Is Cappadocia, Turkey, worth visiting?
When I announced, full of excitement, to my friends that I was going to Cappadocia in Turkey, they seemed a bit lost. “Where is Cappadocia?”
I scratched my head. “Ehm, the instagrammable ancient city with cave houses and hot-air balloons?” They immediately knew what I was talking about.
Cappadocia has become one of the new top destinations worldwide for various reasons.
Besides the beautiful sunrises full of colorful hot-air balloons, the well-sculpted caves, and the dreamlike scenery, Cappadocia is a place you should visit at least once.
But, really, where is Cappadocia, Turkey?
Cappadocia is not a tiny country in Turkey. It’s a large region, approximately 5,000 square kilometers. The historical Cappadocia region is located on the Anatolian side of Turkey, straight in the middle, in Goreme.
What is the best month to visit Cappadocia?
The best time to visit Cappadocia is from the beginning of May to October. During these months, the days are hot, the evenings are chilly, and there is little rain threat. The rest of the time, although it’s not guaranteed, there can be a lot of wind, which cancels balloon tours.
In December and January, you can even see snow! You can easily access Cappadocia from the capital of Turkey, Istanbul. Istanbul to Cappadocia is around a 1-hour and 20 minutes flight.
How do you get to Cappadocia, Turkey?
There are direct flights available from Istanbul with Turkish Airlines and other carriers. There are also regular bus and service taxi links from Istanbul (and other cities) to Nevsehir, the capital of Cappadocia.
You can even book a full 2 to 3-day tour from Instanbul or choose among multiple-day trips if you just fancy going for the ultra main attractions, like a balloon ride, the underground city, or the open-air museum.
So if you are in the capital of Turkey and just can’t get out of your mind visiting Cappadocia, you can find a cute day tour itinerary from Instanbul here.
If you have more time, go for a 2-day tour. I recommend this one.
And if you want to combine both Instanbul and Cappadocia with the extra luxurious touch because, let’s be honest, we are fans of luxurious wellness experiences here, go for a combined tour of both destinations with deluxe hotels included. You won’t regret it.
There are two airports in the Cappadocia region; Kayseri Airport and Nevsehir Airport, with Kayseri Erkilet Airport being the main airport of Cappadocia. I pre-booked a private transfer from the airport to my hotel to ensure I arrived without hassle. Luxury hotels charge a little extra for transportation unless free transportation is included in your booking.
There are multiple private transfers, but make sure the driver can speak fluent English. You can find one of the best private transfers that exist at the moment here.
Do you need a car or transportation in Cappadocia?
Driving is comfortable in the Cappadocia region. If you don’t want to drive, I suggest hiring a private driver. You can also arrange a guide or taxis from your hotel. If you’re planning to stay more or less in the village, I suggest walking or arranging taxis and private tours from your hotel. I have you covered more on private tours later!
Generally, arranging day tours and experiences can be more cost-effective than renting a car or hiring a driver. It also gives you the flexibility and importance of all-inclusiveness, alongside the pleasure of walking around and exploring on foot.
Whether you opt for a three-day romantic getaway or a solo week exploring and hiking, you can find below a list of experiences you should aim for while visiting Capadoccia.
What are the best experiences in Cappadocia, Turkey?
Stay in a cave hotel
Red, Rose and Love valley hike
Hot air balloon ride through the caves
Eat breakfast while watching “the balloon sunrise”
Horseriding during sunset or sunrise
Wander around the fairy chimneys
Sunset in Uchisar Castle
Have a drink and watch the sunset at Lover’s Hill
Get a Turkish bath & a classic massage at a cave spa
Visit the Derinkuyu Underground City
Visit the instagrammable Sultan Carpets
Night dinner at a rooftop with shisha and Turkish food
What not to miss in Cappadocia, Turkey.
1) Stay in a cave hotel.
Why settle in an ordinary hotel when rock formations, valleys, and cave dwellings form ultimately and naturally accommodations you’ll never forget you stayed? While in Capadoccia, opt for a cave room.
Once you visit the village of Goreme, choose one of these fantastic Cappadocia cave hotels carved out of the landscape. A cave hotel will help you experience the region’s authentic culture and beauty. There are multiple cave hotels to choose from, mainly in the center, offering beautifully decorated terraces with carpets and pillows in bright colors – as bright as the interior of the Pena Palace (when you know, you know)
You can see the sunrise and a hundred balloons flying above you from the beautiful balconies.
