Cappadocia: a recipe for a great vacation. Our review and tips

Why do millions of tourists need Cappadocia Turkey?

Today let’s talk about visiting Cappadocia on your own. This amazing area with its bizarre volcanic landscape attracts millions of tourists a year. Everyone who has seen Cappadocia in pictures falls in love with unearthly landscapes and sets a goal to visit this region of Turkey for sure.

In this article I will share with you our experience of visiting Cappadocia on our own. I assure you that no organized tour will give you such full and strong emotions as a trip on your own. Only on your own you can see the real Cappadocia: walk through the valleys with interesting volcanic formations, visit ancient cities with carved dwellings in the rocks, see the dungeons of cave Christians and much more.

Organizing a trip to Cappadocia on your own is quite easy. But there are in such a trip and a number of features that you need to be prepared for. And most importantly, you must have a detailed plan for sightseeing. Below I’m going to cover all of these issues. I will share the basic organizational information you need to visit Cappadocia on your own, as well as give you the details of our itinerary. You can take it as a skeleton for your future trip. Let’s go!

Some Excitement.

Cappadocia is a top destination in Turkey. Surely you’ve seen a million photos on Instagram and read just as many rave reviews about the region.

We went there on our own and made sure that Cappadocia is really good. Even more so – so damn good! Amazing colorful valleys and deep canyons, bizarre fairy chimneys and phallus pillars, ancient Christian frescoes and multistory underground cities – all this will impress even the most attentive tourist. So put all your doubts aside and come to fascinating Cappadocia to wander among these stunning landscapes!

To Cappadocia on your own

The Valley of Love.

To Cappadocia on your own

These landscapes reminiscent of the Wild West are the Red Valley.

Where is Cappadocia and how to get there

Cappadocia is located in central Turkey. The main tourist village is Goreme, and all the most interesting things are concentrated around it. It is a national park and is protected by UNESCO.

Near Goreme there are airports in Kayseri and Nevshehir, so you can fly to Istanbul with a connection. Look for tickets on Aviasales, and book a transfer to your hotel at Intui.travel, Gettransfer.com or Kiwitaxi.ru.

You can also come to Cappadocia by bus or on your own by car. However, the most popular option is to take a tour. If you don’t want to plan anything and rent a car, we recommend taking an all-inclusive tour for a couple of days. There are good tours from Istanbul, as well as from Antalya, Side, Alanya, Kemer and Belek. The reviews of these tours are excellent, we ourselves bought excursions from Anna’s guide on Tripster and were satisfied. This is the most convenient way to visit Cappadocia for those who have little time.

We love road trips, so we rented a car from Myrentacar and went to explore Cappadocia on our own. For us this is the most enjoyable option, because the road is extremely scenic. It took us a day light to travel from Antalya. Learn how to rent a car in Turkey.

Read about all the ways to get to Cappadocia from Istanbul.

Conclusion: If you have a driver’s license and free time, go by car. If you don’t have the time or inclination to plan, take an excursion. For others – by plane or bus.

To Cappadocia on your own

We rented a car in Antalya and drove to Cappadocia. The drive took almost the entire daylight hours.

Secrets of Cesa Galip, a master potter

On the western edge of Avanos near the Kizilirmak River is the workshop of one of Turkey’s most famous potters, Cesa Galip. He became famous as a talented and at the same time extraordinary person. For example, he firmly believed that a lock of women’s hair brings good luck, so he asked buyers to cut off a small strand. If he was refused, he secretly cut her hair himself. Women’s locks were accumulated so much that they even opened a museum with them in Avanos – in case you like everything unusual and want to take a look?

As for ceramics, there’s a whole showroom of handmade tableware waiting for you in the workshop. Fine painting and patterns, bright colors – a perfect souvenir to bring home. You can buy something from under the pen of Turkish craftsmen in the store at the workshop. The best works are on display in the gallery, and you can also go down to the cellar where raw materials and blanks are stored.

Guests of Cesa Galip can see how the clay is kneaded, watch the work of artisans on the potter’s wheel and painting. Everyone is invited to take part in a master class. We recommend to walk along the banks of Kizilirmak river after the excursion – this is the river you get the clay for tableware.

