Ihlara Valley is a fantastic canyon with a depth of about 100 meters and about 10 km. length that was formed by the volcanic activity from Mount Hasan and erosion by the Melendiz River hundred thousands of years ago. One of the best side trips from Cappadocia.
Ihlara Valley is a fascinating and beautiful destination that offers a glimpse into the region’s rich history and culture. Whether you’re interested in hiking, sightseeing, or just enjoying the natural beauty of the landscape, Ihlara Valley is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Cappadocia region of Turkey. Here are some top facts and a quick history of Ihlara Valley:
- The valley is approximately 14 kilometers long and up to 150 meters deep, with steep, rocky walls that are dotted with cave churches, monasteries, and dwellings carved into the cliffs.
- The Melendiz River, which runs through the valley, has helped to shape the landscape over millions of years, creating a unique and breathtakingly beautiful environment.
- The valley has been inhabited since ancient times and has played an important role in the region’s history and culture. It was home to a number of Christian communities who built churches and monasteries in the cliffs during the Byzantine era.
- The valley is named after a nearby village called Ihlara, which is home to a number of historic buildings and traditional architecture.
- Today, Ihlara Valley is a popular destination for hiking, sightseeing, and exploring the region’s rich cultural heritage. Visitors can hike along the valley floor and explore the many historic sites, or simply enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape.
- Ihlara Valley is also home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, with many rare and endemic species of plants and animals.
- The valley is protected as a national park and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its unique cultural and natural importance.
The history of Ihlara Valley dates back thousands of years, with evidence of human habitation in the area dating back to the Bronze Age. In the early Christian era, the valley was home to a number of monastic communities who built churches and other structures in the cliffs.
During the Byzantine era, the valley became an important center of Christian worship and monasticism. It is estimated that over 100 churches were built in the valley during this time, many of which are still visible today. These churches feature beautiful frescoes and other artwork, which offer a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage.
In the centuries that followed, the valley continued to be an important site for religious and cultural activity. Today, it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is protected as a national park. Visitors can hike along the valley floor and explore the many historic sites, or simply enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape.
Things to Do & See
Ihlara Valley is not only a natural beauty, but also a rocky settlement area that hosted an extreme monastery life between 4th to 13th centuries D.C. and housed more than four thousand dwellings and a hundred hidden cave churches decorated with frescoes and houses lining the gorge.
There is a parking area and a shop at the entrance of the Ihlara Valley. You should buy all your needs before you enter to the valley as there is no shop in the valley. When you see the valley from above, you’ll be surprised with the stairs that you need to descend. There is no elevator and while you descend, you’ll ask yourself that “how much stairs left” 🙂 But as you’ll experience, it will be a great exercise in the company of great beauties of the valley.
When you descend to the valley, you’ll have about 4 km. of hiking track in the company of the Melendiz River dividing the valley. The river is not deep so that you may easily pass from one side to another.
While you hike, you’ll see the famous dwellings, hidden cave churches decorated with frescoes and houses located at the hills in different altitudes. Some of them are really located on high altitude and you’ll need to climb the stairs through them (especially the churches) if you want to see what’s inside, and of course descend back 🙂 But all those will be really very exciting and fantastic.
After you stroll or hike about 3,5 km. along the river, you’ll see the famous Belisirma village (a typical Anatolian village) and will have a chance to have a lunch break at a local restaurant nearby the river.
And than if you feel like you can hike for about 6 km. more (many travelers turn back from the Belisirma village, following the same track they climb to the Ihlara Valley entrance and end their tour as their car parked there), you may have chance to visit the Yaprakhisar village and see stunning views of the conical fairy chimneys and 1 km. after you may see the famous Selime Monastery that was one of the biggest and most fascinating religious settlements in Cappadocia.
The Monastery was carved into the rock by monks in the 13th century. If you visit Ihlara Valley via excursion or tour company, the tour bus takes you from Yaprakhisar-Selime, so you will not have go back to the entrance of the Ihlara Valley.
A great day out at the Ihlara Valley is really a great experience for nature, history and hiking lovers. And one of the best things to do in Cappadocia.
Also note that, even it is a summer day, there may be a short but heavy rain so it is recommended to take a raincoat or small umbrella with you and of course take your outdoor hiking shoes.
Visiting Hours & Admissions
Ihlara valley is open every day between 08:30 to 17:00
* 90 TL
* Please double check the hours and admissions from muze.gov.tr
How to Get to Ihlara Valley?
