You’ve seen the magical destination of Cappadocia Turkey all over your social media, and thought “I need to book tickets right now!” But, where do you start? This Cappadocia travel guide has you covered.
From breathtaking sunrise hot air balloon rides over the otherworldly landscape, to unique cave hotels in Cappadocia, to picturesque valleys with unusual rock formations, Cappadocia has so much to discover.
I stayed in this special place for a whopping 10 days and explored so many of the Cappadocia attractions. I can say without hesitation, that it lives up to the hype, times 100.
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Visiting Cappadocia should be on everyone’s bucket list and this Cappadocia guide will help you book that dream trip and make the most of it!
I’ve outlined everything you need to know on your Cappadocia trip from how to get to Cappadocia, the best time to visit Cappadocia, things to do in Cappadocia, Cappadocia restaurants and so much more.
Whether you are planning for your upcoming Cappadocia holidays or just daydreaming, this Cappadocia travel guide will give you plenty of information and inspiration, too!
Visit Cappadocia on this fabulous 10 Day Turkey Itinerary
Cappadocia Quick Guide
Planning a last-minute trip to Cappadocia? Here are the best resources for Cappadocia. Turkey, plus top Cappadocia tours and the best places to stay in Cappadocia.
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For most of my life growing up in Canada, I always pronounced Cappadocia a certain way. But, after a good chat with my tour guide in Cappadocia, he said there are two different pronunciations that are acceptable and used regularly.
The word Cappadocia in Persian means ‘Land of Beautiful Horses’, which leads to me daydreaming of wild horses running through the beautiful Cappadocia landscape at sunset. But, frivolity aside, here they are:
‘Ka·puh-dow-shuh’ (most English speaking countries go by this)
‘Ka·puh-dow-kee-ya’ (this is how my Turkish tour guide pronounced it)
What Cappadocia Really Means
I learned so much from my tour guide while visiting all of the Cappadocia attractions (which should always be the case, really). He told me that the word Cappadocia wasn’t used in Turkey until the boom of Cappadocia tourism in the last few decades.
The Turkish geographical naming system usually names regions after the largest city in that region. In this case, Nevsehir is the largest city in the region. But, once tourism picked up, it was confusing for visitors because they thought locals were talking about the city and not the region.
Therefore Cappadocia was adopted to describe the collection of the four cities of Nevsehir, Kayseri, Aksaray and Niğde at each corner of the region.
Amongst this region are smaller towns such as Goreme (the main tourist town in Cappadocia), Urgup, Avanos, Derinkuyu, Kaymakli, Aksaray and Uchisar.
Where is Cappadocia Turkey
The area of Cappadocia is located in the centre of Turkey on the eastern edge of the region of Central Anatolia. Cappadocia is diverse with many mountainous areas and plains. Cappadocia is located approximately 725 km from Istanbul.
Click on the map of Cappadocia Turkey below to interact with Google Maps.
The tourist region of Cappadocia is surrounded by three volcanoes, Mt Erciyes, Mt Hasan and Mt Gullu. Don’t worry, they are either dormant or haven’t erupted in millennia. But, what these three volcanoes did about 60 million years ago was cover this region in lava and ash for centuries. My tour guide described it as ‘hell on earth‘.
What this eventually did was blanket the region in soft layers of rock, called ‘tuff’, composed of cooled lava, ash and minerals. Over millions of years, this material was eroded by wind and rain creating what we now know as the unusual and otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia. This includes the popular fairy chimneys that can stretch to 130 feet in the air.
This soft rock layer or ‘tuff’ was taken advantage of by humans due to its malleability. Houses, storage rooms, churches and many other structures, including the famous underground cities, were carved into this rock by persecuted Christians in the Roman period.
Where to Stay in Cappadocia
Due to Cappadocia’s unique history both geographically and humanly, the landscape here has become popular for Cappadocia cave hotels. These rooms carved into the soft rock material of the region were built to maintain temperature during the extreme height of summer and chilling weather of winter.
