Things to Do in Cappadocia

Imagine a land of fairy chimneys, surreal landscapes, and ancient underground cities. A place where you can soar above valleys in a hot air balloon, wander through hidden cave churches, and unwind in a traditional Turkish bath. Welcome to Cappadocia, Turkey – a destination that offers all of this and more, making it a perfect spot to explore the many things to do in Cappadocia! And THIS is why we love it!

Short Summary

  • Experience the magic of hot air ballooning and explore enchanting Göreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia!

  • Uncover mysteries of underground cities, hike through picturesque valleys, witness whimsical fairy chimneys & savor local cuisine.

  • Relax with a Turkish bath, admire stunning views from Uçhisar Castle & stargaze from scenic viewpoints for an unforgettable experience!

Experience the Magic of Hot Air Ballooning

Cappadocia, Turkey

There’s nothing quite like experiencing a hot air balloon ride above the enchanting landscape of Cappadocia. As the sun rises, casting its golden light upon fairy chimneys and rock formations, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a dream. The breathtaking vistas of valleys like Pigeon, Love, and Ihlara stretch out below you, offering a unique perspective on the region’s geological wonders. The thrill of the balloon ride is only amplified when you realize you’re sharing the sky with dozens of other colorful hot air balloons, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. There’s an amazing range of balloon rides… take your pick here 👈

However, you need to be aware that hot air ballooning is highly dependent on weather conditions. With no brakes on the balloons, strong winds can make flying dangerous. Therefore, it’s essential to choose a reputable company with experienced pilots. If your flight is canceled due to unfavorable weather, don’t fret – it’s for your safety.

If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground but still want to witness the magic of hot air balloons filling the sky, ask around or consult with locals to find the best viewpoint. With their guidance, you can secure a front-row seat to this mesmerizing display that Cappadocia is famous for.

To further explore the region, consider booking a Cappadocia tour package from Istanbul or other cities like Antalya, Alanya, and Side. These packages often include flights, hotels, and hot air balloon rides, ensuring a seamless and unforgettable experience.

Explore the Enchanting Göreme Open Air Museum

Göreme open air museum, Turkey

Stepping into the Goreme Open Air Museum is like stepping back in time. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to a complex of rock-cut churches adorned with beautiful frescoes, offering a glimpse into the region’s rich history. During our visit to the Goreme Open Air Museum, we marveled at the colorful frescoes depicting various saints, as well as the unique rock formations and fairy chimneys that make up the museum’s landscape.

The Göreme Open Air Museum holds significant importance in early Christian history. The hidden cave dwellings provided a safe haven for early Christians, who were able to develop the world’s first monastery and attract followers from around the region. This sense of religious community and safety from persecution played a crucial role in the early spread of Christianity.

To make the most of your visit to the Göreme Open Air Museum, consider hiring a knowledgeable guide who can provide insights into the history and significance of the site. With their expertise, you’ll leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the captivating stories carved into the stone.

Uncover the Mysteries of Underground Cities

Derinkuyu, Turkey

If you thought Cappadocia’s beauty was limited to its surface, think again. The region is also home to fascinating underground cities like Derinkuyu and Kaymakli. Built during the Bronze Age Hittite era, these cities were later inhabited by early Christians seeking refuge from persecution by Arab and Persian invaders.

During our visit to Kaymakli Underground City, we were amazed by the intricate network of tunnels and rooms that once housed entire communities. As we explored, we discovered:

  • Churches

  • Animal stables

  • Kitchens

  • Trap rooms

We couldn’t help but marvel at the ingenuity and resilience of those who once called this place home.

Derinkuyu Underground City offered a similar experience, with its chapels, rooms, wine cellars, and even schools carved deep into the earth. The sheer scale and complexity of these cities are a testament to the determination and resourcefulness of their inhabitants.

To fully appreciate the wonders of these underground cities, we recommend hiring a local guide. Their knowledge and passion for the region’s history will enhance your experience and help you uncover the mysteries that lie beneath the surface. Plenty of guided tours are available in both locations.

