Heading to the Pigeon Valley in Turkey is one of the number one things to do in Cappadocia. It’s easily reached from Göreme – the most popular town in Cappadocia, however, it is also included on the Green and Blue Tours which I will explain more about later in this guide.
Whether you’re heading to the valley to do some hiking or simply admire the sights from the viewpoint, you’ll almost certainly be glad that you included it on your Cappadocia itinerary.
In this guide, I’ll cover the interesting history of how the valley came to be and where it got its name from, as well as key details such as where it is, how to get there and what to expect on the day. In addition, if you’re looking to do some hiking in Cappadocia then there is a great trail which runs from Göreme to Uçhisar via the valley. I’ll cover everything you need to know ahead of this hike and include a trail map.
Pigeon Valley History
The Pigeon Valley in Cappadocia was previously used as an area to collect pigeon manure in order to fertilise the region’s crops. This was done by carving tiny houses into the soft rock to attract the birds in order for them to nest so that the manure could later be collected.
Almost all of the farmers in Cappadocia have since moved to more advanced ways of crop fertilisation, yet, the pigeons still reside in the valley today.
Why is it called the Pigeon Valley?
The original name for the valley is Guvercinlik Valley. However, given its history, the Pigeon Valley became its nickname and has stuck ever since.
Pigeon Valley entrance fee
There is no entrance fee for the valley. However, it is included as part of two tours in Cappadocia.
You can find the inclusions and ticket prices below:
- Panoramic Viewpoint
- Derinkuyu Underground City
- Ihlara Valley
- Selime Monastery
- Pigeon Valley
- Onyx Factory
Check prices: Green tour
- Red Valley
- Rose Valley
- Cavusin Cave Village
- Underground City
- Pigeon Valley
Check prices: Blue tour
Having researched both of these tours extensively, I’d recommend the Green tour over the Blue tour. The Blue tour is more expensive and with inclusions like the Red and Rose Valley that can be explored very easily by yourself, it seems slightly over-priced. Plus, the Green tour includes the incredible Ihlara Valley which is absolutely breathtaking.
Pigeon Valley viewpoint
The viewpoint here is one the most popular in Cappadocia since it provides some of the best views in the region. You’ll also get a great view of Uçhisar Castle, too.
At the viewpoint, you’ll find a tree decorated with tonnes of evil eyes. These are popular around Turkey and are said to ward off bad energy. Besides this, they also make for some great pictures.
In addition, there is a tree which is decorated with pottery. This is symbolic of the region and you’ll find a number of restaurants use the same clay pots to cook kebabs, which you can read more about in my Cappadocia itinerary.
If you wander further past the trees, you’ll find a few stalls which are selling souvenirs, as well as a small cafe.
Pigeon Valley hike
Distance | the distance of this hike is just over 9 kilometres. It’s an out-and-back trail which begins in Göreme and leads through the valley before arriving at Uçhisar Castle.
Elevation | the total elevation of this hike is 265 meters. It’s gradually uphill for most of the way, with the last section to Uçhisar Castle being the steepest bit. The return journey is all downhill.
Duration | this hike should take approximately 2-3 hours. However, if like me, you enjoy taking pictures or soaking up the views, then you’ll want to leave at least 3 hours as the view from Uçhisar Castle is pretty spectacular.
Difficulty | most walkers will find this trail relatively easy. As mentioned, the only real steep section of the walk is a short section to Uçhisar Castle. There are no dangerous paths and so it’s suitable for children and dogs to enjoy this hike.
What to expect on the day: Göreme to Pigeon Valley
On the day of your hike through the Pigeon Valley in Cappadocia, you’ll leave from Göreme. You’ll take a left turn somewhere near the bus station and follow a quiet road with a number of luxury hotels.
Soon, you’ll arrive at the entrance of the valley and begin your accent towards Uçhisar Castle.
The trail is well-signposted and starts off by leading through a wide canyon. It’s here that I was met by a lone man on a horse with a dog who demanded I take some video footage of him racing through the valley. Since I was hiking alone, it was a strange and slightly terrifying encounter, but it was all part of the journey and you shouldn’t be afraid if you run into him.
As you continue the hike, you’ll enter a section of the walk which is largely covered by trees and follows a narrow trail. There is evidence to suggest that people are still living here, so be mindful of this when you’re passing through.
Once you’ve left the trees behind and you’re again faced with interesting rock formations, tiny pigeon homes built into the walls and unique paintings on the side of the rocks, you’ll twist and turn you’re way up towards Uçhisar Castle.
This section of the walk is one of the best as you’re deep into the valley at this point. You’ll stumble across a few tea gardens along the way which I highly recommend stopping in. Not only are most of the goods on sale fresh from the valley, but it supports the locals who have spent time producing these goods.
Once you’ve passed the tea garden, the trail narrows and you’ll leave the depths of the valley. Here, you’ll begin to pass a number of local farms which are often guarded by dogs. You’ll need to be vigilant during this section as although the dogs are often on chains, they bark fiercely and look as though they could do some damage if they were let loose.
Finally, you’ll begin the short accent to Uçhisar Castle. Although this looks daunting, it’s not as bad as it looks and the panoramic views from the top are well worth the short burst of effort.
