The Love Valley hike in Cappadocia is one of the best hikes in the area. It’s easily reached from the most popular town in Cappadocia: Göreme and is famously known for the peculiarly shaped rocks which protrude from the ground.
There are a few different routes which lead through the Love Valley – the most popular being the Göreme, Love, White, Uçhisar and Pigeon Valley Loop. This is the route which will be covered in depth in this guide, however, you’ll also find a map to the short loop which is a circular route from Göreme to the Love Valley.
After spending a few weeks in Cappadocia, I managed to tick off quick a few hikes. This route covers a few of the valleys and so it has to be near the top of the list when it comes to the best hikes in Cappadocia.
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about hiking in the Love Valley and the surrounding areas 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.
History of the Love Valley
How was the Love Valley in Cappadocia formed?
Contrary to popular belief, the Love Valley formed from volcanic ash millions of years ago. Thick ash covered Cappadocia following the eruption of one of the nearby volcanos and over time, solidified into the soft rock which you see across many of the valleys today.
Over the years, this rock has been eroded by the weather (which can be quite extreme in Cappadocia) and has left these phallic formations that many tourists flock to see.
Why is it called the Love Valley in Cappadocia?
The Love Valley is not the original name of this area in Cappadocia. It is formally known as the Baglidere Valley. However, given the interesting shape of the rocks, it has since been dubbed the Love Valley.
Where is the Love Valley in Cappadocia located?
The Love Valley in Cappadocia is situated just outside of the most popular town in the region – Göreme. It’s easily accessible from the town, which is what makes it so popular among tourists.
Below you can find an interactive map.
Love Valley hike details
Distance | the distance of this hike is 11.7 kilometres. This is a decent distance, but nothing too crazy. If you’re looking to take the short loop as opposed to the route which covers a number of the valleys, then it’s just 5 kilometres which is pretty easy.
Elevation | the total elevation of this hike is 388 meters. This is less than average for your typical hike, however, it’s mostly covered in one section of the hike. You can expect this to be intense, but not impossible for even the most novice hikers.
Duration | on average, this hike takes just over 3 hours to complete. However, if you’re anything like me, then you’ll want to stop and take pictures and have something to eat or drink too. With this in mind, I’d budget at least 4 hours to complete this hike.
Difficulty | the route is classed as moderately difficult, however, the majority of it is very easy. There is just one super steep incline and most of the paths are well-established. At times, parts of the trail are quite dusty which makes it slippery on the declines, so you’ll need to have a solid pair of boots on before heading on this trail.
How to get to the Love Valley in Cappadocia
This trail starts from the centre of Göreme, which is more than likely the town which you will be staying in Cappadocia. You’ll simply need to head to the main high street from your hotel to begin this hike and go from there.
If you’re not staying in Göreme then you’ll need to either hop on a bus or rent a car.
Busses in this area don’t appear to have any online timetable and are less reliable than in other places across the country like Istanbul. As such, your best option is to ask a local if they can provide you with the latest information, as it seems to change regularly.
If you need to rent a car, then you can do so using the link below. This reputable platform scouts out all of the best deals from a number of different providers so that you don’t have to trawl through each company’s website.
Check prices: Rentalcars.com
Another great tool that I use all the time is Rome2Rio. It will help you to understand how to get from A to B in a cost-effective and time-efficient way. It’s bloomin’ brilliant.
What to expect on the day of your Love Valley hike in Cappadocia
The route leads out of Göreme and immediately finds an incline. It’s not a tough incline, but it is an incline that gets your blood pumping.
Before long, you’ll cross the main road and take a right turn into the valley. You’ll instantly find incredible views of the unique rock formations (known as fairy chimneys) down below.
As you continue the accent, the views just keep getting better, with Göreme now quite small in the distance.
You’ll walk along the dusty path which begins to flatten and start your trek to the Love Valley. There will be a number of incredible photo opportunities and the Red Valley and Rose Valley will appear in the distance. These are some of the best views you’ll get of the two valleys without actually being in them.
As you approach a campsite that couldn’t be better placed for incredible views, you’ll begin your descent down a narrow and slippery path. It’s slippery because of the dust, so you’ll need a sturdy pair of shoes and/or some hiking poles if you’ve got some.
Once you’ve made it to the bottom, you’ll reach a road that passes a number of farms and leads through caves, before hanging a right and heading up to the Love Valley.