Hike Through the Picturesque Valleys

Love Valley, Turkey

Cappadocia’s picturesque valleys, including the famous Pigeon Valley, offer world-class hiking opportunities for those looking to explore the region on foot. We embarked on several hikes through:

  • Love Valley, which took us past towering fairy chimneys that seemed to defy gravity. The trail was relatively flat and peaceful, making it the perfect choice for a leisurely walk.

    We explored the village of Love Valley and its intricately carved churches, which were said to be built in the 11th century. After spending some time admiring the architecture, we went for a horseback ride through the valley. The horses meandered along paths lined with wildflowers, and it feels as though you are riding through a fairytale. You can even book a private breakfast here.

These hikes provided us with unforgettable experiences and allowed us to fully appreciate the natural beauty of Cappadocia.

On our Red Valley hike, we marveled at the vibrant colors of the rock formations, which seemed to come alive as the sun began to set. Although the hiking trails were moderately difficult, the breathtaking scenery made every step worth it, reminding us of the beauty of Sword Valley.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous way to explore Cappadocia’s valleys, consider horseback riding, mountain biking, or even ATV tours. No matter how you choose to traverse these ancient valleys, you’re in for an unforgettable experience.

Stay in a Unique Cave Hotel

Cappadocia, Cave Hotel

One of the most memorable aspects of our Cappadocia trip was staying in a unique cave hotel. These hotels are carved into the region’s soft volcanic rock, offering a blend of ancient charm and modern amenities. Our cave room was surprisingly spacious and comfortable, with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Cave hotels in Cappadocia not only provide a unique lodging experience, but also hold historical significance. Many of the cave rooms were originally homes, carved into the rock formations by the region’s early inhabitants. Staying in a cave hotel allows you to experience a piece of Cappadocia’s rich history firsthand.

We suggest considering the following hotels for your stay in Cappadocia:

Each offers a unique cave experience, ensuring you’ll have a truly unforgettable visit.

Witness the Whimsical Fairy Chimneys

Fairy chimney, Cappadocia

No trip to Cappadocia would be complete without witnessing the whimsical fairy chimneys that define the region’s landscape. These unique rock formations, created by erosion over millions of years, can be found throughout Cappadocia, but some of the most impressive examples are located in the Devrent Valley and Paşaba.

During our visit to the Devrent Valley, we were captivated by the incredible beauty of the area. Unlike other sites in Cappadocia, Devrent Valley allows you to truly immerse yourself among the earth’s stunning pillars and rock formations, making for a truly memorable experience. Book a morning tour 👉 here.

Paşaba, on the other hand, offers a glimpse into the region’s religious history. Here, you can still find a monk cell carved into one of the fairy chimneys, serving as a reminder of the early Christian communities that once called this place home.

Savor the Local Cuisine: Testi Kebab

brazier, coals, coal

One of the highlights of our trip to Cappadocia was savoring the local cuisine, particularly the famous Testi Kebab. This delicious dish consists of meat and vegetables cooked in a sealed clay pot over an open fire, infusing the ingredients with incredible flavor.

If you’re looking to try Testi Kebab during your visit to Cappadocia, we recommend dining at:

Each of these establishments offers a unique dining experience and the opportunity to taste this traditional dish in an authentic setting.

Visit Charming Çavuşin Village and Its Historic Churches

cavusin, rock, tufa

During our trip to Cappadocia, we ventured to the charming avuşin Village, home to several historic churches, including the Church of St. John the Baptist. This ancient church, carved into the rock face, offers a glimpse into the region’s rich history and serves as a testament to the early Christian communities that once lived here. Wandering through the village, we marveled at the bizarre-looking cave dwellings and admired the intricately carved churches. The village itself is a testament to the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the people who called this place home.

If you’re looking to explore avuşin Village in more depth, consider joining a tour that combines a hike in Red Valley with a visit to the village. This allows you to experience both the natural beauty of the region and its fascinating history in one unforgettable day.

