Are you planning a visit to Cappadocia and looking for the best things to do? Or maybe you just want some inspiration for future travel plans and you want to know more about this magical place? Well in both cases I got you completely covered!
We stayed in Cappadocia for 5 days and went on a bunch of excursions and I am here to tell you all about it! We wanted to see more of Cappadocia than the standard balloon sunrises and fairy chimneys. So I am very excited to share my full experience with you!
Cappadocia, also known as the ‘land of the beautiful horses, is a magical place in Turkey that you should visit at least once in your life!
Cappadocia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a historical region located in Central Turkey. It is mostly known for its moon-like landscape or as the land of whimsical fairy chimneys and peculiar rock formations. Cappadocia is generally regarded as the plains and the mountainous region of eastern Central Anatolia around the upper and middle reaches of the Kizilirmak river.
Due to its inland location and high altitude, Cappadocia has a rather continental climate, with hot dry summers and cold snowy winters.
The typical landscape was shaped by erosion and by ancient volcanic eruptions. The thick ashes became solidified in rock formations and these were then shaped by the eroding wind and water. This way a fairytale landscape of cones, pillars, mushrooms, and chimneys came to exist and every year draws in millions of people from all over the world!
But human hands also performed incredible work here and created a network of handmade caves and tunnels. You imagine it and they created it into the soft stone rocks: houses, places of worship, storage. They actually created entire towns underneath the ground, all connected through different tunnel complexes which could run 8 different storages deep underground!
Things to do in Cappadocia:
Sunrise from the hills of Goreme
Watching the hot air balloons rising high up in the sky. Rent a motorbike the evening before or if you have a car go out at 4:30 AM, search on Google Maps for The Dalton Brothers, follow the sand path for about 3 minutes, and park if you see some balloons lighting up. Hike up on one of the mountains and experience balloon flight all around you. Take some food and coffee with you and enjoy
Cappadocia hot air Balloon flight
Moon-like landscapes including hundreds of hot air balloons in the sky are what make Cappadocia a magical place. This is, without any doubt, one of the best experiences you’ll have in your life. Wake up around 04:00 for a hot air balloon flight with Butterfly Balloons.
They pick us up at the hotel and drive to Goreme where we have a small breakfast before we take off. I always dreamed about a hot air balloon flight above Kapadokya or Myanmar these are such dreamy places. Below you, is a unique landscape, a combination of natural beauty and deep and complex history. From the balloon, you will see it, feel it and fall in love with it.
The Cappadocia region in Turkey is one of those world wonders that came straight out of your dreams.
Visit Goreme's open-air museum
The Cappadocia Open Air Museum is one of Turkey’s Unesco World Heritages. And one of the essential things to see in Cappadocia. Go directly in the morning or evening because day time a lot of tourists here
Where to stay in Cappadocia
The Cappadocia region itself is rather large so knowing the best place to stay is crucial to your trip planning! The town of Göreme is the historic center of the region and is where most tours will start as well. Göreme is also the place where you have one of the best views over the hot air balloons in the morning!
Typical for people who travel to Cappadocia is that they stay in a cave hotel overlooking the town of Göreme. I’ve selected the best ones for you where I am sure you’ll not only have an amazing time but where you’ll also be able to take beautiful photos and make memories that last a lifetime!
Mithra Cave Hotel – Located on one of the top levels in Göreme and offers a spectacular view over the entire valley.
Sultan Cave Suites – This is probably the most photographed hotel in Cappadocia. Known for inviting influencers from all over the place to promote their property.
Local Cave House Hotel – Known for its pool which can come in handy on those sizzling hot Turkish afternoons.
Museum Hotel – This stunning Relais & Chateaux hotel is a masterpiece on its own and is definitely worth a visit!
Stay in a Cave hotel
Our first hotel where we stayed was Gamirasu Cave Hotel located near Urgup, the heart of Cappadocia, Ayvali village, with its 35 meticulously restored and designed cave rooms, it is the first rock hotel in the region, put into service in 1999. The hotel, which was used as a monastic retreat in the Byzantine Era, offers strikingly beautiful nature, serenity, and contemporary comfort in a pristine village of unspoiled beauty, without distracting from the spiritual feeling of the area which has been known to be inhabited by more than five thousand years.
