Updated: Jun 21, 2021
Cappadocia is a place of DREAMS! 🤩
It truly ignites every single sense. The smell of fresh Turkish coffee and open grills, the sounds of the mosques and traditional Turkish music, the flavours bursting across your taste buds, beautiful colours everywhere, the feel of the fabrics and the glow of the lanterns - it’s just mind-blowing!
Where to stay
The first thing that can stop you in your tracks before even stepping foot out of your home country, is deciding where to stay. It’s overwhelming! There are over 400 cave hotels around Göreme - and honestly, they all look incredible. There’s accommodation to suit every price range, so you’re truly spoilt for choice. I got a recommendation from a girl I met in a travel group on Facebook, she told me to get in contact with Lisa at Adelya Cave Hotel, and it was the best thing I could have done. Travelling during the pandemic wasn’t without it’s challenges and second thoughts, so going back and forth with Lisa about hot air balloons, tour packages, tour safety, restrictions, solo travel safety, wifi strength (yes I was that person!) was exactly what I needed to put me at ease.
I booked my tour package directly through the hotel, including my transfers (I’ll post all the prices at the end) and when I pulled up outside my hotel, I was greeted by the friendliest Turkish man saying “Sherilyn!!” and literally welcoming me with open arms (and a face mask).
I stayed at the Adelya for a total of 9 days, it was the perfect place to base myself, a small hotel with only 9 rooms. The traditional Turkish breakfast every morning was to die for, and was cooked by Denis. We became like a little family during our stay, it was brilliant.
Where to eat
As I mentioned, my hotel had incredible breakfasts included in the price, so there was no reason for me to go elsewhere. However on two occasions I booked breakfasts at luxury hotels to get the sunrise views and and an even more lavish breakfast experience. The first was Museum Hotel; They have a heated infinity pool and panoramic views of the hot air balloons from a distance. Their breakfast and pool experience was unlike anything I’ve ever done in my life! Extremely luxury and lavish and incredible value for money. The breakfast was never-ending, the service was to an extremely high standard and the views were breathtaking.
I also booked a sunrise breakfast on the Mithra Cave Hotel private terrace which also has beautiful views, but much closer to the balloons, and it’s in the heart of Göreme so you can see all of the caves and the city across the landscape. Unfortunately, the day that I’d booked this for, the hot air balloons had cancelled, so I wasn’t able to get those incredible sunrise balloon views I was hoping for. However the manager, Emre, was kind enough to offer the private terrace for breakfast for half price as there were no balloons. Yes, of course seeing the hot air balloons from there would have been amazing, but WOW did we have an incredible breakfast. They have a freshly made bed on the rooftop for you get relax in, stunning Turkish rugs to sit on and a huge platter of never ending breakfast. They even give you a fake breakfast to pose with before they serve the real one! Me and my sister indulged in the food and indulged in the views and practically had to roll off the roof after eating so much.
To be honest, I ate anywhere and everywhere for lunch, and it was all so good! One of my favourite places was a couple doors down from my hotel called Cappadocia Pide. You have to try their steak flatbread, it was delicious and the outside tables were almost always full.
Okay, get ready to take notes. First of all, I have to admit, I didn’t have one bad meal in Cappadocia (even the lunches on the tours were outrageous!) But I have some absolute favourites that I highly recommend you check out on your visit. On my first night I stumbled across a “hot wine” stand and fire pit outside a restaurant, and that was enough to entice me into Silk Road Restaurant. It quickly became my “local” and I spent evenings indulging in grilled meats and piles of bread before drinking Turkish tea and coffee with the staff.
My other favourite was recommended to me by my hotel staff as it’s where they ate. Cozy Cafe is an absolute hidden gem. It’s run by a lovely Turkish couple who are getting married at the end of the month (they were counting down when I was there). I don’t even have the vocabulary to describe how brilliant the food was. It was authentic Turkish food with influences from other regions as well as Cappadocia. My favourites were the cherry and pistachio chicken, and the stuffed aubergine. It’s a small restaurant with only around six tables, and the service is amazing.
