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12 Best Things To Do In Cappadocia, Turkey - Updated 2020

things to do in cappadocia
Malavika
Malavika
Updated

There is no other way to describe Cappadocia in Central Anatolia, Turkey than to say that it is a land straight out of a fairytale - think volcanic rocks and caves looking like they’ve been fashioned by fairies, centuries-old labyrinthine underground cities, Byzantine-era churches, castles atop hills, ancient villages, cave hotels (yes!), and scores and scores of valleys with the most interesting of rock formations. The cherry on top is taking off in vibrant hot air balloons to get a bird’s-eye view of this gorgeous landscape at the crack of dawn! Cappadocia is a land as intriguing as it is mysterious. Here are the best things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey.

1. Admire the stunning Uçhisar Castle

Uçhisar Castle

The tallest point in all of Cappadocia is Uçhisar Castle located in the village of Uçhisar, just a few miles south of the village of Göreme. The majestic, behemoth, rock-cut fortress, which can be climbed to the top, offers gorgeous, sweeping views of the Cappadocia region as well as Uçhisar village which houses thousands of caves and tunnels. During the sieges which took place during the Byzantine and Roman eras, Uçhisar Castle provided protection to the villagers. Most of the castle rooms lie on the northern side and are now pigeon houses, the droppings being used as fertilizer by farmers. Intrepid travellers can indulge in the extremely scenic walk to White and Pigeon Valleys from Uçhisar.

Uçhisar Castle

Address: Tekelli, 50240 Uçhisar/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey

Website: Uçhisar Castle

Opening hours: 7:30am - 8pm (daily)

2. Hike through the dusty-white Pigeon Valley

Pigeon Valley

Dusty-white rock formations with pigeon house holes nestled in brown-green foliage - Pigeon Valley, also known as Guvercinlik Valley, is one of Cappadocia’s prettiest places. Stretching between the villages of Göreme and Uçhisar, Pigeon Valley also happens to be one of Cappadocia’s most popular hiking trails too, complete with earth pillars, ancient ceiling paintings, cave dwellings - and pigeons! Choose the slightly downhill 4-km-long (2.5 miles) trail from Uçhisar to Göreme - there’s also a 2-km-long (1.2 miles) option - which goes through fascinating caves and gorgeously thick trees. Enter the valley to see hoards of pigeons flying around and sitting to the entrance of the pigeon holes, which were built to domesticate pigeons for message delivery, sacrifice, meat, and for their nutrient-rich poop!

Pigeon Valley

Address: Aşağı, Adnan Menderes Cd. No:50, 50240 Uçhisar/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

3. Snap gorgeous pictures at Aşıklar Vadisi

Love Valley

Those in love, and even those who aren’t, will fall in love with Aşıklar Vadisi, also known as Love Valley or Bağdere Valley, one of Cappadocia’s most exquisite sights. Filled with comical phallic-shaped rock formations, the hidden, chalk-white valley is something out of a dream. These ancient structures formed millions of years ago, with the dry, green foliage of Cappadocia growing around them to create a stunning panorama. One can either hike down to the base of the valley or see the valley from a gorgeous vantage point high above, complete with photo op spots including a large heart-shaped swing right at the valley’s edge! PS: do make a wish at the gorgeous wishing trees hung with bright-blue Nazar beads - and fulfil an ancient Turkish tradition.

Aşıklar Vadisi/Love Valley

Address: 50180 Göreme/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey

Website: Aşıklar Vadisi/Love Valley

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

4. Explore the scenic vistas of Göreme National Park

Göreme National Park

Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, the rocky, dreamy landscape that is Göreme National Park is surrounded by the Erciyes and Hasan mountains and is chock-full of gushing rivers in deep-carved valleys, ancient underground cities, caves, and churches featuring outstanding Byzantine art, and the region’s iconic, defining features - unusual rock formations known as “ peri bacaları” or “fairy chimneys". This rock-hewn ancient sanctuary was entirely sculpted and created by erosion and is one of the best sites to feature remains of traditional human habitat dating back to 4 AD. Check out the Göreme open-air museum, Devrent and Ihlara valleys, and the Bezirhane churches, and watch a gorgeous sunset over the fairy chimneys.

Göreme National Park

Address: 50500 Aktepe/Avanos/Nevşehir, Turkey

Website: Göreme National Park

5. Walk through underground tunnels at Derinkuyu Underground City

Derinkuyu Underground City

The 18-level-deep Derinkuyu Underground City is Cappadocia’s, and the world’s, deepest underground city, of which currently only 8 floors are open for viewing for visitors. The spectacular underground city is said to have flourished during the Byzantine era and was used as a refuge for Muslim Arabs during the Arab-Byzantine wars of 780 to 1180 AD. According to other theories, the city was created in the 15th century BC during the time of the ancient Anatolian Hittites. Walk through subterranean mazes, stoop through ancient tunnels, and explore all kinds of rooms from chapels and stables to wine cellars to storage rooms.

Derinkuyu Underground City

Address: Bayramlı, Niğde Cd., 50700 Derinkuyu/Nevşehir, Turkey

Opening hours: 8am - 7pm (daily)

6. See Cappadocia from above on a hot air balloon (from USD 130)

things to do in cappadocia | see cappadocia from above on a hot air balloon

How’d you like to see the stunning, straight-out-of-a-fairytale vistas of Cappadocia from the skies? Float above the spectacular, lunar-like landscape and world of Cappadocia on a hot air balloon at sunrise in a hot air balloon, as you see everything from cave homes and churches, volcanic spires, and magical fairy chimneys in the soft morning light of the rising sun. Wake up at 3am and take off before sunrise to watch hundreds of vibrant hot air balloons take off, and snap pictures for a lifetime of memories.

