19 Best Things to Do in Cappadocia 

Photo of author

Cappadocia is one of the most beautiful regions in Turkey, filled with unique rock formations, incredible scenery, and ample historical sites to visit. While the area is famous for hot air balloon rides, there are quite a few things to do in Cappadocia for varying interests. 

We’ve compiled a list of the 19 best things to do in Cappadocia, from exploring underground city tunnels to enjoying regional food specialties. Below, you’ll find many reasons why Cappadocia is worth visiting and what items to add to your itinerary. 

Where is Cappadocia in Turkey? 

Cappadocia lies in the center of Turkey, in the heart of Anatolia, and spans about 5,000 km. This region of Cappadocia houses multiple provinces, including Kayseri, Kırşehir, and Aksaray. You’ll find this region near the Kayseri Airport. 

Best Things to Do in Cappadocia

Below, you’ll find 19 of Cappadocia’s best things to do. These activities range from kid-friendly to adventurous, so there’s something that every traveler can enjoy while visiting Cappadocia in Turkey.

1. Sunrise Hot Air Balloons

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons
Image Credit: Adventurefolio.com

One of the top things to do in Cappadocia is ride the hot air balloons drifting through the sky at sunrise. These colorful balloons are a must-see while traveling to Cappadocia in Turkey. The Cappadocia hot air balloon rides are available year-round, so you can book them regardless of when you’re visiting. Expect an early wake-up call for this activity around 4 am, as you’ll have a light breakfast before the hot air balloon rides as the sun rises. The balloon ride is about an hour long and a magical experience for your trip. 

2. Zelve Open Air Museum 

Cappadocia Fairy Chimneys
Image Credit: Adventurefolio.com

The Zelve Open Air Museum in Cappadocia is another kid-friendly activity, as it offers visitors the opportunity to climb and explore cave churches and outdoor spaces. This UNESCO World Heritage Site (also known as Zelve Valley) features the famed fairy chimneys, churches, monasteries, and tunnels. It was once used as a monastery and seminary, though it is no longer inhabited.

3. Pasabag Valley

Pasabag Valley, also known as Pasabag Valley, is one of Cappadocia’s most popular and well-known attractions. It houses the fairy chimneys and cave churches from the monks who once practiced here. This attraction is an excellent stop on the way to the Zelve Open Air Museum.

4. Hike Red Valley & Watch the Sunset

Red Valley Cappadocia
Image Credit: Adventurefolio.com

Red Valley is spectacular during the day but even more picturesque as the sun sets. During this time, the ridges offer a pretty red glow, creating a beautiful spot for photography. Hiking allows you to see the scenery shift at sunset. If you don’t want to hike, you can also drive to the viewpoint to catch the sunset. 

Note: Additional hiking trails can be found in Pigeon Valley and Rose Valley.

5. Visit Cavusin Church & Castle

Cavusin is a small village in the Nevsehir Province in Cappadocia. This village has a few main sites to explore – the Cavusin Church and Cavusin Castle. The castle is built into the side of a mountain and can be explored via a climb/hike to the top. The Cavusin Church was once a pigeon house, though not since the 1900s. It contains many frescoes on its interior walls that are worth checking out.

6. Watch the Sunrise at Love Valley

Find multiple hiking trails running through Love Valley, named for its naturally occurring rocks. These routes range in length, though they are primarily short and easy. With the various tall rock formations, viewing the sunrise at Love Valley is a spectacular sight. Alternatively, you can drive or take a taxi to catch the sunrise over the valley.

7. Sunset at Uchisar Castle

Uchisar Castle
Image Credit: Adventurefolio.com

This stunning castle is the highest point in the region, offering panoramic views of the region’s landscape. These views make it one of the best locations for viewing the sunset. You’ll need to climb a few hundred steps to reach the top of the castle and pay a small entrance fee. However, the views of Goreme, nearby rock formations, and the valley are worth the trip.

8. Sunset Horseback Riding

Multiple locations throughout Cappadocia feature horseback riding trails. Many of the tours will take you through the fairy chimneys and valley for exquisite views of the sun setting over the landscape. Horseback riding is an excellent option if you don’t want to hike or drive for sunset views.

9. Hike Ihlara Valley

Ihlara Valley
Image Credit: Adventurefolio.com

Ihlara Valley lies between Mount Hasan and Mount Melendiz. The Melendiz River has created this beautiful gorge over the past few thousand years. Many people head to Ihlara Valley to hike the trail that runs through it. The entire trail runs 14km, and you can walk all or part of the trail. Along the hike, you’ll see churches, monasteries, rock formations, and pretty nature views. This hike can be done with a tour or independently. 

