Top Things to do in Cappadocia Where to Stay & What to Eat

things to do in Cappadocia view

There are so many things to do in Cappadocia that you will be spoiled. Or in doubt: what to do first? Cappadocia, Turkey, is famous for the “moonish” landscape, the hot air balloon, the underground cities, the heartwarming food, the valleys and centuries of history. Cappadocia was in our bucket list for many years, so in our third visit to Turkey we finally crossed it off.

First things first, where is Cappadocia? Well, it’s literally on the middle of Turkey, the area is called Central Anatolia. The famous cities in the region are:  Göreme , Urgup, Uchisar and Avanos. So, where to stay in Cappadocia?

Each city has it`s pros & cons. Göreme is usually the main choice. Yes, it is busy and full of tourists, but comes handy on availability of hotels, restaurants and activities. Uchisar for sure grants the best views of Cappadocia, although is really quiet. On Urgup you can also find a large selection of hotels and restaurants. If you are looking for pottery, Avanos is your place. There are public bus connecting the cities but I would recommend to arranging your own transport, especially because there are a lot of things to do in Cappadocia and you need to move around. 

We opted to stay in Göreme because we found an awesome cave hotel with a great price, we could walk to some valleys, we could appreciate the hot air balloons every morning from the terrace of our hotel while having breakfast and it was easy to reach from Istanbul.

things to do in Cappadocia sunrise

What are the TOP things to do in Cappadocia?

I think the question is what not to do in Cappadocia? Seriously there are so many activities and things to do in Cappadocia that you will run out of time. We had 2 targets on this trip: fly on a hot air balloon & explore the area on a scooter.

things to do in Cappadocia balloon

Hot air balloon in Cappadocia is a must do activity. Ok, not that cheap, price ranges from 110 -180 Euros, but it`s a money well spent. I`m not a big fan of heights and I was a bit anxious for the flight. The driver picked us up at the hotel around 5:00 am and drove to the company’s HQ where they gave us safety instructions and an “ok” breakfast.

A lot of tension was going on because on the past three days no balloon flew due to the weather conditions. It was the last opportunity to some people. Consider that the weather can be tricky, book your hot air balloon flight on your first morning in Cappadocia. After waiting about 1 hour they rushed everybody to the vans and drove like crazy to the launching point.

What a beautiful scene, those colorful balloons being inflated, the first lights of the sun crossing the sky. And myself thinking if I should board in that fragile basket that would be lifted by hot air trapped in fabric. No, I was not convinced. Natalie realized that I was, let’s say, paralyzed. She is very persuasive, first she asked if I was afraid, then told me to think about my regrets related to things that I didn`t do, and finally she told me to not be such a pussy.

things to do in Cappadocia hot air balloon

things to do in Cappadocia hot air balloon flight

things to do in Cappadocia balloon flight

things to do in Cappadocia from above

Five minutes later I was holding the basket border and watching Cappadocia from its best point of view. The Cappadocia rocky formations from above are spectacular, the sunrise, all the other balloons swinging with the wind, what an experience. Definitely hot air balloon is one of the must things to do in Cappadocia. After landing we celebrated the flight with champagne, actually was a kind of non-alcoholic wine [horrible].

Back to the safety of the ground we were off to explore the valleys. The first one was Zemi Valley, crazy rocky formations and almost nobody there. A trail took us to a plateau with great views of the Göreme Open Air Museum. Then we headed to Rose Valley, more bizarre formations, looks like we were in a Star Wars site.  

things to do in Cappadocia autumn

things to do in Cappadocia moon

things to do in Cappadocia sunset

On the following day, we packed some fruits, biscuits, water, and went to the famous Love Valley. A stray dog started following us and keep following till we were far from Göreme. I was worried if he would manage the trail, turns out that “Mustafa” [nice name, I know] was leading us.

We walked the whole valley and Mustafa walking beside us all the time. We gave him water, biscuits, some cuddle. We bumped into other hikers [so fancy, after 2 days walking we became hikers] and everybody was asking how we manage to travel with a dog. We had to explain that he was our dog only for the day. After 11km and 3 hours “hiking” we reached back Göreme and Mustafa just walked away, no goodbye, no tears, nothing…

The Love Valley was my favorite one, we were there during Autumn so the shades of yellow, brown and orange gave a special touch. The rocky formations at Love Valley are, humm… well, check the pictures out and you will have your own conclusions what they remind.

things to do in Cappadocia mustafa

things to do in Cappadocia love valley fall

things to do in Cappadocia love valley

things to do in Cappadocia hiking

things to do in Cappadocia clouds

On our last day we rented a scooter to search for things to do in Cappadocia out of the tourist path. Our idea was to get lost. We drove over 50 km with no plan in mind. We passed by Uchisar, Ortahisar, Cavasin and Avanos. Our curiosity took us to small roads lined with vineyards, hills overlooking the valleys, abandoned houses and churches carved on rocks. Of course I had a lot of fun riding off road. I followed some ATV`s on dirty tracks and sandy roads, great fun. [Hope the rental guy don’t read this post].

things to do in Cappadocia uchisar

I was so happy driving around that didn’t realize how cold it was. On late October the weather can be chilly there, the whole day I was driving wearing only a light jumper. When we arrived in Avanos my body started shaking, I couldn’t control it. I wasn’t feeling my hands and feet. My face was white as a ghost, and my lips deep blue.

