If we speak of magical landscapes, full of strange formations, curious stories and where to let the imagination fly, then Cappadocia is one of the places that you definitely have to visit. Located in Turkey, the region of hot air balloon rides that fly over “fairy chimneys”, cotton castles and cave houses has a lot to go, visit and experiences unique to do, those that somehow remain stored in the retina and are never forgotten.
Of course the hot air balloon ride is THE most chosen excursion to do in Cappadocia, but the region has much more to see, taking advantage of the possibilities of admiring nature and knowing the history from different perspectives. In this post, we will tell you what to see in Cappadocia, what are the most recommended places to visit and what types of experiences you should not miss when you visit this surreal Turkish region.
How to get to Cappadocia
Thanks to its diverse (and strange) nature that the region has, Cappadocia is one of the most visited tourist destinations in all of Turkey which, despite being more than 700 kilometers from Istanbul, the most visited city in the country, travelers spend a few days traveling to explore it.
Its location far from the main city (not the capital, since this is Ankara) makes the most preferred option by travelers to get to Cappadocia from Istanbul is the plane which, despite being the option with the highest prices, it is the fastest. Flight time from Istanbul to Cappadocia is one hour and 20 minutes.
For those who prefer to go from Istanbul to Cappadocia on their own, following the traveling acronym BBB (good, nice and cheap), the second option chosen, especially by low-cost travelers, is the bus. The bus hours from Istanbul to Cappadocia increase to almost 12 hours of travel, but, the good news is that there are some companies that offer departures at night, which makes it possible to take advantage of the transfer to use it as a hotel and avoid paying a night’s accommodation.
Those who prefer to have everything organized, can also access the dozens of excursion options to Cappadocia from Istanbul where, choosing the number of days and attractions to visit, it is possible to visit one of the best regions from all over Turkey.
- Travel information : there is a different option to those mentioned above which is to travel to Cappadocia by train with a duration of almost 5 hours to Ankara (the capital of Turkey) and from there, it is necessary to take a bus to Cappadocia for almost 4 hours. The good thing about the train is that it has lower prices than the plane and 6 daily departures.
Where to eat in Cappadocia
Being able to taste the typical dishes of a country or region implies knowing more about the traditions and customs of the residents of the place, the history and the reasons that have led it to be as it is today go. The culture of a region is part of the attractions of that place and, knowing what it is like, makes it possible for travelers to know the most precious thing about a place: the people who inhabit it.
Knowing what to eat in Cappadocia is not only knowing which are these typical dishes that, as some say “you cannot miss if you visit Cappadocia”, but also, knowing where to eat in Cappadocia also implies getting into the routine of its residents, where the locals eat, what do they buy to make their recipes and without leaving it aside, of course, the most traditional dishes.
Some recommendations for places to eat traditional food from the Cappadocia region are:
- A’laturca Restaurant : it is located in the Göreme region, the best place to stay in Cappadocia, and there, this varied restaurant and its extensive menu, invites travelers to explore these characteristic flavors.
- Orient Restaurant : also in Göreme, it is one of the most typical restaurants that travelers go to, especially due to the number of years of trajectory where it is possible to taste Turkish and international dishes.
- Firin Express: Turkish pizza is one of the traditional dishes also of the Cappadocia region and this is a great place to taste it, especially for its pleasant terrace where sit back and relax.
- Organic Cave Kitchen : in one of the caves of Göreme is this restaurant (not very cheap compared to the others) but with views of the town that are really recommended.
Where to stay in Cappadocia
As we told you at the beginning, Cappadocia is much more than just flights in hot air balloons and that is why, it is recommended to travelers, whenever possible, to stretch the itineraries as much as possible to be able to stay for at least 2 or 3 nights in Cappadocia.
- Travel recommendation: the best place to stay in Cappadocia is Göreme, the area, not only with the largest number of hotels and categories, but also the closest place to Find the attractions to see in Cappadocia (Looking for what to see in Cappadocia? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you about them below).
The hot air balloon flights are part of the most chosen excursion by travelers who visit this area of Turkey and, as the golden hour (the best time) to do it is before sunrise, It is mandatory to stay at least one night in the region. But, according to the experiences of travelers, visiting more of Cappadocia allows you to get to know other cultures of the same country, visit strange natural places and let that imagination fly, so if you ask us if it is worth staying in Cappadocia, the answer is: yes!
