Why did I want to go?
Cappadocia - a travel blogger’s dream. But really. With fairy chimneys, out of this world valleys and skies filled with hot air balloons - Cappadocia has found its way to the top of every travel bloggers list.
When I first saw the region of Cappadocia (pronounced CAPPA-DOE-KIA) on Instagram a few years ago I knew that I had to go. There was just something so dreamy and fairytale about the way it looked. I guess you can call it a bucket list item for me. Sometimes when I travel I’ll book an organized tour - mostly when I go places that I feel will be harder to get around on my own. But you won’t get many organized tours, if any, that travel to Cappadocia. So, this one had to be done on my own.
How do you get there?
To get to Cappadocia, you need to take a flight from Istanbul Atatürk Airport to one of two airports - Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport or Kayseri Airport. I flew into Nevşehir and arranged a transfer shuttle with the hotel. The flight was only around $53. I suggest booking it directly through Turkish Airlines. It is cheapest that way.
Why is it a hot destination?
So, why is Cappadocia famous? Why does everyone want to go there? The hot air balloons over the valley definitely draw the millennials in. And to be honest - that’s what sparked my interest in traveling there. It really is so magical. I use that word a lot to describe places, but it really is. I kept calling it the Tuscany of Turkey. Fields of crops, fruit trees and grapes are everywhere. But Cappadocia is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The weird, beautiful landscape that you see in Göreme (town in Cappadocia - Cappadocia is the region, Göreme is the town) was shaped by erosion. Thousands of years ago people came to Göreme and started carving into the soft rock to form the “Underground City”. Overtime these mushroom shaped cones or “fairy chimneys” were formed. Humans dug into them, and they started to serve as homes and churches amongst other things. You can read more about this here.
What’s up with the hot air balloons? Back in 1985 the first hot air balloon went up in Cappadocia. A few years later those same people came back to make a business out of it. Since then, many businesses have been created. With the growth of social media, tourism has significantly grown in the area. The balloons are planned to go up every day of the year. They don’t fly when the weather is not right (too much wind or a storm for example). The first morning we were there - the balloons didn’t fly. I was freaking out a little bit! But then they ended up flying the last three mornings. This is why I suggest booking more than one night in Cappadocia because you just never know. You don’t want to travel all that way and not get to see the balloons fly.
What should you see and do?
I booked my tours through the hotels this time around. There are different valleys to see in Cappadocia, so make sure you do a little research so that you get to see what you want. Some of the sights on the tours that I booked overlapped, but that was okay with me. It gave me more opportunities to learn and to take photos.
Ali Çiftçi was our tour guide on the Red Tour. He was great. So knowledgable, fun and really nice. I love when a guide is passionate about teaching and makes it easy to pay attention because they are so engaging. I booked the tour through Sultan Cave Suites (or http://www.goreme.com/).
There are a lot of other quick-stop sights to see (such as Devrent aka Imagination Valley and Pigeon Valley), but the ones below I found the most interesting and beautiful.
Göreme Open-Air Museum
Pasabag (Monk’s Valley)
I mentioned this above. We weren’t able to take photos, but this is a very cool thing to see and to learn about. Do a quick google search to see what I’m talking about!
500 year old building, 50 year old business - Galerie Ikman is a unique place to get lost in. After sorting through stacks and stacks of pillowcases - I finally found the perfect one to bring home.
A Pottery Demonstration in Avanos
Where should you eat?
I suggest Lil’a at Museum Hotel for a more intimate-upscale experience. You will dine with spectacular views.
Seten Restaurant at Sultan Cave Suites has Raki and a ravioli to die for. I’d say that Seten is midscale (is that a thing?). It is quaint.
One night we walked to Old Cappadocia Cafe & Restaurants. It was pretty good and inexpensive. They had a big menu and the baklava hit the spot at the end of the meal.
The best food I had in Turkey was in King’s Valley. The Red Tour took us to King’s Valley where we had a home-cooked Turkish meal. It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Where should you stay?
For my accommodation recommendations - you can read my full Cappadocia hotels review here.
For more follow me on Instagram @elsfaye.