Really rarely, but then there are those moments when you don’t need a coffee to wake up. Cappadocia is one of them. A place where hotels are 100s and 100s of years old caves, where dozens of balloons fill up the sky in early mornings and where the whole town looks like outta fairytale. It blew us away!
Even if you just come to stare at the lunar-scapes, be sure to bed down in one of Cappadocia’s cave hotels for experience in 21st-century cavern dwelling. We have found Koza Cave Hotel while planning our itinerary. It was absolutely perfect, terraced above the village of Göreme with the best and highest sunrise view. Rooms were exquisite too, decorated with beautiful Turkish artifacts; from locally handcrafted furniture and carpets to lovely bedding and wall decor. All original cave walls from centuries ago have been preserved and integrated into the room design.
We were staying in the Junior Suite which used to be a vinery room in the past, so they greeted us with some very fine local wine. Some rooms even have a fireplace and feature a spa tub – dreamiest! Otherwise, all the suites have private a private terrace. The place is a family-run hotel and comes with a complimentary breakfast. Prices range from 120 – 420 eur per night (you can check here).
There are so many viewpoints in this city to be cave-dwelling, you just might want to get lost like we did. Below are some of the must do/see things from our list.
WATCH THE SUNRISE
A number 1 thing to do in Cappadocia, and also probably why you booked this trip, is to watch the sunrise along with 150 balloons that fill up the sky almost every morning. Even if you are not a morning person, we promise you that this will make waking up at 5 AM perfectly okay in your book!
One of our best spots to watch was from the comfort of our hotel’s terrace – Koza Cave Hotel. Note: one must stay here to access the terrace. The best thing is that the hotel has only 10 rooms so it never gets crowded, like at the rest of the hotels.
TAKE THE HOT-AIR BALLOON
Float over »fairy chimneys« and rocky outcrops of Cappadocia at dawn. We flew with Anatolian Balloons and it was the highlight of our travels! They picked us up at the hotel at 4.30 AM, provided us with a small breakfast bag to-go, gave us a safety briefing and then we were ready to take off at approx. 5 AM (sunrise/take off times depend on the season). The flight took about an hour. Upon landing, we were served champagne at 6.30 AM and given a personalized flight certificate.
You can book directly with the company or at the hotel you’ll be staying at. Definitely book at least one day before and as flights are dependent on the good weather conditions your best bet is to book it on your first morning in Göreme – that way if your balloon ride gets canceled, you’ll automatically be moved to the next day to try again.
Prices range from 80 eur per person at the low and end up at 220 at the high. Anywhere between 130-150 eur is a pretty fair price. There’s no set price so you’ll have to bargain and it’s going to vary based on what season are you visiting (high vs. low), who you buy from, and more… With this range in mind though you can avoid getting ripped off.
ROSE VALLEY FOR SUNRISE
Sometimes a take-off point for balloons, sometimes their landing point – depending on the wind. Definitely worth checking out, it is our top 3 spots in Cappadocia for sunrise.
The natural rock citadel of Uçhisar is the tallest point in Cappadocia. Go there and you will have a magnificent and unrivaled view of the whole region from the castle perched above.
HIKING/SUNSET IN THE RED VALLEY
Dusky-orange-and-cream rock valleys offer unique hiking possibilities. We did the Red/Rose Valley in Ortahisar, Urgup. It served us with some amazing views. Sunsets are spectacular here, too! Quick note: there is a small entrance fee of 2 tl = 0,50 euro, but if you visit during the daytime it is free.
LOVE VALLEY FOR SUNRISE
You can’t possibly miss the erotic erosion sight (rocks have been formed this way due to erosion of volcanic rock) so-called Love Valley. Locals have named it this way due to the obvious reason.
PASABAG & FAIRY CHIMNEYS
This is one of the most popular spots in Göreme, with its epic fairy chimneys and cave dwellings. Be prepared that this place gets really busy.
LOVER’S HILL SUNSET POINT
Or also known as Asiklar Tepesi. It is one of the most popular spots to go for sunset if you are staying in town. It is within walking distance of most hotels in Göreme. The majority of people looking to catch sunset either do it at Lover’s Hill, Red Valley Sunset Point or from the terrace of their hotel. Therefore, as you can imagine, this one gets quite busy being the closest sunset spot.