After thorough research of the best cave hotel (I wanted the best experience as I’m a big advocate of nice hotels), I would recommend you go for any of the three below:
The three absolute best cave hotels in Cappadocia with cave rooms:
The view from Artemis Cave Suites terrace.
2) Red, Rose valley, and Love valley hike.
Red, Rose, and Love valleys are located precisely out of Goreme’s town (around 10 minutes by car). There are multiple ways to visit those valleys: flying above them in a hot air balloon or choosing a horseriding and biking tour.
However, exploring the hiking trails and the surrounding landscape can be a fantastic experience.
Red valley and Rose are named after the pinkish-colored rocks that vary in tones throughout the day. Love valley is from the unique phallic-shaped rock formations (ahem).
As the day progresses, the rock formations and fairy chimneys blend to create a breathtaking landscape, making the valleys an absolute must-go.
There are multiple ways to visit those valleys: flying above them in a hot air balloon or horseriding and biking tours.
3) Hot air balloon ride through the caves.
One of the best experiences in my life by far is riding a hot air balloon in Cappadocia during the sunrise. I will never forget the breathtaking landscape below us while we were thousands of meters up in the air, flying through and above the stunning caves. The scene you get to have is out of this world. Truly a lifetime experience!
Even in summer (we had the hot air balloon ride in June), the weather can be very chilly, so make sure you have a jacket. Most balloon tours offer after (or before) ride perks, like breakfast or champagne. We flew with Butterfly balloons, and the breakfast, the champagne after the flight, and a certificate as a memoir were included.
I highly recommend hot air ballooning! There are also cheaper options for hot air balloons, but the number of people in the basket will be more, and the ride duration and height will be limited.
I recommend you opt for the full experience, with heights up to 1000 meters, breakfast before the ride, a champagne toast after, and limited people riding. Trust me, you want to take some great photos up there, and it won’t be possible with 30 or 40 people in the basket. Opt for a balloon ride with fewer than 20 people.
Check out this tour which includes all of the above!
The scene you get to have from above is out of this world.
4) Eat breakfast while watching the balloon sunrise.
Four words here: Do not miss it. Even if you aren’t an early bird, make an effort to set the alarm at 5:00 am to experience the uniquely one-in-a-lifetime kind of experience of having colorful balloons flying above you luxury of your hotel.
Most hotels combine it with breakfast or snacks if you ask them to serve it. I stayed in Artemis Cave Suites, and they served breakfast on the terrace while I experienced the most spectacular views I could ask for.
Eating your breakfast with hot air balloons and a sunrise – priceless!
5) Horseriding during the sunset or sunrise.
Cappadocia, known as the “Land of Beautiful Horses,” is ideal for exploring horseback. Well away from the crowds, you can explore the breathtaking valleys and amazing sceneries around Goreme during a 2- or 4-hour trail, whether sunset or morning ride.
We opted for the two-hour horseriding tour during the sunset, although I’ve never ridden a horse in my life before. As an animal-friendly person who has been to the most prominent zoos in Europe and Asia, I must say it was quite exciting!
We got some stunning views of the Rose Valley, and we stopped for a break and fresh watermelon juice at Star Box Cafe. It is a small, local cafe in the middle of the valley that feels like that came out of nowhere.
If I did it again, I would choose the sunrise horseriding tour, as you get to see the beautiful balloons flying above you and the surroundings feel more tranquil.
Horseriding between the caves with the most amazing sunset views you can get.
6) Get lost in the fantastic Goreme Open Air Museum.
Goreme Open Air Museum, a member of the UNESCO World Heritage List, is a must-visit despite your Cappadocia itinerary. Just 1 km uphill from Goreme’s center, you will find this unique outdoor museum with rock-cut churches and monasteries carved into the stone from the 17th century.
You can wander around on your own, spend around two or three hours on average, or opt for a guided tour.
I recommend you choose a full-day tour that includes visiting Goreme open-air museum, monks valley, and Devrent valley, in a small group, with lunch included. Check it out here.
Goreme Open-air museum.
7) Wander around the Fairy Chimneys.
