Cappadocia, Turkey has long held the #1 spot on my travel bucket list. I thought of it as some far off destination, a mere figment of the imagination with magical sights like fairy chimneys and sunrise hot air balloons. A place that I might visit before I die.
Since returning from Cappadocia last month, I’m here to tell you that, YES – Cappadocia is just as beautiful as you imagine it to be. And NO – it should not remain a mere pipe dream. The truth is that Cappadocia is fairly easy to travel to and, once you’re there, you will be endlessly entertained with all that this region has to offer.
dress: Fortunate One
Here are some things you should know before traveling to the area:
How to pronounce “Cappadocia”: I will fully admit that, prior to arriving to Turkey, I was pronouncing it “Cap-a-dotsh-ee-a.” I was corrected in the literal first hour of being in the country, when a man in Istanbul kindly told me that Cappadocia is actually pronounced with a hard “K” sound – “Cap-a-dok-ya.” Cappadocia in Turkish is actually Kapadokya.
How to get to Cappadocia: In order to get to Cappadocia, you have to fly into Kayseri (Erkilet International Airport) from Istanbul. The flight is only about 45 minutes, and both Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines offer super cheap flights (under $100). Prior to your arrival in Kayseri, ask your hotel for a shuttle from the airport, so that when you land, you’ll have someone waiting for you. The ride from Kayseri to Cappadocia is about 30 minutes, but could take up to an hour depending on how many stops the shuttle needs to make along the way. If you’re taking a shuttle back to the airport for your return, keep this in mind and leave a little bit of extra time to get to the airport!
Göreme vs. Cappadocia: Cappadocia is the entire region, but Göreme is the place you’ve probably seen in pictures – of all the winding roads and fairy chimneys.
How long to stay in Cappadocia: After staying in Cappadocia for just two nights/three days, I can say without a doubt that the perfect amount of time to stay in Cappadocia is three or four full days. This gives you enough time to explore the entire area and fit all of the best activities in. Also, if you can swing it, visit during the week. Hotels and airfare will be cheaper, and you’ll have less people in your hot air balloon basket.
Once you get to Cappadocia, here’s what to do:
Take a hot air balloon ride
You can’t visit Cappadocia without going up in a hot air balloon at sunrise! It is such a magical experience floating up with 50-100 other balloons at dusk and rising up into the sky as the sun paints beautiful colors across the horizon.
With a quick Google search, you will learn that there are literally endless hot air balloon companies, but I recommend booking a flight with Butterfly Balloons. They not only give you a pre-flight breakfast of fruit, Turkish pastries and coffee, but reward you at the end of your flight with champagne and a flight certificate. The staff members are all so kind and hilarious, and give you a morning you’ll remember forever.
(Note: As someone who is paralyzing afraid of heights, the experience is a bit scary for the first 10-15 minutes, but the ride is so smooth and the views so breathtaking that any fear of heights will quickly subside).
Watch the hot air balloons
In addition to actually riding in a balloon, carve out time in your schedule to watch the hot air balloons from the ground. You can do this from virtually anywhere in Cappadocia, but the absolute best view of the balloons is from Sultan Cave Suites.
Though Sultan Cave Suites is an amazing hotel to stay at, you don’t need to be a guest to visit the Suites’ famous rooftop. Just show up about 30 minutes before sunrise and be prepared for an amazing show. Mehmet, the hotel owner, decked the rooftop area out with numerous Turkish rugs and homeware. The staff even prepares a full breakfast every morning to make those Instagram photos look even more incredible 😉
Red Valley, Pigeon Valley, Love Valley, Rose Valley… Underground museums, fairy chimneys and cave churches…
The landscape of Cappadocia is so incredibly expansive and varied, and hiking is the single best way to explore it all. If you’d like to explore the area yourself, this map will help:
If you choose to go the tour route, I recommend booking with New Göreme.
Riding on horseback through the valleys is another unforgettable way to explore Cappadocia’s unique landscape. I recommend booking with The Dalton Brothers. The company offers short 2 to 4 hour-long rides, full-day rides and even 5 or 6-day rides through the Taurus Mountain for those looking for an extended camping adventure.
Wander around town
As I mentioned above, Göreme is the central town in Cappadocia. Be sure to spend at least half a day wandering around the streets, shopping for Turkish rugs & lamps.
Enjoy traditional Turkish cuisine
Turkish food is delicious. Like, “gain 5 pounds in 3 days” delicious. Here are the best spots in Cappadocia to indulge:
Lil’a: Fine-dining spot located inside The Museum Hotel
Muti: Ottamon and Turkish cuisine
Ziggy Cafe: Traditional Turkish cuisine with spectacular views
Seten: Anatolian cuisine with a wine cave cellar and cooking classes
Visit the evil eye trees
There are two evil eye trees in Cappadocia. Simply ask your hotel to call you a taxi and take you to them both (or if you just want to see one, ask for the bigger one)! Be sure to tie one of the evil eyes on the tree.
Stay in a cave hotel
When in Cappadocia, you stay in a cave hotel – a hotel that is built into the landscape of Cappadocia. You live as the locals do! It’s one of the absolute highlights of visiting the area because you will not have a comparable experience anywhere else in the world.
The Museum Hotel in Cappadocia, Turkey
These are my favorite hotel options for each price range:
Mid-range: Sultan Cave Suites and Hezen Cave Hotel
Luxury: The Museum Hotel (here’s my review of the hotel!)
Have you visited Cappadocia or are you dreaming of it? What activity would you love the most?
