Are you planning a trip to Turkey and wondering how to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia? You’re in the right place!
Located in the Anatolia region of Turkey, Cappadocia is one of the most unique destinations in the country. The region is dotted with breathtaking landscapes – from epic rock formations known as fairy chimneys to hidden underground cities and painted cave churches.
But perhaps the most spectacular experience is riding one of the hot air balloons at sunrise, marveling a the picturesque valleys of Cappadocia.
Okay, enough teasing.
As you have expected, there are many ways to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia. It is one of the most popular routes in Turkey and one that we’ve done many times.
In this article, we’ll be sharing tips and tricks on how to get to Cappadocia from Istanbul, the best mode of transport, approximate travel time, and other essential travel details. So let’s jump right into it.
Key Takeaways: How To get From Istanbul to Cappadocia
- The most convenient and quickest way to get to Cappadocia is by taking a direct flight from Istanbul.
- The cheapest way is to take a long-distance bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia.
- However, if you want to enjoy the stunning scenery that Turkey has to offer, buses or car rentals are the way to go. You can stop at small towns and markets along the way to experience the local culture.
- If you don’t plan on spending a lot of time in Cappadocia, it might be better to take one of the guided tours from Istanbul to Cappadocia. This way, you don’t have to plan any of the logistics and can enjoy your trip as much as possible.
Distance From Istanbul To Cappadocia
Before you decide which mode of transportation to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia, let’s figure out how far the two places are from each other. Contrary to popular belief, Istanbul is really far from Cappadocia, approximately 800 km or 497 miles in fact.
To give you some perspective, it takes about 8 to 10 hours of driving to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia and vice versa, or about an 80-minute plane journey.
This is why it is important to plan properly and have a thorough Turkey itinerary, otherwise, you might waste a lot of time commuting.
From Istanbul To Cappadocia By Plane: The Quickest Way
Flying is the quickest and perhaps the most convenient way to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia. The domestic flights are somewhat affordable (not as affordable as buses), and they only take 80 minutes. This is perfect for those with a short 7-day trip in Turkey.
Which Istanbul Airport To Depart From?
As you might’ve heard, Istanbul got a new airport in 2018. Known as Istanbul Airport (IST), it is one of the biggest and busiest airports in the world.
With the addition of Istanbul Airport, there are now a total of two airports in Istanbul where travelers can fly to Cappadocia. The other being Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW).
The main difference between the Istanbul Airport and SAW Airport is that the Istanbul Airport is on the European Side and the Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) is on the Asian Side.
Generally speaking, the Istanbul Airport is going to be more convenient because the European Side is where most tourists stay. It is where the historic center of Istanbul, Sultanahmet, and the modern center of Istanbul, Taksim, are located.
Both airports in Istanbul offer regular flights to Cappadocia, but Istanbul Airport is generally a little bit more convenient to get to. Of course, if you have a airport shuttle planned, then none of this really matters.
Which Cappadocia Airport to Fly Into?
Before you book your Istanbul to Cappadocia flight, Cappadocia also has two airports. While it makes very little difference which airports you fly from in Istanbul, it does make a difference which airport in Cappadocia you fly into.
There are two airports in Cappadocia:
- Kayseri Erkilet International Airport (ASR)
- Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV)
The Kayseri Airport is generally cheaper, but it is located a little further out of Goreme (the historic center of Cappadocia and the most popular place to stay). It is about 75 kilometers, or an hour drive, from Kayseri Airport to Goreme.
Nevşehir Airport is a little bit more expensive, but it is located about 40 kilometers (40-minute drive) from Goreme. Nevsehir Airport is located inside the UNESCO Heritage Site of Cappadocia while Kayseri is not. The ride from Nevsehir Airport to the center of Cappadocia is much more scenic than the one from Kayseri Airport.
Both airports are completely fine to fly into, as long as you have a pre-arranged shuttle waiting for you. Because there is no public transportation from the airports to Goreme, tourists are often scammed by taxi drivers at those airports.
Which Airline to Fly With?
There are three airlines that serve the Istanbul to Cappadocia flight route:
- Turkish Airlines
- Pegasus Airlines
- Aztec Airways
Turkish Airlines offer the best quality but since it is such a short flight, it doesn’t matter much. It is worth noting that Turkish Airline is the only airline that flies out of Istanbul Airport (IST) on the European Side. The other two airlines fly out of Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) on the Asian side.
From Istanbul To Cappadocia By Bus: The Most Economical Way
Long-distance buses going from Istanbul to Cappadocia depart regularly from both Istanbul’s European side and Asian side. There are a lot of bus terminals in Istanbul, and it is important that you (more importantly, your taxi driver) get it right.
