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 in Cappadocia adventuring on all of the hiking trails and created this list of the 10 best hikes in Cappadocia, which I hope inspires you to lace up the shoes and get out and explore!
In this blog post about hiking in Cappadocia, I will detail each of the individual hikes I did. If you are interested in one of the hikes and want more details about how to get there, what to expect, 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.
8 BEST HIKES IN CAPPADOCIA
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, but 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
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 in the shadow, further accentuating the sharpness and scale of these sandstone formations.
What makes the Rose Valley unique compared to other spots in 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.
View the full blog post: ROSE VALLEY HIKE IN CAPPADOCIA
RED VALLEY FLAG VIEWPOINT
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
The Meskendir 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.
The 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 hike had it all but that isn’t uncommon in Cappadocia.
View the full blog post: MESKENDIR VALLEY TRAIL IN CAPPADOCIA
LOVE VALLEY TO UCHISAR CASTLE
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.
View the full blog post: LOVE VALLEY IN CAPPADOCIA: GOREME TO UCHISAR TRAIL
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 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.
For a few hours, you can forget you are out in the dry, desert and experience the sounds of the forest as you walk beneath tree arches, clamber over boulders and stroll through the grassy openings. Wildflowers of all colors paint the sides of the path and lead your eyes off the trail and toward the towering cliffs on either side of the gorge.
View full blog post: IHLARA VALLEY – AMAZING RIVER GORGE IN CAPPADOCIA
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.
The 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 it’s 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, for sacrifice and message delivery. Their poop was also used for fertilizer and mortar.
I found the trail quite beautiful with the everchanging landscape and cliffs of the canyon keeping me entertained through the hot summers day. The cave dwellings are spread throughout the trail as well as the chimneys and earth pillars.
View full blog post: PIGEON VALLEY TRAIL IN CAPPADOCIA
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! We met no-one on this trail except some ducks, which wound its way along a small stream and making several crossings. There were multiple times where we had to walk through a thin layer of mud, which I assume would be quite messy in the winter!
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 the trail. Towards the end of the trail, there were several rock arches, which had formed over the 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. Buffet breakfast spread was amazing as was 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!
Budget Option in Goreme: Emre’s Stone House – For just $6 USD per night you can enjoy Cappadocia and this budget accommodation even has an epic rooftop to enjoy. It’s the best value in Goreme, Cappadocia.
Save money in Cappadocia by staying at an Airbnb! Get a FREE $40 Airbnb Coupon by using my code when you book! I use Airbnb on about half of my travels and find you always get more value than a hotel.
TRANSPORT IN CAPPADOCIA
Hire a Private Driver: Hiring a driver for a few hours to take you to several sites will cost about 100 Turkish Lyra depending on the car and your negotiation, which is about $20 USD. This is a good idea if you want to see 1-2 locations in an afternoon.
One of the best ways to get around is to hire a driver that will allow you to create a customized itinerary. That way you can visit all the spots you are interested in. To hire a private car with a driver/guide you can book online here or you might be a bigger group and in that case, it can be cheaper to hire a van in Cappadocia, which also comes with a driver.
Rent a Mountain Bike: We thought about renting a mountain bike but they were 150 Turkish Lyra for the entire day so it would have been 300 Turkish Lyra for both of us just to transit around. That’s almost $60 USD. It would have been fun but once we fund out everyone wanted to help us by giving us lifts there wasn’t much need. We either walked or hitchhiked.
Rent A Scooter/Moped: A scooter costs about 150-200 Turkish Lyra ($30-40 USD) per day and could be handy if you want to explore some attractions a bit further away or venture over to Uchisar.
Rent an ATV: Given the rough terrain in Cappadocia, an ATV is a fun option to help you explore the natural wonders and rock formations of the region. Prices are about $40 USD for two hours. If you are keen to head out on an ATV there is an awesome Quad-Bike Safari Tour that takes you through Sword, Love and Rose Valley during golden hour!
HAVE YOU CHECKED OUT THE REST OF MY CAPPADOCIA BLOG POSTS?
Click on one of the articles below to check out all of the places you should visit while in Cappadocia!
The big guide! This post has all of my favorite activities, which I personally did while in Cappadocia for ten days: 24 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN CAPPADOCIA
The hiking guide! Find out about all of the best hikes in Cappadocia with details, directions and lots of photos: 8 AWESOME HIKES IN CAPPADOCIA
Thinking about flying in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia? Read this first: CAPPADOCIA HOT AIR BALLOONS: THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU FLY
Have you heard about the castles in Cappadocia? Check these out:
Not sure where is the best region to stay? Wondering which hotel provides the best value? Check out this guide that will help you decide: WHERE TO STAY IN CAPPADOCIA: THE BEST HOTELS & HOSTELS
OR… I write a post about the 12 BEST CAVE HOTELS IN CAPPADOCIA that you might find interesting.
I’ve written a blog post for almost all of the places I’ve visited while in Cappadocia. You can find every single one of these articles right here: CAPPADOCIA ARCHIVES