Cappadocia is a great place to hike. There are a number of valleys where you can wander around the rock formations and escape some of the tourist crowds. Pick up a copy of the map called “New Goreme Tour” (produced by a shop in town that runs the tours). Our hotel provided this map and it seems to be the most common “free” map of the area. There is also a more detailed hiking map for sale in several of the shops in town, we found the hikes well marked so did not purchase the map and were fine.
A couple of our favorites were the Red Valley/Rose Valley and Pigeon Valley hikes. Both are in and around the Goreme area.
Red Valley/Rose Valley Hike
Red Valley/Rose Valley are adjacent valleys and run between the Goreme Open Air Museum and Cavusin, the next town along the highway from Goreme. After visiting the Goreme Open Air Museum we hiked these valleys and then took the local dolmus (bus) back to Goreme. It was a beautiful hike.
It is an exposed hike, so it would be quite hot and sunny in the summer. You need a hat, sunscreen and water for sure, and morning or evening would be better.
There are a number of cafes along the hike but they are not always open. We passed one that looked fantastic, but while open there was no one there. The next one was closed (and for sale), the next one was packed with a recently arrived bus, and the next one we sat down and had a freshly squeezed orange and pomegranate juice while enjoying a fantastic view of the Rose Valley.
Walking through these valleys and coming across open air cafes to have a freshly squeezed Pomegranate Juice was a lasting memory, and a welcome rest along the hike.
We took the very overcrowded dolmus back to Goreme, but honestly by the time you walk down to the bus, wait and then stuff yourself in, walking might have been a better option. It probably depends on the weather.
We took a leisurely 3 hours to complete the walk in a 1 way direction, not sure on the exact distance. We knew we had a big dinner planned so it was great exercise as well.
Pigeon Valley runs between Goreme and Uchisar. You can start from either town. We hiked this early one morning and had the place to ourselves for most of the walk. It does not take long, it is about 45 minutes 1-way. We retraced our steps to make it a there and back again walk. But you could take a dolmus from one town to the other if you wanted to make it a 1-way walk.
Again the hike is quite exposed. There is a café, that was open, about ½ way along the trail.
If you leave from Uchisar, it leaves from the Pigeon Valley overlook, if you leave from Goreme, it is a bit of a walk from town to the start of the hike. There are signs heading out of town- at the main intersection in town, it is in the opposite direction of the Goreme Open Air Museum. It is easier to find the start of the hike from the Pigeon Valley end (and you are walking downhill).
Tour vs Independent
There are a number of options to do both these walks with a guide, but you can easily walk this independently, the trail is well marked, if you are walking to the start of the trail head just confirm with someone where the trail heads start so you don’t end up searching around and you will be fine. There were a number of other people walking the trail (some in quite large groups) so you can always follow someone else or ask if in doubt.
Getting outside of the towns, away from the crowds and seeing the rocks up close was fantastic. If you can manage it, this is a great place to go for a short hike.
There are a number of other hikes in the area, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate (it snowed two days), so we only managed to sneak in these two.
So in honor of finding beautiful, open air cafes along hiking trails in the middle of nowhere (both in Cappadocia and hiking along the Lycian Way near Fethiye), here is a simple juice recipe to refresh and re-energize you. And from a health perspective, you are using one of the world’s acknowledged super-foods. There is more information about pomegranates and in our other pomegranate recipe, Healthy Pomegranate Breakfast.
This post was also shared as part of the The Weekly Postcard, a great source for travel writing from around the world.