Today, the cave hotels are a sought-after novel attraction and a quintessential Cappadocia experience. These cave hotels are some of the best places to stay in Cappadocia.
Of course, in Cappadocia, you can find any type of hotel from luxury boutique hotels to backpacker hostels. So finding where to stay Cappadocia shouldn’t be hard. Plus, you’ll likely want a hotel where you can watch the hot air balloons take flight at sunrise from the patio.
Where the difficulty lies for most travellers is what town to stay in Cappadocia. If it’s your first time, the definitive answer is Goreme.
Koza Cave Hotel
Argos in Cappadocia
The Famous Cappadocia Cave Hotels
If you only have a couple of days in Cappadocia, you can still experience the best part of this region by staying in one of the novel cave hotels in Cappadocia. What staying in a Cappadocia cave hotel grants you is an authentic experience without even leaving your room!
Due to the influence of social media, sitting on the outdoor patio of any cave hotel in Cappadocia at sunrise watching the hot air balloons has become synonymous with this magical destination.
It’s important to note that most Instagrammable hotels in Goreme do not allow non-guests to enter at sunrise, so you will need to book a stay at a cave hotel in Cappadocia that comes with a stellar view if you want to incorporate this experience.
Note, most hotels in this region come with a large traditional breakfast included in the price.
The town of Goreme (the main tourist spot) is situated on a hill with tiers of homes and hotels lining the slope.
At the top of the slope, you will have famous luxury cave hotels such as Koza Cave Hotel, Mithra Cave Hotel and Sultan Cave Suites Cappadocia. These hotels in Cappadocia with a view will have the most epic views of the hot air balloons. Do note, that because these hotels are heavily involved in influencer marketing, you will have many influencers around you trying to get the shot at sunrise.
Sultan Cave Suites
Angel Cave Suite
More economical Cappadocia caves hotel options can be found a bit lower down the hill at places like Angel Cave Suite. All of these cave hotel Cappadocia options come with a view of the hot air balloons, albeit a bit less fancy.
Best Hotel in Cappadocia with Balloon View
I do have to admit, watching the hot air balloons fly at sunrise from the top of my hotel was my most memorable experience in Cappadocia. It will stick with you for years I’m sure. I would highly encourage you to prioritize this experience even over the luxurious cave hotels.
Goreme Hotels in Cappadocia
Many hotels that don’t have cave rooms have ‘cave-like’ rooms still on offer. Made with stone walls, these hotels still give you a feeling of authenticity but with a much more affordable nightly price tag. But what really counts is access to a grand view of the hot air balloons at sunrise. I’d recommend Antique Terrace Suites and Village Cave House hotel for this experience.
If you do feel like Cappadocia is the perfect place to splurge (which I would tend to agree!), then staying at the famous cave hotels like Koza Cave Hotel, Mithra Cave Hotel and Sultan Cave Suites are the best options for this.
These three hotels are some of my favourite hotels in Cappadocia to see balloons.
Antique Terrace Suites
Village Cave House Hotel
Uchisar Hotels in Cappadocia
If you decide to stay near the Uchisar Castle, my recommendations for a Cappadocia hotel with hot air balloon view would be the mid-range Rox Cappadocia or the ultra-luxe Museum Hotel. or Argos in Cappadocia. Do note, because Uchisar Castle is a bit further away, the balloons wouldn’t be as close.
Best Time to Visit Cappadocia
The best time to visit Cappadocia is in the shoulder months of April to May and September to October. The weather in Cappadocia Turkey during this time is bright and sunny with a temperature of 22 degrees during the day. This is also the best time to go to Cappadocia for a successful hot air balloon ride at sunrise.
Nights can get a bit chillier so bring a warm layer.
I visited Cappadocia in November and unfortunately experienced a cloudy hot air balloon ride with no view of sunrise. It was still a great time, but if you want to have a better chance of a colourful awe-inspiring balloon ride, visit in the shoulder months.
Temperatures during November were warm during the day though so adventuring through the Cappadocia valleys and open-air museums was super pleasant. Nighttime gets chilly.
