Here is all the Cappadocia travel advice that you need. We’ve got a list of things to do in Cappadocia and historic sites to see and explore that go beyond hot-air balloon flights.
From the Göreme open-air museum, cave dwellings, and Uçhisar castle to finding a sunset point for that unique landscape, I guarantee that my Cappadocia travel guide has it all.
When you hear the word Cappadocia, you probably have visions of hot air balloons flying in front of your eyes. After all, all those Turkey itinerary brochures plaster that as the number one thing to do in Cappadocia – and I guess it is.
Of course, that’s for an excellent reason; this is one of the world’s prime spots for ballooning, and millions of people flock to Cappadocia every year for that same experience.
The problem is, what if you don’t like heights but still want to visit this beautiful landscape? What if your flight is canceled due to bad weather? What if you can’t afford it? Let’s face it; a hot air balloon flight is the cheapest activity!
The good news is that there is more to do around Cappadocia than simply hot air ballooning. At the same time, you should give it a go if you can; don’t forget to check out some of the area’s other unique activities, too.
To give you an idea of what to do in Cappadocia and whet your appetite, here are a few things you can do around Cappadocia that do not require a hot air balloon tour.
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Map Of What To Do In Cappadocia
1. Head To A Viewing Platform And Take Some Insta-Worthy Snaps
There are many points around the area where you can take some awe-inspiring photos. Some of these viewpoints are free, and some you’ll need to pay a small fee, but it’s certainly more than worth it to get the best spot for your next Insta post.
Head to one of these points at sunset, and you’ll have images in your mind that you’ll never forget. And indeed, make sure you check out the Turkish Eye ornaments hanging from the trees. You’ll undoubtedly make everyone back home jealous!
For panoramic views of the sunset, Aydin Kiragi is the best by a mile, and it’s a pretty easy place to reach, around 10 minutes on foot from the main center of Goreme. The trails around Cappadocia are clearly marked so that you won’t get lost.
2. Visit Uchisar Castle
Uchisar Castle is, like most of Cappadocia, carved out of rock, giving it an awe-inspiring and unique appearance. Around the castle, you will also find Pigeon Valley, a hiking area with more amazing views. Wear your comfortable shoes, however, as the terrain is, as expected, quite rocky.
Uchisar Castle boasts a rich history dating back to the Byzantine era, with its strategic location being crucial for defense purposes. Over the centuries, it has witnessed various civilizations and has been shaped by different cultural influences.
The castle’s origins can be traced back to the early centuries of the first millennium, making it over a thousand years old. Its current form has evolved through numerous renovations and expansions.
The castle is open to visitors every day. The standard opening hours are from 8 AM to 7 PM in summer and 8 AM to 5 PM in winter, but it’s advisable to check the latest times before your visit.
The entrance fee to Uchisar Castle is relatively modest. As of 2023, the cost is around 250 Turkish Lira – but prices change a lot, so check the price here before you go. This fee contributes to the ongoing preservation efforts of this historic site.
3. Goreme Open Air Museum
The Goreme Open Air Museum is a must-do, whether you go in a hot air balloon or not! Goreme Open Air Museum showcases the landscape in its best light, and here, you can learn all about the history and natural setting you’re standing right in the middle of.
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ll find ancient churches and other essential buildings cut out the rock, dating as far back as the 10th century. You need a few hours here and certainly make sure you head to the most famous part – the Dark Church. Here, you’ll find frescoes in all manner of different colors, and if the sun is shining, they’ll sparkle in the light.
4. Zelve Open Air Museum
If open-air museums are your thing, you may also want not to overlook Zelve. While Goreme Open Air Museum is the most famous, here, you’ll find a small valley packed with various cave rooms. It’s a good idea to take a guide as you’ll learn far more as you go, especially as this is one of the lesser-known areas in Cappadocia.
5. Explore Derinkuyu Underground City
You’ll find tunnels and entire cities that exist underground throughout Cappadocia. The reason is that this particular part of the country was subject to invasion after invasion throughout history, so these cities were built underground to keep everyone safe. You’ll find churches and schools, even cellars and kitchens too.
While there are many of these underground spaces, Derinkuyu is the best preserved and, therefore, the best if you want to get a realistic view of what life was like back in the day. You’ll head around 85 meters underground, and you’ll be able to get a sense of the scale of the place, even though only 10% of it is actually visible.
