Now that you have reserved your transportation and hotel, the time has come to decide what to do in Cappadocia.
Cappadocia’s activity list is almost infinite but most people only spend a few days here and, therefore, have to decide between the top options.
Below you will find a list of the most popular things to do in Cappadocia. As you plan your days you can refer to this list to make sure all your favorites are included.
* Hot air balloon ride – This is probably the biggest draw. The opportunity to see this magical landscape from above while quietly floating in and out and around the valleys and fairy chimneys occurs once in a lifetime for most people. Be sure to schedule this early in your trip in case bad weather forces cancellations. Your hotel will be happy to help you book your trip.
* Göreme Open-Air Museum – On a hill side outside of Göreme sit a gaggle of 1100 year old cave churches with beautiful frescoes covering the walls. Expect to spend about 2 hours here. An audio guide is available at the gate.
* Underground city – Of the hundreds of underground cities lying beneath the surface of Cappadocia only a few are open to the public. The two biggest are Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı. They are massive going 100 meters underground with countless tunnels and rooms. Unlike the open air museum they have little available information so you may want to have a guide when you visit.
* Hiking Valleys – The Cappadocia landscape is littered with valleys most of which center around Göreme. Each of them has a hiking trail that leads by cliffs full of caves, fairy chimneys with remnants of former civilizations, and orchards and vineyards. The most popular are Pigeon, Love, Swords, Red/Rose, and Zemi Valley. About an hour and a half away the Ihlara Valley is actually a captivating river gorge. Pack a picnic with water, put on a sturdy pair of shoes, grab your camera and enjoy a day in nature.
* Turkish Night and/or Whirling Dervish – On one evening plan on experiencing a cultural feast. All you can eat and drink while watching a host of different cultural dances. If you can help it, try not to plan this for the night before your balloon ride as you will be up late and have to get up extra early, not a good combination for most people.
* Ürgüp Wine & Kuruyemis – If you like wine, then you need to take some time in Ürgüp tasting the different wines made from local grapes. The wine industry is quickly developing, and although it does not compete with France yet, most people enjoy the local offerings. Ürgüp has a number of places that are happy to let you sample their many varieties. Also, Ürgüp is known for the wonderful dried fruits and nuts grown and produced in Turkey. Along the main square sit a number of shops eager for you to sample their products. Be careful because once you taste their delicacies you will not leave until your arms are full and your wallet is empty!
* Avanos pottery – The red river produces a red clay that is perfect for ceramic pottery. The trade has developed around the area for centuries and there are today no lack of masters plying their trade for the many international visitors. They give free demonstrations and even allow you to try your hand at throwing a pot with no obligation to buy anything.
* Avanos Red River Jet Boat, Gondola, Cafes – Over the last few years Avanos has worked hard to develop the banks of the river that cuts right through the middle of town. You can easily spend a day playing in the park with your kids, sitting in a riverside cafe, riding in a gondola, or speeding up and down the river in a jet boat. Include this with a visit to a pottery shop, and you will not be disappointed.
* ATV and/or Horseback Riding – For a reasonable price you can rent an ATV and speed around Cappadocia’s dirt roads or become a cowboy and tour the valleys and hills of the area.
* Uchisar/Ortahisar – These two ancient rock towers provide a wonderful view of the surrounding area and are well worth the climb. The towns that have grown around them are happy to serve their visitors with a host of shops and restaurants.
* Zelve/Cavusin/Pasabag – Ancient churches, breathtaking fairy chimneys, beautiful views, and fun hikes are available in these neighboring sites.
* Sunset Point – A short hike up the hill towering over the south side of Göreme you will find a small platform from which you can watch Cappadocia’s captivating daily sunset. For couples this is a romantic opportunity not to be missed.
* Mustafapaşa – In 1923-24 all the Greek Christians in Turkey were sent to Greece (and the Muslim Turks in Greece were sent to Turkey). This mass migration left countless empty homes across Anatolia. Most of them are not recognizable anymore but in Mustafapaşa, a village 15 minutes outside of Ürgüp, you can catch a glimpse of their lives and culture.
* Various overlook points – These are points from which you can see Göreme or Pigeon Valley or various other beautiful parts of the region. These are usually included on the package tours to give visitors good photo opportunities.
* Belisirme Monastery – This amazing monastery is built into the side of a cliff that sits right outside of the Ihlara Valley. It is included on the Green Tour.
* Soğanlı Valley – Another region of the area with cave churches, hiking trails, and shopping opportunities. This area is highlighted on the Blue Tour.
* Besides the wine and pottery listed in the previous section, you can also shop for carpets and onyx jewelry. These shops are located in most every town in the region. The package “color” tours will usually include a visit to one type of shop.
Wow! That is a list. Now that you have added a few days to your trip (or started planning your return!), you need to make some decisions.
Put all of this together, list your priorities, and have a great time. Your boutique cave hotel manager will be happy to help you arrange transportation, tours, hot air balloons, or whatever you need. If you are not sure, plan on sitting down with them once you arrive and mapping out your stay. Or you can email ahead of time and work it out.
Let us know how it goes.