Experience Horseback Riding Through Cappadocia’s Valleys

balloon, balloons, ballooning

Horseback riding through Cappadocia’s valleys was a truly magical experience for us, allowing us to:

  • Explore the stunning landscape in a responsible and enjoyable way

  • Ride through the picturesque Rose and Red Valleys

  • Feel a deep connection to the land and its history

  • Navigate the rocky terrain on horseback

For those interested in horseback riding during their visit to Cappadocia, we recommend looking for tours that cater to your skill level and interests. Sunset and sunrise excursions are particularly popular, offering the opportunity to witness the region’s breathtaking beauty at its most dramatic.

Admire the Stunning Views from Uçhisar Castle

uchisar, cappadocia, turkey

Uçhisar Castle is an ancient fortress perched high on a massive rock formation, offering unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape. During our visit, we climbed to the top of the castle and were rewarded with spectacular panoramic vistas of Goreme National Park and the fairy chimneys below.

The history behind Uçhisar’s fortress is fascinating, as it provided villagers with protection from invaders during the Roman and Byzantine eras. Today, visitors can explore the fortress and admire the stunning views while reflecting on the region’s rich history.

If you plan to visit Uçhisar Castle, we recommend wearing sturdy shoes, as the climb to the top can be challenging. But trust us, the breathtaking views are well worth the effort.

Participate in Traditional Pottery Making in Avanos

Pottery, Turkey

The town of Avanos is famous for its ceramics, and during our visit, we had the opportunity to participate in a traditional pottery-making workshop. We learned about the history of pottery in the region and tried our hand at creating our own masterpiece, guided by the skilled artisans at the studio.

If you’re interested in experiencing pottery-making in Avanos, we recommend visiting a local pottery studio, such as Chez Galip. Not only will you learn about the art of pottery, but you’ll also leave with a unique souvenir crafted by your own hands.

Catch a Breathtaking Sunset at Red Valley Sunset Point

Sunset, Turkey

Cappadocia is known for its awe-inspiring sunsets, and one of the best places to catch the evening spectacle is Red Valley Sunset Point. We arrived just in time to watch the sun cast its warm, golden light on the colorful rock formations, creating a scene of unparalleled beauty.

Aside from taking in the stunning view, Red Valley Sunset Point also offers:

  • Relaxing atmosphere

  • Swing chairs

  • Benches

In fact – we loved the sunset walk with wine! It’s the perfect way to end a day of exploring the wonders of Cappadocia.

Unwind with a Turkish Bath and Massage

Turkish Bath Cappadocia

After a day of adventure and exploration, there’s no better way to unwind than by indulging in a traditional Turkish bath and massage. During our visit, we experienced the relaxing and rejuvenating benefits of this ancient treatment, which left us feeling refreshed and ready for more adventures in Cappadocia.

In addition to Turkish baths and massages, Cappadocia offers a variety of wellness experiences, including hot springs and yoga sessions. No matter your preferred method of relaxation, you’re sure to find a soothing and restorative experience in this enchanting region.

Explore the Lesser-Known Ihlara Valley

While Ihlara Valley may be lesser-known compared to other attractions in Cappadocia, it’s well worth a visit. This lush green canyon features a beautiful river, ancient settlements, and unique rock-cut churches – a true hidden gem for those looking to explore off the beaten path.

Ihlata Valley

During our visit to the Ihlara Valley, we were captivated by:

  • The tranquility of the area

  • The stunning contrasts between the verdant valley floor and the towering rock formations

  • The churches and monastic complexes carved into the cliffs, a testament to the early Christian communities that once sought refuge here.

To make the most of your visit to the Ihlara Valley, consider joining a tour that combines exploring the valley with a visit to the nearby Kaymakli Underground City. This allows you to experience both the natural beauty and fascinating history of the region in one unforgettable day.

Learn About Local Wine Production and Enjoy Tasting

Cappadocia has a long history of wine production, dating back to ancient times and the Hittite Empire. The region’s volcanic soil is ideal for grape cultivation, resulting in some truly exceptional wines. During our visit, we had the opportunity to learn about local wine production and enjoy tastings in the towns of Urgup and Avanos.

