Cappadocia is certainly one of the most beautiful regions of Turkey, a country with a reputation for its cultural, natural and culinary charms. Although many choose to visit it in a guided tour bus, we suggest to discover its historical vestiges and unique geological formations on foot – and at your own pace – to fully enjoy its valley’s serenity and its best kept secrets.
Difficulty : easy
Since Cappadocia is not a very big region, its hikes are for the whole family and allow many one-day itineraries (or less) that you can walk without guide and that you can add up to enjoy a night camping in the wild.
When to go?
The Turkish summer being very hot (it is possible to observe temperatures above 35°C from the end of June until the end of August), we recommend to visit Cappadocia between early March and early June, and from late September to early November.
It is still possible to hike through Cappadocia during winter or full-on summer, but you should pack appropriate clothing and expect a less comfortable stay.
Trails and day hikes
The most spectacular valleys are certainly White Valley (nicknamed Love Valley), Rose Valley and Red Valley. One usually needs around three hours to hike one of them.
Day hike A : Leaving from Göreme, it is easy (and convenient) to start by the very short Pigeon Valley until Uçhisar (less than an hour walk). You can visit its citadel before continuing with the well renowned White Valley, which will lead you to Çavuşin. Pansions will be found there or, for an unforgettable morning, camp near it! (See the section “WHERE TO SLEEP?”)
Day hike B : From Çavuşin, both Rose Valley and Red Valley are easily accessible and lead to the exact same amazing viewpoint on the region. It is then pretty simple to do a loop by walking up Rose Valley and coming down Red Valley, starting and ending in Çavuşin.
Other landmarks of the region include the Fairy Chimneys in Paşabağ and the two Open Air Museums of Zelve and of Göreme. You can reach them with an organized tour booked in Göreme, but we suggest to hitchhike (easy and quick in Turkey) to avoid the long paved roads.
Day hike C : From Çavuşin, walk Rose Valley until the end and come back through the first part of Red Valley, until the junction with a smaller third valley going South-East. This third valley will reach the road between Göreme and Ürgüp, and on that road you will go to Göreme (hitchhiking) and stop to visit the Göreme Open Air Museum on the way.
Trajet D : From Göreme, go to Avanos either hitchhiking or with a minibus to visit an ancient underground city. Hitchhike to Paşabağ to see the Fairy Chimneys and the Zelve Open Air Museum (1km walk) and then return to Göreme or continue the same way until Ürgüp to spend the night.
How to go to Cappadocia
The easiest and most logical starting point is the Göreme town, which you can reach by bus from most major city. Book your ticket online on obilet.com (use Google Translate) or go to the Metro bus company in any bus station.
From Ankara: 8:30 trip (costs 40 TL)
From Antalya: 9:30 trip (costs 70 TL)
From Istanbul: 11-12:00 trip (costs 90 TL)
The closest airport is in Nevşehir, 40km from Göreme. You can reach the bus station (otogar in Turkish), and then take a minibus to Göreme, or go straight to Göreme with a taxi if you are many to split the costs.
Where to sleep?
Every village in Cappadocia offers lots of accommodation options for every tastes and budgets, especially in Göreme.
Our suggestion for small budgets: Hostel Terravista in Göreme (25 TL for a bed in a dorm or 80 TL for a room with double bed, both including breakfast).
It is also fairly easy to sleep in a tent almost anywhere (as in the rest of Turkey), enjoying the magical landscapes at sunset and the dozens of hot air balloons filling the sky between 5:00 and 7:00 AM. Personal recommendation: walk up through Çavuşin village and camp in the hills behind it!
What to see in Cappadocia?
Apart from their natural attractions, the three main valleys (particularly Rose Valley) offer unusual thousand-year-old Christian remains. Churches carved inside the mountains and their still visible and beautiful paintings are one of the many traces of a lost civilization that you will discover along your hikes. The open-air museums of Zelve and Göreme give access to whole cities of the same type, although are all different from each other, including a wider variety of rooms and useful information signs.
The underground city of Avanos will captivate history lovers, but for those who will have enough time to hitchhike 40km or to rent a car (or take a taxi), south-east is Cappadoccia’s deepest underground city and probably the most impressive, located in Derinkuyu.
On their side, the Paşabağ Fairy Chimneys are certainly attractive (although more touristic), even though they are less impressive than a hike through White Valley. More accessible, Uçhisar’s citadel offers a beautiful view overlooking the surrounding valleys.