For how many days you can stay

To the majority of tourists it’s enough to stay 3-4 days. During this time you will have time to go on 1-2 excursions, to fly on a balloon at sunrise, to admire them from aside and to make beautiful photos, to visit Open Air Museum and to walk along some valleys by yourself.

READ
Green Canyon: 50 Shades of Green. Our Turkey tour review

However, if you are a fan of independent hiking like us, and want to thoroughly explore all the valleys, or at least most of them – you need 6-7 days with a very tight schedule. We had 6 days for Cappadocia.

To Cappadocia on your own

6 days through the valleys and surroundings of Cappadocia without a break is no joke! In that time we walked 77 km.

What to take to Cappadocia in winter?

If you are going to visit Cappadocia between November and March, you need to remember to take a few things with you!

  • A winter jacket or parka that will keep you warm.
  • Waterproof boots are essential if you’re going camping.
  • Don’t forget your hat, scarf, and gloves.
  • If you are not going to climb the mountains of Turkey, you do not need special mountain equipment. You can wear the same clothes for cold weather that you wear in most countries!

Where to live

Goreme is the most popular and developed town. That’s where we lived. It’s full of cafes, hotels and stores, but most importantly, from Göreme it’s convenient to sightsee and hike.

Uchhisar may be an alternative to Goreme if you come for a couple of days: it has not very well-developed infrastructure, but has wonderful views over Cappadocia and you can go hiking in the Valley of Love. There are swanky hotels.

Çavuşin, Ortahisar, Ürgüp, Avanos are all cozy towns not far from Göreme, but it’s a long way to walk on the routes from there. You can stay there if you have rented a car and want to see the sights only by car.

Conclusion : Goreme is the best choice to be in the thick of things and easy to get to all the sights.

To Cappadocia on your own

It is convenient to live in Goreme, because from the village it is easy to walk to any route in the valleys. In the photo is the valley of Love.

Where to eat

Almost all hotels in Cappadocia include breakfast – we had it too. Breakfast is traditional Turkish, most often a small buffet: vegetables, olives, bread, drinks, cheeses, honey, butter. Breakfast is served at 8 or 9 am, which is inconvenient – we were out late on the route.

We had lunch not in a cafe, but out in nature. We bought in supermarkets A101 or Bim and took churchella, bananas, nuts, flatbread and ayran or juice.

Since we were vacationing in Cappadocia during a total lockdown, we ate dinner in the room in the evening with the food we ordered. We enjoyed Soffy’s Kitchen and Gurme Kebab restaurants. Prices everywhere are about equally overpriced, and a full dinner for two without drinks cost us about 80 liras.

The local cuisine is no different except for the famous tasty kebab (Tasty Kebab) in a clay pot, which is spectacularly smashed when served. We tried it – do not fall for this tourist scam. A regular stew on a platter is much cheaper and tastier. Another local dish is kaiseri manti, similar to ravioli. It’s generally delicious.

Read our guide to Turkish cuisine with prices.

Conclusion: testi kebab is rubbish (or so we got). If you want to go out early, do not take a hotel with breakfasts.

To Cappadocia on your own

This is me at a restaurant on the water in the Ihlara Valley. During the Green Tour, the guide brought us here. We didn’t expect much, but the quality and taste of the food amazed us. The restaurant is called Chinar.

Erciyes Ski Resort.

Stratovolcano Erciyes is a well-deserved record holder. It is the highest mountain in Anatolia and all of central Turkey. After the eruption of Erciyes, the picturesque Goreme Valley appeared. It has two peaks: at an altitude of 3917 and 3703 meters above sea level. This unusual mountain is located near the city of Kayseri. If you are going to hike in Cappadocia, then finish it climbing Erciyes – it will take about three days, but the experience is worth it. However, such an adventure is better planned for summer or autumn.

But you can ski on the slopes of Erciyes in winter! At its foot is the namesake ski resort. Not all tourists know about it, and for good reason.

It is a well-equipped sports center with slopes of varying difficulty levels: from easy to extreme. The total length of the slopes is 102 kilometers. There are 18 elevators with joint ski-passes at the resort. There is a track with illumination for nighttime skiing, a fan park, and slopes for sledging and snowboarding. You can walk on snowshoes or ride a snowmobile. On the territory – a hotel, bar, parking, restaurant, ethnic cuisine and even a mosque. In general, everything is modern and with a Turkish flavor.

