Turkey: DIY Walking Tour in Cappadocia | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Nov 26, 2015

Turkey: DIY Walking Tour in Cappadocia

Pulling off a DIY tour is hard. A lot of research is needed, map reading skill must be on point, and misadventures are inescapable. However, the joy of reaching a destination on your own is beyond compare! So, despite of being haunted by the thought of losing our way in a land we haven't set foot in, Ed and I fervently made a Cappadocia DIY walking/hiking tour itinerary.

Here are the attractions we explored on our own during our 3days-2nights trip in Cappadocia. Caution: Travel mishaps ahead! :) Follow our route with discretion. Hahah! ;)

Self-guided Tour in Cappadocia

Sunset Point
Ed and I were so tired from the long journey that we chose to stay in and sleep right after checking in our cave room in Goreme. We only had a few hours left on our first day in Cappadocia when we woke up; hence we decided to spend it with a leisure hike to Sunset Point, and maybe head down to the nearby valleys if still have time.

Sunset Point is just a short uphill walk from the town center, but we had a hard time looking for the trail for two reasons. One, our map reading skills were rusty. It's been three years since our last DIY trip! Two, we're shy, or shall I say scared, to ask for directions from the people we met in the streets. Yes, scared. Blame it on the things we read in the internet! Little did we know, Turkish people are generally very warm and hospitable!

route to Sunset Point Cappadocia
route to Sunset Point - image courtesy of Google Maps

We found Sunset Point an hour before sunset. And from the very first moment we had a glimpse of the town from the vantage point, it became one of our favorite spots in Goreme. In fact, we went there twice during our 3D2N Cappadocia trip. The view is amazing!  It's actually a good decision to be there on Day 1, when everything still felt like a dream, as it gave us an overview of the region. 

So, if you're wondering where to catch your first sunset or even sunrise in Cappadocia, I strongly suggest Sunset Point!          

Sunset Point Cappadocia
Sunset Point
Lady at Sunset Point Cappadocia
got treated to a stunning panoramic view of Goreme
rock formations in Cappadocia
view of the valleys from the vantage point (check out the upper half of the pillars of Love Valley)   
Meet our newly-found canine friend! Behind him is Uchisar, the tallest point in Cappadocia. 

Goreme Open Air Museum
Cappacodia itinerary is never complete without a visit to Goreme Open Air Museum. The UNESCO world heritage site is an easy 20-minute stroll from the main town according to the hotel staff and most travel blogs, so Ed and I decided not to book a guided tour. Best decision ever! We saved a few Liras and had a full control on our walking pace.

Why is Goreme Open Air Museum a must-visit tourist site? The most popular attraction in Cappadocia is a Byzantine monastic complex that houses the finest rock-hewn centuries old churches. Inside the churches are beautiful frescoes depicting the life of Jesus and stories from the Bible. It would let you explore and get in touch with the history of Christianity.
The 25 TL ticket includes the entrance to Zelve Museum, but we never got to visit as it is out of our way. Well-preserved frescoes are inside the Dark Church, but extra admission fee is collected at its entrance. Photography is prohibited inside the cave churches. I don't know why some of the blogs have pictures of the frescoes (maybe it was allowed before). I may have no photos to show you, but you have my word. You'll be amazed. You won't regret it! :)

Goreme Open Air Museum tickets
passes to the most astonishing museum we've ever visited
Ed at Goreme Open Air Museum
exploring the Byzantine monastic complex
top tourist attraction in Cappadocia
Tourists at the top tourist attraction in Cappadocia
the facade of the Dark Church
the facade of the Dark Church
frescoes at Goreme Open Air Museum
some of the frescoes that we got to see up close

Evil Eye Tree and Tree of Pots
From Goreme Open Air Museum, Ed and I walked back towards the town and spotted the famous Evil Eye Tree that has graced thousands of Cappadocia posts on Instagram. The blue charm, known as Nazar Boncugu, is a popular souvenir for visitors, but it is definitely more than an embellishment for the locals. The Evil Eye charm is a protection against the curse brought by a vengeful glare. We found it everywhere in Turkey, yet the most interesting that we've seen is the tree with sparkling blue amulets hanging like fruits, ripe for the picking, in Goreme.

Noticeably standing beside the Evil Eye Tree is the Tree of Pots. Cappadocia is also known for earthenware pottery. Visitors can take pottery workshops in the town of Avanos. Since we couldn't fit a visit to Avanos in our Cappadocia itinerary, we're glad to see the tree trimmed with handmade terracotta pots in Goreme.      

Lady at the Evil Eye Tree Cappadocia
face to face with hundreds of Nazar Boncugu
Evil Eye Tree Cappadocia
Evil Eye Charm - protection against bad luck caused by the evil eye
terracotta pots and horses in Cappadocia
terracotta pots and horses in Cappadocia - The Land of the Beautiful Horses
The Tree of Pots Cappadocia
The Tree of Pots

Love Valley
Ed and I got lost on our first day trying to find the path to the infamous Love Valley from Sunset Point. We wasted an hour trekking in an unknown valley and gave up when it was getting dark. Misadventure at its finest! :) Although we got a birds-eye view of the strange rock formations during the hot air balloon ride on our second day, we just couldn't leave Cappadocia with an unfinished business. So, on our third day, we studied the map carefully and hiked to the Love Valley on our own.

Goreme DIY walking map
our DIY walking tour route - image courtesy of Google Maps
(landmark nearest to the Love Valley trail is Tourist Hotel)

Still confused, we reconfirmed the direction to a local manning a restaurant along the main road. He speaks a little English, yet tried his very best to assist us. We followed the directions he gave and finally arrived to a trail marker pointing to Gorkundere or the Love Valley! 

There are a few markers in the hiking trail, hence getting lost is inevitable. :( But we found them! We found the unusual XXX-shaped pillars. Hihih! These rock formations that have made people smirk for centuries are not man-made. It's simply Mother Nature being fantastically awesome! Some of the trails are steep with slippery surface, so wearing comfy hiking or running footwear is a must! Thinking the path would be so easy, I wore my leather boots and almost slipped several times! Please don't be silly like me. :)     

trail markers to Zemi Valley and Love Valley
trail markers to Zemi Valley and Love Valley
hiking in Cappadocia
hiking in the moonscape, another first for me
High five jump at the Love Valley
High five jump at the Love Valley!
Love Valley Cappadocia
the infamous rock formations 

Just around Goreme
We love Goreme, from the stunning cave hotels, to the vibrant souvenir shops, to the cozy restaurants that lined the bricked pathways. Ed and I explored it using the maps given by the hotel staff and the Tourism Maps in the town center. 

Kelebek Cave Hotel map
the route we took every day (from Kelebek Cave Hotel to the main town) - image courtesy of Google Maps

Goreme is the most touristy town in Cappadocia, yet it looked pretty quaint and not crowded during our visit. Probably because autumn is not tourist season. Being there on an off-peak travel season has a lot of advantages. Hotel rates are cheaper. No queue in tourist attractions. And the chilly weather is perfect for meandering! No sweat! Hahah! :) Of course, I would not deny that there's a drawback - strong Autumn wind could lead to cancellation of hot air balloon rides. 

carpet shop in Goreme
carpet shop in Goreme
Goreme Tourism Map
There are tourism maps like this in every corner along the main road! 
Goreme bricked road
gray brick road of the quaint town
souvenir shops in the town centre
souvenir shops in the town centre

Goreme is the only town in Cappadocia that we have fully explored, but I can say that it is a good base point. It's so near the popular attractions. No need to take a bus or a cab. All you have to do is to slip in your comfiest shoes, take a map, and you're good to go! :)  

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