6 Things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey – Touropia Travel

You know those places you see in travel brochures and think, “Nah, that can’t be real”? Well, Cappadocia is one of them. The image of a hundred hot-air balloons rising with the sun, high above the jagged desert landscape is one that tops many bucket lists, and with good reason!

It was my first stop on an ambitious road trip through Turkey although I loved the whole country, I wouldn’t be mad if this was my only stop. Cappadocia enchanted me in a way I never thought possible and my one big regret is not staying longer.

If you are adventurous enough to visit this enigmatic gem on your own, I have a few valuable insights to share to help you make the most of your trip to Cappadocia.

Navigating Your Way to Cappadocia

Cappadocia Valley

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and visit Cappadocia. But how exactly does one get to the middle of Turkey? If you’re all about stretching those pennies, hopping on a bus is the way to go.

The journey is no quick one—it’ll take you a solid 10 to 12 hours to traverse the roughly 454 miles to Cappadocia. I chose to drive and the swanky wide-open highways linking the major cities in Turkey proved to be a dream route. With the breathtaking Anatolian landscape rolling past my window, the time flew past!


Understandably, most people opt to fly and Cappadocia has its very own airport, making air travel a breeze. From Istanbul, you can catch a direct flight to either Nevşehir or Kayseri, the two nearest airports to Cappadocia.

The flight takes around 1.5 hours, and with multiple airlines offering daily flights, you’ll have no trouble finding a schedule that suits your needs. On average, you’re looking at anywhere from $50 to $150 for a one-way ticket.


It is important to understand that Cappadocia is a region and not a city. There are many towns and cities in the area and you can reach most of them by taxi from the airport or you can rent a car. The towns are all well connected with transfers and tours, and some of them are quite walkable on their own.

Pro Tip: It might be worth looking into renting a car if you fly into Cappadocia. We had lots of fun driving between small villages and discovering more off-the-beaten-track corners of the valley which would be impossible on foot or with a taxi.

Hop on a Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon

The main attraction here is without a doubt the hot-air balloons and even your concierge will make it a top priority to explain how to see them and how the system works.

While hopping in a hot air balloon sounds like a spontaneous adventure, the reality is a tad more complex. You see, Cappadocia is famous for its hot air balloon rides, which means demand can be sky-high (pun intended). If you want to be guaranteed a spot in the basket, you’ll need to plan ahead and book your flight in advance.

And here’s the kicker—weather conditions play a significant role in whether the balloons can take off, so a bit of flexibility goes a long way.

Watch the Hot Air Balloons from the Ground

Hot Air Balloon

Hot-air balloon rides go upwards of $100 and although I am sure it is a pretty memorable experience, the idea of a cramped 25-person basket did not appeal to me.

Maybe one day when my ship comes in, I’ll book a private flight. I opted for the budget-friendly (read, free) option of watching this spectacle from the ground, and it was worth every minute of waking up before dawn.

Before sunrise, I headed up to the Göreme Panorama viewpoint, the most popular one in the area. Although it gets quite busy, I was there way before the crowds and walked to the furthest edge of the cliff, a point too far for most Instagrammers to attempt with their wild outfits.

I am sorry if you aren’t a morning person, but you can sleep in another time. Make the effort to be at the viewpoint well before the sun starts to rise to get the best spot.

Hot Air Balloon

There are two takeoff times, one just before sunrise around 5 AM, and the other around 6:30 after the first flights have returned. But watching all the balloons arrive, starting to fill with air and slowly rise to the heavens was like a story unfolding.

If you stay multiple days, I would suggest watching them one day from the panorama viewpoint and going to the launch site on the other day. It gives you a great perspective to see them from the ground too.

Pro Tip: If you wait long enough and sit at the edge of the rocks at the panoramic viewpoint, the balloons fly about a meter above your head! So sit down and watch the spectacle.

See the Rock Formations

Now that you have seen the hot-air balloons, what’s left to do? Well, I hope you have scheduled enough time because Cappadocia is overloaded with places to see and things to see. From ancient cave cities to open-air museums, this place is like Disneyland for history buffs, with Turkish Delights instead of the Grey Stuff.

My plan was basically to have no plan. There are dozens of rock formations and valleys, each with complicated and contradicting names so I set off and simply asked “Where does this road go?”

