Cappadocia is famous for its fairytale scenery, cave dwellings, remarkable rock formations, and, of course, the hundreds of hot air balloons that soar in the sky during sunrise each morning. However, there is so much awesome hiking in Cappadocia that you will need at least a week to explore the diverse hiking trails in the region. I spent ten days exploring all of the Cappadocia hikes and trails. I created this Cappadocia Hiking Guide with a detailed list of the 10 best hikes in Cappadocia, which I hope inspires you to lace up your shoes and get out and explore!
In this blog post about hiking in Cappadocia, I will detail each of the individual hikes I did. You might be interested in one of these specific Cappadocia hikes and want more details. To find out how to get there, what to expect, and the distance and to see all of the photos from that trail just click on the link to that blog post and you will be able to see the individual article I wrote for that trail.
THE 3 MOST POPULAR CAPPADOCIA TOURS
- Sunrise Hot Air Balloon: My number one recommendation is to do a sunrise hot air balloon flight and be blown away by this magical experience.
- Cappadocia Sunset ATV Tour: The best way to spend sunset in Cappadocia is on the ATV tour amongst the amazing rock formations.
- Cappadocia Red Tour & Goreme Open-Air Museum: All of the best tourist sites in one day!
8 BEST HIKES IN CAPPADOCIA
I hope you enjoy this list of the best hikes in Cappadocia as must as I enjoyed hiking them!
RED VALLEY HIKE
When it comes to hiking in Cappadocia, it is hard to go past Red Valley. The Sharp sandstone ridges glow a deep, vibrant red as the sun burns into the unique landscape in the last moments of the sunset each night. If you only have a couple of nights in Cappadocia, put this one up high on the list for sunset spots. There is a great trail loop including Meskindir and Rose Valley or you can drive straight to the sunset viewpoint to chill at the cafe or hike to the top of the flag viewpoint.
The hike is joined with Rose Valley in most cases and leads you through an ancient church inside one of the caves, past yellow sandstone rock formations and incredible cave dwellings. The trail is diverse and only moderate in difficulty making it a perfect adventure.
View the full blog post: RED VALLEY HIKE & SUNSET VIEWPOINT
ROSE VALLEY HIKE
The Rose Valley hiking trail in Cappadocia winds through an incredibly unique area with sharp ridges, tinted in pink, especially during sunset! The Rose Valley is an otherworldly experience. The rock formations are so unique, I can’t even find anything to compare them to. Over thousands of years, sharp ridges have formed to create a corrugated landscape. Almost all of the time, one side of a ridge is in the sun while the other is in the shadow, further accentuating the sharpness and scale of these sandstone formations.
What makes the Rose Valley unique compared to other hiking trails Cappadocia is that not only do you have these incredible rock formations but in this particular region, the minerals in the sandstone have a pink tinge. This pink becomes more and more evident throughout the day, peaking at sunset when the sun glows directly onto the Rose Valley giving it that fine shade of pink so many people come to see.
Prefer to ride through Rose Valley on an ATV or quad bike? Check out this tour to do just that: Rose Valley ATV Tour
View the full blog post: ROSE VALLEY HIKE IN CAPPADOCIA
RED VALLEY FLAG VIEWPOINT HIKE
Red Valley sunset viewpoint is epic but if you want to take it one step further there is a hike up the hill behind the viewpoint. For a quieter spot to enjoy the sunset, look behind the cafes and you will see a hill with a flag on top. There are a few 15-minute trails to the top that are quite steep but also very safe. The one I took wrapped around the back of the hill and linked several of the mountains in the area by trails. There was just one other person at the top compared to the 200 people, cars, buses, and cafes at the busy sunset viewpoint.
The view looks down over Red Valley, Rose Valley, and all the way to Goreme. Even Uchisar appears on the horizon. If you want to feel on top of Cappadocia, this relatively unknown hiking trail in Cappadocia is your spot!
View the full blog post: RED VALLEY HIKE & SUNSET VIEWPOINT
MESKINDIR VALLEY HIKE
The Meskendir Valley Hike is a short trail in Goreme that leads you past numerous cave dwellings and historic sites as well as through multiple tunnels. It is quite a shady trail, which makes it a top suggestion for during the middle of the day.
I combined the Meskendir Trail, Rose Valley Trail, and Red Valley Trail all into one super hike as the paths all connect. However, if you prefer a short walk, you can just venture out on the Meskendir Trail and do an out-and-back hike.
This Cappadocia hiking trail has a series of sandstone tunnel that was super cool. Some of them were similar to the tunnels on the Love Valley Trail but these tunnels were longer and the roofs were much higher. Around every corner would be a little opening that would expose some amazing cave dwellings and historic sites. Huge walls of windows and pigeon-holes towered over us as we imagined what the tunnel and stair system looked like on the inside. It’s amazing to try and imagine all of Cappadocia living in this style of dwelling hundreds of years ago. There were even rock paintings high up on the wall. This was one of the best all-round hikes in Cappadocia.
View the full blog post: MESKENDIR VALLEY TRAIL IN CAPPADOCIA
LOVE VALLEY TO UCHISAR CASTLE HIKE
Love Valley is set just outside of Goreme and you can hike all the way through Love Valley to Uchisar Castle, passing by the rock formations up close on a trail with likely nobody else. It is a relatively flat, peaceful walk through to Uchisar taking 1-2 hours. The rock formations are phallic shapes, which is why the valley full of penis-shaped rocks got its name, ‘Love Valley’.