10. Kaymakli Underground City 

Kaymakli underground city
Image Credit: Adventurefolio.com

Considered the widest underground city in Cappadocia, the Kaymakli Underground City is a must-see. It has been inhabited by various groups through the years, including early Christians and the Byzantines. Each group who resided in the underground city added their own touch to the city, creating a unique attraction. You can explore the stables, church, kitchens, and chambers of the underground city. 

11. Eat the Testi Kebab (Pottery Kebab)

One of Cappadocia’s regional specialties is the testi kebab, also known as the pottery kebab. This dish is made in a clay pot/jug and usually includes a protein like lamb or beef and hearty vegetables. It’s cooked in a clay oven for a few hours until ready. When you order a pottery kebab, the waiter will bring the dish to you and break open the clay jar in front of you. 

12. Derinkuyu Underground City 

Another of the top things to do in Cappadocia is the Derinkuyu Underground City. This underground city features eight underground levels you can explore with your family. Walking through the tunnels, you’ll see cellars, storage areas, a church, and other interesting artifacts. While there are around 200 underground cities in Cappadocia, this is one of the most visited locations. It is said this underground city was built to protect residents during the Arab-Byzantine wars and once held up to 20,000 people.

13. Wine Tasting at Cappadocia Wineries

Cappadocia has wineries that use wine-producing methods dating back to the Hittites. This long history of winemaking has led to some exquisite wineries in the area. A few of the top choices include Turasan Winery and Kocabag Winery. You can either book a tour or explore the wineries on your own. 

Note: Some wineries, especially smaller options, are closed during winter.

14. Sunset ATV Tour

A sunset ATV tour is one of the quickest ways to explore Cappadocia in Turkey. These tours are available throughout the region in Love Valley and Rose Valley. Riding on an ATV lets you see rock-cut valleys, dunes, hills, and more. Most sunset ATV tours will finish right at sunset, so you can enjoy watching the sun go down.

15. Goreme Open Air Museum

Head to the Goreme Open Air Museum to explore 15 cave churches. This UNESCO World Heritage Site lies in the Goreme National Park, near the Goreme city center. During a visit, you’ll see frescoes depicting the history of the cave churches. This history dates back to the 4th century AD when many of the churches were built. When visiting the Goreme Open Air Museum, ensure you see the most famous churches: Dark Church, Apple Church, and Sandal Church.

16. Avanos Pottery Workshop at Chez Hakan 

Cappadocia is famous for its pottery making, specifically in Avanos. This town is a short drive from Goreme, so you can easily add it to your itinerary after the Goreme Open Air Museum. Avanos lies along the Red River, which produces the clay used in Avanos pottery pieces. Stopping in the town allows you to learn about the traditional pottery-making methods of the Hittites. A top choice for a hands-on pottery workshop is Chez Hakan, which offers kid-friendly pottery lessons. This Avanos pottery workshop includes a demonstration and hands-on support for anyone who signs up.

17. Pink Salt Lake (Tuz Gol)

Lake Tuz is a beautiful pink salt lake about an hour outside Cappadocia, near Aksaray. This salt lake is revered for the bright pink color it exhibits. Tuz Gol is the second biggest lake in Turkey, and two separate water streams feed into it. You can wade in Lake Tuz, though you’ll want to wear water shoes as the salt on the bottom of the lake is quite sharp. Sunset tours are also available to Tuz Gol.

18. Visit the Twin Fairy Chimneys Near Urgup

As mentioned, the fairy chimneys are worth exploring in the Cappadocia region. These geological formations were created when solidified ash flew out of volcanoes about 8,000 years ago. Through the years, these formations have solidified into soft volcanic rock. One particular location where you can view fairy chimneys is outside of Urgup. Here, you’ll find the Twin Fairy Chimneys, two rock formation-covered chimneys that are especially attractive during sunset. This activity is free (unless you take a tour), making it a budget-friendly option.

19. Nevsehir Castle

Nevsehir Castle sits high above the town on a rock 1,343 km tall. This fortress was built as a method of protection for the Baghdad Silk Road/Old Roman Road. It was created from basalt stones sourced from the surrounding area. It has been repaired and updated through the years, with a restoration done in 1979. While strolling through the castle, you can see watchtowers, courtyards, and chambers. Certain castle areas have been turned into museums, exhibits, and art galleries, which are also worth a peek at. 

How to Get Around Cappadocia

Multiple transport methods are available in Cappadocia, so you can easily find an option that fits your budget. Depending on the activities you have on your itinerary, specific modes of transport will be more beneficial. Below, we explore the available options to make planning your trip easier.