READ
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What else to do

Balloons are the No. 1 activity in Cappadocia! That’s why people come here. We can recommend this tour on a hot air balloon (it’s cheaper, there are reviews). Since the flight may not take place, book it on the first day, so the tour can be rescheduled. Unfortunately, we did not fly in balloons because of the ban and lockdown. But nothing, we will fly next time!

Tourists also ride horses, quad bikes and even a retro bus, watch the balloons fly, have photo shoots, taste local food and wine, take tours of the valleys. Look for author tours on Tripster – we book there, too. Also check out our selection of the best tours of Cappadocia.

By the way, you can also fly in hot air balloons in Pamukkale.

To Cappadocia on your own

There are a lot of ranches in Cappadocia where you can ride horses.

Dervish circling ceremony

The sema or dervish whirling ceremony is an ancient mystical rite and part of Turkish culture. It symbolizes a spiritual ascension to perfection. A person who has gone through the ritual from beginning to end returns to the world to bring love into it. Agree, the ceremony has a very beautiful and inspiring meaning. The sema consists of recitation of poetry, singing and dancing – performed by monks or ascetics.

The whirling of the dervishes is a key part of the performance, during which the adepts throw off their black cloaks and perform a mesmerizing dance. In their ample robes, they whirl from right to left – around the heart. Nowadays, there are only two places in Cappadocia where one can see this ancient ritual: the House of Dervishes and the majestic Sarukhan Caravanserai. It is better to book tickets in advance: there are plenty of people who want to see the dance at any time of the year.

Our verdict and advice

Cappadocia is a charming place, and it is not for nothing that there is so much rapture around it! Definitely come here to see with your own eyes all this fabulous beauty. And to have a great holiday in Cappadocia, remember our tips:

  1. Come by car – it is most convenient. If you have no time and no desire to plan – take a tour. For others – by plane or bus.
  2. The coolest months are April, May, September and October.
  3. Ordinary tourists enough 3-4 days, especially the curious – 6-7 days.
  4. It is most comfortable to live in Göreme.
  5. If you have problems with breathing, choose regular hotels. Healthy people should choose the cave hotel.
  6. Book a hotel in Trivago or Hotelluk very early. Avoid Ramadan and Uraza Bayram.
  7. The famous testi kebab is rubbish (or so we got). If you want to go out early, do not take a hotel with breakfasts.
  8. Look for the most inspiring experiences on Tripster’s unusual excursion service.
  9. The best tour is the Green Tour. Places from this tour are much more convenient to visit with a guide.
  10. Book the balloon flight on the first day of your vacation in Cappadocia, so that in case of bad weather the excursion can be rescheduled.
  11. Be careful with your money: check ATMs, lock your valuables in a safe or suitcases, do not leave money in the room.

Why choose to tour Cappadocia on your own

In general the choice of sightseeing in Cappadocia depends on the tour plan, i.e. the places you want to see and the time you have planned to spend there.

Everywhere I searched for information about Cappadocia tours, I saw similar suggestions: “Cappadocia in 3 days. So I decided that three days for an independent travel would also be enough. In principle, this is true, but in the end of this turned out to be read further.

In a tour, bought in an agency, you go on an organized trip, you visit certain places, where you have a clear amount of time to see them.

If you like this type of historical tourism, where you do not need to organize anything and everything is clearly predetermined, then this trip is for you.

There are many tour operators and travel agencies that offer organized two- and three-day trips to the “valley of the moon. But this form of organizing a tour to Cappadocia has several, in my opinion, significant drawbacks.

Cappadocia: a recipe for a great vacation

What you need to do to rest on your own in Cappadocia and remain delighted with the trip.

We prepared this guide with the support of Tripster, a service for unusual excursions. There we easily found experienced guides who helped make our vacation in Turkey vivid and had an incredible experience from the locals. Thank you Tripster for the experience!

Content :

Some Excitement.

Cappadocia is a top destination in Turkey. Surely you’ve seen a million photos on Instagram and read just as many rave reviews about the region.

