Cappadocia, you know it by the pictures that fill your instagram feed with hundreds of balloons at sunrise. While you might feel this place has fallen victim to becoming a tourist trap, it is incredibly beautiful and an experience that shouldn't be missed. If you're a fan of a lie-in, you had better curb that habit for another time while here as the best show takes place at sunrise. We rose at 3am our first morning to take an hour flight over ancient valleys filled with fairy chimneys, and 4am the following morning to catch the sunrise from our hotel terrace. I can promise you though that the lack of sleep is worth every magical moment.
While the region is famed for it's hundred of balloons filling the sky, the area is rich in cultural and historical interest that will keep your days filled. Exploring the natural geological phenomena affectionately known as fairy chimneys is a great way to spend the day. Close to the town centre of Göreme you can visit the Göreme Open Air Museum where there are almost a dozen cave churches to explore. The churches date back to the 10th-12th centuries when the area was predominately a christian-based population and feature some beautiful fresco artwork.
If Turkish arts and textiles are your vice, they aren't in short supply here. We visited a lovely carpet store that runs a program to train local women, supported by the government, which ensures the traditional double-knot art of weaving isn't lost. We would have bought several carpets and cushion covers if we had somewhere to home them! The perils of living abroad mean sometimes we have to forgo the momentos we would love to keep forever. Feel like Jasmin at Galeri Ikman as you chat with the store owners, sipping on apple tea surrounded by walls covered in rugs of every pattern imaginable. This place is definitely worth of a few snaps too.
Cappadocia was a bucket list item I couldn't wait to tick off. It was our first time flying in a hot air balloon and I'm glad that was how we spent our first flight. I definitely recommend giving yourself 2-3 days in the area, as the balloons only fly when the weather permits. We visited in late May and the weather was quite favourable. The days were warm and the air stable. We were told it changes from around October - February/March, as it does snow during the winter!
Where to stay?
To make the most of your stay I recommend booking a room at a cave hotel. There are countless options to choose regardless of your budget, but I can highly recommend Mithra Cave Hotel for an affordable option close to town and with an incredible terrace to view the balloons from in the morning.
What to eat?
You're in Turkey, so you're going to be enjoying mezze plates, hummus and kebabs without question. A traditional dish for the area is testi kebabi, a stew-like dish cooked in a traditional clay pot. The server will open your pot at your table and the aroma will be delightful!
Grab a mixed grill at Kebapzade Restaurant for 2, the service here was great and the food was delicious.
What to do?
This should be number one on your list, and it's probably why you decided to visit Cappadocia in the first place. Your options vary for a sunrise balloon flight, but it will no doubt be the most expensive thing you do in Turkey. If you don't mind people in your personal space, then more budget-friendly options start from around €150 with 16-20 people per flight. If you've got a bit more cash to splash then 'comfort' flight options start around €250 and tend to carry around 12 people.
Take a day tour
The sights of Göreme National Park are spread out over several kilometres, so the best way to see everything is to take a day tour. Most hotel and tour operators will offer you the red or green tours. Both run all day, with the green providing stops a bit further out and with more 'green' locations. The red tour covers off key locations such as Pigeon Valley, Love Valley, Göreme open air museum and Pasabagi.
Like this post? Share it on Pinterest with the images below.