How to Get from Istanbul to Cappadocia (& Cappadocia to Istanbul)

istanbul to cappadocia to istanbul
Sunrise Hot Air Balloons in Cappadocia

Wondering how to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia or Cappadocia to Istanbul? 

As two of the top tourist destinations in the entire country of Turkey, an Istanbul Cappadocia trip is a popular route taken by thousands every year.

And there’s no wonder that Istanbul and Cappadocia are priorities on any Turkey itinerary. The bustling streets of Istanbul and the otherworldly landscapes of Cappadocia combine to make a perfect holiday. 

Travelling from Istanbul to Cappadocia can be accomplished through a variety of means. This guide will give you all the details you need to make the right decision based on budget, time and comfort

If you are wondering how to get from Cappadocia to Istanbul instead, the information given in this guide can be used in reverse, too.

istanbul to cappadocia to istanbul
Galata Neighbourhood in Istanbul

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

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Cappadocia Travel Guide: Where to Stay + What to Do
Best Areas to Stay in Istanbul
Visiting the Ancient City of Ephesus

Istanbul to Cappadocia
Quick Guide

Planning a last-minute trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia (or vice versa)? Here are the best resources to make your trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia or Cappadocia to Istanbul quick and smooth.

TURKEY FLIGHTS (Best option!)
Check Flight Prices on Skyscanner

Check Bus Ticket Prices on 12Go

Cappadocia: Sultan Cave Suites
Cappadocia: Argos
Istanbul: Miniature Ottoman Mansion
Istanbul: Hotel Sub Karakoy

Distance From Istanbul to Cappadocia

How far is Cappadocia from Istanbul, you may ask? Istanbul to Cappadocia (or Cappadocia Istanbul) is a well-travelled route in Turkey with multiple ways to make it from A to B. Due to the size of Turkey, making the journey by road to Cappadocia from Istanbul or vice versa can take 9+ plus hours

BY ROAD | Istanbul Cappadocia distance by car is ~725km (9 hours driving by rental car)

BY AIR | Istanbul to Cappadocia distance by plane is 1h 15m (direct flight)

Combine Istanbul and Cappadocia with the Pamukkale Thermal Pools!

Istanbul to Cappadocia Map

If you plan to travel from Istanbul to Cappadocia, the map below should help you. I’ve indicated all of the main airports and bus stations in both Istanbul and Cappadocia to help you choose the best way how to go from Istanbul to Cappadocia. 

Click the image below to start interacting with GoogleMaps.

istanbul to cappadocia to istanbul

Flights from Istanbul to Cappadocia (The Best Option)

An Istanbul to Cappadocia flight is easy to come by. Airlines like Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines and SunExpress will be your main carriers. It is common to travel from Istanbul to Cappadocia through the Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) in Istanbul which offers most of Turkey’s domestic flight itineraries. 

I personally use Skyscanner to book short-haul flights within Turkey.

Istanbul to Cappadocia flight options will be direct with a flight time from Istanbul to Cappadocia of 1.25 hours. Planes fly from Istanbul to Cappadocia (and vice versa) multiple times a day.

Istanbul to Cappadocia flight price starts at $24 USD and goes up from there depending on the airline, day of the week and time of year.

istanbul to cappadocia to istanbul
Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul

Airports in Istanbul

How many airports in Istanbul, you may ask? There are three airports in Istanbul

  • Istanbul International Airport (IST) otherwise known as New Istanbul Airport is where most international flights will enter Turkey. IST also offers plenty of domestic flight itineraries.
  • Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) is used mainly for domestic flights, such as a flight Istanbul to Cappadocia and some closer international flights (Europe, etc.) 
  • Istanbul Ataturk Airport (ISL/LTBA) takes mostly freight and cargo trips and is Istanbul’s oldest airport. It is also the closest airport to downtown Istanbul, so if you happen to come across a flight from Ataturk, it’s a good bet.

The nearest airport to Istanbul differs depending on where you are staying in Istanbul. From the city centre, a private transfer to either IST or SAW takes approximately 40-50 minutes, so transfer time shouldn’t necessarily factor into your Istanbul Cappadocia flight itinerary. 