The final section of the valley was brilliant with waving sandstones in a beautiful, stark white surrounding us. I’ve never quite seen a landscape like it. At the end of the valley, you can continue walking all the way up to Uchisar Castle, which is one of the best viewpoints in Cappadocia.
Prefer to ride through Love Valley on an ATV or quad bike? Check out this tour to do just that: Love Valley ATV Tour
View the full blog post: LOVE VALLEY IN CAPPADOCIA: GOREME TO UCHISAR TRAIL
IHLARA VALLEY HIKE
The Ihlara Valley is an incredible gorge with a stunning river running right down the heart of the valley for 16km within the volcanic rock. It is near the province of Aksaray but is still considered part of the southern Cappadocia region. It’s a great spot for a relatively easy walk amidst some peaceful, leafy nature as well as being a hub for cave churches, of which you will find many along the trail.
The Ihlara Valley is mostly comprised of the section running from Selime to Ihlara Village. Along the route, you will come across lots of churches. 16 of the 105 churches are open to visitors and there in intact paintings and carvings inside.
Before the trail had even started we were off into a waterfall. At first, we just checked it out but when we returned after the loop, we actually went for a swim in it. There were lots of rocks under the surface so it isn’t good for cliff jumping but the cool water was very refreshing.
From here on the trail runs alongside the river for the rest of the walk. I think this spot will blow a lot of people away because it is such a dry, brown landscape in Cappadocia typically, but in Ihlara Valley you are in a green oasis.
View full blog post: IHLARA VALLEY – AMAZING RIVER GORGE IN CAPPADOCIA
PIGEON VALLEY HIKE
Pigeon Valley (also known as Guvercinlik Valley) is among the most popular hiking trails in Cappadocia, especially because it stretches between Goreme to Uchisar. Along the route, you will find cave dwellings, ancient paintings, earth pillars, and of course… pigeons.
The trail begins with a sharp descent along a white dusty path. Within a few minutes, you are in the heart of the valley and hardly take notice of the town above you. In fact, you only get small glimpses of the town or the Uchisar Castle above the treeline at certain moments.
This Cappadocia hiking trail leads you through thick trees and several caves. If you keep your eyes peeled you will spot a number of ancient paintings on the walls of the cave dwellings, where people lived during the Byzantine period. True to its name, there are a lot of Pigeons in the valley. In ancient times, pigeon holes were built into the walls for the domestication of pigeons. They were used for their meat, sacrifice, and message delivery. Their poop was also used for fertilizer and mortar.
View full blog post: PIGEON VALLEY TRAIL IN CAPPADOCIA
ZEMI VALLEY HIKE
The Zemi Valley Hike is a 6km stretch beginning in Goreme that leads you through a series of caves, arches, and alongside a small stream as you keep your eyes open for cave houses and earth pillars! I think Zemi Valley is one of the most underrated Cappadocia hiking trails.
The trail is a wide, sandy path that is often covered by the trees within the valley but there is also ample time out in the direct sun, which we copped heavily!
The trail was definitely more of a brisk walk than a hike as we pushed our way through the bushes and into some beautiful clearings. Cave houses and rock art were found throughout the hike and we even had to make our way through a number of caves along this beautiful Cappadocia hiking trail.
View full blog post: THE ZEMI VALLEY HIKE IN CAPPADOCIA
WHERE TO STAY IN GOREME, CAPPADOCIA
Where I stayed: Design Cave Suites Cappadocia – I was lucky enough to stay at the Design Cave Suites in Goreme. The location was great and I walked to all attractions. The rooftop garden was awesome for sunrise balloon watching. The buffet breakfast spread was amazing as were the cave-style room designs.
Best Cave Hotel with Pool: Local Cave House Hotel– This cave hotel rose to fame because of its incredible pool. Make sure you click the link and check out how epic the pool backdrop is, with those classic Cappadocia rock formations in the background and traditional cave rooms it is a top pick.
Cave Hotel with Best Roof View (and dogs): Sultan Cave Suites – This cave hotel became famous because of its epic rooftop area for sunrise viewing. Guests can lay out on traditional pillows and carpets while watching the hot-air balloons flying above. The hotel dog might also join you for a photoshoot on the roof!
HOW TO GET TO CAPPADOCIA
Cappadocia isn’t actually a town as many people think but it is an entire region. Within this region are towns such as Goreme (the most popular tourist spot), Uchisar, Urgup, and Ortahisar among others. There are two airports that serve Cappadocia.
- Kayseri Airport (70km/60 minutes) is the main airport and takes just over an hour by van/bus to reach Goreme Town
- Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport (/40km/40 minutes is the secondary airport, which is closer to Goreme but only by about 20 minutes.
The big difference here is that Kayseri is a bigger airport, with more flight options, and often has cheaper flights. It is very convenient and quick to fly into Kayseri and I did it twice.
To get from Kayseri (or Nevsehir) you need to pre-book your shuttle or be prepared for an expensive taxi. The cheapest and easiest way to do that is to book online here. For under $15 you can ride in a shared, air-conditioned airport transfer or a private transfer from $50.