Rent a Car

Renting a car is convenient if you’re flying into the Nevsehir or Kayseri Airports, as you can pick up your car once you land. When renting a car, it’s best to pre-book to ensure you receive the best price. Those traveling in Cappadocia for only a few days will find a car rental the most convenient option for viewing the attractions, as some sites in Cappadocia are quite far from each other. 

Public Transportation 

Buses are available in most areas of Cappadocia, and they travel to many local attractions. However, these buses don’t stop at all the attractions. Additionally, you may spend a lot of time waiting for a ride, as the buses only arrive in each town approximately once every hour. This mode of transport is ideal for those who don’t mind waiting and who are staying in Cappadocia for a longer period.

Popular Cappadocia Tours 

Scheduling a tour is another excellent way to see the attractions in Cappadocia. Multiple tour options are available, including ATV and horseback riding tours. However, two of the most popular options are the red and green tours. 

Red tour

The red tour includes the following stops: Uchisar Castle, Goreme Open Air Museum, Cavusin, Avanos Town, Pasabag Monks Valley, and Devrent Imagination Valley. With the red tour, you’ll be driven between each attraction. Upon arrival, you can walk around and explore each attraction. 

Green tour

The green tour and red tour do not overlap with their attractions, so you’ll see different sites with each. On the green tour, you’ll visit Esentepe Viewpoint, Derinkuyu Underground City, Ihlara Valley, Belisirma Village, Selime Monastery, and Onyx Jewelry Factory. It’s important to note that this tour is more tiring, as you’ll be exploring attractions with many stairs, tight spaces, etc. 

Where to Stay in Cappadocia

Museum Hotel 

Museum Hotel lies in Uchisar, nearby historic ruins. It provides a unique experience for travelers, as you’ll be staying in a cave or stone unit. Each room in this cave hotel offers views of the valley, making it an excellent stay for those who enjoy photography. The hotel also includes antiques throughout, providing a museum-like atmosphere for guests. Breakfast is served daily using ingredients grown in the hotel’s ecological gardens. 

Konak Kale

Kale Konak offers you the ability to stay in a Turkish mansion during your Cappadocia trip. Like the Museum Hotel, you’ll be staying in a cave or stone room at this accommodation. This hotel is only a few minutes away from Nevsehir by car. A few of the amenities at this hotel include an onsite restaurant and bar and a terrace with stunning views of the Argeus Mountains.

Elite Cave Suites

This beautiful hotel is in Goreme, near the famous Nevsehir Castle. During a stay at this accommodation, you’ll find traditional furnishings and a restaurant serving authentic Turkish cuisine, allowing you to be more fully immersed in the local culture. There is a large terrace at Elite Cave Suites, where you can watch the hot air balloon riders early in the morning as they float through the sky. 

FAQs: Things to Do in Cappadocia

Is Cappadocia Worth Visiting? 

Yes, Cappadocia is worth visiting while in Turkey. Cappadocia has many exciting attractions, including viewing/riding on hot air balloons, ample hiking routes, rock-cut churches, and interesting settlements. The variety of attractions makes it a great vacation destination for any traveler. 

How Many Days Is Enough in Cappadocia?

With many attractions available in Cappadocia, you’ll want to plan to stay for at least three days, if not longer. When scheduling your trip, ensure you book a hot air balloon ride for the first day if it needs to be rescheduled.

What Is There to Do in Cappadocia Besides Balloons?

There’s quite a lot to do in Cappadocia beyond balloon rides. The local cuisine is worth exploring during your travels. The region also has excellent hiking trails, ATV tours, and underground cities to check out while in the area. 

What Is the Best Time of Year to Visit Cappadocia?

Many travelers visit Cappadocia during peak season (June through August) since the weather is warmer. However, we prefer visiting during September and October, as the weather is still pleasant and there are fewer crowds/lines for activities and attractions. September and October experience minimal rainfall, so you can still participate in outdoor activities, like hiking.

Final Thoughts: Best Things to Do in Cappadocia, Turkey

From magical fairy chimneys to floating hot air balloons and exciting underground cities, Cappadocia has captured the hearts of those who have visited. This area offers a way to dive deep into Turkey’s culture without battling the crowds found in Istanbul. 

When planning your visit to Cappadocia, consider adding the above activities to your itinerary. These activities range in price, allowing you to select options within your trip budget. Whether traveling with kids or enjoying a romantic trip with your partner, you’ll find plenty of activity options to keep you entertained during your visit.

This article was written by Adventurefolio.com and published by Our Woven Journey.

Website | + posts

Dania Demirci is an American living on the Mediterranean coast in Turkey and the co-founder of Adventurefolio.com. She explores and shares her favorite things to do in Turkey with her family. She helps travelers confidently plan epic trips to Turkey.