Rock Formations

Göreme Open-Air Museum might have been my favorite part of the region. It is a sprawling complex of rock-cut churches and monasteries dating back to the Byzantine period, all nestled amidst the fairy chimneys of Göreme Valley.

The Rose Valley and the Love Valley both have incredible collections of fairy chimneys and cave dwellings and it is worth considering a hike if you can. Then there is also Sword Valley and the Atay Panorama that you shouldn’t miss.

But the list of “must-see formations” is longer than you would care to read so going where the desert breeze blows you truly is the way to go.

Churches in Cappadocia

Tokali Church

The Churches in Cappadocia are truly remarkable and the frescoes that have survived for centuries are perfectly preserved in their cave settings. Some of my favorites were Yılanlı Kilise (Snake Church), Karanlık Kilise (the Dark Church), and Tokalı Kilise (The Buckle Church) which is probably the most popular.

Underground Cities

Underground Cities

The underground cities of Cappadocia are another ancient spectacle that isn’t for the faint of heart. Claustrophobics, skip ahead. There are several underground cities with tunnels leading as deep as 80 meters underground.

But people of those days must have had really bad posture or were at least 3 feet shorter than modern humans because these winding mazes and rooms are vertically challenged.

I still can’t quite wrap my head around the complexity of these cities, some housing upwards of 20,000 people AND their livestock! I visited Derinkuyu, the largest and deepest of all the cities but any one of them is worth a visit.

Uchisar Castle

Uchisar Castle

If you can travel between towns, make a trip to Uchisar to see its peculiar castle on a clifftop. The town is also charming and great for a stroll if you have some time to kill.

Pro Tip: It is well worth getting the Turkey Tourist Card or the Cappadocia Pass, granting you access to every museum and attraction and also including some handsome discounts.

When to Visit Cappadocia

Cappadocia Winter

Before you go marking your calendar with dreams of hot air balloon rides and cave dwellings, there’s one tiny detail you might want to consider: the weather. You see, Cappadocia isn’t your run-of-the-mill tourist destination where the climate is as predictable as your morning cup of Turkish coffee.

Summers in Cappadocia are hot and we had temperatures above 30 degrees every day. That being said, it is very chilly in the morning and you need to pack warm clothes if you plan on being out and about before dawn for the hot-air balloons.

finger like rocks

On the other side of the spectrum, winters get very cold and this region is no stranger to a dusting of snow on its chimneys! Prices in the winter are much more affordable but there is a higher risk of balloon flights getting postponed due to bad weather.

Pro Tip: Spend multiple days in Cappadocia in the winter because you will most likely need to postpone your balloon flight. You need a few days of wiggle room for when a clear day arrives.

Where to Stay in Cappadocia

Cave Hotel

After a day spent gallivanting amongst fairy chimneys and chasing hot air balloons, you’ll need a cozy nook to rest your head. There are a few standout towns you’ll want to consider for your stay but it is important to think about the location more than what the town offers.

Göreme will always be my top pick and this charming little town is practically the heartbeat of Cappadocia. With its quaint streets lined with cave dwellings and boutique shops, Göreme is the perfect basecamp for your Cappadocian adventures.

From here you can easily walk to the viewpoints and launch sites and several of the famous rock formations. The town is touristy but it truly fulfills your romantic dessert fantasies. Carpets billowing in the wind, Turkish tea on terraces, mesas peeking out from every corner.

Where to Stay in Cappadocia

Another “Is it worth it?” qualm is one surrounding the cave hotels. And I am here to tell you, yes, it is absolutely worth it. I stayed at Seven Rock Cave Hotel which was one of the cheaper options and nothing compares to the feeling of waking up from your cave and strolling out to see the magical fairy chimneys towering above you.

Most importantly, they had a pool to beat the heat and served up an insane breakfast that welcomed us back after our balloon-watching sessions every morning.


Then there’s Uçhisar—a picturesque village nestled atop a rocky outcrop, offering panoramic views that’ll make your jaw drop. If you’re after a more tranquil vibe, Uçhisar might just be the ticket.

Pro Tip: If you do not have a car, seek out a place that is walking distance from one of the viewpoints. You don’t want to get up an hour earlier just to trek uphill to be in time for sunrise.

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