Cappadocia is a historical fairy town in central Anatolia, located in Nevsehir, formed from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Famous for its natural, historical, and cultural beauties, this magical town also made it to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. With so many incredible attractions and perks, it’s really “the” place you must visit once in your lifetime. Its beauty is reflected well in the number of millions of visitors annually. We put together our insider guide for every first timer to know the essential things to know and practical travel tips before visiting Cappadocia.
Turkey’s tourism is always booming – especially in the warm summer months. Even in the dead of winter, Cappadocia, a world-famous spot and anyone’s dreamed holiday destination, is still one of the most traveled and photographed cities by both domestic and international tourists. It has plenty to offer its visitors who are checking out central Anatolia. We prepared this ultimate cheat sheet for those quirks and facts you won’t find on Cappadocia tourism billboards.
IT’S TIME FOR MAGIC! Before everything else, think about it, and ask yourself, “Is Cappadocia worth visiting?” Are you ready to plunge into the magical atmosphere of Cappadocia and immerse yourself in the warmest and coziest holiday?
We hear your answer is a massive “YES!” But planning a trip to Cappadocia can be daunting if you don’t know how to get there, where to stay, or where to eat. So before you book your flight, We hope you enjoy your time in Cappadocia and see this beautiful city as much as possible! Here is everything you need to know about Cappadocia that nobody tells you. Read on to find out more about how to explore it.
14 Practical Cappadocia Travel Tips Every First Timer Should Know
1. Cappadocia is not a city or village, it is a region
Cappadocia is situated in the middle of Turkey, in central Anatolia. The region is mostly known by the three popular towns of Goreme, Urgup and Uchisar but actually it is the name of the very big region spread through the cities of Nevsehir, Kirsehir, Nigde, Aksaray and Kayseri.
So we can say that Cappadocia can be considered as “Five Cities, One Cappadocia”…
The narrowed rocky region of Cappadocia include; Uchisar, Urgup, Avanos, Goreme, Derinkuyu, Kaymakli, Ihlara and surrounding areas…
Tourists mostly stay at the towns of Avanos, Goreme, Urgup and Uchisar in Cappadocia and they are all situated within the borders of the Nevsehir city.
Goreme can be considered as the most touristy town due its proximity to most of the best attractions and sights.
2. The name “Cappadocia”
The Persian name “Kappa Tuchia” which means “The land of beautiful Horses”
3. Cappadocia is famous for its…
We can say that Cappadocia is famous and unique for its fairy chimneys and valleys, underground cities and hot air balloon ride.
Walk in the Valleys | See the Fairy Chimneys
With its winding valleys, moonlike landscape, and mystical chimneys, Cappadocia might be the most surreal place on earth. Whether you’re there to explore the unique rock formations up close, or just to take in the majestic views from afar, it’s a must-see destination for anyone looking for an unforgettable adventure. During each season, the valleys change color and offer something spectacular for those who visit.
In some valleys you can find waterfalls, while in others there will be fresh fruit such as plums or apricots. In Winter, the valleys are covered with snow which makes for a truly mystical scene! The valleys are also the places where you can see historical churches carved into the rock, distinctive homes, and visit active Turkish villages.
Go deep underground to visit these magnificent cities! How deep you ask? So deep that even the deepest one hasn’t been uncovered yet. Cappadocia currently has 36 underground cities, the largest of which, Derinkuyu, dates back to the 8th century BC. As an example, Derinkuyu was stumbled upon completely by chance, by a local inhabitant which renovating his house.
Extending to a depth of approximately 85 metres, it’s large enough to have sheltered more than 20,000 people. While visiting, guests will have to crouch down and move slowly through the tunnels, which were mostly created with the purpose of saving people during the ongoing wars.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
One of the most popular things to do in Cappadocia is catch the view from above in the colorful hot air balloons. Take fantastic pictures of the valleys and fairy chimney’s from above, enjoying the spectacular landscape, fresh air, and clouds! The balloon tours are famous for creating the special romantic moment, perfect for marriage proposals or honeymoon gift.