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Gorgeous photos Christina! I miss Cappadocia very much, their breakfast is the best! I think flying the hot air balloon was one of the highlights of last year for me! Such magical memories! Great all round guide! X
Thank you babe!! Seriously it is the MOST magical place – glad to hear you had the same experience xx
Cappadocia has been on the top of my bucket list for a loooong time!! And every single one of your pictures is making me regret not having visited last year on my Euro trip. I was not familiar with any of the hikes so thank you for making me aware of this!
I wish you were able to have gone! Thank you for reading xx
Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s now on my bucket list. 🙂
So happy to hear that!!
This place is so magical! I didn’t know it was so cheap to get there from instanbul! $100 is very affordable.
It really is!! Cappadocia and Kayseri are in central Turkey, so they’re super accessible from Istanbul.
I love this post. I’ve seen a lot of posts on Cappadocia and they’re mostly photos without much content. This post was an excellent guide! I loved hearing about the market – I love markets. AND those evil eye trees! How cool is that?! That would be a must in addition to the more typically hot air balloon viewing for my visit! Thanks for sharing gorgeous photos and great content!
I’m so happy you loved the post, Paige! I would definitely add on the evil eye trees in addition to the hot air balloon ride 🙂 Enjoy your visit!! xx
I have been longing to visit Cappadocia for a LONG time now, but my boyfriend is reluctant because of what’s happening in Turkey. Can you speak to how safe it is?
I’m no expert on travel safety or terrorism threats, and I know Turkey has had its share of issues the past couple of years, so I unfortunately can’t say 100% that Turkey is safe to travel to. Compared to countries like Sweden or Italy, it is definitely lacking safety and stability. It’s unfortunate, but right now, you have to travel to Turkey knowing the slight risk you are taking given recent events. However, I will say that I felt completely safe during my entire stay and never once felt threatened by people around me or my environment. It completely exceeded my expectations and is one of my favorite places I’ve traveled to!
Wow your photos are absolutely stunning. This is the Turkey that I’m craving. I’ve wanted to stay in a cave hotel for forever, so will be looking into this for my small holiday in September. Thank you for sharing your experience 🙂
Thank you so much for the kind words! You absolutely need to visit Cappadocia in September – let me know if you have any questions about the area xx
Hi there Cristina, thank u for sharing your wonderful experienced. Me and my girlfriend planned to visit at the end of Sept. this year. Could u give us an idea how much approximately budget it cost us for 2 days only. Thank u very much!
Amazing you’re visiting Cappadocia! If you’re staying at a mid-range hotel, I think you should budget $300 – $500 total for two days – including food, activities, shopping and accommodations.
These pics look like they came straight out of a fairy tale!
Do you think 4-5 days in Cappadocia is a little bit too long – or is it enough time to see everything (and relax a little?)
Thanks, Christina – great read 🙂
Thank you so much for reading! Anywhere from 3-5 days in Cappadocia is perfect 🙂 I hope you have so much fun if/when you go!! xx
I loved my visit to Cappadocia. Reading this post brought back happy memories especially seeing the pics of the Evil Eye Tree. What ag great post!
Hey Christina !
Amzing write up! I just want to lnow all the activities you mentioned; can they be experienced in winters that is in January?
Thank you for reading!! I would imagine he hiking and horseback riding activities would be impacted (though I would double check) and I am 99% sure the hot air balloons still go up as usual 🙂
Kewl write up and stunning picture! You really inspired me to travel to Cappadocia.
Anyway, what camera that you use?
I really like your post Christina. The pictures always pulls rather than content, but the pictures are awesome. I am planning to head to Turkey for my summer holidays 2018. Now
Now I added Cappadocia in my bucket list even Claudia. The “evil eye tree”- name looks scary but the image looks stunning. The landscapes even look buzzing but market looks bit of crowdie. I hope it won’t but surly we can get some antiques as of it looks.
Even I heard for hot air balloon ride, I think everyone loves to take ride and tour Mars-like landscape via balloon.
Amazing photos.I really like the way you look at the Cappadocia!
Inspiring blog post adorned with spectacular photos. It’s awesome to see you had a great fun there. Very nice pictures.
I think I might buy a ticket for summer, seriously. Those photos look INCREDIBLE. Thank you for this amazing post.
Amaaazinggg!!! you have just made this trip a GO for me!!! Amazing stuff!!!
I love your post. I will visit Goreme this august. I read that it’s possible enjoy breakfast at the Sultan Cave Suites without being guests. Is it sure? I wish this too much! Thank you and enjoy your travels!
A dreamy and unique destination, breathtaking panorama and landscape wherever you look! Enjoy your journey like in fairytale and find the treasure hidden in Cappadocia…Hot air balloon tours, open air museums, valleys, underground cities, fairy chimneys, boutique cave hotels, horse riding tours, atv&off-road tours, pottery workshops, wine tasting and delicious Turkish food
Gorgeous picture Christina!! Thanks for sharing your experience here.
Amazing photos loved it! It is a good guide for people who want to go to Cappadocia.
Wow!!! Simply wow. What a mindblowing place. I have never tried hot air balloon ride in my whole life. Damn, how could I miss that? I feel like this place is designed specially for such adventure. Will definitely visit it. Thanks for the new place.
I am from Cappadocia. Thank you very much for writing article about Cappadocia Turkey
It looks so beautiful, thank you for the write up 🙂
I agree! Turkey is so very beautiful! My friend Lilia got me informed on more of the less well known places, so if I ever get around to visiting I know where to go!
Beautiful photos and posts..Thank you )