Top 10 Things to Do in Cappadocia, Turkey

During my visit to Turkey in June 2013, I had the opportunity to experience Cappadocia to the fullest. Between all the history and amazing scenery, it’s hard not to find something to do. For those of you planning to visit Cappadocia, here is my list of top 10 things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey!

10. Visit a pottery workshop in Avanos

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 8.01.34 AM

The town of Avanos has been a center for pottery and craft making since the Hittite period, which makes it a fantastic place to purchase handmade ceramics. The Kizilirmak River, or “Red River” runs through the old part of town. It is from this river that the reddish-brown clay is harvested, then used in workshops throughout Avanos. Visitors can watch a pottery demonstration and purchase authentic traditional pieces. Vases, jugs, ashtrays, figurines, and plates are just a few items available. We recommend Firca Pottery because you will be able to see master artists at work, try your hand at the pottery wheel, and browse an extensive inventory of remarkable quality.

9. Visit an underground city

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 7.58.39 AM

Cappadocia is known for its many subterranean settlements, or “underground cities.” Carved out of soft tufa rock, these cities were meant to provide temporary refuge for the people of Cappadocia. The underground cities are several layers deep, with the sleeping quarters located in the lower levels and the kitchens/ wineries at the upper level. Long passages, narrow steps, and a labyrinth-like tunnel system connected the rooms.

For centuries, people sought shelter beneath ground level using secret tunnels from their homes into the underground cities. During the Roman Era, Christian communities used them to hide from religious persecution. There are several underground cities in Cappadocia, many of which are interconnected with tunnels. We recommend Kaymakli Underground City (UNESCO) to get a general sense of their construction and use.

Check out our episode of the Top Things to See and Do in Cappadocia, Turkey

8. Shop for rugs

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 8.00.29 AM

Turkey is famous for its hand woven rugs – a tradition that began as early at 400 B.C., but flourished during the Ottoman Empire. Turkey’s rugs, also known as Kilim, come in all colors, designs, and sizes. It can take days, weeks, months, or even years to finish a good-quality rug. Shopping for rugs in Istanbul can be a headache if you don’t speak the language, which is why many tourists instead prefer to shop for them in Cappadocia where there are less crowds and quieter showrooms. Cappadocia’s rug shops have exquisite collections for a range of budgets. We suggest Gallery Cappadocia in Göreme for their immense, high quality collection and pleasant staff.

7. Stay at a cave hotel

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 8.02.07 AM

Staying in a cave hotel is a right of passage of sorts for anyone visiting Cappadocia. To sleep much in the same way people have been doing here for thousands of years is truly a unique experience. Many of the cave hotels are converted family homes and are still owned and operated by the families who lived in them. We recommend the Aydinli Cave House for its beautiful rooms, terrace views of Göreme, and friendly service. This is definitely one of our absolute favorite experiences of this list of top 10 things to do in Cappadocia!

6. Hike through a valley

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 8.00.48 AM

Cappadocia’s valleys have always been home to cave villages and rock monasteries. Each valley has distinct scenery and unique rock formations, which makes them ideal for walking, hiking, and horseback riding. The monks who lived and worshipped in these valleys left behind beautiful churches with vibrant frescos with scenes from the Bible. We suggest Ihlara Valley, Pigeon Valley, Zelve Valley, and Devrant “Imagination” Valley.

5. See the three beauties of Ürgüp

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 8.03.09 AM

Like Göreme, Ürgüp has been an important place in Cappadocia. Here archaeologists have unearthed Roman tombs, Byzantine tombs, and Byzantine-Era rock monasteries. When Ürgüp became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1515, many buildings were erected including mosques, churches and libraries. In addition to a fascinating history, Ürgüp has three of the most remarkable fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, known as the “three beauties of Ürgüp.” They are located along the highway from Göreme to Ürgüp, so they are not hard to spot,

4. Have a clay pot meal

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 8.06.44 AM

Let’s be honest, food is a big deal while traveling. Lucky for all of us, Turkey is a gastronomic epicenter, and Cappadocia is no exception. One of the most traditional meals here is a clay pot dish. The concept is a simple one: fill a ceramic pot with meat, vegetables and spices, seal it, and bake it until its cooked through and all the flavors are melded. The finished product is a tender stew of delicious flavors. Clay pot dishes take some time to cook, so reserving ahead is your best bet. Pots come with lamb, beef, chicken, or vegetables and are usually served with a side of rice pilaf. We tried many forms of the clay pot dish, with each restaurant claiming theirs was the best. I highly recommend Dibek Restaurant (+90 384 271 2209) and Sedef Restaurant (+90 384 271 2356). Both are located in Göreme.

