Top Things to Do in Cappadocia
In order to visit the magnificent region of Cappadocia, you should either join a tour or rent a car. However, things change a bit if you can only spend a weekend in Cappadocia. What we can do in limited time is the subject of our article.
- Information about Cappadocia
- Where is Cappadocia?
- What you need to know before going to Cappadocia
- How to get to Cappadocia?
- What to do in Cappadocia?
- Accommodation in Cappadocia
- Ozkonak Underground City
- Avanos and Güray Museum
- Nevsehir Museum
- Nevşehir Castle
- Pigeon Valley
- Uchisar Castle
- Goreme National Park
- Cavusin Church
- Pasabag Valley
- Zelve Valley
- Devrent Valley
- Urgup Museum
There are some things you need to know before going to Cappadocia, a geographically perfect place and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Let’s talk about transportation, accommodation and activities to do in Cappadocia. In this article, you can find all the information about Cappadocia.
Information about Cappadocia
How did Cappadocia and fairy chimneys form? Millions of years ago, when Erciyes, Hasandağı and Güllüdağ continued their volcanic activity, the lava they spewed dried up the inland sea in this region and filled the resulting depression. The first eruptions of volcanic mountains produce a soft layer of different hardness called tuff. Later eruptions create another layer of basalt, which is more resistant than tuff.
At the end of volcanic activities, the tuff layers on the surface begin to erode thanks to natural factors such as wind and rain, as well as the effects of rivers. The fairy chimneys formed in this way are visited with great interest and curiosity from all over the world. The intensity of the resulting formations has led to the emergence of valleys that are not satisfied with the view and continues to provide.
Where is Cappadocia?
Cappadocia is not a province or a district. Cappadocia is a region mostly located in Nevşehir. Places such as Göreme, Ürgüp, Ortahisar, Paşabağ, Avanos are within the borders of Cappadocia. The region within the borders of Göreme Historical National Park forms the basis of Cappadocia. Places with famous fairy chimneys are located in the national park.
What you need to know before going to Cappadocia
If you want to visit Cappadocia cheaply, the Müzekart is a must. Müzekart will pay for itself in Cappadocia. Your outfit should be comfortable. Cappadocia is a region with ups and downs. If you intend to do it justice, and you should, wear comfortable clothes and especially comfortable sneakers. The summer months are hot, protect your head. Winter months are very cold, so dress warmly. Cappadocia is a very special place. The variety of features also causes there are many places to visit and see in Cappadocia. If you need a travel route, our Cappadocia Travel Guide article can give you ideas.
How to get to Cappadocia?
Transportation to Cappadocia by plane
Cappadocia can be reached from two different airports. One of them is Kayseri Erkilet Airport. Flights take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are regular flights from Istanbul to Erciyes. The best option to reach Cappadocia from Erciyes is to rent a car. You can reach Cappadocia in 1 hour by enjoying the nature and the roads. The distance between Cappadocia and Erciyes Airport is 75 km. The roads are beautiful and enjoyable.
Is there an airport in Nevsehir? Yes, you can land at Nevsehir Cappadocia Airport, but flights here are less frequent than Kayseri. You may not find flights at convenient times. Let’s say you want to go on a weekend and you want to rent a car. Renting a car from Nevsehir Cappadocia Airport can be a bit expensive. Because they may not be working on Sunday evenings. Delivering your car on Sunday evening can cause high costs. If you are going to land here, it is useful to take a look at the car rental companies in the neighborhood. But this is not the case with the car rental companies at Kayseri Airport because it is very busy. If you prefer to travel on foot instead of renting a car, you can take paid buses from both airports to Goreme.
Transportation by bus in Cappadocia
If you want to reach Cappadocia by bus, you first need to come to Nevşehir. Here you can find buses from many central parts of Turkey. After arriving at Nevşehir Bus Terminal, it is possible to reach Cappadocia by renting a car or by bus.
