Travel guide: Five days in Cappadocia, Turkey

A place we have wanted to go to for years because of the fantastic landscape and of course the famous hot air balloons: Cappadocia. At the beginning of October, we were in Göreme for five days, in the heart of Cappadocia. In this travel guide, I’ll tell you exactly what we did during these five days in Cappadocia!


Day 1 arrival Cappadocia | hike to the Rose Valley during sunset

After a short flight, we land at Nevsehir airport. When we are on the shuttle bus for half an hour, we see Göreme looming in in the valley. The city is surrounded by whimsical rocks and valleys with beautiful peaks in different colours. It’s awesome to be here right now! For the next five days, Göreme, the centre of Cappadocia, will be our base from which we will explore this entire area!

We drop our stuff in our hotel, change clothes and stand in the first valley within ten minutes. Just before sunset, we take a short hike to a viewpoint over the Rose Valley. Via small roads, between and sometimes over the rocks, we climb up. Once at the lookout point we soon find out that we are not the only one. This place is very popular, there are hundreds of tourists on quads. That is the downside of beautiful places like this: the beauty of Cappadocia has been discovered in recent years by mass tourism and you can tell that here! Prices rise sharply each year. For example, in 2017 a hot air balloon flight cost around 100 Euro and nowadays, they sell for around 250 (depending on the season). However, if you are prepared to walk a little bit further, you have an awesome view, (almost)solely for yourself. So, that is what we did, we walk a few hundred meters away from the crowd, and we have plenty of time to enjoy the sun setting over the cone-shaped rocks.

Cappadocia

Alternative: horse riding during sunset from € 55

Would you prefer to experience the sunset in a different way? Then consider horse riding through the valley. At a leisurely pace or with a bit more speed (depending on your level) you will visit different valleys and you slowly see the sky turning red with the setting sun. Click here for more information.

Day 2 Cappadocia | hiking the Zemi Valley, the Iceri Dere Valley and the Pigeon Valley

We sleep in a bit because we know that today no hot-air balloons are taking off. During a large breakfast, we find out what we will do today. Ries has done most of the research for Cappadocia and he soon comes up with a hike that he would like to do. And so a little later we are at the start of the Zemi Valley, a beautiful valley of almost 6 kilometres long.

We soon find out what the best way is to avoid mass tourism here in Cappadocia: hiking. We have the entire valley to ourselves! We are surrounded by fairy chimney, sometimes the path runs through a cave, then again we have to climb over the rocks via a sandy path. Walking among wild apple and pear trees and grapevines grow around us. Of course, I can’t help but taste a few. It really feels a bit like we are in a fairy tale.

Cappadocia

Pigeon valley

When we reach the end of the valley, we climb up and walk to the next valley, the Iceri Dere Valley. This runs parallel to the Zemi Valley and the Pigeon Valley. This time we are not walking in the valley, but above it, so the view is completely different. We pass pumpkin fields and vineyards while tens of meters below us, the endless rocks are clearly visible.

We end our hike in the Pigeon Valley, my favorite valley with hundreds of “fairy chimneys”: rocks in the shape of a chimney (or something else you could see in it ;-)). The valley owes its name to the pigeon houses that are carved into the rocks. In the past, pigeon poop was used to keep the soil fertile.

Pigeon Valley Cappadocia

Turkish pizza

In the evening, I eat Turkish pizza for the first time in my life: delicious! Tired after the 20-kilometre walk we fall asleep as soon as we get to the hotel. The alarm clock for the following morning is set at 5.25 a.m.

Day 3 Cappadocia | Hot air balloons, the Swords Valley, the Red Valley and the Rose Valley

Sleepily I follow Ries. It’s 5.45 am and we are on our way to a viewpoint in the Love Valley from where we will try to spot the balloons. Fingers crossed that they will take off, if the wind force suddenly changes, the balloon flights can be cancelled right up to the last minute. But we are lucky, in the distance, we can already hear and see the first dots above the horizon. Soon the entire air is filled with hundreds of balloons, a magical view!

Click here to read the blog in which we describe nine cool locations to spot the hot air balloons at sunrise!

Hot Air Balloons in Göreme Cappadocia

In the afternoon we make a nice hike through the Swords Valley, the Red Valley and the Rose Valley. We pass all kinds of churches carved into the rocks. Taking a break with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice at a tea house and then we continue climbing. I think the view above the Swords Valley is the most beautiful: we overlook a small vineyard with a church carved into the rocks in the middle, a wonderful sight.

Swords Valley Cappadocia

Cappadocia rock churches

Alternative: make a hot air balloon ride | from € 260

Instead of just looking at the balloons, you can of course also make a balloon flight yourself. You’ll be picked up early in the morning at your hotel, get breakfast and tea or coffee while you watch the balloons inflate. You then ascend and float above a fairy-tale landscape that is illuminated by the rising sun. After an hour you will descend and a glass of champagne is waiting for you. Click here for more information.

Hot Air balloons Cappadocia

Day 4 Cappadocia Roof terraces, Cavusin castle and Uçhisar Castle

Today, we try our luck at one of the many hotels with roof terraces in Göreme. From here you also have a nice view of the balloons. Unfortunately, only guests are welcome at all roof terraces and we are not. But it’s nice to peek in at all those beautiful hotels. And because the balloons are not allowed to take off, it’s fortunately not a missed opportunity.