Hypothermia, my body was not coping with the cold. We stopped at a cafe and the staff came to help me. Hot tea and a special seat in front of the heater. I was shivering, could barely hold the cup of tea. After half an hour I recovered and we made our way back to Göreme. Tip from the [not] pro: stay warm when riding a scooter or motorbike.

things to do in cappadocia scooter

Those 3 activities were our favorite things to do in Cappadocia. Although there are more. On nearby city of Avanos you can find pottery shops and even learn how to do your own pottery.  Talking about pottery, a must try is the pottery kebab. I think I ate pottery kebab every single night while in Cappadocia. It`s a slow-cooked stew made with meat and vegetables, in a sealed clay pot. My favorite one was made with lamb. Absolutely delicious!

 

More attractions and things to do in Cappadocia

» The Turkish Night, this is a very touristic attraction in Cappadocia, dance performances and a dinner. Not my cup of tea.

» Horse riding, I`m sure that should be a nice way to visit the valleys but I don’t like the idea of being seated over 2 hours on the back of a horse.

» ATV tours, this is a great one but since we rented our scooter, we venture ourselves in the same tracks as the ATV`s, not recommended but is great fun [and a bit dangerous]!

» The underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are well-preserved ruins going as deep as 8 floors below ground. After a not happy visit to the Catacombs in Paris, we skipped the underground cities. However, the visitors say the underground cities are one of  the top things to do in Cappadocia.

» If you are short in time consider taking one of the tours. There are two tours that cover most of the things to do in Cappadocia. The Green tour will take you to: Derinkuyu Underground City, Ihlara Valley hike, Selime Monastery, Pigeon Valley, Göreme Panorama & some jewelry shops. And the red tour will take you to: Göreme open air museum, Cavusin old cave village, Uchisar castle, Devrent valley, Urgup fairy chimneys, and to a pottery shop in Avanos. Bookings can be done with your hotel or with any travel agency.

things to do in Cappadocia landscape

How to get to Cappadocia from Istanbul

»Cappadocia by plane

Turkish Airlines flies from Istanbul Ataturk Airport & Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Nevsehir Airport and Kayseri Airport. Pegasus Airlines flies from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Nevsehir Airport. From Kayseri or Nevsehir you need to take a mini bus/van to Göreme.

Check Expedia or Skyscanner for good deals on flights! 

» Cappadocia by bus

If you can sleep on a bus this might be an option. Overnight bus from Istanbul to Göreme takes about 12hs to complete the journey. The buses in Turkey are quite comfortable and some even offer individual LCD screen for movies & games.  You can book your bus ticket with Kamilkoc & Metro Turizm

» Cappadocia by train

A fast speed train from Istanbul to Ankara, about 4 hours, and then more 4 hours by  bus to Cappadocia. It`s an option if you are traveling with an Eurail pass. Travel around Europe and Turkey by train is very easy, we wrote an article giving all the information and tips to buy the best Eurail pass, choose the itinerary and save money.

 

Where to stay in Cappadocia

things to do in cappadocia hotel

Stay in a cave hotel! It´s part of the experience and one of the things to do in Cappadocia. Our recommendation is to stay at Family Cave Suites, the rooms were incredibly spacious, with fireplace, jacuzzi and even a hamman. The breakfast was assorted and delicious. Will deffo come back! 

Another option [especially for tiny budgets] is the Ishtar Cave Pension, it wasn’t a properly cave hotel but the breakfast served on the terrace was a big plus.

 

Best restaurants in Cappadocia

things to do in cappadocia restaurant
Topdeck Cave is also listed as #1 by Tripadvisor. The food is gorgeous, the service impeccable and the venue is beautiful. And gets better, all of that comes under a very reasonable price. One of the best lamb dishes I ever ate. Book in advance, is a small place and get packed everyday! [A big thanks to Clement & Jo-Ann for inviting us for dinner]

Cappadocian Cuisine, this family-owned restaurant offers delicious meals at a very affordable price. My favorite pottery kebab was made there. 🙂

Write this post made me realize how much fun and special moments we had in Cappadocia. It was on our bucket list for a long a time e finally we crossed it off. I’m so glad we went there during the Autumn, it was less crowded, with fresh air and nature was gorgeous.

