Cappadocia Guide: Everything you need to know
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This is your mega Cappadocia guide (a magical wonderland in Turkey)
Turkey is an awesome country! It’s got those Mediterranean vibes but without the cost of being in the European Union. And Cappadocia might just be the most famous place in Turkey! It’s is like a mystical wonderland where incredible natural formations have been burrowed out by ancient civilisations and made into homes the likes of which you have never seen.
But Cappadocia, albeit incredible, is also one of the more expensive places to visit in Turkey. And this guide is to help you save money while also getting the absolute most out of this awesome place.
☀ BEST TIME TO VISIT CAPPADOCIA
You’ve all seen the gorgeous photos of the balloons rising over the gorgeous natural landscape. The air is clean and clear. The women are in their flowy summer dresses. Well, I have news for you…
Although it’s by far the busiest time of year, Summer actually isn’t the best time to visit Cappadocia. The air in summer can get dusty, making it hard to see the landscape. It’s still beautiful though and the temperatures are warm and lovely.
Spring and Autumn are top contenders for the best time of year to visit. Spring brings lush green grasses and baby animals, while autumn has bright yellow and orange leaves falling all over the sweeping valleys.
But Winter might be the most beautiful of them all. When it snows and delicately covers the light pink rock, highlighting the colours and accentuating each texture of the rock, you can feel there’s definitely something special about Winter in Cappadocia. Beware though, snowstorms have seen lots of cancelled balloon rides, so make sure you stay for at least a week just in case 😉
🇹🇷 WHAT TO DO IN CAPPADOCIA
Hot Air Balloons in Cappadocia
Yeah Yeah, you know about these. You’ve seen all the incredible photos and it’s probably the main reason you’re heading to Cappadocia. But not all the balloon rides are the same price. Make sure you shop around a bit before deciding.
Keep in mind that prices are different depending on whether it is the high season (June, July, August) or low season (December, January, February). For lower prices go in the lower season, it’s still absolutely beautiful but with fewer crowds. I went in mid-November. We got a few days of Autumn orange tree leaves falling for our balloon ride and a hike and then the rest of the time the snow came and settled on all of the landscape making it even more magical.
Horse Riding in Cappadocia
The name ‘Cappadocia’ is derived from the Persian word ‘Katpaktukya’ which translates to ‘the land of beautiful horses’. So when you head here, you will definitely want to do a horse ride through the gorgeous landscape!
You can choose where you want to go so we did the ride on our last day and elected to go somewhere we hadn’t trekked at yet. The rides are a very reasonable price (from $25 USD) and the scenery is unforgettable, especially riding the horses in the snow like we did!
ATV Tours around Göreme
Move over hot air balloons, this tour was the most fun thing I did in Cappadocia! That is probably because I’m a little bit of a thrill-seeker. But riding those quad bikes through the sands and all over those sandy hills was just so much fun, and the views were pretty amazing too!
You can do the quad tour at a few different times of the day but I very much enjoyed going for the sunset tour because the viewpoint of Rose Valley is gorgeous.
Hiking in Cappadocia
People travel to Cappadocia from all over the world to do amazing hiking trails that wind in and around this incredible landscape. There are loads of different hikes here ranging from a couple of hours to full days and they are all quite easy to access. Your hotel will probably even give you a lift to the starting points if they are awesome enough. All of the hikes are free and easily accessible which makes budgeting easy, just bring food!
Our favourite hikes are as listed below:
Pigeon Valley Hike
Easily accessible from Goreme this hike begins as soon as you are on the outskirts of town. You’ll pass through some really thick forested areas and fields, as well as through some fairy chimney tunnels. The name of the hike refers to the concentration of pigeon holes carved out of the rocks. Ancient Egyptians used the pigeons as a form of communication so the homes were made to attract the pigeons where they were cared for by locals.
The Pigeon Valley hike finishes in the town of Uchisar where there is a castle carved out of the rock on the top of a hill that you can visit. On the way back you can return to Goreme through Love Valley which also has incredible views.
Swords Valley Hike
Swords Valley has the highest concentration of fairy chimneys in the whole area of Cappadocia. It is absolutely spectacular! I highly recommend taking some time to explore all of the old houses and churches carved out of the rock.
Although I only did swords Valley, you can really make a day of this area and combine the Red Valley, Rose Valley and Swords Valley Hikes which is going to take you at least 7 hours to complete. Ask your hotel to drop you at the start of Red Valley and Come back through Swords Valley, which is close to town.
For in-depth information on these hikes, be sure to read this complete guide to the best Cappadocia hikes.
▶︎ Watch the video for my top 7 things you must do in Cappadocia
🛏 WHERE TO STAY IN CAPPADOCIA
You might already know that Cappadocia is the name of the whole area of Central Anatolia. This means only some towns are near to all the sights. I highly recommend you head to the town of Göreme. It is the most happening village in the area and there are hundreds of cave suites to stay in. It is also really close to the balloon rides, hikes, horse rides, ATV Tours and viewpoints. Alternatively, Urgup and Uchisar are also very close to all the sights and are very pretty villages to stay in.
