How much does it cost to stay on Kalymnos?
We spent a little over two months climbing on Kalymnos between the end of September and the beginning of December 2010. As long term travelers on a tight budget we were surprised at how inexpensive it was to live and climb on the island. In fact, as we tried to decide whether we would spend more time in Geyikbairi, Turkey or Greece we were surprised to find out that Greece was considerably cheaper. This is largely due to the value of available accommodation.
We provide a breakdown of our living expenses for the 9 weeks we spent climbing and tips for saving money if you plan to visit.
All in all we spent €37 ($48) total for the two of us per day on accommodation, food (not including alcohol), scooter rental and gas. Living the same way would cost €22 ($28) for a single person with their own scooter, and if you opted to take the bus and hitchhike instead of having your own transport you could easily get by on as little as €13 ($17) per day for a single person. The following table shows a breakdown of our costs.
So how do these costs compare to other international climbing destinations? Surprisingly, they’re not that much more expensive than climbing in Thailand. When we spent a few months climbing on Ton Sai we spent $17 per person per day, but we figured that you could get by for as little as $12 per person per day. Compare that to the $17 per person per day that you could spend on Kalymnos and it’s not that different.
The standard accommodation on Kalymnos is furnished hotel studios. They usually include a refrigerator and a simple, somewhat run-down kitchen with enough kitchenware for two people. The short term price for a double studio is usually about €20, but Rita’s studios only charges €7 per person even in the high season.
We wanted to have wifi in our studio so we were limited in choice. Most of the nicer places have wifi, but all of the cheapest places don’t. If you don’t need to get online, or only need it infrequently, many restaurants and cafés in town have free computers and free wifi.
We got a discount on our place because we were staying for two months and our room which normally went for €20-24 was only €16 per day. Because we were staying long term our landlord also offered to let us use the washing machine. Not many studios will offer you laundry but it’s worth asking if you will be there for a while.
During November most of the studios are pretty empty and you can get even better deals. We moved to a larger room with AC/heat for the same price since we were the only ones there, but we had friends who had much nicer places for even less.
There is no camping on Kalymnos and wild camping is illegal. We did see quite a few vans parked on the road near Odyssey, but weren’t able to tell if anyone gave them trouble.
If you arrive anytime other than October you won’t need a reservation to ensure you’ll get a cheap place to stay. In October I’d recommend booking for your first night or two and then asking around about long term deals.
One unique thing about Kalymnos is that with the kitchenette you can self-cater all of your meals reducing your food costs. In two months we ate out maybe a dozen times most of which was €2 souvlaki or gyros. Our average food cost was €7 per person per day.
There are several supermarkets on Kalymnos and lots of mini markets in Masouri and Myrties. You will definitely save some money by shopping at the supermarket especially for staples and produce. Better yet if you fly through Kos you can head to the Lidl or Carrefour supermarkets and stock up on really cheap pasta and other dry goods before you get on the ferry to Kalymnos.
If you want to drink things will start to get expensive fast. We left our beer and wine costs out of the budget because this varies so much person to person. A 500ml beer will run you €2.50 at a bar and a 6 pack of 300ml cans will run you €5.50 at the store.. We also picked up a few 5 liter boxes of wine which run around €10 and are surprisingly pretty decent—or perhaps our standards have gotten lower.
The tap water on Kalymnos is safe to drink but tastes really salty. We used it to brush our teeth and boil our pasta, but left it at that. There are taps of drinkable spring water all over the island and the mini markets in Masouri sell 5 liter water bottles that you can refill. Please try to avoid buying disposable bottles every day. One trip around the island and you’ll see the flaming landfill that all that plastic ends up in.
Most people opt to rent scooters but it is totally unnecessary. Between walking, taking the bus and hitchhiking you can do everything you need to. For the first 3 weeks we walked to all the most popular crags in less than an hour.
If you are climbing between Odyssey and Symplegades you can easily walk. A scooter won’t save you much time because most of the approach is on the trail. All of these sectors can be reached from Masouri in less than an hour. It will take you no more than 30min to get from Masouri to Grande Grotta.
To get to the grocery store in Elies (the closest real supermarket to Masouri) you can take the bus or hitchhike. The bus runs every hour and costs €1 from Masouri/Myrties to Elies. You have to buy your ticket before you get on, but all the shops in town sell bus tickets. Note that the fare all the way to the port is €1.50 so specify that you want the cheaper ticket if you’re only going to the supermarket.
Before we rented our scooter we had great luck hitchhiking to the supermarket. Usually no more than three cars would pass before someone picked us up. On one occasion we even hitched from the bus stop itself.
If you do opt for a scooter expect to pay at least €9 per day and as much as €15 per day. We went to all the scooter shops in Masouri at the end of September/beginning of October and for a two month rental the cheapest we could find was €9 per day. During October they are all booked at full price so you don’t have much bargaining power even when you want it long term. Prices do come down somewhat in November and December.
We made a trip to Kos in the middle of October and rented a scooter for €5 per day from the one scooter rental place in Mastichari, Theo Moto Rentals. The tourist season on Kos is much shorter and the shop was getting ready to close. By renting the scooter on another island you run the risk of a scooter break down which will be difficult to service from Kos, but that was worth the money savings to us. Alternately if you rent from Kalymnos they will swap out your scooter immediately. Be sure to get an international drivers license before you leave home. Some scooter rental places will require you have that to rent.
Both the Kalymnos Star and the Olympos Zeus (the two ferries that run from Kos to Kalymnos) will allow you to take a scooter on board.
Even if you don’t rent long term, it is a lot of fun to get the scooter a few times to visit further crags and tour the island.
If you are making the trek alone you can usually find partners pretty easily. There is a message board in front of the Climber’s Nest. Alternately you can find partners by hanging out at Fatolitis bar. Being the closest bar to the crags, it is the unofficial climbers hang out. You can show up for morning coffee and wait for odd numbered groups of climbers to head out.
For all other information about climbing on Kalymnos you should check out ClimbKalymnos.com