Everything You Need to Know Before Planning a Trip to Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia is only growing more popular as a tourist attraction – and the churches, hotels and natural beauty here make it easy to understand why
Cappadocia is only growing more popular as a tourist attraction – and the churches, hotels and natural beauty here make it easy to understand why | © Marina Pissarova / Alamy Stock Photo
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

The mystifying landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey, has become very popular in recent years, especially after the annual Cappadox summer music festival. Before you book your trip, make sure to check out our essential tips to make the best of the region.

Interested in visiting Cappadocia but not sure where to start with planning your itinerary? Consider joining Culture Trip’s specially curated 12-day Turkey trip, which includes a visit to Kaymakli Underground City and a spectacular hike through the Rose and Red Valley.

How to get there

Cappadocia is most easily accessible by plane. There are two major airports in the vicinity: the Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR) in Kayseri (approximately a one-hour drive from the centre of Cappadocia) and the Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV) in the town of Gülşehir (a 40-minute drive from Cappadocia). Remember that Cappadocia is a region and not a city, with the main attractions centred mostly in and around Göreme. It’s also a good idea to rent a car from the airport because, due to the low population density, public transportation options are limited.

Sacred House Hotel

More of a medieval castle than a hotel, the Sacred House will make you feel like you’ve ended up on the set of Beauty and the Beast, complete with large fireplaces, marble statues and grand chandeliers. The library also has first editions from philosophers such as Nietzsche, Sartre and Goethe in case the Inferno (the hotel pool in a cave-like dwelling with ornate marble columns) didn’t suffice in transporting you to a past century.

Museum Hotel

Known locally for having a terrace that overlooks a stunning view, the Museum Hotel has rooms decorated with historical artefacts from the Ottoman, Seljuk, Roman and Hittite periods. You’ll be surrounded by history, in every sense of the word, including cave rooms that are thousands of years old.

Eren Bey Cave Hotel

A great option for those on a budget, the Eren Bey Cave Hotel is a family-run establishment with nine individually decorated cave rooms. The hotel is close to the centre of Göreme and offers a complimentary Turkish-style buffet breakfast composed of local ingredients. The owners also run a travel agency, which means guests can also directly book excursions or tours, including an unmissable hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia.

What to do and see

Göreme National Park

A Unesco World Heritage Site, the Göreme National Park has a mystifying landscape, formed entirely through erosion, as well as historic sanctuaries and dwellings carved right into the rock with beautiful examples of Byzantine art. You should also definitely journey into the magnificent underground cities that date back to the 4th century.

Churches

The historic churches of Cappadocia are truly inspiring, with well-preserved Byzantine frescoes from the post-iconoclastic period. Make sure to visit the Tokalı Kilise (Church of the Buckle), the largest church in Göreme, with a main nave that features provincial-style frescoes from the 9th century. The Elmalı Kilise (Apple Church) is a smaller cave church but also has scenes of saints, bishops and martyrs. The Karanlık Kilise (Dark Church) was built in the 11th century and features frescoes depicting the life of Christ, from the Nativity to the crucifixion.

Where to eat

Babayan Evi

Babayan Evi is a cave hotel in Ürgüp Cappadocia; whether you decide to stay there or not, you should definitely try the restaurant. Every dish is homemade with ingredients grown locally by the owners, from the butter made from the milk of village cows to the pekmez (grape molasses) made from the grapes harvested in the vineyard.

Zeytin Café & Ev Yemekleri

A signature Cappadocia dish is mantı (tiny meat-filled dumplings which are then boiled and covered in a yogurt and tomato sauce). A great place to try it is Zeytin Café & Ev Yemekleri, which also serves up traditional Turkish home-cooked dishes.

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