What to Do in Cappadocia: 7 Ways to Enjoy This Surreal Destination

Here’s a look at what to do in Cappadocia, from a relaxing sightseeing treat of its remarkable landscape to exciting unique activities for adventure lovers.

When in Turkey, I must say that Cappadocia is the place one shouldn’t miss.  The surrealistic landscapes and volcanic rocks naturally shaped through erosion by snow, rain, rivers and wind are sure to take anyone’s breath away.  The experience felt like having your sense of sight on steroids.

Aside from the out of this planet feel, Cappadocia also has a lot of stories to tell of the past.  For one, the soft volcanic rocks that are easily hollowed out into caves made it an ideal hiding place for early Christians fleeing away from Roman persecution.

It’s impossible not to enjoy Cappadocia with its fairy tale sights and richness in history.  Here’s a list of what to do in Cappadocia through top 7 ways to enjoy this surreal destination.  You can do all seven by spending more than two days in Cappadocia.

Goreme, Cappadocia

What to Do in Cappadocia

1. Take the Cappadocia hot air balloon ride

If a hot air balloon ride is in your bucket list, then Cappadocia is the best place to experience it.  The precious euros and the early wake-up call to be at the take-off site before sunrise are equivalent to the priceless aerial view and the magical experience.  In Cappadocia, hot air balloon ride should be at the top of your list.  See photos and read about our magical hot air balloon experience here.

There is a normal tendency to choose the cheapest balloon flights.  However, just as you consider the safety of airplane flights and reputation of the airlines you choose, you should do the same when choosing Cappadocia balloon tours.  Check the track record of the balloon flight company and the credentials of their pilots.  You can check availability, reviews and the latest prices for Cappadocia hot air balloon ride here.

what to do in cappadocia

what to do in cappadocia What to do in Cappadocia What to Do in Cappadocia

2. Get off the beaten path and hike at least one of the valleys

If you’re looking for suggestions on what to do in Cappadocia that will involve stretching your muscles, then you go hiking here.  Central Cappadocia is composed of many valleys, giving you a lot of options for hiking.

We have hiked two of the valleys (Red and Rose Valley and Ihlara Valley) and exploring each was not that hard because the hills were not that steep.  Moreover, I didn’t feel that exhausted because I can’t help but stop every few meters or so to marvel at the sights and of course, press my camera’s shutter.  Click here to check the availability and latest price for Red and Rose Valley hiking with a guide.

There are no standard trails, though we occasionally found signs along the way.  There are countless different trails, it’s like doing Bantam Book’s Choose Your Own Adventure, where you choose your own ending of the story (maybe only those from my generation could relate to this).  Well, I guess any which way you choose, it’s always going to be a happy ending.  Check out how stunning the landscapes are as you hike up the Red and Rose Valley.

Red and Rose Valley

what to do in Cappadocia

what to do in Cappadocia what to do in Cappadocia Took us 2 or 3 hours to hike Red and Rose Valley from Göreme

Ihlara Valley

Ihlara Valley Ihlara Valley

Descend into the valley from Ihlara, follow the river and you’re good to go

Some of the other valleys you can hike:

  • Magic or Imagination Valley (Devrent)
  • Monks Valley (Paşabağ )
  • Pigeon Valley
  • Love Valley
  • Imagination Valley

3. Discover early Christian life at the Göreme Open Air Museum

Visiting the Göreme Open Air Museum is one of the best things to do in Cappadocia, sightseeing-wise and cultural-wise.  Göreme Open Air Museum depicts the life of the early Christian monastic community that had made Göreme their home.  Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the open air museum contains not only the stunning rock formations characteristic of Cappadocia, but more importantly several rock cut churches with beautiful frescoes or wall paintings representing scenes from the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ.

