Cappadocia is one of the most famous regions in Turkey and attracts thousands of visitors every year. You’ve probably seen the magical pictures of balloon flights in this region. Cappadocia is best known for its unique geological formations, such as fairy chimneys, but it also has a rich history and culture. I recently visited the photogenic region and, before the birds were fully awake, climbed into the basket of a giant hot air balloon! These are my tips and highlights for your trip to Cappadocia!
If you are Dutch and you are reading this blog post in English, just tap the menu button to change the language to Dutch!
This blogpost contains affiliate links, so I earn a small commission when you book through my website, at no extra cost to you! So thank you if you book your accommodation through my website!
A hot air balloon flight you will never forget | Cappadocia highlights and tips | Turkey
1. Göreme National Park
Göreme National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ve probably seen photos of this stunning landscape on Instagram. The park is best known for its “fairy chimneys”. These bizarre rock formations were created by volcanic activity and erosion by wind and water. It is so fascinating to see how the houses here completely blend into the landscape! The best view is from a hot air balloon, but more on that later….
2. Love Valley & Peri Bacalara
The Love Valley is another popular attraction. This valley is also known for its very “unusual” rock formations, some of which are shaped like human, uhm, private parts…. Because of that, the area is also known as the “Penis Valley”…. How lovely.
The unique landscape of the Love Valley… | Cappadocia highlights and tips | things to do
3. Uchisar Valley Castle
The Uchisar Valley Castle is a carved castle located atop a rock. The castle has many rooms and tunnels that you can explore. You can also see how people used to live in the caves. You’ll feel like you’re walking around on a movie set here! After your visit you can enjoy a refreshing drink on a cozy terrace in Uchisar, including a beautiful view.
Kaymakli is an underground city excavated thousands of years ago in the soft tuff soil of Cappadocia. It was a safe refuge for locals in times of war and invasions. The city has eight (!) floors. It is a special experience to walk around here and to know that over three thousand people could live here in the past with livestock and their own wine production. On some floors you can see where the wine was made. It was clearly one of the top priorities. Which I, of course, totally understand:-) Even if you are a bit claustrophobic, like me, a visit is highly recommended.
Uchisar Valley Castle | Cappadocia highlights and tips | things to do | Turkey
5. Imagination Valley
The valley owes its name to the many bizarre and imaginative shapes created over the centuries, such as mushrooms, castles and animals. After your hike, find a spot to sit down somewhere and think about what you see in the rocks. Go early in the day, as this is a very popular stop for many tourists. We arrived when three large tourist buses were already parked there, and then some of the imagination is lost….
6. Zelve Open Air Museum
Here you walk among ancient rock churches and houses carved into the rocks. So peaceful and quiet! Take your time walking in this beautiful, vast area. I found it a magically beautiful place. See photo below.
Pottery in Avanos | Cappadocia highlights and tips
Ortahisar is a small town and is known for its castle, which dates back to Byzantine times. It is a lovely town, with many nice stores, restaurants and hotels. You can also visit local markets here, where you can find Turkish delicacies and handmade souvenirs. Also be sure to drive to the Panorama Viewpoint for a fantastic view!
Pasabag, also known as Monks Valley, is a must-visit. It is the location of the highest fairy chimney in the region. The valley used to be home to a monastery, where monks retreated to meditate. Today, the remains of the monastery can still be seen and visitors can get a glimpse into the lives of these men.
Imagination Valley, Pasabag (photo Boyan Ortse) & the impressive Zelve Open Air Museum | Cappadocia highlights and tips | sights
The charming town of Avanos is known for its traditional pottery. Visit Ceramic Güray here for unique ceramics! They even have “glow in the dark” tableware. Might sound crazy, but it’s incredibly beautiful! There are also several pottery workshops, where you can learn to make traditional Turkish pottery. Next to the store you will find the beautiful Güray Museum. In the spacious, beautifully lit, underground corridors you will find various exhibits and pottery. It is one of the most beautiful museums I have been to in a long time.
Tips for a magical hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia
1. Book in advance. Balloon flights are extremely popular here, so be sure to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
2. Choose an experienced balloon company with good reviews. We had a fantastic experience with Rainbow Balloons.
3. Go for an early morning flight! Yes, the alarm goes off at 04:30, but it’s well worth the experience. Bring half a liter of coffee and go for it! The air is most stable in the morning, which is nice, and the colors of the sunrise are absolutely stunning.
4. Dress warmly. It can be cold in the early morning and the balloon is going up… I didn’t find the cold to be too bad myself, because the fire in the basket gives a lot of warmth.
5. Enjoy the moment. Put your camera in your bag and enjoy! Ballooning in Cappadocia is an unforgettable experience and not scary at all! It was my second time in a hot air balloon and it always makes me a little emotional. It really is THAT beautiful!
Hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia and the picturesque town Ortahisar | best things to do
Unique hotels in Cappadocia with the best view
(click on name for rates and availability)
1. Henna Hotel: affordable, “adults only” hotel in Göreme, with a very photogenic rooftop terrace!
2. Serenus Cave Suites: romantic suites in Ortahisar, with an awesome view of the city.
3. Argos in Cappadocia: rooms are located in restored cave houses and the hotel has a spa and restaurant.
4. Sultan Cave Suites: this hotel offers stunning views of the famous fairy chimneys and the valley of Göreme.
5. Museum Hotel: a spectacular view of the valley of Göreme, with luxurious rooms and an outdoor pool. Expensive, but if you can afford it, go for it!
Sunrise in a hot air balloon, hummus at restaurant Millocal and the stunning landscape of Ortahisar | Cappadocia highlights and tips
The best restaurants in Cappadocia
1. Ziggy Cafe & Restaurant. This restaurant serves delicious local dishes and offers stunning views of the Göreme Valley. Try the mezzes!
2. Topdeck Cave Restaurant. Here you’ll enjoy a mix of Turkish and international dishes with great views of the surrounding valleys.
3. Seten Anatolian Restaurant. Fine dining from Anatolian cuisine. From the same owners as the Sultan Cave Suites.
4. Millocal Restaurant. In the warm months you sit here outside with a fantastic view. Try the hummus!
We end our trip at the insanely beautiful Titanic Mardan Palace in Antalya. What a hotel! This ultra luxury all-inclusive hotel has beautifully decorated rooms and gorgeous bathrooms with marble and gold. The atmosphere in the hotel is incredibly nice. That may also be due to the excellent bar…. They make dangerously delicious cocktails here! This is all-inclusive at its finest. The perfect hotel to unwind and relax.
Titanic Mardan Palace in Antalya | best hotels | Turkey
Best travel time cappadocia
The best time to visit Cappadocia is April through June and September through November, when temperatures are mild and there are not too many tourists. In the summer months it can get very hot and in the winter there can be snow and frost!