Derinkuyu underground city in Cappadocia is a popular site to visit with your family during your trip to the region. Go down 8 stories underground to learn all about the underground cities in Cappadocia and how their intricate tunnel systems allowed thousands of people to safely live underground during the Arab-Byzantine wars.
Next, find out what to see and how to get there when you visit Cappaocia on your trip to Turkey.
Know Before You Go
Check the Museums of Turkey App
8am - 7pm
BEST TIME TO GO
Derinkuyu, Cappadocia, Turkey
See Parking Attendant
TIME NEEDED TO VISIT
Derinkuyu Underground City Fast Facs
History of Derinkuyu
Derinkuyu is believed to have been built as a shelter to escape during the Arab-Byzantine wars in the region between 780 and 1180 AD. Derinkuyu is the largest underground city that has been discovered in Cappadocia going as deep as 8 stories underground and was able to shelter around 20,000 people which is mind-blowing! The city was hand carved into volcanic rock with narrow tunnels connecting rooms, mills, and churches throughout the underground city.
In the region of Cappadocia, there have been over 200 underground cities discovered, with Derinkuyu and Kaymakli being the most visited. Many of them are connected creating a web of cities providing a way for people to travel underground and stay hidden for long periods. It is said that the first underground city was discovered when a man was doing some renovation work in a room in his home, and he broke through into one of the tunnels by accident.
Next, we’ll look at what to see when you visit Derinkuyu underground city in Cappadocia.
What to See at Derinkuyu Underground City
Derinkuyu was a bucket list site we wanted to take the kids on our visit to Cappadocia. While we were all excited to visit the underground city, we didn’t realize how much fun they were going to have going underground. Since our last visit to Derinkuyu over 10 years ago, the passageways and tunnels that you can tour through have changed, so this trip to Derinkuyu was new for all of us.
As you make your way towards the entrance of the underground city, you’ll see many local vendors selling Cappadocia souvenirs. You can buy a ticket at the entrance or use your Museum Pass to enter Derinkuyu. There are restrooms at the entrance before you go into the underground city.
Once you enter, you’ll go down some stairs before entering the first few rooms to explore. The temperature is cool 55 degrees Fahrenheit year-round so if you visit in the summer, don’t forget to take a hoodie or jacket so you don’t get cold while you’re underground.
You’ll see a narrow tunnel that is obviously going down. One of the things to note is if you have any knee or back issues or are claustrophobic, this probably is not the site for you. The tunnels are narrow and most of the time you will need to duck or squat so that you do not hit your head.
The tunnel heading down is quite long and we quickly realized that you must come back up the same tunnel. There were visitors that we had both had to squeeze past each other or step off into a few little cave rooms you see sporadically along the tunnel.
Since the kids are small, they absolutely loved the tunnels as they didn’t have to squat down as much as the rest of us. The tunnels and rooms are well lit and there once you get to the lower levels, you can explore through tunnels to different rooms.
Underground City Artifacts
Some of the things you’ll see on the route through Derinkuyu are a millstone, the round rock stones to close off entrances if there were invasions, the air passage running through the city, stables, cellars, storage areas, and the popular church at the lower level.
After we went back up through the tunnel, we came to some other levels of the underground city where the tunnels were very low. The adults had to squat and waddle like ducks up that path which the kids thought was hilarious.
We were in the underground city for about an hour and if the kids had their way, we probably would’ve been there longer. They wore their headlamps and had so much fun exploring every nook and cranny they could find throughout Derinkuyu.
Next, we’ll look at how to get to the underground city of Derinkuyu.
How To Get There
The underground city of Derinkuyu is about a 30-minute drive from Goreme, in the village of Derinkuyu, one of the villages of Cappadocia. We recommend renting a car while you are in Cappadocia so that you have the freedom to explore. If you don’t want to take off on your own with your family, we suggest a custom family tour that will provide you with the flexibility needed for traveling with kids.
You will park along the street and then walk over to the entrance of the site. Parking is free.
Read our Route guide for Antalya to Cappaddocia.
Sites Near Derinkuyu Underground City
Kaymakli Underground City Cappadocia
Kaymakli is another popular underground city in Cappadocia, just 10km from Derinkuyu. It is smaller than Derinkuyu and sheltered around 3,500 people allowing them to live underground for months at a time. You can go underground and visit the first 4 floors of the city.
Ihlara Valley in Cappadocia
Ihlara Valley is the 2nd longest & deepest gorge in Turkey, (after Saklikent Gorge in the Mediterranean region of Turkey.). The valley is 14km long and some places 120 meters deep. If you enjoy hiking, you can spend the day here or head out on the first 1km of the trail to visit cave churches in Ihlara Valley.
Final Thoughts on Derinkuyu
Ultimately, Derinkuyu underground city in Cappadocia is a fun site to explore with kids. Getting to learn more about the history of the area and going underground is a highlight of your trip to Cappadocia.
Also, learn about the top Cappadocia sites to add to your tinerary:
I had no idea there were underground cities in Turkey. I have always been fascinated by caves, so I would love to explore these. I would also love to see the cave churches- we ran out of time in Egypt to see the one there.
Yes, and the underground cities are so much fun to explore!
Wow, those tunnels! How cool. I appreciate that you mentioned accessibility. That is always helpful when traveling with family.
The tunnels in Derinkuyu were quite the adventure. A little small for the adults but so great for the kids! ha!
Derinkuyu Underground City in Cappadocia is on my bucket list, as I love such tunnels and mysterious places with rich histories. It’s exciting to know that has been built as a shelter to escape during the Arab-Byzantine wars. It’s great that you provide so many useful tips on how to visit this place!
Derinkuyu is definitely a must-see on a visit to Cappadocia. It’s a place to let your imagination run wild with what it must have been like to underground!
While I might be as freaked out as a kid being underground in a tight space like that, I can’t help but be impressed that this underground city was able to shelter 20,000 people. Impressive! Thanks for taking this claustrophobic fraidy cat on a tour with you via this post with awesome pics! <3
LOL! It does feel a little claustrophobic at times, but well worth the experience! Glad you enjoyed the pics! 🙂
That must have been so much fun. 8 stories down through a re a l underground city!
We all had a blast in the underground city! 🙂
For one, parking is NOT FREE. You pay a minimal amount to the parking attendant.
It can be quite claustrophobic. I was there 3 days ago and it was such chaotic and disorganised with large tour groups going in and out at the same time when most of the passages allow only single file movement. There were no officials around and no signs of way to exit so if you enter without any guides , it can be a challenge trying to find your way out. Definitely not recommended for the elderly. It is definitely not for everyone if my experience that day is “normal” .
Thanks for sharing your experience at Derinkuyu! We had a very different experience with the number of people there and I can only imagine what is was like for you with several large tour groups there. It is very tight quarters and definitely not recommended for the elderly, if you have knee issues or are claustrophobic. Also, since we were only one of a few families there we did not pay a parking fee – there was no attendant there. 🙂
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