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Cappadocia, Turkey Guide

Last Updated on September 15, 2023

Cappadocia, Turkey, is a historic area of Central Anatolia bounded by the towns of Hacıbektaş, Aksaray, Niğde, and Kayseri (map). (Here's a full list of the towns of Cappadocia.) The region was known as Cappadocia in ancient times and is still called Kapadokya informally today. Moreover, the Bible's New Testament tells of Cappadocia, but in fact, this part of Central Turkey has been important since Hittite times, long before the time of Jesus.

The Cappadocia region has been a popular choice between travel lovers and photographers for a long time. The region is known for its cave hotels, hot air balloon rides, fairy chimneys, wineries, and many more to experience.

Top Sights

Cappadocia is Turkey's most visually striking region, especially the "moonscape" area around the towns of Ürgüp, Göreme, Uçhisar, Avanos, and Mustafapaşa (Sinasos), where erosion has formed caves, clefts, pinnacles, "fairy chimneys." When you visit Cappadocia, you can take a hot air balloon ride to view the amazing rock formations. Let’s have a look at the most favored sights in Cappadocia.

Uchisar Castle was a rock formation at the highest point of Cappadocia. It was turned into a castle by locals living in the region. As you climb up the tower, you will witness rooms and passages used for many years among locals. At the top, you can get a panoramic view of Cappadocia and appreciate the region's scenic sights and fairy chimneys. Try to visit the castle at sundown to watch the sunset over the castle!

Fairy Chimneys

As if the whole experience is not magical enough, fairy chimneys are there to amaze you. These mysterious structures were formed after years of erosion of soft turf leaving out mushroom-shaped basalt towers.

When visiting Göreme Open Air Museum, expect to be amazed at everything. Besides breathtaking sights, you can see the ancient cave homes of the Cappadocian people. There are also cave churches, Dark Church being the most famous, preserved for centuries.

Derinkuyu Underground City and Kaymaklı Underground City

These amazing structures were home up to thousands of people and animals. They were used as fully functioning villages and even had churches, wineries, and cattle. When visiting, expect to see complex and fully functioning entire underground cities used for thousands of years. There are many small passages, rooms, and frescos to witness. Take the opportunity and visit this unforgettable place in Cappadocia.

zelve-cappadocia-nevsehir

Many monastic valleys exist, such as Göreme Valley and Zelve Valley in Cappadocia. You can also expect to find cave hotels, underground cities, hiking paths, and volcanic valleys (especially the Rose Valley [Güllüdere]).

If you love hiking, you should definitely visit Ihlara Valley in Cappadocia. You can easily spend a whole day in this serene valley just walking around, visiting fairy chimneys, and appreciating nature. There is much more to experience in this remarkable region.

Transportation

Public transport in Cappadocia is not well suited to sightseeing. You may want to rent/hire a car. If not, luckily, there are numerous good guided tours of the region.

Cappadocia is one of the most famous regions for tourists in Turkey. So, you can travel to Cappadocia easily by bus from anywhere in Turkey. We also have some guides on our page about traveling to Cappadocia within Turkey.

Distances & Travel Times

Here's information on traveling to Cappadocia from Istanbul, İzmir/Ephesus, Pamukkale, and Ankara, and here's a region map.

Click here for maps of Ankara, Cappadocia & Central Anatolia.

Also, see the pages for Kayseri, Nevşehir, or Ürgüp for travel times and distances to Cappadocia.


Cuisine

Cappadocia is famous for meat-based meals and richly flavored wide range of wine options. Nevşehir Testi Kebabı and Cappadocian wine are the most popular choices and a must-try when visiting this amazing region.


Lodging

Many travelers want to stay in a Cappadocian cave hotel, and there are plenty of good cave hotels in the region. Other types of hotels are also available. When choosing a Cappadocia hotel, be sure to check out our extensive list of amazing Cappadocian hotels and restaurants to enjoy when exploring Cappadocia.

Top Experiences

Cappadocia is famous for hot air balloons, cave hotels, full-day excursions, and underground cities. However, you can always find more to be amazed in this amazing region. Let's discover some of the top experiences in Cappadocia.

Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

The most favored activity, particularly to explore Cappadocia, is hot air balloon rides. Flying in a hot air balloon above the incredible landscape at dawn is a perfect way to enjoy the magical views of Cappadocia. Taking a ride in a hot air balloon is especially a favored choice among photograph enthusiasts.

Stay in a Cave Hotel

Cappadocia is famous for cave hotels, so spending the night in Cappadocia cave hotels and comfortable cave rooms with all the modern comforts is another great option to experience the magic of the region.

Go Hiking

There are many valleys to enjoy nature and hike in Cappadocia. When taking a hike, you can visit the historic painted cave churches of the many monastic valleys (especially the Göreme Valley and Zelve Valley), enjoy nature, and witness the extraordinary sights of Cappadocia.

Drink Local Wine

You can also enjoy hundreds of years-old wines and wine yards in Cappadocia. Although the volcanic landscape can appear inhospitable, the mineral-rich soil is excellent for growing vegetables and fruits, making Cappadocia a rich agricultural region. It has always been one of Anatolia's prime grape-growing areas and still boasts many productive vineyards and wineries popular among tourists and locals alike.


Tours & Excursions

Excursions in Cappadocia

If you want to experience an excellent full-day excursion, drive to the surprising underground cities at Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı and the formerly Ottoman-Greek mountain town of Güzelyurt before taking a hike for several hours in the Ihlara Valley. It is worth noting there is also another underground city in Ihlara Valley.

You may also want to spend a half-day hiking the less-visited Soğanlı Valleys of southern Cappadocia, south of Mustafapaşa. You can expect to see many ancient churches along this valley. Another great excursion is to the Byzantine Iconoclastic rock-hewn monastery at Eski Gümüşler near Niğde.

If you want to experience something extraordinary, you can opt for a sunset horseback riding tour through the Valleys of Cappodica with your partner or a quad safari if you enjoy motorcycles.

We didn't even mention half of the activities that can be done in Cappadocia. There are many options to explore this amazing region. Here is our detailed version of What to See and Do in Cappadocia.

Guided Tours in Cappadocia

There are also many guided tours in Cappadocia suitable for all preferences. Biblical, natural, and historical tours invite visitors to experience Cappadocia to the fullest. We recommend taking a guided tour along the underground cities of Cappadocia.

Here's a list of good Cappadocian travel agencies that can arrange guided tours, car rentals, car-and-driver, flights, and any other services you may want.

Cappadocian Travel Agencies 

When to go to Cappadocia

Another beauty of Cappadocia is that you can visit it any time of the year and still be amazed each time. During Summer, people head to beaches, leaving Cappadocia to the lucky few. Fall brings out the stunning colors of Cappodocia, creating a timeless scene. Meanwhile, snow covers Cappadocia's peaks in winter, creating a view out of fairytales.

Visit Cappadocia 

Cappadocia is a unique region within Turkey. In addition to hot air ballooning, there are many amazing sites in this historic region. The Cappadocia region is full of many unique structures, both geologic and historical. Book your tour to Turkey today to experience this unique region.

—by Tom Brosnahan, updated by Can Turan

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