Portugal doesn’t only offer beaches and waves. There are great places for going rock climbing and bouldering indoors and outdoors, which for me is one of the many perks about living in Lisbon.
Climbing and bouldering are not only great ways to exercise but also a fun and effortless way to meet new people. No matter if you are longing to make new local friends or feel like you want to chat away with some fellow expats, you will find them all playfully united in front of the rocky walls.
Also, there simply is no conversation starter that is easier than expertly exchanging what moves you need to conquer the wall ahead!
A while ago, I wrote a Dispatches post about my favorite bouldering gyms in the capital. Since then, there have been amazing additions to Lisbon’s climbing scene, which I need to share. In the last year, not one but two (!) gyms for climbing on a rope have opened, which means, it’s time for writing about (insert drum roll) the three best places to go for roped climbing in (or close by) Lisbon.
The climbing and bouldering center Escala 25 has become a new favorite of mine. Located underneath the 25 de Abril Bridge, it is just a stone’s throw from my house. This allows me to walk there on an extended lunch break when I need a short time off from writing my thesis.
The beauty of this place lies in the fact that it is outdoors with the metal construction of the bridge directly above your head when climbing up the 12-meter walls. Several auto-belay routes even allow for coming alone without a climbing buddy. There is also a small bouldering wall that is great for warming up.
If you are new to the game or simply need a refresher on how to climb with a rope, you can book an
introductory course. If you want to learn about outdoor rock climbing, Escala 25 also offers excursions to climbing spots close by Lisbon.
Since its location is quite central, there is really no difficulty at all to reach there also by public transport. Various buses drop you almost right where you need to be and if you prefer going by car, there is limited free parking space right at Escala 25, or you can leave your car close by at Estacionamento As Docas (As Docas Parking lot).
Entrance fee: 9.50 euros (day pass, adult); 7.50 euros (day pass, student)
Climbing pack (entrance fee and full equipment): 18 euros (day pass, adult), 16 euros (day
Tue, Wed, Thu: 10:00-21:00
Altissimo, is another great place for going climbing. It’s an indoor climbing facility a bit outside Lisbon in Agualva-Cacém. The gym on 1,100 square metres and two floors offers walls up to 13.5 metres in height as well as a small bouldering area for warming up. As in Escala 25, there are also several auto-belay routes of varying difficulty.
On the second floor you’ll find a small area with weights and other fitness equipment to warm up or cool down. There is a small bar offering drinks and snacks if you need to refill your depleted energy levels or simply want to sit down for a chat. In Altissimo, as well, you can book classes.
The quickest and most comfortable way to get there is by car, which you can leave in the free parking lot in front of the gym.
If you are not the fortunate owner of a car, probably the easiest way to get there by public transport is to take the train direction Sintra and get off at the station Agualva-Cacém.
From there it is a 15 minutes walk to reach the gym, which is located in an industrial complex.
Entrance fee: 12 Euros (day pass, adult); 11 Euros (day pass, student)
Fee for renting shoes: 4 Euros
Fee for renting harness: 3 Euros
Fee for renting rope: 4 Euros
Mon, Tue, Thu and Fri: 10:00 – 23:00
Wed: 14:00 – 23:00
Sat., Sun. and Holidays: 10:00 – 19:00
Most of the year, however, the beaming sun of Portugal is inviting outdoor activities. Luckily, one of the most beautiful places I know for outdoor climbing is only about a 30-minute drive from Lisbon at the Farol da Guia (Guia Lighthouse) on the cliffy coastline of Cascais.
At Farol da Guia, right next to the street opposite a petrol station, you’ll find a free parking lot. On its left side there is a flight of stairs guiding you down to the cliffs prepared with hooks, offering a variety of very well bolted medium level routes.
The view over the ocean once you climbed up more than compensates for every sweat drop.
Since the spot is sunny all throughout the day, it is great to go there on colder days or in summer in the morning hours. Very conveniently, the names and grades of the routes are written down at the base of each climb.
To climb here, of course, you need some experience climbing outdoors and your own equipment. But if you look for it, you can also find outdoor climbing courses that will bring you exactly to this spot. Escala 25, for example, also offers excursions to the cliffs at Farol da Guia.
Hooked yet? Put on your climbing shoes and I’ll see you soon by the rocks and boulders!
Read more about Lisbon here in Dispatches’ archives.
Miriam Thaler is a PhD student in Culture Studies in Lisbon. Exploring foreign places and getting to know different people, their stories, ways of life and worldviews has always been her passion. After finishing school she lived and worked as a volunteer for one year in the South of Chile.
Her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology brought her to Munich and Paris. Iceland called her during her Masters for an ethnographic research stay and the shooting of a documentary.