Hot Air Balloon tours usually last approximately 60-90 minutes and can have anywhere from 12 – 28 people per balloon basket, depending on the size of your balloon. Flights usually start around 5:00am and have various departures throughout the day. While some may balk at price, this is something that is definitely worth the adventure splurge! Don’t forget to bring your camera!
4. Brief History
Cappadocia is a historical region that has a long history behind it. Its name appears not only in Christian sources throughout history but also in old Luwian inscriptions, dating from the late 6th century BC of Achaemenid Kings alongside the Persian and Hittite Empires.
Fairy chimneys play a massive role in shaping the city! This magical historic town with nearly 2,150 people is one of the tourist spots of Turkey, sitting right in Central Anatolia in Nevsehir, which has a population of 308.003. Most travelers come to Cappadocia more than once to discover different places each time—its underground cities, silhouettes of fairy chimneys, old stone houses, vast valleys, and more.
Cappadocia is surrounded by volcanic Mount Erciyes (ancient Argaeus) and Kayseri (ancient Caesarea). The Taurus Mountains separate Cappadocia from the Mediterranean Sea, forming a boundary with Cilicia. The city still grows to be a tourism powerhouse thanks to its exceptional natural wonders, fairy chimneys, and unique historical and cultural heritage. You can revisit some of its historic elements at all times.
5. Getting to Cappadocia
You should know that there are no direct international flights to Cappadocia.
Getting to Cappadocia from abroad requires careful planning and preparation. You’ll need to research the best flight and transport options, book your tickets in advance, and allow enough time for transit and any layovers. Whether you’re flying from Europe, the UK, the US, Asia, Australia, Canada, or South America, there are several transport options available to help you get to Cappadocia. Be sure to confirm your travel arrangements, including flights, buses, or trains, before you travel to avoid any last-minute surprises.
If you’re visiting Cappadocia, there’s a good chance that you will be flying in. The first thing you keep in mind is the airport and the hotel.
For getting to Cappadocia by plane, you should fly to one of the two nearby airports; Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV) or Kayseri Airport (ASR). Each one of these airports has its pros and cons. Book your flight early for the holiday season to catch the most economical options.
Both Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR) and Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV) serve as gateways to Cappadocia, with direct flights available from Istanbul and other major cities in Turkey.
Nevsehir-Kapadokya Airport (NAV) is 26 km from the city center and is closer to significant towns like Nevsehir, Goreme, Uchisar, Urgup, and Avanos than the Kayseri Airport. It has an international terminal with a capacity of 700,000 passengers. It’s a small, well-functioning airport! You can get to your hotel or downtown by taking airport shuttles, taxis, or car rentals.
You can also book daily flights from Istanbul, Antalya, and Izmir to Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport. A typical ride from Istanbul to Cappadocia typically takes around 1 hour and 25 minutes.
Kayseri Erkilet Airport
Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR) is situated about 75 km. from Goreme and 88 km. from central Nevsehir. You can easily access to all regions of Cappadocia within 1 hour from Kayseri Airport.
You can book daily flights to Kayseri from Istanbul, Izmir, or Antalya. The duration of the flight from Istanbul to Kayseri is around 52 minutes. Sometimes, some hotels arrange airport shuttle services from Kayseri Airport to your hotel in Cappadocia but check with your hotel if they’ve booked your shuttle service.
Airports to Cappadocia region
You can take a taxi (cab), the airport shuttle bus (named Havas), or private shuttle. Luckily, there are minibuses, too, running from the airport to downtown Cappadocia, where you can take public transit to another part of the city.
Keep in mind that Nevsehir is very spread out. Double-check the distances when you are booking a hotel or other accommodation that seems to be close to the main sights or a bus or train station. If you want to see a good chunk of it during your, you can rent a car, too.
