No place in the world is so special, so magical. There is history all over the place, no matter if you are under or above the ground. The atmosphere casts its spell over travelers. We still know words fail to describe Cappadocia. If you are looking for the unique traces of civilization in a world where distances are shrinking, Cappadocia is the first place to visit. Because no matter where you go around the world, you will not be able to find something similar and experience such a mystery.
Visiting Cappadocia is not just a vacation! It also has a different effect of changing perceptions, causing excitement, and accumulating the unforgettable besides seeing a new place, experiencing history, and enjoying nature. Everything that we suggest like “you should definitely go or do” and everything you add to this will turn out to be “so glad I have been there” and “I will come back again”. We believe “Cappadocia is ineffable”, but still we cannot help telling you about it.
Places to See in Cappadocia
Cappadocia, the name that the Persians gave, means “The Land of Beautiful Horses”. Back then the most beautiful horses grew here and galloped in her valleys. Her unique geography was created with the efforts of Mother Nature; wind and rain caused the erosion of the soft lava flows from surrounding Erciyes, Mount Güllü and Mount Hasan over a very long time. Cappadocia accommodates many works with legends in a colorful nature that have everlasting effects on travelers if time devoted. If your holiday route is Cappadocia, we would like you to have a look at our ‘do not leave without’ list.
Göreme Places to See in Cappadocia
We have a saying for Göreme, a town in Nevşehir, which is among the ‘Unesco World Heritage’ in the Cappadocia region or Korama with the first name known in history: ‘Do not die without visiting Göreme!’ Göreme hosted many civilizations in history starting from the Hittites or maybe the Chalcolithic till the Ottoman period. But one of her most prominent features is that she hosted the Christians who escaped oppression between the 6th and the 13th centuries. To go into the depths of history, walk in the valleys in company of the fairy chimneys, walk around the narrow streets, imagine, and get impressed, we suggest you add her among your Cappadocia travel list and ‘go visit’.
1 – Göreme Open Air Museum
Göreme Open Air Museum is where you will enter into a completely different world when you pass the turnstile. Many churches, chapels and living space carved into the rock will receive you in this unusual world where the monastic life began and the Christians who escaped oppression became missionaries and hermits. Women’s and Men’s Monastery, Elmalı Church, Yılanlı Church, Çarıklı Church, Dark Church, St. Barbara and St. Basil Churches and Tokalı Church will impress you with their unique frescos and take you on a journey through history. Do not say ‘I visited Cappadocia’ without seeing the Göreme Open Air Museum among the Unesco’s World Heritage list since 6 December 1985.
You can visit this page for opening hours and fare information.
2- Güvercinlik Valley
Güvercinlik Valley, starting from Uçhisar and extending to Göreme, covering an area of 4 km, took its name from pigeon nests carved into the rocks. The people of the region fed these pigeons until the ninth century and used their manure in the vineyards and their eggs in the gypsum of the frescos. If you want to see both the pigeon nests and the unique vegetation that nature offers, do not go back without walking through this valley. There is also a waterfall that flows 15 meters high. It should be on your Cappadocia travel list both for trekking and taking photos!
3- Güllüdere Valley
You will witness the most beautiful scenes of the fairy chimneys and their artistic quality as you walk through this 4-kilometer valley. In the valley there are also remains and churches from the monastic life of the ancient Christians. Three Cross Church built in the 7th century and Ayvalı Church dated back to the 9th century which you will see between the vineyards and the apricot trees is the important historical buildings of the valley.
4- Love Valley
If you are planning to propose or want to live romanticism in the most extreme, this valley deserves its name among other beautiful valleys of Cappadocia. Known as Bağlıdere Valley, Love Valley starts from Örencik on Göreme – Uçhisar road and ends on Göreme-Avanos road with a length of 4.9 km. You go to the end of the valley where Cappadocia Balloon tours also drop by in 2.5 hours by foot. Fairy chimneys with their cute hats, various shapes and colors exhibit a visual festival.
In this video you can watch Love Valley, which a traveler recorded from a hill.
5- Zemi Valley
It starts from the area where Göreme Open Air Museum is located by the Nevşehir-Ürgüp road and ends at Kermir Hill. The distance between Göreme and the entrance of the valley is 5600 meters. Sarnıç Church, Görkündere Church, Hidden Church and El Nazar Church are located in this valley. You will encounter rich vegetation in this hidden valley, which is quite convenient for a walk.
