Best Things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey
Before we begin, I recommend staying in Göreme. Most of the places on this list are near Göreme.
1. Rose Valley & Red Valley
Some of the most beautiful landscapes I saw in Cappadocia were in Rose Valley and Red Valley. They are located next to each other. Therefore, I recommend visiting both places on the same morning or afternoon. Actually, I recommend going in the afternoon to enjoy the sunset from one of the two valleys.
The best way to explore the valleys is hiking. You can also go horseback riding. There are several hiking trails that you can choose from. Some trails are longer than others. You will see that the trails are marked but my advice is to get a map of the valleys before you go. I think the best idea is to hike from Rose Valley to Red Valley since Red Valley is a great spot to watch the sunset.
You can spend as much time as you want in the valleys. However, I think you should stay a minimum of 3 hours. It’s all up to you. You decide how much time you want to hike for. Inside the valleys there are a few cafeterias where they serve juices and snacks. There are also restrooms available.
To get to Rose Valley and the Red Valley you have to head in the direction of Göreme Open Air Museum. Once you pass the Tourist Hotel & Resort Cappadocia, you will see a path on the left. Keep going straight on that road until you see a parking lot next to a stall. You can leave your car/ATV/motorcycle there. Cars and bikes aren’t allowed inside the valley. At the stall you can buy drinks. You can also visit the valley from Çavuşin.
2. Pasabag (Valley of the Monks), a must see place to visit in Cappadocia
Pasabag is one of the best places to visit in Cappadocia. It is also known as the Valley of the Monks. You’ll see many pillars and some of the tallest fairy chimneys in the region. They usually end in a cone shape and some of them are joined together. There is also a chapel dedicated to San Simeon. Be sure to enter the caves carved in the chimneys. The monks used to hide inside these caves.
Getting to Pasabag from Göreme is fairly straight forward. Drive down the road towards Avanos. Once you pass the small town of Çavuşin, pay attention to the signs, as you will see a sign pointing the way to Pasabag on your right.
3. Love Valley, an unique place to visit in Cappadocia
Love Valley is one of Cappadocia’s best tourist attractions. The valley is named after the geological formations that are shaped like huge penises. I’m not sure if it’s true but what is true is that this is what makes the place so popular.
You have two options when visiting Love Valley: walking the paths that cross the valley or enjoying the views from the viewpoints. From this last place, you will have beautiful views, especially at sunrise, when Cappadocia’s sky is filled with balloons.
In order to get to Love Valley from Göreme, you also have to take the road to Avanos. Before getting to Çavuşin, take the detour to the left.
Exact location of the dirt road that leads to the valley: 38.663408, 34.829787. Exact location of Love Valley Lookout: 38.659377, 34.818878.
4. Go up to Uchisar Castle, a great thing to do in Cappadocia
About a 10-minute drive from Göreme you will find the town of Uçhisar. What stands out the most in this town is the Uçhisar Castle. Prowl through its dovecotes, churches and tunnels. You can also climb to the top of the castle, which is the highest point in all of Cappadocia. From there you can get to see Mount Erciyes.
If you don’t have your own vehicle, there are buses that connect Göreme and Uçhisar. If you woke up that day with a lot of energy, you can also walk from Göreme, crossing the Pigeon Valley. It’s about 5km.
The final section of the road that connects Göreme with Uçhisar is full of viewpoints. You can easily get there by car or on foot.
5. Open Air Museum Göreme, Cappadocia
One of the best things to do in Cappadocia is visiting the Open Air Museum in Göreme. It has several monasteries assembled together. There are several chapels with walls filled with amazing fresco paintings. I thought the chapels were so beautiful! I recommend visiting this places if you want to get to know a bit more about how the people who inhabited these monasteries lived.
There is an entrance fee of 100TL (approximately 10USD). Audio guides are also available. The museum is located 20 minutes away by foot from Göreme.
6. Devrent Valley, also known as Imaginary Valley
Devrent Valley is also known as Imaginary Valley. It is named like this due to the fact that many of its rocks have very curious shapes that resemble different objects or animals. Walking through the valley figuring out what each formation reminds you of is one of the most fun things to do in Cappadocia.