The phallic rock formations suddenly appear as you continue up to the valley where you’ll find a small cafe.
The route begins to get slightly confusing from here, as there are so many trails across the valley that it’s difficult to know which one you’re meant to be on. You’ll need to be careful not to stray too far from the road which runs parallel to the trails you’ll be walking on above. If you get too confused with the trails through the Love Valley, then it’s best to head down to the road, as you’ll be able to re-join the trail further along from here later on.
Next up is the White Valley, which is rarely talked about and caught me by surprise with how nice it was.
To get here, the trail leads through mini-canyons that are now overground with flora and fauna. You’ll be left having to duck your head and squeeze through the narrow paths, but this provides plenty of shade which is a welcome break on a hot day.
As you approach the White Valley, you’ll start your biggest accent of the walk. The route twists and turns over rocks which could be mistaken for white sand. Beside the trail, the white rock is layered between the golden rock to create a large wall.
Quite rapidly, the route begins to find what feels like a verticle incline. Perhaps it was the heat at the time I was hiking through the White Valley or the fact that I was exhausted from the early mornings watching the hot air balloons. Either way, the small juice stall at the summit combined with the small trees for the shelter came at an excellent time.
Once you’ve taken a breather, you’ll follow the road away from the White Valley and head towards Uçhisar. Uçhisar is the next town along from Göreme and is best known for its impressive stack of caves and houses which form Uçhisar Castle.
If you’ve got any energy left in you, then you can head up to Uçhisar Castle for some spectacular views. I have to admit, I cheated and didn’t head up to the castle on this day as it was so hot and the lack of sleep was getting the better of me.
Continuing along the route, you’ll then begin the descent back to Göreme via one of the most popular valleys in Cappadocia: the Pigeon Valley. This is a great section of the route as you’ll enjoy stunning scenery whilst walking downhill for almost the entire way. It’s not a tough decent that’s relentless on your knees – it’s super easy and very enjoyable.
Love Valley Cappadocia map
You can find the map to this route on Alltrails using the link below.
This is my go-to platform when I’m hiking since you can download the map ahead of time for offline use. You will need to ensure you do this when hiking along this trail as you will not have any phone network at times – even if you’ve bought a Turkish sim card.
I learnt the lesson the hard way as I forgot to download the map, but luckily there was another couple who seemed to be following the same route and so I tagged onto the back of them. I don’t recommend relying on this though, as you won’t see heaps of people hiking around Cappadocia which is awesome, but not ideal if you get lost.
Alltrails: short loop map
Facilities along the trail
The facilities along the Love Valley trail aren’t as good as the likes of the Cappadocia Red Valley hike or the Ihlara Valley hike.
The only proper cafe you’ll find is the one in the Love Valley, which is relatively early on in the hike. You’ll also find a small juice stall after the White Valley and a few stalls once you reach Uçhisar.
One thing to bear in mind is that you’ll need to take cash in order to buy anything along the way.
Best time for hiking through the Love Valley in Cappadocia
The best time to go hiking in the Love 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 suitcase.
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 using 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 hike through the Love Valley alone?
The likelihood of anything bad happening whilst you’re hiking in Cappadocia is fairly slim as you don’t see that many people on the trails. However, the Love and Pigeon Valley are quite popular and so you’ll see some people during these sections of the hike.
One of the best hiking tips for women and men who are on a solo trip is to stay close to other walkers on the trail.
- Can you drive to the Love Valley?
Yes, you can drive to the Love Valley in Cappadocia and it will take approximately 10 minutes from Göreme.
- Do any tours go through the Love Valley?
No, there are not any specific hiking tours, however, you can hire a private driver for the day who can take you here as well as to other places that you request. This is a great way to see Cappadocia if you have the budget and you’re tight on time.
Check prices: private driver
- Do you have to pay to visit this area?
No, it is free to visit this area in Cappadocia
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 liked the sound of this Love Valley hike in Cappadocia, then you may also enjoy hiking through the Red Valley and Ihlara Valley. They both offer slightly different experiences but are equally fantastic.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to try something different, then I’d highly recommend an ATV tour. It’s one of the best things I included on my Cappadocia itinerary aside from hiking.
Alternatively, you could switch things up and go for a city break by following this Istanbul itinerary.
For everything else, you’ll find this by heading to the menu bar and selecting Turkey.
Stay Wild Travels.
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