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Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia is a beautiful, almost moonlike, area in Turkey located in Central Anatolia. When we visited Istanbul (travel guide for Istanbul is here) we wanted to make sure we got to see Cappadocia. We were only in Turkey for about 4 days, but we felt it was an experience we just couldn’t miss out on. It was absolutely unforgettable and something we suggest everybody do at least once in their lives.

TRAVELING TO CAPPADOCIA

Since we only had 4 days for our trip, we wanted to make every minute count so we needed to find the most time-efficient method of getting to Cappadocia from Istanbul. We ended up taking a midnight flight, but here are a few options for you to consider:

 

  1. Flight – Cappadocia is serviced by 2 airports, Kayseri Erkilet Airport and Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport. We actually flew in to Kayseri Erkilet Airport, via Pegasus airlines. The tickets for both of us came out to be $60 dollars for a round-trip from Istanbul. We booked it while we were still in the U.S. to ensure that everything was taken care of before we got to Turkey. However, if you have more than just 4 days in Turkey, some say it’s even cheaper to book it while you’re in Istanbul. The flight from Istanbul is only about an hour long, so it saved us a lot of time. But the airports are also about 1 hour away from Cappadocia, so you’ll definitely have to account for taxi/commute.
  2. Train – Trains connect Istanbul with Ankara and Konya via Eskişehir. From Konya you can continue to Cappadocia by bus or rental car (4 hours).
  3. Bus – A night bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia is usually the cheapest way to go (it’s about 90 liras), but it’s a long ride—730 km (10 to 12 hours). If you don’t mind traveling by bus for that long, this is definitely an option to consider. The bus also takes you directly to and from Cappadocia, whereas for all other options – you’ll need to figure out how to get to Cappadocia from the station/airport.
  4. Car – It’s a long drive. Total of 8 hours without stops. Since it’s such a long drive, this option is best for groups of 3 or more. Fuel is expensive and this way you can split costs and drivers. However, we do not recommend this option though because getting in and out of Istanbul by car is a nightmare.

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TO AND FROM AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS

Public transportation is your best and cheapest bet here. There are taxis available at the airport for you to use. Unlike Istanbul, Uber was not a thing at the airport or in Cappadocia in general. You can either get your hotel to accommodate a taxi to and from the airport or you can get one yourself at the airport. We suggest scheduling it prior to you arriving at the airport. Since Istanbul is such a metropolitan city, many of the cab drivers spoke enough English to understand where we wanted to go. However, Anatolia doesn’t have the same diversity and most of the cab drivers only speak Turkish. This made communicating with our taxi driver pretty difficult. Don’t put yourself in that situation.

PLACES + AREAS TO STAY

Before I get into this, we would like to emphasize that you should STAY IN CAPPADOCIA FOR MORE THAN 12 HOURS. You may want to plan for at least 2 days here. We were there for barely more than 12 hours and it was sort of chaotic. Our flight got in at 1am, it took us an hour to get to our hotel and by the time we checked in it was close to 3am. Our Hot Air Balloon ride was at 4:30am so we were pretty sleep deprived and exhausted.

Now, if you’d like to get a hotel – there are a bunch of great options on Trip Advisor, Airbnb and other sites. Though, we highly suggest that you stay in a cave hotel! We ended up staying at Lalezar Cave Hotel and we paid $39 for one night. It wasn’t the poshest cave hotel available, but it was not a bad experience at all. Especially not for the price!

You can definitely look into other hotels, there are some that have an amazing view of the hot air balloons taking off at dawn. It’s so breathtaking. Our hotel had that view as well, but it was not as close as some of the other hotels you can stay at.

FOOD

This is a tough one again! Since we only had a few hours to spare between our balloon ride and flights, we only got to eat at this one restaurant called Kale Terrasse Restaurant. The food was good, but not the best. We had some AMAZING food in Istanbul (we also went to a lot of local restaurants in alleys), whereas here it felt like it was mostly catering to tourists. However, there are many restaurant options for you to try. Don’t worry!

TOURISTY THINGS TO DO

There are actually a lot of things to do in Cappadocia, but you can probably do most of it in 2-3 days. Taking a hot air balloon flight is an absolute must. This was the primary reason we even went to Cappadocia and it was worth the sleep deprivation. The hot air balloons typically take off around sunrise, so plan for at least one really early morning.

Pretty much everything to do in Cappadocia though is outdoorsy. You can go horseback riding, rent four-wheelers, go hiking through the fairy chimneys, take a tour of the underground city, visit some of the historic sites like the Dark Church (Karanlik Kilise) or Church of St Jean (this church has preserved frescos or murals that date back to 2000 years), and even create your own pottery.

Since we only had a very limited amount of time, we scheduled everything before we got to Cappadocia. This guaranteed that we would be able to do everything we wanted, but it came at the cost of… money. Booking online made everything far more expensive. The hot air balloon rides cost us almost $500 for both of us, but if you booked the rides in Cappadocia it was about 700 lira (a fraction of the price). If you’re planning to be in Cappadocia for a few days, it may be best to book some of your excursion while you’re there, just be aware that some of them may be sold out.

SHOPPING AND GIFTS FOR FAMILY

As far as shopping and gifts go, Cappadocia has some really nice tribal jewelry and clothes. There is this famous Instagramable carpet shop you see all over the internet (the the owner can be very selective of who gets to pull out their camera in there), everything in that shop is for sale. So we ended up picking up some items from there. The clothes were handmade and super traditional. Same with the jewelry here. There are also plenty of antique shops you’ll come across and find some really unique pieces. However, you should remember that everything is priced to negotiate, so don’t pay asking price!

In conclusion, Cappadocia is a stunning place to go for a vacation. We wish we had more time there, but hopefully we’ll get the chance to go back again. Definitely, spend some time really taking this place in, and definitely go on a hot air balloon ride – the experience escapes description. And most importantly… don’t forget to enjoy and relax.

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I’m Maryam, your new guide. Welcome to my Blog!

Maryam Ishtiaq is a content creator and social media strategist who currently resides in Dallas, Texas.

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