If you’re a wine enthusiast, we highly recommend setting aside some time to sample the local offerings during your visit to Cappadocia. Not only will you taste some delicious wines, but you’ll also gain a deeper appreciation for the region’s rich winemaking history and traditions.

Stargaze From a Scenic Viewpoint

Stargazing in Turkey

One of the most magical experiences we had in Cappadocia was stargazing from a scenic viewpoint, such as Red Valley Sunset Point. With minimal light pollution, the night sky above the captivating landscape is a sight to behold, offering a glimpse of the cosmos in all its glory.

Whether you’re an avid stargazer or simply looking to enjoy a peaceful evening under the stars, Cappadocia’s clear night skies and stunning surroundings provide the perfect backdrop for a truly unforgettable experience. Book a sunset and stargazing dinner for the best night time experience in Cappadocia.

📌 Getting to Cappadocia

Cappadocia is best served by two ✈️ airports: Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV) and Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR). Flights are typically more expensive to/from Nevsehir but it this considered to be the best route. The journey time from Kayseri is about an hour faster, but involves a bus journey. It pays to look at both options depending of your place of origin in Turkey.

👉 Check out flight option to Nevsehir here: FLIGHTS ✈️

📌 Staying in Cappadocia on a Budget

Finding places to stay which are not 4 and 5 ⭐️ isn’t too difficult. Check out the 2⭐️ accomodation we found – and we’re pretty sure you won’t be disappointed or uncomfortable!

📌 Staying in Antalya or Istanbul enroute to Cappadocia

Antalya is a great place to stay as part of your trip to Turkey. We’ve got some great places to recommend if you like the beach. Or, if you prefer the bustle of Istanbul, we have some recommendations here too!

✈️ Antalya and Istanbul are well served via London and other major city airports.

Summary

From the moment we first set foot in Cappadocia, we were captivated by its surreal landscapes, rich history, and unique experiences. Whether it was floating above the valleys in a hot air balloon, exploring ancient underground cities, or savoring delicious local cuisine, our time in this enchanting region was truly unforgettable. We hope that our journey has inspired you to embark on your own adventure and discover the wonders that await in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days is enough for Cappadocia?

Spend a minimum of four days in Cappadocia to fully appreciate its wonders and experience an unforgettable day trip!

Cappadocia is a unique destination with its stunning landscapes, fascinating history, and incredible hot air balloon rides. It’s a place that will stay with you long after you leave. With that in mind.

What are the best valleys for hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia?

Experience breathtaking views of the Pigeon, Love, and Ihlara Valleys on a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia!

Cappadocia is a unique region of Turkey, with its stunning landscape of fairy chimneys, underground cities, and rock-cut churches. It is a popular destination for hot air balloon rides, offering spectacular views of the sky.

Are guided tours recommended for exploring underground cities?

Yes, guided tours are highly recommended for exploring underground cities; they will provide you with a better understanding of the sites and a more memorable experience.

Guided tours are the best way to explore these unique and fascinating places. They provide an in-depth look at the history and culture of the area, as well as a chance to interact with locals and learn more about the area.

Can beginners participate in horseback riding tours in Cappadocia?

Yes, there are tours available for beginner horseback riders in Cappadocia – just be sure to check that the trails you want to ride on are suited to your level of experience!

Before you book a tour, make sure to research the trails and the company you’re booking with. Ask questions about the terrain, the horses, and the experience level of the guides. This will help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable ride.

What can I expect from a traditional Turkish bath and massage in Cappadocia?

Experience total relaxation and wellbeing with a traditional Turkish bath and massage in Cappadocia, that will reduce stress and tension, improve circulation, and promote a sense of wellbeing.

This ancient form of therapy is a great way to relax and unwind, and to enjoy the unique beauty of Cappadocia. The massage is tailored to your individual needs, and the warm, soothing atmosphere of the bathhouse will help you relax.

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Anna Roffey Lawyer, World Traveller, Blogger... 🧡