Cappadocia is famous for its otherworldly scenery, cave dwellings, fairy chimneys and of course, the hundreds of hot air balloons that take to sky every sunrise. But being a world-famous destination also means that there can be lots of people! Want to enjoy Cappadocia away from the crowd? You’ll have to put in some work. These hiking trails in Cappadocia are just waiting to be discovered!
As a hiker’s paradise, many towns and villages are near all the main hiking trails, making it convenient to explore Cappadocia on foot. Winding trails make their way through rugged canyons and surreal rock formations, and the dramatic scenery just begs to be witnessed. The good news if you’re not an outdoorsy person? The hikes are generally quite short and manageable. If you’re fit and can go for longer, some of them also have the option to extend! Without further ado, here are some of the best hiking trails in Cappadocia.
1. Red Valley and Rose Valley
If you only have time for one hike, then make it this one. Most visitors arrive at Red Valley in time for the sunset, as the rock formations glow a soft red with the sun rays. There is a viewpoint and also cafes lining the valley which fill up quickly towards sunset time. In most cases, the hike is also combined with Rose Valley. The views are truly remarkable any time of day, with the pink-hued ridges changing colour with the sun journeys. Although if you come at midday, the heat can make it a hard climb. The trail is moderate in difficulty with many different routes you can take. It is pretty diverse, but do expect to share the views especially at sunset!
2. Meskendir Valley
Meskendir is a short trail in Goreme that takes you past different cave dwellings, historic sites and multiple tunnels. It is quite shaded, which makes it suitable even during the middle of the day. And it is quiet, as you are in the backcountry and quite a distance away from other attractions. Measuring at four kilometres, it is also not a long hike. You can extend it into a super hike by connecting to Red Valley and Rose Valley! If not, you can just do Meskendir and turn back out. There are small vendors along the way, so you can stop for food and drinks.
3. Love Valley to Uchisar Castle
One of the most unique hiking trails in Cappadocia, you won’t be able to help smirking when you see all the phallic rock formations and realize why Love Valley is named the way it is. At the heart of Love Valley where the curious rock formations are most concentrated, there is a quaint little cafe. Drinks are expensive here, but perhaps that is to be expected. Continuing on, Love Valley gives way to White Valley and its beautiful, stark white sandstones. Towards the latter end you will also be able to see Uchisar Castle, so don’t worry about getting lost. Although the castle isn’t really a ‘castle’ in the traditional sense, the view from the top is still quite beautiful. All in all, this is a relatively flat, peaceful trail that takes two to three hours, depending on how often you stop.
4. Ihlara Valley
For a break from the sandstones and rock formations, Ihlara Valley is an incredible sixteen-kilometer gorge with the Melendiz River running right down its heart. It’s a great spot for a peaceful walk amidst some lush green nature and many cave churches. You can stop and relax by the river, with the tranquility disturbed only by the birds chirping, dragonflies zipping and frogs croaking. Most cave churches can also be explored. At the start of the trail there is a waterfall, and when you loop back around the water will look awfully inviting. It’s not great for cliff jumping, but it makes for a refreshing dip after the hike!
5. Pigeon Valley
Pigeons play a big role in Cappadocia, for food, message delivery, and to fertilize the soil. Their human owners carved homes for them in the volcanic rock, especially here in Pigeon Valley. Stretching six kilometres between Goreme and Uchisar, it is now one of the most popular hiking trails in Cappadocia. The trail leads you through some greenery and many cave dwellings, some with ancient paintings. And of course, there are lots of pigeons here. The ever-changing landscape and canyon cliffs makes the hike a very beautiful journey. One useful thing to note when doing your planning: the trail is mostly downhill from the Uchisar end and uphill from the Goreme end.