A Cappadocia Red Valley hike is not one to be missed if you’re heading anywhere near this region in Turkey. It’s undoubtedly one of the best hikes in Cappadocia – if not the best. Although it’s primarily referred to as the Red Valley trail, it also leads through the neighbouring Rose Valley too, which is equally as incredible.
After spending a few weeks in Cappadocia and embarking on a number of trails in the area, this has to be one of my favourites. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if you only have time to do one hike, then this should be it.
In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know ahead of hiking through the Red and Rose Valley in Cappadocia. I’ll let you know how to get there, and what to expect on the day and provide you with a map to follow. You’ll also find information about the best time to hike, what facilities are along the trail and recommendations on where to stay. At the end of this guide, you’ll find an FAQ, however, feel free to drop any further questions in the comments box too.
What is the Red Valley in Cappadocia?
The Red Valley is a valley filled with incredible rock formations that are – you guessed it – red in colour. It’s a popular location for hiking as well as one of the best places to see the sunrise in Cappadocia whilst over a hundred hot air balloons fill the sky. Regardless of what you’re interests are, you’ll most likely have a visit to the Red Valley on your list of things to do in Cappadocia.
Where is the Red Valley in Turkey
The Red Valley is situated within Göreme National Park in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. The biggest city of Cappadocia is Nevşehir, yet the most popular town is Göreme.
Below you’ll find an interactive map so you can see the exact location.
*note: I did this trail in reverse*
Cappadocia Red Valley hike details
Distance | the official distance of this route is 7.7 kilometres, however, if you’re looking to hike from the centre of Göreme (which is most likely where you’ll be staying) then you’ll need to add on a few kilometres.
Duration | this hike usually takes around 2 hours to complete if you’re pushing on. However, given the incredible scenery, there will be more than a few occasions when you’ll want to stop and take a picture. There are also a few places to stop along the trail for a drink and something to eat, so you may also want to factor this in.
I did both of these things and also walked from the centre of Göreme and it took me approximately 4 hours.
Elevation | the total elevation for this hike is 258 meters which is very minimal over this distance. There is only one incline which sticks out in my mind and this is very short-lived.
Difficulty | the Cappadocia Red Valley hike is classed as moderate, however for the most part it is easy. There is one sharp incline which I just mentioned, as well as a very steep decline towards the end of the hike. This decline is short and sharp and comes equipped with a rope to help hikers descend safely. In all honesty, this section looks more daunting than it is and I found myself able to easily navigate down the trail and I am sure you’ll experience the same.
How to get to the trailhead of the hike through the Red and Rose Valley
All of the below information assumes that you’ll be staying in Göreme since this is the most common place where people who are heading to Cappadocia will base themselves.
If you’re not staying in Göreme, then Rome2Rio is my go-to platform for getting from A to B in the most time-efficient and cost-effective way.
By foot | If you’re staying in Göreme then it’s really easy to walk to the trailhead of the Red and Rose Valley hike, although you will need to factor in an additional 2 kilometres or so.
It’s a straightforward addition to the walk that leads alongside the main road out of Göreme. Once you’ve passed the hundreds of quad bikes, you’ll be at the start of the trail. It’s difficult to go wrong since you’ll see the Red Valley in front of you as you leave Göreme and you’re essentially just walking towards the big red rock.
By bus | although you won’t find much information online about buses in Cappadocia, my understanding from a local is that there is a bus which runs from Göreme to Çavuşin which you could take in order to get to the Red and Rose Valley.
You’ll need to jump off before Çavuşin, but my understanding is that buses leave every hour from Göreme bus station, also known as Göreme Otobüs Terminali. Your best bet is to head here and ask one of the ticket offices what time you can expect a bus to leave.
By car | if you’ve hired a car for your trip to Cappadocia then you’ll easily be able to reach the trailhead of the Red and Rose Valley. There is no car park, but it’s one of those places where you can dump your car anywhere as there doesn’t appear to be such thing as a car parking attendant in this part of the world.
You may or may not feel comfortable leaving your car here as it is quite remote. If you don’t feel comfortable, there are some shops just over the road from the trailhead where you can leave your car.
Check car rental prices: Rentalcars.com
What to expect on the day of your Cappadocia Red Valley hike
*note: I did this trail in reverse*
Once you’ve made it to the trailhead of the hike, you’ll be met with dozens of incredible rock formations that people like to call ‘fairy houses’ in Cappadocia. These are in fact the old houses of local people who previously carved homes into this rock. However, since tourism has begun to boom in the area, better houses have been built. Today, there is just one elderly couple who still live inside a ‘fairy house’.
