Cappadocia is a region located in the center of Turkey. The region is home to the provinces of Kayseri, Nevşehir, Aksaray and Niğde. It is known worldwide for its geological formations (especially its fairy chimneys), cave churches, underground cities... and for this reason, one of the best ways to visit it and be able to contemplate everything is to do it in a balloon flight.
Turkey had never caught my attention. Yes, it was a country that I wanted to get to know, but I had other priorities before. Until one day I started to investigate more about what to see in the country and I was completely fascinated by all the information I was finding about Cappadocia.
In this article I explain the 15 essential things to see and do in Cappadocia, spectacular viewpoints and tips on where to stay.
15 ESSENTIALS TO SEE AND DO IN CAPPADOCIA
1 and 2. Rose Valley & Red Valley, essential places to see in Cappadocia
The first two essential places to see in Cappadocia are these two valleys. You will find some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Valley of the Roses and the Red Valley (Rose Valley and Red Valley).
They are located next to each other, so I recommend that you spend a day visiting them both at the same time. You can visit one in the morning and one in the afternoon. However, if you are a lover of sunsets, the best time for both valleys is after lunch and when the afternoon begins to fall. The valleys intensify their warm colors and it's amazing.
The best way to explore the valleys is on foot. You can also go horseback riding. You have several trekkings that you can do, of different duration. We especially did the trek from Rose Valley to Red Valley, to finish, watching the sunset from here. From the hotel they offered us the taxi service that left us in Rose Valley and picked us up hours later in Red Valley. Everything is very well signposted and you can't get lost, but there are maps of the area that are generally offered by hotels.
Inside the valleys there is a cafeteria where they serve juices and little else. There are also services. So I advise you to take a lot of water and something to eat. The ideal time for each valley is 3 to 4 hours of travel, to enjoy each viewpoint and route. But if you wish you have "shortcuts" to cross both valleys.
If you do not want to arrive by taxi, you have the option of renting a car to move around Cappadocia or take one of the guided tours.
To visit this area there is an excursion of about 6 hours where, in addition to visiting the valleys, you will visit several houses and castles excavated in things.
3. Love Valley, a unique and singular place to see in Cappadocia
Love Valley is another of the essential places to see in Cappadocia. It is said that the name of this valley is due to the fact that the geological formations look like huge penises. There are even stories about it. I don't know how true it is, however, it is a beautiful place that you cannot miss.
You can visit Love valley in two ways; The first is touring the paths that cross the valley, there are some that you can access by vehicle and others by road, and the second option is to enjoy the views from the viewpoints.
If you decide to visit it from the viewpoints, I recommend you visit it at dawn. The sky is filled with balloons and with the landscape in the background it is beautiful.
4. Pasabag or Valley of the Monks
Pasabag is also known as the Valley of the Monks. Here you will find a landscape with numerous earthen pillars and some of the tallest fairy chimneys in the region. Incredible! They usually end in a cone shape and some of them are joined together.
You can also visit the chapel dedicated to San Simeon. Be sure to enter the caves carved into the chimneys, where monks used to hide.
5. Uchisar Castle
Uçhisar Castle is located in the town that gives it its name, about a 10-minute drive from Göreme.
The town is beautiful and has a very special charm. Stroll leisurely through its streets, visit the churches, the small local shops and go up to the top of the castle, from where you will have spectacular views. You can even get to see Mount Erciyes. The top of the castle is the highest point in all of Cappadocia.
There are buses connecting Göreme and Uçhisar. Although you can also arrive with a rental car or with a tour that includes a stop in Uçhisar (something that I advise you, I will talk about it in the next point).
6. North Cappadocia Tour
I personally really like going solo. However, in all destinations there are free tours and tours that I am very interested in doing, not only for the convenience of transportation, but also because the local guides can be your best friends when it comes to finding secret places, knowing anecdotes and knowing more about the history of the place.
Of all the tours that there are in Cappadocia, if I had to stay with one of all the ones we did, it would certainly be this option.
The North Cappadocia tour covers practically all the essential places of interest to see such as; the fairy chimneys, the Uçhisar Castle, the Devrent Valley… Don't miss it!
7. Open Air Museum Goreme, Cappadocia
It is only 20 minutes walking from the town of Göreme. It is an open-air museum that has several monasteries located next to each other and numerous chapels whose walls are covered with frescoes. They seemed accurate inside.
It is a highly recommended visit if you want to know in more depth what the day-to-day life of those who inhabited these monasteries was like and to know a little more about Cappadocia.
The entrance to the museum costs 100 TL (about 9 euros). You can also rent an audio guide.
8. The Valley of Devrent or the Valley of the Imagination
Devrent Valley is also known as the Valley of the Imagination. This name is due to the fact that many of its rocks have very curious shapes that are reminiscent of different objects or animals. It is a valley that is located north of Cappadocia and is perfect to visit on the same day that you visit the Uçhisar Castle and Pasabag.