However, if you’re claustrophobic, this probably isn’t the best place for you, as some tunnels are tight.
6. Kaymakli Underground City
Moving away from the most popular places to find these underground cities, I can suggest Kaymakli as an extensive underground city known for its unique structure and design. Kaymakli is not as deep as Derinkuyu but is renowned for its intricate network of tunnels connecting various rooms and areas.
7. Other Underground Cities
Get off the beaten track in Cappadocia with one of these cities
- Özkonak Underground City: discovered more recently compared to Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, Özkonak has unique ventilation shafts and a more complex communication system. It also features a water well, living spaces, and a winery.
- Mazi Underground City: less frequented by tourists, Mazi offers a more authentic experience. It’s located in the village of Mazi, which is a bit off the beaten path compared to other underground cities.
- Tatlarin Underground City: this city is known not only for its underground structures but also for its churches with frescoes. It’s slightly smaller but offers insight into the early Christian community in the region.
- Gaziemir Underground City: unique for its underground caravanserai, Gaziemir was used as a secure rest stop for traders and travelers in ancient times.
8. Quad Safari
Imagine zipping through the rugged landscapes of Cappadocia on a quad bike, with the sun setting in the background, painting the sky in hues of orange and purple. That’s precisely what awaits you on a sunset quad ATV tour here. Whether you’re adventuring solo, as a couple, or with your family, this is a must-try experience.
The tour, lasting just two hours, fits perfectly into an evening, leaving you ample time for a nice meal afterward. Picture yourself navigating through the stunning Sword Valley and Love Valley, watching the world-famous fairy chimneys come alive in the enchanting twilight. It’s not just a sightseeing trip; it’s an adventure that combines fun, excitement, and some of the most unique landscapes you’ll ever see.
I’ve been on this tour myself, and believe me, it’s unforgettable. The blend of adrenaline-pumping action and awe-inspiring views makes it an experience that sticks with you.
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9. Go For A Walk
Few areas in the world are as unique as Cappadocia, and walking around this area will show you some of the region’s marvels.
There are many different walks, and they’re all well-signposted. Be sure to check out Devrent Valley, which is full of rock formations shaped like animals, or head to Monk’s Valley as, another popular spot.
You’ll need to warm up during the winter as the area can get very cold, and it’s also likely to snow. However, in the summer, expect very high temperatures, so make sure you wear a hat and suncream and take water with you.
10. Paragliding Cappadocia
You might not picture paragliding as one of the top things to do in Cappadocia, but I can assure you the view from this perspective is simply breathtaking.
You’ll be strapped to an instructor the whole time, who will take photographs for you as you soar high above Goreme National Park. Naturally, this is one for people who have a head for heights, but if you dare, I’d say go for it.
I’m not the biggest fan of heights, but I went paragliding in Ölüdeniz, and it’s something I’m so glad I was brave enough to try – it was truly special.
11. Stay In A Cave Hotel
Many of the hotels in Cappadocia are either underground or carved into the rocks, which makes for a pretty impressive place to stay! You’ll probably end up spending more by choosing one of these hotels, but if you’re not going in the hot air balloon, you can save money and stay somewhere unique instead!
Many of these hotels also have terraces where you can look over the entire area and enjoy a cup of Turkish cay or have a traditional kahvalti or a massive breakfast – you won’t be hungry for the rest of the day, that’s for sure!
One great place I love is the Sultan Cave Suites.
12. Tuck Into A Turkish Breakfast
If you’re looking for a breakfast experience that will leave you craving for more, Cappadocia’s Turkish breakfast with a view is an absolute must-try.
It is easy to find a cozy terrace surrounded by the mesmerizing landscapes of Cappadocia. As the morning sun casts a warm glow over the fairy chimneys and ancient rock formations, you’re treated to a spread that’s nothing short of a culinary adventure.
Freshly baked bread, creamy kaymak, an assortment of olives, tomatoes bursting with flavor, and perfectly brewed Turkish tea await you. The combination of savory and sweet, paired with the stunning backdrop, creates a sensory delight that’s hard to resist.
