There’s a huge number of things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey, whether you’re on a short break or seeing it as part of a long backpacking tour. Here are the top attractions to look out for while you’re there.
Cappadocia’s incredible sci-fi scenery could make you feel like you’re on another planet. Several volcanic eruptions, followed by natural weathering and erosion, have created a weird and wonderful landscape of craters, valleys, fairy chimneys (tall rock pillars with caps on top), red canyons and table mountains.
Added to this, the region is dotted with an incredible system of underground cities and cave houses dating back to 1800 BC. The easiest way to see everything in a day is to book a tour with a local company like Andromeda Tours.
Must see: Love Valley, Devrent (Imagination) Valley, Pigeon Valley, Ürgüp Fairy Chimneys, Paşabağı (Monk’s Valley).
Cappadocia is an area rich with history, but not the dry, textbook kind. There are 36 underground cities once used by Christians to hide from Roman armies. Visit Kaymakli or Derinkuyu and explore the hundreds of passages built deep into the ground containing churches, storage places, kitchens, wineries and more. One of the most exciting things – they’re still uncovering new ones to this day! Only last year, archaeologists uncovered a city containing 7 kilometres of tunnels, complete with churches and escape galleries, dating back a whopping 5,000 years.
Then there’s the intricate system of caves above the ground. No trip to Cappadocia is complete without a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Göreme Open Air Museum. Check out the medieval cave churches dating back to the 10th Century, and marvel at the detailed frescoes and designs still visible to this day!
Must see: Uçhisar Castle, Kaymakli Underground City, Göreme Open Air Museum, Çavuşin Village.
Almost half a million people took to the skies in balloons above Cappadocia last year, making it the most popular location in the world to go hot air ballooning.
Not only is the view of the landscape incredible, but Cappadocia is one of the few regions in the world where around 100 balloons take off at the same time, creating a magical picture-perfect sky. You’re in safe hands too; the Cappadocian pilots such as the team at Voyager Balloons train for five times longer than anywhere else in the world.
Cappadocia is home to some of the most unique hotels in the world. The majority of the accommodations on offer in the main towns of Göreme, Urgüp and Uchisar are small boutique cave hotels and hostels. They’re beautifully designed, incorporating the old cave features, while providing all the modern amenities we have come to expect in a hotel. You can even stay in a cave hotel with a hot tub, satellite TV and a swimming pool!
Turkey boasts one of the most popular cuisines in the world. It’s rich in flavour, and due to Turkey’s location, the food has been greatly influenced by culinary trends in Asia and Europe. Pide or lahmacun (Turkish pizza) makes a great lunch option. Traditionally the dough is topped with minced meat, onions, tomatoes and herbs then baked until crisp. In the evening, share a large plate of meze and some balloon bread to start.
Then for main, sample the Cappadocian favourite – testi kebap (pottery kebab). Don’t worry, you won’t be eating a plant pot cooked on a skewer! It’s a traditional tomato-based stew, with a choice of meat. It’s then baked inside a sealed clay pot. The fun comes when you’re given a large knife at the table to crack it open! Wash it all down with an apple tea, some Turkish red wine, or if you’re feeling brave, some local raki!
Must eat: cacik (yoghurt dip), Turkish meatballs, stuffed vine leaves, tülüm cheese, testi kebap, baklava, Turkish delight.
Chloe Gunning is the blogger behind Wanderlust Chloe. She’s a pint-sized Londoner with a passion for solo travel. She’s enjoyed plenty of adventures including hang gliding in Rio, enrolling in Spanish school in Mexico and volcano boarding in Nicaragua! Wanderlust Chloe loves sharing her latest tips, adventures and more on Twitter and Instagram.