6- Göreme Panorama
Göreme Panorama is where Cappadocia lies like a handcrafted carpet with patterns on it before you. You will have moments of peace with a delicious cup of coffee. If you visit the panorama especially at sunset, it will turn red and you will feel a little cold due to the mild cool weather. Do not forget to take plenty of photos.
Uçhisar Places to See in Cappadocia
Göreme is the heart while Uçhisar is the entrance gate to Cappadocia. At the highest peak and the most panoramic point of the region, the town which is 7 km from Nevşehir is comfort looking travelers’ favorite with its hotels. With its historic streets whose stone houses you will adore and its castle, it is impossible to ignore. Among the oldest settlements, you have to check it in your Cappodacia travel list. It is one of the most frequent routes of Persians’ King’s Road and Silk Road.
1- Uçhisar Castle
Uçhisar Castle is like the roof of Cappadocia; it spreads the snowy peak of Erciyes, Kızılçukur, Ürgüp, Avanos, in other words the entire region under your feet. You will be able to watch the sunset, and remember the poem and say “I looked at you from another hill, dear Cappadocia!”.
The northern side of Uçhisar Castle where fairy chimneys looking like block of flats stand is called Cevizli, also known as the river of fairy chimneys. Used to be shelters in ancient times, these small houses carved into the rocks were later used as pigeonholes. They have transformed into a cafe, pension, or souvenir shop now.
3- Tığraz Castle
Tığraz Castle, Uçhisar’s second largest castle, is an ancient monument worth seeing with its settlement descending from the hillside to the underground. Add this seven-floor castle with cellars and chambers connected through tunnels to your Cappadocia travel list.
4- Kocabağ Winery
Participate in wine tastings at Kocabağ Winery to get acquainted with the art of winery from local grapes as well as the historic and natural beauties of Cappadocia. You will surely find a wine that fits your taste and want to carry it to your dining table.
Avanos Places to See in Cappadocia
With roads from pottery fragments, Avanos divided by Kızılırmak running wildly in between is the place where clay turns into art in Cappadocia. It is located on Aksaray – Gülşehir – Kayseri caravan road. Its history dates back to 4000 years ago and extends from the Hittites to the Ottoman Empire. With its stone houses, workshops, fairy chimneys everywhere, it is a place where you cannot leave without wallowing in its mud.
1- Paşabağ Rahipler Valley
Located on Göreme – Avanos and at a distance 3,5 km from Avanos, Paşabağ Rahipler Valley is one of the valleys where you can observe the interesting formations of fairy chimneys with hats. The three-headed fairy chimney chapel in the middle of the valley was dedicated to the Saint Simeon. According to the legend, Saint Simeon lived in this chapel for 15 years in solitude.
2- Devrent Valley
Devrent Valley is known also as Hayal Valley and Perili Valley. One end of the U-shaped valley is Devrent and the other is connected to Kızılçukur. In the middle is Zelve and Paşabağ. You can reach this valley in 10 minutes from Göreme. Famous camel-shaped fairy chimneys and chimneys in different silhouettes, looking like sometimes an animal or a human are located here. It is your task to find the fairy chimney of Praying Virgin Marry in this visual festival.
3- Zelve Valley
Zelve Valley, considered one of the biggest open air museums of Cappadocia, is 3 km away from Avanos and 1 km away from Paşabağ Valley. You will see the sharpest and widest fairy chimneys here. There are 15 churches in Zelve Valley, one of the most important religious centers of Christians, especially in the 9th and 13th centuries. Known as the most famous churches of Cappadocia, Üzümlü, Balıklı, and Geyikli churches were also carved in the valley. We believe they are all a must-see.
4- Çavuşin Village
Altough it is located on Göreme – Avanos and 2 km away from Göreme, Çavuşin is a very old settlement belonging to Avanos. The oldest buildings in the village are the Church of John the Baptist and Çavuşin Church dated back to the 5th century. The boundaries of Kızılçukur and Güllüdere Valleys also begin from this village. We suggest you definitely see this village which is located beneath a huge rock, the houses lying down the hillside, and the ruins where Christian dervishes used to live.
5- Özkonak Underground City
No matter where you go around the world, the only place that is more astonishing than above the ground is the underground cities. Özkonak Underground City is one of these wonders of the world. Özkonak Underground City thought to be carved in 400 B.C. is composed of 4 floors. You will see the long and narrow holes that provide ventilation and communication inside, and you will be amazed by the magnificent architecture which you cannot help comparing with today’s architecture. Özkonak Underground City is located 13 km away from Avanos.
