Cappadocia is an amazing place that you probably have already heard of or have seen pictures from. It is located in the center of Turkey, basically in a desert. Cappadocia attracts many tourists with its unique rock formations and hot air balloons. However, the region has so many things to offer and I have decided to create a list of the top ten things to do in Cappadocia.
The ride in a hot air balloon is the number one activity in Cappadocia. This is the reason why many people visit Cappadocia in the first place.
In the low season the price for a ride can go down to 70 euros per person and in the high season it can be anywhere between 100 and 200 euros per person.
The whole hot air balloon activity starts in the morning around 6 AM and lasts between an hour to an hour and a half (depends on what you pay for, as well as the balloon operator). There can be up to 20 people in one basket, so sometimes it gets really crowded.
You can book the rides online or at the location. Although, if you are coming in the high season it is best to book the activity in advance.
Remember that the rides can also be canceled due to bad weather.
For those who are coming to Cappadocia to enjoy the views of hot air balloons it is not a place to sleep in. One thing that you must do even if you are not going to fly, is to get up early and go to the rooftop terrace of your hotel (also, make sure to book a hotel with a terrace).
Many hotels create a sitting area on the terraces especially for amazing pictures. These little corners usually are covered with red Turkish carpets and colorful pillows. This setting and amazing view of hot air balloons and Cappadocia rocks makes photos fairytail-sh.
Cody and I went to our rooftop two days in a row just to get a great time lapse of hot air balloons going up in the air and to just enjoy the amazing view.
Note: even if you are coming in the middle of summer I do advise you to bring a jacket or a sweater. The mornings in Cappadocia are quite cold.
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There are many viewpoints all around Goreme city. And of course the view from all of them is amazing. However, the best time to visit any of them is not during the day when the sun is high up and you feel like you are going to die before climbing up the hill. The best time will be at sunrise and sunset (golden hours).
The sunrise (6 to 7 AM) is a great time to climb up the hill and see all of Goreme city from above, plus you can get a close look at the hot air balloons that are flying around. Not to mention fantastic photos that are guaranteed.
The golden hours of sunset are a whole different picture. From some of the viewpoints you can see the Rose Valley which is particularly beautiful during the sunset.
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There are around 300 hotels in Goreme city, so to make the best of your time in Cappadocia it is important to choose a good hotel. First of all, Goreme is a cave city and one of the experiences that I think you should have is to stay at a cave hotel. There are lots of them and the price range is quite wide.
Second, choose a hotel that has a nice rooftop terrace where you can get great photos with balloons. Believe me, you wont regret having this opportunity.
And third, if you are coming in Summer it is better to choose a hotel that has a swimming pool. You probably would stay at the hotel during the hottest hours of the day and to have a swimming pool is a big plus.
Uchisar city is a city next to Goreme. This is a place that should be on your bucket list as well. Uchisar is not as touristy as Goreme, but it also has many things to offer.
Cody and I found that the city itself looks even more dramatic than Goreme city. There are some of the fairy chimney rocks and many caves around Uchisar. Actually the city reminds me a bit of Minas Tirith from “Lord of the rings” with a castle in the middle of the city.
The Uchisar castle is not your usual walls and towers combination, it is a citadel perched in a rock spur and you can actually scale it. From the top of the citadel you can see the whole city and pigeon valley which lays down below the city.
To get to Uchisar city you can go by walking and taxi. Cody and I decided to walk from Goreme city to Uchisar and took the longer trail. It took us about 2 hours and all our energy not to die under the hot sun. If you are smart and have decided to take a taxi (that is what we did on the way back), it will cast you just about 20 TL.
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Another thing that you must do while you are visiting Uchisar city is the Pigeon Valley. This is a valley where people were breeding pigeons for food long time ago. In the valley you can see many small round holes in the rocks that were made by people to house pigeons. Unfortunately, in the 80s a large number of pigeons died due to chemicals on the crops, but the name of the valley wasn’t changed.
There are a few ways to see Pigeon Valley. The easiest one is to get to any viewpoint along the valley and get a few pictures, but that is it. The best way to see this valley is to get to the south entrance of Pigeon Valley (click here to see location) and walk back towards Uchisar city.
