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 in the middle of Turkey, the area is called Central Anatolia. It’s a must visited place in Turkey and considered one of the top destinations in the Middle East. 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 it comes handy on the availability of hotels, restaurants, and activities. Uchisar for sure grants the best views of Cappadocia, although it is really quiet. In 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 buses connecting the cities but I would recommend 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.
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.
A hot air balloon in Cappadocia is a must-do activity. Ok, not that cheap, price ranges from 110 -180 Euros, but it’s money well spent. I`m not a big fan of heights and I was a bit anxious about 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 for 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 the 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.
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.
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.
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].
I was so happy driving around that I 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.
Those 3 activities were our favorite things to do in Cappadocia. Although there are more. On the 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 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 (I’m not good in tiny enclosed spaces) 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. You can book in advance via GetYourGuide and save time, or shop around at the local travel agencies.
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 minibus/van to Göreme.
Check Kiwi.com 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 screens for movies & games. You can book your bus ticket with Kamilkoc, Metro Turizm, or on OMIO.
» Cappadocia by train
The 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 a 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
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 a fireplace, jacuzzi and even a Hamman. The breakfast was assorted and delicious. Will deffo go back!
Another option [especially for tiny budgets] is the Homestay Cave Hostel it wasn’t a properly cave hotel but the price will make you happy.
Best restaurants in Cappadocia
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 every day! [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 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.
Turkish people know how to treat their guests. 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 Sunset Point hill to relax and watch life goes by… I´m sure you will feel the powerful energy that comes from that place.
66 thoughts on “Top things to do in Cappadocia + where to stay and what to eat”
The capital of hot air balloon! One of my greatest dream! There are a lot of places that I can do this, but Cappadocia just got on the top! Thanks for the tips!
You are welcome!
SO JEALOUS! TURKEY is on my bucketlist! 😀 #bookmarked
Book you flights Karrie!
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 🙂
During fall is a great time to get beautiful pics!
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.
Turkey is again in our travels plans, maybe see you around 🙂
Flying in a balloon is sth I really wanna do!
Its a great experience!!!
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.
I believe the landscape is the main reason 😉
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!
Tks for the kind words, we absolutely love Turkey!
This is awesome and right on time! I’m planning to travel to Turkey during my winter break and Cappadocia is high on my list!
I saw some pictures from Cappadocia during winter and they are amazing!!!!!
hi when you are coming to cappadocia?
Didn’t know about Cappadocia until now. And I had been to Turkey! Sigh.
If you have a chance go to Cappadocia!
One of my favorites place in Turkey.
I visited Cappadocia quite a few years ago and did go to the underground city of Kaymakli. I can feel quite claustrophobic but I was surprised how spacious it was there
Maybe we will try the underground city on our next visit 😉
The rocky views from the hot air balloon are so beautiful! Going in a hot air balloon is such a peaceful experience because there are times when it’s so quiet! I’d love to explore on scooter and check out the underground cities, too!
Quite hard to decide our favorite activity in Cappadocia.
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.
It worked for me!
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 🙂
The landscape makes you relax a bit 🙂
One of the most complete and unique posts I’ve seen about Cappadocia. I’d love to take the train and relax while watching the world roll by.
Glad that you liked!
It looks so peaceful. I’ve always dreamed of seeing the sunrise from an air balloon, can’t think of a nicer place than Turkey. You had such a great spot! What a lovely place, great tips on what to do 🙂
Eating breakfast on the terrace with the balloons on the horizon was awesome 🙂
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.
OMG! So they are quite wild. Have to admit that I`m not a big fan of horses…
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 …
I fell in love with hiking after… Cappadocia! It is a stunning place to hike.
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!
Glad that you liked the post! We love Cappadocia.
ooh i definitely want to hot air baloon in cappadocia one day. great tips!
Go for it! It`s amazing!
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
We took almost 2 thousand pictures from Cappadocia!
Oh my! Cappadocia looks so dreamy with those hot air balloons!
The hot air balloon is awesome!
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 🙂
If you travel to Turkey, pls include Cappadocia in your plans!
My dad went here about a year ago and just like your photos, it’s beeathtaking
I`m sure that your dad had a great time!
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. 🙂
One day is not enough Nisha!
Next time book a trip of 3 or 4 days, at least, I´m sure you won´t regret!
All the best,
Can’t believe you didn’t do the underground cities!
I know Natalie! :-/
But we are kinda claustrophobic people, and I was a bit scary to go down there… Also, maybe this is a good excuse to go back to Cappadocia soon!
All the best,
The Food looks so so good! I’m hungry now 🙂
Lisa – Joy Della Vita Travelblog
The Turkish food is amazing!!!
Missing it so much!
Thanks for stopping by Lisa!
All the best,
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 😀
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!
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!
You are welcome Renata!!
You must visit Cappadocia, it´s a stunning place! 🙂
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.
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!
Capadoccia is a wonderful place and I hope one day I will have an opportunity to go there. Thank you for your blog!
Thanks you for stopping by! All the best!
can you share online links for renting a scooter and wat were the rents like ?
planning a trip with my wife in Aug. Hope its a good time for balloon rides…
Sorry I don’t have any contact… Try Googling Scooter rental in Cappadocia