Discover the Beauty of Cappadocia by Hot Air Balloon

Duration: 60 minute

91 reviews

7. Step back into the Byzantine era at Gümüşler Monastery

Gümüşler Monastery

Carved out of a single large rock, the Byzantine-era cave monastery of Gümüşler Monastery is one of Cappadocia’s largest and best-preserved of its kind. Featuring captivating 11th- to 17th-century Byzantine-era frescoes, the rock-hewn monastery is particularly known for the fresco of Virgin and Child which features the only smiling Mary in existence. Also featured on the walls of the monastery are hunting scenes, which aren’t seen anywhere else in the region of Cappadocia. The paintings, which feature a diverse variety of animals and a special iconography and style, date back to 12th to 13th century AD.

Gümüşler Monastery

Address: 51310 Gümüşler/Niğde Merkez/Niğde

Website: Gümüşler Monastery

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

8. Stop on ancient Silk Road at Sultan Han

Sultan Han
Source: Wikipedia

On the flat plains between Aksaray and Konya sits the massive, impressive 13th-century Seljuk caravanserai of Sultan Han on the ancient Silk Road. Functioning as a caravanserai during 1229 to 1236, this truck-stop-for-camels is Turkey’s largest Seljuk caravanserai, complete with stone-paved courtyards, sleeping quarters, and massive walls. Designed simply and elegantly, Sultan Han is considered one of the best examples of Anatolian Seljuk architecture. The caravanserai also has a mescit (small mosque), the oldest such mosque in Turkey.

Sultan Han

Address: Cumhuriyet, Konya Aksaray Yolu, 68000 Sultanhanı/Aksaray Merkez/Aksaray

Website: Sultan Han

9. Take in pink and red hues at Red and Rose Valleys (from USD 100)

Take in pink and red-tinged Cappadocian landscapes at the Kızıl Çukur (Red) and Güllüdere (Rose) valleys, which feature gorgeous rock formations, mountains, and jaw-droppingly beautiful cliffs. Explore the gorgeous, ancient, cliffside-carved village of Çavuşin and the 7th-century Üzümlü Church, one of the region’s most important historic churches. Walk through the otherworldly pink-and-red-hued valley, complete with patches of green, brown, and yellow, making for gorgeous photo ops.

Hiking in Red and Rose Valley

Duration: 3 hours

10. Discover the historic monastery retreat of Zelve Open Air Museum

Zelve Open Air Museum

Between Avanos and Çavuşin lies the incredible cave-town of Zelve Open Air Museum, once having housed one of Cappadocia’s largest communities where three valleys full of crumbling churches and cave homes. Explore the former 9th- to 13th-century, gorgeously beautiful monastic retreat of Zelve where you can not only stroll the town square and explore religious chambers and churches, but also walk amongst what are historic houses. Visit Valley One which is home to an old değirmen (mill) and Üzümlü Kilise (Grape Church) and Valley Three which features a beautiful rock-cut mosque.

Zelve Open Air Museum

Address: Aydınlı Mahallesi, Yavuz Sk. No:1 D:No:1, 50180 Aktepe/Avanos/Nevşehir

Website: Zelve Open Air Museum

Opening hours: 8am - 6:15pm (daily)

11. See the UNESCO Heritage Sites with a private tour guide and lunch (from USD 21)

things to do in cappadocia | see the unesco heritage sites with a private tour guide and lunch

At its best, Cappadocia boasts a ton of dazzling sites and a vibrant culture that the Turkish people continue to bring to life. Explore Cappadocia’s best and most historic landmarks and get a taste of authentic Turkish cuisine for lunch. Book this superb GetYourGuide tour and spend 6.5 hours absorbing pure Turkish history. See the Fairy Chimney rock formations, visit the village of Avanos, and be taken off guard by the scenic beauty of the Uchisar Castle and Pigeon Valley. Guests who participate in this tour are entitled to a private driver, hotel pick-up and drop-off an English speaking tour guide, and admission fees to all the sites.

Cappadocia Highlights Tour with Lunch

Duration: 6.5 hour

7 reviews

12. Capture the stunning beauty of Cappadocia in a video and photoshoot tour (from USD 173)

For visual travelers who love to document their trips to new places, this tour is for you. Book this one of a kind Viator tour where participants will get the chance to take videos using drones, and get stunning Instagram-worthy photos by a professional photographer. Cappadocia in itself is a picturesque background and with this tour, guests will be entitled to a private photographer to take 200 to 300 photos taken during the tour. They will also be getting complimentary shoot setups like blankets, cushions, and a carpet. Private transportation and complimentary drinks like coffee and tea are also up for grabs.

Drone Video shooting and Photo shooting in Cappadocia, Turkey

Duration: 2 hours

Captivating Cappadocia

One of Turkey’s crowning historical jewels, Cappadocia is an enchanting region with a wealth of culture and history, complete with open-air museums, crumbling, ruined villages, cosy cave homes, and a gorgeous, lunar-like landscape. Cappadocia is every intrepid traveller’s dream so here are the best things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey.

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Freelance writer. Coffee-lover. An expert at Kopfkino. Loves discussing New Zealand, domino theory, dystopian fiction, & Harry Potter.

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