That is what Cody and I did. At the end of the valley there is a nice viewing platform and a trail that takes you down to the valley. The walk back to Uchisar city will take about 20 – 30 minutes. There is no walking path on google maps, so i drew it myself to show you where exactly you would get out.
The walk in Pigeon valley is pretty easy with no hills to climb until the end of the trail. Along the walk you’ll see many caves and pigeon houses. There is even one that is very close to the walking path and you can experience for yourself how cool it is inside it, especially on a hot day.
The Cappadocia region is rich, not just with the fairy chimneys, but with underground cities as well. There are plenty of them of the all over Cappadocia and if you rent a car you can visit as many as you want. For those who don’t have time or want to take a city bus or a taxi, I recommend visiting Kaymaki Underground city.
Some of you might think why go to Kaymaki if Cardak Underground city is closer. Although Cardak city is closer, the underground complex is nothing special. There are just a few rooms that won’t impress you very much.
The Kaymaki Underground city is a complex of caves that go eight stories down into the ground. However, only 3 stories are open for tourists and the rest of them are just for archaeologists. Anyway, these three stories of long underground tunnels with many caves throughout them will take your breath away.
Note: for those who are suffering from claustrophobia, it might be a difficult place to visit. And I know how scary close spaces can be for some people, because that is what happens to me. As soon as I got to a very narrow tunnel I had to stop and it took some time to make myself go further. Every time I had to remind myself to not panic and be calm, and just follow Cody.
Ticket price 50 TL per person.
One of the places you must visit is a Love Valley. There are two of them around Goreme city: Baglidere Vadisi and Zemi Vadisi. And to get to Zemi Vadisim (valley) it is an easy walk from the center of Goreme.
If you are like Cody and I and just want to see the fairy chimney rock formations and don’t want to walk for four kilometres than start from the end of the valley (click here to see location).
From this side you will need to walk just about 10 minutes from the entrance to get to the best part – fairy chimneys. If you want to walk through the whole valley you can walk from the end to the beginning as well, but you would have to work your way up, so better to start from the other end.
The taxi to the end of Zemi valley from Goreme city costs just 15 TL and to the beginning, the same.
Food is an essential part of experiencing a new culture and one of the must do things in Cappadocia is to try local food. There are many restaurants around Goreme city and some are better than others.
There many dishes that you should try in this region and in Turkey in general. For example if you are going for meat get the lamb. Particulaly special is a Testi Kebab (pottery kebab). I know it can look very gimmicky, but the lamb is so tender and flavorful that it will make you fall in love with Turkish cuisine. Another thing that you should try is a meze platter. This is not just a single dish, this is a composition of different small plates. Some restaurants will have just 3-4 meze, while some will have over a dozen.
Due to a happy accident, Cody and I realized that Goreme city and the Cappadocia region must have a nice local wine that we should try. This occurred on our walk from Goreme to Uchisar city. As I wrote above, Cody and I decided to have a nice walk and chose the longest path to Uchisar. The path was way longer that I expected and led us through fields of squashes and grape vines. And while I was going through all these fields and dying under 31C, I realized that there must be some good wine in Goreme and if I shall survive this day I’ll have to try it.
The very next day we went to a wine shop and found a nice selection of the local wine. There are many kinds of sweet and semi sweet ones, but Cody and I as usual went for a dry red wine. Our hotel’s terrace happened to be the best place for wine tasting and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset with a delicious bottle of local wine.
The wine prices start at 60 TL.
The Goreme Open Air Museum is one of the most visited places in Cappadocia. A long time ago this area was a settlement for monks between the 4th and 13th centuries.
Like everywhere else in Cappadocia it is not a usual settlement that was build out of stone and rock. The houses, or better to say caves, where carved inside the rocks. The rocks themselves were made millions of years ago due to volcanic activities. That is why people carved caves inside, since the rocks are pretty soft to work with. Such houses (caves) were a perfect place to hide during hot summers, cold winters, and to store food.
The Goreme Open Air museum is a place with many preserved cave churches. Inside some of them you will find some very old and incredible mosaics
You can visit this open air museum by yourself, just get in a taxi and buy the ticket at the entrance. Or book a tor that includes this location.
Ticket price: 100 TL (doesn’t include the entrance to the Darck Church), children until 8 years old is free. The Dark Church is an additional 30 TL per person.