One thing that is a must eat in Cappadocia (apart from EVERYTHING) is Testi Kebab (or Pottery Kebab to the Brits). It’s local to the region of Cappadocia, and it’s a mixture of meat and veg that’s baked in a clay pot, then served at the table by cracking the pot open and pouring the juiciest meat you could ask for onto your plate. I think every restaurant in Cappadocia serves it, however Dibek slow cook the meat in the pot for hours, so you have to order ahead of time. I can absolutely say that the meat was extremely tender and the flavour was just out of this world, so it’s worth making a reservation and ordering ahead of time.
What to do
There’s honestly so much!! But I’ll try and keep it short and sweet.
Hot Air Balloon Ride: Of course, this goes without saying, Cappadocia is one of the number one places in the world to get your hot air balloon on. It’s an incredible (and slightly terrifying) flying sensation and is an experience I’ll never forget. Totally worth the early morning.
Watch the Hot Air Balloons: Of course you get to see the views of the balloons from inside your hot air balloon, but I recommend you roll out of bed early one morning and make your way to Red Valley, a rooftop terrace or any other view point to see the balloons take off. It’s amazing to see to ground level.
Green Tour: This is a long day, roughly 8 hours for the full tour - but you get fed and watered so don’t panic. This is the what I call the “History Tour” You will learn so much about how Cappadocia came to be, go eight levels down and explore an underground city, see some incredible view points and beautiful Evil Eye trees, also you get to take gorgeous walk through Ihlara Valley.
Red Tour: This tour is around 6 hours long. I call it the “Instagram Tour” because there’s lots of different stops, and plenty of breathtaking photo opportunities. You get the see the Open Air Museum, Uchisar Castle, Monks Valley and plenty of Fairy Chimneys.
ATV sunset ride: This was a spontaneous activity for me actually. There was space on the ATV's after we’d finished the Red Tour, and our guide sorted it out for us. It was so exhilarating and fun quad biking through the valleys, and watching the sun start to go down over the unique landscape. I felt like I was in Mad Max.
Tuz Gölü (Salt Lake): This is a bit of a drive, but totally worth it! It takes about 2 hours to get there from Göreme. Tuz Gölü is the pink, salty remains of what was once a lake. We were the only international tourists there, it seemed to be a spot that mainly locals visited. We had many families stop and ask for photos with us. Also, the salt is great for your skin, and even better for those gorgeous landscape views. Stay for sunset, and take your camera!
Private Cinema under the stars: Kapadokya Çekim Platosu
This is actually quite new, and more of a photo location than a cinema, but I got in touch directly and asked if me and my sister could have a private screening under the stars. It was an early birthday surprise for her, and was lit up with fairy lights and had a beautiful cave backdrop. A lovely chilled way to end our trip with full access to Netflix.
Galerie Ikman: AKA, The magic carpet shop. There’s room after room of colourful woven carpets and lanterns. It’s photograph heaven for anybody that loves colourful and unique backdrops. The owners have clearly taken note of this, and it seems to have become more of a photo location than a carpet shop. I went a few times during the week to have a wander around and it was peaceful and beautiful. Then on the weekend, me and my sister decided that we would pay so that we could take pictures inside. Well… I haven’t quite had that experience before. Extremely strict with the 15 time slot, and a bunch of people running around like Supermarket Sweep trying to take photos from every angle. If you’re thinking of going, I’d do it on a quiet weekday, not on a weekend. We got lovely photos, but not a great experience.
Pool Day: Cappadocia is extremely inland, so there’s not much water around. I don’t know about you, but I like some kind of water experience on holiday, so if you fancy a pool to hang out at on your stay, check out Local Cave House. I’ll warn you though, it’s not heated, and often there’s a shadow over the pool, so it’s pretty cold. But nice to dip your toes in, look cute and admire the view.
Ethem Ustanın Yeri: I spotted this place on Instagram, it’s a little bit out of the way of the main area of Göreme, so most people give it a miss. But if you do get the chance, I’d highly recommend you grab a taxi and head up there for a Turkish coffee or an apple tea and enjoy the view. Plenty of photo opportunities too, and I was lucky enough to have my taxi driver wait for me while I chilled out and took some photos. It was a good job actually, because there’s no taxis around there.
