them in total. Hotel Supramonte is arguably one of the most famous, beautiful, and challenging climbs in the world. The climb is an 8b grade and is filled with crimps, tufas, water erosion pockets, and ribs on this vertical, steep wall.

This limestone cliff is the elephantine climbing challenge in Sardinia you have been looking for. It’s complicated, demanding, puzzling, grueling, yet everything you could ever want out of a tough and tricky climb.

Monte Oddeu is the accessible crag in Supramonte with a bevy of multi-pitches. The routes can be found around 200 meters and range from 5.10a to 5.11 c/d grade. There are fun sport routes as well as classic routes. In the Sardinian dialect, the name of this mountain translates to “God’s mountain.” I’ve never climbed this one before, so after you climb it, let me know if it lives up to its name!

Domusnovas has some great climbing

Climbing in Domusnovas

Domusnovas is a province situated in the south of Sardinia in the Carbonia-Iglesias province. For a point of reference, Domusnovas is just about 50 kilometers west of Cagliari. This region is chock-full of mind-blowing natural beauty – from underground rivers and caves to the geological gem called the Grotto of San Giovanni. Know what else is impressive about the Domusnovas? Climbing, of course! Domusnovas has well over 500 bolted routes that cover all angles of the mountain.

Domusnovas has 33 sectors that are basically a smorgasbord of varied climbing routes. All 33 sectors are located around… drumroll please… the Grotto of San Giovanni! It’s an 800-meter long tunnel that crosses a mountain.

Punta Pilocca is also located in the area of Domusnovas, just slightly to the north. It’s a long south-facing crag that has 120 pitches. It’s the perfect place to climb in Domusnovas for beginners, as there are 5.6 grade slabs. But don’t worry, things can certainly get tricky for those who want more technical climbs!

If you are willing to walk an extra 100 meters, there’s a new sector named Il Muro dei Folletti to try out!

Climbing with sea views – can it get better than that?

BONUS: Climbing the Rock Needle in Cala Goloritze

Alright, I was trying to tackle only the five most popular regions in Sardinia for climbing with this article. However, I just couldn’t imagine excluding the iconic rock needle in Cala Goloritze. It goes by two names – Aguglia or Punta Caroddi – and stands 140 meters high with 10 multi-pitches.

The difficulty level ranges from 5.10b to 5.11c/d, and the most popular route is the Sinfonia dei Mulini a Ventothe that has six pitches with a maximum grade of 5.10d. There is a medium-difficulty multi-pitch to scamper along – the Easy Gymnopedie – that has 5 pitches and is 140 meters long. It’s well bolted and is a marvelous climb for those who are just starting out but still want to try their luck at Cala Goloritze.

Lastly, Cala Goloritze is fairly close to Baunei, a less than 10-kilometer jaunt north. I probably could have included it in the Baunei section, but this Sardinian climb is just too juicy, so it deserves its own section!

GOOD TO KNOW: Keep in mind that Cala Goloritzé can only be reached via a hike that starts in the Golgo Plateau, north of Baunei.

Check out my post A Useful Guide To Cala Goloritzé.

Climbing Guides And Gear In Sardinia

While many people in Sardinia love climbing, there is only one certified climbing / alpine guide on the island. His name is Marco Bigatti, and he also runs climbing classes for beginner, intermediate and even experienced climbers. You can get in touch with him via email at [email protected] or via his website here.

You will find climbing gear stores all over the island. In Cagliari and surrounding, there’s the large Stile Alpino shop. I am a fan of Outdoor Sport in Via Caprera, which is actually smaller, in the historic center of town, and whose owner, Gianluca Piras, is extremely knowledgeable.

Final Thoughts On Climbing In Sardinia

With over 4000 climbing routes, there are more crags than you could take a stab at in one lifetime! Unless you’ve got a good handle on reincarnation, I hope my post helped you decide which climbing area in Sardinia you want to tackle!

Whether you’re seeking sea-facing cliffs or shaded canyons, Sardinia has something to offer every type of climber. The crags, peaks, cliffs, ridges, and bluffs will never cease to call the name of climbers from across the world. The challenging, monumental landscape sings a siren song for those who want to scale to great heights. Haven’t I said it already? Sardinia is a paradise for climbers.

One last thing I wanted to mention is that the best time of year to go climbing in Sardinia is the fall or the spring. Summer can be wicked hot, and winter can be quite windy. Since autumn and spring are warm and pleasant, it’s definitely the best time of year to go climbing in Sardinia!

If you’ve been climbing in Sardinia, I’d love to hear about your experience and swap stories. Post a note in the comments below!

Further Readings

If you are planning a trip to Sardinia, make sure to read my other posts:

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Discover where to go climbing in sardinia - via @c_tavani

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