The afternoon sun blazes down as you wipe beads of sweat from your sunglasses. You’ve walked for miles. Civilization feels light-years away. No longer are there any signs of life save the occasional bird fluttering in the distance. And the silence. Both perfect and haunting.
Rushing for cover against the heat, you soon realize that shade here is a luxury. Other than seeking refuge in the dank caves off in the distance or the shadows of the giant rock formations spewing from the earth around you like dozens of scaled-down atomic mushroom clouds frozen in time, there’s no escape. In this land, the sun always wins.
No. You didn’t unknowingly hobble onto a strange faraway planet: It’s just another summer day deep in the valleys of Cappadocia in Central Turkey, home to some of Earth’s strangest and most otherworldly landscapes.
Not sure if you want to visit this magical place on your trip to Turkey? Here are a few reasons why you should visit Cappadocia…
Endless hiking opportunities
Cappadocia is a hiker’s paradise. It’s rare to find a region so perfectly endowed with walking trails, slithering through valleys, rock tunnels and arches, connecting the historic towns and sites of Cappadocia.
Between the dramatic peaks, lush valleys and bizarre “fairy-tale chimneys“, you’ll discover a world so unlike the one you’re used to you’ll never quite believe you’re fully awake. Cappadocia’s landscapes change, not only in space, but in time, refining its hues from white to rose as the sun moves across the sky.
Although hiking in Cappadocia without a guide is possible, getting lost in the endless iterations of the region’s jumbled—and often unmarked—walking trails is a distinct possibility. (I speak from experience. See photo above.)
Tour operators like First Choice are well-versed in Cappadocia’s complex geography and can get you through some of the region’s more challenging moments without a hitch.
Hot-air balloon rides
If you’ve ever dreamed about floating hundreds of feet above the earth with nothing more than a basket separating you from certain death, Cappadocia’s the place to do it.
The region’s landscapes are the perfect backdrop for a hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia and the activity has become almost an obligatory rite of passage for those visiting. Expect to pay at least €100-120 ($140-160) per person for the pleasure and be sure your research the company before committing to it. (If they’re willing to fly in thunderstorm, chalk it up as a red flag.)
Unless your name is Bear Grylls, you’ve probably never spent a night in a cave. (And if you have, props to you.)
I’m not sure that the cave stays in Cappadocia would quite qualify as roughing it, but sleeping in one is an experience every visitor to Central Turkey should have. On hot summer nights, they’re cool; on cold nights, surprisingly comfortable. And they can get surprisingly luxurious. If you’re staying in Göreme, check out the Güven Cave Hotel. Their cave rooms are pristine and offer superb value.
Historic towns and cultural sites
Of all the reasons to visit Cappadocia, its historic towns and cultural sites may be the most compelling. Truthfully, the spectacular & unique architecture around the country is one of the main reasons you’ll love travelling in Turkey!
From the Göreme Open-Air Museum and potters of Avanos to the underground cities south of Nevşehir and castle at Ortahisar, culture lovers are never short on places to visit while travelling in Cappadocia. Base yourself in Göreme and use public transport or taxis to explore the area’s most interesting sites.