Average Meal: 40TL
Average Taxi Ride (15 mins): 40TL
Average Glass of Wine: 30TL
My Hotel (Adelya Cave Hotel): €258 for 9 nights in Superior Cave Double
Tour Package: €175 (Including airport transfers, Red Tour, Green Tour and Hot Air Balloon Ride)
ATV sunset ride: 150TL (2 hours)
Local Cave House Pool: 50TL (Includes full day pool usage and wifi access)
Museum Hotel Breakfast & Pool: €40 (Full day usage of pool)
Mithra Private Rooftop Breakfast: €100
Galerie Ikman (Instagrammable Carpet Shop): 100TL (15 mins of photos)
Salt Lake (Private taxi): 700TL return (including 2.5 hours at the lake)
Open air private cinema: €100 (including red wine and return transfers) The wine provided I pretty awful, so I’d recommend that you take your own bottle and maybe some snacks if you want to make a night of it.
Things to note:
You’ll most likely be woken up at 5:30am by the sound of the call to prayer from the mosques. It actually worked as quite an effective alarm clock, because about 45 minutes after that, the balloons would start to go up at sunrise which I highly recommend you wake up for.
Cappadocia seemed to have some kind of wasp problem when I was there. Every al fresco meal was met by a mob of angry wasps wanting to dive into my food. Beware.
Taxis are super affordable, and often drivers take the role of mini tour guides. They might offer you a private day trip or sunrise views of the balloons up close for a set price. I took a driver up on his offer to drive us two hour round trip to the salt lake and he was fantastic. Always agree a price beforehand and of course as always whilst travelling, have your wits about you.
Hot air balloons go up every day, BUT it’s weather permitting. If the wind goes above 12mph, all of the hot air balloons get grounded, and it can sometimes last for a couple days. Try to stay for at least 3-5 nights to give yourself plenty of days to see the balloons, as well as go up in a hot air balloon. We very nearly missed out.
Also, remember that these prices may vary as the tourist season was only just starting to pick back up after a difficult year of tourism with the pandemic. Many hotels, tours etc were offering deals and options that they wouldn’t usually do in high season.
I travelled solo for the majority of my trip, and I know that there is often a question of safety around that. I have to say it’s one of the safest places I’ve travelled and I felt comfortable the whole time. The locals were lovely, and respectful, plus everybody seems to know everybody. They thrive completely from tourism so they seemed very supportive of other businesses, always willing to offer recommendations suited to your needs. It also wasn’t pushy in terms of sales, or up-selling either, I felt that there was a genuine interest and great conversations. (Quick story: One afternoon I was looking for a cafe and it was quite early, so my usual spots were closed. An elderly Turkish man took me to a local coffee shop and we sat with a major language barrier, trying to communicate and laughing at the failed attempts. He drank his coffee, smoked a cigarette, refused to let me pay for my coffee, and waved me off. It was a lovely interaction.)
I travelled from the 3rd to the 12th October and the weather was glorious everyday. We had 2 days of high wind which meant that the balloons couldn’t go up, but it was still bright and sunny on those days. Think of a desert-like climate, hot during the day and cold at night - so bring layers.
The COVID regulations were in full swing while I was in Turkey, but I purposely chose Cappadocia as I knew it wouldn’t have too much of a negative impact on my trip experience. Many of the attractions are outdoors and the tours in general are in quite small groups. (Green tour there were 11 of us, and Red Tour there were 6). All of the tour guides and drivers that I had enforced rules about wearing masks, and our temperature was checked on arrival at every attraction.
Cappadocia is extremely photogenic, so there are a lot of local photographers and videographers based there. If you want drone shots, sunrise balloon photos with a gorgeous gown on or a proposal photo shoot, the possibilities really are endless. I don’t have any personal recommendations as I didn’t have a photoshoot, but I met a lovely photographer called Murat, and you can check out his work here if you’re interested in finding out more instagram.com/muratkoksalart
I hope that I’ve left no stone unturned with recommendations for this magical region. It really was a top bucket list trip for me and completely lives up to, and EXCEEDS the hype.
My advice; eat everything, start your days early and always have your camera.
Thanks for reading guys!