Ihlara Valley. It is an incredibly remarkable place. In the middle of a desert region, no water around except for the undrinkable Salt Lake, you’ll find the beautiful, lush Ihlara Valley. A fresh water river runs through the 16 km gorge carved through volcanic rock. It even boasts a few small waterfalls!
Ihlara is a township with own municipality in Central Anatolia that is most famous for its beautiful and unique Ihlara Valley. Beyond just the beauty of the region, the history of the area is also incredible with countless cave dwellings carved into the surrounding rocks.
Hikes at Ihlara Valley
There are a few different hiking options when visiting Ihlara Valley. At the entrance, which costs 45 Turkish Lyra per person, there are detailed maps of the different hiking options.
You can choose between a 4 km loop, 7 km loop, 15 km loop, and the full 32 km loop. With the longer versions you can see the churches, waterfalls, and ancient cave dwellings. We only did a very short version of the hike as we arrived later in the afternoon and did not have as much time as we would have wished to do a longer hike.
Despite doing the short version of the hike, we still saw plenty of of the beautiful stream, dragonflies, and even some wildlife.
Water Cafes at Ihlara Valley
The most stunning part of the experience for me, however, were the amazing cafes that they built on top of the water; one at the entrance of the valley and one a little bit of a walk into the valley.
I will say as a disclaimer, that the food was not that great, but the atmosphere was so cute and relaxed and fun that it was so worth it! There’s nothing better than feeling the cool, refreshing water underneath your feet as you enjoy a coffee or a fresh salad. It was such a fun experience.
How to Get There
Ihlara Valley is a bit in the middle of nowhere, quite the drive from any main tourist attraction. The best way to visit in my opinion is to take a day trip from Cappadocia/Goreme like we did.
We rented a car and driver for the day and visited a few places outside of Cappadocia. First visiting the Pink Lake, we then made our way here.
Directly from Goreme it is a little less than a 1.5 hour drive, which is why it’s best to add a couple of other amazing things to do in the region as well, to make it worth the drive.
As it can be a bit difficult to find the actual entrance to the Valley itself, it may be easier to rent a car with a driver as we did. He knew the area very well, exactly how to get there, and the cost difference was negligible.
Things to Do in the Area
Since it is a bit of a drive from so many other places in the area, we decided to take advantage of the rented car and enjoy some of the other amazing things to do in the region.
One of Turkey’s most underrated tourist attractions in my opinion, the Pink Lake is seriously an incredible sight! Depending on the season, there are a few sections of the Pink Lake (Lake Tuz). One, the main tourist entrance, is more white. In the summertime a lot of the water evaporates leaving a platform of healing salt. The beautiful pink area can be reached a bit of a drive away.
The whole region of Cappadocia has many Underground Cities available to visit. The most famous being Derinkuyu Underground City. As the name suggests, it is a full city built underground. Large enough to house 20,000 people, livestock, and built on multiple levels, it is said to be truly incredible. Bearing a secret of its own, this ancient city was only discovered when a man started renovations to his home, and stumbled upon it.
Giving a lot of insight into how people lived in this region historically, it can be visited along the way if you take a day trip to the Pink Lake and Ihlara Valley.
Although we did not have a lot of time to explore this interesting valley, we did have the chance to stop here at sunset on our way back from the Pink Lake and Ihlara Valley. As I’m sure you can guess, the name comes from the many pigeons that flock to the area. You can even see in the rocks the MANY ancient dovecotes (Pigeon Houses) carved into the rocks for the carrier pigeons many years ago.
If you have time, there is also a small hike that can be done in the area, a cute gift shop, and lots of pigeons to watch.
When we visited the area (July) there were literally ENDLESS fields of sunflowers everywhere. It was so beautiful. I found out that Turkey raises lots and lots of sunflowers and uses them for snacks and cooking oil.
- Where to Stay – The best place to stay when visiting the region is one of the famous cities in Cappadocia- the most famous among them being Goreme. It is very easy to rent a car from the city to take a day trip to visit Ihlara Valley.
- Places to Eat – It’s not just an amazing place to go for a hike through the nature, they also have adorable water cafes in multiple places along the trail. So don’t worry about having to bring food!
- Cost – The cost for entrance per person is 45 Tl.
- Trails – There are a few options for hiking trails, shorter and longer versions, so depending on how much time you have, you can hike up to the waterfalls or just take a short nature walk to the cafes.
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
xoxoxoxo Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters