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25+ BEST Things to Do in Cappadocia, Turkey

Heading to Cappadocia? Here are the best things to do in Cappadocia. I loved exploring Cappadocia! It’s a region in central Turkey that is so beautiful it’s hard to believe it’s even real.

The landscape is adorned with interesting geological works of art called “fairy chimneys,” and nearly 100 magical hot air balloons take to the skies every sunrise (weather permitting). It’s also home to many amazing cave dwellings, hiking trails, restaurants, and more.

This post shares some of the top things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey, as well as the top attractions for visitors. At the end of the post, I am also sharing the best ways to get to Cappadocia, where to stay, and more. I’m happy to answer any questions anyone has about traveling to Cappadocia in the comments at the end of the post. Enjoy! 

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25+ Best Places and Things to Do in Cappadocia, Turkey


A woman in a hot air balloon pointing at another balloon in the distance

1.) Go on a Hot Air Balloon Flight During Sunrise

Ah, the reason for Cappadocia’s current fame is most certainly those magical hot air balloon rides made famous by Instagram!

Be sure to schedule your hot air balloon ride the first morning you are in the area. This is because if there is bad weather, you’ll be able to go up the next day then. (Most companies offer this “rain day” option.)

This is an absolute must-do if you’re in Cappadocia!


2.) Explore Derinkuyu Underground City

Derinkuyu Underground City is indeed an underground City! It is approximately 60 meters deep, and it is large enough to shelter as many as 20,000 people together with their livestock and food stores.

It is the largest excavated underground city in Turkey. The city at Derinkuyu was fully formed in the Byzantine era. (780-1180) Christians also used it for hiding in the 14th century.

It is a massive network of cave-like rooms connected by an intricate ventilation system, passageways, and hidden entrances.

The well-lit and spacious passages lead to various parts of the city, such as churches, schools, wine cellars, food storage areas, graveyards, and communal spaces where people could gather for meals, meetings, and worship.

Visiting this underground city is included in the popular “Green Tour” in Cappadocia.


A wide angle view of Selime Monastery

3.) Climb to Selime Monastery

Selime Monastery is one of my favorite travel memories from Cappadocia. Selime Monastery is the biggest rock-cut monastery in Cappadocia, with a cathedral-sized church. It was carved by monks in the 13th century.

It is a bit difficult to get to, however. You’re hiking in some rather tricky spots. It is absolutely worth the workout, though! This is also offered as part of the “Green Tour” in Cappadocia.


love valley featuring many phallic looking stone formations
Love Valley is named for the exact reason you’re thinking. Haha.

4.) See “Love Valley”

There are a few different ways to experience and see Love Valley. One way is to hike it. You can also take a quad or ATV tour through it or simply admire it from a large viewing area.

Love Valley got its name thanks to the “erect” volcanic ash that has eroded over the years…There are also a lot of photo op spots along the viewing area that play into the “love” theme.


A view of Goreme Open Air Museum
Inside Goreme Open Air Museum

5.) Visit the Göreme Open Air Museum

Goreme Open Air Museum is a must-do in Cappadocia. It was once a Byzantine monastic settlement that housed some 20 monks. It consists of rock-cut churches, chapels, and monasteries. Most of the churches in Goreme Open Air Museum belong to the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries.

But note, the museum’s highlight – the “Dark Church” – has an additional ₺18 entrance fee. It’s called the dark church because it originally had very few windows. The frescoes inside this church are amazing, though! And I highly recommend going to see it. (No photos are allowed inside.)

You can experience Goreme Open Air Museum on your own (it’s within walking distance of most hotels in Goreme), or you can take a tour of it on Cappadocia’s “Red Tour.”


A picture of the Sword Valley, part of the Goreme Historical National Park.

6.) Explore Sword Valley

On the road leading up to Goreme Open Air Museum, there are tracks that will lead to Sword Valley. This is one of the smallest valleys in Cappadocia, but there is a 300 m tunnel, many interesting fairy chimneys, and ruins.  You can explore the abandoned caves that used to serve as homes a long time ago. Hiking the entire valley can be done in about 1-2 hours.


A view of rocky hills and golden grass on a bright sunny day
The views while hiking Ihlara Valley are breathtaking!

7.) Hike Ihlara Valley 

The Ihlara Valley is GORGEOUS! It’s interesting, too, because as you’re walking along, the whole canyon is honeycombed with rock-cut underground dwellings and churches from the Byzantine period.

It was one of the first places Christians, escaping from the Roman soldiers, had settled. This is also offered as part of the “Green Tour” in Cappadocia.


A woman wearing a floral maxi skirt, smiling as she looks up at the hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey

8.) Watch the Sunrise + Hot Air Balloons (Goreme)

It is absolutely worth getting up before dawn to watch the sunrise and dozens of hot air balloons ascend into the sky. It’s unreal! There are lookouts where you can watch, such as Sunset Point. However, another great option is to watch them right from your hotel!

Some hotels in Goreme have terraces where you can watch the hot air balloons without having to travel far from your room! The photo above is taken on the Sultan Cave Suites Terrace.

Read more about the behind-the-scenes madness of this photo.


the camel in Imaginary Valley, a stone formation that resembles a camel

9.) Explore Deverent Valley aka Imaginary Valley

Devrent Valley is also called Imaginary Valley because you can let your imagination run wild with all the various natural rock formations you’ll see here!

The most famous rock formations are “The Camel” (above) and “The Hand.” You can experience Devrent Valley on Cappadocia’s “Red Tour.”


Pasabag in Cappadocia, unique mushroom shaped rock formations with a camel walking in front of the formations

10.) Hike Pasabag Valley (Monk’s Valley)

Pasabag has some of Cappadocia’s most striking fairy chimneys with twin and even triple rock caps. This style is unique even for Cappadocia; these fairy chimneys are named mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys.

There are many trails you can walk and explore the fairy chimneys and different viewpoints. There are also vendors selling camel rides and food here. You can experience Pasabag Valley on Cappadocia’s “Red Tour.”


Uchisar Castle, volcanic tock castle in the morning with the sun behind it
Uchisar Castle

11.) Take in the View from Uchisar Castle

Uchisar is the highest point in Cappadocia and was carved into a soft volcanic rock to serve as a strategic lookout point during ancient times.

And so, the top of the Uchisar Castle provides a magnificent panorama of the surrounding area with Mount Erciyes in the distance.

Many rooms hollowed out into the rock are connected to each other with stairs, tunnels and passages. You can experience Uchisar Castle on Cappadocia’s “Red Tour.”


Beautiful girl at traditional carpet shop in Goreme city, Cappadocia in Turkey.

12.) Visit the Carpet Shops

If you’re on Instagram, it’s almost guaranteed you have seen at least one photo of Sultan Carpets! This carpet shop not only sells incredible rugs with fantastic and friendly customer service but is also on many folks’ radars because of the photoshoots here.

The shop’s owner does charge a small fee if you want to take photos inside – or you can also hire a local photographer with a drone to get a photo here! (Personally, I just window-shopped here and talked to the owners – which was a great experience. I didn’t do the photoshoot experience; the photo above is a stock image I purchased from Shutterstock.) 


A person holding a piece of baklava
Baklava

13.) Take a Cooking Class

You can learn how to make Turkish treats like ‘borek’ pastries, stuffed eggplant, and sweet baklava with a unique cooking class in a local family home.

Enjoy an authentic taste of Cappadocian life as you shop for fresh ingredients at the local market and feast on a homemade 3-course lunch or dinner accompanied by traditional Turkish coffee! 


14.) Try a Pottery Kebab

Keeping with the food theme, you can’t come to Cappadocia and not try a Pottery Kebab! A Pottery Kebab is cooked in a sealed clay pot or a jug for a minimum of 4 hours to let the dish simmer in its own juices.

When fully cooked, the waiter brings out the clay pot and cracks it with a hammer in front of you before serving the meal. (Most restaurants will prepare their kebabs in advance – so you’re only waiting 20-30 minutes for your food.)

Dibek is one of the most recommended restaurants for Pottery Kebabs. However, we tried ours at Old Cappadocia and really enjoyed the food and atmosphere here, too! 


wine cappadocia

15.) Sip Your Way Through a Wine Tour

Take a half-day to explore the historic vineyards of Cappadocia! Learn more about the grape varieties growing here, and even get the chance to pick your own grapes… and of course, take the chance to taste the region’s delectable wines.  


Zelve Open-Air Museum featuring unique rock formations that served as ancient homes

16.) Visit Zelve Open-Air Museum

The Zelve Open-Air Museum once housed one of the largest communities in the region. It is an amazing cave town, honeycombed with dwellings and religious chambers. Zelve is situated about 10 km out from Goreme. 


CAPPADOCIA, TURKEY - JANUARY 18, 2023: Three horses gracefully journeying through Red Valley, silhouetted against the sun's final embrace.

17.) Take a Horseback Ride at Sunset through Red Valley

Now, depending on how adventurous you are, you can spend one afternoon/evening taking an exciting horseback ride through the fairy chimneys!

Horseback riding is VERY popular in Cappadocia. I did not do this here, but it is highly recommended. These rides typically last 2 hours. So, it’s great to sneak in at the end of your day.


Quadbike Tours In Cappadocia

18.) … or Take a Quad Tour

If you’re adventurous but not a fan of horseback riding, another very popular option is to take a quad tour through Sword, Love, and Rose Valleys! These tours typically last 1-2 hours and are also highly recommended.


12 July,2012: Turkey / Cappadocia. An old Turkish bath in Avanos , Cappadocia.

19.) Relax at Turkish Bath

Looking to spend some time relaxing while in Cappadocia? Head to a local bathhouse for a massage! Now, of course, Turkish bathhouses are not the same experience as what we are used to in the US. At a bathhouse, you won’t have much for privacy… but it’s all part of the experience! (Just be prepared for this before you go in!)


NEVSEHIR, TURKEY - MAY 17, 2015: Whirling dervishes perform in an old caravansary in Nevsehir, Turkey.

20.) See a Swirling Dervishes Show

I really regret not taking the time to see a Swirling Dervishes Show when we were in Cappadocia. (I will have to do this next time!)

The Sema (whirling dervishes) ceremony represents the mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through love and his search for truth and perfection.

It is believed that once a man has returned from his spiritual journey, he can love and be of service to all creatures surrounding him. You can experience an authentic Cappadocian ceremony and witness this ancient Turkish ritual.


pottery demonstration in Cappadocia

21.) Go to a Pottery Workshop or Demonstration

The Cappadocia area is also famous for its pottery making. The town of Avanos specifically has many pottery workshops. We visited Sultans Seramik in Avanos and were able to watch a demonstration as well as try out the process ourselves!

The folks who work here are incredibly kind and hospitable and won’t push you to purchase anything (unless you want to purchase something – their work is beautiful). 


rug shop in cappadocia

22.) Take an Art tour

If you are especially interested in the art techniques in Cappadocia, you may enjoy taking an art tour! You can watch the local ladies at work patiently and skillfully creating Turkish carpets. Then, see a skillful pottery master turning mud into a unique piece of art… and attempt to replicate it yourself.

Lastly, discover the Ottoman art of ebru (water marbling), an artistic way of reflecting the fluency and smoothness of water with exquisite colors and shapes onto paper or a silk material. This demonstration will look like a magic trick!

You can also organize this yourself and visit each shop on your own – a tour is not required by any means, but it’s definitely easier. 


Pigeon Valley Cappadocia Turkey Kapadokya

23.) Hike Pigeon Valley

Pigeon Valley is located between Goreme and Uçhisar and is ideal for walking, as it’s a relatively easy hike. The name comes from the thousands of pigeon houses that have been carved into the soft tuff since ancient times.

Although they can be found throughout Cappadocia, they are especially numerous in this valley. There is also a viewing platform where you can admire Pigeon Valley if you would rather not do the hike.


sultan cave suites cave hotel with a bed, and tv visible

24.) Stay in a Cave Hotel

Cave Hotels are exactly as they sound – they are hotels that were carved into Cappadocia’s stone. It’s a unique experience!

