Cappadocia is the land of impressive fairy chimneys and rock formations: you will feel like you are in a fairy tale. Enjoy the panoramic views, hike beautiful valley trails and wild canyons, experience hot air balloons and sleep at authentic cave hotels. When you visit the frescoed churches completely carved into rock, it will take you 1.000 years back in time.
Cappadocia is the name of the region, was formed 60 million years ago by erosion of soft layers of lava and ash from Mount Erciyes (Argeus), Mount Hasan and Mount Güllü composing with wind and rain over millions of years.
It is located in middle of Turkey. Nearest airports: One at Nevşehir (40 mins drive to Göreme) and the other at Kayseri (60 mins drive to Göreme), both have number of domestic flights. The main town is Göreme.
The most popular places are mainly in a triangle between Avanos, Nevşehir and Ürgüp. Wherever you decide to fix your base camp, you are never far from historical sites, amazing sights, “fairy-chimneys”, churches and monasteries, mounts and valleys.
Uchisar is at the highest point in Cappadocia, on the Nevsehir-Goreme road, just 5 km from Goreme. The top of the Uchisar Castle, provides a magnificent panorama with Mount Erciyes in the distance.
Many rooms hollowed out into the rock are connected to each other with stairs, tunnels and passages.
Pigeon Valley (Guvercinlik Vadisi)
The highlight of Uçhisar is the magnificent panorama over the Pigeon Valley, one of the best views in Cappadocia. Guvercinlik Vadisi (Pigeon Valley) earned its name from the countless man made dovecotes (Pigeon Houses) that have been carved into the soft volcanic tuff.
In winter, with a sprinkling of snow on the tops of the rocks, the views are simply magical. For photography, Cappadocia is magical all year around.
My visit was in autumn. The best time to go to Cappadocia for hiking is from the end of April to June and September and October.
The Love Valley is a perfect hiking location, mostly flat with some gentle climbs. This hike takes you through one of the local valleys with the reward of seeing large cone shaped spires at the end of the hike.
“Fairy-chimneys” have been sculpted into weird shapes, first through wind and water erosion many millennia ago.
A great way to see Pigeon Valley and Love Valley is from above, by hot air balloon tour. Tours leave every morning just before sunrise: you will already be floating above the stunning landscape as the sun comes up.
Hot Air Balloon
The best time of year to go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia is from April to November as the most favourable weather conditions are during these months; because of strong winds most of the flight cancellations take place from December to March.
Hundreds of balloons fly nearly every single morning over the valleys. If you are not able to try the hot air balloons, you will anyway take great shoots with the balloons at sunrise.
I got picked up from the hotel at 4.30 am for this special experience. It is definitely worth the money you will pay. The feeling of slowly drifting over the sculpted canyons , seeing the unique scenery of Cappadocia will make your day.
Göreme National Park
Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985 on natural and cultural criteria. This rocky landscape is honeycombed with networks of ancient underground settlements and outstanding examples of Byzantine art.
Goreme Open Air Museum
This is a series of Catholic churches carved into the side of a mountain dating from 1000 years ago.
First structure is monastery of nuns at the Goreme Open Air Museum. In fact, the monastery of nuns known as six or seven floors but can be visited only three floors yet. The connection between the floors of the monastery is provided with tunnel and tunnel entrance are closed with sliding stones like underground cities of Cappadocia. There is a dining hall in the first floor, second floor has a chapel which decorated with frescoes and third floor also has a church with geometric decoration. There is Monastery of Priests near the Monastery of the nuns. Only a few rooms on the ground floor can be visited.
Another stunning place is Hagios Basileos church which is known a tomb chapel walls decorated with frescoes.
Near this church there is Aynali monastery with places around a courtyard. Aynali monastery has a big room which suppositional meeting room, a church and tomb rooms.
Elmali monastery, is decorated in two different periods with red paint figurative decorations.
Barbara Church behind the Elmali monastery, is decorated with geometric figures and animal pictures. Just ahead Church of Hagia Katherina’ frescoes largely damaged.
Yilanli church has been named as Church with snake because of one frescoe St. Georgios fights with a dragon on a horse.
Babacik Valley (Father Valley)
Babacik Valley is located close to Goreme Village and the UNESCO Open Air Museum.
It is one of the many incredible moon-like valleys that make up the Cappadocia region. The valley is filled with natural rock formations, fairy chimneys, pigeon houses and troglodyte caves. Bronze age settlers began digging into the soft volcanic tuff thousands of years ago and Early Christians built their churches into the rocks and cliffs. Monks once inhabited the conical caves that sit upon thick pillars, some as tall as 15 meters, climbing up steep staircases and sleeping on the hard rock.
Two stunning rock-hewn churches are located within Babacik Valley, time-worn frescoes adorn the stone walls and they both host magnificent memorials.
Red Valley (Kizil Vadi)
Red Valley is famous for the red-rose colour of the rocks, it is one of the most stunning of the many valleys. This is a fantastic area for hiking with diverse flora and fauna, the valley is surrounded by grape vines and fruit trees and flower grow on the hills around small villages. Hiking trails begin in Cavusin, you can combine a walk through Red Valley with a visit to Rose Valley and continue hiking to a superb panorama viewpoint at the head of the valley, this is also also an ideal spot to watch the sunset. An alternative trail will take you through Red Valley to the Goreme Open Air Museum.
DAY 1 / Uchisar and hiking Pigeon and Love Valleys
DAY 2 / Hot Air Balloon Ride at sunrise, Göreme National Park and open air museum, Babacik Valley
DAY 3 / Hiking Red Valley, Cavusin
-stay in a cave hotel
-taste traditional food from the region: Kebab in a clay pot
-taste local wines
-enjoy panaromic view restaurants
-hot air baloon
-ATV Quad biking
-experience whirling Dervish show in Cappadocia. Sufi whirling (or Sufi spinning) is a form of Sama or physically active meditation which originated among Sufis, and which is still practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order.
-handmade pottery in the town of Avanos
Cappadocia is the place in your bucket list, offering variety of things to do.