If you’re thinking about visiting Cappadocia, you may be wondering if it’s worth it. This is a destination that has been all over social media, and we know that social media tends to exaggerate things.
We also had the same concerns when we decided to visit Cappadocia. But after spending weeks in Cappadocia, we knew that we did not make a mistake.
Cappadocia is so worth it! It is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Goreme National Park, where visitors will find epic rock formations (known as fairy chimneys), historical rock-cut churches and more. The hot air balloon rides are even more worth it! Floating in the air at sunrise with the expansive views of the lunar-like landscape is a surreal experience!
There are many reasons why Cappadocia is worth visiting! In our article, we’ll talk about this popular tourist destination in Turkey and what you can expect!
Reasons To Visit Cappadocia
1. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides
The unique landscape in Cappadocia is best appreciated from the sky, and there’s no better way to do this than by taking a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. The colors of the sky are spectacular as the sun rises, and the balloons provide a perfect vantage point to see all of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys and valleys.
Not only is the scenery unforgettable, but the peace and serenity of floating through the sky is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life.
Combined with the fact that hot air balloons in Cappadocia are quite affordable, it makes this region of Turkey even more worth visiting! It is no wonder that Cappadocia is one of the best places for hot air balloons in the world!
2. Exotic Rock Formations Known As Fairy Chimneys
The region of Cappadocia is known for its exotic-looking rock formations known as fairy chimneys. Years of erosion from wind and rain have carved the soft volcanic tuff into these iconic rock structures.
Fairy chimneys come in all shapes and sizes, but most of them are in the shape of cylindrical pillars. Here are some of the places to find the best fairy chimneys in Cappadocia
- Love Valley – Known for its phallic-looking fairy chimneys, but their sizes are actually quite impressive.
- Devrent Valley – Also known as Imagination Valley, this valley has fairy chimneys that appear like certain figures. The most prominent one is the camel rock located at the entrance.
- Monks Valley – The fairy chimneys at Monks Valley were inhabited by hermits and monks. They have carved out parts of the fairy chimneys as high as 15 meters and used them as dwellings.
3. Epic Rock-Cut Churches With Frescoes
Cappadocia is not only known for its fairy chimneys, but also for its rock-cut churches. These are churches that were literally carved out of the rocks, a practice that started with the Christians as far back as the 3rd and 4th centuries.
Many of these churches had frescoes, which were mural paintings on the walls and ceilings.
One of the most famous ones you can see is the Dark Church in the Goreme Open-Air Museum. Known as Karanlık Kilise in Turkish, the Dark Church depicts scenes from the New Testament and is the perfect example of 11th-century Byzantine Art. The museum also has many other rock-cut churches, including the Tokalı Kilise, or Church of the Buckle, which is the largest church in Goreme.
But when the Ottomans conquered the Byzantines, most of the frescoes in churches were destroyed because of the conflict of religion. While some are well-preserved, you’ll find plenty in the valleys where the people depicted in the frescoes have their heads erased off.
Nonetheless, the rock churches of Cappadocia are a historical gem and worth visiting!
4. Hiking In the Exotic Landscapes of Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a hiker’s paradise! The region has many hiking trails that wind through the valleys, showcasing some of the best geological formations in the region. Visitors can visit cave dwellings, see ancient rock-cut churches, and explore an entire old troglodyte settlement.
Some of the most popular hikes in the Cappadocia are:
- Red Valley – Known for its fairy chimneys are glow red at sunset. It also has one of the best sunset viewpoints in Cappadocia!
- Rose Valley – Known for its several cave churches along the way, including the Crusader Church and Columned Church.
- Pigeon Valley – Known for its pigeon houses (dovecotes) that were used to harvest pigeons for their droppings!
5. Staying In A Cave Hotel
Perhaps one of the coolest things to do in Cappadocia is to stay in a cave hotel. As we’ve mentioned above, people in the region carved out soft volcanic rock to build homes. These caves not only provided protection from the elements, but also acted as natural insulation to keep them warm in the winters and cool in the summers.
And now visitors can experience a part of that culture by staying in one of the many cave hotels in Cappadocia. Unlike the old times, many of them are now equipped with modern luxuries and some even have an outdoor terrace where you can admire the scenery of Cappadocia. If you are lucky, you might even find a pool where you can cool off from the hot weather.
The best place to find them is in the historic center of the region, Goreme!
6. Admiring the Stunning Landscape
If there is one thing we could not get enough of in Cappadocia, it is the views of the incredible landscape.
The soft, rolling hills and the fairy chimneys make it look like something out of a fairytale. It’s no wonder that so many people compare it to Mars or the Moon.
If you rent a car in Cappadocia, you can drive down the desert lanes and take in the surreal scenery. The expansive views will make your drive relaxing and rewarding! You can even go off the beaten path and explore some of the hidden gems in the region!
7. Explore The Underground Cities
The underground cities in Cappadocia are some of the most popular tourist destinations in the whole country. People come from all over to explore the ancient tunnels and caves that make up these subterranean complexes.
Built during the Byzantine era, these underground cities were primarily used by the early Christians as a hiding spot from religious persecution. Later on, there were used for defensive purposes and protection from wars and invasions.
There are two underground cities in Cappadocia worth visiting:
- Derinkuyu Underground City
- Kaymakli Underground City
Derinkuyu is the largest of the underground cities, and it is possible to spend hours exploring its maze-like passages. Some of the rooms are quite large, and there are even churches and schools underground.
Kaymakli is not quite as big as Derinkuyu, but it is believed to be the oldest one. Like its counterpart, Kaymakli was originally constructed for defensive purposes. One of the highlights of this city is its innovative ventilation system, which allows air to circulate even when the entrance is closed off.
Visiting Cappadocia FAQs
Are The Hot Air Balloons In Cappadocia Worth It?
Riding a hot air balloon at sunrise is the most popular activity in Cappadocia, and reasonably so. From above, visitors can truly appreciate the region of Cappadocia that makes up the Goreme National Park. You can see the expansive landscapes dotted with unique rock formations – from cave dwellings to unusual fairy chimneys and more. A hot air balloon ride is also very affordable in Turkey, especially when compared to other parts of the world. So, without a doubt, the hot air balloons in Cappadocia are worth it!
How Many Days To Spend In Cappadocia?
It is recommended to spend at least 3 days in Cappadocia so you can have enough time to hike some of its trails, take one of the tours, and of course, get on one of the hot air balloons! Because the hot air balloons don’t take off every day, it is best to spend a few more days to ensure that you have the highest chance of getting on one.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Cappadocia?
The best time to visit Cappadocia is in the fall (September and October). Though the weather isn’t as dry as it is in the summer, the cooler temperatures let you enjoy the outdoor attractions in Cappadocia without being at a high risk of getting heat-related illnesses. Though less dry than the summer, it is still dry enough for the hot air balloons to take off regularly.
So, Is Cappadocia Worth Visiting?
Without a doubt, Cappadocia is worth visiting. On the surface, it might look like just a place for the gimmicky hot air balloons. But not only are those surreal experiences on their own, but Cappadocia also offers a lot more than that. From the thousand years of history to the exotic fairy chimneys, cave dwellings and rock-cut churches, Cappadocia is truly a destination that is unlike anywhere else in the world.
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