As if it were a fairy tale, Cappadocia draws an unusual landscape, difficult to imagine in the Turkish plains of Anatolia. Here, rocks with intrepid and original shapes connect colorful and rounded hills. Hills, in which humans have dug for centuries their homes in complete harmony with nature.
You can explore the Cappadocia region in several ways: on horseback, by walking, by Jeep… Or, even better: from the sky. However, in the latter way, you will not be able to appreciate the most beautiful part of the island, as its beauty is actually found in the caves and below the surface of the earth.
To help you visit one of the strangest and most beautiful landscapes in the world, we have prepared this useful tour guide with everything you need to go to Cappadocia.
Weather: When to visit Cappadocia
The best times to explore Cappadocia are spring and autumn. In summer, in addition to finding large numbers of tourists, you will have to endure temperatures of over 30 degrees. In winter, on the other hand, the thermometer can mark -10 degrees.
Checklist for traveling
For a stay during the spring/summer period, we recommend that you bring:
- An index 30-50 sunscreen
- A hat or cap
- Low-cut hiking shoes
- Short sleeve t-shirt (breathable if you hike) + light sweater for the evening
- Hiking backpack
Things to do in Cappadocia:
1. Watch the sunrise and/or take a Cappadocia hot air balloon ride
For years hot air balloons have become attractive in their own right in Cappadocia. Every morning (or almost), 150 to 200 hot air balloons take off and invade the sky above Cappadocia. To take a hot-air balloon ride it costs around 150-250 € per person, but the good news is that the spectacle is no less magnificent from the ground.
You can look hot air balloons all over the place (many guesthouses have rooftop terraces) but if you want our suggestion, it is clearly worth the walk a bit and get away from the crowds.
2. Climb to Uchisar Castle
Probably the most panoramic view in Cappadocia!
Ascending to the top of Uchisar Castle is surely worth it. Admission is chargeable (9TL in May 2019).
To get to Uchisar there are quite a few options. The “easiest” is the bus. All the buses from Goreme to Nevsehir go through Uchisar and can drop you there for a few cents. These buses leave Goreme every 30 minutes.
Afterward, if you have time, we clearly recommend that you come on foot! You can make a loop to go through the Love Valley on the way up and down through the valley of the pigeons. It is a great 3-4 hour route that goes through the castle.
3. Visit the underground city of Derinkuyu
To change the hikes a bit, you can also visit the underground city of Derinkuyu. Located 30 kilometers south of Nevsehir, this underground city is the largest in the world. Its construction most probably started around the 8th century BC.
Derinkuyu is a real city underground! To be honest, only 10% of the city is accessible to the public. It’s just totally crazy to imagine that people lived like this completely underground to protect themselves from persecution (it was mainly the refuge of Greek Christians). During the visit, you can descend to 85 meters underground, passing through the various furnished living rooms. The whole is ventilated by 52 ventilation chimneys.
We admit, this visit will certainly impressive, but we also found that there are clearly too many people. The corridors are narrow and you quickly find ourselves having to follow the rhythm of “the flow”. If you come, try to come in the morning or at the end of the day when the organized tours are gone.
4. Valleys not to be missed in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is actually a Micmac of valleys. What is really exciting is that geographically they are very close, but they are all entirely different!
The Valley of Love (Love Valley)
Probably the most photographed valley in Cappadocia. She is known for her large spikes in the shape of… uh… asparagus? Yes yes, let’s say its asparagus! Many travelers come to admire this valley from the viewpoint accessible by road and which overlooks the peaks. The views are great but believe us, it is definitely worth going to the valley to see these giants from below as well.
The white valley
Located just after the valley of love in the direction of Uchisar, this valley is really very beautiful too. Here the penises (let’s call a spade a spade) give way to huge white rock formations.
The valley of the pigeons
Ah there for once the name is not explicit … Do not expect to find colonies of pigeons in this valley! In fact, the name comes from the many dovecotes which are still visible there.