We personally stayed at the Sultan Cave Suites in Goreme, as their famous terrace offers spectacular views of the sunrise and balloons in the morning. There are many cave hotels in this area, though, that range from budget-friendly to ungodly luxurious


A chair with no people on the pink salt lake in front of a minimalist background

25.) Visit the Pink Salt Lake 

This actually is not in Cappadocia but is a popular day trip from here. I am adding it, though, because it is highly recommended and looks SO darn cool. I wish I would have had enough time to visit this as well. (The photo above is a famous one I purchased from Shutterstock.)


26.) Go for a Cappadocia Sunset ATV tour

The ATV tour usually starts in the late afternoon, just in time for you to catch the golden hour. The guide will lead you to the most picturesque spots, making that you have the best views of the sunset. You’ll also visit some hidden gems that are not easily accessible by foot or car.

This tour is not just about the ride – it’s also about experiencing the beauty and history of Cappadocia. You’ll get to learn about the region’s history, geology, and culture from your knowledgeable guide. And, of course, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to take amazing photos.

The ATV tour is suitable for all ages and skill levels. Even if you’ve never ridden an ATV before, the guides will give you a brief training session before the tour starts. Safety is always a priority, so you’ll be provided with helmets and goggles.


beautiful girl in retro style posing near a vintage red cabriolet car on background of balloons in Cappadocia
Photo by Tsyb Oleh

Honorable mention – Vintage Car Photo Shoot

These photoshoots are gaining popularity in Cappadocia as well! Have your photo taken with gorgeous vintage cars set against the beautiful Cappadocia landscape… while the hot air balloons rise around you. I didn’t personally do this, but I love all the photos I see from it!


Best Time to Visit Cappadocia

Cappadocia is a high-altitude region that doesn’t experience the scorching heat of most desert landscapes. You can visit this region at any time of the year, but keep in mind that during winter it snows and hot air balloons don’t fly as often, and many hotels may close.

The best time to visit would be during the Spring and Autumn seasons when temperatures are cool and the weather is most favorable for flying hot air balloons.

September and October are great times to visit as it’s typically less crowded than in the summer months, and the weather is excellent. April is a quieter shoulder season.

June marks the start of the high season and is one of the busiest times of the year to visit.


How to Get to Cappadocia

The town of Goreme is the main place people stay, though Nevşehir, Avanos, and Urgup are also options. These towns can be reached via bus from Kayseri airport. Long-distance buses also run from Istanbul and Ankara to the Cappadocia region.

We had booked a private transfer from Kayseri Airport to our hotel in Goreme. 


How to Get Around

There are plenty of tours to show you the highlights of the Cappadocia region. (This is what we, personally, did.)  You can also easily rent a car, bike, or scooter to get around. Traffic isn’t too crazy in this region, and I do think most experienced drivers would be fine driving here. 

You can see just about everything in Cappadocia, though, by booking the Red TourGreen Tour, and Blue Tour.


A couple sitting together next to a breakfast table in Cappadocia, as hot air balloons rise behind them
Breakfast Terrace at Sultan Cave Suites

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the Sultan Cave Suites – which has an incredible terrace view of the hot air balloons rising (pictured below) + authentic cave rooms.

They also have a wonderful restaurant on-site and a breakfast buffet to die for. Next door is also Mithra Cave Hotel, which boasts a similar view of the hot air balloons each morning!

Read my full review of the Sultan Cave Suites.

*Cappadadocia also has tons of budget-friendly room options with some well-rated hotels starting at $28 USD a night. 

*If you’re looking for luxury accommodation while staying in Cappadocia, I recommend checking out Kayakapi Premium Caves – some of these cave rooms have their own private underground pools or Kapadokya Hill Hotel & Spa!


Hot Air Balloons + Floral Maxi Skirt

Visa Requirements

To check if your country requires a Visa for traveling to Turkey, check out the iVisa website for more information.

Travel Insurance

I, personally, use Squaremouth for finding the best insurance policies for my travels. They’re also recommended by Forbes! I highly recommend getting a free travel insurance quote for your trip to Turkey.

25 Amazing Things to Do in Cappadocia, Turkey Pin for Pinterest featuring a collage of Cappadocia photos

3 Comments

  1. Again, I’m always in awe of your experiences Lindsey. You’ve become such the expert on the places you’ve lived and created an amazing way to share.
    XOOX
    Jodie

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