If you are visiting Istanbul as a tourist, chances are, you’ll be staying on the European side near Taksim or Sultanahmet. The main bus station (otogar) on the European side of Istanbul is Esenler Otogari, which is quite accessible by public transportation.
The buses that depart on the European side often make stops on the Asian side, so if you are staying on the Asian side, you can usually just go to the nearest bus stop for Cappadocia. You don’t need to go all the way to the bus station on the European side.
There are many bus companies that operate between Istanbul and Cappadocia, but we recommend using Metro Turizm, as their buses are clean, comfortable, and they have been reliable at showing up.
Other bus companies that we have used and recommend are Kâmil Koç, Pamukkale Turizm and Güney Akdeniz. There are several others, but we haven’t used them so can’t comment on their efficiency.
Buses from Istanbul to Cappadocia stop at Göreme, which is the historic center of Cappadocia and where you should stay. This means you can save some money on a taxi or a shuttle compared to taking a flight!
If you are staying in Avanos or Uchisar, you will need to get the minibus from Goreme to your hotel. The minibuses operate every 20 minutes from Goreme bus station (conveniently where the long-distance bus drops you off) though they don’t always arrive at the official timetable. You may have to wait a while.
How To Buy Bus Tickets in Istanbul
All bus tickets and schedules can be found on the Turkish official bus website here. Theoretically, you can purchase tickets through this website, but we’ve never been successful.
If you cannot purchase a ticket online, it is important that you get there the day before and buy your ticket, especially during the peak season. Buses do get full, especially if you buy the ticket near its departure time and date.
There are tour agencies throughout the historic center of Istanbul that can help you buy tickets, so you can save the time and effort of going to the bus station and back.
Alternatively, what we’ve been doing is getting it with 12Go.asia. They are a reliable company and we’ve had nothing but good experiences with them. But it is worth noting that not all bus companies are on their site.
Should You Take A Night Bus or Day Bus From Istanbul To Cappadocia?
Because the journey is over 10 hours, we recommend the night bus because you can sleep through most of it. Turkey’s long-distance buses are quite comfortable and safe, but sleeping might still be a problem for you.
If you are traveling on a budget in Turkey, you can even save some money. A night bus is cheaper than a flight and you can even save on a night of accommodation because you’ll be sleeping on the bus.
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!
Guided Tour From Istanbul To Cappadocia
Because there can be a lot of logistics to plan when going from Istanbul to Cappadocia, some travelers might prefer a guided tour that includes everything from flights to hotels and hot air balloon rides to where to eat in Cappadocia all sorted.
However, picking the right tour can be quite tricky. How many days is enough in Cappadocia? What do you need to pack? Etc, etc, etc.
📚That is why we’ve written a full guide on the best tours from Istanbul to Cappadocia here.
From Istanbul To Cappadocia By Train
Another option to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia is by train. Unfortunately, there is no direct train from Istanbul to Cappadocia, which means that travelers would have to switch to a bus.
The high-speed train (called Yüksek Hızlı Tren or YHT for short) from Istanbul can only take travelers as far as Konya or Ankara. From there, you’ll have to switch to a long-distance bus.
The high-speed train from Istanbul to Ankara takes about 4 hours with multiple departures daily. However, the train station is in Pendik, which is the Asian side of Istanbul, and can take quite a bit for those coming from the historic center such as Sultanahmet or Taksim.
The train from Istanbul to Konya takes about 4 hours to complete. The train goes from Istanbul, stops at the city of Eskişehir, and then finally arrives in Konya. There are several stops along the way as well.
Once you arrive in Ankara or Konya, you can take a long-distance bus to Cappadocia.
- From Ankara, it takes about 3 to 4 hours to get to Cappadocia by bus
- From Konya, it also takes about 3 to 4 hours to get to Cappadocia by bus
Note that the long-distance buses in Cappadocia are never direct, so there are going to be other stops along the way.
Unless you are planning on making a stop in Ankara or Konya anyways, taking the train is usually not quicker or more convenient than the bus. The pros of taking the train are definitely more legroom and the ability to walk around.
Driving From Istanbul To Cappadocia
The last method to how to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia is by driving. To do that, you would need to have a rental car.
The benefit of driving from Istanbul to Cappadocia is that there are several towns and cities along the way that are worth stopping. It is also a lot quicker than the bus if you make the journey direct, but we don’t recommend that since it’s an 8-hour drive.
The roads in Turkey aren’t bad. But from our experience, Turkish drivers can get very aggressive when driving, so be extra careful when driving in Turkey. The towns and scenery along the way definitely make the drive worth it. Plus, having a car in Cappadocia will make getting around much easier.
