The canyons and sculpted rocks provide some breath-taking hiking in Cappadocia. But the trailheads and paths are tricky and obscure. So, read on for all the tips and tricks we think you’ll need.


Over millennia, wind and rain have sculpted the valleys creating a surreal natural landscape. Domed white rocks, rippling rose canyons and phallic rock formations provide a magnificent backdrop to some stunning hiking in Cappadocia.

But for all the tourists who come to this fairy tale landscape, information on hiking in Cappadocia is decidedly poor. We searched high and low for good walking maps or even average walking maps. None we found marked the trailheads and most barely had the paths covered at all. Cappadocia is a tourist-driven destination, so perhaps this is deliberate to encourage organised walking tours or perhaps it’s just a lack of organisation.

Either way, you’ll find very few people hiking in Cappadocia. Not because the walking isn’t excellent or the scenery sublime, but because it’s difficult to do without someone who knows the paths. If you do head off by yourself and manage to find the trailhead you’ll see the paths either have no signs at all or they have such a proliferation of signs it’s hard to know which one points where.

After 4 days in Cappadocia, we have put together 3 of our favourite walks with detailed instructions, maps and tips to help you enjoy some incredible scenery.


HIKE 1 / PIGEON VALLEY, UÇHISAR CASTLE AND LOVE VALLEY IN CAPPADOCIA

Distance: 11km; Time: 3h 20min to 5h

The canyon walls of Pigeon Valley are topped with teeth shaped rocks; the castle at Uçhisar offers wide panoramic views, and Love Valley has the iconic mushroom topped columns, heavily photographed in Cappadocia. It’s a relatively easy hike that collects a variety of scenery including some of Cappadocia’s most iconic.

Don’t miss the phallic rock formations in Love Valley which was one of our top moments in Cappadocia.

This hike can be broken down into 4 sections:

BLUE LINE | Hiking along Pigeon Valley. Distance: 1.5km; Time: 30mins to 1h
PURPLE LINE | Hiking up to Uçhisar Castle. Distance: 1.5km; Time: 30mins to 1h
BROWN LINE | Hiking through Love Valley. Distance: 5km; Time: 1h 40mins to 2h 20mins
GREY LINE | Hiking back into Göreme. Distance: 2.5km; Time: 40mins.

The Pigeon Valley and Love Valley hike took us 4h 30 min, including stopping for tea twice and taking lots of photos. Download our map to save in offline maps on your phone.

HIKING IN CAPPADOCIA DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS / PIGEON VALLEY, UÇHISAR CASTLE AND LOVE VALLEY

Start The Pigeon Valley (Guvercinlik Vadisi) path starts at Trail Marker G3 on Uzun Dore Road in south east Göreme. /Step 1 Follow signs pointing up the valley, walking through a cafe and up some steps as the valley bottom rises and opens out. /Step 2 Follow the path bending right, squeeze through the tightest part of the canyon. Have tea at Calgary Tea Garden overlooking the view. /Step 3 Continue up the path as it rises out of Pigeon Valley and onto the Göreme-Uçhisar road. Turn left and head up to Uçhisar Castle. /Step 4 The entrance to the castle is on the south side (Hours: 7:00 to 19:40; Price: 8 Turkish Lira).

Step 5 Head back to the Love Valley (Baglidere Vadisi) trailhead which is 100 metres past where you exited Pigeon Valley on the main road towards Göreme. /Step 6 Follow the path to the left of the Ozler centre. /Step 7 Take the right fork at marker B6 and follow the sign pointing to Love Valley. /Step 8 Turn left at marker sign B5 and head steeply down into the valley before turning right and making your way along the valley floor. The canyon walls keep you hemmed in, so you can’t go far wrong. But you may need to backtrack once or twice, making your way around a local farm, and following a dried-up river bed.

Step 9 Arrive at the iconic images of Love Valley. Stop for tea at Keres Cafe before following the path bending right as the valley widens and meets the main road. /Step 10 Turn right and follow the road back into Göreme. /Finish End in Göreme for some lunch and a beer and reflect on some excellent hiking in Cappadocia.


HIKE 2 / RED VALLEY, MESKENDIR VALLEY AND ROSE VALLEY IN CAPPADOCIA

Distance: 11km; Time: 3h 50m – 5h 30m (easily shortened)

When hiking in Cappadocia, all the scenery is impressive but the views on this hike – covering 3 different valleys northeast of Göreme – is simply staggering. Meskendir valley is a narrow canyon that heads arrow-like into the more coloured canyons; Rose Valley is a mass of pointed pink and white rocks whose interiors have been carved into churches; Red Valley contains sinuous fins of rock and its viewpoints had us perched above rippling oceans of stone.

