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Visiting this place was a dream come true. Ever since I started planning my trip around the world, Cappadocia had always been on the top of my list. Let me tell you something: it did not let me down.
Cappadocia, or Kapadokya in Turkish, is a region located in Central Anatolia. It is one of the most touristy and well known places in Turkey, comprised by four different cities called: Nevsehir, Kayseri, Aksaray and Nigde. Besides the main cities, the region has several towns, from which Göreme, Uchisar and Urgup stand out, especially Göreme.
The region is full of volcanic peaks and rock formations that create surreal landscapes. Inside these natural structures, locals started making caves when they settled in Cappadocia. Nowadays, hotels and hostels use the caves as rooms to accommodate their guests.
The towns in Cappadocia are located 1.000 mts above sea level. During summer you can experience very warm days whilst in winter the temperature can drop dramatically, especially during the evenings.
Göreme is a small cozy town located in the region of Cappadocia. The population does not exceed 2.000 people, making it a very calm place to visit, even during peak season.
This town is the main tourist hub for people that come to Cappadocia to fly on the hot air balloons, which is why there is a high chance that you will end up staying here.
There are several options to get to Göreme though the most popular one is by bus from Istanbul. I recommend taking the night bus with the company called Metro. The bus departs at 10:00 p.m. from the Otogar Bus Station and arrives at 7:00 a.m. in Göreme. The price is usually TKY 75 (approximately EUR 17).
Another popular option is flying. The main airport in Göreme was temporarily closed when I was there so the best way to get there by flight is getting to Kayseri and then taking a small bus or taxi to the town, which takes around one hour. The airline that offers the best prices is usually Pegasus Airlines.
6 Things to Do in Göreme
There are many things to do in Göreme and around that will keep you entertained for a while but here is a short list of the top activities that you should not miss.
1. Riding the Hot Air Balloons
Of course. This is the main attraction in Cappadocia. Almost every person that goes to Göreme intends to go on a hot air balloon trip, but let me give you an important warning:
The Hot Air Balloons Do Not Fly Every Day!!!!
The ride will take place when the weather conditions are suitable for it. Normally the temperature and the wind speed are the most important factors that will determine if the balloon ride will happen or not.
If everything goes out well, the balloon trip will occur during sunrise on summer and autumn and sunrise/sunset during winter. If this is your main plan, make sure that you do your research before heading to Göreme. I spent 7 days in Cappadocia and people were able to go on the hot air balloons only on 2 of those days.
I truly recommend the company called Voyager Balloons. This is one of the best companies in Göreme. They pick you up at the hotel or hostel and offer a buffet for breakfast before heading to the flying site. The staff is very friendly and helpful. They make the flight very fun and comfortable. The best: you finish the flight with a glass of champagne to celebrate like they did on the first hot air balloon flight!
2. Go Hiking
Cappadocia has many short but definitely beautiful day hikes which start from Göreme. I would sincerely recommend doing at least one or two during your stay. Here is a short list of some of the walks that you can do:
Hike from Göreme to Uchisar
Uchisar is another popular destination for tourists. There is a castle located on the top of the highest mountain in Cappadocia and offers amazing views of the whole region. They charge an entrance fee of TKY 7 to go in. To be honest, you can get similar views without having to go all the way to the top. Just hike around the main hill and you will find good spots to see the valleys.
The hike from Göreme to Uchisar should not take you more than two hours one way and you will get to stop at the Pigeon Valley and its viewpoint. Pigeon Valley receives its name because the rock formations look like pigeon houses and fairy chimneys. Its impressive and worth visiting.
Along the way you will find many caves and rooms that are connected through tunnels. You can access most of them and explore the different rock formations.
Hike to the Rose and Red Valleys
The Rose and Red Valleys make a great day walk from Göreme too. They are named like this because the rock formations are red and rose colored, even though I would say they all look more rose than red.
The trail for both valleys starts up the hill from the Göreme Open-Air Museum and then splits in two different routes: one that leads to the Red Valley and one that leads to the Rose Valley. There are many signals on the way and it´s very hard for you to get lost. You will find many viewpoints along the trails and impressive rock formations that will blow your mind.
Each hike should take you one or two hours one way, depending on your pace and number of stops. You can decide to do one per day or hike both if you start early and the weather is good.
Hike to the Love Valley
This is one of the most visited valleys in Cappadocia. Its named the Love Valley after the phallic shaped rocks that are located there. The valley is just 40 minutes away from Göreme by walk and worth a visit. Alternatively, you can combine the hike of the Pigeon Valley with the Love Valley if you have the time and the energy to do it in one day. This should not take you more than three hours total.
3. Stay at a Cave
Staying at a cave was one of the highlights of my trip to Göreme. Luckily for everyone, there are many affordable options to accommodate yourself in one. If you are on a budget but want a good place, I definitely recommend Sato Caves Hotel. The dorm/room rate includes breakfast and tea or coffee. The location is very good and the staff very friendly. Ask for Ahmet, the manager, and he will make sure that you have a good time while you stay in Cappadocia.
4. Try exploring Cappadocia on an ATV
Moving around on an ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) or quad bike is also a great experience in Cappadocia. You can rent a quad and explore by yourself or go on a tour with one of the ATV companies.
I went on a day trip with My Cappadocia Trip. Even though the company was great and the staff was very friendly, I would recommend hiring a quad independently and exploring the region by yourself or with your friends. With the tour you will have to wait for everyone, go at a slow pace and you are not allowed to go on your own way. Nonetheless, you can rent the vehicle with this company or, as I mentioned before, go on a daytrip with them which is still very good.
5. Go to the Open Air Museum
The Göreme Open-Air Museum is one of the main attractions in Cappadocia. The particular thing about this place is that its composed by different monasteries and churches inside the rock formations. The frescoes (wall paintings) still preserve their original colors and make a beautiful scenery. Definitely not like any other ordinary churches.
The entrance fee to the Göreme Open-Air Museum is 25 TKY and its best to come very early in the morning or late afternoon because the heat can be unbearable, especially during summer. The museum is located just 15 minutes walking from the center of Göreme.
6. Watch sunrise and sunset at “Sunset Point”
The Sunset Point is located in the hill next to the main street. Its literally a ten minute walk from the Mosque and offers pretty impressive views of Göreme. During the mornings you can see the hot air balloons across the Red and Rose Valleys, whilst on the evenings, as the sun goes down, the rock formations change their colors and the sky turns darker.
I would recommend that you get there before 6:30 a.m. for sunrise and before 6:00 p.m. for sunset. Sometimes it can get a little crowded, which is why its good to find a nice spot before the crowd start showing up.
Watch the video of Cappadocia:
I hope that you enjoyed this post. Don´t forget to leave your comments and share!
See you next week!