After breakfast, we crawl back into bed. Getting up at 05.20 is great if you can doze up for an hour later in the day.

rooftopterrace Cappadocia

The Love Valley

Completely fresh and fruity, we start a new hike in the afternoon. This leads us to the castle of Cavusin and then via the Love Valley (named after the shapes of the rocks) to the castle of Uçhisar. Both castles are centuries old and carved into the rocks. These Byzantine buildings were once used by the locals to live in and use as a shelter when there were hostile attacks from other villages. Due to erosion of the volcanic stone, many of the rooms and tunnels are no longer accessible or even visible. Yet it is cool to see these castles and especially from the top of the Uçhisar castle you have a nice view.

Castle cappadocia

Love Valley Cappadocia

Alternative: the red, green or blue tour | € 32-50

Don’t feel like hiking all day? You can consider making one of the three available day-tours. With a group of other tourists, you will drive to another part of Cappadocia where you will visit an underground city, drive past churches, visit a pottery factory or take a short walk in the Devrent valley. You are in for a whole day, transport and lunch will be arranged for you. Click here for more information about the red tour, here about the green tour and here about the blue tour.

Day 5 Cappadocia Hot-air balloons, exploring Göreme and the Open Air museum

Also today we try to see the hot air balloons, this time from Pigeon Valley, a bit further away so we get up even earlier. Fortunately, they can take off and it is so cool to see again.

Are you looking for the best spots to spot the balloons? Then read the article here that we wrote with nine different viewpoints.

Hot air balloons cappadocia

In the afternoon we take it easy, the previous days we have walked more than 20 kilometres a day so today we will stay in Göreme. We stroll around, look at the souvenir shops and have a coffee at the tourist hotspot Kafedocia. At the end of the afternoon, we walk to the Open Air Museum, on the outskirts of Göreme. Here are all beautiful rock churches. Their interior is the most beautiful: the Byzantine frescoes have been well preserved in many churches. A tour by a guide would also have been nice here, this would have given more background information on the churches. Click here for more information about tours in the Open Air Museum in Göreme.

Eating out in Cappadocia

We conclude our last evening in Cappadocia with a delicious meal at Topdeck Cave restaurant. We order a large plate of mezze (Turkish tapas) and a glass of wine from Cappadocia. Ries drinks red, I try the white wine, both taste surprisingly good! A nice end to our wonderful time in Cappadocia.

Topdeck Restaurant Cappadocia


Best hotels in Göreme – Cappadocia

We stayed in the village of Göreme, a place in the middle of the Cappadocia National Park. It is also called the centre of Cappadocia and that’s not so strange seeing the number of tourists. Göreme was the perfect location for us because it is within walking distance of many activities and it’s right in the middle of the national park. If you are looking for a quieter place, I would suggest going to the surrounding villages.

We slept in hotel Gordis Evi, a budget hotel in the middle of the city centre. The breakfast was good but the rooms look pretty run down. The springs of the mattress were a bit too palpable, so I wouldn’t highly recommend this. Fortunately, we also visited a number of other hotels:

Sultan Cave suites $$$

Sultan Cave Hotel

This super luxury hotel has the very best rooftop terrace in all of Göreme. Perfect to see the hot balloons take off from! A double room costs €100, including breakfast.

Book now

Henna Konak €€

Henna Konak Hotel

This fine hotel, built in a cave, is located right in the center of Göreme. It has a rooftop terrace, good breakfast, and free Wi-Fi. A double room costs €72 including breakfast.

Book now

Ali’s Guesthouse €

Ali's Guesthouse

This guest house has both dorms and private rooms. This too is built in a cave. It is very central located. A double room costs €30, including breakfast.

Book now


What are nice (budget) restaurants in Göreme?

Topdeck Cave Restaurant

On our last evening, we ate at this restaurant. Highly recommended! You sit on the floor, the decor is nice but the food really is the best, it’s so delicious! We paid for two people including wine 125 TL (20 euros).

Cafe Safak

This authentic family restaurant is located on the main street. It is perfect for a simple yet very good meal. I took the lentil soup here (super tasty) and Ries had a Kebab sandwich. A main course here costs +/- 19 TL (3 euros). The Google Maps location of this place is not correct, so check Tripadvisor.

Firin Express

The best Turkish Pizzas are made at Firin Express. This funny restaurant is the place to be when traveling on a budget, a Turkish Pizza costs only 15 TL (2 euros) and is so delicious!

Topdeck Restaurant


How many days do you spend in Cappadocia?

We stayed in Cappadocia for five nights and I can recommend that to you too! For example, there is a good chance that you can spot the hot air balloons or make a balloon ride yourself, and you will have time to visit different villages or do hikes. Stay at least three nights in Cappadocia. A shorter stay means that you have to hurry and the chance of seeing / flying a balloon is small.

Do you need a car in Cappadocia? (Transport in Cappadocia)

In advance, we were under the impression that we had to rent a car or do a bus tour to see the highlights of Cappadocia. However, this was not necessary at all. If you stay in the village of Göreme and you enjoy walking, there are a lot of fun activities within walking distance of the Göreme. In addition, you can easily reach the surrounding villages by bus or taxi (a taxi between Uçhisar and Göreme costs 30TL).

On the other hand, a car offers you more freedom and you are not dependent on bus or taxi transport. If you decide to rent a car, do so directly at the airport or in villages outside Göreme. In Göreme itself you pay the main price for car rental. Also funny: you can all rent old vintage cars in Cappadocia.

Vintage car Cappadocia

Airports around Cappadocia

Cappadocia does not have its own airport, but there are two airports nearby.


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What to do in five days in Cappadocia Turkey? Travel guide Cappadocia


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