You’ll wander around these fairy houses for some time as you make your way toward the Red and Rose Valley. There seems to have been an explosion of trails around here, making it difficult to understand which one you’re meant to be on. However, they all seem to lead in the same direction, so it’s hard to get too lost.
Whichever path you end up on, you’ll begin to climb towards your first viewpoint. It’s an easy climb that is short-lived and leads along what appears to be a mini-canyon. Once you’ve arrived at the top, you’ll get your first glance at the interesting and unique landscape in the Rose Valley, before heading down towards a shack where a local will be selling fruit juice.
From here, you’ll head along a dusty trail that is one of the busiest sections of the walk, since it is shared by multiple routes in the area. It’s also where the ATV tour and horse riding tours lead through, but usually, this is between 4:30 and 7:30 pm.
You’ll then peel off of this popular stint and head down a small path that twists and turns through the valley. This is a peaceful section of the walk where you’re unlikely to meet any other hikers. The most I heard was a drone flying above my head.
Before long, you’ll arrive at a small tea garden which is run by a local family. This is a great place to stop and support locals by purchasing some products which they have produced themselves. Plus, the next section of your Cappadocia Red Valley hike is a steep incline and so you’ll need it!
The route heads on up with a number of switchbacks before arriving at a popular viewpoint across the Red and Rose Valley. You’ll likely bump into a few people here, who opt for this location rather than the one slightly further along to avoid paying ‘the viewpoint fee’. The view from here is astounding and like nothing I’ve ever seen before, which makes the climb worth it.
You’ll briefly head down into the valley and see a number of locals harvesting their own fruits from the farms which still reside here.
It’s then time to tackle another climb, although this is not that tough. You’ll quickly arrive at the Red and Rose Valley sunset point and be met by a number of cafes and stalls selling souvenirs. If you arrive here during the day, these will likely be very quiet with little atmosphere, since the peak time for visitors here is at sunset.
Once you’ve admired the views, you’ll begin your decent through the Rose Valley. This is an easy route with excellent views ahead and if you look closely, you’ll be able to see Göreme in the distance.
The route continues to lead down into the valley for quite some time, passing a number of deserted ‘fairy houses’ that you’re able to poke your head inside.
Sooner or later, you’ll arrive at Haçlı Church and Emin’s Cafe. The Church is one of the most impressive in the area and it’s well worth climbing the later to take a look. Inside it’s beautifully painted with a perfectly framed window to the valley ahead.
As you exit the Church, you’ll climb a little higher before enjoying a flat section of the walk with views down into the valley below.
The route takes a sharp right which is easily missed as it’s a tiny trail which leads down quite drastically into the valley. Initially, this is a daunting sight as you’ll come across a rope which will help you descend safely. It’s nowhere near as hard as it looks as long as you’re mindful of where you’re putting your feet and you have some sturdy shoes on.
The remainder of the walk is straightforward and leads back to your original starting point where you had your first sighting on the ‘fairy houses’. If you’ve walked from Göreme, you’ll need to return the same way that you came at the start.
Rose and Red Valley Hike Map
Below you’ll find a link to the trail map of this hike. It’s imperative that you download this ahead of your hike as the phone network around this area is terrible – even if you have a Turkish sim card.
In addition, none of the trails around here are particularly well-marked, which makes them very difficult to follow if you don’t have a map to hand.
Facilities along the trail
Facilities along this trail are very good. In fact, there are more along this trail than most of the others in the area.
- Juice Stall
Just after the first kilometre, you’ll arrive at a juice stall and find a couple of locals who are selling pomegranate and orange juice. As to be expected, this is cash only and if memory serves me correctly I paid 50 Turkish Lira for a cup of fresh pomegranate juice.
One thing to bear in mind is that I hiked past this a few times and it wasn’t always open.
- Güllüdere Tea Garden
Güllüdere Tea Garden is the sweetest little place that’s deep within the Rose Valley. You’ll stumble across it at around 2.5 kilometres and find that it’s run by a local family who harvests products to sell to hikers who are passing by. They’ve also set up some tables and chairs for those who want to take a break and have a portaloo if you’re desperate. Although, after poking my nose in, I really would only go if you’re desperate.