On my first visit to Cappadocia I was unable to visit this place due to lack of time. However, on my second visit I didn’t want to miss it. One of the most famous formations is the one you can see in the photo above. Would you say it is shaped like a camel or a snail?
I recommend visiting this place after visiting Pasabag. Both locations are fairly close. While you are in the area, don’t miss the Zelve Open Air Museum. It is much less popular than the Göreme Open Air Museum but it is also very interesting.
7. Fly on a hot air balloon, one of the best things to do in Cappadocia
One of the most magical experiences you can have in Cappadocia is flying over the region in one of the many hot air balloons that take off at sunrise. Something you should know before planning your trip to Cappadocia is hot air balloon do not fly every day. Flights are canceled due to weather conditions sometimes.
Because of this, I recommend that you book your Cappadocia balloon flight on the first day of your visit. In this way, if it is cancelled, you have more days and, therefore, opportunities to be able to fly another day. We were not very lucky and we were left without flying in a balloon. We have to go back!
The balloons take off from Göreme. There are numerous companies that offer this service. They all work in a similar way. They will pick you up at the hotel, take you to their establishment for breakfast, take the flight (it lasts approximately 1 hour), drink cava to celebrate and take you back to the hotel. It usually costs around €75.
As I have already mentioned, I recommend hiring your balloon flight as soon as you know the date of your first sunrise in Cappadocia. You can book the balloon flight in advance from this page or from this other page, depending on the price.
8. Watch the sunrise and sunset in Cappadocia
Although we were not able to fly in a balloon in Cappadocia, the first morning we were lucky to see how dozens of balloons went up into the sky while the sun said good morning to us. Flying in a balloon in Cappadocia has to be magical but watching the sunrise with all the balloons in the sky from the mainland is also an experience full of magic.
Some of the best places to see the sunrise in Cappadocia (and the sunset) are the following:
SUNRISE FROM LOVE VALLEY. On our second visit to Cappadocia we experienced two amazing sunrises from Love Valley. In one of them the balloons flew towards us and it was really magical. I’ll share the exact coordinates of the two places where we saw the sunrise in Love Valley. The first day was from: 38.655944, 34.820705 and the second day from 38.661945, 34.821236.
SUNSET POINT (GÖREME). This point is a very popular place to watch the sunrise and sunset in Göreme. It is within walking distance of town. From Sunset Point you can see places like Pigeon Valley, Uçhisar Castle and Red Valley in the distance. Exact coordinates for Sunset Point: 38.640564, 34.832147.
SUNSET FROM RED VALLEY. If you want to see an amazing sunset in Cappadocia, head to Red Valley. From this valley you will have beautiful views of the entire region. There is a parking lot and stalls where you can have a drink while the sun sets. I recommend you going to the interior part of the valley, right up to this point: 38.655879, 34.861718.
SUNRISE FROM ROSE VALLEY. If you want to see how the balloons are inflated and how they take off, I recommend visiting Rose Valley. We visited the exact point where several balloons took off (38.655016, 34.847929) and then went up to a viewpoint right next to it (38.655736, 34.844401).
SUNSET IN ROSE VALLEY. From this other point in Rose Valley, we were able to enjoy a very beautiful sunset all to ourselves. The exact location is: 38.657219, 34.848297.
UÇHISAR. Uçhisar Castle is the highest point in Cappadocia. You can see incredible sunrises and sunsets from the castle. Another place where you have incredible views is on the final stretch of the road that goes from Göreme to Uçhisar.
If you stay at a hotel with a roof terrace, you can enjoy a sunrise without having to go far. On our first trip to Cappadocia, we stayed at Koza Cave Hotel and enjoyed some incredible sunrises.
Something to have in mind is that balloons fly to different directions depending on the wind.
9. Visit an underground city: Kaymakli or Derinkuyu
Cappadocia has numerous underground cities. The two that are most known are Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. The cities began to be excavated in the times of the Hittites and for several centuries they were home to different people who were hiding from invaders.
Kaymakli is the largest city and Derinkuyu is the deepest (85 meters deep). Both underground cities are located south of Göreme, Kaymakli 25km away and Derinkuyu about 40km away.