In Cappadocia there are several hotel options, made up of accommodations of different categories and budgets, starting from the cheapest to luxury hotels.
The best recommendation we can give you, and that is why we have put together a post exclusively about that, is power to stay in the cave-hotels of Cappadocia. They were used sites by the first residents of the area (some still living in these natural formations) who, using the amplitudes of the caves, have been converted into hotels (also of different categories and prices).
7 places to see in Cappadocia
As we have been telling you, Cappadocia, more than attractions in themselves such as museums or historical places, is made up of a nature that has been “created” over the years and erosions, forming those places that seem “fake” and that, if you don’t visit them, they are even half alien.
- The best: being a place where there are relatively few places to visit, especially when compared to Istanbul, there are several options to to do in and around Cappadocia, ideal to travel for 4 days, the ideal time to stay in Cappadocia at any time of the year.
But when is the best time to go to Cappadocia?
Before we see what are the best things to see and do in Cappadocia, what unmissable experiences should not be missed and how to visit these places, we must take into account a small detail: the time of year. This does not mean that there are times where you can go and times where you cannot, on the contrary, Cappadocia is a destination that can be visited in any month although, depending on the season, prices and nature itself may change.
During the months of April to November, temperatures are the mildest and allow travelers to almost make sure they have good weather conditions to do the famous walks by balloon (of course the weather is unpredictable and everything can change, but it is where there is the greatest trend). Within those months, the preferable season to “avoid” (just because it is not the best) is during July, August and September. Why? Because it is the summer season, temperatures are high and the number of tourists increases, so prices also increase. Fall and spring are the best seasons to visit Cappadocia.
Winter in Cappadocia
During the months of December, January, February and early March, winter comes to Cappadocia and the landscape changes radically : what looks like a mountainous desert, turns into a large white field of snow, forming a completely different postcard from what can usually be seen. The problem is that all the beauty of the snow in Cappadocia is due to bad weather conditions, especially for hot air balloon flights, and the chances that the ride will be canceled are higher than the rest of the year.
Best things to see in Cappadocia
1. Valle Rosa and the Red Valley, a key site to visit in Cappadocia
Less than 15 minutes by car from the center of Göreme is one of the most essential regions to visit in Cappadocia to know those surreal places that we have been talking about.
The Valle Rosa and the Valle Rojo are two incredible places, and s a great valley of rock formations, mainly “tinted” by those colors, which vary in hue depending on the time of day. One is right next to the other and it is possible to travel both in one morning or one afternoon, for almost 3 hours (at least). In the valley, in addition to nature and the strangest forms, you can see some cave-houses, connected between tunnels and even cave churches with frescoes inside. The route can be done, part by vehicle and much of it through trekking trails.
- Travel recommendation : visit the Rosa Valley and the Red Valley at sunset, where the sun falls behind the formations.
2. Pasabag, the Valley of the Monks and its most incredible formations
The second place on the list and the second unmissable place to visit in Cappadocia is Pasabag, known as the Valley of the Monks and, if we are talking about surreal places, then this is the one that should top that list.
In Pasabag there are the largest Fairy Chimneys in all of Cappadocia, those limestone rock formations that seem to be taken from a tale, created by nature, being a place where let your imagination soar, where you can enter this completely unusual world by touring (and photographing) the most curious corners.
Inside Pasabag, there is also a chapel carved out of the rock, dedicated to Saint Simeon.
- Traveler advice: if time reaches (and hopefully it will) it is highly recommended to enter the caves dug in the chimneys.
3. Göreme Open Air Museum, the place where you cannot return from Cappadocia without having visited
One of the essential places to visit in Cappadocia (at this point, everything seems essential, right?). According to most travelers, this should be the first place to visit in Cappadocia, as it is a perfect summary of what is seen in the landscape of the Turkish region.
The Göreme Open Air Museum is located practically in the center of the city, being a complex of monasteries built in these rock formations, interconnected with each other and each with its own church excavated in the earth, firm footprint of the civilizations that inhabited them.
Inside the churches, the passage of time persists, frescoes and cave paintings, almost with the original colors, literally creating an open-air museum.
- The entrance costs about $ 6 and it is possible to visit it by walking about 20 minutes from the center of Göreme.
