Getting There & Getting Around
If you come by private car, you'll probably have to leave it in the parking lot at the main entrance, which doesn't do you much good way over at the opposite end of the canyon in Belisirma or Selime. An easier way is to take a guided tour; this will make seeing the valley a whole lot richer, giving you the background information necessary to appreciate the rock churches, rather than taking just a lovely walk through the gorge. Not to be overlooked is the bonus of having someone waiting for you at the end of the canyon, thus saving you the long hike back. (You can also hike up and out to the main road and catch a rare dolmus back to the main entrance.) Guides are expensive, though, so if you've got the stamina, then by all means, go it alone.
It's a 1 1/2-hour drive from central Cappadocia to the Ihlara Valley. From central Cappadocia, follow the road through Nevsehir, to Aksaray, and then to the village of Ihlara. The traditional hike begins at the main entrance about 1.6km (1 mile) outside the village. It is not advisable to take a dolmus (the only choice for public transport), because doing so will require three separate dolmuses plus a taxi from the village of Ilhara to the entrance to the valley.
The main entrance to the valley is a little over 1.6km (1 mile) north of the village of Ihlara. There's a parking lot, a snack shop, and the main gate leading to the long stairway down. The cliff walls are dotted with churches and abodes on both banks of the river, with most of the sites of interest clustered around the wooden footbridge at the base of the main entrance and over near the village of Belisirma. The 3.5km (2 1/4-mile) hike from the main entrance to the village of Belisrma is a relatively easy one, and many people choose to have lunch at the restaurant near the riverbed and call it a day. It's also possible to begin the hike at the village of Ihlara following the left bank of the river, adding on about 3km (1 3/4 miles) to the total. The shorter hike takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on your level of fitness, while a hike up the entire canyon will take about 5 hours.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.