If you’re pondering over the best things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey, you should know that this renowned destination is celebrated for its unforgettable hot air balloon rides, offering panoramic views over its UNESCO World Heritage-listed valleys. However, the balloon flight isn’t the sole activity in Cappadocia. The region is also noted for its valleys that conceal numerous incredible rock formations, such as its fairy chimneys, the open air museum Cappadocia, and troglodyte underground cities. Well, we won’t reveal all its wonders in the first paragraph. Below, we share our list of top things to do in Cappadocia over 2, 3 or 4 days, depending on the time you have. Let’s dive in!
Next, we present to you our list of Cappadocia attractions and things to do on your own.
- Hot air balloon rides, Cappadocia best things to do
- Things to do in Cappadocia: Göreme Open-Air Museum
- Uçhisar Castle
- Pasabag Valley, places to visit in Cappadocia
- Zelve Open-Air Museum, Cappadocia things to see
- Devrent Valley
- Love Valley
- Pigeon Valley
- Çavusin Village
- Three Beauties Viewpoint
- Red Valley
- Kaymakli and Derinkuyu Underground Cities
- Ihlara Valley, best hikes in Cappadocia
- Selime Cathedral
- Theodora Monastery
- Avanos and the Kizilirmak River, the longest to see in Turkey
- Hot air balloon takeoff
- RESTAURANTS in Cappadocia
- Best areas WHERE TO STAY in Cappadocia
- How to GET TO Cappadocia
- How to MOVE AROUND Cappadocia
- Cappadocia TRAVEL TIPS
20 Best Things to See and Do in Cappadocia, Turkey
Firstly, let us inform you that if you wish to explore the best places to visit in Cappadocia, we recommend spending a minimum of two nights, which means witnessing two sunrises in Cappadocia Turkey. In this way, within two days, you’ll have ample time to immerse yourself in all the Cappadocia attractions. Similarly, if you’re considering the hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia, you’ll have at least two opportunities to fly. So, to answer how many days to spend visiting Cappadocia, we believe two are sufficient. Now, let’s get on with the list!
1. Hot Air Balloon Ride, unique things to do in Cappadocia Turkey
Undoubtedly, the hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and, as we see it, one of the top things to do in Cappadocia. The landscape, already breathtaking from the ground, becomes even more magnificent from above. The rock formations of its valleys, the fairy chimneys, and the interplay of shadows with the dawn light have made this one of the most thrilling activities we’ve ever undertaken. We booked the activity on this website, and everything was brilliant: punctual pick-up (5 in the morning), a smooth and enjoyable flight, and great guidance and transfers.
The flight lasts about an hour, but between the pick-up, the picnic, safety and technical briefings, and the final toast, it took 2h 30m. Prices range from £130 to £255, depending on the demand at the time, as if there were cancellations due to weather conditions in the previous days, the price increases. We recommend checking the prices for when you plan to visit and also booking in advance.
We also suggest getting travel insurance; we opted for IATI Mochilero, which covers accidents during such activities. As our reader, you get a 5% discount on all policies, which you can check out on the IATI website.
2. Göreme Open-Air Museum, Cappadocia what to do
On the other hand, when visiting Cappadocia don’t forget to include the Göreme Open-Air Museum in yout itinerary. Located in the heart of the region, this museum transports you to the Byzantine era. Here, we were amazed by the rock-carved churches with frescoes inside. In addition to its historical significance, the museum itself is also a spectacle, with the impressive rock formations that are characteristic of the area. Photos are not allowed inside, but we had this one already… Enjoy it!
- 💵 Göreme Museum Price 2023: Approximately 16.50€ per person. It does not include the Dark Church; an additional fee is required.
- ⏰ Göreme Museum Hours: 08:00-19:00 (every day).
- 💡Wear appropriate footwear, as you’ll walk through some areas where you might slip.
3. Uçhisar Castle, Cappadocia tourist attractions
Uçhisar Castle is another of the best things to see in Cappadocia. This natural marvel, which also stands as the highest point in the region at 1330m, offers unique panoramic views. It can be said to be one of the best viewpoints in Cappadocia. Besides being an excellent observation point, the castle features a maze of tunnels and chambers that were used as rooms and storage in ancient times.
- 💵 Uçhisar Castle 2023 price: Approximately £3.50 per person.
- ⏰ Uçhisar Castle opening hours: 6:00am-8:00 pm (during daylight hours) daily
- 💡Wear appropriate footwear; there are areas where you could slip.
- 💡Special spot to watch the sunrise in Cappadocia with balloons flying over the valleys. Sunset views are also spectacular.
