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Things to Do in Cappadocia: A Cappadocia Travel Guide


A history as remarkable as its landscape, the Cappadocia region in Turkey is definitely the most magnificent place I have ever traveled. If you haven't visited it already, Cappadocia with its whimsical fairy chimneys, warren-like underground cities, and peculiar rock formations should be on the top of your list of places to travel!
Cappadocia Travel Guide - things to go in Cappadocia  - Vegan Travel Guide - Best Places to Travel in Turkey
Cappadocia Cave Hotel  - Vegan Travel Guide - Things to do in Cappadocia Turkey Holidays
A holiday in this beautiful city of ancient charm and unusual rock formations is a great experience. The moment you will land in this beautiful region, you will be enchanted by its dramatic landscape and strange beauty. It's almost like stepping in a different {fairy-talish} world. The sheer beauty of this geographical wonderland is hard to explain in words, you need to experience it yourself.

Endowed with an endless list of breathtaking attractions, the Cappadocia region of Turkey, also known as the city of caves, offers an exotic and invigorating vacation. It is made up of many charming villages and towns, all a few hours or minutes away from each other. We stayed in the region's epicenter called Göreme. While many Turkey travel guides recommended avoiding this touristy town, we loved it for its charm, ease of accessibility and breathtaking views.

To be honest, I was only first introduced to this city through Instagram posts, and the pictures of hot air balloons against the city's remarkable landscape was enough to add Cappadocia to our short trip to Turkey. But oh boy, I was so wrong about Cappadocia. While I am sure the sight of the balloons would be remarkable, but even without that this place is something unexpected and its beauty and uniqueness is beyond words.

Steeped in history, Cappadocia, Kapadokya' in Turkish, has in store countless surprises and mystique treats. For starters, its distinctive “fairy chimneys,” tall, cone-shaped rock formations, which were formed due to intense volcanic activity and erosion, makes it an Instagram wonderland. The geological process that gives Cappadocia its unique landscape, started millions of years ago. The region was blanketed in thick ash due to volcanic eruptions, which later solidified into a soft rock called tuff. Later, human hands performed equally incredible work here by digging the tuff to create dwellings, monasteries, churches and even the famous underground cities you see today. To think of how nature despite all the harshness its put through ends up with such wonders gives ''food for thought'' on how can we shape our lives.

Our impromptu weekend trip to Cappadocia is definitely one of my favorite holidays, that left me in awe. With just 2-days in hand, we made sure to make the most of our trip. Here is a guide to the things to do and must-visit places to see in Cappadocia.

Things to do in Cappadocia

Take a private or group tour

Touring the beautiful valleys of Cappadocia with a rented motorbike or a group tour is a great way to explore this magnificent region. It's better to either take a private guide or do a guided tour so can learn more about the history of the place and don't get lost, as the phone reception is very poor in the countryside.
Cappadocia Tour - ATV Tour - Things to do in Cappadocia
We arrived late afternoon in Cappadocia and on our way to the hotel, were recommended by a group of young guys to book a quad-bike tour for the evening. I love adventure and was almost immediately sold on the idea. We searched online for a tour and booked it.

After settling down in the hotel, and having our meals, we were picked up from the hotel early evening and taken to the spot from where the tour starts. This 2-hour evening tour on an ATV, took us through the valleys, riding off-road in a group of almost 20-people. The ride was very dusty and a messy affair - the two things I almost absolutely loathe - but the experience was worth it. The tour started with the Cavusin cave village followed by Rose Valley.
Love Valley Cappadocia - Places to see in Cappadocia
The last spot of the tour was the beautiful Love Valley - a picturesque wonderland with tall unusual shaped pillars, also known as fairytale-chimneys. These pillars are simply the result of ancient volcanic eruptions.

From there we were taken back to the quad bike station and then the hotel. The thrill of the ride, the landscapes, and the whole experience were completely enthralling especially for a first-time quad-bike rider like me. If you like adventure then try a quad bike sunset tour.

