Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Pigeon and Love Valleys and Rose Valley Hikes in Cappadocia

View of Pigeon Valley Love Valley formations View of Love Valley
Left: Pigeon Valley. Center and left: Love Valley.

A rock church in Rose Valley Exploring Rose Valley Trail View from inside a church toward the valley
Rose Valley photos.


Our stay in Cappadocia was a quest to find a space of our own. Specifically, we were looking for a spot without groups of horse riders, swarms of ATVs, classic American cars with tourists (why?), or huge buses of easily excited but quickly bored tourists.

Cappadocia can be overwhelming because everyone is so excited to be there and see the natural wonders. Sites like Gôreme Open Air Museum and Zelve Open Air Museum and Monk’s Valley can seem less special because of all the people that are there. The solution we found was to go early or go later in the day to famous places. And, more importantly find something off the beaten track.

When we look back at our four days in Cappadocia, the happiest where when we found a spot with few people on it as described in these two hikes.

For context, we spent 6 days in Istanbul (see the post Postcards from Istanbul) before arriving in Cappadocia. After Cappadocia, we spent 3 days in Selçuk (Ephesus) and 2 days in Pamukkale. For an overview of our trip, see the post 18 Day in Turkey – Some Observations.

In Cappadocia, we stayed in Gôreme because we reasoned we could do the most from there on foot. And, these hikes you could do from there. We did end up renting a car to go see one of the underground cities (Kaymakli), visit Ürgüp, and go to a Whirling Dervish show at Saruhan Kervansaray.

Notes on Gôreme Open Air Museum:

  • We went early (say 9ish) and got a guide at the entrance and were able to beat most of the crowds that arrived within the hour. We thought we would see a lot here and it would take some time to explore. That wasn’t the case. First, the area and what you can explore is pretty limited (say compared to Zelve). Second, it didn’t take that much time and we had already seen several rock churches already, so we were a bit jaded. That said, don’t miss the The Buckle Church (Tokalı Kilise), which is included in the entrance ticket and is off by itself.
  • We left our car parked at Gôreme Open Air Museum and went to find Al Nazar Church (El Nazar Kilisesi) on foot. It was another entrance fee but interesting and with few people. Both this and Gôreme Open Air Museum are easily accessible by walking from Gôreme. (We had the car because we were going to go elsewhere afterward.)
  • There is much more to explore on foot around this area around Gôreme and we barely scratched the surface.

Pigeon Valley and Love Valley Hike – Starting and Stopping from Gôreme

Duration: 6 hours
Elevation: 406 m
Length: 15 km

Our first day, and we didn’t have a car (we would rent one the next day) and we wanted to walk. So, we devised this day of hiking that went from Gôreme to Uçhisar via Pigeon Valley. Then we walked from Uçhisar to Love Valley and eventually back to Gôreme. It’s a long day but rewarding. We had warm autumn temperatures. Perfect for walking.


  • In Love Valley, make sure you stop at Keles Café for refreshments. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but worth a stop.
  • In Pigeon Valley and Love Valley there are tunnels that are fun to explore. We found that the trail often went through a tunnel...sometimes pretty tight.
  • When walking through Love Valley to see the “phallic” rock formations we spotted a sign that said “To Gôreme”. We kept that in mind and backtracked ½ kilometer to pick that up and return to where we started.

Rose Valley Hike

Duration: 2.5 hr
Elevation: 194 m
Length: 7.5 km

We spent the morning at Gôreme Open Air Museum on our last day in Cappadocia. The experience dampened our spirits a bit because of the number of people there posing and blocking entrances for their perfect photo. Sour grapes right? The Rose Valley hike was a nice antidote to calm us down.

We saw a lot of different indications of how to do this but still had no idea where to start. Some of the confusion comes from going between English and Turkish. Also confusing is that Rose Valley (Güllüdere) is just north of Red Valley (Kizilçukur).

I wouldn’t say what we did was the best way, but we had fun exploring and saw just a couple of other hikers. What we did is leave the car in this parking lot. You could probably walk from Gôreme or Çavuşin (easier). From the parking lot we just started walking without a program in mind. As you can see from the tracks, we had to backtrack where we reached a point in the trail that was a little tricky to climb up (and not just us, another couple turned back too). The trail would have taken us to a church that we did eventually reach but it was all closed up. So, half the fun was exploring. It was cool following these natural tunnels until they ended and we had to find our way out or back.

We could have done much more here in Rose Valley, but we were at the end of our day and time in Cappadocia.

Pigeon and Love Valley Photos

A tunnel on one of the trails of Pigeon Valley A tunnel on one of the trails of Pigeon Valley Tunnel on the trail in Pigeon Valley Our guide dogs for the day 
Pigeon Valley and Love Valley tracks Pigeon Valley Sign at trailhead Pigeon Valley trees Pigeon Valley poplar trees

View of Pigeon Valley  View of Pigeon Valley View of Uchisar from Pigeon Valley 

 Signage showing position in valley and distance to Goreme and Uchisar In Uchisar castle and gozleme View from Uchisar castle looking north A sign pointing toward Love Valley

Love Valley apples - free for the picking At one end of Love Valley Love Valley trail - passing under arch Steps climbing out of Love Valley and heading toward Goreme Keles Cafe in Love Valley

Climbing out of Love Valley and heading toward Goreme Descending into Love Valley from Uchisar Keles Cafe at base of formations 

Love Valley formations  Love Valley formations Love Valley formations

Rose Valley Photos

A canyon opening in Rose Valley A rock church in Rose Valley Rose Valley - following a canyon

A rock church in Rose Valley A rock church in Rose Valley A rock church in Rose Valley

Exploring Rose Valley Trail Exploring Rose Valley Trail Exploring Rose Valley Trail

Rose Valley View Rose Valley View Rose Valley View

Rose Valley relative to Gôreme Rose Valley Tracks Valleys of Cappadocia Sign

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