NOTE | There were multiple days of cancelled sunrise balloon rides during my time in Cappadocia in November, so Cappadocia weather can be a major factor in the enjoyment of your trip.
Travelling to Cappadocia in the summer months of July and August will offer scorching temperatures (averaging 32° celsius) and far more crowds.
Cappadocia in winter can be a magical experience and one everyone should consider. While temperatures dip below 0°, with a maximum daily high of 4°, a hot air balloon ride overlooking the otherworldly landscape blanketed in snow can be an amazing experience.
Pack your parka and snow boots and enjoy a romantic and/or fun-packed trip in Cappadocia winter.
How Many Days in Cappadocia Turkey
After spending 10 days in Cappadocia and never running out of things to do, I’d highly recommend staying for at least 4 days. No matter what month you decide to visit Cappadocia, there is always the possibility of cancelled hot air balloon rides due to weather.
Staying for 4 days in Cappadocia will give you the best chance to complete this quintessential Cappadocia experience while still having time to explore everything else this region has to offer.
If you only have 2 days in Cappadocia or 3 days in Cappadocia don’t fret! Take a look at the things to do in Cappadocia below to prioritize the best sights that suit your travel style for the perfect Cappadocia itinerary. Or, alternatively, choose an organised day tour to hit all your favourite Cappadocia highlights.
How to Get to Cappadocia
There are multiple ways how to get to Cappadoccia that suit any timeframe and budget. Due to the popularity of Cappadocia Turkey, you can find flights, car rentals and bus lines heading toward this magical destination.
First, I will outline general ways how to get to Cappadocia, then I will talk about how to go to Cappadocia from Istanbul specifically.
You can fly directly to Cappadocia from any major city in Turkey and even some major cities outside of Turkey. Since the region of Cappadocia has two airports (Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport and Kayseri Erkilet Airport) it’s very easy to find a flight for any time or budget. The main airlines that fly to Cappadocia are Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines and SunExpress.
I personally use Skyscanner to book short-haul flights within Turkey (and globally).
Nearest Airport in Cappadocia
There are two airports in Cappadocia Turkey, the Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport and the Kayseri Erkilet Airport located in their respective cities. The nearest airport to Cappadocia is the Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport.
Whichever you choose to land, rest assured they are both highly serviced Cappadocia airports with plenty of options on how to quickly and best get to the centre of the region.
Renting a car and driving in Turkey is one of the best ways to see the country. Road conditions in Turkey are great, with smooth wide roads with clear markings.
The Perfect Turkey Road Trip
One of the best ways to do this is to pick up your rental car at the Istanbul airport, drive towards Cappadocia, then down to the emerald coastline of Turkey (especially the drive between Antalya and Fethiye). After driving north to the famous Pamukkale thermal pools, make your way to Ephesus and then drive back to the Istanbul Airport to drop off your car. A perfect 10 days in Turkey.
Exploring Turkey this way allows you to save money since you will be picking up and dropping off your car in the same place avoiding those pesky fees, and you can make stops in smaller more economical towns along the road for accommodation purposes.
Check out this 10 Day Turkey Itinerary by car, plane or bus
Renting a Car in Cappadocia
Since the entire region of Cappadocia has plenty to offer and all attractions are spread out, if you opt-out of an organized day tour, travelling around by rental car in Cappadocia is your second best option.
Pop onto Discover Cars and throw Nevsehir Airport (NAV) into the search bar to check rates and availability. Having a car waiting for you at the Nevsehir Airport when you get there makes a world of difference for the enjoyment of your trip. Easy peasy.
>>> Check Pricing and availability of rental cars for Cappadocia
If driving on unknown roads is just not your cup of tea and you’d like to explore a more economical option, the bus system in Turkey is pretty great. It runs to all major and minor cities, directly or indirectly and is quite simple to navigate.
I used 12Go for my entire six weeks in Turkey to book my bus tickets. This website is awesome at gathering all the information you need from all the different carriers, plus you get to purchase online with a credit card and show your digital copies at the bus station (in most cases).
