Walking in Cappadocia, Turkey

Walking in Cappadocia, Turkey

Hiking the Valleys around Cappadocia

We recently spent an unforgettable few days hiking the valleys of Cappadocia, a region of Turkey known for its troglodyte-style architecture and fresco-adorned rock-cut churches.

Most visitors rightly begin at the Goreme Open Air Museum, a must-see on any holiday to Cappadocia with its beautiful painted frescos and excellent examples of the rock-cut architecture the region is strewn with. It’s a great introduction to a history which pre-dated the Bronze Age and peaked between the 4th and 11th centuries.

But whilst the museum is deservedly popular, our aim was to explore more of the valleys’ pointy ‘fairy chimneys’ and other strange rock formations created by former volcanic activity Cappadocia is so famous for.

Rose Valley from Goreme to Cavusin
Like many walkers in Cappadocia, we started off with the walk through Rose Valley to the village of Cavusin. The walk turned out to be a great introductory hike as it gave us a taste of everything – rock-cut churches, viewpoints with stunning vistas, and pink-hued valley walls made smooth by the elements over thousands of years. There are several options for exploring this valley depending on how adventurous you want to be and because of this Rose Valley is also a popular choice for families. Arriving in Cavusin, we found more – an ancient rock-cut fortress with a warren of tunnels to explore.

Tailor Made walking holidays to Cappadocia | Gulludere (Rose) Valley Cappadocia Turkey © www.kathmanduandbeyond.com
Gulludere (Rose) Valley, Cappadocia

Pigeon Valley between Uchisar and Goreme
Models of pigeons set on tall poles mark the entrance to this valley in Uchisar, so-named because of the many traditional dovecotes carved into the rocks and cliff faces from the days when pigeons were used as message carriers. The scenery in Pigeon Valley is quite varied and we moved through wooded areas to wide spaces of wind-eroded rock formations presenting great views of the iconic dove houses. Although many walkers choose to walk downhill from Uchisar to Goreme, we walked the trail in reverse because we wanted to link it with White Valley. Luckily there wasn’t too much steep uphill work involved and there is a conveniently located tea garden part way along the trail which was ideal for a quick rest stop.

Tailor Made walking holidays to Cappadocia | Guvercinlik (Pigeon) Valley Cappadocia Turkey © www.kathmanduandbeyond.com
Guvercinlik (Pigeon) Valley, Cappadocia

White Valley from Uchisar to Goreme
Our hike through White Valley (Akvadi in Turkish) was a little more challenging than some of the other hikes we did around Cappadocia, but it was one of our favourites. I was happy we chose to start this trail in Uchisar as it meant it was mainly downhill towards Goreme. After quite a sharp descent into the valley of smooth snow-white rock faces, almost blindingly so against the bright sunshine, we continued along even paths smoothed into the sides of the valley through stunning landscapes. Eventually, we dropped to the valley floor, and as we followed the riverbed, the scenery began to change leaving the characteristics of White Valley behind us.

Tailor Made walking holidays to Cappadocia | Akvadi (White) Valley Cappadocia Turkey © www.kathmanduandbeyond.com
Walking trail in White Valley, Cappadocia

Love Valley
This is another great hike for archetypal Cappadocia views of fairy chimneys. We were expecting Love Valley to be a popular one but it turned out that most visitors only venture a couple of hundred metres into the valley. We hiked a longer stretch between Uchisar and Cavusin and for most of the time had the trail all to ourselves. The original name of this valley is ‘Valley of the Vines’ but it’s not hard to work out why it has been nicknamed Love Valley!

Tailor Made walking holidays to Cappadocia | Baglidere (Honey or Love) Valley Cappadocia Turkey © www.kathmanduandbeyond.com
Love Valley, Cappadocia

Sword Valley to Girls Monastery (Red Valley)
Sword Valley, just across from Goreme Open Air Museum, was a valley we decided to explore with no fixed plan, just a compass! Once again, we came across jaw-dropping scenery at every turn. The problem with Cappadocia is there is always one more ridge to climb and one more fairy chimney to look beyond!

Tailor Made walking holidays to Cappadocia | Kizlar Kalesi Kizilcukur (Red) Valley Cappadocia Turkey © www.kathmanduandbeyond.com
Kizlar Kalesi, known as Girls Monastery, in Red Valley, Cappadocia

We passed the giant shards of rock that give Sword Valley its name and before long found ourselves looking at the huge rock-cut ‘Girls Monastery’. A few steps on and we were met with panoramic views across Rose and Red Valleys and yet more exploration. But the flame-coloured hills ahead of us signalled sunset was approaching and Cappadocia’s valleys would have to wait another day.

Tailor Made walking holidays to Cappadocia | Kiliclar (Swords) Valley Cappadocia Turkey © www.kathmanduandbeyond.com
Kiliclar (Swords) Valley, Cappadocia

In summary? We loved our time hiking Cappadocia’s valleys and one of the biggest surprises was how few visitors to the region were taking advantage of the great walking trails on offer. The more we walked, the more the trails fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle and we worked out that it’s possible to hike off-the-beaten-path tracks for any period of time for all levels of difficulty. Mark’s the trekker between us – I just like a good walk and Cappadocia was perfect for that!

Corinthian Travel has several suggested itineraries for tailor made holidays to Turkey featuring Cappadocia, which includes the Rose Valley walk to Cavusin. All of these can be adapted to include additional hiking options.

Popular itineraries include a luxury holiday to Istanbul and CappadociaClassic Western Turkey and Ultimate Turkey.

Post by Kirsty Bennetts. Full-time traveller and co-owner of the travel blog, Kathmandu & Beyond, Kirsty and her husband Mark have recently spent two months travelling across Turkey.  All images courtesy and copyright of Kathmandu & Beyond Photography.