How to Get to Istanbul Airport (IST)
from City Centre

After enjoying the beautiful melting pot of Istanbul, it’s time to make your way to the Istanbul Airport for your Istanbul to Cappadocia trip. Generally speaking, hopping in an Istanbul airport taxi is a good idea, but not so true in Istanbul. 

Airport Istanbul Transfer

It’s common to get stuck in a taxi fraud situation, so I recommend booking yourself a private airport Istanbul transfer from your city centre hotel to the airport Istanbul to Cappadocia flights. It’s a surprisingly economical option, and the driver helps you with your bags and takes you directly to your gate at the Istanbul airport departures.

Istanbul Airport Shuttle Bus

You can definitely board the HAVAIST Istanbul airport shuttle from the Sultanahmet shuttle stop, but timetables are a bit convoluted.

I’d recommend chatting with a HAVAIST employee around the Sultanahmet shuttle stop a day before you plan to take off from Istanbul. They should be able to tell you when to catch the shuttle bus to the international airport Turkey. 

Payment can be made by credit card on the HAVAIST app or via the Istanbulkart pass and are 18TL (roughly $1.50USD).

NOTE | There is currently no direct metro line running from the city centre to either IST or SAW airports.

istanbul to cappadocia to istanbul
Yeni Cami Mosque in Istanbul

How to Get to Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW)
from City Centre

Airport Transfer Istanbul to SAW

Similar to the best ways to get to IST, I’d recommend a private airport transfer in Istanbul city centre to SAW. A Sabiha Gokcen Airport transfer Istanbul is still an economical way to get from A to B and is super reliable

This is what I did when I needed to make an early flight for travel Istanbul to Cappadocia and it really eased my mind.

SAW Istanbul Airport Bus from Taksim Square

Reaching Sabiha Gokcen Airport by shuttle can be boarded via Taksim Square. If you are staying in Sultanahmet, grab a spot on the T1 tram and get off at the University stop (Fındıklı Mimar Sinan Üniversitesi).

From here, either grab a short taxi ride or walk 17 minutes to Taksim Square. Catch the 1.5-hour HAVABUS shuttle to SAW from here. 

This is likely the most tiring of all the ways to get to SAW airport to catch your flights Istanbul to Cappadocia. So if you can afford it, I recommend opting for a private transfer to make your trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia less cumbersome.

istanbul to cappadocia to istanbul
Red Valley in Cappadocia

Airports 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. The Nevsehir Airport is located about 40 minutes to the west of Goreme (the central tourist town in Cappadocia). 

If you do decide to fly into Kayseri Erkilet Airport, no worries, there are plenty of ways to get from Kayseri to Goreme, too. It takes approximately 1.25 hours from the east of Goreme.

Whichever you choose to land, rest assured they are both highly serviced airport in Cappadocia options with plenty of options on how to quickly and best get to the centre of the region.

How to Get from the Cappadocia Airport to Goreme

Airport Shuttle from Nevsehir Airport to Goreme

I booked an airport shuttle myself and was happy with the experience. The driver will wait directly outside of the small Nevsehir airport with a clipboard of the names of the people who will be taking the shuttle. 

The drive takes a scenic 40 minutes and they will drop you directly at your Cappadocia hotel, wherever it may be located.

Rental Car from Nevsehir Airport to Goreme

If you are comfortable driving in Turkey, which is quite a pleasant experience, then renting a car is your best bet.

You can search for the best price and car type of DiscoverCars and have it waiting for you at the airport. After showing your international driver’s license, you can grab the keys and go!

From Kayseri Airport to Goreme

Similar to Nevsehir Airport, you can find airport shuttles and rental cars at the Kayseri Airport, for travel to Goreme. The drive will take 1 hour 15 minutes to reach the centre of Goreme. 

istanbul to cappadocia to istanbul
Zelve Open Air Museum in Cappadocia

Istanbul to Cappadocia by Car

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). 

Istanbul Car Rental

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.