So, whether you’re a foodie seeking new flavors or simply someone who enjoys a hearty breakfast, don’t miss the chance to savor this unique Turkish breakfast experience in Cappadocia. It’s the perfect way to kickstart your day in this enchanting region.
Here are some of our traditional Turkish food choices to get your day started:
- Sütlü Kahve: this creamy Turkish coffee is made with equal parts ground coffee, water, and lots of sugar and milk. It’s traditionally served in small cups with no handles
- Simit: these sesame-covered bread rings are common on street corners in Türkiye. They’re often eaten for breakfast with cheese or jam
- Menemen: this dish of scrambled eggs, tomatoes, peppers, and onions is commonly served for breakfast in Turkey. It’s often made with çaylak cheese, which is similar to feta
- Beyaz Peynir: this white cheese made from sheep’s milk is a staple of the Turkish breakfast table. It’s often eaten with honey or jam
- Kaymak: this rich clotted cream is made from buffalo milk and is commonly served on bread or pancakes for breakfast in Türkiye
13. Get Up Early & Watch The Sunrise
You’ll be tired, but getting up in time for sunrise will give you the very best views of Goreme, and you’ll be able to watch the first hot-air balloons of the day taking flight. It’s a stunning sight and definitely worth getting up for.
14. Partake In A Pottery Workshop
Looking to add a unique twist to your Cappadocia adventure? Why not roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty at a pottery workshop? Amidst the surreal landscapes of the Cappadocia region, these workshops offer a hands-on experience that’s both enriching and fun.
One must-visit spot is the Avanos Pottery Workshop, where you can unleash your creativity while crafting traditional Turkish ceramics. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn the age-old techniques passed down through generations.
Another gem is the Guray Museum, where you can marvel at exquisite pottery collections and even try your hand at crafting your own masterpiece.
For an unforgettable experience, head to Kapadokya Ihlara Valley Pottery, where you can create pottery while surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Ihlara Valley.
15. Go Carpet Shopping
If you’re planning a visit to Cappadocia, make sure to add a stop at one of the famous carpet shops to your itinerary. You won’t regret it! These shops are scattered throughout the region, and they offer an incredible selection of handmade carpets that are not only beautiful but also a piece of Turkish culture and craftsmanship.
You can find them in towns like
While I can’t provide specific names and addresses as I never wrote them down, do not worry; you’ll easily spot them as you explore these charming towns. Walking into one of these shops is like stepping into a world of vibrant colors and intricate patterns.
The friendly shopkeepers will guide you through the process, explaining the history and meaning behind each design. Whether you’re a seasoned carpet enthusiast or a newbie looking for a unique souvenir, buying a carpet in Cappadocia is an experience you won’t want to miss.
Plus, it’s a fantastic way to support local artisans and bring home a piece of Cappadocia’s rich heritage.
16. Seek Out Selime Monastery
If you’re up for an adventure that combines history, breathtaking landscapes, and a dash of mystery, then a visit to the Selime Monastery in Cappadocia should be high on your list.
Tucked away in the heart of this surreal landscape, Selime Monastery is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. You will navigate through a labyrinth of ancient rock-cut tunnels and chambers that were once home to monks seeking solitude and spiritual enlightenment.
The natural beauty of Cappadocia’s unique rock formations provides an awe-inspiring backdrop for this historical site. As you explore the monastery’s intricately carved chapels, you can’t help but wonder about the lives of the monks who once called this beautiful place home.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking for a one-of-a-kind adventure, Selime Monastery in Cappadocia promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you with stories to share and memories to cherish.
17. Check Out Cavusin Village
A very short drive from Goreme will take you to Cavusin Village, an old Greek village that is packed with ancient churches and rock carvings. The area is very well preserved, and the view from the top of the hill is stunning.
18. Wine Tasting
Exploring Cappadocia’s wine culture is a journey you won’t want to miss. This region is renowned for its deep-rooted wine heritage, making wine-related activities essential for any visitor. With an extensive selection of over 100 Cappadocian wines. There are wine cellars that you can visit to try 30+ varieties to suit your palate.
As you explore these wines, the sommelier will share insights about the local grape varieties and their importance alongside cultural anecdotes related to wine. This isn’t just about tasting wine; it’s about immersing yourself in a vital part of Cappadocia’s identity.