6- Sarıhan Caravanserai
Sarıhan Caravanserai is one of the structures dated recently rather than B.C. It was built in the 13th century during the reign of the Seljuk ruler Izzettin Keykavus. The caravanserai took its name from the yellow stones used in its construction.
7- Alaaddin Mosque
Alaaddin Mosque is also a work of 13th century Seljuks. It was built in 1202 by Alaaddin Keykubat. The building whose first restoration was made in the 17th century was undergone a small repair in 1964.
8- Avanos Hair Museum
Maybe we’re talking about the strangest museum you can see in the world. A cave of 500 square meters in which there are over 16 female hairs hanging inside! Galip Körmükçü, who is known as ‘Chez Galip’, is the founder of the Hair Museum. Explore this interesting museum which is among the world’s 15 most interesting museums and entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1998, and listen to its story from its founder. You will not regret.
9- Pottery Workshops
Avanos is famous for its pottery. At the center of Avanos, you can see the clay transform into an object by watching a master at the wheel, and then you can try it yourself. Calling the workshops you will see as ‘Chez’ in the center of the town art studio is not an exaggeration. One of the largest workshops and one of the places to visit as a museum is Güray Museum. Do not leave Avanos without visiting the first and only underground museum where you can see the historical development of the region’s pottery.
Ürgüp Places to See in Cappadocia
For those who ask “Where is the most active night life in Cappadocia?”, the answer is Ürgüp, which is 20 km away from Nevşehir, as it is the most crowded and brightest place. With its dense formations of fairy chimneys, Ürgüp is located on the historic Silk Road and at the crossroads of civilizations. Witnessing Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman civilizations, Ürgüp is also the most developed county of Nevşehir. You will admire the workmanship of the stone houses while you are walking around the streets.
1- Temenni Hill
Temenni Hill, which hosts artifacts from the Ottoman period, dates back to 1288. The monumental tomb built in the name of Kılıçaslan and the dome formerly used as Tahsinağa Public Library are among the works you should see on the hill. It is one of the highest points where you can see Ürgüp from bird’s eye view.
2- Mazı Underground City
The name of Cappadocian underground city, 18 km away from Ürgüp, was Mazata in the ancient times. Like all the underground cities of Cappadocia, it provided shelter and protection for a long time without going out. Although it has not been entirely cleaned up, you can experience the atmosphere including the ventilation chimneys and imagine the life underground.
3- Three Beauties
Made up of two big and one small fairy chimneys and standing like a nuclear family for centuries, Three Beauties is the place where 2 million tourists take photos before it every year. They are famous for their postcards. You will see them while driving on Ürgüp highway. Ürgüp is at a distance of 5 minutes from the center.
4- Cappadocia Art and History Museum
In the museum, the history, culture, and art of Cappadocia is staged with more than 200 babies in costumes. You’ll find it interesting.
Houses carved from the rocks and Tavşanlı, Sarıca, Cambazlı, Harim, Balkan Deresi Churches and Hallaç Dere Monastery inherited from Chrisitans’ monastic life are worth seeing. You can also visit the Ethnography Museum, which introduces Cappadocian culture. Ortahisar is also famous for its castle built during the Byzantine period which is 1 km away from Ürgüp – Nevşehir road. You can climb up to Ortahisar Castle and take your panoramic photos there.
Mustafapaşa whose name was Sinasos in antiquity is one of the places in Cappadocia we suggest you see when you visit Ürgüp. St. George, St. Stefanos, St. Vasilios, Constantine and Helena Churches and St. Basil chapel are on the border of this town. The village was a region where Christians lived until the population exchange in 1924. Asmalı Konak, the old Greek house we know from the TV show is a must-see in Mustafapaşa.
7- Gomeda Valley
Known less than other Cappadocian valleys, the valley gained its reputation with a Turkish horror movie shot there. It will be a little scary at first to walk on the valley with ruins. But you will find peace with the rich nature that resembles the Ihlara Valley, and you will be impressed by the Saint Basil Church and the Saint Nicola Monastery.
Do not miss the other attractions besides the places we try to describe regionally and suggest you add your travel list. You will breathe Cappadocia deeply in Ihlara Valley with birds singing and in the underground cities with a slight chill.
