Travelers around the world flock to Cappadocia every year to finally experience what this magical place is all about. This region is known for many things including fairy chimneys, underground cities, cave hotels, and the famous hot air balloons. It’s the one place you’ll always remember your first time, including if you plan to buy your very own Turkish rug or hand-painted ceramics too!
How Many Days to Spend Here
You need at least three days to get a good taste of what Cappadocia has to offer. It’s not a destination that is a good day trip from other cities. Three days gets you enough time to see some of the top sites and get a chance to ride in a hot air balloon. However, if you spend five days or more, you’ll get the full experience by visiting other attractions like Lake Tuz, allowing you to go off the beaten track, take some of the good hikes, dine in more of the restaurants, and go even farther afield, such as to Aladağ National Park. This also gives you plenty of time to book your hot air balloon ride. It’s suggested to book it on your first day in case your flight gets canceled due to wind conditions; your provider can reschedule the flight for you on the following day.
Göreme Open-Air Museum
This compact valley, filled with beautiful medieval painted churches is the No. 1 sight in Cappadocia, which means that it's usually crowded. Things like small churches may be filled with visitors so you must plan your visit.
Uçhisar Rock Castle
The highest point in Cappadocia is a natural fortress called Uçhisar Rock Castle, now penetrated by tunnels and steps that take you right to the top. It's well worth seeing, both for itself and for the spectacular panoramic views from its dangerous summit.
In the southern reaches of Cappadocia, these honeycombs of dwellings underground are simply fantastic. There are 40 different underground cities scattered all over Cappadocia. If there’s a handful of things you have time for in Cappadocia, make this one of them! You can tour a few of them in the same day while visiting the Ihlara Valley.
Hot-Air Balloon Flight
Among the most popular activities in Cappadocia are hot-air balloon flights. With as many as 90 of them in the morning sky all at the same time, a hot-air balloon flight lets you see the entire moonscape of Cappadocia as the birds do—or the angels.
Towns of Cappadocia
Each town of Cappadocia has its own allure and attractions. All are worth a stop and some are worth more wandering than others. But they will be your base for exploring the region.
There’s a river that runs along this dramatic narrow canyon where medieval Byzantine monks carved monastic cave churches and painted them with Biblical scenes. You can walk as much or as little as you want, making it a stop on a day excursion, or a full day's hike.
Set conveniently near Çavuşin between Göreme Town and Avanos, Zelve's churches are not in as good condition as Göreme's, but they are less crowded, making it possible to climb among the rocks as you like!
The fairy chimneys in "the Pasha's Vineyard" are of tawny tufa topped by denser, darker rock caps—a dramatic contrast. Stop here on your way to the Zelve Valley and walk among the cones and columns.
The Upper and Lower Soğanlı valleys of southern Cappadocia, about 36 km (22 miles) south of Mustafapaşa, are great if you want to do some Cappadocian cave-church exploring off the beaten path. At Soğanlı pronounced (soh-AHN-luh) due to fewer crowds in this area, you may have hiking trails and churches dovecotes to yourself.
If a hot-air balloon flight is the best way to see it all, hiking or walking on one of Cappadocia's many scenic trails is the way to see the moonscape in detail.
Aladağ National Park
The Kapuzbaşı Waterfalls (Kapuzbaşı Şelalesi) in Aladağlar National Park south of Cappadocia and east of Niğde, are among Turkey's most unusual: the seven waterfalls spurt right from a solid-rock cliff face.
Look at the rock shapes here: pinnacles, bulbs, sensuous shapes, one that reminds you of a camel—Devrent has some of the most fantastic natural rock sculptures in Cappadocia.
To round things up, these are some of Cappadocia’s top sights to see while traveling around. Whether you enjoy a great hike overlooking valleys, a sunrise hot air balloon, or visiting some underground cities, there’s something here for everyone. Be sure to book your tours, activities, and attractions with our trusted partner: Pupa Travel. Their tour guides have decades of experience regarding Cappadocia’s history and offer a wealth of information to curious travelers.
-Photos by Sonia Anand