We went there on our own and made sure that Cappadocia is really good. Even more so – so damn good! Amazing colorful valleys and deep canyons, bizarre fairy chimneys and phallus pillars, ancient Christian frescoes and multistory underground cities – all this will impress even the most attentive tourist. So put all your doubts aside and come to fascinating Cappadocia to wander among these stunning landscapes!

READ
Weather and seasons in Kemer by month. When to go

The Valley of Love. These landscapes reminiscent of the Wild West are the Red Valley.

What is Cappadocia

Cappadocia is the most unusual and beautiful region of Turkey. It features a unique landscape that attracts millions of tourists.

How did it come to be so beautiful? The joint efforts of nature and man. First, many millions of years ago, worked volcanoes Erciyas, Hasan and Melendiz. Ashes and lava were deposited for years in layers, which later turned into tuff and basalt. Tuff is a very soft rock, subject to erosion, while basalt is not. As a result of the coordinated action of wind and rain, tuff thinned, but basalt remained-rock pillars of different shapes and sizes and indented valleys were formed.

Then people took over. The Hittites arrived here. They began to build the first underground towns, and the soft tuff made it possible. There are many such cities in Cappadocia.

Then the apostle Paul came to Cappadocia and brought Christianity. The seeds of religion fell on fertile soil, and Cappadocia became the center of the spread of Christianity. Many churches and entire complexes of cave monasteries appeared.

In the period of iconoclasm many master iconographers fled from Byzantium to Cappadocia and so the rock churches acquired impressive frescoes that to this day astonish with their freshness and colorfulness.

Volcanoes, erosion and humans are the creators of the magnificent Cappadocian landscapes. The pink valley is the result of wind and rain. Completing Cappadocia’s beguiling appearance were the iconoclastic monks who painted the rock churches with colorful frescoes.

Where is Cappadocia and how to get there

Cappadocia is located in central Turkey. The main tourist village is Goreme, and all the most interesting things are concentrated around it. It is a national park and is protected by UNESCO.

Near Goreme there are airports in Kayseri and Nevshehir, so you can fly to Istanbul with a connection. Look for tickets on Aviasales, and book a transfer to your hotel at Intui.travel, Gettransfer.com or Kiwitaxi.ru.

You can also come to Cappadocia by bus or on your own by car. However, the most popular option is to take a tour. If you don’t want to plan anything and rent a car, we recommend taking an all-inclusive tour for a couple of days. There are good tours from Istanbul, as well as from Antalya, Side, Alanya, Kemer and Belek. The reviews of these tours are excellent, we ourselves bought excursions from Anna’s guide on Tripster and were satisfied. This is the most convenient way to visit Cappadocia for those who have little time.

We love road trips, so we rented a car from Localrent and went to explore Cappadocia on our own. For us this is the most pleasant option, because the road is extremely scenic. It took us a day to travel from Antalya. Learn how to rent a car in Turkey.

Conclusion: If you have a driver’s license and free time, go by car. If you don’t have the time or inclination to plan, take an excursion. For others – by plane or bus.

To Cappadocia on your own

We rented a car in Antalya and drove to Cappadocia. The drive took almost a whole day of daylight.

Best time to rest.

We specifically asked our guide in Cappadocia when it was best to arrive. He read the most comfortable months are April, May, September and October. During this time there is no heat – the temperature is usually no higher than +25 ° C.

In April and October there are not so many tourists. In spring it rains and can be cool – you need a light jacket. It is cold in winter and unbearably hot in summer. But in the summer, the best chance to fly in a hot air balloon .

We were in Cappadocia in early May and it was probably the best time to relax: the hot days were replaced by cool and overcast, a nice refreshing breeze was blowing, and the sky was the most beautiful for photos – with clouds. But even in May my hands got burned, so cover the exposed parts of the body or use a cream with SPF.

Conclusion : the best months to vacation in Cappadocia are April, May, September and October. In spring the valleys are green, and in autumn they are colored in gold and red.

During our vacation in May, it rained a couple of times. It’s not horrible – you can always hide in someone’s rocky dwelling, but what beautiful clouds in the sky appear before the rain! In May, Cappadocia is green, blooming and romantic. The apple trees in the valleys are in full bloom.

