Top 18 Hiking Trails in Cappadocia

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The ancient district of Cappadocia extends from the Kayseri west to Aksaray in Turkey, including historical monuments, dramatic rock formations, and innumerable caves and valleys. Cappadocia poses to be an excellent site for hiking through the terrain of the land, filled with famous hiking trails, rock-cut churches, underground tunnels, and incredible scenic beauty. Travelers can explore the cotton castles and the Cappadocia fairies formed from volcanic ages four million years ago. Hikers from around the globe enjoy the Cappadocia sunset sky during their hike, the countless pigeon homes, and the clean routes. The hiking routes are perfect for all kinds of hikers, beginners to advanced, and are located close to the city. 

Best Time for Hiking in Cappadocia

Cappadocia of Turkey experiences extreme temperatures in both summer and winter. Considering this famous tourist spot, summer is also the peak season for tourists to flock to this city. Summer is scorching, while winter becomes unbearably cold. However, if you are planning to explore the hiking trail of Cappadocia, the best time to visit is during spring and autumn, that is, from March to May and September to November. The best time of the day to hike through these famous valleys and routes is during the early morning or before sunset to avoid extreme heat and harsh weather conditions. 

Top 18 Hiking Trails in Cappadocia

1. Red Valley

Red Valley
Red Valley
Hikers from around the world visit the Red Valley sunset point exclusively to experience the indescribable beauty of the rock formations and the sunset's warmth. The hike is suitable for beginner or intermediate-level hikers and covers an approximate distance of about 3.3 KMS, taking almost 1.5 - 2 hours of hiking. Hikers can start their journey from the north of Gerome. The path includes challenging milestones like crossing the sharp sandstone ridges and going on between cave dwellings. In most cases, hikers hiking the rose valley often club up with the Red Valley hike to experience the sunset. The entire valley gets colored in pink and orange, and you take a ride back, availing of a horse ride if you are tired enough. You can also take a short refreshment break along the trail at the tiny tea houses. 

2. Rose Valley

Rose Valley
Rose Valley
Rose valley hike in Cappadocia is most famous for its incredible historical richness tucked in the trail path. The hiking trail is roughly 4.3 KMS long and will take almost 2 hours to complete. The hiking starts in front of the north point of Gerome, the same as that of the Red Valley, or you can also choose to hike through the Meskendir Trailhead and then join the Rose valley loop together. On your way up to the Rose valley hike, you can see ancient churches like the Crusader church and Columned church and get the vibe of the century-old traditions of the place. The path becomes even more beautiful during sunset and has ridges on all sides. The rock formation is particularly unique in this region, with shades of pink. Explore the scenic beauty of this loop trail. 

3. White Valley

White Valley
White Valley
One of many incredible valleys in Cappadocia is the White valley which is often hiked together with the Love valley. The white valley hike is one of the simplest hikes in the Cappadocia region, with less challenging ridges, flat paths, and incredible scenic beauty. The hike is approximately 2.5 KMS and is surrounded by stark white sandstones on all sides. The sun beams on these stones make the entire region shimmer, making it even more attractive. Wildflowers are on both sides of the path, adding color to the white backdrop. Eventually, the white valley merges with the Love valley hiking trail to reach Uchisar.

4. Meskendir Valley

Meskendir Valley
Meskendir Valley
The hiking trail to Meskendir valley is connected to the Red Valley and Rose valley hiking trial. The trail is approximately 4 KMS and will take almost 2 hours to complete peacefully. Along the path, travelers will get to numerous openings at every bend, showcasing colored stones and cave dwellings. Hikers can also witness the pigeon-hole carved out on the walls years ago. There are remains of old walls with broken windows, showcasing the vintage livelihood of Cappadocia and the rock paintings and graffiti all along the way. You can start hiking from the Kaya Camping ground and reach the tip of the Meskendir valley without trouble.

5. Ihlara Valley

Ihlara Valley
Ihlara Valley
Scenically quite different from most other hiking trails of different valleys in Cappadocia, the Ihlara valley in the Ihlara village of Cappadocia is a perfect hiking trail for intermediate to advanced-level hikers. The hiking trail is comparatively much longer, approximately 10.5 KMS, and it takes around 4 hours to reach the top destination at Selime. Hikers can also choose their portion of the hike, depending on their fitness and time constraint. The hiking path crosses the beautiful Melendiz stream, the scenic Belisirma Village, and the famous Selime monastery at the top. The famous 16 KMS long gorge cuts deep through the volcanic rock formations. The entire path is adorned with greenery, filled with various species of birds, colorful rock formations, and cave dwellings. History lovers can stop by the innumerable churches scattered along the path and enjoy Byzantine architecture. You can take a short break at the Belisirma village and enjoy some snacks at the floating restaurants in the region.

