Rock climbing in Sicily offers everything from big wall multi-pitch rock climbing to single pitch sports routes, with the added bonus of visiting an island steeped thousands of years of civilization and culture. The rock climbing here offers a great sense of adventure and there is a warmth and hospitality from the islands population that is always willing to help tourists and foreigners. The rock climbing on Sicily is generally found along the northern and eastern coastlines, and can be broken down into 4 main areas:
Near Trapani is one of the most famous seaside resorts of Sicily called San Vito Lo Capo. Along the coast on the west side of San Vito lo Capo is a great coastal cliff nearly 4km long. This cliff has hundreds of quality single pitch sport routes on a mixture of limestone and marble rock. The climbing is varied with tufas, holes, slabs, overhangs, caves and cracks across a wide range of grades (f3a to F9a). However most of these routes are in the easy to mid-grade range, with around half the routes graded at F6b+ and below. Rising up from San Vito lo Capo is Monte Monaco and Pizzo Monaco, where there is a mixture of bolted and trad multi-pitch routes between 150m to 400m long as well as single-pitch sport routes.
There are other crags around San Vito facing various directions that mean it is always possible to find the sun or shade depending upon the season. Apart from the very hot summer months, it is possible to climb at San Vito throughout the year. The San Vito Lo Capo area is perfect for combining a sun, sea and rock climbing holiday.
Rising up within the city of Palermo is the mountain of Monte Pellegrino, and is the largest climbing area in Sicily. This mountain is over 600m high and extends from south to north for several kilometres, offering a continuous sequence of limestone walls exposed on every side. The majority of the climbing is on the west side of the mountain and in all there are 9 major crags, offering single pitch and multi-pitch routes up to 200m long. There are 100’s of sport routes here, as well as long classic routes, making it the most important rock climbing area in southern Italy. However there are still enormous possibilities for new routes and long stretches of the wall are still untouched.
To the north of Palermo and rising from the sea is Monte Gallo. It is an isolated mountain consisting of a number of different peaks, with some walls up to 400m high. The rugged nature of the mountain and its steep walls are similar to the Dolomites! All of the routes are multi-pitch giving big wall bolted routes up to 370m long on good quality limestone rock.
In the northeast side of Sicily the rock climbing around Messina consists of 11 separate limestone crag. Here there is a combination of sea cliffs and multi-pitch bolted routes up to 150m long. The largest crag is at Castelmola, near Taormina, which offers nearly 80 single pitch sport routes across a good selection of grades.
In the southeast part of Sicily there is a large concentration of crags between Siracusa and Ragusa. This area is made up of the Monti Iblei plateau with many cantons up to 200m deep. The climbing is mainly single-pitch sport routes that offer a good selection of routes across all grades.
However at Monti Climiti there are bolted routes up to 100m long with 9 different crags spread out on 3 sides of the mountain. Generally there are not many routes established at each crag, and the number of bolted routes varies from 7 to 38. However the crags are separated by only a few minutes’ drive from each other with only a short walk to each crag. There is a good selection of single pitch routes as well as bolted multi-pitch routes across all grades on limestone rock.
The coastline around Siracusa is the best to go Deep Water Soloing (DWS) in Sicily, though this has only recently been developed.
The ideal time to visit Sicily to go rock climbing is from autumn right through to spring. It is not unusual to be climbing in shorts and t-shirt on beautiful crags overlooking the sea during the winter months.
For the majority of the multi-pitch and all of the single pitch sports routes at least a 60m rope is recommended, with around 15 quickdraws. However for some of the multi-pitch routes it would be advisable to take 2 half 50m ropes and trad gear such as nuts and cams.
There are 3 guidebooks that cover the rock climbing found on Sicily. The largest of these is called "Di Roccia di Sole/Climbing in Sicily", and it describes 98 climbing areas across the island, including sport and multi-pitch routes. The two other guidebooks only cover the sport climbing around San Vito. These are called “Sicily Rock – San Vito Sport Climbing” and “Sport climbing in Sicily - San Vito lo Capo”. All of these guidebooks are available to buy from our shop.
To view a larger photograph showing the variety of rock climbing and sports climbing to be found around on the island of Sicily, please click on the thumbnail images.
The Di Roccia di Sole - Climbing in Sicily Guidebook covers all the major rock climbing areas in Sicily. Buy this guidebook from