Cappadocia by Bus
Next-best way to get around Cappadocia is to book a bus if you are planning to visit from other destinations such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, or Antalya where you can book direct international flights. It’s inexpensive when compared to plane, environmentally friendly, and a great way to see sights—and it operates for long hours a day.
To reach Cappadocia by bus from Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, or Antalya, you must first come to Nevsehir city. After arriving at Nevsehir Bus Terminal, it is possible to get any Cappadocia region by minibus or taxi.
* From Istanbul, it will take about 10 to 12 hours to get to Cappadocia (Nevsehir) by bus, about 730 km. There are two Intercity Bus Terminals in Istanbul, one in European side named Istanbul Otogar in Esenler, and other one in Asian side named Harem Otogar in Uskudar.
* From Ankara, it will take about 4 hours to get to Cappadocia (Nevsehir) by bus, about 300 km. Ankara’s Intercity Bus Terminal named ASTI in Bestepe.
No matter how you want to arrive to Cappadocia, we recommend you to check with your hotel if they have a pick-up service.
Tip: Put in some planning hours if you’re going to get the most out of your vacation, covering everything from food to transportation.
6. Where to Stay + Accommodation
Cappadocia is comprised of 4 major regions for tourists to explore: Goreme, Uchisar, Urgup, and Avanos. Each area has its own unique charm, so choosing the right one for your needs is important.
Goreme can be considered as the most touristy town due its proximity to most of the best attractions and sights.
There are many options you can experience to stay in Cappadocia. While choosing between Cappadocia hotels, you can also stay in fairy chimney houses with unique architecture and gorgeous views that’ll allow you to see the colorful balloons in the air.
For this reason, these are the most preferred places in terms of accommodation. There are hundreds of accommodation options and hotels in Cappadocia. Consider the cave hotels, too, if you want to experience the pleasure of sleeping between stone walls whose carved rocks are built with outstanding. Watch the balloons flying from your hotel terrace early in the morning! Observe the warm-hearted Anatolian hospitality.
It is important to make an advance reservation when planning your trip to Cappadocia. Reserving space at least two months before your holiday is recommended and guests should be aware of increased pricing during peak travel season and public holidays.
Comparing hotels and looking for discounts online is also recommended, as well as traveling during shoulder seasons if your schedule permits.
The peak travel season to visit Cappadocia is spring and autumn months, with prices higher during these months and during public holidays.
In summer, please be advised that the temperatures can become quite hot, but with school out for summer, the area still may be a bit crowded.
In winter, expect to see snow capped caves, and beautiful sites, with slightly slower prices available.
- Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport – Avanos is 35 km, taking around 45 minutes by car.
- Nevsehir center-Avanos is 17 km with a 20-minute journey. There are minibusses and taxis from Avanos to the center of Nevşehir.
- Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport – Uchisar is approximately 35 km and takes 35 minutes by car.
- Nevsehir center-Uçhisar is 7 km, taking around 12 minutes. There are minibusses and taxis, too.
- Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport – Ürgüp is 49 km, and it takes about 1 hour by car. There are minibusses and taxis, too.
- Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport – Göreme is 43 km, taking approximately 40 minutes.
- Nevsehir center – Göreme is 21 km, taking about 30 minutes. There are minibusses and taxis, too.
- Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport -Ortahisar is 45 km.
- Nevsehir center-Ortahisar is 25 km, and it takes about 30 minutes.
- Urgup-Ortahisar is 6 km, and there are shuttles and minibusses, too.
8. Transportation and getting around Cappadocia
It’s pretty easy to get around if you have your bearings about you. If you only have a limited amount of time, you are better off choosing one or two neighboring towns and focusing on all the things to see there.
The best way to explore Cappadocia is by car or minibus. Car rental companies are widely available, and the roads are well-maintained.
Minibuses are also a popular option for transportation in Cappadocia. There is an extensive network of minibuses that connect the different towns and villages in the region. Traffic is not a problem in Cappadocia, so you can easily get around by car or minibus and all locations are easily reached from the Kayseri or Nevsehir airports.