Transportation to Cappadocia by private car
The distance between Istanbul and Cappadocia is 760km (8h 30min). The distance between Ankara and Cappadocia is 310km (3h 40min). The distance to Niğde is 68km (1h) and the distance to Konya is 240km (3h). If you have a car, you will have one of the most enjoyable journeys. Although you can park your car for free in most of the places to visit in Cappadocia, it should be noted that some places with special locations charge a fee for vehicles.
What to do in Cappadocia?
Balloon tour in Cappadocia
The most popular activity to do in Cappadocia is to take a balloon ride and see Cappadocia from above. There are many companies that offer balloon tours. Each of them will take you around Cappadocia in about 1 hour.
Of course, you need to know that you have to get up early in the morning to see this beauty. It is necessary to examine the websites for the current prices of Cappadocia balloon tours. But you need to put your hand in your pocket to experience the balloon tour experience.
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ATV and horse tours
In addition to balloon tours, ATV tours and horse tours are among the activities you can do in Cappadocia. On ATV tours, you can either take a collective ride or an individual ride. It is a nice option to take an ATV tour in the magnificent terrain of Cappadocia. Horse tours are also among the popular activities in Cappadocia.
Hiking in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a great place for hiking. There are many hiking routes. The pathways you can walk for kilometers take you to various landscapes, structures and fairy chimneys. Each valley in Cappadocia has its own hiking routes. There are dozens of valleys such as Zelve Valley, Güvercinlik Valley, Kızılvadi for this.
Sunset in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is perfect at all times of the day, but I can tell you that it will impress you the most at sunset. If you are hiking, make sure you know the sunset time and take a position in one of the high valleys. Then enjoy the sunset in a pleasant way. Cappadocia landscapes allow you to capture exquisite images that you cannot find anywhere else in Turkey. Keep your camera with you for this.
Accommodation in Cappadocia
Where to stay in Cappadocia? There are many options you can experience for accommodation in Cappadocia. When choosing between Cappadocia hotels, you can also stay in fairy chimney houses. Of course, it makes more sense to choose hotels that experience the architecture and feel of Cappadocia instead of normal hotels. Where will you stay in these houses again? Some of the Cappadocia hotels have a view of the areas where balloon tours are organized, where balloons take off and give pleasure to the audience. It may be a feature you can consider in your hotel choices.
It is also possible to reach Nevşehir by air. You may want to use Nevşehir Airport for this, but since the airport in Nevşehir is small, car rental companies do not work on Sunday and you may have to pay extra to drop off our car.
However, we find a different way of transportation. We land at Kayseri Airport and use the car rental companies here. Since these companies are open every day of the week, it does not cause any problems.
We have plenty of time for sightseeing on Saturday and Sunday. It’s 68km from Kayseri to Avanos, the first stop on our route, which takes about an hour. Looking at Mount Erciyes, which is the main responsible for the formation of the Cappadocia region, the journey goes by easily.
Before going to Cappadocia, make sure you have a Museum Pass in your pocket. The open-air museums or underground cities we will enter exceed the price of the Museum Card many times over. In this case, you can visit easily and free of charge with the Museum Card. Another important issue is comfortable shoes. The valleys of Cappadocia are very sloping, and in order to move quickly and safely, we need to have well-fitting sneakers.
Ozkonak Underground City
After getting the necessary basic information, we start our Cappadocia tour on the first day of the weekend. The first stop of our trip will be Avanos. Özkonak Underground City is just one of the dozens of underground cities in Cappadocia. It is really exciting to start our Cappadocia trip with an underground city. Özkonak is the first underground city we enter. There is a parking area in front where you can park your car. It is free for Museum Pass.
As we were driving from Özkonak Underground City towards Avanos, someone coming from the opposite direction opened our window and told us that there was the Belha Monastery just ahead and advised us to go there. There was no one around, but suddenly the same person appeared behind us and told us that he was the owner of this place and that he had cleaned this monastery, which was a garbage dump, and opened it to visitors. The way he followed us like he was cornering us made us worry about trust and we wanted to get away from there as soon as possible. It felt like a typical horror movie story.