Cappadocia Car Rental

You can find a few different rental car companies located at both the Nevsehir Airport and Kayseri Airport in Cappadocia. But, due to the popularity of the Cappadocia region, I’d highly suggest booking your rental car before you arrive, and at least a couple of weeks in advance if possible. 

Discover Cars is a great way to find the best cost and type of car that suits you and your trip to Turkey, plus I’ve written a detailed guide on renting a car in Turkey including tips on driving in Turkey. 

Plus, picking up your rental car at the airport before heading to Goreme (the Cappadocia tourist town) will allow you the flexibility to see all the attractions Cappadocia has to offer. Particular helpful to see iconic Cappadocia places like Pigeon Valley, Red Valley and Love Valley.

Highlights here are also pretty far apart from each other, so if you aren’t organizing a guided Cappadocia day tour, I’d suggest having a rental car to get around.

You can go straight from your flight to your rental car. Who wants to waste valuable vacation time?

istanbul to cappadocia to istanbul

Driving in Turkey (Istanbul to Cappadocia)

Driving a car in any foreign country can be a bit intimidating, but Istanbul to Cappadocia travel by car is a pretty fun experience.

As long as you pick up your rental car at the Istanbul airport, take the O-7 freeway around the city of Istanbul to avoid city traffic, you are free and clear. 

Along the road, whether you choose to take the E80 or E90, you can stop at larger cities like Ankara (the capital of Turkey), Bursa or Eskesehir on the way. I recommend calling your Cappadocia hotel ahead of time to make sure they have a designated parking spot for you.

Note, this Istanbul to Cappadocia Turkey route will have tolls. But don’t fret, the tolls are tallied via an electronic device installed in your rental car so you will receive the bill upon returning your car. A single toll can cost up to 30TL ($2.25USD).

istanbul cappadocia istanbul

Istanbul to Cappadocia Tours

Istanbul tours to Cappadocia are quite common since most people have limited vacation time and want to make the most of their Turkey trip. With a plethora of options available to you, you have no excuse not to visit the otherworldly and fantastical region of Cappadocia.

Istanbul to Cappadocia Day Trip

A single-day Istanbul to Cappadocia tour is the best way to see the highlights of the beautiful Cappadocia region if you are short on time. Yes, you are in for a long day (something like 16 hours!) if you include the Istanbul to Goreme flights. But, you don’t want to leave Turkey and regret not seeing Cappadocia, it’s truly epic. 

This small-group excursion includes visits to the Goreme Open Air Museum, Uchisar Castle, Imagination Valley and a look at the famous fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. 

istanbul cappadocia istanbul
Ortahisar Castle in Cappadocia

Multiday Tours from Istanbul to Cappadocia

Take all the fuss out of planning and book a 2 day Cappadocia tour from Istanbul where everything is taken care of for you. 

An 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 from Istanbul to Cappadocia is well-reviewed and includes everything you could possibly want in an Istanbul Cappadocia itinerary.

Istanbul to Cappadocia Tour (One Way Only)

If you decide to move onto another Turkish destination after an Istanbul and Cappadocia itinerary, like the famous Pamukkale travertine pools, then this one way 2 day Cappadocia tour is a great idea. 

This Istanbul Cappadocia tour only includes one-way hotel pick-up and flights to Cappadocia from Istanbul (hot air balloon ride optional) so you won’t have to return to Istanbul to continue your Turkish adventure. 

Read this Guide if you are heading from Istanbul to Pamukkale instead

istanbul cappadocia istanbul
Pigeon Valley in Cappadocia

Best Cappadocia Day Tours

Private Full Day Cappadocia Tour

Booking a day tour of Cappadocia is a great idea, especially if you don’t want to rent a car for your time there. I personally took a private day tour of Cappadocia with BellaTurca (which is the tour I’ve linked below). 

Besides the luxurious experience of riding around in plush transport, you also can customize the tour to your liking depending on what attractions you’d like to see. 

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia

Of course, it’s hard to plan trips from Istanbul to Cappadocia without a sunrise hot air balloon ride at the top of your priority list. 

This is a well-reviewed and reputable company giving standard, deluxe and private balloon ride options with breakfast.