There are many ATV tour operators in Göreme, you can find and book one online.

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Flight

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride - Things to do in Cappadocia - Places to see in Turkey
Image source (since we didn't get a chance to see the hot air balloon during our stay, I had to get a picture from another source to show a glimpse of what it looks like)

Apart from its unique landscape, Cappadocia is also famous for its hot air balloons that turns this beautiful city into a real-life fairyland.

Watching the hot air balloons from the ground is even better than being on one, most people say. So if you are lucky, you can experience the beautiful sight of colorful balloons floating above the fairy chimneys and dotting the lunar landscape. You can watch it from the terrace of your cave hotel for the best view.

However, I would like to give a word of caution - don't make Cappadocia all about {the Instagram-famous} hot air balloon, because this marvelous place is much more than that. Besides, if the weather will not permit you may not even get to experience the balloon flight (like us). So save yourself from the disappointment.

There are many companies that offer the opportunity to soak in the breathtaking views of the city from the sky. We were recommended Butterfly Balloon Company by almost everyone for their quality and safety record. Super excited, we booked ourselves for the next morning flight with them.

On the morning, we were collected by a minibus at 4am from our hotel and taken to the balloon company’s office in Göreme. We were directed to a communal area for a light breakfast of fresh fruits, coffee and pastries (not vegan). After having our feast of fruit breakfast, especially the delicious cherries, we waited to be taken to the launching pad. But unfortunately, after a long wait, at around 6am, the Civil Aviation Authority canceled all the flights due to the strong winds that make it unsafe to fly.

Fortunately, we were refunded the full amount and were offered to drop back to the hotel, which we declined and decided to walk back instead. That brings me to the next point.

Exploring the town on foot and shopping

Things to Do in Cappadocia - Vegan Turkey Travel - Cappadocia Travel Guide
Taking a stroll is a great way to explore and get acquainted with the beautiful town of Göreme. At 6am, we started our own tour of the city on foot, wandering around taking photos of this picturesque town, admiring its uniqueness with its beautiful cave structures and the cobbled streets. Don't forget to visit Göreme Open Air Museum.

Also, Cappadocia has one of the most beautiful sunrises in the world, which should definitely not be missed at all costs.
Shopping in Cappadocia - Things to do in Cappadocia
Later we headed out for exploring the Cappadocia market and discovered beautiful Turkish handicrafts including the famous Turkish towels, handcrafted rugs, intricate ceramicware, and pottery.

Be Blown Away By The Underground Cities

Cappadocia Holiday - Vegan Travel Guide - Must Visit Best Places to Travel in Turkey - Underground Citites in Cappadocia
Beneath Cappadocia's cave houses and rock formations are around 30 underground cities and over a thousand rock-hewn churches dating back to 1800BC. The most popular is Derinkuyu, the largest excavated underground city in Turkey, with a depth of approximately 60m. Almost 17,000 people lived in Derinkuyu and 10,000 in each other underground city permanently. These cities helped them to escape the harsh winter and wild animals. With almost 8 floors underground housing everything from bedrooms, storage rooms, ventilation shafts, wineries, school and even a church, each of these cities is meticulously planned and is an architectural masterpiece. 

Stay in a cave hotel

Cappadocia Cave Hotel - Best cave hotels - Vegan travel Cappadocia Turkey Holiday
Cappadocia is full of beautiful boutique-style cave hotels. Checking-in into one of these signature cave hotels is mandatory for a true Cappadocia experience.

Where to stay in Cappadocia is a big question. Since our trip was planned last moment, we didn't have many choices left among the cave hotels. We picked the Mithra Cave Hotel in Göreme and fell in love with the place. This romantic cave hotel is set on the top of Aydinli Hill and has an incredible view of the city, in addition to vegan-friendly breakfast and beautiful rooms that blend into natural contours of the cave and are decorated in traditional Anatolian style. We picked this hotel for its magnificent unobstructed view of the morning hot air balloons, but unfortunately, during our stay in Cappadocia, the weather did not permit the balloon flight.