3. Visit the Göreme Open Air Museum

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 8.03.57 AM

By the 2nd century, a large Christian community had formed in Cappadocia. By the 4th century, Saint Basel had founded various religious settlements in the area. The Göreme Open Air Museum is a testament to St. Basil’s influence – it is a place where daily worship was carried out in seclusion. There are various 10th, 11th, and 12th century rock churches with magnificent frescos, with the most impressive one being Tokali Church, located about 50 meters outside the entrance to the park. The Göreme Open Air Museum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entrance is 15 TL per person. We advise visiting in the early morning to avoid the heat.

2. Photograph Uçhisar

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 7.59.26 AM

Uçhisar is the most elevated town in Cappadocia and home to the Uçhisar Castle. From here, there are wonderful panoramas of the surrounding clusters of fairy chimneys, Ürgüp, and Avanos. The castle has hand carved rooms and is accessible by a flight of stairs. Entrance is 5 TL. Another attraction near Uçhisar is Pigeon Valley – a popular route for hikers.

1. Go on a hot air balloon ride

Check out our episode of Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 8.00.00 AM

Last but not least, visitors should not miss out on experiencing Cappadocia from the sky! This remarkable experience will set you back about $250, but it is well worth it to see the spectacular region from above. The valleys, towns, mountains, and crags will look like miniatures when you are soaring above it all. Tours generally last for one hour and transportation to and from your hotel is provided. After a light breakfast at 5:30 a.m., you’ll board the balloon basket, and you will be up, up, and way! We recommend Kapadokya Kaya Balloons for their impeccable safety record and wonderful pilots.

What are some of your favorite things to do in Cappadocia? Leave us a question or comment below!

A special thanks to Pegasus Airlines, Euphrates Tours and Go Turkey.

21 Responses to “Top 10 Things to Do in Cappadocia, Turkey”

  1. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs

    Great list David, Cappadocia is an amazing place! I loved the Avanos workshop, did you got those crazy colorful trousers to try do sth from clay yourself?

    Reply
    • davidsbeenhere

      thanks Marysia! I did not but only because we had many things to do that day and didn’t have time to go back to the hotel and change. I would have loved to tho!

      Reply
  2. Shad Siddiqui

    I landed up here second time while searching , We are a travel company ( La Vacanza Travel ) in Delhi, India. This is for the second time we will be making booking in a hotel you have recommended above after reading your blog. Nice and very useful list. thank you shall visit again soon.

    Reply
  3. Sam

    An excellent list !! We will not miss any of them..

    Reply
  4. khalid

    Hi, nice an informative, superbly summed, just want some additional info, what’s the condition of cross country tracks from goreme to avanos , avanos to ugrup and ugrup to goreme, for motorbike / ATV an show much time would it take to complete the circuit. I want to do it within a day ….what about the sedef and dibek restaurant, I mean are they budget friendly, can u intimate average meal cost,..,thanks 🙂

    Reply
  5. Popüler filmler

    Thank you for information very nice.

    Reply
  6. Kemal

    Cappadocia was so interesting… The rock formations, underground city, beautiful monuments and the hot air balloon trip all made a lasting impression!

    Reply
  7. film izle

    Thank you for information very nice.

    Reply
  8. Shantanu

    Thanks for sharing the info David. I’m planning to visit Istanbul & Cappadocia in the 2nd week of February. I know it’s cold, sub zero at times, so is hot air ballooning going to be fun? It’s my first time to Turkey.
    We have a week in Turkey. I thought of spending 4 days in Istanbul & 2 in another place. What do you recommend?

    Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • David

      Hi Shantanu,

      Yea I don’t think the hot air balloons will be flying during that time. It’s very windy in winter. I would say do 3 days and 3 days because it takes time to get to Cappadocia plus its a place where I really would recommend 4 nights. Can you add more days?

