Besides hot air balloon rides, which it is famous for, Cappadocia offers a wide variety of things to do and places to visit. Here’s what we would recommend one could do with 2 days in Cappadocia.
Turkish airlines offers cheap flights from Sabiha Gökçen Airport in Istanbul to Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport, which is about 30 km from the main town of Goreme.
Having explored the different ways of getting to and from the two airports in Istanbul and the one in Nevşehir, read about some tips and tricks for travel in Turkey in the separate blog post (coming soon)
Things to do in Cappadocia
With 7 days in Turkey, we jumped on the opportunity to explore a new city. Cappadocia, for us, had always been the place people went for a hot air balloon ride, but we were sure there had to be much more to the area. And we were not disappointed!
Goreme open-air museum
This was one of the biggest, and most pleasant, surprises! One of Turkey’s Unesco World Heritage sites, the Goreme open air museum is a vast complex that was inhabited by early Christians and comprises a number of churches, hewn out of gigantic standing rocks.
Some of the churches still retain the original fresco paintings inside, if you ask the curators in some of the churches, they might even point out interesting features and tell you some of the history and stories! Definitely recommended.
Also dont miss the church that is outside the open-air museum complex, but can be entered using the same ticket. The blue frescos are quite stunning!
Rose / Red valley
A little difficult to get to, unless you have your own vehicle or are part of a tour, it is worth visiting, especially at sunset! Watching the sun set over the vast expanse of unusual red rock formations is quite a sight.
(We walked there from the Goreme open air museum- the roads are marked with red arrows that point the way so it is difficult to get lost. But it is a long walk, with nothing much to see on the way there. The exciting part of our return journey was the ride we got from a British couple who were on holiday- big shout out to you both, wherever you are!)
If you have time when at the Red valley, there are trails running through the rocks and structures, which look interesting to explore.
There are 2 underground cities, easily accessible from Goreme, Derinkuyu- the deepest and Kaymakli- the widest.
Public transport from Goreme to both, Dekinkuyu and Kaymakli is very affordable and straightforward, so unless you already have a car, the local bus is an easy way to get there: Goreme-> Nevsehir, change at Nevsehir to another bus to Derinkuyu or Kaymakli. The locals are extremely helpful and friendly and will go out of their way to make sure you get to exactly where you want!
We visited Derinkuyu and would recommend it. It is about 60 m deep and consists of a maze of tunnels, and rooms- including a winery, a stable and a school. Crawling though some of the low tunnels, it is fascinating to imagine people building and living in entire cities underground!
Uçhisar Castle, Nevsehir
Another fascinating giant rock formation, it towers above Nevsehir and is clearly visible from most of the surrounding cities. It looks like an enormous ant-hill and, being perched at a height, it offers great views of the surrounding areas.
If you fancy a hike back from Uchisar to Goreme, definitely do not miss walking through the Pigeon Valley. It is a picturesque valley, comprising extremely unusual rock formations, cave dwellings and watched over by a distant volcano.
The trails, unfortunately, are not marked and you can go for hours without meeting another person. Be prepared to spend some time getting lost, exploring paths that end in steep drops or that go nowhere. Sadly for us, the trail that should have led to Goreme looked like it had been washed away, so we had to find our way back to Uchisar instead of getting to Goreme. Still the views were well worth the effort!
Cappadocia is a wine growing area and their red is quite good, warranting an evening with a glass or two.
After a hot day of wandering, a chilled beer and shisha (nargile) is a great way to rest the aching feet too!
And finally, Hot air balloon ride
As touristy and predictable as it sounds, definitely try to include a hot air balloon ride in your itinerary! Since it was quite an experience, we decided it warranted a separate post, read all about the hot air balloon ride here.
Short and sweet, as most of our trips are, Cappadocia is a must visit if you have time in Turkey!