Top 10 Things to Do in Cappadocia, Turkey

The top 10 things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey boast of the region’s swirling volcanic-rock landscapes, nature’s work of art provides exceptional itineraries for planning a trip to Turkey such as hiking, rock climbing, camping, and hot air balloons. Noted as one of the most grandeur landscapes in Turkey and around the globe, Cappadocia is the ideal getaway for many adventurers.

Thanks to its unbelievable sunrises, mouth-watering food, and rich history, thousands of people swarm to the beautiful region every year. Not to mention the hundreds of hot air balloons that fill the sky from dawn till dusk – they will quickly capture your heart.

Turkey’s central region includes awe-inspiring hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts. There are many trails take could take you up to a week to explore. Tourists can enjoy remarkable horseback rides across the valleys with many stops for the perfect photoshoot. Another must-do itinerary is the sunrise hot-air balloons, which provide a great aerial view of the region.

Check out our Cappadocia travel guide for more details for visiting the top 10 things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Some links on this page are affiliate links—that means that at no extra cost to you, we earn a small commission if you book through these links, and that helps keep this blog running.

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons

Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences one can get in Cappadocia, Turkey is taking a sunrise hot air balloon ride. Even if you have never visited Turkey before, you have probably seen all the breathtaking photos of hundreds of air balloons covering the sky. It’s one of the best sunrise spots in Cappadocia, and tourists from all around the world travel to the gorgeous region just to experience this bucket-list-worthy activity.

Most rides take about 1 hour, cost around 150 euros per person, and offer unbeatable views of the surrounding areas. There are many different companies to choose from, depending on your wishes and needs. Some even include a delicious meal and a bottle of champagne to make the ride more special.

Since riding a hot air balloon is one of the favorite sunrise spots in Cappadocia, Turkey make sure to book in advance. Keep in mind that peak season is from September – October, and April – June.

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Rooftop View of Hot Air Balloons in Cappadocia

Rooftop View of the Hot Air Balloons

If you are afraid of heights, jumping into a hot air balloon might seem like a frightening idea. Luckily for you, that doesn’t mean you have to pass on the incredible experience entirely. In the past few years, this part of Turkey has become famous for its hot air balloons. In fact, every day, more than 150 of them go up in the air. This has inspired many businesses to use it to their advantage. Nowadays, most hotels and accommodations offer to go hot air balloon watching on their rooftop.

If you know you don’t want to fly, but still want to experience the sunrise views, be sure to choose a hotel that offers the best sunrise spots in Cappadocia. A few of our favorites are Sultan Cave Suites, Mithra Cave Hotel, the Museum Hotel, and Aydinli Cave Hotel. Even if you aren’t a morning person, waking up for the sunrise will be a magical experience!

Famous Cave Hotels of Cappadocia Turkey

Stay in a Cave Hotel

Another of our top 10 things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey is stay in one of the area’s famous cave hotels. The incredible region in central Turkey is also known for its enchanting cave dwellings. Throughout the whole area, visitors can have the opportunity to stay in hotels with rooms carved into rock faces. Most of them are around the Göreme National Park, but it is possible to stumble upon them in other areas.

Nowadays, many of the fascinating dwellings have been restored in cave hotels. If you decide to spend a night in the unique accommodation, you are guaranteed to have an experience unlike any other. There are many cave hotels to choose from. Some even include on-site pools, which make the stay even more unbelievable. Similarly to hot air balloons, it is best to book your stay at cave hotels in advance because they tend to fill up fast.

If you need tips on what to pack, see the Ultimate Turkey Packing Guide for an extensive packing list.

Underground Cities in Cappadocia Turkey

Visit the Underground Cities

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in an underground city? In Cappadocia, you get the chance to find out. A cultural highlight you don’t want to miss is the subterranean settlements or “underground cities”. Since the region was often involved in invasions, to protect the locals, cities were built around 8 stories underground, which included communal areas, rooms, cellars, wineries, and even churches and schools. Derinkuyu might be the most famous one, although there are 150-200 others to discover many of them being connected by underground tunnels.