These dovecotes were created on the rock between the 19th and 20th centuries. At the time the pigeons were used as messengers but they were also much acknowledged because their excrements were used to cultivate the fields. Well, let’s be reassured, there are still a few pigeons in the area, but let’s say that this is not the main characteristic of the place…
A very beautiful valley which is at the end of the valley of the pigeons. Very green and shaded, it is great for a walk! In the Zemi valley, there are also several troglodyte churches that can be visited freely!
Visit Uchisar, Avanos or Cavusin and Göreme
The villages are also great fun to visit in Cappadocia! Here we have no specific recommendations for you other than taking a walk …Uchisar and Göreme know it sounds a bit simplistic, but I swear to you it’s hands down the nicest thing to do! Stroll among the troglodyte houses and stop to drink a good little cellar on a terrace: happiness!
You can also visit the pottery and ceramics museums of Avanos. Ceramic is not particularly our hobbyhorse we did not prioritize it, but if you are interested then know that they are apparently very good. The artisans make demonstrations and it is even possible to try your hand at creation.
Zvelve open-air museum
If there is an open-air museum that we suggest, it would be the one in Zvelve. Visit here at the start of the day just after the sunrise, the site will absolutely empty. The entrance costs 15 TL and it is surely worth it as the site is super well preserved. You can enter some homes (not all). Access is restricted for the preservation of the site which is very very good.
Göreme open-air museum
This open-air museum can be found just outside Goreme. In our opinion, the attraction of Cappadocia does not lie so much in these open-air museums, especially since in our eyes the entire region can somehow be seen as an open-air museum. Afterward, it is obvious that in hiking we do not have explanatory panels on the history of the place…
5. Taste the wines of Cappadocia
You can taste the Turkish wines on Sirince’s side. Perhaps remember that our first experience was not the most conclusive… So we will not lie, Cappadocia is not yet Bordeaux, BUT there is clearly improvement.
During our hikes, you will come across a lot of vines growing between these volcanic rocks. It will be hard to tell you if ALL the wines come exactly from the Göreme region (we imagine so) but the wines from Cappadocia are clearly the best you can taste in this country which clearly has more cellar culture than some wine.
Food: Restaurants in Cappadocia
Iggy Cafe: in the small town of Ürgüp, a superb restaurant with a terrace with a view of the sunset. You can taste local specialties such as mezzes, borek, and pastrami.
Tik tik Kadin Emeği: this little restaurant opened its doors just a few months ago. Also in Ürgüp, this women’s cooperative offers delicious local cuisine. One of the best places to eat!
Cappadocia’s best Hotel to stay
There are several hotels of all prices in Göreme, the tourist center of Cappadocia. One of the nicest hotels in this area, a short drive from Uchisar: Argos in Cappadocia. The place is superb, and the gigantic rooms, built-in stone walls. If you want to break the bank to please yourself, we highly recommend this place. In addition, Uçhisar is much quieter than Göreme, which is overloaded with tourists. The place is perfect to watch the sunrise; you can take advantage of it every day, a short walk to Tiraz Castle.
The hotel is renowned for its sumptuous wine cellar (it is possible to organize a tasting), and for its fine cuisine restaurant.
Website and reservations: argosincappadocia.com
Price: from 225 € per night
Travel budget (in May 2019)
Before ending this article, we wanted to give a quick update on expenses in Cappadocia. Göreme and its surroundings are clearly one of the most expensive regions in Turkey due to its tourist attendance. Nevertheless, Turkey is and remains a country where one can travel easily on a moderate budget.
The expenses in Cappadocia: average per day per expense item (for 2 people)
For info: in the May 2019 1 € = around 6.5 TL
The total budget for the 6 days and 6 nights in Cappadocia in 2019: 347.5 € (for 2 people)
Or an average of around 29 € per day and per person.
For this budget we can:
- Sleep in simple guesthouses but in a private room with bathroom (breakfast included)
- Eat one restaurant per day (between 60 and 120 TL addition) and had a picnic at noon
- No tour! You can do everything on foot except to go to Derinkuyu
- Take a few aperitifs (Compared to the rest, alcohol remains expensive in Turkey because of the taxes).