When you ask someone about Cappadocia, the very first answer will be the hot air ballon ride. I have been visiting Cappadocia since 2006 and I can assure you that there are a lot of things to do in Cappadocia other than hot air ballooning.
For me it is the most magical place in Turkey and It is a must -visit place with İstanbul in Turkey. It has everything to be a magical place with history, art, fairy chimneys, magnificinet sunsets-sunrises, cave hotels, delicious wines and pottery workshops. If you are an admirer of culture, art and history then you are at the right place.
In this article I will mention about top 7 things to do in cappadocia other than hot air ballooning. with best places to stay.
Where is Cappadocia located in Turkey?
Cappadocia is located in the Center of Turkey. İt is 3 hour away from capital city-ankara. The region is also known as central anatolian region. This region is surrounded by high mountains which makes it magical also. These mountains were once volcanos which was one of the factors creating the fairy chimneys.
How to go to Cappadocia?
The best way is to fly from İstanbul to Nevşehir Airport. (NAV). The flight takes 1 hour averagely. You can fly by Turkish Airlines or Pegasus. They both have often flights from İstanbul. You can rent a car in the Nevşehir airport. You have to rent a car to travel all the region since the valleys and historical sites are far from each other.
Other way is to go by bus from istanbul or with a guided Tour. Guidded tours would be sensible since you could learn a lot of information from the guides.
Museum Pass Cappadocia
There are a lot of museums in the region so it is better to purchase a museum card during your stay. You can buy a museum pass for 400 TL FOR THREE DAYS. You can visit Göreme Open Air museum, zelve site , ıhlara valley and Derinkuyu underground city with your museum Pass.
The best time to visit Cappadocia
Fall and spring is the best time for visiting Cappadocia since summer period is pretty hot and it would be very hard to walk around the valleys and open air museums. Suppose that you are wandering around Rome during August. But fall time is the best with the mild weather at daytime.
How to get Around Cappadocia
As I visited Cappadocia many times before, Public transportation in Cappadocia is not convenient and practical. You can get more freedom with a car. For example Derinkuyu underground city is like 1 hour away from main attractions with car. but ıt would take like 2 hours with a bus. İf you wonder the price of renting, You can expect between 15 dollars to 80 dollars a day typically for renting a car.
There are mainly two options for getting around cappadocia other than renting a car. First one is attending the guided tours which can be arranged through the hotel you stay. (There are the red, green or blue group tours for sightseeing in Cappadocia ) Final one is the renting a scooter or ATV. If you wonder my thought I would opt for renting a car. Because car always gives you freedom. some of the car renting firms are ürgüprentacar.
The best things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey
The region offers a lot of different activities other than hot air ballooning in Cappadocia. I will mention the most attractive activities one by one. 2 Night Stay is enough for visiting most important places of Capadoccia.
1-Goreme Open Air Museum
Göreme Open air museum should be the first place to see because it is the UNESCO world heritage site since 1984 and as far a s I know that it is one of the first places to get this label. Göreme open air museum is important because it has colorful frescoes and ornaments ( protected well) dating back 4 th century when the first Christians and monks lived here. Here, I should mention that first Christians lived in Cappadocia because they were hiding from Romans and the geography of Cappadocia allowed them to hide in caves and underground cities. This fact also makes Cappadocia an misery place. Monastery life was very prevalent here so there are a lot of churches and monasteries carved into the rocks. İt is a different experience to see churches inside the carved rocks and at most times you should climb through ladders to see the churches in Göreme.
St. Basil Chapel, St. Barbara Chapel, Apple Church, St. Catherina Chapel, Snake Church, Dark (Karanlık) Church, Buckle Church stery are some of the churches you can visit in Goreme Open Air Museum.
2-Walk in the Valleys (Especially Zelve Valley and monks valley)
I suggest you to visit Zelve valley after Göreme musum. Zelve is also home to a lot of churches and monasteries. What makes zelve museum different from Görem museum is that there are cave apartments or rooms which was used until 1950’s. Therefore it represents more contemporary times than göreme open air museum.
For me it is very exciting to walk inside this valley as you sometimes climb and sometimes pass through narrow passages. I advise to wear your outdoor shoes for zelve museum. You can see here Turkey’s only cave mosque carved into the rocks and a village square which was used until 1950’s.
3-Explore Derin kuyu Underground City
There are 36 underground cities in Cappadocia. Derinkuyu is known as the biggest one. Derinkuyu dates back to 3000 BC. In roman times first Christians lived here to hide from romans. The underground city can host 50.000 people at the same time and it consists of 8 floors. They say it has more 6 floors undiscovered. What amazes me most that it has an amazing ventilation system which can provide oxygen for all the floors. Besides, there is a church, kitchen, school, warehouses and even a mental hospital and rooms.
Derinkuyu is 30 km away from Cappadocia region, but it is really worth visiting there.
4-Avanos and Pottery Workshops
Avanos is a town located near the Kızılırmak River, and it’s a place where there is a lot of workshops on how to make pottery. Ceramics have been a traditional handicraft in Avanos since Hittite periods. (2000-1500 BC)
There are masters at making potteries here and they are called as ”chez” the most famous one is “chezgalip”. People generally visit these workshops and watch the process of making pottery or if they are craftsy they can make pottery. I suggest you to visit Chez Galip since his knowledge stems from his father and family who has been doing this art for centuries.
One of the most popular ceramics sold in Chez galip is hittite sun jug and it represents the sun god of Hittites. It was used as wine jug in the Hitites.
Where Is The Pottery Workshop ?
Chez Galip‘s ceramic atelier is located in a hill just outside of the town Avanos. As I mentioned earlier if you rent a car it will always be easy to travel around Cappadocia.
Address: Yeni Mahalle Kızılırmak Caddesi. 401. Sok. No:91 Avanos Nevsehir
5-Wine Tasting and wine Making Workshops
Another popular activity in cappadıcia is attending workshops of wine making. There are two main wine companies which are turasan and Kocabağ. However Turasan is better with regard to prices and Turasan Öküzgözü-Boğazkere red wine is my favaourite one and I always prefer to buy it.
6-Stay At Cave Hotels
In order to feel the magic of the atmosphere it would be better to stay in a cave hotel. The cave rooms include jacuzzi and panoramic balconies overlooking the amazing landscape of the city. What I like most is the amazing breakfast with the panaromic view of the valleys from top.
On our last travel to Cappadocia we stayed at düvenhotel which is located near Uçhisar Caastle.The view of the hotel is amazing as it is next to the castle.
This is the place I just went and stayed in a hotel located on my last travel to Cappadocia. Uçhisar town and castle is known as the top of the Capadocia. If you want to get a view of all cappadocia then this is the exact place for your goals. Especially you should come here at the sunset time. Also if you are brave enough you can climb up to the top of the castle. But I have to warn you that castle is quite slippery and sharp. Besides, there are cafes you can drink hot wine and enjoy the magnificent view.