Now it is time to explore the plentiful valleys located in Cappadocia; choose one or choose them all; you decide.
While there are many valleys in Cappadocia, some of the most famous and popular ones for visitors include:
19. Love Valley (Aşk Vadisi)
Love Valley gets its name from the distinctive phallic-shaped rock formations that can be found here. It’s a popular spot for hiking and taking in the surreal scenery.
20. Rose Valley (Güllüdere Vadisi)
Rose Valley is known for its rose-colored rock formations and hiking trails that lead you through picturesque landscapes, cave churches, and panoramic viewpoints.
21. Red Valley (Kızılçukur)
Red Valley is named for its red-colored rock formations, which become incredibly vibrant at sunset. It’s an excellent place for hiking and offers fantastic photo opportunities.
22. Pigeon Valley (Güvercinlik Vadisi)
Pigeon Valley is famous for its numerous pigeon houses carved into the cliffs. These pigeon houses were historically used for collecting pigeon droppings, which were used as fertilizer. The valley offers scenic views and hiking trails.
23. Zemi Valley (Zemi Vadisi)
Zemi Valley is a quieter and less-visited option compared to some of the more popular valleys in Cappadocia. It’s known for its tranquil beauty, hiking trails, and unique rock formations.
24. Devrent Valley (Devrent Vadisi)
Devrent Valley is often referred to as “Imagination Valley” due to its bizarre rock formations that resemble various animals and objects. It’s a fascinating place for creative interpretations of the rock shapes.
25. Ihlara Valley
Located a bit further to the southwest of the main Cappadocian region, Ihlara Valley is known for its lush greenery, meandering river, and the rock-cut churches that line its walls. It’s a unique and picturesque destination.
26. Soğanlı Valley
Soğanlı Valley is another less-visited valley known for its serene atmosphere, rock-cut churches, and hiking trails. It offers a more peaceful and less crowded experience.
Put on your walking shoes and explore Cappadocia’s many picturesque valleys. This is one of the best things to do in the area, no matter what the time of year. However, if you’re visiting in summer, remember to take water, sunscreen, and a hat; very little shade can be found.
These are some of the well-known valleys in Cappadocia, but there are many more to explore in this fascinating region, each with its own distinctive charm and natural beauty.
27. Check Out The Fairy Chimneys Up Close
As you walk around the area, you’ll see the famous fairy chimneys, and some are larger than others. You’ll find these in Pasabag, Monk’s Valley, and it’s a good idea to go early in the day if you can, as this area gets bustling as the day goes on.
Many of these old houses are UNESCO-listed and used to be dwellings of the earliest Christians in the region.
28. Pink Salt Lake/Tuz Golu
You’ll need to hire a car and drive or take a trip to this spot, two hours away from Cappadocia. However, if you’re staying for a few days, exploring the region further is a good option.
This is a huge salt lake that has a pink tinge. It makes for amazing photographs and plenty of walking opportunities to show you even more amazing views.
29. Experience A Turkish Bath – Local Hammam
While Cappadocia is more famous for its unique landscapes and rock formations, you can also find traditional Turkish baths in some towns and cities within the region. These hammams offer you a relaxing and cultural experience
Here are a few places in Cappadocia our team suggests:
- Panoramic Cave Spa: traditional hammam experiences in Göreme
- Kelebek Hamam & Spa: combines hammam services with spa facilities
- Cappadocia Spa & Turkish Bath: offers a Turkish bath experience
- Heybe Hotel & Spa: hotel and spa offering hammam services and spa treatments
30. Take A Cappadocia Cooking Class
If you’re up for a culinary adventure that goes beyond the usual tourist fare, why not roll up your sleeves and join a local Cappadocia cooking class?
This is not your typical cooking experience. Imagine getting your hands dirty in the heart of this enchanting region, known for its unique landscapes and rich cultural heritage.
Here, you won’t just taste the flavors of Cappadocia; you’ll create them yourself. You’ll learn the secrets of traditional Turkish recipes handed down through generations, from a savory testi kebab to mouthwatering pastries.
But it’s not just about the food; it’s about the immersive experience. You’ll shop for fresh ingredients at bustling local markets, discover the art of preparing ingredients from scratch, and savor the fruits of your labor in the company of friendly locals who will share stories and laughs with you.