Find out the best way to get from Cappadocia to Pamukkale

istanbul cappadocia istanbul
Watching the sunrise hot air balloons at Love Valley

Istanbul to Cappadocia by Bus

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, but I would recommend starting your Turkey Istanbul to Cappadocia journey from the Istanbul central bus station (Esenler Otigari).

Buses from Istanbul to Cappadocia cost roughly $15USD 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.

I used 12Go to search Istanbul to Cappadocia bus itineraries and can recommend it after using it a few times while in Turkey for six weeks.

istanbul cappadocia istanbul
Sultanahmet Neighbourhood in Istanbul

Istanbul to Cappadocia by Train

Taking a train from Istanbul to Cappadocia can be a bit of a hassle. You will have to get yourself to the Kadikoy neighbourhood on the Asian side of Istanbul by ferry and then taxi to the Pendik Station. From here you can board the train to the city of Konya. In Konya, you will transfer to another train heading to Kayseri. 

Get off at the Kayseri train station, located over an hour’s drive to Goreme, the centre of Cappadocia. Grab a taxi or prearrange a hotel shuttle from here.

Honestly, just writing this was exhausting, so I can’t imagine the experience is any better. But, if you are a train lover or are already staying in the Kadikoy neighbourhood near the Pendik station, this could be an option for you.

To book Istanbul to Cappadocia train tickets, you can use the Turkish Railways (TCDD) website. Remember to switch the language to English in the top right. The website is a bit finicky so you may need to book two separate tickets. One from Istanbul (Pendik) to Konya, and one from Konya to Kayseri.

istanbul cappadocia istanbul

Where to Stay in Cappadocia

Goreme Hotels in Cappadocia

All of the recommended Goreme hotels below come with great views of the hot air balloon at sunrise and are centrally located for visiting all of the Cappadocia highlights.

Situated with a great view over Goreme town and Pigeon Valley, this luxury Cappadocia hotel features a main terrace, perfect for watching the hot air balloons fly in the morning. 

Koza Cave Hotel rooms come with traditional Turkish rugs and cozy beds with several rooms boasting living rooms with fireplaces, spa baths and private terraces. The hotel has a quality onsite restaurant.

MY TOP PICK! Situated on the top of the Goreme town valley, Sultan Cave Suites features a large panoramic terrace, great for morning photoshoots (do note, that a lot of Instagrammers stay here). Most rooms come with a modern en-suite and seating area. 

Sultan Cave Suites has a top-rated restaurant on site called Seten, a great place for date night.

Antique Terrace Suites is a mid-range accommodation that features a main sunrise terrace, a great buffet breakfast and cozy cave rooms for an economical price.

Uchisar Hotels in Cappadocia

If you decide to stay in Uchisar instead of Goreme, these wonderful Cappadocia hotels are highly recommended. Both come with views of the hot air balloons at sunrise (albeit a bit further away) and quality rooms.

The Museum Hotel is a member of Relais & Chateaux, which means you can expect a very high standard of service and accommodation here. It has a beautiful outdoor pool, a terrace with panoramic views and all the amenities you could possibly need.  

The onsite restaurant offers locally produced fruits and vegetables harvested on-site. Museum Hotel is also pet-friendly!

Rox Cappadocia is located right next to Uchisar Castle and enjoys panoramic views of Goreme and Pigeon Valley from its terraces. 

Although Rox is not a cave hotel, it comes with stone rooms (which allow for a more economical price) that mimic this feeling and is a great experience.

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  1. Just curious, I heard from a frequent traveler to Istanbul that the advance flights tickets purchased from IST to ASR from both the New Airport and SAW, were not honored and it caused them to purchase additional tickets while in Istanbul. Is this the case? We are planning on flying to IST this coming summer and pre-purchase all of our airline tickets to enable us to get around in Turkey.

    1. Hi Ed,

      That sounds like unfortunate circumstances. Did they purchase through Turkish Airlines or Pegasus Airlines? Maybe I don’t understand what you mean by advanced flight tickets.

      As far as I am aware, you can purchase tickets through Skyscanner or directly through Turkish Airlines or Pegasus Airlines without issue.


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