How to Get to Cappadocia
Cappadocia to Istanbul is a very popular route for most Turkey holidays. There are three main options on how to go to Cappadocia from Istanbul including flights, rental cars and buses.
How far is Cappadocia from Istanbul?
BY ROAD | ~725km (7-9 hours driving by rental car)
BY AIR | 1h 15m (direct flight)
Flights from Istanbul to Cappadocia (best way)
Cappadocia flights from Istanbul are easy to come by. Airlines like Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines and SunExpress will be your main carriers. It is common to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia through the Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) in Istanbul which offers most of Turkey’s domestic flight itineraries.
Istanbul to Cappadocia flight options will be direct with approximately 1.25-hour flight times and fly multiple times a day.
Car Rental Istanbul Cappadocia
If you have a bit of time in your Turkey itinerary, make sure to rent a car when entering Istanbul at the Istanbul International Airport (IST). This is truly the best way to see the country and a trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia will take approximately 9 hours if you don’t make stops along the way (which you will).
I find using Discover Cars a great way to check prices and availability of car rentals in Istanbul and have a car waiting for you at the airport when you get there. Whether you are looking for a luxury car rental Istanbul or a cheap car rental Istanbul, this site has you covered.
>>> Check Car Rental Istanbul to Cappadocia
Buses from Istanbul to Cappadocia
Boarding a bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia is the most economic way of transport. The bus has routes daily from three different bus stations in Istanbul (Dudullu, Esenler, and Alibeykoy) heading to Goreme, the tourist centre of Cappadocia.
Do note that the word ‘otogari’ means bus station in Turkish. Each bus station is located about a 25-minute drive (likely longer with traffic) from the centre of Istanbul, so remember to factor that into your travel time.
Buses from Istanbul to Cappadocia cost roughly 10 euros and take anywhere from 11-14 hours. Buses Istanbul to Cappadocia also come with night bus options. If you are good at falling asleep in vehicles, this could be a great option for you to make the most of your trip to Cappadocia.
Cappadocia Tour from Istanbul
If you plan to make Istanbul and Cappadocia your only two stops on your Turkish holiday, an organized tour to Cappadocia from Istanbul could be a great idea. Take all the fuss out of planning and book a 2 day Cappadocia tour from Istanbul where everything is taken care of for you.
All-Inclusive Cappadocia Tour from Istanbul
A all-inclusive 2 day Cappadocia tour from Istanbul will provide hotel pickup, return flights, accommodation with a cave hotel, a hot air balloon ride, and a visit to all the Cappadocia highlights.
This tour is well-reviewed and includes everything you could possibly want in a Cappadocia trip from Istanbul!
One-Way Cappadocia Tour from Istanbul
If you decide to move onward to another Turkish destination after Istanbul and Cappadocia, (like the famous Pamukkale travertine pools) then this one-way 2 day Cappadocia tour includes one-way hotel pick up and flights to Cappadocia from Istanbul only. This is great so you won’t have to return to Istanbul to continue your Turkish adventure.
Please note that this tour has an optional hot air balloon ride.
How to Get to Cappadocia
from Other Cities
Visiting Cappadocia from somewhere else in Turkey besides Istanbul?
Antalya to Cappadocia
The best and fastest way to get to Cappadocia from Antalya is by air. You can fly direct from the Kayseri Erkilet Airport about a one-hour airport shuttle from Goreme. The flight takes 1.25 hours directly.
If you are looking for a more economical Antalya Cappadocia commute, you can take the bus. The route departs from the Goreme bus station and arrives in Antalya approximately 9-10 hours later. The cost of the bus ticket starts at 8 euros.
Pamukkale to Cappadocia
Pamukkale is a popular stop along a Turkey itinerary due to its famous travertine pools. In most instances, Cappadocia makes an ideal next stop. Pamukkale to Cappadocia is best done by rental car, or bus (there are no direct flights or trains).