The Turkish people know how to treat their guest. You can be sure you will sleep and eat well there. Also there is something special in the air, not sure if is the culture, the history, the beauty… There are so many things to do in Cappadocia that you will be overwhelmed, however, take some time to seat on the Sunset Point hill to relax and watch life goes by… I´m sure you will feel the powerful energy that comes from that place.

Planning your trip to there? Did you like our suggestion of top things to do in Cappadocia? If you need any more info feel free to leave a comment and question!

64 Comments

  1. I only started seeing pictures everywhere of Cappadocia recently and I really want to visit! This has only made me even more eager to go in one of those balloons, so thanks for giving me ideas about more things to do there 🙂

  2. I love Turkey! I’ve seen photos of these balloon on IG frequently and really want to see them. I’ll bookmark this for 2016/17. Thanks for the detail.

  3. What a truly beautiful place! I love your photos, they are really stunning. I’m intrigued as to how and why Cappadocia became such a Mecca for hot air ballooning – is it simply because the of the landscape? Thanks for all the other tips too, they will come in handy when we finally get to Turkey.

  4. I have always seen the images of hot air balloons floating around the beautiful landscape that is Cappadocia. This has fueled my desire to visit. Your article and photos just brought me closer and confirmed my aspiration to visit this beautiful part of Turkey. Of course a bonus will be the food!

  5. I’ve always wanted to try a hot air balloon ride, but I’m a bit chicken. I think Cappadocia would be the perfect place to get over my fears.

  6. It’s without doubt a spectacular region. Those pictures of the hot air balloons are such a trademark of Cappadocia. Not so sure I would risk going on one! Someone’s a bit afraid of hights 🙂

  7. I did the horse riding thing in Cappadocia. My horse hated me and kept trying to poke my eyes out by running into dead trees. I switched horses with one of the women on the trip. The next horse ran into a garden. Not my finest hour, but the other people had fun! Gorgeous place.

  8. I think that by now everybody knows about the hot air balloon because the most amazing pictures keep on popping up all over the interwebs. So that would be my second choice, after … hiking! I used to work for a hiking touroperator and they offered all sorts of long distance hikes in Turkey and the Cappadocia one definitely was one of the most wanted. I should have gone when I had the chance …

  9. Thanks for sharing all of this great info–Cappadocia is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. The scenery just looks so crazy and it would be fun to stay in a cave hotel! I hadn’t heard about Kaymakli and Derinkuyu–they sound like so much fun–I think we’d have to do that for sure! Great photos!

  10. The photos are stunning and I think that, after seeing so many hot air balloon photos over capadoccia would still be amazed by the sight in real life. I didn’t know there was so much more to do there. it all looks super cool. What a great show of nature

  11. Wow never heard of this city before so thanks for bringing it to my radar. The hot balloons look amazing. I just wrote a travel piece on my blog too but no where as thorough as yours!

    Would love if you check out my blog! Just followed you on twitter and bloglovin 🙂
    Raincouver Beauty

  12. I was in Cappadocia for just one day & I know that’s not enough. We did some major attractions, underground cities and stuff like that.

    Hot air balloon is still on my wishlist. And this time I wish to spend more days. 🙂

  13. Great post! I am traveling to Turkey for the first time this autumn and definitely going to try the Turkish Night. It may be a bit of a cliche thing according to your article, but eh, let’s give it a try. After all, its Turkey – it can not NOT be fun 😀

    1. Hey Selphur!!
      Thanks for stopping by!
      Go to the Turkish Night, for sure! I´m not saying it not worth, it´s just because we have visited Turkey so many times that we didn’t feel the need to go to one more Turkish night. But if your first time there, you deserve the full experience, and I have no doubts it will tons of fun!
      Safe journey and enjoy Turkey!

  14. Fantastic place! I have a plan to go there already for many years but still I didn´t have time. Hopefully once I will have the opportunity. Thank you for your interesting blog!

  15. What an amazing stay in Cappadocia and beautiful experience. I dream of this region, so many people just stop in Istanbul when going to Turkey. I’m glad to read about somewhere else, even if it’s very touristy still.
    The hot air balloon ride must have been incredible. It was so cute the dog following you during the hike and being part of the photo. Nice memory for you.

    1. Hi Estelle!
      Cappadocia surprised us in so many ways, we were so excited to leave Istanbul (a place that we love) to explore Turkey´s countryside. The dog was our best friend for one day, every time I look to the picture it puts a smile on my face!
      Thanks for stopping by!
      Cheers,
      Nat

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