Ihlara Valley is located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Goreme, making it easily accessible by car, bus, or organized tour. It seems very far away from Cappadocia so travelers are highly recommended to arrange a full or half-day to visit the valley.
Best Access: Via your private/rented car or via excursion/daily tour company
Here’s how to get to Ihlara Valley from some of the nearby towns:
- From Goreme: The easiest way to get to Ihlara Valley from Goreme is by joining an organized tour or hiring a private driver. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Aksaray and then transfer to a bus heading to Ihlara Valley.
- From Urgup: You can take a bus from Urgup to Aksaray, and then transfer to a bus heading to Ihlara Valley. Alternatively, you can join an organized tour or hire a private driver.
- From Uchisar: Uchisar is only about 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Goreme, so you can follow the same instructions as for getting to Ihlara Valley from Goreme.
- From Avanos: You can take a bus from Avanos to Aksaray and then transfer to a bus heading to Ihlara Valley. Alternatively, you can join an organized tour or hire a private driver.
It’s worth noting that while driving is an option, the roads in the area can be narrow and winding, so it may be more comfortable to travel by bus or organized tour.
Address: Guzelyurt, Aksaray, Turkey
Tel: +90 (382) 213 24 74, +90 (382) 212 46 88
Ihlara Valley Visiting Tips
If you’re planning a visit to Ihlara Valley, here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience:
- Wear comfortable shoes: Since Ihlara Valley is best explored on foot, it’s important to wear comfortable and sturdy shoes. The trails can be uneven and rocky, so it’s important to have proper footwear to avoid slipping or injuring yourself.
- Bring plenty of water: The valley can get hot and dry, especially during the summer months. Be sure to bring plenty of water with you to stay hydrated during your hike.
- Dress modestly: Since Ihlara Valley is home to a number of historic churches, it’s important to dress modestly out of respect for the religious sites. This means avoiding shorts, sleeveless tops, and revealing clothing.
- Plan ahead: If you’re planning to visit the valley during peak tourist season, it’s a good idea to book your guided tour in advance. This can help you skip the lines and avoid crowds, so you can enjoy a more peaceful and meaningful experience.
- Bring a camera: Ihlara Valley is a beautiful and photogenic destination, so be sure to bring a camera to capture the stunning views and historic sites.
- Take a guided tour: While it’s possible to explore Ihlara Valley on your own, taking a guided tour can be a great way to enhance your experience and learn more about the history and significance of the site. A knowledgeable guide can provide valuable insights and share interesting stories and facts about the valley’s various buildings and structures.
- Respect the natural environment: Ihlara Valley is home to a variety of flora and fauna, so be sure to respect the natural environment by staying on designated trails and avoiding littering.
By following these tips, you can have a safe, enjoyable, and meaningful experience in Ihlara Valley.
Ihlara Valley Guided Tours
Taking a guided tour of Ihlara Valley can enhance your experience in several ways. Here are some reasons why a guided tour can be beneficial:
- Learn about the history and culture: Ihlara Valley is home to a number of historic churches and monasteries, each with their own unique stories and significance. A knowledgeable guide can provide valuable insights and share interesting facts and stories that you may not otherwise learn on your own.
- Get the most out of your visit: With so much to see and explore in Ihlara Valley, it can be easy to miss important details or sites. A guided tour can help ensure that you don’t miss any of the valley’s hidden gems and can help you make the most of your visit.
- Avoid getting lost: Ihlara Valley is a large and complex site, with many different trails and paths to explore. It can be easy to get lost or turned around, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. A guide can help you navigate the valley and ensure that you stay on track.
- Safety: While Ihlara Valley is generally a safe destination, there are some risks associated with hiking in remote areas. A guide can help ensure that you stay safe and avoid any potential hazards, such as uneven terrain or dangerous wildlife.
- Save time and skip the lines: During peak tourist season, Ihlara Valley can be crowded and busy, with long lines and wait times. A guided tour can help you skip the lines and avoid the crowds, so you can enjoy a more peaceful and meaningful experience.
Top Selling Ihlara Valley Guided Tours
Here we only suggest the proven ways and top rated ones with travelers’ comments. You can feel free to book one of the below top selling Ihlara Valley Tours from Cappadocia.
Free cancellation up to 24 hours before activity starts