9. Weather & Climate – What to Pack & Wear?
Be Prepared for Cappadocia’s weather catching up with the most iconic scenic spots! Situated in the heart of Turkey’s Anatolia, consisting of a high plateau over 1000 meters in altitude, the Cappadocia region is semi-arid that enjoys a continental climate all year round. It means its summers are hot and dry, and winters are cold and snowy. Therefore, pack your luggage accordingly. It doesn’t get a lot of rain. In winter, expect it to get cold!
You’ll see a different face and experience each time:
- Summer months are best for festivals.
- Spring is excellent for physical activities, like nature walks, ATVs, or cycling.
- Winter months are fantastic if you have a romantic holiday or honeymoon under the snow.
- Although it’s fantastic in every season, spring (from April to June) or autumn (from September to mid-October) sounds like an excellent idea for the balloon rides!
The most important packing tip for Cappadocia is to bring layers. If you are in summer, it can get chilly at night in the mountains. And the weather varies a lot from place to place. We also recommend you bring rain coat even in summer as there can be heavy but short rainy days.
10. Must-See Spots in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is known to be the hub for all tourist activities in the vicinity of Uçhisar, Ürgüp, Göreme, and Avanos -the most well-known and highly visited spots if you are keen to see the famous sights or to hang out.
Each of Cappadocia’s districts or neighborhoods has its vibe and delight, making each one of them a popular destination you must add to your itinerary. Wherever you are, dare to check out the shops, bazaars, eateries, and little boutiques and feel the Turkish culture. Don’t forget to visit a few carpet shops while you’re there. Ensure to attend a Turkish Night event while you’re there, too.
- Goreme Open Air Museum: Göreme Open Air Museum is the first place where monastic education started. The monastery complex consists of churches, cemeteries, chapels, dining halls, and a wine cellar. It would be enough to spare 2 hours to visit the whole area.
- Goreme National Park has been on the World Heritage List since 1985. This region, an important center of Christianity in history, has been a settlement since the Chalcolithic period.
- Uchisar Castle: Uçhisar Castle is the highest fairy chimney that can be seen from everywhere with splendid panoramic views. You can see the whole Goreme Valley and fairy chimneys from the castle, too.
- Pasabag Valley: This stunning valley is known for its unique rock formations, which resemble giant mushrooms. Visitors can hike through the valley and admire the natural beauty of the region.
- Temenni Hill: Temenni Hill, the highest peak of Cappadocia, can be seen anywhere in the city, with a tomb on the hill that is said to belong to Alaeddin Keykubat the 3rd and the Tahsin Ağa Public Library in the middle.
- Red Valley: This is where the sunset is indisputably the most beautiful, with the oldest churches in the region.
- Love Valley: This unique valley is named after the unusual rock formations that resemble phallic shapes. Visitors can hike through the valley and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
- Pigeon Valley: This scenic valley is named after the thousands of pigeons that once inhabited the rock formations. Visitors can hike through the valley and enjoy the unique natural beauty of the region.
- Zelve Open Air Museum: This unique outdoor museum features a collection of abandoned rock-cut homes and churches. Visitors can explore the maze of rooms and admire the unique rock formations that make up this historical site.
- Three Beauties Fairy Chimneys: These 3 fairy chimneys, also known as Three Graces, are one of the staples of Cappadocia where that classic capped fairy chimney form looks best. To see this trio, go towards Ürgüp.
- Derinkuyu Underground City, located in the Derinkuyu district 30 kilometers from Nevşehir center, is one of the most popular underground cities. It took its name from the wells 60 meters below the ground operating as natural ventilation. Based on the Assyrians, it consisted of 8 floors, where 50,000 people could live simultaneously. Unlike Kaymaklı, there is also a missionary school and a baptismal pool.
- Kaymakli Underground City, located 20 kilometers from Nevşehir, in Kaymakli town, is half the size of Derinkuyu Underground City, with a capacity of 5,000 people. Its history dates back to the Phrygians.