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Watch the Sunset

Whether you are a romantic at heart or not, catching a sunset in Cappadocia, Turkey is a must. There is something magical about seeing the sun go down in the region. With the incredible surroundings and beautiful landscapes, the views are breathtaking no matter where you find yourself admiring the sunset. Perhaps the most popular places to catch the captivating moment are Pigeon Valley and Rose Valley. If you don’t mind the splurge, another amazing way of watching the sunset is going on horseback or an ATV. In the area, there are plenty of companies that offer these experiences in Cappadocia’s valleys. Expect to see some fantastic views!

Cappadocia Fairy Chimneys

Explore the Fairy Chimneys

There is no doubt that Cappadocia is a unique place on earth. Thanks to volcanic eruptions and years of erosion, the region boasts incredible topography. While visiting Cappadocia, make sure to include the “Fairy Chimneys” – the mesmerizing rock formations in your itinerary. They can be found all around the region, but the best-known ones are in Love Valley. Some look like animals, and some have a fascinating natural history.

Hike the Valleys

Cappadocia is filled with great hiking trails. Even if you aren’t a hiker, getting out and exploring the valleys are a treat! Those who prefer adventure travel will surely enjoy hiking through the fantastic pathways. Although you can find good places to hike all around the region, you can’t go wrong by heading to the Valleys. Beautiful surroundings and a great workout – what can be better than this!

Hike Love Valley Cappadocia

Love Valley

One of the best hikes in the area goes through the Love Valley and White Valley. The total journey is about 2,5 hours (the trail is 8 kilometers long). Your adventure will begin in the town center of Goreme and will end in Uchisar, If you have the stamina – you can continue your day by discovering the famous Uchisar Castle.

Monk Valley Cappadocia Turkey

Monk Valley

Most people head to the Monk Valley to see the famous Fairy Chimneys, but it also features a great hiking trail. To discover the important landscape and get your body moving, start your walk from the Zelve Open-Air Museum. There you can admire some of the famous cave dwellings and rock churches. After that – continue on to Monks Valley. The whole trail is around 6-8 kilometers long (depending on how you plan it) and takes about 2,5 hours.

Explore Rose Valley Cappadocia

Rose Valley

Just imagine – a trail that goes through dramatic red cliffs takes you through hidden churches, and offers splendid views. Sounds like a dream? Well, in Cappadocia, it is a reality. It really is no surprise that the Red and Rose Valley hike is the most loved in the whole region. The walk is a bit shorter (7,7 kilometers)  than the one in Love Valley, however, it typically takes a bit longer to complete – around three hours. So if you plan to stop at some of the amazing viewpoints, you should add at least 30 minutes extra.

Uchisar Castle Turkey

Uchisar Castle

Another fascinating place that shouldn’t be missed when visiting Cappadocia, Turkey is Uchisar Castle. The unique creation is a natural rock that has been sculpted by hand. Inside the castle, you will find several caves that were used in ancient times to protect the city from invasions.

As you walk through the impressive tunnels, think about the fact people once used to spend their time here. However, the best part of the castle is the breathtaking view of the hundreds of Fairy Chimneys from 1350 meters high. If you are lucky, you will spot some of the hot air balloons flying in the sky. Although the castle isn’t in perfect condition due to the effect of time, it is still an exciting sight to see.

Cappadocia Pottery Kebab

Local Food

For all our foodies, discovering Cappadocia and its many flavors will be a great adventure. In the region, you have the opportunity to taste all the specialties of Central Anatolian cuisine.

Make sure to try the Pottery Kebab. Although it can be found almost anywhere in Turkey, it is believed that the best ones are made in Cappadocia. Typically, it consists of lamb or beef, tomatoes, green pepper, garlic, and some chili. Some restaurants offer the Pottery Kebab sealed with dough, which makes the experience even better.

Another favorite of the region is Nevşehir  Mantısı, a ravioli-like local specialty. The dough is made almost the same as in Italy. However, the pieces are a bit smaller. The ravioli are filled with minced meat and served with yogurt. Of course, visiting Cappadocia wouldn’t be imaginable without tasting its famous desserts. Perhaps the easiest (yet still delicious) one is Aside, which features flour, water, and grape molasses, which are cooked in a pan.