On my first visit to Cappadocia, I didn’t visit any underground city. However, on my second visit I didn’t want to leave without visiting one. We visited Kaymakli and it blew my mind away! It has a total of nine underground levels, of which four can be visited. You will have to go through quite narrow tunnels. Keep that in mind if you are a bit claustrophobic.
Admission costs 60 TL (€5.40). They recommend booking a guided tour but we did not do it because the tour guide attempted to charge us 200 TL (18€) initially and then began to lower his price. I thought it was a bit of a scam so we decided to continue on our own and read the information on the internet. The path to follow is marked with arrows.
10. Pigeon Valley
Visiting Pigeon Valley is one of the best things to do in Cappadocia. It is located within walking distance of Göreme. It is a very good place to take a pleasant walk and observe different rock formations. Some formations are churches and abandoned cave houses. You can also see this place from the viewpoints that surround it.
These are other places of interest in the region, just in case you have some extra time to visit more places or you want to know what else there is to visit in Cappadocia: Zelve Valley or Ihlara Valley. Another good plan is to walk around Göreme, have a cup of tea, visit a carpet shop (they are fascinating!), take an ATV tour or simply get lost in the valleys of Cappadocia.
Book in advance tours and activities in Cappadocia:
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Where to stay in Cappadocia, Turkey
As I mentioned before, I recommend staying in Göreme. It is very close to many of Cappadocia’s tourist attractions. I have done some research for the best hotels in Göreme and these are my recommendations:
The Dorm Cave by Travellers. This hostel has private rooms (double and triple) and dorms with 4 or 6 beds. There is a restaurant with views of the fairy chimneys loacted on the roof. The rooms are in hand-carved caves. They are very beautiful.
– Booking Score: 9/10
– TripAdvisor Score: 4.5/5
Roc Of Cappadocia. This hotel is surrounded by 7 fairy chimneys. They offer double and triple rooms. It has a terrace, pool and bar. The decoration of the rooms is very traditional, which gives the hotel a lot of charm.
– Booking Score: 9.5/10
– TripAdvisor Score: 5/5
Koza Cave Hotel. I was lucky enough to stay in this hotel when I visited Cappadocia and I loved it. The rooms are caves, which provides an authentic experience. They have several terraces, one of them at the top of the hotel. You’ll be able to observe the sky filled with balloons at sunrise.
They have double and triple rooms. Breakfast is included and is very good, with fresh and local products. In addition, the staff is very nice. It is a very good option to stay in Cappadocia.
– Booking Score: 9.4/10
– TripAdvisor Score: 5/5
Tips when traveling to Cappadocia
Here are some last tips when visiting Cappadocia:
↠ HOW TO GET TO CAPPADOCIA. You can fly to Nevşehir or Kayseri airport. Nevşehir airport is closer to Cappadocia but flights are usually more expensive. From the airport, if you are not going to rent a car, you can go to Cappadocia by taxi, van or bus.
↠ HOW TO GET AROUND IN CAPPADOCIA . My recommendation is that you rent a car. Despite being able to get around by taxi or bus, the car gives you incomparable freedom. We rented it from the Avis stand at Nevşehir airport. It cost us €26 per day with insurance included. If you prefer, you can reserve the car in advance. Another option to move around Cappadocia is the bus or the taxi.
↠ TRAVEL INSURANCE. I remind you that it is very important to purchase travel insurance for your visit to Cappadocia, if you do not have medical coverage in Turkey. I always travel with Heymondo, a travel insurance I highly recommend it. Purchase your travel insurance with a 5% discount.
↠ BOOK THE BALLOON FLIGHT FOR THE FIRST DAY. If you are going to fly in a balloon, I recommend you book your flight for the first day. In this way, if your balloon flight is canceled (something that can happen due to the weather), they can change your flight to another day.
↠ EATING OUT IN GÖREME. If you have a car, I recommend eating outside of Göreme, since, being the most touristic town, the price of food is higher. We ate quite a lot in Avanos.
If you think I should add some additional places to visit in Cappadocia or things to do, I encourage you to leave a comment. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me. Until next time, travelers!