From the hotel, you can easily reach all the highlights of Kapadokya by car, for dinner I recommend the restaurant of the hotel they serve delicious food and on the rooftop, you can have dinner during sunset. Letting you rest in a magical atmosphere away from the modern life of the world.
Another great place to stay is Aydinli Cave Hotel a boutique, family-run guesthouse set in the heart of the old town of Goreme. Aydinli Cave Hotel is totally unique. Carved from the natural rock and stone of Cappadocia, the guesthouse is located just a short stroll from the Goreme village center. There are fourteen individually-styled rooms that offer comfortable and relaxed accommodation furnished with beautiful, locally-made carpets and family antiques.
From here it's easy to explore the village of Goreme and the open-air museum
Watch the sunrise from one of the many terraces in Göreme
I can tell you that one of the best and most spectacular things to do in Cappadocia is to wake up early. Roll out of bed and make your way to one of the terraces in Göreme. It is important to mention that these terraces are part of individual hotels. It is not allowed to access them if you are not staying there.
Visit Pasabag oldest church in Kapadokya
Pasabag Valley has situated about 1 km from Goreme-Avanos road. Many fairy chimneys with multiple stems and caps can be found here, this style being unique to this area. A chapel dedicated to St. Simeon and a hermit’s shelter are built into one such fairy chimney with three heads. The hermits of Cappadocia distanced themselves from the world by cutting into fairy chimneys rather than living on top of columns. They hollowed out the chimneys from top to the bottom creating rooms 10-15m high. They lay on beds made from rock.
Visit Galeri Ikman
In Göreme, you will see some of the most splendid carpet shops which will make you feel like in the Aladdin movie. The store from the picture is called Galerie Ikman the most photographed shop in Goreme the owner even offers these days is own photography service with a drone and for pics, you have to pay a fee so he makes more money with Instagram pics than carpets I think a real businessman right.
Sunset horse riding
Horse riding in Goreme with the Dalton brothers Göreme's resident horse whisperer – trains Cappadocia's wild horses from Erciyes Dağı (Mt Erciyes) and runs this trekking stable from where you can set out to explore Cappadocia from the saddle. I recommend the evening or morning ride
Uchisar is situated at the highest point in Cappadocia, on the Nevsehir-Goreme road, just 5 km from Goreme. The top of Uchisar Castle provides a magnificent panorama of the surrounding area with Mount Erciyes in the distance.
Located between Goreme and Uschisar, Pigeon Valley is so named because of the thousands of pigeon houses that were once carved into the rock to attract pigeons to fertilize the land. There are lots of great viewpoints between Goreme and Uschisar
Ortahisar Kalesi or Ortahisar Castle
Slap in the middle of Ortahisar's town center, this 18m-high rock outcrop was used as a fortress in Byzantine times. It was reopened after a restoration project stabilized the crumbling edifice, and you can now climb the precarious metal ladders and stairways to the viewing terrace halfway up and admire the glorious view. Head up in the late afternoon for the best photography light.
How to get to Cappadocia
There are three good options to get into Cappadocia.
The night bus runs from multiple cities and will drop you off the next morning in Goreme.
There are also two airports near Goreme, from Istanbul or Antalya or even Izmir to Kayseri, the flight takes about 1 hour. Also, it's possible to drive from the coast in 7/8 hours to Goreme. From Alanya, it's 7 hours by car so if you have time you can do this and make a nice road trip around.
From Istanbul, you can also drive by yourself and visit Ankara on the way and sleep the night over there.
We flew from Istanbul to Kayseri pick up a rental car and drive to Goreme, we flew back to Alanya. You can try on google maps different options for your trip, I know flying looks good but you lose a lot of time at the airport so it's not the fastest way either as driving yourself or with the bus