A Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey: Tours, Attractions, and Hotels

The world’s most popular hot air ballooning location is Cappadocia, Turkey, and it’s popular for a good reason – you get to witness unique fairytale landscapes at affordable prices. More than half of the world’s balloon trips happen in this location. 

Even if you’re not interested in the famous hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia, it’s still worth visiting for the good food, cave hotels, history, and photogenic hiking trails. 

This travel guide will provide information on how to reach Cappadocia, Turkey, suggest the best places to stay, and list all the best things to do, along with a Cappadocia map and all other necessary details to know before embarking on your trip.

Cappadocia: A Brief Overview Of Its History And Significance

Humans have been settling in Cappadocia since prehistoric times, and various civilizations have occupied it over the centuries, including the Hittites, Persians, Romans, early Christians, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks, and Ottomans.

The region of Cappadocia, Turkey, is historically renowned for being a refuge for Christians who settled there to escape the hostile Roman Empire. 

They secretly carved thousands of houses, churches, and caves into the hills, most still visible today and resembling Star Wars movie sets. 

Interestingly, George Lucas once expressed interest in filming parts of the original Star Wars movies in Cappadocia, but the Turkish government declined the request.

Cappadocia is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular tourist hotspot in Turkey, attracting millions of visitors annually (3.8 million in 2019!). 

The unique landscapes, cave houses, and hot air balloon rides are among the major draws for tourists.

Where Is Cappadocia Turkey?

Kayseri, the nearest major city and airport, is in central Turkey, where you can easily access the Cappadocia tourist area. The area includes small towns like Goreme, Uchisar, and Urgup. 

However, most tourists choose to stay in Goreme due to the excellent accommodation options and a variety of restaurants to choose from.

How To Get To Cappadocia Turkey

To reach Cappadocia, Turkey, it is recommended to take a domestic flight from Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) to Kayseri Airport (ASR). 

Skyscanner provides a variety of daily flights that take just 1.5 hours, with one-way tickets starting from as low as 150 Liras ($20).

Upon arrival in Kayseri, you will require a van transfer to reach Goreme town center in Cappadocia, which is approximately an hour’s drive. This transfer can be arranged with your hotel or booked online in advance. 

Pre-booking a Cappadocia shared airport transfer is suggested, which is highly rated and can be secured for as little as $7 per person. Private airport transfers are also available for $30. 

This transfer company has received excellent reviews and is recommended based on personal experience.

Finding A Place To Stay In Cappadocia

The towns of Goreme, Uchisar, and Urgup are where most Cappadocia hotels are situated.

Here are some of our highly recommended Cappadocia cave hotels, but more options are available on the link provided.

Top Activities And Attractions In Cappadocia 

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride

The famous hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia are a must-do activity, with over half a million tourists participating yearly. 

The balloons are fascinating to watch from the ground, and an exciting experience flying in them.

While you can book your balloon ride after arriving in Cappadocia, I recommend booking it online to ensure availability, as it’s a highly sought-after activity.

Consider this top-rated 1-hour Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride, which includes free hotel pickup and costs $70. We’ve personally used this company and had a fantastic experience!

Devrent Valley

Devrent Valley, included in the Cappadocia Red Tour, features a range of distinctive and fascinating rock formations. 

Many resemble the classic “fairy chimney” rock formations, while others are animals or humans, such as the famous Camel Rock with its hump and neck.

Monks Valley (Pasabag)

Monks Valley was one of my favorite stops during the Cappadocia Red Tour, which derives its name from the monks who once inhabited the area in ancient times. They carved their homes and windows into the steep chimney-shaped rocks.


Part of the historical Red Tour, Avanos is a town located just a short distance north of Goreme and is a popular stop among Cappadocia tourists. 

The town is renowned for its pottery, with artisans creating beautiful plates and mugs. Even if you are not planning on purchasing souvenirs, it’s still worth a visit to see the craftsmanship.

Love Valley

Love Valley derives its name from its unique rock formations that resemble phallic shapes. Visitors can explore the valley by hiking on several short and easy trails. This valley is included in the Cappadocia Red Tour.

Goreme Open Air Museum

The Cappadocia region boasts numerous captivating cave churches dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. 

These unique structures are open for visitors; some even feature stunning wall frescoes. The Goreme Open Air Museum is a popular stop on the Cappadocia Red Tour.

Uchisar Castle

Located a short distance southwest of Goreme, Uchisar is a town featuring a 60-meter tall ‘castle mountain’ that has been carved into rocks. 

It is the highest point of Cappadocia Turkey, and visitors can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from the top of the tower. Uchisar Castle is included in the Cappadocia Red Tour itinerary.

Derinkuyu Underground City

Cappadocia is home to 36 underground cities; the deepest one is Derinkuyu. This city, which has stables, churches, storage rooms, and numerous ventilation ducts to provide fresh air to its inhabitants, is located 85 meters below ground level. It is an intriguing place to visit and explore. 

Although Derinkuyu is part of the Cappadocia Green Tour, some tour operators may visit Kaymakli instead, which is the deepest underground city, while Derinkuyu is the widest.

Transportation Options In Cappadocia

  • Walking: If you prefer walking and staying in Goreme, several sights are within walking distance, such as Rose Valley, Lovers Hill (sunrise point), and numerous cave houses and churches.
  • Horseback: Horseback riding is a fun way to explore Cappadocia. You can easily find 2-hour horseback riding tours online for as low as USD 50.
  • Car + Driver: Hiring a private driver is the most comfortable and efficient way to explore Cappadocia. You can book a 4-8 hour tour at $60. Hiring a private van can be more economical if you travel with friends.
  • Scooter: Solo travelers may find renting a scooter in Goreme cost-effective. Prices are generally around $30-$40 for a full day.
  • ATV: Quad biking can be an exciting way to explore the unique terrain of Cappadocia. Cappadocia ATV tours can be found online starting at $25 for 2 hours.
  • Group Tour: If you’re a couple or solo traveler, you can join one of the many Cappadocia group tours available. 

These tours often include hotel pickup, lunch, and a full day of sightseeing. Read the section below for more information on recommended Cappadocia tours!

Top Cappadocia Tours To Explore The Region

Cappadocia offers four color-coded tours (Red, Green, Blue, and Orange) that cover different areas of the region. 

My favorites are the Red and Green Tour, which visits popular sights such as Devrent Valley, Monks Valley, Avanos, the Goreme Open Air Museum, Uchisar Castle, Ihlara Valley, Melendiz River, Selime Monastery, Pigeon Valley, and the Derinkuyu Underground City.

While the Blue and Orange tours are less popular and include sights like Ortasihar and the Gulsehir Open Air Museum, I haven’t tried them yet, but I plan to on my next visit.

To book the Red and Green tours, you can either approach a tour agency in Cappadocia or pre-book online. 

I used GetYourGuide, which offers the Cappadocia Red Tour for $35 and the Green Tour for $55. 

These tours include free lunch and hotel pickup, and I highly recommend using GetYourGuide for tours and activities worldwide.

Optimal Time To Explore Cappadocia, Turkey

The ideal time to visit Cappadocia Turkey varies based on your preferences. While the region offers attractive features throughout the year, the weather fluctuates considerably by season.

Summers are hot, while winters are cold and snowy. Nevertheless, the picturesque landscapes remain breathtaking, and hotels are equipped with heating and air conditioning, ensuring comfort.

I visited in the fall (October), which was nearly perfect. Crowds were manageable, and the trees displayed vibrant autumn foliage.

Spring is another excellent season to visit since you can enjoy milder temperatures and fewer tourists.

Wishing you an enjoyable journey!

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