6. Love Valley

Located just a few KMS away from Goreme, the top-rated Love valley is one of the best hiking trails in Cappadocia for its breathtaking landscape. Covering a length of around 4 KMS, this hiking trail is mainly continued with the White valley trail, which together makes it a 7.5 KMS long hike. It will take roughly 2 hours or even less to only explore the Love valley hiking route. The name of this valley is derived from its phallic-looking rock formations in this region. Located between Goreme and Uchisar, hikers can watch the sky closely, touching fairy chimneys. The entire road to the viewpoint is filled with cave-dwelling, tunnels, and wave-shaped sandstone surfaces. Reaching Love Valley's viewpoint in Cappadocia is more accessible than the other hiking trails.

7. Pigeon Valley

Pigeon Valley
Pigeon Valley
Also known as Guvercinlik Valley, the pigeon valley hiking covers a length of approximately 3 KMS which can be easily covered in 1.5 hours. Quite similar to the Love valley and White valley hiking trails, you can start your journey from Goreme and end it at Uchisar. The name is historically attached to this valley due to thousands of dovecotes on the soft volcanic rock walls, which were homes of pigeons. These were made by the early settlers of this region to later use the meat, feathers, and droppings of the pigeon for various purposes. The entire trail is lined by magical cliff beauties, offering perfect locations for capturing moments.  If you want to lengthen your trail, you can also add up the white valley trail with this.

8. Zemi Valley

Zemi Valley
Zemi Valley
Just a few minutes from the heart of Goreme city center lies the Zemi valley hiking trail, one of the easiest and most accessible hiking trails in Cappadocia. Starting from Goreme, this trail is a 6 KMS long hiking route that ends between Uchisar and Ortahisar, a perfect trail for beginner to advanced level hikers. Also known as Zemi Vadisi in Turkish language, hikers will move past the famous Goreme Open Air Museum and reach the Zemi cafe in between the path for a short break. The sand will lead you to the destination, crossing several churches, dwindling streams, and many baby ducklings. Scattered cave houses, rock arches, and rock art are on both sides. There is only a little bit of uphill walking at the end of the journey, and most of the hiking includes walking only. 

9. Goreme Sunset Point

Cappadocia is famous for its sunrise, but you cannot forget the beauty of its sunset, especially from the Goreme Sunset Point. This is one of the shortest hiking trails in Cappadocia and covers a length of only 1.5 KMS which will take less than half an hour to complete. The journey starts from Goreme and ends at the Goreme Sunset Point. This trail is not only perfect for beginners but also is the fittest for elders to catch a glimpse of the passing beauty of Goreme. Hikers can experience the unmatched beauty of the setting sun and the surroundings turning from orange to pink in no time. Take ample photographs from the built-in platform at the top and enjoy the panoramic view of the city. While most of the hiking trails are for free, this trail requires a small entry fee.

10. Zelve Open-air Museum

Zelve Open Air Museum
Zelve Open Air Museum
Hike your way up to the Zelve Open Air Museum, one of the must-visit places in Cappadocia, which is made up by combining three valleys. The Zelve Monastery is a remnant of the traditional life of the inhabitants from the Byzantine era. This monastery was later 1960s converted into an open-air museum for travelers to explore and understand more about the ancient days. It was only in the 1950s that the inhabitants moved out from this place to Aktepe, also known as Yeni Zelve, due to erosion and other environmental issues. Through the wear and tear of time, travelers can only witness the beautiful cave paintings and rock structures here. You can also buy souvenirs or snacks from the nearby gift shop and cafe. There is a fixed time to visit this museum from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. It will take approximately 2 hours to reach the desired destination and experience the beauty of this place.

11. Hidden Church Hike

While there are uncountable hidden churches in all the nooks and corners of Cappadocia, Goreme has some of the most beautiful ones. This hike is about 1.5 KMS and will roughly take half an hour to reach the destination and find this hidden church beauty in this land of sandstone and mineral rocks. The church is not well kept and well maintained, but the quainted beauty and the remains of the church talk about the old settlers of the bygone time. The broken columns, faded patterns, and resting pigeons will make your hike to this hidden church worthwhile.

12. Devrent Valley

Devrent Valley
Devrent Valley
Nicknamed the Imagination Valley of Cappadocia, Devrent Valley is a unique valley covered with unique rock formations on all sides. A suitable hike for beginners, this valley gained popularity due to the resemblance of the rocks with animals; the most popular among them is the camel rock formation which is covered by the fence and is easily identifiable by tourists. Other rock shapes include a dolphin, bird, and even an old lady. It hardly takes half an hour to reach the valley by car, and this valley is covered in the red landscape. You can also choose to hike from Goreme from your desired distance and explore the inside of the valley. There are slippery slopes, interesting rock shapes, and a peaceful ambiance, perfect for clicking as many photographs as you want.

