LOVE VALLEY IN CAPPADOCIA: GOREME TO UCHISAR TRAIL
Love Valley is set just outside of Goreme and if you follow the trail within the valley you will end up all the way at Uchisar to visit the castle.
MY EXPERIENCE AT LOVE VALLEY AND THE TRAIL TO UCHISAR
You might be wondering why it is called Love Valley. As you can see in the photos, the phallic rock formations have excited everybody and know these penis-shaped earth pillars are world famous. Love Valley can be experienced in three ways.(Four ways I guess if you fly over it in a balloon!)
- Driving to a viewpoint overlooking the earth pillars and rock formations. Here you can enjoy the company of several other tourists on guided tours and some cheesy love heart shaped seats and other photoshoot setups. It’s a great viewpoint but a little touristy but if you just want to drive up, have a look and keep on with your sightseeing it is a perfectly fine option.
- You can hike all the way through Love Valley to Uchisar, passing by the rock formations up close on a trail with likely nobody else. I followed this trail starting at the point on the map at the bottom of the blog post and it was a beautiful, relatively flat, peaceful walk through to Uchisar taking 1-2 hours.
- Begin at the starting point I’ve added below and walked into Love Valley and then exit the same way. This way you get to experience Love Valley up close and personal but don’t need to walk all the way to Uchisar if you don’t feel like a big expedition.
To begin the hike to Uchisar you will need to take the turn-off on the left (before the turn-off to the pin for ‘Love Valley’ provided by Google Maps). If you scroll down to the bottom of the blog post, I have made it very clear with photos and diagrams of where the trail begins.
The trail starts on a wide dusty road but you are quickly immersed by earth pillars, cave dwellings and fascinating rock formations.
After about 15 minutes of walking, you will reach the epi-center of Love Valley. This is the area where the phallic rock pillars are most condensed. You will see the viewpoint above to your right. Here there are lots of little trails going up and down around the rock formations and leading you inside some of the cave dwellings. I believe you can make your way down from the viewpoint but haven’t done that myself so I can’t confirm that.
In this cluster of phallic rock formations at the heart of Love Valley, you will find a small cafe. We stopped in for a drink, which turned out to be very expensive but delicious orange juice for 16 Turkish Lyra. Possibly worth it.
The old man in the cafe told us we should just head directly through the valley and ‘dont go up’. So off we set winding our way along the paths. Often we had to choose between multiple paths but they all more or less kept you heading towards Uchisar down the valley.
The key was not to get stuck up too high and not be able to make your way back down into the center of the chasm because it was too steep.
We often walked directly down from the path when it got a bit wild and used the waterway in the center as a simpler path. This was a great idea until the waterway got wet! We also had to go through quite a series of tunnels to continue on our path towards Uchisar. There didn’t seem to be a defined path and at times we weren’t quite sure but hiking in Cappadocia is not incredibly popular so the trail isn’t marked or defined. We often found ourselves ducking through bushes and sliding down little sandstone hills to keep progressing forward. It was an interesting trail nonetheless.
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.
There are few exit-points out of the canyon but we ended up exiting towards the left and then followed a dirt road for 10 minutes until we made it to Uchisar. You won’t get lost because you can see the castle from within Love Valley at the latter stages of the hike. All up it took us over two hours but as you can imagine there were quite a few photo-stops along the way. If you powered through I wouldn’t be surprised if it could be done in under an hour.
We then headed up to Uchisar and had an afternoon Hookah while we waited for sunset so we could climb Uchisar Castle for views out over all of Cappadocia. It was an epic day with two great attractions.
To get back from Uchisar to Goreme town-center it is a 40-minute walk or I’ve heard there is a shuttle. We started walking but a local picked us up and dropped us back. Another hitchhiking win in Cappadocia.
HOW TO GET TO LOVE VALLEY IN CAPPADOCIA
The most popular region for tourists to stay while exploring Cappadocia is a town called Goreme. Uchisar is the other nearby town, which is also an option but Goreme is the popular choice by far. Goreme is packed with hotels, restaurants, and cafes, while Uchisar is a little quieter.
From Goreme town center to Love Valley is 3km, which takes 5-10 minutes by driving. It’s important to note that when you put ‘Love Valley’ into Google Maps, it will lead you to the viewpoint, which is kind of above Love Valley. The road you want to begin the trail leads you into the heart of Love Valley and after 15 minutes of walking, you will look up to your right and see all of the tourists up at the viewpoint.
So on the Love Valley map below, the pin is actually on the upper viewpoint, not the trail. As you can see there are two trails leading to Uchisar. You basically want to enter the trail, which is closer to Goreme town side. I will mark the spot with an X where you should begin on a screenshot of a map below to avoid confusion. I have also added a photo of where we began the trail.
There are a few other modes of transport in Cappadocia that I will detail below, although I suggest walking and trekking because there are lots to see on the way to each attraction and locals will pick you up and drop you further down your route. We never tried to hitchhike but on one day we were gifted three separate lifts.
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.
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.
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 photo shoot 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.