A drive from Pamukkale to Cappadocia by rental car will take approximately 7-8 hours. Another option is the night bus which will have you arriving at the Goreme bus station in approximately 10 hours.
Do note, that the town of Pamukkale is located a 20-minute drive outside of the main bus station in Denizli. So remember to factor that into your travel plans. Ask your hotel reception where you can catch the shuttle bus that runs from Pamukkale centre to the Denizli bus station or simply find a taxi on the street as I did.
Where to Go Next After Cappadocia
Since the region of Cappadocia is located in the centre of Turkey, you can go in any direction and find some pretty great adventures. But, for the sake of time, I would recommend either heading from Cappadocia to Pamukkale thermal pools or to Antalya on the coastline (depending on your preferences).
Since I spent 6 weeks exploring Turkey I had plenty of time to take a flight from Cappadocia down to Antalya and hop along from quaint seaside town to quaint seaside town. If you are looking to fit in as many Turkish highlights as possible, the Pamukkale thermal pools should be your next stop.
Read this Epic Turkey Itinerary for some great Turkey destination ideas
How to Get Around Cappadocia
Cappadocia Car Rental
Since Cappadocia is technically a region and all of its attractions are spread out, I’d recommend renting a car for your time spent in Cappadocia. Pick up a rental car at either the Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport or Kayseri Erkilet Airport, explore Cappadocia and then return it at the airport on your way out. Super easy.
Check out my detailed guide to renting a car in Cappadocia
Organized Day Tour of Cappadocia
The region of Cappadocia has many day tours available which are broken down into the red tour, green tour and blue tour to identify different areas within Cappadocia. Take a look at the section below about organized day tours in Cappadocia for an in-depth breakdown.
There is a local minibus service that runs every 2 hours between the main towns of Avanos, Goreme, Uchisar, Nevsehir and Cavusin. The cost of the bus is 0.40 euros and 1.10 euros depending on where you get on and off.
You can technically get off anywhere along the route if you ask your driver, but for most attractions, you will still need to walk from your drop-off point.
In my humble opinion, taking the minibus is time-consuming, so if you only have 2-4 days in Cappadocia, I’d opt to rent a car or take an organized tour.
Hot Air Balloons in Cappadocia
Best Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons Tour
Floating above the unusual landscapes while the golden sun parts from the horizon, ahhhhh, what an iconic and quintessential Cappadocia experience. Booking a sunrise hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia is a must, you absolutely can’t leave Cappadocia without doing it.
Be ready for an early wake-up call on the day of your flight, between 4:30AM and 7:30AM depending on the time of year and weather forecast. You will get picked up in a luxury transport van, enjoy a light breakfast and be taken to the Cappadocia balloon launching site. Here you will witness the crew blowing up your hot air balloon and readying it for your epic flight.
Most flights last from 60-90 minutes and take off just before sunrise. Where the balloons fly really depends on the weather and wind patterns, so you will likely experience different Cappadocia highlights on any given day. Upon landing, you will be given champagne, cake and a flight certificate. A great way to end a memorable experience like this.
NOTE | If you are visiting Cappadocia and a hot air balloon ride is at the top of your list of priorities, make sure to stay at least 3 nights just in case your ride gets cancelled unexpectedly due to weather. This can happen more than you think, so be prepared. I would hate for you to leave Cappadocia disappointed.
If you are looking to combine a sunrise hot air balloon in Cappadocia with other highlights, this tour is for you:
Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Price
Cappadocia hot air balloon price options really vary, since you can book anything from 36 people in a basket to a private flight, and every company is different. But, if you are looking for rough estimates for budgeting purposes, expect to pay at least $75 USD to $150 USD per person depending on the service level.
Best Tours of Cappadocia
Booking an organized day tour is the best way to see the region in my opinion. This is what I did and I couldn’t be happier with the experience. The knowledge from the tour guide makes it worth the price and you learn so many interesting facts about Cappadocia to supplement and enhance the attractions.