Once you’ve taken some time to relax and photograph the spectacular scenery, you’ll begin your easy descent back to Göreme.
Pigeon Valley map
The typical hiking route through the valley takes you from Göreme to Uçhisar Castle and back again.
Below is a link to the map from one of my favourite platforms: AllTrails. I highly recommend creating an account and downloading the trail map for offline use as you’ll often have no phone service in Cappadocia.
Best time to visit
Pigeon Valley in Cappadocia Turkey is a great spot to visit all year round. However, you’ll want to consider the best time of day to head to the viewpoint.
If you’re wanting an alternative spot to watch the hot air balloons floor the skies in Cappadocia, then head here around 6 am and you’ll get an epic view.
If you’re wanting to visit during a quieter period then consider heading here at lunchtime, as many tours visit this spot in the morning or late afternoon.
Best place to stay near the Pigeon Valley
If you’re looking to do explore this valley then the two closest towns are Göreme and Uçhisar. Both of these are nice, but they offer a different experience.
Göreme is the most popular town in Cappadocia and as such, it’s filled with hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops. It’s got a vibrant atmosphere and is just a short walk to a number of the most popular things to do and see in the area, such as the Open Air Museum and Lovers Hill.
On the other hand, Uçhisar is much more peaceful whilst still providing places to eat and drink. You’ll have excellent views over Cappadocia and Göreme can be reached by car in approximately 10 minutes.
Below are some suggestions on where to stay, however, if you’re looking for an extensive list then it’s worth checking out the full guide:
Read more: Best hotels in Cappadocia
Budget | The Dorm Cave by Travellers
Pro’s | central location, budget-friendly, cave-style accommodation, balloons fly directly overhead
Cons | limited breakfast
The Dorm Cave by Travellers is a budget-friendly hostel and hotel that’s just a few minutes’ walk to the centre of Göreme in Cappadocia. It’s conveniently tucked down a small side street which provides both privacy and peacefulness away from the hustle and bustle of the town.
For the price of this accommodation, the view you get of the balloons and the surrounding caves are fantastic value for money. The balloons fly directly above The Dorm Cave between 7 and 8 AM, and if you’re standing on one of their terraces then you’ll almost be able to touch them as they fly overhead.
Whether you opt for a dorm or private room, you’ll still enjoy luxurious traditional Turkish decor with lovely home touches throughout the accommodation.
The only downside to The Dorm Cave by Travellers is the breakfast – it’s very basic and could certainly benefit from some variety. But, with this being the only downside, it’s certainly one of the best options to go for if you’re on a budget but still want to stay in one of the best hotels in Cappadocia with a view of the hot air balloons.
Mid-range | Local Cave House Hotel
Pros | excellent swimming pool, central location, impeccable views, great breakfast
Cons | Wi-Fi is not always great in the rooms
The Local Cave House Hotel is one of the very best mid-range cave hotels in Cappadocia that is storming social media platforms. It’s been built into the side of one of the old ‘fairy chimneys’ aka an old cave-style home. Yet, to keep up with modern styling, it’s been extended with solid stone and furnished with trendy decor.
Whilst it’s a little bit of a climb from the centre of Göreme to reach the entrance of the hotel, the short burst of energy is rewarded with incredible views over Cappadocia – which of course, is even more incredible when the balloons are scattered across the sky.
Unlike many of the other hotels in the area at this price point, this hotel benefits from a swimming pool as well as a beautifully decorated terrace to capture some of the most instrgrammable photos of your time in Cappadocia.
Check prices: Booking.com
Luxury | Museum Hotel
Pros | Relais & Chateaux member, pillow menu, free wine tap, impeccable grounds, stunning views, excellent food, peaceful location
Cons | 10-minutes from Göreme
Museum Hotel is the only hotel in Turkey that belongs to Relais & Chateaux – an association of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants. It’s a real hidden gem in Cappadocia that oozes quality from top to bottom. From the moment you arrive, you’ll receive 5-star service, starting with a pillow menu to ensure maximum comfort throughout your stay.
Each room is impeccable with stunning views across the valley. Some rooms have extra special features like whirlpool baths and even a free wine tap! However, regardless of your room choice, you’ll have access to the numerous facilities within the hotel grounds including a workout area and spa. Yet, perhaps one of the best features of this hotel is the viewing platform to witness the stunning hot air balloons flying overhead. Each morning, free champagne is served as you capture the special moment when hundreds of balloons fill the sky.
As to be expected with a hotel of this calibre, the food is excellent. Being an eco-conscious hotel means that many of the fruit and vegetables that end up on your plate have been grown within the hotel grounds and are freshly picked and prepared to perfection. Should you wish to learn how it’s done, you’ll be able to make a reservation with the reception for a cooking class.
Since Museum Hotel is situated in Uçhisar, it’s extremely peaceful and not only the best cave hotel in Cappadocia with a hot air balloon view, but also over the Pigeon Valley and Red Valley as well as Göreme.
Explore Cappadocia further
If you enjoyed this guide on the Pigeon Valley in Turkey and you’re looking for more awesome valleys for your Cappadocia itinerary, then the Red Valley or Love Valley are excellent choices.
For something a little different, then an ATV tour is one of the best experiences to be had in Cappadocia.
Stay Wild Travels.
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