- Aktepe Hill Sunset Point
Aktepe Hill Sunset Point is where you’ll find the best facilities as it’s a point that many people drive to in order to catch the sunset. There are a wealth of places to eat and drink, buy souvenirs and another portaloo. Whilst this one is slightly nicer, you’ll need to pay a few Turkish Lira to use it and this will need to be paid in cash.
This stop is around the halfway mark and it comes after the steepest section of the hike, so it’s a great place to take a break and admire some of the best views of the walk.
- Emin’s Cafe
Emin’s Cafe is at the 5-kilometre mark of the walk and is next to the Haçlı Church, which many believe is the star of the walk (aside from the incredible landscape). In fact, I met a few hikers who were heading along this trail just so that they could visit the church.
Emin’s Cafe is without a doubt the nicest place to stop. It’s a proper cafe with a terrace set with tables, chairs, parasols and of course, incredible views over the Red and Rose Valley in Cappadocia.
Best time hike through the Red and Rose Valley in Cappadocia
The best time to go hiking in the Rose Valley and Red Valley in Cappadocia is during the shoulder season, which is April, May, September and October. This is when temperatures will be warm, but not sweltering and hiking will be comfortable. However, if you’re tied to a certain time of year, then below is what you can expect:
Winter | December, January and February will see snow on the ground in this region of Turkey. It’s undoubtedly incredibly picturesque, but you’ll need to be prepared for temperatures which can reach -20 degrees in the height of winter.
Spring | March, April and May see significant shifts in temperature as you move through the year. In March there will almost certainly still be snow on the ground. As April comes around, it’s still cold with temperatures around 15 degrees and occasionally a dusting of snow overnight. As we move into May, things start to warm up rapidly, with average daytime temperatures of 22 degrees.
Summer | June, July and August is the peak season in Cappadocia with temperatures soaring above 30 degrees in July and August. Towards the tail end of the month, things start to cool down slightly, but not significantly. You’ll need to head on your hiking trip with plenty of fluids and food if you’re planning to be here during this time.
Autumn | September, October and November is another season which sees a significant change from the start to the end. September and October will see some comfortable hiking temperatures, yet November drops down to an average of 13 degrees during the day and falls below 0 degrees at night. With a few layers, it’s still doable to plan a hiking trip during this time.
What to wear for hiking in Cappadocia
The time of year that you decide to head on a hiking trip to Cappadocia will determine what you need to pack and hopefully from the weather indications given in the section above you should be able to understand what needs to go in your case.
However, regardless of the time of year in which you’re heading to Cappadocia with a plan to do some hiking, you’ll need to pack the below items. I’ve given some recommendations on some of the products which I personally use (some of which I have been for years!) and absolutely love.
- Hiking Boots
Nearly all the trails around here are desert-like at times and will require a decent pair of hiking boots to keep you upright.
The boots which I’m currently wearing are these Karrimor hiking boots. For someone who does A LOT of hiking, these are cheap boots. But, they’re just SO comfy. These were my first hiking boots and since I loved them so much, I’ve just replaced them with the exact same pair ever since. Nothing fancy and super budget-friendly. If it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it!
No matter what time of year you’re hiking, you’ll need to head out with a backpack stuffed with plenty of water, snacks and a first aid kit.
My go-to backpack for as long as I can remember is the Osprey Daylite. It’s a perfect size and fits really well on almost anyone with the adjustable straps. For a premium brand, I think the price point is pretty decent and I love that it comes in a variety of colours.
- Waterproof Jacket
Regardless of what time of year you’re heading to Cappadocia, it’s always worth carrying a waterproof jacket, as even these desert-like surroundings can get a sprinkle of rain, particularly in the shoulder season.
I’ve been wearing my North Face Lightweight Waterproof Jacket since around 2016 and it’s still going well. It rolls up to be really small which means I can shove it in my backpack easily and since it’s so lightweight, I barely notice it’s there when I’m not using it.
The only thing I regret is buying it in white as it gets filthy at times. Again, the price point on this is very good for a premium brand and I can vouch for the fact it lasts forever!
Alright, you can’t head here and not take a decent camera. It would be sacrilege. The landscape is like nothing I’ve seen before and I reckon you’ll be in the same boat.
This is a big ticket item, but it’s worth every penny. I splurged and bought the Sony A7Riii and the 24-105 mm F4 a while ago and it was the best decision I ever made.
The capabilities of this combination are insane and whilst I’m still learning the ropes, each time I go on a trip, the images are coming out better and better.
I also love the fact that the camera is fairly lightweight by comparison to others out there, which makes it the perfect camera to take hiking.
