Holidays to Cappadocia
A wonderland of otherworldly rock formations and centuries-old settlements hewn into the landscape, Cappadocia is a truly magical destination. The outlandish and wondrous topography is the stuff of Dali-esque surrealism, with breathtaking sunsets of sparkling orange and white. This is matched by the region’s rich and rewarding cultural heritage, as evidenced in the many open-air museums and historical sites you can visit. Hot air balloons are among the region’s top attractions, offering stupendous panoramas of the fantastical landscapes below.
The top 5 things to do in Cappadocia
1. Hot air balloon ride
This is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in Cappadocia, offering once-in-a-lifetime views out across the alien landscape below. You’ll likely set-off for sunrise, one of the most magical periods to watch the land come to life around you. What’s more, balloons set off in groups, creating wondrous photo-opportunities of skies filled with colour.
2. Head underground
Cappadocia's magical and historic caves date back thousands of years. Vast underground cave systems were developed back in Roman and Byzantine times by Christians, with Derinkuyu and Kaymakli built as refuges from invading Islamic Arabs and Mongolians. You can visit these two underground cities today, both of which are hewn into the ground like ant kingdoms. Try to visit early or during lunch hours to avoid the tourist crowds.
3. Indulge in spectacular local food
Cappadocia offers a delicious range of regional specialities, from traditional mezze and pide to the famed testi kebap (pottery kebab). This tomato-based stew is placed within a clay pot with a choice of meat and baked. When it comes to the table, you crack open the pot with a knife in a wonderful bit of dining theatre. Whatever you choose, you’re in for a culinary treat in Cappadocia.
4. Göreme Open-Air Museum
Göreme is a UNESCO world heritage site and Byzantine monastic settlement that once housed some 20 or so monks. Today, you can visit this kaleidoscope of rock-hewn churches, hidden chapels and cave artefacts. The highlight is the Dark Church, a beautifully preserved ancient church without windows, home to spectacular frescoes with enchanting Biblical depictions. Cameras are not allowed in the churches. Another peculiar site is Sandal Church, so-named for the footprints on the floor which represent Jesus' last imprints before ascending to heaven.
5. Visit a volcanic castle
Uçhisar Castle is Cappadocia's highest point, offering jaw-dropping views over the surrounding area. Used as a place of refuge for many different civilisations throughout the centuries, the volcanic-rock castle was first mentioned in the 14th century. Today, the site is popular with tour groups, so visit early to avoid the crowds. Neighbouring Ortahisar has its own towering rock castle too, with fewer crowds and a more challenging climb.
Our best hotels in Cappadocia
This relaxed and well-maintained luxury hotel in the heart of Ürgüp is close to many of the region's top sites. Set within a luscious garden surrounded by the Cappadocian countryside, you're close to the Ürgüp Museum and Göreme Open-Air Museum. There’s also a great variety of boutique shops and restaurants nearby.
Hotel Perissia is an excellent choice in Ürgüp, complete with a charming swimming pool for post-walk dips. Just moments from downtown’s vibrant nightlife, it’s a quiet retreat with splendid views over to the Göreme Tarihi Milli Park?. The rooms themselves are classically decorated in a tasteful Turkish style.
For something truly different, this cave hotel is a unique and mesmerising experience. The hotel is located on the outskirts of Ürgüp in an area surrounded by famed fairy chimneys. Rooms are cosy and well-maintained, updating cave living for the 21st century.
When is the best time to go on holiday to Cappadocia?
Cappadocia's summer period sees the largest tourist traffic and the highest, scorching hot temperatures. For example, July and August see temperatures of 32°C and favourable climbing conditions in the mountainous Ala Da?lar National Park. Spring and autumn seasons are undoubtedly the more comfortable periods to explore the major sites, valleys and outdoor treks, with pleasurable weather and low rainfall. If you do choose to travel in spring, it’s worth booking for May when the Cappadox Festival of art and culture is hosted throughout the valleys. Winter is also delightful, with the chance of snow blankets creating a serene perspective on this already magical landscape. Remember, temperatures drop below 0°C in winter, so wrap up warm for hot air balloon trips.
Going on holiday in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is served by two airports, Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR) and Nev?ehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV). Both are connected to various villages and hotels by shuttle-bus services. Self-driving here is a dream, as roads are generally empty with plentiful parking and good signage. You can also travel around the area via minibuses and public buses, with taxis offering ideal connections between villages.
How long should you stay in Cappadocia?
Cappadocia makes the perfect long weekend stay, with three days being perfectly adequate to visit the main sites and do a little hiking. You can take in fantastic experiences like Göreme, Cavusin and Uchisar, indulge in a sunrise hot air balloon ride and explore the underground city of Derinkuyu, whilst giving yourself time to relax and discover the valleys with a hike. Staying longer will give you more of a restful experience, but children may become restless after the initial surprise of the magical scenery wears off.
The Voyage Privé travel expert’s opinion on Cappadocia
The Cappadocian Region is unlike anything you've seen before. It's a veritable fairytale landscape of unforgettable rocks, cliffs and caves. Whether you're enticed by the mountain and valley hiking potential or you're here to submerge yourself in ancient history and culture, Cappadocia is the stuff of dreams. Staying over at night sees the cave-dwelling landscape transform into a glistening tapestry of light and rock. The evenings themselves are legendary, offering great food and drink under a quilt of stars.