Cappadocia is home to a magical looking natural phenomenon called fairy chimneys that always make up for beautiful scenery and atmosphere. Cappadocia is on the list of many people’s bucket lists for a good reason. Nowhere in the world are the fairy chimneys are together this densely. Together with the history that was carved inside these fairy chimneys, Cappadocia becomes one of the most uniquely mesmerizing places on earth; there is no way a visit to Cappadocia is not magical.
Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys are not handmade; their shapes and forms come from natural reasons. In earlier times, Cappadocia was around volcanic mountains that are inactive nowadays. With the discharge that came from these mountains around 60 million years ago, Cappadocia’s earth became soft, ashy, and easily moldable. And it was molded indeed, by the rain, wind, and other natural causes. For millions of years, these natural causes slowly shaped fairy chimneys to the look they have today.
Early humans knew there was something special about Cappadocia as well. The human inhabitants of Cappadocia date back to the Paleolithic era. During the Hittites 12th century BC, Cappadocia became an important hub for commerce. During the 6th century BC, Cappadocia was part of the Persian Empire. The Persian emperor named the area hu-aspa-dahyu, meaning “land of good horses.”
After the death of Alexander the Great, who defeated the Persian Empire, the Kingdom of Cappadocia was founded in 332BC, and it became a part of the Roman Empire in 17 AC.
During the 3rd century AC, Cappadocia became an important hiding point for Christians who were escaping from the Roman Empire. Its natural qualities made it possible for Christians to live a secret life. During the 11th and 12th centuries, the area saw the influence of the Seljuk Empire. When the Ottoman Empire took over, the area became more stabilized. The last Christians living in the area moved elsewhere after the Lozan treaty was signed.
The climate of Cappadocia is continental. This means Cappadocia has hot summers and cold winters. During summertime, the temperature can go up to 38 degrees Celsius, but it is not humid. During Spring and Autumn, the temperatures can be anywhere from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius, making it the perfect time to visit Cappadocia and hike around. You’ll see this when you try to book a hotel on short notice as well. Winters bring a large amount of snowfall, whereas summers are usually dry. There is also a big difference between the daytime and nighttime temperatures. If you are planning to visit Cappadocia during winter to see fairy chimneys under the snow, it is best to bring thick clothes since it is normal to see temperatures between 3-10 degrees Celsius.
Cappadocia is in the central Anatolia region, and it is part of a larger region called Nevşehir. There are several ways to reach Cappadocia.
First and maybe the best way is to go to Cappadocia is by renting a car. You can use the car for traveling around in Cappadocia as well since the public transport in the Cappadocia area is lacking at times. If you prefer not to deal with public transport in Cappadocia, renting a private car with a private driver is the best option, and Cappadocia is one of the most affordable places in the world for doing so.
If you are in Istanbul, you can find direct flights to Nevşehir, which would be the fastest option to get to Cappadocia. Flights to Nevşehir from Istanbul can be less frequent than other options. In this way, you can fly to Kayseri, which is only 75 kilometers away from Nevşehir.
Once you arrive at the airport, you can use an airport pickup service that would take you straight to your hotel from the airport without trouble. There are different options for airport pickup service, and you can choose a shared pickup service or a private one depending on your preference.
Taking a bus from a major city such as Istanbul is another option. If you are in one of the major cities in Turkey, you won’t have problems finding a bus to the Nevşehir area.
Cappadocia offers more ground to cover than one trip can handle, so it is best to stay for at least two days, and that’s the minimum. Here are some of the places you wouldn’t want to miss in Cappadocia.
Each of the valleys in Cappadocia has different characteristics. Devrent Valley is famous for its fairy chimneys that look like animals. Because of this, another name for Devrent Valley is Imagination Valley. The animal-shaped fairy chimneys, especially the ones that look like a camel, bring out the photo opportunities in people that involve touching or riding them. This is the reason why this area is protected with fences.
Avanos Hair Museum is not the usual kind of museum you visit. In fact, it is so unusual that it ranked in Guinness Records Book as one of the weirdest museums you can visit. Actually, a pottery museum, the hair aspect of this museum started off rather romantically. The owner of the museum asked his girlfriend to leave a flock of hair as she was leaving for her home country and pinned the hair on the wall of the museum. When the other visitors asked about the meaning of the hair, they were moved by the story so they left their own hair. Soon the place was covered with hair.
Twice a year, the owner of the museum does a raffle among the people who left their hair, and the winners gain a whole-expenses-paid holiday for one week.
It is forbidden to take photos inside the museum since the flocks of hair have the personal information of the people who left hair.
Zelve Open-Air Museum is located in a cave village where Muslims and Christians lived together. It was one of the places in Cappadocia where people inhabited very early on, and it was also one of the last-abandoned. The place is not very crowded, even though it has some of the best-looking fairy chimneys in the area. A great place to explore.
Çavuşin Old Mosque is one of the oldest buildings in the area, dating back to the Seljuk Empire. It was closed off in the 1950s. After some restoration work, Old Mosque is reopened to the public since 2011.
If you like to have a walk during your visit, this is the place to do it. Valley is located between Göreme and Çavuşin, and the path is filled with beautiful scenery, wineries, and churches. The walk would last about an hour, and the path is 4 km long.
