Back in 2014 I attended the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championship in Izmir as a photographer. Since I’ve never visited Turkey I decided to plan a trip with my dad. Cappadocia was our first stop and one of the most memorable trips I ever did ! The hot air balloons flying in the sky, the fairy chimneys, the epic landscapes, the underground cities, it looks like the set of a fantasy movie!
How to arrive in Cappadocia
The Goreme National Park is close to two airports: Kayseri’s International Airport (1 h 10 min) and Nevşehir Cappadocia Havalimanı (50 min). Both are very close to Goreme. My advice is to look for the best flight connection, If you’re coming from Istanbul, or the closeness to your hotel. Turkish Airline operates the flights connection between Istanbul and both airports, prices are around 300 – 400 €.
Best time to visit Cappadocia
Cappadocia is one of those destinations you have to visit during spring/summer. Winter and autumn may be very cold and they’re often snowy. The best period goes from late, mid April till early October. I personally visited Cappadocia during the second half of September and It was just perfect. The weather was sunny and temperature was perfect, not too hot to trek during the day and not too cold at night.
Cappadocia : Where should you stay?
Goreme offers a wide range of options when it come to book your hotel. The cave hotels, which are literally inside the fairy chimneys, are an incredible experience I’d love to try on my next visit. We stayed at the Tourist Hotels & Resort Cappadocia, which is just outside Goreme. It’s a very nice resort nearby horse farms. What I loved the most of this hotel, was the panoramic view from the swimming pool, just look down below!
Best activities to do in Cappadocia
1 – Hot Air Balloon Ride. Cost : between 150 € and 250 €
Probably Cappadocia’s most famous activity and for sure a MUST If you are visiting. It’s truly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. Admiring the sunrise on top of the fairy chimneys rock formation among a hundreds of hot air balloons, it’s magical! This is one of the travel experiences that I loved the most! If you want to know more there’s a full blog post dedicated to this here complete with an immersive video.
2 – Visit an Underground City
This is a less known activity you can do in Cappadocia. Just a few minutes away from the Goreme National Parks, you can visit one of the many underground cities around the region. If you have good shoes and aren’t scared to walk between narrow passages, this is as well a MUST to your Cappadocia tour. There are many underground cities in Cappadocia, the biggest of them could host up to 50.000 inhabitants and ran for many kilometres. The network was very complex and linked many cities between them.
I personally visited two underground cities : Ozkonak and Derinkuyu. Both were an incredible experience. Deryunkuyu is one of the biggest underground cities in Cappadocia. It reaches depths of over 85 metres and spans on 8 identified floors. The entrance fee is 3 €.
3 – Trek in the Red and Rose Valleys and enjoy the view from Sunset Point
For over a thousands of years, the ridges have formed to create a unique landscape. The Red and Rose Valleys are one of the most incredible trek you can do! When you’re planning your visit, consider a 2 hours walk. My advice is to start around 4 – 5 PM. It’s not to hot and you’ll end your walk just in time to admire the beautiful sunset on the panoramic spot. Don’t forget to bring water to stay hydrated.
4 – The Goreme Open Air Museum. Cost : 7 €
The Goreme Open Air Museum is an impressive rocky settlement that hosts many monasteries. It’s the most important Byzantine cave church site in the world. The variety of paintings and frescoes in this site is impressive. The volcanic tuff preserved the colours and details better comparing to other sites. The visit takes about 2 hours and covers 15 churches and 11 refectories.
5 – Trek in Pasabag and Zelve Open Air Museum. Cost for Zelve : 3 €
Chimneys, chimneys and more fairy chimneys. We combined these two excursions as Pasabag rock formations are very close to the Zelve Open Air Museum. Let’s start with Zelve. This area was once very inhabited. You’ll spot at least a hole, which served as doors, in almost all the fairy chimneys. This area also hosted many churches and monasteries that you can safely visit on your walk.
Pasabag offers unique rock formations that looks like mushrooms, towering up to 30 metres. But also lower conic formations you can get lost into. Something that impressed me are the colours, there are so many! Going from white to 50 shades of grey and rose, the edges of the mushroom rocks look almost bluish, depending on the sun.
6 – Uchisar and Ortahisar Castles
If you’re thinking of a medieval looking like castle forget about it! Uchisar and Ortahisar are two incredible cities completely carved in two massive tuff formations that are still inhabited today. Although the external constructions are modern both cities preserved their charm. If you are visiting you definitely have to climb to the top of both castles. The view on the surrounding region is breathtaking! My advice is to do both. Together with the hot air balloon ride, It’s the best way to have an aerial view of Goreme and its surroundings.
In conclusion Cappadocia is a land of incredible landscapes and experiences. But there is so much more to see in Turkey. If you’re planning to go, make sure to read my Road Trip from Cappadocia to Pamukkale. With all the top stops you shouldn’t miss!