If you have time, you can also take a stroll through the Uçhisar valley. Access is free, and you can explore on foot after your visit to Uçhisar Kalesi.
4. Pasabag Valley or Paşabağları, Cappadocia things to do
The Pasabag Valley or Paşabağları, also known as the Monks’ Valley, is one of the Cappadocia tourist places to consider. The fairy chimneys of this valley are particularly unique and among the tallest, capped with rocky “hats” at their peaks. It’s said that ancient monks chose this place for their spiritual retreat, finding shelter in the natural caves and tunnels of the chimneys. Hence, its alternative name. Within one of the three-headed fairy chimneys, there’s a chapel named after Saint Simeon.
- 💵 Zelve and Paşabağları 2023 price: Approximately £8.50 per person (includes both natural sites).
- ⏰ Opening hours: 8:00am-7:00pm (1 April to 31 October) and 08:00 to 17:00 (1 November – 31 March), open daily.
- 💡Wear suitable footwear; there are areas where you could slip.
5. Zelve Open Air Museum, Cappadocia places to see
Another of the best places to visit in Cappadocia is the Zelve Open Air Museum, one of the largest troglodyte villages in the region. Muslims and Christians coexisted here until 1924. Along the path, you’ll encounter various rock-cut churches, cave houses, dovecotes, storage areas, and even a winery carved into the rock. It’s a quieter, more authentic spot to appreciate life in ancient Cappadocia, as it’s less frequented than Göreme. Notably, the Apple Church (Elmalı Kilise) stands out with its impressive biblical frescoes. The opening hours and prices are the same as the Paşabağları Open Air Museum, and we’ll remind you:
- 💵 Zelve and Paşabağları entry price 2023: Approximately £8.50 per person (includes both natural sites). If you plan to visit all the museums, it’s cheaper if you buy the Museum Pass Cappadocia.
- ⏰ Opening hours: 08:00 am -7:00 pm (1st April to 31st October) and 08:00 am to 5:00 pm (1st November – 31st March), open daily.
- 💡Wear suitable footwear; there are areas where you could slip.
6. Devrent Valley or Imagination Valley, top places to see in Cappadocia
The Devrent Valley, also known as the Imagination Valley, is yet another fascinating must do in Cappadocia. It stands out for its unique rock formations which, with a bit of imagination, can resemble animals, objects, or people. It’s an ideal place to stroll and let your creativity run wild, identifying shapes in the rocks. Entry to this short hike in Cappadocia is free, but, like most places, we recommend wearing suitable footwear. We had to assist some older ladies there because they wore smooth-soled trainers, and the ground was very slippery. It’s conveniently located near the open-air museums of Zelve and Paşabağları.
- 💵 Price: this is one of the free things to do in Cappadocia
- ⏰ Opening Hours: Open access
- 💡Wear suitable footwear, as there are areas where you might slip
7. Love Valley, curious places to go in Cappadocia
While the name ‘Love Valley’ might evoke romantic images, it actually refers directly to the shape of these rock formations (which bear a certain resemblance to the male anatomy). These natural structures, sculpted by erosion over thousands of years, present a unique spectacle, with some reaching up to 40 metres in height. It’s an essential Cappadocia must see, particularly for catching the sunrise and watching the balloons fly overhead. Do be prepared, though, for “Instagram points” around every corner.
- 💵 Price: Free
- ⏰ Opening Hours: Open access
- 💡Wear warm clothing if you’re going for sunrise, temperatures drop during the early hours
8. Pigeon Valley, Cappadocia Turkey attractions
For centuries, locals in the region have used pigeons and their droppings as a crucial source of fertiliser. As a result, you’ll find countless dovecotes carved into the rock, testifying to the significant role these birds played in the area’s agriculture. Entry is free, and the area is open all day. There’s a viewpoint offering panoramic views of the Uchisar Castle, surrounded by trees adorned with ‘evil eye’ charms that are very Instagram-worthy. The area also features several souvenir shops where you can haggle and pick up a lovely memento of your Cappadocia itinerary.
- 💵 Free Cappadocia (Turkey) tourist attractions
- ⏰ Opening Hours: Open access
9. Çavusin, Cappadocia sightseeing
The village of Çavusin is renowned for its houses and historic buildings directly carved into the rocks. The main attraction here is the ancient Church of Saint John the Baptist, dating back to the 5th century, offering panoramic views of the region. To be honest, we only drove past it, as having already visited Göreme, Zelve, and Pasabag, we felt a tad overwhelmed. This area is also known for its traditional ceramic shops. Here’s a photo to give you an idea of this sight to see in Cappadocia.