The Instagram-famous Sultan Caves Suites Hotel, right next door is also a beautiful hotel in Göreme, and gives a more luxurious experience. However, you need to book in advance as they are often sold out in the peak season.

Don't leave without visiting the Pigeon Valley & Monk Valley

Cappadocia Travel - Things to do in Cappadocia - Must Visit Turkey
Make sure to visit the Pigeon Valley, which has the famous wishing tree with hundreds of blue Turkish evil eye beads and a surreal landscape of thousands of conical formations housing dovecotes behind rock faces to accommodate pigeons. 
Cappadocia Things to Do - Monk Valley Vegan Travel Guide - Best Places to Travel in Turkey - Vegan Blogger

The other must-visit places in Cappadocia is the Paşabağ Valley, also known as the Monk Valley, which is just a few kilometers outside of Göreme. While you would think you've already seen plenty of fairy chimneys by now, but this place will blow your mind away - and of course, is totally Instagram worthy. The Monk Valley contains some of the most striking mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys in Cappadocia with twin and even triple rock caps. This style is unique even for Cappadocia.

Where to eat in Cappadocia: Vegan Food Guide?

As a vegan who follows a strict Jain diet, I only eat in kitchens that serve no meat or fish. Unfortunately, Cappadocia had no vegetarian or vegan restaurant. However, they have an abundant supply of fruits - cherries, watermelon, berries, and apricots to name a few, yummiest olives, and you can find fresh fruit juices in town. Plus, I almost always carry backup meals because I know I can land in a place with no veggie restaurants in town.

Having said that, for others who are not particular about eating from a veggie kitchen, you will have plenty of vegan food options in Cappadocia, as many classic Turkish dishes (like hummus and pita bread) are vegan-friendly or can be easily customized vegan. There are restaurants like Organic Cave Kitchen, Omurca Art Cave Cafe, and Pumpkin, which are very vegan-friendly and would also give you a taste of authentic Turkish cuisine too.

How to get to Cappadocia

If you are traveling from Istanbul, the easiest way is to take a flight. Cappadocia region has two airports - Nevşehir-Kapadokya Airport and Kayseri's Erkilet Airport. We landed at the Kayseri airport and were taken to the hotel from there on a pre-booked shuttle.You can also take the bus, but it is a 12-hours journey.

Before you land in Cappadocia, make sure to book your transport from the airport to the hotel. Most hotels offer a shuttle pick-up service for an additional charge and there are private services too.

As for visas, Turkey offers a very easy e-Visa service, through which you almost immediately get the visa if you qualify for the same and provide the mandatory documents.

Getting around Cappadocia

Public transport is almost non-existent in Cappadocia, and finding cabs is not always an easy affair. The easiest is to rent your own car or hire a car with driver (the best option). Renting a motorbike is also a good option.

Hiring a Photographer in Cappadocia

Getting a local photographer to click some pictures at some of the most breathtaking spots of Cappadocia is a great idea. Finding one, on the other hand, can be a challenging task. To make things easier, I have put together a list of some good photographers in Cappadocia for your blog, pre-wedding shoot, or a shoot for your family album. Here's the list:

No visit to Turkey is complete without exploring the magnificent Cappadocia. It was like no other place on earth and if it is not already on your bucket list, make sure to add it!

Both summer and winter is a great time to visit Cappadocia, as watching this place turn into a snow-clad wonderland is quite an experience in itself. However, if the cold weather is not for you, summer is a great time to visit. We visited in May and it was a good time to travel in this region. However, it is also the peak tourist season, so can be somewhat crowded.

Two days are not enough to explore the vast beauty of this magical place on earth, and I almost regretted keeping it short. However, it was an impromptu trip and I'm definitely going to visit Cappadocia again soon! Perhaps this time in winters.

If you are planning a trip to Turkey, we advice keeping atleast 3-nights in Cappadocia. 
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