So, if you’re hungry for a deeper connection to Cappadocia and its culture, a cooking class is your ticket to a truly authentic and delicious adventure; why not try one of these ones
31. Go On A Yoga Retreat
If you’re on the hunt for a rejuvenating escape that combines breathtaking landscapes with inner peace, look no further than a Yoga Retreat in Cappadocia.
This unique experience offers the perfect blend of relaxation and self-discovery in the heart of Turkey. Picture yourself striking a pose amidst the surreal rock formations that Cappadocia is renowned for.
Begin your day with a sunrise session overlooking the enchanting Göreme Valley – a sight you won’t soon forget. The region offers a variety of fantastic spots to roll out your yoga mat, from the serene Red Valley to the tranquil Rose Valley.
As the sun sets, unwind with a gentle yoga flow, taking in the ethereal beauty of the fairy chimneys.
You’ll find a plethora of retreat options here, such as:
- The serene Zen Garden Retreat
- The rustic charm of Kelebek Special Cave Hotel
- Or the luxurious surroundings of the Museum Hotel
Each one provides expert instructors, sumptuous local cuisine, and a chance to connect with like-minded souls. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a beginner looking to dip your toes into the practice, a Cappadocia Yoga Retreat promises a transformative experience that will leave you feeling grounded and revitalized.
So, why wait? Pack your yoga gear, and get ready to find your inner zen amidst the otherworldly beauty of Cappadocia. Namaste!
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The Famous Cappadocia Landscape
You might be wondering why the landscape at Cappadocia is entirely different from anywhere else in Türkiye and the surrounding area. Well, it all comes down to volcanoes – three big ones, to be exact.
Thankfully, these volcanoes are all dormant now, but around 60 million years ago, these volcanoes were spewing ash all the time. Of course, that covered the entire region in ash and lava, eventually cooling and completely changing the landscape.
Over time, this ash changed to a soft type or rock, and poor weather over the years eroded it, creating these odd-shaped rock formations, now known as the ‘fairy chimneys’. This rock is also straightforward to build with, and the earliest settlers made underground cities.
Undoubtedly, one of the best places to stay in Cappadocia is a cave hotel, and again, this comes down to the rocks around this area and how easy they are to shape. While you don’t have to stay in a cave hotel, it’s an authentic experience, and you’ll be right in the heart of Goreme National Park.
When Should You Visit Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a year-round destination, but I prefer to visit in spring or autumn/fall if possible. But the best time to visit Cappadocia for you will largely depend on your preferences and the type of experience you’re seeking.
Here’s a breakdown of the seasons to help you decide when to plan your visit:
- Spring (April to June): Spring is a fantastic time to visit Cappadocia. The weather is mild, with temperatures gradually warming up. The landscapes are lush and colorful, making it an ideal time for hiking and outdoor activities. Plus, the hot air balloon season typically starts in April, offering breathtaking views of Cappadocia’s unique terrain
- Summer (July to August): Cappadocia experiences hot and dry summers, with temperatures often reaching their peak in July and August. While it can be scorching during the day, the evenings are more comfortable. Summer is a great time for outdoor adventures, but be prepared for crowds, especially in popular areas
- Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another excellent time to visit Cappadocia. The weather is pleasant, and the landscapes transform into beautiful shades of red and gold as the foliage changes. The balloon rides continue, and the tourist crowds begin to thin out, providing a more serene experience
- Winter (December to March): If you enjoy a quieter, more peaceful atmosphere and don’t mind cooler temperatures, winter can be a unique time to visit. The region can get quite cold, especially in January and February. Some attractions may be closed or have limited hours during the winter months, so be sure to check in advance
Average Temperature (Celsius)
Average Temperature (Fahrenheit)
|Spring (April to June)
|15°C to 25°C
|59°F to 77°F
|Summer (July to August)
|25°C to 35°C
|77°F to 95°F
|Autumn (September to November)
|15°C to 25°C
|59°F to 77°F
|Winter (December to March)
|0°C to 10°C
|32°F to 50°F
As you can see, central Turkey and Cappadocia is not just a place for hot air ballooning; there is far more than meets the eye in this stunningly beautiful part of the world.