Avanos and Güray Museum
Avanos is a city scattered on both sides of the Kızılırmak, which divides the city in two. Avanos, connected to both sides by bridges, is famous for its pottery. This is the reason for the pottery sculptures erected all around the city. This tradition, which dates back to the Hittites, is of interest to tourists. Güray Museum, built a few meters underground, allows visitors to get information about pottery and to closely examine the pottery unearthed as a result of archaeological excavations in the region. There is a parking area in front of the Cappadocia Underground Ceramic Museum.
When the weather is nice in Avanos, gondola tours are organized on Kızılırmak. A maximum of 6 people can participate in the gondola tours that last about 15 minutes. If you want a slightly faster activity, you can choose Jet Boats. Jet Boat rides last between 10 – 20 minutes and are of course more crowded than gondolas. If you do not want to be on the water, it is also possible to participate in the Jeep Safari activity, which lasts 90 minutes and travels along the Love Valley, Güvercinlik, Göreme, Pink Valley and Üç Güzeller route. When you go to Avanos, do not neglect to cross the bridges connecting Kızılırmak.
After visiting Avanos, we are heading towards the center of Nevşehir. Our intention on Saturday is to visit the west side of Göreme Historical National Park. The first stop in Nevşehir is Nevşehir Archeology and Ethnography Museum where the artifacts found as a result of archaeological excavations in and around Nevşehir are exhibited. The road signs only say Museum. In the museum, there are artifacts exhibited in a typical archaeology museum. It is possible to see many artifacts from the Phrygian-Urartu, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods in the museum, and the entrance is free.
After Nevşehir Museum, we head towards Nevşehir Castle. Since the castle is under restoration, we cannot enter. However, we can go as far as the Zülfikar Kılıç Arslan Mosque in front of it. If you want to get closer to the castle, you have to climb on foot. You can also see the castle from a distance and save time. In case you wonder about the ruins around the castle, there is an urban renewal project going on here. Before the project was completed, a new underground city, which is thought to be quite large, was discovered under the castle. Archaeological excavations are ongoing and it is said that it will be opened to tourism in 2018.
We finally turn our route to the borders of Goreme National Park. Güvercinlik Valley is 8km from Nevsehir. We park our car in the large area next to the Güvercinlik Valley and arrive at the viewing area where we can watch the Güvercinlik Valley panoramically in front of the souvenir shop. The holes carved into the rocks are actually pigeon nests. In the past, people living here used to build pigeon nests so that pigeons could benefit from their dung. The fertilizers used regularly are said to be very productive in viticulture.
While traveling in Güvercinlik Valley, you see a hill in the distance. What you see as a hill is actually the highest fairy chimney in the region. It’s time to experience the highest fairy chimney that can be seen from many parts of Cappadocia. As the clocks show 14:00, we turn our route towards the castle. There are parking lots in front of Uchisar Castle. When you reach the parking area between the various souvenir shops on the right and left, park your car in a suitable place. Museum card is not valid at Uchisar Castle, so you have to pay an entrance fee. Uchisar Castle is the highest structure in the region, so you can see the whole of Cappadocia. It is also possible to go to the top of the castle, although it is a bit tiring, the summit you will reach by passing through the rooms connected to each other by tunnels is worth seeing. It has an exquisite view, you can’t get enough of it. When you reach the summit, you have the chance to see almost all the valleys of Cappadocia, even from a distance. Those who have time prefer to climb Uchisar Castle especially when the sunset is approaching.
While you are in Uchisar Castle, be sure to visit the valley behind the castle. There are many interesting formations, it is hard not to be amazed. The people of the region carved out settlements here in the past. You can take a stroll among these magnificent fairy chimneys on the paths made for visitors.
Next is another one of Cappadocia’s unique valleys. Its name is Love Valley, some people know it as Bağlıdere Valley. We couldn’t go to Love Valley, we missed it. But you should go. There is a 4500 meter long hiking trail. Here you will see fairy chimneys in different shapes, not like the fairy chimneys in Zelve and Goreme.