Finding the paths in the Red and Rose Valleys can be tricky, mostly due to the immense profusion of signs. Unclear trail markers point in dubious directions, red scribbles on walls sometimes point both left and right, and many signs lay broken, buried or crossed out. We highly recommend you download our map to help make this spectacular walk a little easier to navigate.

Don’t miss the viewpoints over the rippling oceans of rock in the Red and Rose Valleys; perfect landscape for a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia.

This hike can be broken down into 4 sections:

PURPLE LINE | Hiking down Meskendir Valley. Distance: 2.5km; Time: 50mins to 1h 10min
YELLOW LINE | Hiking the Rose Valley loop. Distance: 3km; Time: 1h10 – 1h 40mins
RED LINE | Hiking the Red Valley loop: Distance: 2km; Time: 50mins – 1h 20mins
PURPLE LINE | Hiking back up Meskendir Valley: Distance: 3km; Time: 1h to 1h20

The Meskendir Valley, Red Valley and Rose Valley hike took us 5 hours, stopping for a drink at panorama point, taking plenty of photos and a few wrong turns! The walking in Meskendir and Rose Valleys is relatively easy, but the paths are a bit steeper on the Red Valley Loop, so make sure you have some decent grip on your shoes/boots.

Google Maps has some of these trails marked but for more information Download our map to save offline.

HIKING IN CAPPADOCIA DETAILED  INSTRUCTIONS / RED VALLEY, MESKENDIR VALLEY AND ROSE VALLEY

Start Park in a layby east of Kale campground on the Göreme to Ürgüp road. There is a Rose Valley sign painted in red which is the beginning of your trail. /Step 1 After a couple of hundred meters take the right turn and descend into Meskendir Valley. Follow the valley north and then northwest. You are hemmed in on both sides by the canyon walls, so you can’t go far wrong. /Step 2 After about 2km you will pass Kucuk Church. /Step 3 Shortly you come to a makeshift hut marked as Bufe on Google Maps, with the G201 trail marker next to it. This is the trail marker for the Rose Valley, which consists of two valleys, Gulludere I and Gulludere II. The marker signs for these valleys begin G1, G2 or G12. Turn right at this marker and follow the path into the valley.

Step 4 After about 500m you pass Anna Johachim Church. /Step 5 100 metres further you come across trail marker G203 telling you to head left. Ignore this and continue straight on. /Step 6 Following the path you will arrive at the remarkable Kolonlu (Direkli) church. After going inside, continue on the path.

Step 7 You soon find yourself at trail marker G1202 take the smaller path leading past the left-hand side of the marker. The path quickly rises before bending right for some fine viewpoints over Red Valley and then heading left (you can follow on Google Maps). /Step 8 At trail markers G1205 and G1206 following signs for Gulludere I-II Cikisi and you shortly reach Panorama point where you can get drink and refreshments.

Step 9 Make your way down Red Valley (Kizilcukur Vadisi) following trail marker K11. /Step 10 Keep left at trail marker K10 and you will soon pass Uzumlu church and a café. /Step 11 The main Red Valley path continues down the valley, but in our opinion, it is better to stay on the high ground and keep the good views. This is the only time on the walk where you will not be on a trail that is on Google Maps, but it’s not for long. So, in spite of the sign suggesting you go left, turn right at K7C, come off the main path and take the smaller path across the valley and up the other side. Then bend left to a great viewpoint marked Demir Merdiven on Google Maps.

Step 12 Enjoy the views before continuing on a path that slowly arcs right and you find yourself back at the G1202 marker. You can now re-join your Rose Valley Loop (and Google Maps) by heading up to Hacli Church. /Step 13 Look at the frescoes at Hacli church before gaining the ridge and following the path northwest. /Step 14 The path comes to a sign that tries to take you down a rather precipitous slope with a bit of rope that had recently snapped (unlucky for someone). It’s very steep so avoid this and head left and follow the contours of the ridge which slowly drops you back into Meskendir Valley. /Step 15 Re-join Meskendir Valley, turn left and walk the 3km back to the car. /Finish Back at the car near Kale Campground felling rather satisfied with another great day hiking in Cappadocia.

ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS / RED VALLEY, MESKENDIR VALLEY AND ROSE VALLEY

This is a fairly long hike in Cappadocia and involves parking near Kale Campground, but there are a number of ways you can shorten this walk and do it without a car.

You can skip the Red Valley Loop by staying on the Rose Valley loop when you first come to trail marker G1202. This will reduce the walk by about an hour.

If you don’t have a car and are staying in Göreme town, you can skip the Meskendir valley and take a shortcut to the Rose Valley Trailhead. This shortcut (shown in grey on the map) takes about 35 minutes. So, you could walk from Göreme, complete the Rose Valley Loop and the Red Valley Loop and return to Göreme in around 4h – 4h 30mins.

