12 of the World's Coolest Climbing Gyms
The popularity of indoor climbing has skyrocketed in recent years, and so have the number of gyms. We looked all over the world to find some of the coolest, many of which have saved historic buildings from being demolished. Pack your climbing shoes next time you travel. You'll want to see these places first-hand.
Photo By: Mark Reis
Photo By: SputnikClimbing
Photo By: Les Ailes du Desir
Photo By: F. Kretschmann
Photo By: Ben Whaley
Photo By: Basecamp at Whitney Peak Hotel
Photo By: JohnHoulihan.com
Photo By: Ben Grubb
Photo By: Awesome Walls Climbing Centres
Photo By: Christine Bailey, Courtesy of Planet Granite
Photo By: Tim Morozzo
Photo By: Courtesy of Earth Treks and Walltopia
CityROCK, Colorado Springs, Colorado
The real uniqueness of this gym is beneath its tall, traditional climbing walls. CityROCK is home to a network of 225 feet of artificial rock corridors, complete with a 40-foot rappel. The realistic system allows people to practice climbing in fragile cave systems. An alarm system warns you if you’re getting too close or too rough with the synthetic cave formations like stalactites and soda straws, and at the end of your climb, the computer system scores your behavior. Even if caves aren’t your thing, though, you’ll find something to do here. The gym is built in an old movie theater and has walls up to 43 feet high, has a few slack lines, hosts a wide range of yoga classes on weekdays and is also home to a cozy brewery.
Sputnik Climbing Center, Madrid, Spain
Sputnik Climbing Center in Madrid has nearly 20,000 square feet of climbing space, making it one of the biggest climbing gyms in all of Spain. The colorful gym—with dedicated kids’ zone—also has a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating so you can enjoy some Spanish cuisine after pushing yourself to the limits.
Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, Scotland
Climb walls up to 90 feet high at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena in Scotland, built inside an old rock quarry. Aside from top-roping and bouldering, you’ll also find a massive Clip and Climb area full of less traditional climbing apparatuses, like the Stairway to Heaven, a spiral "staircase" of narrow cylindrical steps, the Astroball, nine spheres stacked on top of one another, and the Orbital, which has climbing holds on circular plates that rotate in opposite directions as you climb.
DAV Climbing and Bouldering Center of Munich, Germany
With 84,000 square feet of top-roping and bouldering, indoors and up the side of the building outside, The DAV Climbing and Bouldering Center of Munich (Kletter & Boulderzentrum Munchen-Sud) claims to be the biggest in the world by a long shot. You’ll also find a biergarten, bistro and rooftop terrace here, plus kids’ areas indoors and out with a castle, pirate ship and other structures to climb all over.
The Crux, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
You’ll find one of North America’s tallest indoor climbing walls at The Crux in Calgary. The gym’s tallest top rope routes are 72 feet high, and they also have a 60-foot wall. Multi-pitch climbing areas and thousands of square feet of bouldering space make it a gym with routes for everyone.
Basecamp at Whitney Peak Hotel, Reno, Nevada
It probably does not surprise you that the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall is at a hotel in Reno, Nevada—little Vegas. It’s worth a visit. The 164-foot-tall climbing wall at Basecamp scales the side of the posh Whitney Peak Hotel. If that’s a little too tall for your liking, you’ll also find 40-foot auto-belay routes alongside the big one and a 3,200-square-foot bouldering gym indoors.
Manchester Climbing Centre, Manchester, England
You will find epic natural light at the Manchester Climbing Centre, where you can climb in full view of this former church’s massive, colorful stained-glass windows. Formerly St. Benedict’s Church, the building was vacant for several years after a shrinking congregation forced it to close. Now, it’s home to massive climbing walls up to 65 feet high.
The Castle Climbing Centre, London, England
The Castle Climbing Centre, in London, isn’t exactly a castle. But it sure looks like one. What’s now one of Europe’s coolest climbing gyms was built in the '90s in a Victorian water pumping house, built for water filtration in the 1850s. The Metropolitan Water Board wanted to tear it down in 1971, but the local community saved and preserved it, paving the way for it to become a hopping community climbing center in 1995.
Awesome Walls, Liverpool, England
Awesome Walls Climbing Centre in Liverpool, England, brings a new meaning to "going to church." This climbing center was built in the 169-year-old St. Albans Church in 1999. Many of its original features are still visible inside this wildly colorful gym, which has many less traditional climbing walls kids will love in addition to hundreds of routes for all levels.
Planet Granite Climbing Gym, Portland, Oregon
When Planet Granite merged with Earth Treks in 2017, they became the largest network of climbing gyms in the U.S. Joining one of their locations gives you access to 11 gyms in Colorado, California, Oregon and the D.C. metro area, including two opening later this year. Top-roping walls in the Portland location reach up to 55 feet high and feature 18 cracks, four of which are hydraulically adjustable so the routes are always changing.
Glasgow Climbing Centre, Scotland
Climb into the heavens at Glasgow Climbing Centre in Scotland, where you can scale walls right up to this old church’s original wooden eaves. The building formerly played host to the Ibrox Methodist Church and was built around 1868. Feeling adventurous? You can also rappel down from the spire.
Earth Treks Climbing Gym, Englewood, Colorado
This summer, Earth Treks will open the country’s biggest climbing center, in Englewood, Colorado. The more than 50,000 square feet of climbing space will be housed in the former Sports Authority headquarters, which was vacated when the big box chain went out of business in 2017. The new site will also offer on-site childcare for kids 6 months to 6 years, yoga classes and space for private climbing lessons.