Goreme National Park
At around 16:00 we arrive at Goreme National Park, the last route of our Saturday. There is a parking lot on the right as you exit towards Göreme Open Air Museum. You can leave your car in the paid parking lot all day long if you want. After parking our car in the parking lot, we will take a trekking tour among the unique fairy chimneys of Göreme National Park. We enter the empty land across the parking lot and walk as far inland as we can, not knowing what we will encounter, we walk freely. Since there are not many people here, you can be alone from time to time and you can feel like you are on another planet because of the unusual rocks around you, it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to feel this. This valley is also used for horse riding and ATV tours.
After a trekking tour of about 1 hour in the valley, we return to the point where we were and follow the road upwards. On the left side is the Tokalı Church. This is a church connected to Göreme Open Air Museum and you will be able to enter the open air museum with the fee you pay here. If you don’t have a museum card, I suggest you keep your ticket.
Just above the Tokalı Church is the Goreme Open Air Museum. Goreme Open Air Museum is the most popular tourist spot in Cappadocia. Located within the borders of Goreme National Park, you can see religious structures such as many churches and chapels carved into natural rocks.
During the Roman period, the efforts of the first Christians to spread the Christian religion were carried out under very difficult conditions. The members of the Christian religion, which ended with executions because it was forbidden, searched for places far away from the Romans and discovered Cappadocia where they could retreat. With the ease of being easily chiseled, they created living spaces using stone, the only architectural material, and managed to keep their beliefs alive. People who managed to adapt to the beauty of nature stayed here for a long time.
Cappadocia, one of the important points of the Silk Road, served as a commercial and social bridge between countries. Cappadocia got its name from Katpatuka, the ancient name of the Cappadocia Kingdom. In Persian, the word Katpatuka means Land of Beautiful Horses.
Cappadocia is famous for its balloon tours. People from many parts of the world come to Cappadocia Goreme to participate in balloon tours. We have covered Cappadocia balloon tours in a separate article. After the balloon tours, we return to our hotel in the morning and have breakfast early, accompanied by the view of Goreme. We load our belongings into our car and set off to start Sunday.
As we leave Göreme and head towards Avanos, we pay attention to the signboard of Çavuşin Church, which we see by chance. The church is on the road, it is impossible not to see it. Museum card is valid. There is nothing different from other churches inside, there are scenes related to Christianity. For me, it is enough to see it from the outside. We take a look inside, leave and head towards the Paşabağı Valley.
Paşabağ Valley, one of the places where the fairy chimney formations in the Cappadocia region are best observed, allows you to capture wonderful frames with mushroom-shaped structures. In the past, monks lived here and practiced their philosophy of life. For this reason, Paşabağ is also known as the Valley of Monks or the Valley of Monks. You can leave your car in the free parking lot very close by to see the fairy chimneys where rocks are carved into living spaces. You do not have to pay any fee to enter the valley.
As we arrive towards 11:00, we move towards Zelve Valley. Zelve Valley, one of the points where Christianity began to spread, is home to many churches and monasteries. The people who lived there until the 1950s moved to another village due to various dangers such as collapsing stones. Zelve Valley, which later served as a museum, also has a hiking trail. However, we cannot do this hike on a weekend trip as it would take too much time.
Cappadocia is a small region and the valleys are quite close to each other. Devrent Valley is next. Devrent Valley is a valley where you can see new shapes that stand out from the fairy chimneys with hats in Cappadocia. The historical process treated the rocks in this valley so differently that the resulting fairy chimneys started to look like something. The most popular example is the camel-like fairy chimney. Devrent Valley is also known as the Valley of Imagination because of people’s urge to make the rocks here look like something.
After tasting the Devrent Valley, we head towards Urgup from Avanos. We will be at the Urgup Museum at 12:30. However, you cannot leave your car at the Urgup Museum, which is located in a park on Atatürk Street opposite the Urgup Government House. You can leave it on the sidewalk on Turan Street where the Urgup State Hospital is located behind the museum. Urgup Museum is a museum where both ethnographic and archaeological artifacts, especially from excavations in Urgup, are exhibited. It is possible to see the fossils of sea creatures proving that the Cappadocia region used to be an inland sea, and the fossil of a mammoth tooth thought to be 10 million years old is one of the most interesting remains.