Cappadocia will leave you speechless with its otherworldly beauty. There’s no experience quite as magical as watching hundreds of hot air balloons fill up the the entire sky as the sun rises over the horizon – a scene that feels straight out of a fairytale. Let yourself be dazzled by the lunar-like landscapes that are the result of millions of years of natural erosion and full of rich and fascinating history.
It is, without a doubt, one of the most memorable trips you’ll ever have in your life and should be on everyone’s bucket list for an endless number of reasons. If you do plan to visit, I’ve put together a helpful list of the “top 5 photo spots in Cappadocia” so that you can get that perfect shot while you’re here.
1. Watch the hot air balloons take off at Sunrise
If there is one thing you have to do while you’re in Cappadocia, it’s this! One of the most amazing experiences I’ve had so far while traveling was witnessing hundreds of hot air balloons rise with the sun in Cappadocia. Yes, you do have to be up and out the door by 5:30AM to see this beautiful sight, but I promise it’s worth every minute of lost sleep. On our last morning in Cappadocia we chose to watch the hot air balloons take off from Rose Valley. I would highly recommend making the effort to go here in the morning since the balloons get so close that you can almost touch them if you wanted to.
Another alternative spot to watch the balloons at sunrise is from Sunset point. This spot was a quick 10 minute hike up the hill behind our hotel and can be easily found by asking either at your hotel’s front desk or using this location here. It is the highest point in Göreme and offers panoramic views of the town below and the surrounding valleys. I strongly suggest getting here early, as it was packed even when we arrived at 5:30 AM.
Location: Rose Valley, 50180 Göreme Belediyesi, Turkey
2. Visit the fairy chimneys of Pasabag
Explore the surreal moonscape of Paşabağ Valley, which is known for its unique rock formations called “Fairy Chimneys.” A number of these mushroom shaped fairy chimneys house chapels inside of them, the most prominent being a tri-level chapel dedicated to St. Simeon. This chapel is a great backdrop for photos due to its amazing scale and intricate details, and can easily be found by following the signs that read “church” with an arrow.
This place does get extremely busy since many tour busses stop here, so make sure you go before 11 AM or sometime later in the evening to get a photo free of people. And if you’re wondering where the camel came from? When you enter the valley you will see a man there with a few camels, he will let you walk it up to this spot to take some photos with it for around 100TL.
Location: Paşabağ Valley, 50180 Göreme Belediyesi, Turkey
Entrance Fee: Free
3. Go rug shopping in Göreme
In Göreme, one of the biggest towns in Cappadocia, you can find a rug shop filled with over 50,000 Turkish handicrafts known as Galerie Ikman. Hundreds of carpets, some even historic, cover every inch of this place; from the ceiling all the way down to the floor. This place literally feels like a scene straight out of Aladdin and is a wonderful spot to take some photos in their courtyard.
Location: Galerie Ikman, Kaymakli Sk., Goreme 50180, Turkey
Tip: Don’t visit here when it rains since they put away all the carpets in the courtyard and close off most of the shop. It often rained heavily in the afternoon when we visited, so I suggest going earlier in the morning.
4. Stay in a traditional cave hotel
Take a trip back in time to the 11th Century and stay in a traditional cave hotel. While these caves were once used as chapels and houses for Byzantine Christians, many have now been converted into boutique hotels. From cave hammams to rock-cut archways and panoramic rooftop terraces – these cave hotels have just about everything you need for the perfect stay.
For our trip to Cappadocia, we decided to stay in the town of Göreme because of its accessibility to the places we wanted to see and the endless options of beautiful cave hotels. For the first two nights, we stayed at the Local Cave House Hotel, which is famous for its stunning pool and setting. If you’re on a budget, then this is a great option since it was only $50/night to stay here.
For the third night we stayed at Cappadocia Cave Suites, and the owners were nice enough to give us a special room inside of an old chapel! This hotel has a similar rooftop and view to the extremely popular Sultan Cave Suites that most of you have probably seen on Instagram. So if it is booked out like it was for us, then this hotel is a great alternative to be able to get that perfect sunrise photo on the rooftop.
For the last night we stayed at Koza Cave Hotel, a family owned hotel which is situated next to Sultan Cave Suites. This is another great place to watch the sunrise since you get a view of the entire town of Göreme from their rooftop.
5. Go horse riding in rose valley
There is no better way to explore the geologically and historically rich landscape of Cappadocia than on horseback. The Dalton Brothers Ranch kindly offered us a private tour with a few horses where we ventured into the lunar landscape of Rose Valley. Our ride led us through the valley’s stunning rock formations, meadows of colorful wildflowers, and historical caves and chapels. It was an unforgettable experience being able to explore the stunning scenery for 2 hours without seeing a single soul. If you’re interested in booking a horse riding tour, I would advise taking one at sunset since you get a beautiful view of the sun setting over both Rose and Red Valleys and even some wine!
Tour info: The Dalton Brothers Ranch
Length: 1 HR, 2 HR, or full day tours
How Do I Get To Cappadocia?
If you’re coming from Istanbul airport, there are two great ways to get to Cappadocia: by plane and by bus.
Cappadocia has two main airports, Kayseri Airport and Nevşehir Airport, which offer flights everyday via Pegasus Airlines and Turkish Airlines. We chose to fly with Pegasus Airlines into Kayseri Airport, which was a quick 1 hour and 30 minutes and only cost us $30 return (a much cheaper option for us than Nevşehir Airport). Once you arrive at the airport you can take a shuttle to your hotel in Cappadocia, which was a little over a 90 min. drive. We scheduled this before hand with Heritage Travel and was about 10 Euro a person, but you can also ask your hotel to pre-arrange it for you too.
Many buses run to Cappadocia overnight from Istanbul and take about 12 hours in total. If you have enough time to spare or you’re on a budget then a bus ticket is a good option and costs around 90TL. I know you might be thinking a bus sounds a bit dodgy or dirty, but fear not, Turkish buses are known for their excellent service and comfort. You can book an overnight bus ticket with two of the main companies: Metro Turzim or Nevşehir Seyahat.
If you’re looking for more info about how to buy a bus ticket, Turkey Travel Planner has a great guide that you can find here.
When Is the Best Time to Go?
The best time to go to Cappadocia is from the end of April to June and September to mid November. While Cappadocia can get extremely hot and rainy, the temperatures are pleasant and the weather is mild during these times.
How much time do I need?
A stay around 3 days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Cappadocia. This gives you enough time to see the main sights I’ve listed above, do some hiking, explore a few underground caves and even go in a hot air balloon.
Other info you need to know?
If you’re flying into Turkey, an e-visa is required to enter depending on which country you are from. While I needed an e-visa since I have a U.S. passport, my New Zealand friends did not need them. The application process is really simple and can be done online, which costs around $20. You can apply for your e-visa online and find out more info here.
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