9. Watch the sunrise and sunset in Cappadocia
Seeing both sunrise and sunset in Cappadocia is a real wonder.
Cappadocia is famous for its balloon flights and if you are going to do this activity (I will give you tips below) the flights are usually at sunrise (although there are several options).
Although it is not the only way to enjoy the sunrise in Cappadocia. You have numerous hotels with spectacular views, as well as many viewpoints. Seeing all the balloons floating from the ground is also one of the most amazing things to see in Cappadocia.
The Cappadocia sunset fills the region with warm colors that stand out in the desert and rock formations.
If you want to know the best viewpoints of Cappadocia from where you can enjoy both sunrise and sunset, I leave you the article here; the best viewpoints to see the sunrise or sunset in Cappadocia.
10. Fly in a balloon, something essential to do in Cappadocia
It is one of the most incredible experiences and the main reason why I am encouraged to travel to Turkey.
Balloon flights are usually all at dawn, although once we were there we saw balloons flying almost all day (except in the hottest hours at noon).
Something you should know when organizing your trip to Cappadocia is that not every morning you can fly in a balloon. In principle, the flights are offered every morning and it may be possible to always book it, but on some days the flights are canceled due to weather conditions, mainly due to factors such as wind and atmospheric pressure.
Therefore, if you plan to visit Cappadocia for 3 or 4 days, I recommend that you book the activity in advance and choose the flight to be the first day of your Cappadocia itinerary. In this way, if it is cancelled, you will still have days left for you to do it.
The tour leaves at dawn, they will generally pick you up from your accommodation around 4:30 approx and the activity lasts a total of 2:30h (including preparing the balloon and transfer), the time they are on top of the balloon is 1h or 1:15 a.m. From above the views are incredible, and you will take a tour of the different areas of Cappadocia.
The activity includes roundtrip transportation from the hotel to the area from where the balloon leaves, breakfast with coffee and tea, a glass of champagne and the flight certificate.
11 and 12. Visit the underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu
Cappadocia has numerous underground cities. The two best known are Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. The cities began to be excavated in the times of the Hittites and for several centuries they were home to different peoples who were hiding from the invaders.
Kaymakli is the largest city in terms of breadth and Derinkuyu the deepest (85 meters deep). You will find both cities to the south of Göreme, Kaymakli at 25 km and Derinkuyu at about 40km.
The city of Kaymakli has a total of 9 underground levels, of which four can be visited. You will have to go through quite narrow tunnels and it is quite claustrophobic. But it's worth it and if you don't feel too anxious, you can't miss it.
Admission costs 60 TL (5.40 euros). They recommend hiring a guide to visit it, but we did not do it, we visited it on our own. In case if you prefer a guide, at the entrance several men will offer you this service and the prices were between 15 and 25 euros.
On the other hand, Derinkuyu is the deepest underground city in the world at 85 meters deep. An atrocity!
Currently 20 underground levels have been discovered. Only the eight upper levels can be visited; the others are partially obstructed or reserved for archaeologists and anthropologists studying Derinkuyu.
Admission costs 60 TL (5.40 euros). And you also have the option of hiring a guide if you are interested right at the access door.
13. Breakfast with a view
Many hotels and establishments offer movie breakfasts on their rooftops so that you can enjoy the sunrise and the views contemplating the dozens of balloons floating. It is one more activity and not just a breakfast and depending on the place the cost can vary between 30 and 300 euros per person. Yes, you read it right. Up to 300 euros they asked us for a breakfast with a view.
In our case, the hotel had a roof terrace from where you had privileged views and although it did not offer this type of service, you could go up to the roof in the morning and enjoy the sunrise, so we decided not to do this type of activity.
But if your intention is to upload the typical photo to Instagram or video to tik tok having breakfast with a party dress and balloons floating through the sky of Cappadocia, know that you have the option and you just have to ask the receptionist of your hotel and you will give you a huge list of places to book.
14. Pigeon Valley (Valley of the Pigeons)
Another place that you cannot miss in Cappadocia is the Pigeon Valley (Valley of the Pigeons). It is located right next to Göreme, so you can walk there.
You will find paths to walk along while admiring the different rock forms, among which are churches and abandoned cave houses. You can also see this place from the viewpoints that surround it.
15. Enjoy leisure and local shows
In Turkey and especially in the Cappadocia region, shows with traditional dances are very popular. You have several options to enjoy them:
WHERE TO STAY IN CAPPADOCIA
I recommend that you stay in Göreme, it is the most central option, since everything is quite close to you. In addition, it is the option with the most variety of accommodation.
Some Great Accommodation Options in Gömere (Cappadocia)
Şah Saray Cave Suites Halal Hotel (Our accommodation option in Cappadocia)
PLAN YOUR TRIP STEP BY STEP
I hope you enjoy your trip to Turkey very much and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.
If you liked this article, subscribe to the blog so you don't miss the next destinations, curiosities, travel tips and inspiration for your trips.
A hug and see you soon!