Cappadocia is a semi-arid region in central Turkey, whose unique landscape and peculiar rock formations attract tens of thousands of tourists every year. This rocky wonderland was shaped by natural phenomena millions of years ago. Visiting the region is like stepping into another world. Here are the top 10 things to do in Cappadocia.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
What better way to start off your tour of Cappadocia? Taking a hot air balloon ride over this gorgeous landscape has to be your top choice. For floating above this honeycomb terrain is like coming in for a moon landing!
A hot air balloon flight over this amazing landscape should make top spot on your bucket list. Gliding and gently drifting over and between fairy chimneys, Rose Valley, and unique rock formations is absolutely a fantastic experience.
Rides generally begin during twilight and go on for around 45 minutes. They are also held early in the morning before sunrise to harness the stillness of the air, and so that you can see the sun come up over the nearby mountain ranges.
Explore the Underground City
The Cappadocia region contains hundreds of historical underground cities. Carved out of ancient volcanic ash, these caverns were used as living quarters, hiding places, stables, and cellars for storing food and wine.
Derinkuyu, the biggest city, was large enough to house up to 20,000 people and was about 85 m (270 feet) deep with winding tunnels, kitchens, staircases, and emergency doors.
But it is most certainly not for people who are claustrophobic, as its passageways can be very narrow.
Visit the Open-air Museum
This is usually the first sight any traveler visits in Cappadocia due to its location at the very center of the region, with easy access from all directions.
The open-air museum was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1964, and was one of the first heritage sites listed in Turkey.
This region has a very long history dating to the 4th century and was home to cave dwellers even as late as the 1960s! It is dotted with various rock churches boasting magnificent frescoes. Visiting this museum is a great way to get a feel of what life in the caves was like.
Stay in a Cave Hotel
Picking a cave hotel for your accommodation is an absolute highlight. Cappadocia is a honeycomb of caves, many of which were carved by hand out of soft volcanic rock hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. These caves have been used as homes, monasteries, churches, and now, hotels.
The rooms in these cave hotels are generally decorated in an exotic style, with Turkish throw rugs and beautiful pillows covered with colorful Turkish fabrics. "Fairy chimneys" near the hotels give travelers the feeling of being in a fairyland.
Please do not forget to get up early in the morning — venture out to the rooftop to behold hundreds of colorful hot air balloons floating in the air.
Depending on your budget, you can choose accommodation from 1-star to 5-star hotels.
Traverse One of the Many Hiking Trails
Visitors travel to Cappadocia from all over the world to explore some of the 5-star hiking trails that are found around there. Hikes ranges from a couple of hours to a full day; there is certainly a lot to see. All of the hikes are free and easy to access from Göreme.
Here are two recommended hikes:
- Pigeon Valley (from Göreme to Uçhisar): the name refers to the thousands of pigeon houses carved from the soft rock of the chimneys and the mountainside. Winding through a valley, the trek is relatively straightforward and the scenery simply awesome along the track.
- Soganli Valley: it has the highest concentration of fairy chimneys through all of Cappadocia. In theory, a short hike will only take you a couple of hours, but combine it with Rose Valley and Red Valley, and it can take you a whole day. Two well-preserved Byzantine churches can be found on the way, and loads of abandoned cave houses are available to explore.
Explore Imaginary Valley
This valley is famous for its lunar landscape. Unlike other valleys in Cappadocia, it does not have any cave churches nor was it ever inhabited. Instead, it has an extraordinary landscape shaped by nature that makes you pause in wonder — the valley has many animal-shaped rocks that make it look like a sculpture zoo!
Some of the animal shapes easiest to spot are the camel, kissing birds, snakes, the dolphin, and many others, especially if you let your imagination run free. It can also be a great place for hiking amongst peculiar rock formations; however, some terrain is steep and slippery.
Explore Rose Valley
The color of the stones in this valley is reddish rose, and the intensity of the color keeps changing depending on the time of day.
One of the most captivating sights you will witness in Rose Valley is the numerous cave houses connected by tunnels that were carved out of the rocks. It is also home to many cave churches decorated with beautiful frescoes.
The vibrant pinkish-red unique rock formations in the valley make it one of the best spots to watch the sunset.
Ride over Sand Dunes with the Quad Bike Tour
This adrenaline-filled adventure tour is definitely one for thrill seekers. Driving quad bikes crazily but safely around the fairy chimneys and giant sand dunes, travelers witness amazing views and have the time of their life. This activity is available in some valleys such as Rose Valley.
Visit Local Small Towns
Visiting the nearby small towns is a good way to get a feel of the local life. Head to some of the small towns to see what everyday life is like.
The town of Cavusin is our recommendation — there are some caves there that are easy to explore on your own. Two churches dedicated to St John the Baptist can be found in this town, which was constructed over a thousand years ago.
Watch Sunset at Lover’s Hill
Lover’s Hill is the most popular place to watch the sunset, and it is just walking distance from most of the hotels in Göreme. The uphill hike is worth it as the place offers a panoramic view of the town and magnificent sunset views.
It is also the best place to watch the sunrise and the colorful hot air balloons flying over the valleys of Cappadocia.
Explore Cappadocia with Us
A tour to Cappadocia should be a relaxing escapade. We understand that no one likes to travel in a large noisy group, hurrying from one place to the next.
Our tours are flexible and private — there are no group tours with strangers and no time wasted. You can travel at your own pace. Let us help you create your Cappadocia tour.
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