Cappadocia Travel Blog
Cappadocia Travel Blog – Best Things to Do in Cappadocia
The Persians called Cappadocia the ‘Land of Beautiful Horses’. In ancient times the most beautiful horses grew here and galloped in the valleys of Cappadocia. The unique landforms in Cappadocia were formed by wind and rain eroding the soft lava layer erupting from the Erciyes, Gullu and Hasan Mountains over the centuries.
Cappadocia is a region located in the heart of Anatolia and covers a wide area spread over the cities of Nevsehir, Kayseri, Aksaray and Nigde. Those who want to travel to Turkey usually start from Istanbul. If you want to go to Cappadocia after visiting Istanbul, traveling by plane is the most practical way. From Istanbul, you can reach Cappadocia Airport in Nevsehir in just one hour and twenty minutes.
Cappadocia can be visited in all seasons thanks to the winter season which is not too cold. Visiting Cappadocia in different seasons can give you different experiences. Snow-covered hills and fairy chimneys in winter offer a spectacular view. On the other hand, trekking in Cappadocia in spring will give you great pleasure.
Table of Contents
- Goreme Open Air Museum
- Valleys of Cappadocia
- Towns of Cappadocia
- Castles of Cappadocia
- Must-See Places
- Cappadocia Balloons
- Cappadocia Cave Hotels
Best Things to Do in Cappadocia 2020
Cappadocia promises a fairy tale experience with land forms that are nowhere else in the world. For this reason, we recommend you to spend at least two days to visit Cappadocia. There is so much to do in Cappadocia that makes it difficult to plan a trip. Therefore, we have gathered the places to visit in Cappadocia under some main topics.
Goreme Open Air Museum
Although the first historical findings about Cappadocia date back to the Hittites period, the remains of the present day are mostly from the early Christian period.
After Jesus’ death in the 30s, his apostles entered Anatolia through Antioch and began to spread Christianity. The rapid spread of monotheistic belief disturbed the Roman authorities and triggered centuries of oppression against Christians.
The Christian communities who could not perform their worship found a suitable habitat in the geography of Cappadocia. Volcanic rocks, which can be easily shaped even with simple tools, made it possible to build various living spaces.
The Goreme Open Air Museum sheds light on the life of early Christians. Buckle, Apple, Snake, Dark and St. Barbara churches are among the main churches to visit in Goreme Museum.
The most popular among the rock churches in Goreme is the Dark Church. You can read more about the history and frescoes of this church in the Dark Church blog post. There is also Monastic Life in Byzantine Cappadocia post to fully understand the place of Cappadocia in the early Christianity.
Visiting the rock churches in Goreme is one of the top things to do in Cappadocia in summer (July, August) or winter (December, January, February). It is more comfortable to visit churches in Goreme instead of trekking in the valleys during the hot summer days or snowy winter days.
Best Time of Year to Visit Cappadocia
The best time to visit Cappadocia is the spring and autumn seasons. In these months, the weather is neither hot nor cold. It is also the best time for activities such as treking and ballooning. You can plan a trip in April, May, June, September and October in order to get maximum pleasure from the things to do in Cappadocia.
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Valleys of Cappadocia
There are many valleys to visit in Cappadocia. In this title I tried to introduce the most popular and unique ones among them. Hiking in the valleys is one of the most fun things to do in Cappadocia.
Devrent Valley, also known as the imagination valley, is located in Avanos. Devrent, which is also neighboring Zelve and Monks Valleys, is a place that challenges your imagination.
The fairy chimneys are associated with various animal and human forms. Especially the fairy chimney that resembles a camel is very famous. Another fairy chimney is attributed to a praying nun or Virgin Mary with her hands opened.
Monks (Pasabag) Valley
The Valley of the Monks became a place of hermits who wanted to move away from worldly life and focus on religion especially during the Byzantine Empire period.
In the Valley of the Monks, there is a church dedicated to a famous saint who lived in Syria in the 5th century. The ascetic saint, Simeon Stylites, lived for 37 years on a platform above a column and opened a new chapter in monkhood.
Only one kilometer from the Valley of the Monks, Zelve is home to pointed and wide-bodied fairy chimneys. Zelve Valley was very popular among religious people who escaped from the city life during the Byzantine period. Uzumlu, Balikli and Geyikli churches can be visited in the valley which was one of the religious centers of Byzantium in the Middle Ages.
Pigeon (Guvercinlik) Valley
Guvercinlik Valley, which covers 4 kilometers between Uchisar and Goreme, is ideal for trekking, valley biking and yoga. The name of the valley comes from the nests where people carved the rocks for pigeons. The people of the region used the fertilizer of these pigeons in the vineyards and their eggs in the plaster of the religious frescoes.
Ihlara Valley was created when the Melendiz River eroded the soft rocks and formed a 14 km long canyon with a depth of 100 to 200 meters. It is estimated that the settlement in Ihlara Valley started in the 4th century.
Thanks to the unique geological features of the region, frescoed churches carved into the rocks have survived to the present day. It is possible to visit the magnificent churches in the depths of the valley. In order to reach these hidden treasures, you have to go down 397 steps.
Red & Rose Valley
Located between Cavusin and Goreme, Gulludere (Rose) Valley is home to many churches and monastery ruins. Gulludere is a 4-kilometer trekking trail where fairy chimneys can be best viewed. Church Of Three Crosses and Ayvali Church can be seen as a heritage of Christianity.
The Kizilcukur (Red) Valley takes its name from red pumice rocks. The valley, which turns into a red color at sunset, is the best place to watch the sunset in Cappadocia. Red Valley offers great opportunities for those who want to take an Instagram photos in Cappadocia.
