Climb Europe - helping to plan and organize your rock climbing holiday in Portugal
Portugal is not the first place you would think of as a top rock-climbing destination and it doesn’t have any world famous climbing areas. However there are plenty of excellent sports crags and bouldering areas, of which the majority are located near the major tourist destinations of Portugal. Therefore it is an ideal place to visit if you are looking to combine rock climbing with your general holiday, with superb beaches, surfing and World-class windsurfing spots. The rock climbing areas of Portugal can be split up into 3 areas as described below.
To the west of Lisbon are the towns of Sintra & Cascais. Around the hills of Sintra the rock climbing is on granite rock. Here there are some fantastic bolted granite slabs, which provide a great sense of exposure. High in the forest above Sintra at 1,780 feet are a series of granite bouldering areas, which provide significantly cooler climbing than the beaches a few kilometres away. At Cascais it is all about sea cliff climbing on limestone rock. This ranges from the sports climbing at Farol Da Guia to bouldering on the beach at Baia Do Mexilhoeiro.
To the south of Lisbon between the towns of Sesimbra & Setubal are 3 sports climbing areas, the largest being Fenda. Here the routes are definitely in the higher grades (mainly 7’s) on steep and overhanging walls of limestone rock.
Central Portugal offers some very picturesque locations to go rock climbing. The hills of Montejunto, Reguengo do Fetal, and Redinha provide several good limestone crags. These short bolted cliffs provide a good number of routes across all grades. The altitude of these places makes them perfect to escape the hot sun, as they are significantly cooler than the coast.
Near the town of Covilha is Portugal’s premier bouldering area called Pedra do Urso. Situated at 1,400m the granite boulders offer 1000’s of quality problems across all grades. The rough granite provides excellent friction and the altitude makes the place lovely and cool throughout the year apart from the hot summer months.
The Algarve is known as Portugal’s premier tourist region, with its fantastic beaches and surfing facilities. There is limited climbing to be found here but enough if you are looking for somewhere to combine some climbing with other holiday activities. The best crag is at Rocha da Pena, which offers sports routes on good quality limestone rock across all the grades. It is nicely situated just far enough away from the busy tourist regions of Quarteira & Albufeira, yet still quick to reach and is only a short walk from the car.
The other crag of interest is the rocky outcrop of Sagres, which mainly offers steep sea cliff climbing using trad gear, usually in the higher grades. The rock is not always that solid and there is a conflict with the local fisherman who have always fished from the top of the cliffs. However, this area offers some good opportunities for Deep Water Soloing (DWS).
The Rock Climbing Atlas for South Western Europe & Morocco describes the rock climbing around Lisbon and the Algarve in Portugal. This useful book describes the different crags, number of routes, style of climbing, how to get there, where to stay, and general information about the area, though it doesn't describe any individual routes. As well as Portugal, the book also includes information about France, Italy, Sardinia, Spain, Malta & Morocco.