If you are planning on driving from Istanbul to Cappadocia with a rental car, here are the places we recommend checking out:
- Bursa – Bursa is the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. Travelers will find UNESCO World Heritage Sites in a city surrounded by beautiful nature and a national park. It is one of the best places near Istanbul to visit!
- Iznik – The birthplace of the famous Iznik tiles, which are used to decorate some of the most famous landmarks in Turkey, such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar and the Harem inside Topkapi Palace.
- Beyşehir – A small town located on the Beyşehir Lake. It’s a rather peaceful town with the beautiful wooden Eşrefoğlu Mosque.
- Ankara – The capital of Turkey is filled with some of the country’s best museums and things to do. Don’t miss the Atatürk Mausoleum and the historic center.
- Eskişehir – The name Eskişehir literally translates to “Old City” in Turkish. But, the town is the perfect mix of modern infrastructure, historical buildings, and nature. It has hip cafes, restaurants and a lively atmosphere thanks to its big student population.
How To Get From Istanbul To Goreme?
There are many ways to get from Istanbul to Goreme, the historic center of the Cappadocia region. You can take a flight from one of the two airports in Istanbul to either of the Cappadocia Airport (Kayseri Erkilet Airport or Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport) and then get a shuttle or taxi to Goreme.
The cheaper alternative to get from Istanbul to Goreme is a long-distance bus. Unlike taking a flight, the buses go directly to Goreme from Istanbul, so you won’t have to get a taxi.
You can also rent a car to drive from Istanbul to Goreme, but note that it is an 8-hour drive.
Can You Take a Day Trip From Istanbul to Cappadocia?
One of the most often asked questions is “Can you take a day trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia”.
The answer is yes. Would we recommend it? Definitely no!
If you take a day trip to Cappadocia, you have to rush your itinerary and skip out on some of the most notable attractions in Cappadocia. Not only that but you also miss out on the chance to take the legendary (and I mean, LEGENDARY!) hot air balloon rides over the epic landscapes of Cappadocia.
How to Take a Day Trip From Istanbul to Cappadocia?
But if you only have a few days in Turkey, you might only be able to see Cappadocia on a day trip, and that is totally fine.
To do that, you must take a flight there. We recommend the earliest flight that departs from Istanbul to Cappadocia.
After you get there, you want to either rent a car or take a Cappadocia tour and explore as much as you can. We recommend the Red Tour if you only have 1 day, which takes you to Love Valley, Goreme Open Air Museum, and Uchisar Castle.
The Green Tour takes you to Red and Rose Valley, Derinkuyu or Kaymakli Underground City, Ihlara Valley and Pigeon Valley.
Make sure you don’t miss the flight back to Istanbul. The last one is usually around 11:50 PM so you have plenty of time!
Day Tour from Istanbul to Cappadocia
Because there is a lot of planning involved when taking a day trip to Cappadocia from Istanbul, we typically recommend taking a guided day tour. These tours have everything arranged – from flights, transport, food, to places to visit. It is the most hassle-free way of visiting Cappadocia on a day trip.
How to Get From Cappadocia to Istanbul?
If you have read the entire article, then getting from Cappadocia to Istanbul is super easy. You can pick any of the methods above, whether it is taking a flight, going on a long-distance bus, renting a car and driving, or just taking a tour. You can also take a bus from Cappadocia to Konya or Ankara, and then switch to Turkey’s high-speed train to Istanbul.
Everything is pretty much the same but reverse when you go from Cappadocia to Istanbul instead of the other way around.
Related Reading: Which Is Better: Istanbul or Cappadocia?
From Istanbul To Cappadocia FAQs
Is Istanbul In Cappadocia?
No, Cappadocia is not in Istanbul. Cappadocia is actually very far away from Istanbul, approximately 800 kilometers or 497 miles to be exact. By bus, it takes about 10 to 12 hours. By plane, it takes about 80 minutes.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Cappadocia?
The best time to visit Cappadocia is autumn, ideally in the months of September and October. During this time of the year, the weather is still dry with little rainfall, which means the hot air balloons in Cappadocia will take off regularly. The temperature is much cooler during this time compared to the summer, allowing visiting to go explore the outdoors in Cappadocia!
Is It Safe To Drive From Istanbul To Cappadocia?
Driving from Istanbul to Cappadocia is generally safe. The road conditions between the two places in Turkey are typically very good. However, travelers should beware of aggressive drivers, which Turkey has plenty of.
Conclusion: Getting From Istanbul To Cappadocia
As you can see, there are many ways to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia. For the majority of travelers, taking a flight, a long-distance bus, or a guided tour is the most convenient way.
However, visitors that want to do a road trip in Turkey should definitely not miss the chance to drive from Istanbul to Cappadocia!