If you have a car and want to shorten the walk, you can drive up to Panorama point and start the walk there. Hiking the Red Valley Loop will take you just over an hour or hiking both the Red Valley and Rose Valley Loops will take about 3 hours. Make sure you finish back at Panorama point for a drink and a sit down on one of Crazy Ali’s couches. It’s a great scene at sunset, so sit back with a beer and survey all the paths you have covered while hiking in Cappadocia.


HIKE 3 / HIKING IHLARA VALLEY IN CAPPADOCIA

Distance: 8km; Time 3h – 4h

The Ihlara valley is a beautiful narrow canyon of sandstone coloured walls, with a river drifting along the verdant valley floor. The river not only supports a plethora of plants and flowers but numerous chirping birds and belching frogs. Churches carved deep into the canyon walls can be explored and offer excellent views over this idyllic scene.

The Ihlara Valley hike is a very straightforward tranquil stroll along the prettiest part of the valley and is well worth the 1h15mins drive from Göreme. The only major challenge is finding the heavily disguised ticket office at the entrance to the valley in Ihlara Village.

Don’t Miss grabbing a cup of tea at Diker Aile Çay Bahçesi; one of our top 6 moments in Cappadocia.

Hiking in Cappadocia does not get much better than this walk. This hike starts in Ihlara Village, heads to Belisirma Village and back again. The total distance is 8km and it took us about 3 hours, although we were moving quickly at the end as it was beginning to rain, so allow yourself up to 4hours to complete the stroll, stop for tea and check out the churches.

You could easily do the walk the other way and start at Belisirma. It all depends on when you want to eat. There are more and better options at Belisirma. So, if you want to eat at the end of the walk, then I suggest you start at Belisirma, if you want to eat halfway through then start at Ihlara Village.

Download our map to save offline.

HIKING IN CAPPADOCIA DETAILED  INSTRUCTIONS / IHLARA VALLEY

Start: We parked in Ihlara Village, outside the Star Café. There is a red sign that says ‘Valley’ on the Star Café’s wall pointing left. Follow the sign and stay on the road. As the road rises and bends right, follow the canyon wall keeping the valley on your right. After about 400m you will see a small building through the trees with red writing saying Ticket Office. This is the cunningly disguised ticket office and entrance to Ihlara Valley (Hours: 8.00-18.30; Price: 20 Turkish Lira).

Step 1 Leave the ticket office, drop down into the valley and walk along the valley floor. There is no chance of getting lost on this walk as it is a narrow valley and you are hemmed in on both sides by the canyon wall. /Step 2 Head up to the nicely frescoed Konar Church. /Step 3 Pop into Algacati Church, meeting the tour groups walking down the steps from their buses. /Step 4 Take tea at Diker Aile Çay Bahçesi by the river (or do so on the way back). It’s a tranquil spot with service from a young boy with a perfect English accent.

Step 5: Climb the steps up to St. George church to see the frescoes, but more importantly offers fine views over the valley. /Step 6 Exit the valley at the Belisirma ticket office (don’t worry your ticket will get you back in). Take the road that curls up to the left and visit Direkli and Bahattin Samanligi churches, which are worth the short walk. /Step 7 Leave the two churches and retrace your footsteps back to the car in Ihlara Village. /Finish Ihlara Village car park outside Star Café.

TIPS FOR HIKING IN CAPPADOCIA

  1. It can be hot and there is often little protection. Wear sun protection and take a hat.
  2. Be very careful during and after rain. The smooth rocks can quickly funnel water and be slippery.
  3. Some cafes were open, but many were not. Do not rely on them for water and food. Take enough for the whole hike.
  4. Most of the walking was simple, but there is the odd steep part and in particular, on the Red Valley Loop ensure you have decent grip on your shoes/boots.
  5. Use Google Maps App with downloaded maps of the local area. In order to download maps, go to the menu in the app and select Offline Maps. Then select Custom Maps, choose the area you want to download and then hit download. Make sure you do this while you still have Wi-Fi or mobile reception.
  6. Don’t worry too much about being on the wrong path. While it may sometimes feel as though you are in a massive area, the valleys are actually quite small, and you can’t go too far wrong, especially with Google Maps. Getting lost and found again is part and parcel of hiking in Cappadocia.
  7. You can combine the Rose and Red Valley loops with watching the balloons fly overhead, but you’ll have to be on the paths as the sun rises.
  8. Download our Cappadocia hiking maps onto your phones. Then you can easily follow our recommended paths and instructions while hiking in Cappadocia.

MORE READING

Read all our Turkey adventures here. Our 2 week Turkey guide including Istanbul, the ancient ruins littering western Turkey and of course, magical Cappadocia is packed full of tips, helpful information and our thoughts on this fantastic country. For more hiking inspiration check out our hiking roam page.

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Our detailed guides for 3 great walks. Hiking in Cappadocia, Turkey. #cappadocia

Our detailed guides for 3 great walks. Hiking in Cappadocia, Turkey. #cappadocia

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