- Asmali Konak (Mansion): The famous mansion (an old Greek house from 1800) in Mustafapasa is currently serves as a hotel and restaurant as the “Old Greek House”. Serving with 2 floors, 15 rooms and 32 beds, Asmalı Konak restaurant is also worth a try. It’s best known for partaking in Turkish TV series starring Nurgül Yeşilçay and Özcan Deniz.
- Turasan Wine Factory: Cappadocia is famous for its vineyards, and Turasan Wines is central to the region’s cuisine. Established by Hasan Turasan in 1943, the factory is one of the largest wine factories in Anatolia. Ensure to taste wine when you visit the factory.
- Hair Museum: This museum, located in the pottery bazaar, is worth visiting for being one of the strangest museums made into the Guinness Book of Records, thanks to having hair tufts left by more than 16,000 women. The museum is a part of the pottery shop of Chez Galip, the famous pottery master of Cappadocia.
11. Top Activities You Can Do in Cappadocia
You can do lots of fun activities in Cappadocia, regardless of whether you’re visiting for the first time. It is bustling with life everywhere you look and has a lot to live up to! You can’t just wander around most of the city on foot and expect to stumble onto something unique.
You can quickly get wrapped up in this unique destination. But check the forecast in winter before diving into outdoor activities. Here are a few ideas we’ve listed for you.
- Watch the Sunset: Never miss the impressive sunset on the landscapes allowing you to capture exquisite images you cannot find anywhere else in Turkey, whether you’re walking around the gorgeous mountains, hiking, running, or walking. Plan a day for nature, and find a great view. Enjoy the mesmerizing settling in one of the high valleys. Don’t forget to take your camera with you.
- Take a ride in the hot air balloon: No visit to Cappadocia would be complete without a ride in the hot balloons! Watching more than 150 balloons taking off at sunrise will be a unique scene you’ll never forget. When you decide to take your place in that beauty, no matter which company you choose, ensure to make a reservation for your balloon ride. There are plenty of on-site/online companies that can guide you through.
- Hiking: Cappadocia offers a wealth of hiking trails that wind through the unique rock formations and natural landscapes of the region. Hikers can enjoy stunning views and explore the local flora and fauna.
- ATV tours: Dare to go on a safari between Cappadocia’s unique, beautiful hills with ATVs. You can find Safaris in groups of 10 to 30 people. The most popular ATV tours generally start around 3 pm, lasting 2-4 hours, half-day, or all-day. Remember that you don’t need a license to drive an ATV.
- Horse safari: Horseback riding is a popular activity in Cappadocia, allowing visitors to explore the stunning natural landscapes and unique rock formations from a different perspective.
- Taking day tours, you can visit Red Valley, Rose Valley, Love Valley, Baglidere, and Swords Valley and watch the magnificent sunset. Remember that all the horses are trained, and experienced guides will accompany you.
- Pottery making: Another enjoyable activity of Cappadocia is making hand-crafted pottery in Avanos, with a pottery workshop on every corner where the artists generally practice their father’s profession. You, too, can make one and take it with you.
- Wine Tasting: Cappadocia is home to several wineries that produce Cappadocian wines, which are known for their unique taste and quality. Visitors can sample these wines at local wineries and enjoy the stunning vineyard landscapes.
12. Must-Taste Food
Cappadocia is one of the best cities. You can taste the cuisine of central Anatolia with many restaurants, local bazaars, the cutest cafes, and more dotted around the city. But you must know a few things about it before learning to love it.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy it. Whether you fancy traditional Turkish cuisine or wine, you will find something according to your appetite!
Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try unique eats!
- Testi Kebab: The Cappadocia’s rich culture is seen in its delicious slow-cooked testi kebab, the most famous food of Cappadocia, accompanied by vegetables in Avanos pots. It usually takes 2 hours to prepare this yummy testi kebab, which has an excellent presentation. Once the pot is placed on the table, the waiter breaks it and serves it. Remember to experience this dish once you’re there.