Most tour operators offer 3 different tours depending on what region of Cappadocia you’d like to explore. Tours of Cappadocia are broken down into red tour Cappadocia, green tour Cappadocia and blue tour Cappadocia.
Each tour recommended below offers an all-inclusive experience with hotel pick up, lunch and attraction entrance fees provided. Drinks are excluded and groups are limited to 15 people.
Red Tour Cappadocia
The red tour in Cappadocia focuses on the north end of the Cappadocia region and includes the following attractions:
- Devrent Valley (Imagination Valley)
- Pasabagi Valley (Fairy Chimneys)
- Avanos to make pottery
- Göreme Open Air Museum
- Uchisar Castle
BOOK | Red Tour Cappadocia Day Tour
Green Tour Cappadocia
The Cappadocia green tour is the most active day tour and includes hiking through valleys and up to panoramic views. Expect to hike over 4km in the day (likely more). The green tour is fittingly named since it explores the surprisingly lush areas that Cappadocia offers.
Green tour highlights include:
- Goreme Panorama
- Kaymaklı Underground City
- Nar Lake
- Ihlara Canyon (3.8 km hike)
- Yaprakhisar Panorama (Star Wars filming set)
- Selime Monastery
- Pigeon Valley
Blue Tour Cappadocia
The Cappadocia blue tour explores central and southern parts of the region and includes highlights like the underground city (a must see!) and a casual hike along the Red and Rose Valleys.
- Hike along the Red and Rose Valley
- Cavusin Cave Village
- Underground City
- Pigeon Valley
- Greek houses of Uchisar
- Ortahisar Castle
ATV Tour Cappadocia
ATV tours are another common way to explore the rugged terrain of Cappadocia. You can take a 2 hour ATV Cappadocia tour either during the day or at sunset. Common valleys that will be explored on these tours are Sword, Love, Red and Rose. The staff will make sure you are comfortable driving the ATV before taking off on the safari, no worries.
BOOK | Check prices and availability of Sunset: Cappadocia ATV Tour
BOOK | Check prices and availability of Daytime: Cappadocia ATV Tour
Private Tours of Cappadocia
If touring around Cappadocia with a small group is not your jam, I’d recommend taking a private tour of the region. This tour includes the main Cappadocia highlights, plus hotel pick up and drop off, a professional historian, a luxury vehicle with driver and attraction entrance fees.
This is what I did, and I was super happy with the experience.
BOOK I Cappadocia Private Day Trip
Map Cappadocia Turkey Attractions
Since attractions in Cappadocia are further apart, I’ve created a map to help you plan out your adventures around the region and make the most of this dream trip.
I’d recommend starting in one area and exploring the nearby attractions before moving onto another area. This way you will save time that would otherwise be wasted going back and forth across the region.
>>> Click on the Google Maps below to be taken to an interactive guide
Things to do in Cappadocia
Wondering what to do in Cappadocia besides a hot air balloon ride? This region in Turkey has so much to offer, from unique rock formations, ancient cave churches, underground cities, picturesque valleys and more.
1. Watch Sunrise from your Cappadocia Hotel
Watching the sunrise from my hotel terrace in Goreme with the hot air balloons flying above is one of my best memories from my time in Cappadocia. My #1 recommendation is to make sure you can watch the Cappadocia balloons from your hotel rooftop or terrace.
If you are booking your hotel and are unsure if they offer this, reach out through email to the hotel staff before booking. This is something you cannot miss when in Cappadocia, and is sometimes even more enjoyable than a balloon ride (although I’d highly recommend doing both).
Yes, you will have to wake up awfully early to watch the balloons, make sure to check your weather app (I use AlpenGlow specifically to find out when the sunrise will be) to find out when to be on the terrace.
Because some balloons fly just before sunrise and some launch just after sunset, I’d suggest waiting around for a bit, sipping on some Turkish coffee and just enjoying the experience.