4. Visit the Underground Cities
The streets of Derinkuyu, the region located just over 30 minutes from Göreme, make up an area that is not at all simple to visit in Cappadocia, it is a network of underground cities, 36 discovered, although It is believed that there are more than 200, and there are three that can be visited, located in the depths, with their networks of running water and the necessary comforts to serve as housing more than 2,000 years ago. An excursion that is worth taking to learn more about the curious history, myths and legends that have been generated around this incredible landscape.
But why are there underground cities in Cappadocia? Whoever lived in Cappadocia, was at a key point within the Silk Road, one of the most important trade routes in the world, connecting the Asian continent with the European one. Those who lived in Cappadocia knew that they had the “privilege” of having this commercial traffic but, at the same time, the towns were in constant focus of conflicts, struggles and attempts to conquer by the different empires who sought to control the region. For the same reason, the inhabitants began to build, at least what has been discovered so far, more than 250 kilometers of underground cities.
Did you know that & nbsp; the underground cities of Cappadocia are believed to be interconnected with each other?
Being able to visit them on an excursion is to know how they did to literally live under the earth, to imagine what their routine was like and the “comforts” they had to be able to survive from the constant struggles that were generated abroad.
- Travel advice: to get to Derinkuyu, it is possible to take a bus from Göreme to Nevsehir and from there, another to almost the gateway to the underground cities.
5. Watch the sunrise from a terrace
We all agree that the hot air balloon ride is one of the best things to do in Cappadocia but, if we stay for 2 or 3 nights in the area, what better way than to go to a terrace and watch the moment when more than 100 balloons ascend in unison, in the middle of the fairy chimneys, creating a postcard that is difficult to forget (and highly photographic).
- There are some “view points” located in the Göreme area and there are other valleys where it is possible to get closer to see the sunrise, such as Love Valley.
6. Visit Uchisar Castle
A magnificent natural and cultural postcard to visit in Cappadocia is the Uchisar Castle, located in the homonymous region, about 15 minutes from the center of Göreme. The castle is also a rock formation, created by erosion but which has also been used as a small town carved out of stone, made up of rooms, tunnels and passages also used as protection from those who sought to invade the area.
Besides everything, the castle is located at the highest point in all of Cappadocia, so the views from the top are spectacular and more than recommended.
- Travel recommendation: Sunset is one of the best times to visit the castle, have your phone with charge and capacity for photos because it is a super instagrammable place.
7. Go through more valleys in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is surrounded by valleys and nature has “gifted” the region, shapes, colors and incredible walks to visit and photograph. Although the Valle de los Mojes and the Valle Rosa y Rojo are possibly the most visited, in the surroundings and a few kilometers from Göreme there are more valleys to walk or take an excursion:
- Love Valley : no one knows exactly why it is called the “Valley of Love”, what is easy to recognize is that the phallic forms of the rocks that are found in the place, everyone can see them. Is that why?
- Devrent Valley : also known as the Valley of Imagination, it is one of the places where the main activity is to find shapes in the rocks Some say they are certain objects, others animals. What yes, the name of the valley leads us to the fact that each one can be right, no matter what form they have found … everything is valid!
- Pigeon Valley : pigeon excrement is and was used by the inhabitants as compost and that is why a large number of dovecotes are carved into the rocks to house these animals. In the valley of the pigeons it is possible to go on trails in the middle of nature to explore or, for those who prefer to rest with panoramic views, a Turkish tea.
Flying in a Balloon in Cappadocia
Among all the best things to see and do in Cappadocia, the number one and topping the list, indisputably, is the experience of flying in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, a ride that attracts the Most tourists travel the region in a different way: it takes travelers to ascend in balloons commanded by professional pilots and propelled by hot and cold air masses towards several (and many) feet of height, to walk quietly for an hour, admiring the landscape of the so-called Chimeneas de las Hadas (the limestone rock formations) and the postcard of the hundreds of balloons flying at the same time.
Although the tour lasts an hour (at least the basic tours) and is an expensive excursion, especially when compared to other places or prices in Turkey, it is one of the excursions most chosen and definitely more than recommended when choosing what to do in Cappadocia. So how much does the Cappadocia balloon ride cost? Prices are between 180 and 360 dollars per person, increasing the price depending on the type of service chosen, the number of passengers per balloon and the extras that want to be added. Everything you need to know about flying in balloon in Cappadocia, you can find it in our post.
Cappadocia: a destination where you can let your imagination fly, where you can be surprised by the “creations” of nature and where you can learn about the difficult life history of the civilizations that inhabited, using nature itself, like home. A destination with a long way to go.