Perhaps the most frequent answer to the question ‘which one is the most secret, deepest and most mysterious paradise of Cappadocia’ will be the Ihlara Valley. It is estimated that the first settlement of the valley began in the 4th century. At a depth of 120 meters and distance of 14 km there used to be 105 historical monuments, but only 14 of them which you can visit and enjoy survived today. You can take a walk of 6 km in the valley in company of Melendiz River. You need to go down the 397-step stairs and If you consider ‘Is it worth it?’; do not forget this road goes to treasure and our answer is ‘Of course, it is!’ Ihlara Valley is 40 km from Aksaray and 7 km from Güzelyurt.
Derinkuyu Underground City
While driving on the Nevşehir – Niğde highway at a distance of 30 km to Nevsehir, you will meet the sign Derinkuyu. Derinkuyu Underground City, the largest underground city in Cappadocia, was named after its deep wells. This gigantic city, whose 8 floors have been cleaned so far, hosted almost as many people as above. It still remains a mystery how people lived under the ground without going out for a long time and especially how this Cappadocian underground city was built at a time when there was not much technology.
Kaymaklı Underground City
Kaymaklı Underground City is located 20 km away from Nevşehir. Like other underground cities, the underground city, which is estimated to be 8 floors, cannot be visited entirely; 4 floors in 20 meters are open to visit. Thought to be carved by Hittites in 3000 B.C., Kaymaklı, was able to accommodate 5,000 people at he same time. With its big bolt stones on the doors, church and of course the underground life design, it is definitely a must-see.
Gaziemir Underground City
Gaziemir Underground City, which is different from other Cappadocian underground cities, is 55 km from Nevşehir and 14 km from Güzelyurt. The difference of this Cappadocian underground city stems from its design both as caravanserai and living space. The entrance of the caravanserai is interesting since the gate was built with corbelling stone technique and it was applied here for the first time after Boğazkale. Do not forget to add this caravanserai used in Byzantine and Seljuk periods to your Cappadocia destinations.
What to eat in Cappadocia?
Cappadocia cuisine is a reflection of rich Anatolia cuisine. The taste of the dishes gets much better if the vegetable used for the recipe and the meat cooked are local products of the area. You can find a restaurant that suits your taste, no matter what your preference is, even fast food or world cuisine. But if you want to taste a special dish of the region, Testi Kebabı is the most famous. The most important element that increases the taste of your meal in Cappadocia is local baked pottery used while cooking. In Cappadocia, water is drunk and meal is eaten from local pots.
Testi Kebabı also called Çömlek Kebabı is made from onion, garlic, tomato and the front arm of the lamb; and it is cooked in a pot covered with potato and dough and served after the pot is broken on the dining table. So its presentation is as enjoyable as its taste.
Kuru Fasulye, another well known dish, is cooked in a special pot called ‘Oskar’ unique to Avanos. You can compare the taste with the ones you have eaten before. If you say ‘Let’s eat a local dessert after dinner and have a sweet chat’, we recommend you to eat the dessert called Aside which resembles flour helvas. Unlike the helva we know, eggs are broken after roasting flour with butter. It is mixed with sugar and milk and cooked on a low heat. If you are a dessert lover, you will enjoy sütlaç in the pot.
Apart from these, etli yaprak sarması (vine leaves with meat and rice stuffing), gül böreği, saç tava (meat in wok), çoban kavurma tandır, wedding soup, and güveç are also very famous. And of course you can choose seasonal fish from Kızılırmak and try local mezes.
If you are a wine lover, do not forget the wines from the local vineyards of the region.
Balloon Pleasure in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a sparkling city that tells a different story when viewed from the sky, sometimes wearing green, sometimes white and sometimes a red dress. If you are wondering about the panorama of the sky, let us say that the balloon tourism is very popular in the region and balloons suit Cappadocian heavens better than any other place in the world.
The route of the balloons taking off in the early hours of the morning is completely determined by the wind and they go up to 1500 meters. This pleasure lasts for an average of 45 to 65 minutes and takes place under the guidance of reliable firms which are inspected regularly. The prices start from 200 TL per person. Let’s remind you once again that “words fail us if we try to describe this experience”. You will enjoy it as you remember throughout your life, not just on your Cappadocia vacation. We would like to wish you a good vacation with the spell Cappadocia puts on you to ‘come again’ to see it from the ground, under or above, and the sky.