The ‘fairy chimneys‘ of Cappadocia, also an exciting World Heritage Site, are made of unusual rock formations used in the past to shelter early Christians. Offering a surreal scene of carved-out towering rock formations, they change color during the golden hour.
There are thousands of fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, there’s no entrance fee, and you need around one hour to walk comfortably.
Wear your sports shoes and get lost in this fantastic scenery, or choose a private day tour that will take you to fairy chimneys, Keslik Monastery, Uchisar Castle, and Soganli Valley.
8) Sunset in Uchisar Castle.
Uchisar Castle is located at the highest point in Cappadocia, on the Nevsehir-Goreme road, just 5 km from Goreme. It is visible for miles in any direction. The top of the Uchisar Castle provides an impressive view and enchanting landscape. It would be best if you opted to visit the castle during sunset time, as the panoramic views and picturesque caves will leave you breathless.
9) Have a drink and watch the sunset at Lover’s Hill (Asiklar Tepesi).
At the top of Lover’s hill, you will find a small restaurant with a bit of food but mainly tea, coffee, wine, and beer.
I discovered this beautiful sunset point entirely by chance. While in our hotel, we could watch people gathering in groups above us. It seemed as if they’d climbed the caves to reach that point!
I couldn’t find that spot on Google maps, so we managed to get to the top about 10 minutes from our hotel by asking the locals.
The final few hundred meters are robust, but anyone who isn’t a gym freak will make it. The great thing about Lover’s Hill Sunset Point is that it is within walking distance of most Goreme hotels. Most people looking to catch sunset do it at Lover’s Hill, the valleys, the castle, or the hotel’s terrace. Conclusively, Lover’s Hill is quite busy, being the closest sunset spot.
At the top, you will find a small restaurant with some food, mainly tea, coffee, wine, and beer (yeeha).
We shared a bottle of wine while mingling with different people. I caught some fantastic vibes and enjoyed it even with the crowds.
10) Cappadocia in Turkey must: Get a Turkish bath & a classic massage at a cave spa.
Turkish hammams are the best in the world.
One of the most relaxing, refreshing, and unique things to do in Goreme, Cappadocia, is to get a Turkish Bath & Classic Massage at a Cave Spa.
Turkish hammams are probably the best in the world, and if you leave Turkey without tasting this wellness experience, a piss from your travel puzzle will be missing.
There are many hammams and spas to choose from, and I would opt for a holistic experience like this one (Turkish bath, hammam, massage, and relaxing at a terrace with tea afterward.)
11) Visit the Derinkuyu Underground City.
Believe it or not, Derinkuyu is one of the largest underground cities in the world. But what makes it so unique is the city’s depth of over 250 feet and the organization needed to meet the demands of a population living down there. It could accommodate up to 20,000 people underground!
Visitors may visit cellars, storage rooms, storage areas, chapels, refectories, churches, and wineries, all connected in a network of tunnels.
It is exhilarating to imagine the way that people lived there. The oxygen ratio never changes, no matter the depth. A visit to Derinkuyu Underground City is a must on your itinerary.
I would choose a tour that includes admission tickets and combines visiting the underground cities with Ihlara valley, Selime monastery, and pigeon valley (the Green tour).
This tour includes all admission tickets and lunch, which is definitely worth the price.
12) Cappadocia in Turkey must: Visit the instagrammable Sultan Carpets.
Matching dress with carpets. 😀
Get a hookah or a tea treat, a series of lessons on carpets, and some incredible shots of the most colorful place in Cappadocia! We had a free entrance there -it was an arrangement by Artemis Cave suites we stayed in. You usually have to pay a small entrance fee to enter and take pictures.
13) Night dinner at a rooftop with shisha and Turkish food.
We had a great dinner with wine, shisha, and Turkish food at Viewpoint restaurant. It is located in the center of Goreme and has a breathtaking view of the village, caves, and chimneys. I was lucky enough to get a full moon that day and catch the moon rise. I literally can’t wait to go back.
Conclusion: The best experiences – Cappadocia in Turkey.
As you’ve already guessed, the experiences are many. Someone might claim that you can visit Cappadocia for three days and have enough of it. However, I would suggest a minimum of five days to experience everything properly and enjoy various activities together with time to relax.