what to do in cappadocia

“The Nunnery” is a 7-storey rock cone composed of a dining hall, kitchen and other rooms

what to do in cappadocia what to do in cappadocia what to do in cappadocia

A hole new world...a dazzling place I never knew

what to do in cappadocia Goreme Open Air Museum

Goreme Open Air Museum

Photography (even non-flash) is not allowed inside the churches in an effort to preserve the wall paintings.  Good thing they have this because my memory is not as photographic as my camera. 😉

Goreme Open Air Museum

If you plan to visit historical places or archaeological sites in Turkey, consider buying a Museum Pass. Check from the previous link which sites are covered in the Museum Pass.  Depending on the sites you plan to visit, they have a Museum Pass Istanbul for 5 days, Museum Pass Cappadocia (which covers Göreme Open Air Museum), Museum Pass the Aegean, Museum Pass Mediterranean and Museum Pass Turkey.

4. Dig deep into the history of at least one underground cities

Underground cities, dating back to 1600 BC, were built by the early Christians to serve as shelter to avoid Roman persecution.  It has been “developed” over time to be more habitable.  It’s hard to imagine how people lived in this bizarre environment, where all the amenities found on the outside, such as kitchen, food storage, wine and oil presses, stables, toilet, school and church, can also be found underground.

Derinkuyu underground city is one of the popular ones.  In fact, the site is usually included in the Green Tour.  Read more about the our Green Tour experience here. It is also said that these underground cities are interconnected.  What’s also interesting is that the city had been used in different historic eras (Roman, Byzantine, Mongolian, Ottoman) all for the same purpose – to take refuge from their enemies.  Who the enemies are depend on which empire period we are talking about.

what to do in cappadocia

Claustrophobia is not an option when you want to preserve your life

Derinkuyu Underground City

5. Select your color to choose your Cappadocia tours

If you only have limited time and want to cover as much Cappadocia attractions as you can, then pick your color and join a guided tour.  Cappadocia tours are color-coded, representing different areas.  The tours are somewhat standard, except for one or two differing sites when comparing the same color tour from different operators.

We asked from our hotel and according to them, the Green Tour is the most popular because most of the sights included are those that are further away from the center, and are otherwise not easily accessible the DIY way.  We chose the Green Tour and the Red Tour.

This is what’s usually covered in each of the color tours:

Cappadocia Red Tour

  • Uçhisar panorama
  • Göreme Open Air Museum
  • Love Valley view point
  • Lunch in Avanos Village
  • Avanos traditional pottery demonstration
  • Paşabağ fairy chimney rock formations
  • Devrent Valley

Check latest prices and availability of Red Tour here.

Cappadocia Green Tour

  • Göreme panorama
  • Derinkuyu Underground City
  • Selime Monastery
  • Lunch in Ihlara Village
  • 3.5 km walking in Ihlara Valley
  • Pigeon Valley

Read how our Cappadocia Green Tour went, here.  Check latest prices and availability of Green Tour here.

Cappadocia Blue Tour

  • Three Beauties of Ürgüp
  • Sinasos, old Greek Village now known as Mustafapasa
  • Taskinpasa Village
  • Sobessos  Excavation
  • Sahinefendi Village
  • Short Walk in Soganlı Valley
  • Lunch in Soganli Village
  • Kaymakli Underground City

Check latest prices and availability of Blue Tour here.

Pasabag fairy chimneysPaşabağ fairy chimney rock formations

6. Spend time in the villages

Different villages in Cappadocia have their own unique charm.  We were able to visit the Çavuşin village, Avanos and Göreme, our home base.


Göreme in Turkish means “Invisible City”, and the town in named as such since it is tucked away in a valley.  This is where we stayed and where most of the hotels, cafés, restaurants and tour operators are concentrated.  It is expected to have many tourists around the center but the town is generally a quiet place to stay.

Goreme, Cappadocia

View from our hotel, Vista Cave

Goreme, Cappadocia

Main road going to the Göreme center

Goreme, Cappadocia

Even spiderman loves hanging out in Göreme

Çavuşin Village

Çavuşin village links Göreme with Avanos.  We reached the village after going down from a hike in Red and Rose Valley.  The rock formations with the rock cut dwellings look like huge chunks of swiss cheese.  We had to be careful climbing to the top because of some loose soil and rubbles.

