Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia, Turkey has long held the #1 spot on my travel bucket list. I thought of it as some far off destination, a mere figment of the imagination with magical sights like fairy chimneys and sunrise hot air balloons. A place that I might visit before I die.

Since returning from Cappadocia last month, I’m here to tell you that, YES – Cappadocia is just as beautiful as you imagine it to be. And NO – it should not remain a mere pipe dream. The truth is that Cappadocia is fairly easy to travel to and, once you’re there, you will be endlessly entertained with all that this region has to offer.

Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

dress: Fortunate One

Here are some things you should know before traveling to the area:

How to pronounce “Cappadocia”: I will fully admit that, prior to arriving to Turkey, I was pronouncing it “Cap-a-dotsh-ee-a.” I was corrected in the literal first hour of being in the country, when a man in Istanbul kindly told me that Cappadocia is actually pronounced with a hard “K” sound – “Cap-a-dok-ya.” Cappadocia in Turkish is actually Kapadokya.

How to get to Cappadocia: In order to get to Cappadocia, you have to fly into Kayseri (Erkilet International Airport) from Istanbul. The flight is only about 45 minutes, and both Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines offer super cheap flights (under $100). Prior to your arrival in Kayseri, ask your hotel for a shuttle from the airport, so that when you land, you’ll have someone waiting for you. The ride from Kayseri to Cappadocia is about 30 minutes, but could take up to an hour depending on how many stops the shuttle needs to make along the way. If you’re taking a shuttle back to the airport for your return, keep this in mind and leave a little bit of extra time to get to the airport!

Göreme vs. Cappadocia: Cappadocia is the entire region, but Göreme is the place you’ve probably seen in pictures – of all the winding roads and fairy chimneys.

How long to stay in Cappadocia: After staying in Cappadocia for just two nights/three days, I can say without a doubt that the perfect amount of time to stay in Cappadocia is three or four full days. This gives you enough time to explore the entire area and fit all of the best activities in. Also, if you can swing it, visit during the week. Hotels and airfare will be cheaper, and you’ll have less people in your hot air balloon basket.

Once you get to Cappadocia, here’s what to do:

Take a hot air balloon ride

You can’t visit Cappadocia without going up in a hot air balloon at sunrise! It is such a magical experience floating up with 50-100 other balloons at dusk and rising up into the sky as the sun paints beautiful colors across the horizon.

With a quick Google search, you will learn that there are literally endless hot air balloon companies, but I recommend booking a flight with Butterfly Balloons. They not only give you a pre-flight breakfast of fruit, Turkish pastries and coffee, but reward you at the end of your flight with champagne and a flight certificate. The staff members are all so kind and hilarious, and give you a morning you’ll remember forever.

(Note: As someone who is paralyzing afraid of heights, the experience is a bit scary for the first 10-15 minutes, but the ride is so smooth and the views so breathtaking that any fear of heights will quickly subside).

Travel Guide to Cappadocia, TurkeyTravel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

Watch the hot air balloons

In addition to actually riding in a balloon, carve out time in your schedule to watch the hot air balloons from the ground. You can do this from virtually anywhere in Cappadocia, but the absolute best view of the balloons is from Sultan Cave Suites.

Though Sultan Cave Suites is an amazing hotel to stay at, you don’t need to be a guest to visit the Suites’ famous rooftop. Just show up about 30 minutes before sunrise and be prepared for an amazing show. Mehmet, the hotel owner, decked the rooftop area out with numerous Turkish rugs and homeware. The staff even prepares a full breakfast every morning to make those Instagram photos look even more incredible 😉

Hike

Red Valley, Pigeon Valley, Love Valley, Rose Valley… Underground museums, fairy chimneys and cave churches…

The landscape of Cappadocia is so incredibly expansive and varied, and hiking is the single best way to explore it all. If you’d like to explore the area yourself, this map will help:

Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

If you choose to go the tour route, I recommend booking with New Göreme.

Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

Horseback ride

Riding on horseback through the valleys is another unforgettable way to explore Cappadocia’s unique landscape. I recommend booking with The Dalton Brothers. The company offers short 2 to 4 hour-long rides, full-day rides and even 5 or 6-day rides through the Taurus Mountain for those looking for an extended camping adventure.

Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

Wander around town

As I mentioned above, Göreme is the central town in Cappadocia. Be sure to spend at least half a day wandering around the streets, shopping for Turkish rugs & lamps.

Enjoy traditional Turkish cuisine

Turkish food is delicious. Like, “gain 5 pounds in 3 days” delicious. Here are the best spots in Cappadocia to indulge:

Lil’a: Fine-dining spot located inside The Museum Hotel

Muti: Ottamon and Turkish cuisine

Ziggy Cafe: Traditional Turkish cuisine with spectacular views

Seten: Anatolian cuisine with a wine cave cellar and cooking classes

Visit the evil eye trees

There are two evil eye trees in Cappadocia. Simply ask your hotel to call you a taxi and take you to them both (or if you just want to see one, ask for the bigger one)! Be sure to tie one of the evil eyes on the tree.

Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

Stay in a cave hotel

When in Cappadocia, you stay in a cave hotel – a hotel that is built into the landscape of Cappadocia. You live as the locals do! It’s one of the absolute highlights of visiting the area because you will not have a comparable experience anywhere else in the world.

Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

The Museum Hotel in Cappadocia, Turkey

These are my favorite hotel options for each price range:

Mid-range: Sultan Cave Suites and Hezen Cave Hotel

Luxury: The Museum Hotel (here’s my review of the hotel!)

Have you visited Cappadocia or are you dreaming of it? What activity would you love the most?

xo,


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Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

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10 Comments

  1. 07.11.2017 / 3:35 pm

    Gorgeous photos Christina! I miss Cappadocia very much, their breakfast is the best! I think flying the hot air balloon was one of the highlights of last year for me! Such magical memories! Great all round guide! X

    • Christina
      07.12.2017 / 2:20 pm

      Thank you babe!! Seriously it is the MOST magical place – glad to hear you had the same experience xx

  2. 07.11.2017 / 9:34 pm

    Cappadocia has been on the top of my bucket list for a loooong time!! And every single one of your pictures is making me regret not having visited last year on my Euro trip. I was not familiar with any of the hikes so thank you for making me aware of this!

    • Christina
      07.12.2017 / 4:13 pm

      I wish you were able to have gone! Thank you for reading xx

  3. Laura
    07.11.2017 / 9:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s now on my bucket list. 🙂

    • Christina
      07.12.2017 / 2:19 pm

      So happy to hear that!!

  4. Victoria
    07.14.2017 / 8:33 pm

    This place is so magical! I didn’t know it was so cheap to get there from instanbul! $100 is very affordable.

    • Christina
      07.15.2017 / 11:32 am

      It really is!! Cappadocia and Kayseri are in central Turkey, so they’re super accessible from Istanbul.

  5. 07.14.2017 / 8:38 pm

    I love this post. I’ve seen a lot of posts on Cappadocia and they’re mostly photos without much content. This post was an excellent guide! I loved hearing about the market – I love markets. AND those evil eye trees! How cool is that?! That would be a must in addition to the more typically hot air balloon viewing for my visit! Thanks for sharing gorgeous photos and great content!

    • Christina
      07.15.2017 / 11:31 am

      I’m so happy you loved the post, Paige! I would definitely add on the evil eye trees in addition to the hot air balloon ride 🙂 Enjoy your visit!! xx

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