For how many days you can stay

To the majority of tourists it’s enough to stay 3-4 days. During this time you will have time to go on 1-2 excursions, to fly on a balloon at sunrise, to admire them from aside and to make beautiful photos, to visit Open Air Museum and to walk along some valleys by yourself.

READ
What to bring from Turkey - the price of gifts and souvenirs

However, if you are a fan of independent hiking like us, and want to thoroughly explore all the valleys, or at least most of them – you need 6-7 days with a very tight schedule. We had 6 days for Cappadocia.

To Cappadocia on your own

Six days through the valleys and surroundings of Cappadocia without a break is no joke! In that time we walked 77 km.

Where to live

Goreme is the most popular and developed town. That’s where we lived. It’s full of cafes, hotels and stores, but most importantly, from Göreme it’s convenient to sightsee and hike.

Uchhisar may be an alternative to Goreme if you come for a couple of days: it has not very well-developed infrastructure, but has wonderful views over Cappadocia and you can go hiking in the Valley of Love. There are swanky hotels.

Çavuşin, Ortahisar, Ürgüp, Avanos are all cozy towns not far from Göreme, but it’s a long way to walk on the routes from there. You can stay there if you have rented a car and want to see the sights only by car.

Conclusion : Goreme is the best choice to be in the thick of things and easy to get to all the sights.

To Cappadocia on your own

It is convenient to live in Goreme because it is easy to walk to any route in the valleys from the village. In the photo is the valley of Love.

Which hotel to choose

Cave hotels are special in Cappadocia, and I wanted to stay in one. I chose Kaya Konak: authentic and inexpensive – only 37€ per night. Normally a night in a cave hotel costs about 100€. The most expensive hotel is the Museum Hotel, and the most famous is the Sultan Cave Suites, on the terrace of which most of the Instagram photos are taken. :)

At first we were thrilled with the room, but. I am allergic, and it was hard for me to breathe because of the stale air, damp and mold. There is almost no ventilation, it took forever to get hot water. As if that wasn’t enough, 300 lira was stolen from our room. So we do not recommend this hotel.

Read our detailed article about cave hotels in Cappadocia: list of the best and inexpensive, and I share the pros and cons of such hotels.

Remember that Cappadocia is super popular. Book your hotel on Hotelluk or Yandex.Travel a few months or six months before your trip. Find out when Ramadan and Uraza Bayram are in Turkey – it’s hard to find a hotel at that time.

Conclusion: Healthy people are suitable for cave hotels, but allergic people, people with respiratory diseases and claustrophobia advise regular or stone hotels – stone hotels.

The best hotels in Turkey:

The bedroom in the cave suite of our hotel Kaya Konak. The room is beautiful, cozy and authentic. The living room in our room.

Where to eat

Almost all hotels in Cappadocia include breakfast – we had it too. Breakfast is traditional Turkish, most often a small buffet: vegetables, olives, bread, drinks, cheeses, honey, butter. Breakfast is served at 8 or 9 am, which is inconvenient – we were out late on the route.

We had lunch not in a cafe, but out in nature. We bought in supermarkets A101 or Bim and took churchella, bananas, nuts, flatbread and ayran or juice.

Since we were vacationing in Cappadocia during a total lockdown, we ate dinner in the room in the evening with the food we ordered. We enjoyed Soffy’s Kitchen and Gurme Kebab restaurants. Prices everywhere are about equally overpriced, and a full dinner for two without drinks cost us about 80 liras.

The local cuisine is no different except for the famous tasty kebab (Tasty Kebab) in a clay pot, which is spectacularly smashed when served. We tried it – do not fall for this tourist scam. A regular stew on a platter is much cheaper and tastier. Another local dish is kaiseri manti, similar to ravioli. It’s generally delicious.

Conclusion: testi kebab is rubbish (or so we got). If you want to go out early, do not take a hotel with breakfasts.

To Cappadocia on your own

This is me at a restaurant on the water in the Ihlara Valley. During the Green Tour, the guide brought us here. We didn’t expect much, but the quality and taste of the food amazed us. The restaurant is called Chinar.