- 💵 Price: Free places to visit in Cappadocia, Turkey
- ⏰ Opening Hours: Open access
- 💡Wear suitable footwear; the ground can be slippery
10. Three Beauties Viewpoint, more fairy chimneys to see in Cappadocia
The Three Beauties Viewpoint is one of the spots to see in Urgup, being just a few minutes away by car. These three rock formations symbolise the region and the myths surrounding Cappadocia. Want to know the legend of the Three Beauties? Apparently, the fairy sultan’s daughter fell in love with a shepherd in Cappadocia, and they married and had a child. The fairy sultan, disapproving of the relationship, sent soldiers to separate them. The fairy daughter wished to not be separated from her family. Her wish was granted and they transformed into three fairy chimneys, staying together forever.
- 💵 Price: free
- ⏰ Hours: open access
From our perspective, it’s not the best viewpoint in Cappadocia. In fact, we found it quite dirty. However, if you’re passing by, you can come to see the Three Beauties up close as access by car is quick and easy.
11. Red Valley, best places in Cappadocia to enjoy the sunset
The Red Valley gets its name from the pink and reddish hue of its rocks, especially visible during sunset. It’s an ideal spot for hiking and enjoying the stunning panoramic views of Cappadocia. Many locals and visitors come here with their tables and chairs to have a picnic whilst watching the sunset. We brought some snacks, and it was a lovely moment.
- 💵 Car access fee: £0.50
- ⏰ Hours: from 8:00 to 18:00 every day
- 💡 Bring some snacks or drinks for the sunset and perhaps a blanket or sarong to lay on the ground and relax. As it’s a paid location, for just 50p you can enjoy a more relaxed sunset.
If you have one or two days to spend in this beautiful destination, save these places included in the local red tour Cappadocia itinerary. In fact, if we don’t count the Three Beauties viewpoint, that’s as far as our recommendations for the top 10 things to do in Cappadocia would go. In the same way, we know that the balloon ride isn’t for everyone and it’s typically done on the second day, at dawn. Keep in mind that you can easily spend two hours in many of the open-air museums. Now, let’s move on to some places included in the Cappadocia green tour itinerary, which we only recommend if you’re spending more than two days in this World Heritage Site.
12. Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, best things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey
There are two primary underground cities in Cappadocia: Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. Both are constructed several levels underground and served as refuges from invasions in ancient times. Kaymakli, which we visited, has 8 levels, of which 4 are open to the public. Here, you’ll find its storage areas, stables, ventilation tunnels, rooms, and even a church. Meanwhile, Derinkuyu is the deepest, reaching up to 85 metres below ground. It’s astounding to think that these cities could shelter thousands of people for months. We were recommended at the hotel to visit one of the two, as they are quite similar.
- 💵 Kaymakli and Derinkuyu underground city tickets: Approx. £8.50 per person and per city
- ⏰ Opening hours: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm every day
- 💡Not recommended for people with claustrophobia. I personally found it quite overwhelming seeing so many people underground navigating through caves and narrow passageways. Wear appropriate footwear as the ground can be slippery.
13. Hiking in Ihlara Valley, activities to do in Cappadocia
The Ihlara Valley is a stunning canyon with a river running through it, flanked by rock-cut churches and troglodyte settlements. With around 100 churches carved into the rocks and numerous walking trails, it’s a perfect spot for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and hikers. However, you should be aware that this Ihlara is just over an hour’s drive from Göreme and about 50 minutes from Kaymakli. Also, you’ll need to account for the time it takes to traverse its trails. Therefore, we’d only recommend it if you’re looking for the best things to do in Cappadocia over 3 days or more.
14. Selime Cathedral, best things to do in Cappadocia and its surroundings
You’ll find the Cathedral or Monastery of Selime at the end of the Ihlara Valley, about a 10-minute drive away. It’s the largest rock-hewn religious monument in Cappadocia, and despite being termed a “cathedral”, it never had a bishop. Inside, you can see frescoes and rooms carved directly into the rock. We didn’t get a chance to visit, as on the second day of our trip, we started with a balloon ride and were quite tired from the early morning start.
This marks the end of the famed green route. Next, we’ll mention some highlights from the blue tour or “Blue Tour”. These are sights to see in Cappadocia if you have 5 days or more, as they’re not the most prominent. Nevertheless, since we didn’t visit Ihlara Valley, we did make our way to Theodora Monastery.