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Towns of Cappadocia
Avanos is one of the oldest pottery centers in the world. Pottery, one of the discoveries of the Neolithic, enabled people to keep enough food to protect them from famine. Pottery obtained by shaping the soil collected from the bed of the Kizilirmak (Red River) is an art that has existed in Avanos since the Hittites.
Cavusin Village is located just 2 kilometers from Goreme. Cavusin, one of the oldest settlements in the Cappadocia region, is an ancient Christian settlement. There are important churches in the village, where early Christians escaped from the Roman soldiers.
The main churches to be seen in Cavusin are the Cavusin Church, and the Church of John the Baptist. In addition, the entrance of the Red & Rose valleys starts from Cavusin.
Urgup is a place where you can see the most beautiful examples of stone houses of the region. When you go to Urgup’s town center, one of the things you will notice is Temenni Hill. On this hill, you can see the most prominent Seljuk and Ottoman monuments in Cappadocia.
Mustafapasa (Sinasos) Village
Mustafapasa, located in Urgup, was a town where the Christian people lived until 1924. After the first world war, Christians left the town because of the population exchange between Turkey and Greece. Christians who lived in Mustafapasa left many churches and mansions built with local stonemasonry.
Mustafapasa, which was named Sinasos in antiquity, is worth visiting for the churches of St. George, St. Vasilios, St. Stefanos and Church of Constantine and Helena.
Unique Things to Do in Cappadocia
Underground Cities of Cappadocia
There are 35 underground cities in the entire Cappadocia region. Underground cities were built by locals who wanted to be protected from wars. It was also a shelter for early Christians to escape the Roman persecution. Visiting one of the ancient underground cities is one of the best things to do in Cappadocia.
Kaymakli Underground City
One of the most visited underground cities of Cappadocia, Kaymakli was built in 1200 BC during the Hittites. Everything is masterfully planned in this underground city. When you visit Kaymakli, which has a capacity of five thousand people, you will witness a very organized city plan. Everything that may be needed from the meeting room to the wine cellars has been added in Kaymakli.
Derinkuyu Underground City
Derinkuyu is designed as an underground shelter for people to live in emergencies. In the underground city, which is 85 meters deep, there are food stores, wine cellars, water wells and meeting rooms. There is even a ventilation system for settlers to survive raids.
It was designed for the early Christians who escaped from the Roman soldiers when it was first built, so there is a baptistery, a missionary school and even a place of confession. In the middle ages it was used by the Byzantine people to protect them from the Arab raids.
Best Things to Do in Cappadocia
Castles of Cappadocia
Uchisar Castle is the highest point where you can watch Cappadocia. It is a fortress created by Christians fleeing the persecution of the Roman authorities. The settlers carved the rocks and created living spaces for themselves.
In Cappadocia there is Ortahisar Castle, which is slightly smaller than Uchisar. In the past, when one of these two castles was attacked by an enemy, there was an underground tunnel that allowed the people to escape to the other castle.
Uchisar can be seen in many parts of Cappadocia due to its height. You must take a hot air balloon ride to watch Cappadocia from a higher point than Uchisar.
Ortahisar Castle, from a distance, looks like the biggest fairy chimney of the entire Cappadocia region. It stands with all its majesty like the chimney of Cappadocia. The shaping of this gigantic rock by human hands first began with the aim of protection during the Hittites. It served as a strong fortress during the Roman and Byzantine periods.
Ortahisar stands out as the most popular place for foreigners in Cappadocia. The foreigners who came to visit Cappadocia and were fascinated by the region bought and restored stone houses in this town and started to live here.
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Must-See Places in Cappadocia
These three fairy chimneys, which have become the symbol of Cappadocia, are called Three Beauties. The Three Graces are the most beautiful examples of the fairy chimneys with mushroom-shaped cap. One of Cappadocia’s most shared instagram photos is the Three Beauties.
Selime Monastery is located very close to Ihlara Valley. The monastery, which hosts 300,000 visitors a year, also served as a religious school in the Middle Ages. The monastery, which carries the traces of early Christianity, has many chapels carved into the rocks as well as a cathedral. According to some historical records, the first loud Christian rite was held here.
Guray Ceramic Museum
Guray Museum, the first and only underground ceramic museum in the world, introduces the cultural heritage of the region to its visitors. Tourists who come to the museum experience all the stages of pottery manufacturing and experience making pottery themselves. Guray Ceramic is the largest manufacturing and sales workshop in Cappadocia region of Turkey.
Best Things to Do in Cappadocia 2020
Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons
The hot air balloon ride comes first in the list of things to do in Cappadocia for adventurous travelers. In Cappadocia, hot air balloon tours are held 365 days a year. However, the departure point and the route of the flights may vary depending on the daily weather.
Cappadocia Balloon Ride is made in the most beautiful places of Cappadocia such as Urgup, Goreme and Avanos. Thanks to the hot air balloon tours, it is possible to see the fascinating earth formations in Cappadocia from a distance of 4 km to 20 km.
If you are looking for a reliable tour company to book a balloon tour in Cappadocia, you can take a look at the details in our post titled Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride.
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Cappadocia Cave Hotels
The most popular hotels to stay in Cappadocia are, of course, cave hotels that are compatible with the region’s unique volcanic formations.
In the last few decades when tourism developed rapidly in Cappadocia, beautiful boutique hotels were opened. Some of these hotels have received worldwide accommodation awards. You can find more information on this topic at Best Cave Hotels in Cappadocia post.