Cappa-what, you might ask! If this is the first time you’re hearing about this extraordinary place, don’t worry; not too long ago we too were unaware of its presence. But that quickly changed the day we stumbled upon a photo of at least hundred hot air balloons floating above a landscape that could hardly be compared to anything we have ever seen before. Instantly we knew we have to put it on our wanderlist and so should you! This quick guide to Cappadocia will help you start planning your unforgettable trip and making the most of it!
With its rugged landscape full of chimney-like sculptures, colorful valleys, and caves, churches and even whole cities carved out of rock, Cappadocia region in the heart of Turkey is a unique place of historical and cultural importance. The towns of Ürgüp, Uçhisar and Göreme, among others, serve as the best starting points for exploring Cappadocia and offer some of the best outdoor activities and accommodation in the region.
How to get there?
Once you’re in Turkey, the easiest, quickest and usually cheapest way to get to Cappadocia is by plane. The region is serviced by two airports, Kayseri and Nevşehir, and the domestic Pegasus Airlines offers affordable tickets. To get from the airport to your accommodation, we recommend booking a shuttle in advance, since taxi services can be pretty pricey.
When to go?
While beauty of this geological wonder can certainly be appreciated in every season, to avoid very hot and/or cold temperatures, the best time to visit is between April-June and September-October.
What to do?
HOT AIR BALLOONING: A Perfect Combination of Serenity and Adrenaline
Hot air ballooning is definitely Cappadocia’s #1 must-do! And while on the morning of your flight you might be tempted to turn that 4am alarm off and snooze a bit (or a lot!) longer, resisting that urge will reward you with amazing views of first sunrays hitting the weird-looking rock formations beneath you and a sea of hot air balloons on the horizon, bathing in pinkish morning light. Most ballooning companies treat you to a complimentary breakfast before the flight and a glass of sparkly after it. Prices depend on the company, time in the air and the basket size, but mostly revolve around 150€ for a one-hour flight in a 16-people basket.
Tips: Before booking your flight online, check with your accommodation whether they can recommend a specific company, as they are usually able to get you a better price. That said, always double-check the recommended company online and read their reviews to avoid any inconveniences. Also, as ballooning is a highly weather-dependent activity, it is wise to stay in Cappadocia at least two nights, booking your balloon flight for the first morning of your stay. That way, if it gets cancelled, you can have another go at it.
HIKING THE VALLEYS: Exploring Turkey’s Outback
While hot air ballooning might be the best way to take in Cappadocia’s moonscape, seeing it from the ground is a whole other thing and should not be missed. There are many guided tours available, whereas for the free spirited we recommend exploring the valleys of Cappadocia on your own. Pack a snack, water and a camera, grab a map and head to the valley of your choice. Our picks: Pigeon, Love and Rose Valleys.
Where to stay?
We stayed in Göreme, a cute little town that could easily be the home of the Flintstones family. Set amongst towering rock cones and cave dwellings, Göreme makes for a perfect starting point for hiking the valleys and hot air ballooning. To make your trip to Cappadocia a truly memorable one, make sure to book one of many cave hotels in the area. ‘Cuz well, how often do you get to sleep in a rock?
Tip: For the best sunsets in Göreme, ask a local or your accommodation for the Sunset Point. It also serves as the best spot to watch the morning balloons!