Cappadocia in Turkey is one of the most interesting and beautiful places I have ever been in the world. If you’re looking for fascinating landscapes, unusual activities to do and interesting places to see, Cappadocia is a brilliant place to spend 2 or 3 days, or even a week. If you can include a stay in Cappadocia in a Turkey trip itinerary, you will not regret it. I loved my time here so much that I’d love to return in winter, when the incredible landscape is dusted with snow!
In this post, I’ve put together a list of the must see attractions in Cappadocia, as well as detailed information on everything you might need to know before visiting. Covering topics like where to stay, how to get around Cappadocia and how to plan your stay, this post should include everything you need to get planning your own visit to Cappadocia!
Exploring Cappadocia: Essential things to know
Location and Getting to Cappadocia
Cappadocia is located in the east of the country in a region called Anatolia. It is a few hundred kilometres from the border with Syria.
It is an easy one hour flight from Istanbul to get to Kayseri Airport (the nearest airport to Cappadocia) and many airlines fly this route, such as Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines.
When to go to Cappadocia?
Both summer and winter seasons (and spring and autumn in between) offer really varied experiences and each is totally magical. I went in the summer which was brilliant and I loved dipping into the pool to cool off.
The main advantage in going in the summer months over spring, autumn or winter is that the weather is more stable and therefore, it is easier to guarantee a hot air balloon flight. If the winds are too high, the balloons cannot fly.
Where to stay in Cappadocia?
Well, it is a missed opportunity to not stay in a cave hotel whilst in Cappadocia. I’ve written more on this further down and included suggestions of some of the best hotels to pick from. I stayed at the Sultan Cave Suites which I highly recommend as one of the best luxury cave hotels in Cappadocia.
Using local tour companies
There are a huge number of local tour companies in Cappadocia to choose to do a day tour with. We used a small company arranged through our hotel, the Sultan Cave Suites. Another idea is to use GetYourGuide and to arrange your tour in advance of arriving in Turkey. I’ve popped some great tours here below:
The top things to do in Cappadocia
See Cappadocia from above in a hot air balloon
It goes without staying that this is an absolute bucket list experience in Cappadocia for any visitor. In fact, for many tourists, a hot air balloon ride is the sole reason travellers visit Cappadocia. I found it to be an pretty incredible experience and we found our pilot to be very adept in flying a hot air balloon, he will took us so high above the whole region and then right down into the valleys, almost within touching distance of the fairy chimneys.
There are several companies in town offering hot air balloon rides. It’s hard to really distinguish between the various tour companies so I’d recommend arranging your hot air balloon ride through your hotel as they’ll have their own trust tour operator.
Butterfly Balloons is widely considered the premium company to go with, as they offer more private rides with less people, however we found the rides to cost significantly more.
We enjoyed a hot air balloon ride above Cappadocia with a company called Kapadokya Balloons. Their service was faultless and experience was magical. We even enjoyed a champagne toast after the hot air balloon ride!
Visit the Göreme Open Air Museum
The Göreme Open Air Museum is a vast complex of monasteries and churches located just minutes from the centre of Cappadocia. The whole complex dates back to the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries and is a bit of an otherworldly destination. The rock faces have been carved out and adorned with some really interesting, beautiful and well-preserved frescoes, it is quite something.
Göreme Open Air Museum is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and for good reason. You can easily visit here alone, as it’s just a short walk from the town centre, but I highly recommend going with a guide. It would be impossible otherwise to really grasp an understanding of this truly unique museum and learn the about the unusual history without a local guide.
The small village of Uçhisar is essentially a giant rock and the tallest point in Cappaddocia. It has a spectacular panoramic viewpoint which draws travellers who want the next best view in Cappadocia, without going up in a balloon. Most of the cave homes here have long been deserted, which provides a unique opportunity to have a bit of an explore in the ancient dwellings.