Mustafapaşa is a charming village to visit in Cappadocia. Here you’ll find a blend of Greek and Ottoman architecture, cobbled streets, and old houses. It’s a less frequented stop, making it perfect for those seeking peace and a less touristy halt. However, we wouldn’t necessarily rank it among the must-sees in Cappadocia.
16. Theodora Monastery
Though in ruins, the Theodora Monastery still retains frescoes and Cappadocian architecture. Its elevated position offers panoramic views that complement the visit and history of the area. From here we filmed the end of our journey through Cappadocia, and you can catch it in our travel video soon. We had to pay a small local access fee, but we don’t recall the exact amount. While it might not be a must-see, it could be among the sights to explore in and around Cappadocia if you have extra time.
17. Ortahisar, more sights to see in Cappadocia
Ortahisar is known for its rock fortress, the largest in the region. This natural fortress, carved into a massive volcanic rock, has been used as a refuge and defence point since ancient times. Ortahisar maintains genuine charm, with narrow streets and traditional houses that seem to emerge from the rocks. Here, the atmosphere is calmer and less touristy, offering a more intimate experience. Additionally, we’ve read about its underground warehouses, where lemons and oranges are preserved during the winter. Despite being on the blue route, it’s very close to Göreme and offers sunsets like the one shown below.
Next, we share more activities to do in Cappadocia that you can explore if you have more days during your trip.
18. Avanos, another Cappadocian village to see
This quaint village is located on the banks of the Red River or Kızılırmak, the longest river in Turkey. It’s known for its ceramic and pottery workshops, where you can learn about the ancient art of shaping the river’s red clay. One of the sights in Avanos is its suspension bridge. You can also take a gondola ride along the river or savour a traditional meal overlooking the water. It’s a village with less international tourism, catering more to local visitors, and it’s quite peaceful. However, if you have time, it’s one of the places to visit in Cappadocia and is just a 15-minute drive from Göreme.
19. Watching the Hot Air Balloon Take-off in Cappadocia
If you’re not planning on taking a balloon ride, a great way to experience this activity up close is to head to the launch site and watch them fly. Another option is to stay in a hotel with a good rooftop to observe them soar at dawn. We woke up early to enjoy the spectacle, but if you want to savour this sight or you’re a photography enthusiast, note this location to enjoy views of the balloons.
20. Turkish Cuisine and Restaurants in Cappadocia
There’s no doubt that Turkish cuisine is one of the country’s main attractions, which is why we’d like to share some restaurants where you can dine in Cappadocia. As we stayed in Ürgüp, we didn’t get the chance to try restaurants in Göreme, but do consider these two wonderful options:
- Prokopi Restaurant, things to do in Cappadocia at night. Here we dined on one of the two nights with views over illuminated Ürgüp. We recommend the typical Turkish meze. Price per person approx. £25.
- Apetito Restaurant. They offered a sort of tasting menu with various traditional dishes for £25 per person. Both the service and the location were superb.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly restaurants in Cappadocia, we suggest heading to Avanos or Ortihasar, two less touristy towns.
Where to Stay in Cappadocia
There are three primary areas to stay in Cappadocia: Göreme, Ürgüp, and Uçhisar. The main sites to visit in Cappadocia are relatively close to each other by car (approx. 20 minutes or half an hour). Thus, if you have a rental car, you can choose practically any hotel in Cappadocia in these towns. As you might know, this region of Turkey is renowned for its cave hotels, as well as hotels with views to watch the balloons soar at dawn and/or dusk. Below, we share some recommendations and where we stayed ourselves.
Göreme is the most popular destination to stay in Cappadocia and, consequently, the most touristic. It’s known for its proximity to the main attractions. The hotel shown in the picture above is the Kayatas Cave Suites and is one of the options with a view. It has a rating of over 8.5 on Booking from more than 1,800 reviews. We encourage you to check it out, or you can explore other options below.
Ürgüp we believe is one of the best areas to stay in Cappadocia, perfect if you’re looking for a balance between convenience and distancing yourself slightly from the crowds. We stayed here, at the Aja Cappadocia Cave Hotel. The location was excellent, very well connected and close to things to do in Cappadocia. We always managed to park easily, the hotel staff were extremely friendly, and the Turkish breakfast was superb.
For those looking for more exclusive (and expensive) hotels in Cappadocia, Uçhisar is the ideal choice, as there are several boutique hotels here with panoramic views of the valley where the balloons fly. Here you’ll find the most luxurious hotel in Cappadocia: the Museum Hotel. It’s part of the Relais & Chateaux group and parts of its premises are within the historic ruins of one of the sites to visit in Cappadocia.