      Reply
      • Shantanu

        Unfortunately not. Hot-air ballooning is offered at discount prices though. Can you suggest a reliable ballooning company?
        So if we can spend 2 nights only, what do you recommend we do?
        Also, where should we stay?
        Does it snow? It would make for a beautiful ride

        Reply
        • khalid

          Hi David and Shantanu. First of all I would second David, 2 days aren’t enough for Cappaduccia and it takes a very long drive from Istanbul to Cappaduccia by road, thus very tiring. I planned by road from Istanbul – Cappaduccia on bus, it took nearly 12 hrs, my 3 year old got sick. We reached at about 11 am. It was still very cold there in May. But it was lovely and breathtaking. We had a little rest and in afternoon we managed a quic visitk to the goreme open air and goreme town. I didn’t purchase a tour rather next day I hired a car for around 80 TL and visited the underground cities, avanos, urgyp,,..open air musuems , 2 valleys, fairy chimneys. It was an adventure and marvel, I cannot forget the gorgeous landscapes and lovely cusines. Istanbul has a world of its own. I’d say one should give minimum week to Istanbul and at least 4 days for Cappadocia. Don’t buy any red route or blue route, hire a car and get a mssp and plan your trip, your hotel would guide u well about balloons , if they are available and may get a discount. I stayed at Chelabi guest house, they were a lovely bunch

          Reply
  9. khalid

    Hi David and Shantanu. First of all I would second David, 2 days aren’t enough for Cappaduccia and it takes a very long drive from Istanbul to Cappaduccia by road, thus very tiring. I planned by road from Istanbul – Cappaduccia on bus, it took nearly 12 hrs, my 3 year old got sick. We reached at about 11 am. It was still very cold there in May. But it was lovely and breathtaking. We had a little rest and in afternoon we managed a quic visitk to the goreme open air and goreme town. I didn’t purchase a tour rather next day I hired a car for around 80 TL and visited the underground cities, avanos, urgyp,,..open air musuems , 2 valleys, fairy chimneys. It was an adventure and marvel, I cannot forget the gorgeous landscapes and lovely cusines. Istanbul has a world of its own. I’d say one should give minimum week to Istanbul and at least 4 days for Cappadocia. Don’t buy any red route or blue route, hire a car and get a mssp and plan your trip, your hotel would guide u well about balloons , if they are available and may get a discount. I stayed at Chelabi guest house, they were a lovely bunch

    Reply
  10. Ritika

    Hi Khalid, i would like to know more about how you booked a car for yourself and approximately how much you spent along with the rental car and the entrance to these attractions, else how much you spent for a day tour with the rented car cause even i hate those group tours. Please do reply this would be of a good help to me 🙂

    Reply
    • khalid

      Hi ritika, thanks for asking. About the car rental: you would come across lots of rental company’s, they would be ready to lend a car for around 100-150 TL. I asked my hotel manager, he had some acquaintance with a rental company and he got a car booked for me for about 80 TL. It was a manual vehicle but was a good ride. Still cheaper than market rates. I filled the tank for about 100 TL. At the end of the day half tank was still left unconsumed. The csr rentals just require your visa card number for surety and your drving license. Nothing complicated. Roads are good and traffic is light, views are amazing. U can stop wherever u want, fetch lovely pictures and enjoy the views

      Reply
  11. Birdenfilmizle

    Birdenfilmizle online film izleme platformudur, En güncel en kaliteli filmleri sizlere sunan bir websitedir.Tüm filmler 1080p ve 720p kalitede en fazla izleme seçeneğiyle sizlere sunmak bizim işimizdir.Birdenfilmizle Geçmişte ve gelecek çıkacak tüm filmleri en hızlı şekilde hd kalitede sizlere sunmaktadır.

    Reply
  12. Turkey Property

    This is a nice article about Cappodocia.Do you know Cappodocia means? It is Land of beautiful horses

    Reply
  13. Birdenfilmizle

    Thank you for your valuable shares. You need to know the value of such sites. Because they have given a clear labor .

    Reply
  14. cappadocia

    awesome! cappadocia is the best travel destination in the world i guess 🙂

    Reply

Leave a Reply