Cappadocia is known for its vast, rocky landscapes of the Goreme National Park. But what some don’t know is that underneath this landscape is a network of underground cities. In fact, there are 200 of them! However, only two are open to tourists and they are located within 10 minutes of each other. So choosing which one to go to is no easy task.
If you’re wondering which is better, Derinkuyu or Kaymakli? You have come to the right place. As we have been to both underground cities, we can confidently reveal to you which one we think is better.
However, it’s not a simple decision. Depending on who you are, how much time you have, and how you like to travel, each underground city has pros and cons.
In this guide, we’ll be covering all you need to know to decide which underground city to visit during your trip to Cappadocia.
Planning a trip to Cappadocia last-minute?
Make sure you book your tours, places to stay, and airport transfers ahead of time to ensure availability!
Here is our recommended airport transfer in Cappadocia:
- Airport Shuttle From Nevşehir Airport (NAV) or Kayseri Airport (ASR) (Super affordable!)
Here are our recommended tours in Cappadocia:
- Hot Air Balloon Flight In Cappadocia At Sunrise (A must-do In Cappadocia)
- ATV Tours At Sunset
- Green Tour In Cappadocia (Perfect for those not renting a car!)
Here are our recommended places to stay in Cappadocia:
Quick Glance: Derinkuyu or Kaymakli?
Both underground cities are extremely cool, but if you’re looking to visit just one, we recommend visiting Kaymakli Underground City.
The reason for this is because Kaymakli Underground City is quieter as it’s not on the red and green tour routes, only on the blue tour which is a small group tour. It’s also the oldest underground city in the region, and though it’s not as popular as Derinkuyu Underground City because it’s smaller, you can explore several passages and tunnels which really ups the adventure value.
However, if you have claustrophobia or only have a short time in Cappadocia, we recommend choosing Derinkuyu. This is because it is part of the Green Tour so you can visit other iconic sites in the region in one day. As it’s the biggest underground city in the region, you can expect its passage to be wider, which is slightly better for those with claustrophobia.
If you’re still choosing between Derinkuyu or Kaymakli, here’s a glance at the pros and cons of each…
|Derinkuyu Underground City
|Kaymakli Underground City
|– Part of the Green Tour so you can combine it with other notable attractions in Cappadocia.
|Quieter than Derinkuyu and no need to queue.
|– Has wider passages, slightly better for claustrophobic and those with asthma.
|Several passages to explore. Adventure lovers will much prefer this.
|– It’s the biggest underground city in Cappadocia
|– It’s the oldest underground city in Cappadocia
|Derinkuyu Underground City
|Kaymakli Underground City
|– Only one passage to follow which means queuing behind other tourists.
|– Passages are smaller and you need to crouch in some places. Not great for those with claustrophobia
|– It’s small and takes no more than an hour to visit.
|– Tours are often rushed
|– Not easy to get to, unless you rent a car
Don’t Miss Out on the BEST Experience in Cappadocia!
No trip to Cappadocia is complete without taking an epic hot air balloon flight at sunrise!
Make sure you reserve your tour well in advance to avoid missing out or paying any additional fees last minute!
What Can You See At Derinkuyu Underground City?
Derinkuyu Underground City is the largest underground city in Cappadocia. It is eight levels deep (though you can only see four when you visit) and was once home to 20,000 people.
As you walk through Derinkuyu, you follow a single passage that takes you passed dwellings, churches, schools, stables, and storage areas.
When visiting Derinkuyu, you follow a single passage that takes you around the four levels. You can peak into dwellings and rooms on either side, but you can’t venture off the single track. This means you sometimes have to wait for tourists to move on before you can continue your exploration of the city.
If you’re visiting as part of the Green Tour, you’ll find you are whisked through rather quickly as you don’t have a lot of time to explore.
What Can You See At Kaymakli Underground City?
Kaymakli Underground City is considered the oldest underground city in the region, thought to have been built in the 7th and 8th centuries by the Phrygians.
Though the city is small (or what you can see of it anyway) you can explore several different tunnels and passages that are all lit up and excavated. If you’re an adventure lover, you’ll love exploring these underground rooms and finding out about what each of them was used for.
So you don’t get lost, you need to follow a blue arrow which shows you where to go.
Like Derinkuyu, you can see cave dwellings, churches, stables, and storerooms in Kaymakli, as well as some toppled-over round stones that were used as doors.
Value For Money
As of July 2022, the cost to enter Derinkuyu Underground City is 60 Turkish Lira, and Kaymakli Underground City 65 Turkish Lira. So Derinkuyu is cheaper by 5 Turkish Lira (about 28 cents). So you’re really saving pennies when you compare both entrance fees.
However, since Derinkuyu is part of the Green Tour and you can visit other tourist attractions in Cappadocia, you could argue that Derinkuyu is a better value for money as you can combine it with other attractions.
Kaymakli does not appear on any organized tours, so Derinkuyu is better value for money.
Level of Physical Activity
Both Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are not physically demanding to explore. However, if you have asthma or claustrophobia, this is something you will need to consider when choosing between Derinkuyu or Kaymakli.
If you have health problems, truth be told, you’re going to have a miserable time in both since the ground is dusty and there’s little sediments of rock in the air.
However, Derinkuyu has a wider passage and you don’t have to crouch down when passing through tunnels. Sure, it’s still deep underground and if you suffer from claustrophobia, it’s not going to be fun. But Kaymakli is much worse for this, since the passages are smaller and you do need to crouch in some places.
So for asthmatics and claustrophobics, Derinkuyu is better.
When it comes to photo opportunities, Kaymakli is definitely better. The reason for this is that it’s usually quieter, as the Derinkuyu is part of the Green Tour route in Cappadocia and is therefore frequently busy.
That means at Kaymakli you can find photo opportunities where there are no other tourists in the background ruining your new Instagram pics with their vibrant yellow shirts.
Another reason why Kamakli is better for photo ops is that there is more variety in what you can see. In Derinkuyu, you follow one path and everyone follows the same.
In Kaymakli, there is a little more freedom to explore, with some passages going off in different directions. This means you’re more likely to snap a unique photo.
Since Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are within a 10-minute drive from each other, their nearby attractions are pretty much the same. However, the town of Derinkuyu is a little bit more interesting and has more variety of restaurants and cafes.
However, Kaymakli is slightly closer to Uchisar Castle, another impressive landmark in Cappadocia you must see. But as I mentioned, the distance between Derinkuyu and Kaymakli is only 9km, so we’re talking about saving a matter of minutes.
Another thing to consider is that if you are not taking a tour, both underground cities are not easy to get to on public transport. From Goreme, you need to take two buses, and it takes about 2 hours each way. If you rent a car in Cappadocia, it will be much easier to visit either underground city.
When it comes to choosing between Derinkuyu or Kaymakli for nearby attractions, they are both equal.
The Verdict: Derinkuyu or Kaymakli, Which Is Better?
Depending on what you’re looking for, Derinkuyu or Kaymakli can be better. If you love adventure, want to see the oldest underground city, are not claustrophobic, love unique photo spots, and have a lot of time to spend in Cappadocia – Kaymakli is better.
However, if you have a short time in Cappadocia, want to see the largest underground city, and have claustrophobia, then Derinkuyu is a better option.
We are adventurers, so we personally feel that Kaymakli has more pros than cons and offers a better experience than Derinkuyu, but that is just our opinion. Let us know about your own experiences in the comments!