Explore Pasabag (Monk’s Valley)
Another must see attraction in Cappadocia is to visit the famous ‘Fairy Chimneys’ that dominate the landscape. The locals that used to live here carved into these fairy chimneys, so rather than living at ground level, they created rooms that are 10-15m above the valley floor.
Pasabag has some of the most striking fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, with some having twin and even triple rock caps. You can easily lose an hour or two wandering around this valley and climbing onto the rocks. It’s one of the most popular sites to see in Cappadocia, so definitely visit earlier than than later, as it gets very busy in the afternoon!
Stop by Devrent (Imagination Valley)
Devrent, also known as Imagination Valley, is fairly different to the rest of the area and a walk around here is one of the top things to do in Cappadocia.
Devrent doesn’t have cave homes, churches, or fairy chimneys. But in fact, it as a unique lunar landscape which consists of many different rock formations, all of which happen to look like animals. Guests to Devrent can let their imagination run free. You might see camels, snakes, seals, dolphins, a dragon. Some even say they can see Jesus in a rock formation too!
Explore the ancient village of Cavusin
This old Greek village is often overlooked by visitors to Cappadocia and is rarely included in travel guides to the area. I think this is a real shame, as it was uniquely different to the other top sites in Cappadocia.
Exploring Cavusin was fascinating and a actually a great opportunity to have a real poke around the homes. In fact, I was surprised to see several homes for sale! It’s one of the oldest settlements in Cappadocia, but has long been abandoned following an earthquake. Remember to keep turning around, because Cavusin also offers some of the very best views in Cappadocia too!
Sample the local cuisine
As with anywhere, it’s a always a great idea to explore local cuisine. Cappadocia offers many great places to try typical Turkish food, but I highly recommend a dining experience in the Avanos Valley. Arranged for us by Turkish Heritage Travel, we visited the owner’s family home in the valley with our tour guide Barış Şahin. The food served was fantastic and all vegetarian. Plus, the location was out of this world!
Stay in a cave hotel
There aren’t many places where you can stay in a real cave hotel that dates back centuries. In Cappadocia you can, and I highly recommend staying at the incredible Sultan Cave Suites which I’ve written all about my stay. This hotel is also known to be home to one of the best photo spots in Cappadocia – its terrace.
- If Sultan Cave Suites is full, here are some of the best hotels to stay in in Cappadocia:
- Kelebek Special Hotel
- Rox Goreme
- Aydinli Cave Hotel
Experience a Cappadocia sunrise
A sunrise in Cappadocia is pretty special – I’ve never seen anything like it. The sky fills up silently with floating hot air balloons, offering a magical scene like nothing I have ever experienced. One of the best places to witness this wizardry is from the Sultan Cave Suites terrace with its Instagram-famous terrace. I stayed Sultan Cave Suites myself and I’ve put this guide together here, detailing how to best capture the sunrise in Cappadocia and why the terrace at Sultan Cave Suites really is the best photo spot in Cappadocia.
Explore the town centre of Cappadocia
One of the top things to do in Cappadocia is to simply wander and explore its quaint town centre. Offering some of the best shopping I found in Turkey, I couldn’t stop buying cute souvenirs or stopping by some of the lovely coffee shops and cafes.
Have you been to Cappadocia before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments! Visiting Cappadocia had been on my travel bucket list for so long and was just one of those epic adventures. There are so many things to do in Cappadocia but I found three days to be an ideal amount of time to spend in Cappadocia to visit all of the best places to see.
I hope this has been helpful if you’re planning on heading to the amazing town of Göreme and Cappadocia. If you’re considering a longer Turkey adventure, you might find my two-week Turkey itinerary useful, as well as my guides to Bodrum, Pamukkale, Ephesus, sailing the famous Turquoise Coast and Istanbul.
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Disclaimer: This visit to Cappadocia, Turkey was entirely paid for by myself and there was no involvement from the tourism board or the Sultan Cave Suites team. This is an independent guide
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