Lastly, you should know there are more places to stay in Cappadocia like Avanos and Ortahisar. These are perfect if you’re looking for less touristy accommodation in Cappadocia. If you wish to enjoy the culture and traditions of the region, Mustafapaşa will offer a more authentic view of Cappadocia. As you can see, each place has its own charm, and it all depends on your budget and your preferences for your Cappadocia holiday.
How to get around Cappadocia
The ideal way is to hire a car. As you’ve probably seen, there are many must-visit spots in Cappadocia, and relying on public transport or organised tours can be quite limiting if you’re only staying for a few days. Renting a car isn’t very expensive, and distances between each site are relatively short. Therefore, fuel costs won’t be very high. We spent around £100 for two days and filled up with £17 worth of petrol. You can see all car rental deals on this page, including from local companies. If you’d rather go with an organised group, consider this 2-day tour of Cappadocia.
How to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia, Turkey
One of the most frequent questions among travellers visiting Turkey is how to travel from Istanbul to Cappadocia? Most of us arrive in the country via one of Istanbul’s airports. By the way, if you’re still uncertain about places to see in this city, we discuss them in the article on best things to do in Istanbul. So, we’re sharing various ways to travel from Istanbul to Cappadocia, depending on the time and budget you have.
By plane, the quickest way to travel to Cappadocia
The quickest way to travel to Cappadocia is by plane, which is what we did. There are two main airports in Cappadocia: Kayseri Airport (ASR) and Nevşehir Airport (NAV). Nevşehir Airport is closer to Goreme, around 40 minutes away, which we chose. We flew with Turkish Airlines. The flight takes about an hour and 15 minutes, and upon arrival, you can hire a car or book a transfer service. You can check the transfer prices on this page, with a one-way journey costing around £45 (2023).
By bus, the most economical option to reach Cappadocia
How to reach Cappadocia, Turkey, without breaking the bank? The bus is a more affordable alternative. The journey lasts about 10-12 hours, but Turkish buses are quite comfortable and offer amenities like Wi-Fi and snacks. Several companies operate night routes, allowing you to save on accommodation and make the most of your time.
Travelling to Cappadocia by Car
If you’re seeking advice on how to travel from Istanbul to Cappadocia with the flexibility to make stops, then hiring a car is ideal. The distance is approximately 730 km and it will take you about 8-10 hours, depending on the stops you make. Even though it’s a longer journey, this option gives you the chance to discover other places like Cappadocia to Pamukkale or Ephesus, other must-visits in Turkey. However, this is only feasible for those who have more time to explore the country.
Hot Air Baloon & Cappadocia Package or Organised Tours
For those who prefer a hassle-free experience without hidden costs, there are numerous organised tours that include transportation from Istanbul to Cappadocia. This option typically includes accommodation, some meals, and excursions to the main attractions. Here are some organised tours for your trip to Cappadocia:
In summary, how to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia depends on your budget, time, and personal preferences. Whether you choose air, road, or an organised tour, Cappadocia awaits you with its charm and mystery.
Video of the best things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey
If you don’t feel like reading our entire Cappadocia and Turkey travel guide, we have a summary video of the places to visit in Cappadocia in 2 days based on our itinerary. The video also includes restaurants, prices of tourist sites, and tips for your trip. You can find this video and all our Turkey trip videos on our YouTube channel. The video is available in Spanish, but you can see images of all the sights we visited.
5% discount on your travel insurance for Cappadocia and Turkey
Whenever we travel outside of the European Union, we recommend getting travel insurance that covers potential medical expenses, accidents, flight delays, baggage damages. The travel insurance company we book with is IATI, and we’ve secured a 5% discount for all our readers on all policies. In this case, if you’re also going for the balloon ride, we recommend IATI Backpacker, as it covers these types of risk activities. You can calculate the price based on the number of days, with the discount included, at this link.
5% discount on your unlimited data eSIM in Turkey
Lastly, if your phone provider doesn’t have roaming, we invite you to check out the unlimited data plans offered by Holafly in Turkey. Holafly offers eSIMs with unlimited data in virtually every destination, and they’re super convenient and easy to use. Exploring Cappadocia on your own is a fantastic idea, but we believe it’s essential to have data during your trip to use translators, view maps, check attraction timings, find restaurants, etc. We also have a 5% discount for you on any plan and any destination. The discount will be applied at the end of the booking. You can see all the plans and prices here.
We hope our contributions have been helpful. If you still have questions, leave us a comment. Safe travels!
We are Ruth & Jorge, Gran Canarians with a travelling soul. Experts in tourism and digital marketing. We share the most authentic side of Gran Canaria (where we live) and… our adventures around the world!