In Cappadocia, you may also find different types of grapes, which is why raisins are a popular snack. Keep in mind – they come with seeds, which might seem unusual. But that is completely normal. In fact, seeds are considered to be very healthy since they contain a lot of antioxidants. See our Foodie’s Guide to Turkey for more details.

goreme open air museum

Goreme Open-Air Museum

The Unesco World Heritage site should be included in any Cappadocian itinerary. Located 1 kilometer uphill from Göreme’s center, the area once used to be a Byzantine monastic settlement and, after that – a pilgrimage site. Within the Goreme Open-Air Museum, you will find a number of chapels, rock-cut churches as well as monasteries. Tokali – Church of the Buckle – is the largest of them all. Elmali, the Apple Church, which was built already in 1050, is famed for its impressive structure. While you are there, don’t forget to stop by the Chapel of St. Barbara and Yilanli – Snake Church, which both have a fascinating history.

Getting Around Cappadocia

The Cappadocia region is between Nevsehir, Nigde, and Aksaray. Many of the areas visitors opt to stay in Goreme. Depending on your needs, there are a number of ways of getting around Cappadocia. For the adventurer, we highly recommend renting a car to explore or if you want to sit back and relax, hiring a private driver. You can enjoy the journey at your own pace, making unexpected stops or changing plans. You can join a small group tour but will be on a tight schedule to see all of the sights in the area.

Make Transportation & Tour Reservations:

Don’t miss our route guide from Antalya to Cappadocia, to get all the details on what to do along the way.

Best Things to Do if You Have 3-days in Cappadocia

Day 1 – Goreme +  Valleys

One of the most impressive parts of Cappadocia is Goreme, therefore plan at least one day in the town that is famed for its rock formations. Pay a visit to the Fairy Chimneys, discover the magical underground houses, visit the Goreme Open-Air Museum and then head on a hike at the Valleys (Monk Valley and Devrent Valley). If you wish to have a more in-depth experience, you may hire a local guide or join a group with expert guides. Since there is a lot of history behind Goreme, it can be really valuable.

Day 2 – Hot Air Balloons, Shops, and Adventures

Seeing Cappadocia from the vantage point of a hot air balloon will be an experience unlike any other. It’s one of the best places to view the sunrise in Cappadocia, Turkey. Be prepared to start your morning early – most balloons take off at 6.30 AM. Hop on a balloon that will take you down into Love Valley. Then, you can continue your day by heading on an ATV ride or doing horse riding that typically lasts around two hours. End your day by going on a shopping spree. Get ceramics or carpets in Goreme, or choose beautiful fabrics in Kayseri. You are guaranteed to have a great time!

Day 3 – Derinkuyu Underground City + Ihlara Valley

There are two main underground cities in Cappadocia – Derinkuyu, and Kaymakli. Derinkuyu, however, is the largest, therefore the best to see if you have limited time. Remember to bring a light jacket, because it can get a bit cold underground. After you have wandered through the many tunnels, take a 4-kilometer trek through Ihlara Valley. When you are done with the walk, enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the local restaurants, serving Pottery Kebabs and Aside.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the best things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey are fun family-friendly activities that you don’t want to miss on your trip. Whatever you decide to do for your itinerary, there is no doubt Cappadocia will quickly capture your heart. Enjoy the beautiful sunrises, the delicious food, the wonderful surroundings and have the most magical experiences of your life. From here, you can head to the Aegean or Mediterranean to enjoy the sunny beach days with your family.

Some links on this page are affiliate links—that means that at no extra cost to you, we earn a small commission if you book through these links, and that helps keep this blog running.

Top 10 Things to Do in Cappadocia

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3 Comments

  1. A bucket list activity is definitely a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia! It’s long been on my destination list. And would be intrigued to stay in a cave hotel. Thanks for the inspiring list of things to do, hopefully, I will get there one day.

    1. The hot air balloon ride is a highlight for Cappadocia and well worth the early morning wake-up. I hope you get to Cappadocia too one day!

  2. I see everyone’s photos of hot air balloons in Cappadocia and just imagine what an amazing experience if must be. Thanks for this details post on how to make it happen!

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Family Travel to Turkey: Enes and Dania

Hi, we're Dania & Enes

We’re an American Turkish couple who’ve worked in the tourism industry and traveled extensively in Turkey. We understand that it can be overwhelming to plan a trip to Turkey when you don’t know where to go, where to stay and the best way to get there. We’re dedicated to helping you confidently plan a trip to Turkey and have a more authentic experience when you get there.

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