TIP | Bring a jacket! Due to Cappadocia’s landscape being desolate, mornings can be quite chilly here. Be prepared and bring a warm layer and even a beanie. I visited in November and mornings were between 2-5 degrees Celsius before rising to 20 degrees during the peak of the day.
2. Visit the Famous Valleys in Cappadocia
Due to the volcanic landscape of the region, Cappadocia valleys are plentiful. Each Cappadocia valley offers something a little different.
Pigeon Valley is the home to thousands of pigeon homes carved into the rock faces, Love Valley is renowned for the famous phallic rock structures, and Rose and Red Valley has the perfect panoramic viewpoint for sunset.
Pigeon Valley Cappadocia
Pigeon Valley (or Guvercinlik Valley) is a central Cappadocia attraction and one of the most famous valleys of Cappadocia. With thousands of tiny pigeon homes carved into the rock face, it’s an interesting place to explore.
After reaching the entrance, first, take a look from the panoramic viewpoint. Here you can see the entire valley leading to the towering Uchisar Castle at the opposite end.
Stop at the evil eye tree and make your way down the stairs to the hiking trail. This casual trail will take you all the way into Uchisar if you are up for a walk through the valley.
READ MORE | Ultimate Visitor’s Guide to Pigeon Valley
Love Valley Cappadocia
Love Valley Turkey is an iconic Cappadocia attraction due to the natural phallic rock structures present here. But, this is not all Love Valley has to offer. One of my favourite morning experiences was watching the sunrise and the hot air balloons from the Love Valley panoramic viewpoint.
Like most Cappadocia valleys, the valley of love offers a great hiking trail if that’s your cup of tea.
Rose + Red Valley Cappadocia
Rose Valley and Red Valley are interconnected just a 10-minute drive outside of Goreme. Both valleys take their names from the pink colour of the stone featured here. This stone changes colour at different times of the day.
Rose Valley and Red Valley both turn red at sunset which makes it an optimal time to visit. A common way to experience these valleys is through a sunset ATV Tour or horseback riding adventure.
Devrent Valley Cappadocia
Otherwise known as Imagination Valley Cappadocia, Devrent is full of interesting shaped rock formations.
Similar to looking at clouds and seeing bunnies, Devrent offers you the opportunity to see different human and animalistic shapes. We are talkin’ elephants, penguins and twirling women in skirts.
A great stop combined with the fairy chimneys of Pasabag Valley and Zelve Open Air Museum.
3. Explore the Open Air Museums
The region of Cappadocia is steeped in history and the open-air museums are a great place to learn about it. Large churches, storerooms, kitchens and living spaces have been carved into the soft rock hills over the centuries and have been well preserved by the Turkish people.
Goreme Open Air Museum is the most famous of the two popular locales due to its well-preserved religious paintings covering the rock-walled Cappadocia churches.
I’d also recommend visiting the Zelve Open Air Museum if you get a chance since it’s a much different experience with cave rooms littered through a small valley oasis.
4. Underground Cities in Cappadocia
Derinkuyu Underground City and Kaymalki Underground City are famous Cappadocia attractions. Over the centuries, Cappadocia didn’t have a military presence so instead of experiencing attack after attack, the people of the region took advantage of the soft rock and built cities underneath the surface.
These underground cities are up to 10 stories deep and can fit up to 10,000 people. And these two popular destinations aren’t the only underground cities, there were over a 100 littered all over the landscape. A great hiding place against constant attack from neighbouring regions.
If you are afraid of confined spaces, this might be a triggering experience. Just know that these underground cities are well-maintained and often patrolled for damage.
Interested in Ancient Sites in Turkey? Read this Guide on Visiting Ephesus
5. Visit Cappadocia Castles
Uchisar Castle was formed into a large and prominent rock formation in the centre of the town of Uchisar. As the highest viewpoint in Cappadocia, it enjoys panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.
If you’d like to experience the views, head up the well-built stairs, or explore the surrounding rock formations and homes.
Uchisar is not the only Cappadocia castle though. Another statuesque rock castle in the region is in the town of Ortahisar. Ortahisar Castle can be viewed from the panoramic viewpoint located just across the small valley from the castle itself.
