The Ultimate Red and Rose Valley Hike (With Maps.me Pins)
Cappadocia is full of abandoned churches and houses carved in to the bizarre-shaped formations of soft volcanic tuff. Rose Valley in particular, has some really spectacular cave churches where you can still find staircases, decorated pillars and ancient artwork. Scramble your way up to the entrance, and marvel at the intricate interior decoration.
Red Valley has tight hand-carved tunnels and isolated tea houses. So combine the two, follow this Red and Rose Valley hike and you’ll experience something really special!
We spent the best part of a day hiking this route, and the ancient abandoned buildings that we stumbled upon were breath-taking. There is some up and down and some scrambling required to get into a few churches, but generally, this route really isn’t too taxing.
Looking for more info on Cappadocia? Take a look here.
Fancy giving it a go? Find the route and our favourite cave churches, tunnels and tea houses below.
Number 1: Download Maps.me on to your phone and also download the map of Cappadocia so that you can refer to it offline, and mark the pins mentioned in the post.
Number 2: There are no entrance fees to any of the valleys so you can wander to your heart’s content.
Head Over to Red Valley
From Goreme bus station, head downhill along the main road. Plug this Pin into Maps.me and head over. This is on the way to red Valley and is well worth a venture inside. The structure used to be a castle, and on the lowest level, you can go inside to see the church. There is simple red decoration inside.
After this, walk towards Red Valley by going down into the valley. Pin this point. This small abandoned church isn’t as difficult to get into as it looks. From the front, there are a few footholds, and it looks like you need to do rock climbing to enter (I gave it a good go, but it didn’t happen!). Anyway, there is a much easier entrance to the left which you can scramble up to get inside.
In Red Valley
Continue straight past the church and take the next main route to the left. Pin this spot to take you there. This is Red Valley. The landscape changes, the valley gets very narrow and there are a lot of plants.
The route again, splits in two. If you’re feeling adventurous, turn left at the fork. This takes you up a dodgy looking metal staircase and into a hand-carved tunnel.
Pin this point and head over there. This is a beautiful little spot where you can stop for a tea or coffee and use the toilet. There is also a very small church with intricate painting. When we were there, it was locked, but I managed to get a photo through the gate. Head upwards to here at this pin. There are views that go on for miles from here over Red Valley and Rose Valley.
Into Rose Valley
Go back down into the valley, but off to the right this time. Go towards this pin which takes you to another viewpoint over the valley before you head down into Rose Valley. And this is where the abandoned churches really are spectacular!
The first one you should pin is the Columned Church here. Cross the bridge to get inside and go up the staircase. The architecture is outrageous! Tall columns and an arched ceiling has been cut into the rock. Explore the room tucked round to the right and look up. The ceiling has such detailing, it really is spectacular.
Absolutely one of my favourite churches we saw; I was shocked. But there’s much more to come and dare I say it, it gets better.
Two More Rose Valley Churches
Pin this point and follow the route this way to the cave pigeon loft and cave beehive. There are signs to warn you about the bees, and the it is a little back from the path, so it’s fine (just don’t go poking around in the beehive!).
After the beehive, take a right and head on over to Hacli Church here. At the base of the church is a little cafe which is a lovely little place to stop for a break. Once you’re rehydrated, head up the stairs and inside the church. The artwork is in such phenomenal condition!
Head over to this pin to take you the right way. The other route is marked as a ‘difficult pass without ropes’. If that’s your bag, go for it; it’s not my bag. Then walk towards this pin. This abandoned church requires a bit of effort and grippy shoes to scramble up to the entrance, but it is so so worth it.
Once inside, there are three different areas you can explore. One appears to be full of dovecotes, the central part has huge and intricate crosses carved into the ceiling and the area closest to the entrance has strikingly colourful artwork all over the walls and ceilings. How is the artwork still in such great condition?!
This was our last stop before heading back to Goreme. Walk back towards the main road and follow the signs back into town.
Facilities Along the Hike
We did this day hike at the beginning of November; the weather was perfect for hiking. If you’re looking into doing this during the warmer months, be aware that you are completely exposed to the sun for the vast majority of the hike. There are a couple of spots where you could get a drink and a snack, and use the loo. I would recommend you bring a packed lunch for this hike.
Have you been to Red Valley or Rose Valley? Or maybe you’ve given our hiking route suggestion a go?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations and questions.
Thanks for reading!