Boulder gym or climbing gym? Which should you visit?

If you are planning a short visit to the Netherlands (e.g. for a holiday) and want to try bouldering here, you can choose between many gyms that offer boulder and/or climbing facilities. As a boulderer without a climbing certificate, I recommend going to a boulder gym as first choice. Over the years more boulder gyms have popped up, so there should be at least one easily accessible boulder gym from where you are staying. The following text will help you find a boulder gym in The Netherlands, and explain why you should go for a boulder gym or climbing gym.

How to choose a gym?

First you can check out the list of all the boulder gyms in The Netherlands. Popular tourist places, like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht, already have one or more boulder gyms. From a beginner / intermediate perspective, just choose the one that is closest to your accomodation. All boulder gyms are good for just having a taste of Dutch bouldering.

You can check reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Tripadvisor, etc. to see what other people think of the gym. Also Reddit has a bouldering community in which you can find posts about Dutch bouldering gyms.

Boulder gym or climbing gym?

If you have found a gym nearby, check if they are a boulder gym or a climbing gym. In most cases it is already in the name: ‘boulderhal’ means ‘boulder gym’. You can go to their website, though most websites are in Dutch only. In that case you can throw the weblink in Google Translate.  Another way is checking out their social media and look for pictures that is showing the inside of the gym. Google street view also offers a look inside a gym, as shown here. Reviews also indicate what kind of gym it is.

The reasons for recommending going to a boulder gym for bouldering, are:

  • The bouldering space in a lot of climbing gyms are very small. Think of an attic or student studio (15-30m²).
  • If you are only bouldering in a climbing gym, most of the time you still pay the full entrance price (or the same price as a boulder gym).
  • Climbers go to the climbing gym for toproping and other climbing. So there is the chance of you being the only one bouldering.
  • The boulder area in a climbing gym is more used for training (for climbing) rather than bouldering. This affects the route setting style.

Note this is an opinion from a boulderer’s perspective.

There are some climbing gyms that have improved their bouldering section, so much that it is considered a stand-alone bouldering gym. That is also worth checking out and it is included in the list of all the boulder gyms in The Netherlands.

And ofcourse there are some climbing gyms with a large boulder space, just research a bit beforehand. I’ve been in a situation where I paid 10 euros for bouldering in a 15m² attic, and that was the last spontaneous visit to a climbing gym, ever :p

Hope this has helped you to have a fun boulder experience in The Netherlands!