The Best Cave Hotel in Goreme
Tulip Cave Suites
You’re in Cappadocia, so you probably want to stay in a cave hotel. Well, you are in luck because Göreme is full of them! Tulip Cave Suites is priced really well, the decor was lovely and the staff were just amazing (literally the best staff I have ever encountered in my 5 years travelling the world!) All of the little things that just make your stay that much nicer are all attended to. Plus the breakfast was the best I had in Turkey!
Cheap Hotels in Goreme
Stay in Peace Cave Hostel
Want the cave hotel experience for the price of a hostel? This place is the one for you! With dorm beds inside caves starting at 36 Turkish Lira ($10 USD) this is the best-valued place you’ll find in Goreme. They also have other little luxuries like an on-site restaurant, WiFi and breakfast included.
Cappadokiss Cave Hotel
Don’t like hostels? Here’s the cheapest and one of the best-selling cave hotels in Goreme! They have BBQ facilities, a garden and every room has its own terrace! There’s also a 24-hour front desk, WiFi and room service. Beware though, we booked this room and they moved us to another hotel which wasn’t a cave hotel so make sure this doesn’t happen to you!
🍴 WHERE TO EAT IN GÖREME
Being a tourist hub a lot of good eats have popped up. Some are popular with the Lonely Planet and others with TripAdvisor. So those places I’m going to make a point of not mentioning. But A couple of places that were just really good food and so worth mentioning are as follows:
This delicious smelling restaurant served really traditional local food alongside all the other Turkish favourites. You know it’s going to be good when you can smell the food from outside and see the traditional fire they cook on. Definitely, try the Pottery Kebabs (chicken was A-MAZING!) and if you’re feeling Sunday roast vibes, pre-order a salt-baked chicken. A whole chicken fire roasted encased in a salty dough. They put on a great spectacle when they break it open for you as well!
BAŞKENT Doner Kebab
For cheap and quick eats head here. The prices were really good and the food tasted great too. Try out the meatball sandwich… I don’t know what they season those meatballs with but they are so damn tasty!
TRAVELLING TO TURKEY? Find out the best way to keep your things safe
✈ HOW TO GET TO AND FROM CAPPADOCIA
Flights to Cappadocia
Flights in Turkey are CHEAP. And because Cappadocia is right in the middle of Turkey, it’s worth saving the travel time to take a cheap flight there. Flights during the low season can be as low as $20 to fly domestic with Pegasus. My experience with Pegasus was great, they had luggage and a snack included and they are an airline I would definitely recommend!
Nearest Airport to Cappadocia
There are two airports near Cappadocia. The closest airport to Cappadocia is Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport (code: NAV) which is 40 km from Goreme and 30 km from Ürgüp. The other airport in Cappadocia is Kayseri (code: ASR, also called Erkilet International Airport). This is the further away but cheaper airport at 70 km from Goreme.
Lots of people will say that you should go to the closest airport to save on a taxi. I disagree with this because the shuttle transfers were around the same price, however, the price difference between flying into the two was astronomical, with Kayseri being over $100 cheaper. For this reason, I recommend flying into Kayseri Airport unless you get some sort of amazing sale of Nevşehir.
Getting from Kayseri to Cappadocia
From Kayseri Airport to Cappadocia is an easy shuttle bus. Most hotels will book the shuttle for you (not usually included in the room price) for around 15 Euro per person. The perk of having your hotel book your shuttle transfer is that you will have your name written on a sign held by the shuttle driver ready for when you land. It’s easy and quick.
➵ Check prices for Kayseri Airport Transfers
From Cappadocia to Pamukkale
Going from Cappadocia to Pamukkale is a common route for backpackers and travellers. There are two ways to cheaply travel from Cappadocia to Pamukkale.
Fly from Nevşehir or Kayseri to Denizli (near Pamukkale)
The first is to fly to Denizli which is then another 30-40 minutes by road to Pamukkale. There is an airport shuttle bus which costs only a few dollars. Alternatively, you can take a taxi but that would become quite expensive.
Cappadocia to Pamukkale by bus
The second option to get from Göreme or Ürgüp to Pamukkale is by bus. Buses are very cheap in Turkey, they usually have wifi and provide drinks and snacks too! I highly recommend the overnight buses when going 8+ hours so I can save a nights accommodation and wake up in my new destination. The buses in Turkey are pretty comfortable but I understand overnight buses aren’t for everyone. If you do take an overnight bus, try to book early so you can pick a good seat. I particularly like the front seats or the ones on the right just after the middle door!
Getting from Cappadocia to Pamukkale is easy. Just book the bus at your hotel, in any of the many bus ticket offices or in a tour office, even online! There’s no need to pre-book before you arrive as there are many. They are all around the same price so it’s up to you to decide who to go with.
So these are my tips for saving money in Cappadocia Turkey. In general Turkey is a fairly cheap country to travel, however, Cappadocia was the most expensive place I went to in Turkey. Have fun but only splurge every now and then and always barter. Turkey is a bartering country so give try it out on anything from tours to souvenirs.
Do you dream of taking a hot air balloon over this magical landscape? When will you go to turkey?
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