13. Pasabag Valley

Pasabag Valley
Pasabag Valley
A bird’s eye view of the Pasabag valley of Cappadocia reveals the beauty of this region and the exemplary fairy chimney formations found nowhere else in the world like this. This valley is known as Monks Valley because of an old mythological story. It is said to be a holy spot for Simeon monks, the early settlers of this region. Hikers can also find a dedicated chapel of Saint Simeon at the entrance. The other name Pasabag means the Pasha’s vineyard, which means the General in military rank. It was believed that Saint Simeon lived in isolation here and only moved downhill when necessary. The steep slopes of the rock formations are challenging for hikers. The mushroom-shaped tops are a must to experience in Cappadocia.

14. Kings Valley

The Kings Valley in Cappadocia is one of the most unexplored hiking trails in Cappadocia and one of the most peaceful. This valley is situated just above the Goreme village and is filled with hidden tunnels, cave dwellings, and decorated stone walls. With time and erosion, the beauty of these walls has faded however the rock-hewn churches are still enough to know about the place’s beauty. You can walk from the Goreme village straight up and reach the magnificent King’s Valley, crossing a patch of a beautiful wild forest with the flora and fauna of Cappadocia. You will get a panoramic view of Cappadocia and the fairy chimneys. The short hike from Goreme village will hardly take 30 minutes to reach the top.

15. Monastery Valley

Monastery Valley
Monastery Valley
One of the least explored valleys in Cappadocia is the Monastery Valley, filled with scenic beauty and unknown history. This small valley is just 4.5 KMS long and comprises rock-cut churches and cave dwellings on the cliff walls. This valley is located downtown from Guzelyurt’ main square, and following the road signs, you can easily reach your destination. After crossing the ticket booth, you will reach the Guzelyurt Underground city, and there starts the adventure. Travelers can explore the Buyuk Kilise Cami, Sivisli Kilisesi, and Komurlu Kilisesi buildings. The intricate carving is something to notice, and the 25 churches in the small valley are a must-visit. 

16. Goreme Open-air Museum 

Goreme Open Air Museum
Goreme Open Air Museum
If you are in Goreme, surely take a small hike to the famous Goreme Open Air Museum, located just a few KMS from Goreme city center. This 15 minutes uphill walk is worthwhile once you experience the Turkish culture presented inside. There is an entry fee of 0 Turkish Lyra, and you can also get an audio-guided tour with an extra amount of 15 Turkish Lyra. from knowing the history of turkey and Cappadocia to knowing the history of the early settlers who lived in the caves, everything is elaborated in Goreme Open Air Museum. There are uncountable monasteries and churches, all lined up parallelly, along with innumerable paintings and graffiti. This museum has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984, attracting tourists from around the globe. It will take approximately 1.5 hours to explore the entire museum in detail. Archaeology lovers will also love this expedition through the remains of an ancient civilization.

17. Sword Valley

Monastery Valley
Monastery Valley
The name sword resembles the sword-shaped pointed rocks found in Sword valley. Also known as Kiliclar Vadasi, this valley was formed on soft volcanic tuff, a specialty of Cappadocia, and is filled with beautiful stops. Hikers can experience the famous Fairy chimneys, explore the man-made cave homes, investigate the intricacies and learn about the history of the place. The trail begins from the Goreme Open Air Museum and is perfect for intermediate-level hikers. You can find the hundred-year-old 300-meter underground tunnel leading you to the dead end of the peak. There are also remains of rock-cut churches and hundreds of pigeon homes on the way. If you have a little more time, you can also get along with the Red Valley and hike till the end.

18. Soganli Valley

Located 36 KMS from Mustafapasa, hiking is the only way to explore the valley of Soganli. The hiking trail of Soganli is peaceful and is filled with ancient churches on all sides. Hikers can see the roman era tombs from the valley cliffs and count the hundreds of pigeon houses on the cave walls. Walking through the broad road, you can see the ancient carved-out stone rooms in the hillside area, which were earlier dwelled by the ancient settlers. The Turkish village in this region was recently shifted due to environmental issues in 2011. Explore the Buckle church, Sky-blue church, Blackhead church, Hidden church, and dome church - all located in proximity. The famous and traditional Soganli doll made from Anatolian patterned fabrics was also made here.

Tips for Hiking

  • Always carry your ID card for emergency purposes.
  • Keep yourself hydrated and carry enough water and snacks if you don't get any cafe or restaurant nearby.
  • Always keep the physical map in hand if google maps stop responding due to network issues.
  • Hiking requires proper hiking shoes. Keep your sneakers and boots ready for the trip with you.
  • To hike through these deserted roads, you need the desert scarf to protect you from the scorching sun.
  • Carry your sunglasses, sunscreen, and hat to block yourself from the scorching sun rays.
  • Save the emergency numbers before you start hiking.
  • Torch and flashlights for emergencies are a must to explore the cave dwellings, nooks, and corners.
  • Binoculars to watch and explore the nature around.
  • If you want to hike multiple trails and reach peaks, carry your hiking poles. There are many places where the surface can be slippery, and risky to hike on soft sand. Use a good hiking pole in such cases.

This post was published by Sreyashi Paul

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