Kızılçukur or Rose Valley is one of the best spots to watch the sunset and take amazing photos. If you want to explore the valley, you can only do so by walking or cycling. If you only want to visit the sightseeing point, vehicles are allowed there. The entrance fee is around 3 Turkish liras in 2020, but if you arrived with as a part of a tour group, you don’t need to pay any fee. If you’d like to be a part of a hiking tour, you can explore some of the best locations with a tour guide.
Love Valley offers some of the best panoramic views. The reason it is called love valley is that many people proposed their loved ones on this spot. If you’d like to see this destination without being part of a safari group, you might find the roads are not in the best condition. You might need to walk a part of the road, which is about five kilometers, taking an hour to walk. If you like to join a safari group, you can find many options that include this valley in their itinerary.
Göreme Open Air Museum is one of the things you can’t miss in Cappadocia. The museum consists of an old monastery with churches, wine cellars, and cemeteries. The most famous church in the complex is called Karanlık Kilise (Dark Church) and takes its name from not having many windows. Lacking sunlight helped to protect the colors inside the church, and frescoes in this church are full of vibrant colors. Keep in mind that Karanlık Kilise requires an additional ticket, which is around 10 Turkish liras. The regular entrance fee for the whole museum is 30 Turkish liras in 2020.
Üçhisar castle is one of the highest points in Cappadocia, making it a perfect spot for watching the sunrise or sunset. It is one of the most well-known places in Cappadocia, and it is visible from around for miles with its high altitude. It is best to be mindful of the steps to climb there since not all of them are in the best condition. The entrance fee for the castle is 6 Turkish liras for adults and 3 Turkish liras for the students. There are daily tours that include Üçhisar castle in their itinerary along with other beauties of Göreme.
Three Graces are the symbol of the Ürgüp region in Cappadocia and very well known with their fascinating looks. There is also a legend about Three Graces. According to the legend, there was a king living peacefully with his daughter. Though as time passed, he became overprotective towards his daughter, worried about the consequences of her beauty and charm. All the men of the kingdom were in love with the princess, but she fell in love with a shepherd. The king was furious and wanted her to marry someone, in his opinion, more suited to a princess. The princess ran away with the shepherd and had a baby. Thinking the king might forgive this new family, she returned to the kingdom. King wasn’t feeling as forgiving as she hoped; he asked the soldiers to kill the family. The princess prayed that they could either be turned into birds or stones when they were about to be captured. Her prayer was granted, and they were turned into Three Graces.
Ortahisar Castle is the biggest fairy chimney in Cappadocia with a towering 18-meter height. It was used as a castle in Byzantine times. In time its structure got damaged, but today with the restoration work, it is reopened. Now you can climb the ladders till you reach halfway up and enjoy the breathtaking view.
If you’d like to fill your days with adventure, you have countless memorable experiences waiting for you in Cappadocia. From world-famous hot air balloon trips to horseback riding tours, there is something for every visitor. If you’d like to find out more about these options, please read our “Top 10 Things to Do in Cappadocia” post.
With its rich cuisine, Turkey offers its visitors a different variety of food in each different place. As for Cappadocia, a very delicious and unique selection of Turkish food is waiting for you.
Called yaprak sarma in Turkish, stuffed grape leaves is an extremely delicious Turkish delicacy if the leaves are thin and nice. If they are not, it might slightly feel as if you are eating leather with saucy rice in it. The good news is, Cappadocia is one of the best places to have stuffed grape leaves with fresh leaves from many wineries nearby. A must-try that you can find in many restaurants.
Testi kebab is a brew of meat and veggies slow-cooked inside a sealed pot. This method makes the meat so tender and mixes all the deliciousness together. With bread to dip inside the yummy sauce, you are all set. A perfect meal after a long day of hiking and sightseeing.
Dried cream is a very different food from cream that you can find anywhere else in Turkey. Normally soft and spreadable, this cream is a bit tougher and crunchier since it’s dried. It can be consumed with jams and bread or just by itself.
Also called Turkish jellybean, koftur is somewhere between Turkish delight and grape molasses. Since the only ingredients are dried grape molasses, starch, and flour, it is a healthy-ish alternative to the desserts with sugar.
We talked about some of the food you can try in Cappadocia. Now let’s take a look at some of the best restaurants to dine in.
Great food, a great atmosphere, and attention to detail make Topdeck Cave Restaurant one of the best in the Cappadocia region. If you’d like to have a meal with good, hearty portions accompanied by a friendly attitude, Topdeck Cave Restaurant won’t disappoint you.
Seki Restaurant offers one of the finest menus, along with one of the finest views. Overlooking a valley and fairy chimneys, the restaurant is in the Argos hotel. If you are interested, they also offer wine tastings before meals, with a selection of wine from their cellars.
With a charming location that once was a residence, Old Greek restaurant offers a great ambiance. The food is fresh, homemade, and delicious. A great place to try some mezes and cold dishes.
If you want to treat yourself with some fine dining, Lil’a is the place for you. With a dress code, ever-changing hip, and always delicious menu. Lil’a is a perfect spot for celebrations and special occasions. Best to be prepared for higher prices on the menu!
Cappadocia is in Central Anatolia, Turkey, between the cities Niğde, Nevşehir and Kayseri.
You can get to Cappadocia with a short flight to Nevşehir or Kayseri from any of the big cities in Turkey. You can then take another short bus ride from Nevşehir or Kayseri to Cappadocia, or you can rent a car.
Hot air Balloon ride prices start from $200, but it can easily reach to $250 and more depending on the services included.