- Is it safe to do a solo hike around the Red and Rose Valley in Cappadocia?
Although a lot of the trails around Cappadocia are quiet and sometimes you’ll go out and not see anyone at all, the Red and Rose Valley is a popular destination for hiking and as such, is one of the busiest trails. Although, not by comparison to other hiking destinations around the world!
After heading out on a few hikes around the area with some friends I plucked up the courage to do this one solo and I felt safe at all times. I wouldn’t say the same for some of the other trails (although it was probably in my head), but for this one, you’re good.
- Is there an entrance fee to visit the Cappadocia Red Valley?
Yes and no. If you’re driving to the sunset viewpoint, then you’ll need to pay 6 Turkish Lira, but if you’re hiking, there is no entrance fee to pay.
- Why is it called the Red Valley and Rose Valley?
It’s called this because of the colour of the rock.
- Are there any hiking tours through the Red Valley and Rose Valley?
Yes, you can join a hiking tour if you’d prefer to be part of a group or be shown around by a local. Plus, these are super cheap in Cappadocia which makes it way more accessible to do than in other parts of the world
Check prices: Hiking Tour
Where to stay in Cappadocia
If you’re heading to Cappadocia, then there really is only one town that you will want to consider staying in and that’s Göreme. There are some smaller towns nearby such as Uçhisar, but they’re not really well equipped for tourists at the moment. That’s not to say in the future that they won’t expand, as this region is becoming incredibly popular and even Göreme is constantly being developed.
Below are some recommendations of places to stay in Göreme, however, you can also find an extensive guide linked here:
Check out the full guide: Best hotels in Cappadocia
Budget | The Dorm Cave By Travellers
The Dorm Cave By Travellers is where I stayed for my trip to Göreme and it was pretty decent for budget accommodation. It’s both a hotel and a hostel and for most of the time I stayed in the dorm room, but for 2 nights I stayed in a hotel room.
The dorm rooms are big with a capacity of 14, but they’re really nice and you get to experience staying in a cave. There are plenty of bathrooms that are detached from the room and the breakfast is as good as it gets for a hostel. Of course with a room of this size, it can be quite disruptive, particularly as there are always a few people who are getting up early to watch the hot air balloons. It’s also luck of the draw as to who you get in your room.
The hotel rooms are really sweet and traditional and come equipped with everything you’d need for your stay. The room I was staying in also have a huge terrace which was perfect for watching the hot air balloons early in the morning.
It’s just a few minute’s walk to the centre of Göreme and even though it’s tucked away on a side street, it felt very safe walking back at night as a solo female traveller.
Check prices: The Dorm Cave By Travellers
Mid-range | Caftan Cave Suites
Caftan Cave Suites offers travellers the opportunity to stay in an old cave whilst still having the luxury of modern facilities at a fair price.
They’re situated at the top of the main street that runs through Göreme, meaning they’re away from the hustle and bustle whilst still being just a few minute’s walk from where the atmosphere is.
Whilst they’ve got their own amazing terrace to watch the balloons at sunrise, they’re also less than ten minute walk from the main viewing platform that everyone heads to in order to witness the magic.
Check prices: Caftan Cave Suites
Luxury | Aza Cave Cappadocia
Aza Cave Cappadocia is hard to beat when it comes to finding a luxurious hotel in the area. Their King Suites are absolutely dreamy and come equipped with fancy baths, top-quality linen and a private balcony which overlooks the valley.
They’re situated a little further away that my other two recommendations, but still within walking distance to the main centre. They’re one of the few hotels in Cappadocia that have a swimming pool whilst still maintaining excellent views of the hot air balloons each morning.
Check prices: Aza Cave Cappadocia
Explore Cappadocia further
If you loved the sound of this Cappadocia Red Valley hike that also runs through the Rose Valley, then there are heaps of other trails nearby that you’ll also enjoy such as the one in the Love Valley.
I’ll be posting a tonne of guides on hiking in Cappadocia in the near future but to start with, you can check out the Ihlara Valley hike. This is very different to the Red and Rose Valley and is just over an hour away from Göreme, but it’s incredibly impressive and completely idyllic. It’s also part of the Green Tour which is well worth joining if you’re heading to Cappadocia.
Check prices: Green Tour
If you’re looking for alternative things to include on your Cappadocia itinerary, then an ATV Tour is something that should be high on your list!
Alternatively, you could switch things up and follow this Istanbul itinerary.
Stay Wild Travels.
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