Cappadocia, Turkey: Our Trip


If you don’t know the name, you’ll recognise the pictures. There is so much more to Cappadocia than hot air balloons. Obviously, we’re not going to say that they don’t make for an incredible sight and experience, but there are other areas worth checking out during your visit too. Keep reading to find out what we got up to.

What To See

Hiking

There are three main popular routes in the region: red, green and blue. All of them can be done by yourself using public transport but you’ll see lots of places offering packaged tours priced between 30 euro to 50 euro for the day. If you’re on a budget then give these a swerve.

Each of the three routes has hiking opportunities. If you’re based in Goreme and don’t want to spend money on a tour, then the red route is the one you should pick. It starts in the town centre so you’ll be able to do some of the route without needing to catch a bus anywhere.

It’s not just hiking. There are underground cities, workshops and monasteries to be explored too. This Cappadocia tourist website goes into more detail, so make sure to check it out.

What route did we do? We did a mix of all three. Goreme was the start of our road trip so we used the rental car to visit the highlights of each route. Here is where we went:

Uchisar Castle

Not a castle as we know it. There’s no brick structure or a draw bridge across a moat. Like the other ancient houses in the area, it’s natural rock. The only way to describe its appearance is by comparing it to a giant termite mound, which has windows and rooms carved into it. Yes, not the most flattering comparison but we’ll be the first to say just how impressive it is.

You’ll pay 120 TRY (4,2 euros) for an entrance ticket. We gave this a swerve. If you don’t mind scrambling over rocks, then you can walk to some of the cave houses nearby and explore inside the rooms. No charge and it comes with the fun of hiking and exploring. Only downside is the faint smell of pee from nights when locals come here to get drunk and break the seal.

We were traveling with friends who paid the entrance fee and had a look around. When we asked if it was worth it, they said no. They felt that their money was better spent in Kaymakli Underground City (more on that later).

Cavusin Old Greek Houses

It’s not what comes to mind. We’d been expecting a street of white painted houses, maybe the odd statue dedicated to a Greek god. Wrong. The village has dozen of cave houses and great hikes to hill summits from which you can admire them. It’s very much ‘off the radar’ when it comes to tourists visiting or staying here, overshadowed by the likes of Goreme. For the hilltop views and Cavusin’s authentic traditional character (not yet pandering to tourists) we’d recommend a trip here.

Kaymakli Underground City

There are a couple of underground cities to choose from. If crouching down and walking through narrow spaces and deep underground is your kind of thing, then you’re best choosing Kaymakli. Unlike Derinkuyu, you can explore the underground tunnels here which make for an Indiana Jones like experience. We loved it. We should add that if you suffer from claustrophobia or have a serious medical or mobility condition, then give this visit a hard pass. Tickets cost 250 TRY (8,7 euro) but you’ll have to pay extra if you want a guided tour.

Goreme Open Air Museum

This is considered the place in the Cappadocia region. It’s a Byzantine monastic settlement home to monasteries dating back to the 11t century, many of which are well preserved with their original colours still in tact. Pretty impressive. And a popular visit among tourists. A ticket will cost around 300 TRY (10,5 euro) and they’ll be some additional costs for certain churches when you’re inside the complex.

We gave the visit a miss in favour of a hike in the surrounding area (hikes cost nothing) but our friends who visited assured us it was money well spent. If you’re sitting on the fence then give this Lonely Planet post a read to see if it’s something you’d be interested in.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

This is on the wishlist of lots of tourists who visit the area. A hot air balloon ride can cost anything between 110 – 150 euros. Not the cheapest experience, but arguably a memorable one. If you’re trying to decide whether or not it’s worth the money, then check out this post to hear our thoughts to help you decide (or confuse you even more).

Included in the cost will be shared transport transfer to where the balloons take off, ‘breakfast’ (we’re not sure that a packet of pretzels and a cup of coffee counts), and a fancy certificate that you’ll get at the end of your trip. The ride in the hot air balloon lasts around 45 minutes, though you can find longer for a higher price.

Prepare for the early start. You can expect to be collected at 4:00 a.m. If you’re late or sleep through your alarm then the van will leave without you. If the weather is poor the tours can be cancelled last minute and you’ll have your money returned to you – which is why you should always book with an official provider rather than a third party.

How Many Days

We spent two full days in the Cappadocia region. If you’re only visiting to check out the hot air balloons, then this is enough time (as long as the rides aren’t cancelled for bad weather). If like us, you’re considering using Goreme as a launching pad for hiking and visiting places like Cavusin, Nevsehir and Urgup, then you’ll need a bit longer here. We would’ve stayed here for a full 5 days to make the most of the hiking if we didn’t have limited time to work with.

Where to Stay

There are a few towns that you can use as a base for the exploring rest the region. Goreme is easily the most popular choice and where we stayed. Other towns include Nevsehir and Urgup.

We booked Diadem Cave Guesthouse and Hostel via the hostelworld site simply for its good location – a good decision. And yes, it’s quite literally a cave but not like something from the Flinstones. The cave is large, fully furnished with several dorms, bathrooms and a kitchen.

The hearty breakfast and a list of activities and day trips to choose from means that it gets a solid recommendation from us.

Getting to Goreme, Cappadocia

Turkey is a big country but well-connected. Catching a train or bus isn’t an issue. To get to Goreme, you either have to go by car or by plane. For a bus ticket from Istanbul, you’re looking at 650TRY (21,3 euro) and they run frequently so that’s a weight of your shoulders. The downside is the time it takes to get there which is around 10-11 hours.

If you have limited time and, consider travelling by plane. A flight from Istanbul airport to Neveshir (NAV) Airport will last around 90 minutes and cost between and 40 to 90 euro depending on when you travel. From the airport, you’ll then need to arrange transportation to the town of Goreme. If you’re staying at a hostel then shuttle services are often provided.

Remember that there are several airports in Istanbul. Istanbul IST airport is the one nearest to the centre.

Wrap Up

And that’s a wrap. There was so much more to be done on the hiking front, but that’s a visit for another day. If you’ve got any other recommendations for us then leave a comment below.

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