6. Fairy Chimneys in Cappadocia Pasabag Valley
These dwellings located inside interesting rock formations became a UNESCO world heritage site in recent years to protect and preserve history. These ‘fairy chimneys’ served as homes to the persecuted Christians in the region.
The fairy chimneys are located in Pasabag Cappadocia valley (Monk’s Valley) and can get very busy during the day with large tour groups. Visit early.
7. Cavusin Cappadocia (Old Greek Village)
The town of Cavusin is home to a small group of Greek rock houses and the beautiful Church of St John carved into the landscape. The church features well-preserved religious frescoes if that’s of interest to you. You can climb up the hill and explore the village. The trip should take you less than an hour.
Cavusin is located a 10-minute drive from Goreme.
8. Go Carpet Shopping in Cappadocia
When you think of Turkey you can’t help but have images of Turkish carpets pop into your head. Cappadocia, especially Goreme has a couple of great carpet shops for perusal.
Other the years one particular carpet shop called Galerie Ikman Cappadocia has turned into an Instagram hotspot with constant photo shoots happening in the space. If this interests you, make sure to contact the owner early and reserve a time. There will be a fee for using the shop for photos.
If carpet shopping is your goal, venture over to the lesser-known Sultan Carpets to purchase your Turkish keepsake.
9. Day Trip to the Pink Salt Lake Turkey
About a 2 hour drive west of Goreme, you will find a beautiful pink salt lake called Lake Tuz (or Tuz Golu). This is one of Turkey’s main salt lakes and is a treat to visit, especially during the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-November.
Due to evaporation in the summer months, the pink waters can be a bit of a walk through a dry salted landscape which can be tough on the feet.
I’d only recommend adding this to your Cappadocia itinerary if you have at least 4 full days in the region and have a rental car available to you. While there is a designated ‘entrance’ to the lake, I’d suggest stopping on the side of the road where the lake looks inviting to you and walking in from there.
10. Turkish Bath Cappadocia
A visit to the local hammam is a quintessential Turkish experience, and something you should do at least once on your visit to Turkey. Book yourself a spa treatment and Turkish scrub for after your sunrise hot air balloon ride. It’s a perfect way to warm up and relax.
Kelebek Special Cave Hotel has a great spa.
Best Cappadocia Restaurants
Cappadocia, especially Goreme, is full of restaurants catering to tourists. But, if you know where to look you can have a really pleasant local experience with quality food and service.
Here were my favourites:
PUMPKIN | This restaurant in the heart of Goreme offers set menus of local specialties including clay pot Kebab. The soup, salad and dessert were also extraordinary. Grab yourself a bottle of local wine and you have an amazing evening out. My top recommendation!
OMURCA ART CAVE | The perfect little eclectic lunch place. This second-floor family-run restaurant is home to many cats, so expect to be visited during your meal. The food here is homemade and absolutely delicious. I had the local bean salad and soup and was stuffed full. Cash only.
TURKISH RAVIOLI RESTAURANT | You guessed it, they specialize in the Turkish ravioli dish called Manti. You can’t leave Cappadocia without a plate of this scrumptious stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised if you visited twice.
Cappadocia Guide: Is Cappadocia Safe?
How safe is Cappadocia? After 2 months of travels through Turkey, I can say without hesitation, that Cappadocia is very safe. Centred around tourism, the majority of locals speak English and are more than happy to help you out in a crunch.
As one of Turkey’s tourism hot spots, you will also find a very high calibre of hotel staff and tour guides to make you feel comfortable and at ease. You can rest assured that you won’t have pushy salespeople in your face 24/7, either.
Cappadocia Travel Guide Conclusion
So, there you have it, the ultimate Cappadocia travel guide complete with my recommended things to do in Cappadocia. From epic Cappadocia cave hotels, ATV tours, and scenic valley hikes, to awe-inspiring sunrise Cappadocia hot air balloon rides, there’s something for everyone.