It is among the most popular hiking trails in Cappadocia, especially because it stretches between Göreme to Uchisar. The trail begins with a sharp descent along a white dusty path – we didn’t do it as we didn’t bring appropriate shoes (make sure you wear sneakers). You’re supposed to find cave dwellings, ancient paintings, earth pillars along the route, and of course… pigeons.
Rent a quad and get lost. Just the feeling of driving through this amazing landscape feels like you’re on a whole another planet and it is indescribable. Read more about renting below.
There are numerous small shops and seductive souks in Göreme where you can bargain for your favorite rug, cushion or ceramics. The colors will stay in your memory forever.
SUNSET DRINKS AT DUSK BY KOZA
Dusk by Koza also gets opened for drinks to the outside guests in the evenings. Sip sunset cocktails while taking in the best view in town. It is Göreme’s most chilled-out, intimate summer drinking spot on the top two terraces at Koza Cave Hotel.
Turkish people are not really a sight but they are an experience of itself! Have a relaxed chat with them – they are some of the nicest people we have ever encountered.
Overall, there are endless amazing sights and paths/valleys to walk while in Cappadocia. Make sure to read on for other valuable tips so you can get the most out of your trip.
Feast on mezes, doner kebabs, Turkish delights and drink Çay (tea) in a tulip glass. We loved a local restaurant Mozaik Restaurant so this is where we returned to daily. Two more restaurants worth checking out: Goreme Seten and Reserved.
Scooter is the best/most convenient/cheapest option if you know how to drive. We managed to cover every little corner of Cappadocia and we couldn’t have done it any other way. Göreme feels like another planet and each turn you take is a new adventure. We rented it for 150 TL = 22 euros for two days (you need to use your bargaining skills a lot though). We recommend a rental guy in the center of Göreme at the motor shop called HILARIOUS.
Our 2nd option would be an ATV, and only then a car (except if you have kids). Other options include taking a tour guide and renting a vintage car, which seem to be getting very popular nowadays, especially for the photo-shoots.
HOW TO GET THERE
Cappadocia is served by flights (Turkish Airlines, Sun Express or Pegasus) and buses from Istanbul multiple times daily so it couldn’t be any easier. You will have to fly either into Kayseri (1h 10min from Göreme) or Nevşehir (40 min from Göreme) from Istanbul. Return flights are pretty cheap too (under 80 eur). Prior to your arrival in Kayseri, confirm with your hotel for a shuttle from the airport, so that when you land you’ll have someone waiting for you. There are also many agencies offering transportation to Göreme, so nothing to worry about here.
WHEN TO GO
SUMMER for pleasant temperatures and frequency of the air balloon flights – hot air balloons rely heavily on the weather, so they fly less in the winter than in the summer. The companies still plan to fly every day, but cancelations are just more frequent.
Of course, go in WINTER if you want to sleep more because sunrise time changes throughout the year and in winter it means more sleep. Winter Cappadocia is definitely on our list as it must be super special with this extraordinary landscape covered in a white blanket of snow.
HOW MANY DAYS
We would recommend at least 4-5 nights to ensure you actually do see ballons which are the main sight. We’ve been very lucky to experience the balloons ALL 5 mornings we were in Cappadocia, but it does happen that they don’t fly even for a few days in a row because of the weather (wind/low visibility). Therefore, make sure to book an extra night or two – you don’t want to miss out on what you actually came here for, right?
The costs of living in Turkey are much lower than Western European standards – meaning transportation, dining, shopping… The most expensive will probably be the ticket to fly yourself here but everything else is really affordable.
WHAT TO BRING
- Camera – you will want to capture these moments forever.
- Cappadocia is already quite chilly in summer mornings – we were wearing a poncho and long pants and felt quite cold! It’s a must to bring a warm sweater for summer mornings, and gloves, scarf and a winter jacket in the winter. Summer days get hot so bring summer-wear, too.
- Sneakers for hiking and long walks.
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Cappadocia has long held the #1 spot on our travel bucket list. How about you, what is your ultimate destination?