- Pumpkin seeds: Nevşehir is famous for its pumpkin seeds roasted with milk that will satisfy your appetite. Grab some pumpkin seeds from some of the local bazaars there.
- Pumpkin Seed Noodles: Noodles are one of the delicacies eaten as a side dish in Nevşehir, especially in the winter. Go ahead and have some.
- Stuffed leaves (dolma): Cappadocia is famous for its vineyards, and you can easily find stuffed leaves on the menu in most restaurants.
- Urgup meatballs: The Urgup meatballs are made with potatoes, which is a bit different from the meatballs you may have eaten until now, don’t forget to taste this delicacy!
- Kayseri ravioli (manti): There are loads of great eateries where you can taste the famous tiny ravioli (Kayseri mantis)—one of the local cuisines you must try. You surely won’t be disappointed!
- Nevşehir ravioli (manti): Preparing the Nevşehir ravioli is made with minced meat and onions rolled into bread dough and is a bit easier than Kayseri ravioli.
- Wine: Explore Cappadocia’s wines, too, and don’t fly back home without trying the classic local Turasan wines.
Tip: Remember to have a fantastic itinerary for Cappadocia, and plan days around specific neighborhoods—particularly ones close together. Don’t travel jumping all over the city in 1 day. Tailor your interests and travel styles, and budget wisely; this is why we’re here!
13. Language + Money
It’s no secret: Cappadocia is a diverse city, and it’s no wonder that there are so many cultural heritages preserved from past cultures. Although Turkish (based on the Latin alphabet) is the country’s official language, you can quickly and comfortably communicate in English anywhere in Cappadocia.
- The currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira.
- The currency code for Turkish Lira is TL/TRY and the currency symbol is
- There are 100 Kuruş (Kr) (pronounced as “koo-roosh”) to the Lira (TRY).
You can obtain currency exchange before traveling to Goreme, Avanos, Uchisar and whole Cappadocia region, or on arrival. We recommend you to get Turkish Liras after you arrive in Turkey as the exchange rates are usually better in Turkey and you can find exchange offices in Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV) or Kayseri Airport (ASR).
You can exchange any currency in to Turkish Lira in Cappadocia as usual. You are able to find exchange offices through Cappadocia region.
Most of them are located on the streets of the popular tourist zones and districts, as well as inside banks, travel agents, Post Offices and Nevsehir or Kayseri airport.
14. How many days do you need?
Cappadocia is like no other city, thanks to its mesmerizing landscape, gorgeous valley trails, stunning panoramic scenes, picturesque fairy chimneys, churches and houses carved into the rocks decorated with frescoes, and vivid hot air balloons. To check off your bucket list before it’s too late, rework your schedule to catch this gorgeous must-see spot!
Yet, at the same time, don’t rush because it’s a vast city, and you’d miss out on many things you want to enjoy. Although some take day trips to Cappadocia; however, you can get the most out of it in 3-4-5 days itinerary with a hot air balloon ride. A car ride to/from the airport is easier, faster, and prettier, allowing you to see the characteristics of the Cappadocia’s moonscape, with rock pinnacles and caves easily visible from the highway. You can start your explorations of Cappadocia right on the way from the airport.
It’s possible to visit the region in 2 days with daily tours, too; it’s entirely up to you! You can always ask your hotel to book a tour for you.
We know: it’s hard to plan a trip around traffic and geography when you don’t know the city or traffic patterns. There is so much to see and do, as it’s a fantastic place once you learn to hit all the significant spots and embrace everything it offers. There are many museums, underground cities, towering cave castles, churches, and monasteries, too– to name a few!
And there you have it – we prepared this guide for you to know the 14 essential things to know before visiting Cappadocia. Hopefully, you’ve learned more about the city and look forward to exploring it. Let us know how that goes!