Cavusin village, Cappadocia Cavusin village, Cappadocia

Say "swiss cheeeeese!"

Cavusin village, Cappadocia

The climb up the St. John the Baptist Cave Church, located on top of the hill is worth the risk as the view from the top did not disappoint


Avanos is the pottery capital of Cappadocia.  Some guided tours include Avanos as a stop, where tourists can watch pottery making.  You may already know well that the next thing after the demonstration is the tour to the show room where the selling and buying or just looking around, takes place.

I had to say, though, that people who love decorative items would have a hard time resisting the colorful items on offer.


Other towns you can visit

Other options available which I myself would want to visit next time are as follows:

  • Ürgüp
  • Ortahisar
  • Uçhisar
  • Mustafapaşa

7. Get adventurous with an ATV tour

Cappadocia rock sites belong to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.  As such, ATVs are only allowed on certain paths.  It was my first time to drive an ATV and there’s no better place to do it than through the extraordinary landscape of Cappadocia.  Our tour operator’s ATVs are fully automatic so I only have to worry about pressing the accelerator and the brake.  We did the two-hour sunset tour.  I was nervous and excited at the same time, but I ended up having fun from the ATV tour.  Cappadocia will surely satisfy your adventurous heart.

You can check the availability and latest price for an ATV tour in Cappadocia by clicking here.

what to do in cappadocia

what to do in cappadocia

what to do in cappadocia


Where to Stay in Cappadocia: Cave Hotel

Staying in cave hotels is yet another must thing to experience when in Cappadocia.  Cave houses as well as hotels had been carved out or integrated into Cappadocia’s unique landscape.  Aside from experiencing the cavernous yet comfortable space, most cave hotels will have terraces and rooftops from where you can view fairy chimneys to which Cappadocia is known for.

Cave hotels range from budget luxury hotels, so there will be options for everyone.  Click here to check latest prices and reviews of Cappadocia cave hotels.

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Cappadocia Turkey

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  1. umiko 17 September, 2018 at 20:31 Reply

    Of all the posts about Cappadocia I’ve read, I think yours is one that people must read if they plan to go. Your list sounds perfect especially for someone who likes outdoor and nature like me. Great post!

  2. Yukti 18 September, 2018 at 06:05 Reply

    Cappadocia is always on my wishlist as I have seen lots of hot air balloon pictures of it. Hot Air Balloon is the my first priority but ATV adventure also looks fun. I would also love to visit pottery town – Avanos and also hike to Baptist cave church looks very beautiful and the views from top are amazing.

  3. Annick 18 September, 2018 at 11:05 Reply

    Cappadocia’s landscape looks surreal! I can’t believe how much accessible history there is to see. The rock formations and caves are amazing. And I would like staying at a cave hotel sometime!

  4. Jas 19 September, 2018 at 00:01 Reply

    Cappadocia is super high up on my list and reading this just makes me wanna hop on a plane ride over. Definitely didn’t know there were so many amazing hiking options in the area and I definitely wouldn’t mind doing one myself. Thank you for the recommendations and I’m bookmarking this for my future visit!

  5. Shaily 19 September, 2018 at 06:10 Reply

    The name Cappadocia reminds me of those instagrammable hot air balloon pics. Flying in one of those balloons some day is on my wish list. Thanks for letting me know that there is much more to Cappadocia than just the hot air balloons. I would love to explore the underground cities – the experience must be surreal for history buffs like me. The Nunnery too looks intriguing. Everything here is just out of the world.

  6. eazynazy 20 September, 2018 at 07:01 Reply

    Your pictures speak a lot about this place and i really loved it. I have always wanted to visit a place where they have this Balloon festival going on just to see how beautiful it looks when they all go up in the air. I guess am definitely gonna visit Cappadocia mainly to see the Balloon 😀

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