What to see

It’s amazing that there are so many sights in a small area in Cappadocia! All here I will not list, otherwise the article will grow to unimaginable size. I will mention the main ones:

  • Open-air museum – a complex of rock churches with frescoes.
  • The valleys of Goreme: Red, Pink, Love and others.
  • Uchhisar fortress, Chavushin and Pashabag chimneys.
  • The underground city of Derinkuyu.
  • Zelve Monastery.
  • Ihlara Valley.
READ
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Almost everything in Cappadocia can be seen on your own, especially if you have a car. But we additionally took the Green Tour, because the places from this tour is better to visit with a guide – both in terms of money and time. Guide Ahmet, by the way, cool, tour advised!

Honey Valley looks like a big cake “Medovik”. Let’s go down to the underground city of Derinkuyu! In some places there are such narrow staircases and tunnels that two people can’t fit together.

What else to do

Balloons are the No. 1 activity in Cappadocia! That’s why people come here. We can recommend this tour on a hot air balloon (it’s cheaper, there are reviews). Since the flight may not take place, book it on the first day, so the tour can be rescheduled. Unfortunately, we did not fly in balloons because of the ban and lockdown. But nothing, we will fly next time!

Tourists also ride horses, quad bikes and even a retro bus, watch the balloons fly, have photo shoots, taste local food and wine, take tours of the valleys. Look for author tours on Tripster – we book there, too. Also check out our selection of the best tours of Cappadocia.

By the way, you can also fly in hot air balloons in Pamukkale.

To Cappadocia on your own

There are a lot of ranches in Cappadocia where you can ride horses.

How to get around

We walked through the valleys, and went to remote places like Zelve and Pashabag by rented car. If you don’t have a car, you can rent a bike, catch a cab or hitch a ride. Shuttle buses only run between towns and villages.

Where to withdraw money

There are ATMs of different banks in the center of Goreme, opposite the cab stop. We usually withdraw money at Halk Bank ATMs without any fees, but we didn’t do it here because Lesha saw a skimmer, a reader, on an ATM. Be careful! Learn how to withdraw money in Turkey without fees. Also read about financial security when traveling.

Our verdict and advice

Cappadocia is a charming place, and it is not for nothing that there is so much rapture around it! Definitely come here to see with your own eyes all this fabulous beauty. And to have a great holiday in Cappadocia, remember our tips:

  1. Come by car – it is most convenient. If you have no time and no desire to plan – take a tour. For others – by plane or bus.
  2. The coolest months are April, May, September and October.
  3. Ordinary tourists enough 3-4 days, especially the curious – 6-7 days.
  4. It is most comfortable to live in Göreme.
  5. If you have problems with breathing, choose regular hotels. Healthy people should choose the cave hotel.
  6. Book your hotel on Yandex.Travel or Hotelluk very in advance. Avoid Ramadan and Uraza Bayram.
  7. The famous testi kebab is rubbish (or so we got). If you want to go out early, do not take a hotel with breakfasts.
  8. Look for the most inspiring experiences on Tripster’s unusual excursion service.
  9. The best tour is the Green Tour. Places from this tour are much more convenient to visit with a guide.
  10. Book the balloon flight on the first day of your vacation in Cappadocia, so that in case of bad weather the excursion can be rescheduled.
  11. Be careful with your money: check ATMs, lock your valuables in a safe or suitcases, do not leave money in the room.
Comments Off on

Afternoon. Regarding the green tour, I strongly disagree. This is a tour that is much cheaper to visit on your own if you have a car. For two entrance tickets 220 lira, fuel 40 lira, food maximum 100 lira, a total of 360 lira, let it be even 400, while the cheapest tour will cost 800 for two, and the same tripster 1000 lira. That is not worth the work of a guide such a difference, no fundamental information Russian-speaking guide does not give, they work on the script.

There is another important nuance – time. On your own, it is unrealistic (or at least very difficult) to complete the entire Green Tour program in one day. Guide-organizer in a limited time is very helpful, and in Cappadocia, almost all tourists are short of time. For example, only the Ihlara Valley without a guide will take twice as much time: you must first walk through the canyon and then go back to the car to the parking lot at the beginning of the trail. On the tour, however, the guide leaves you at the entrance and then picks you up at the exit and drives you on – the process is as streamlined as possible. This should be added in defense of the Green Tour :) Taking into account what you have written and I can already make a decision: to go by yourself or with a guide. Both options are good, then everyone will decide for himself which suits him better.

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