The Top 5 Things to do in Turkey's Magical Cappadocia
Have you ever wanted to be in a fairy tale? Well here is your chance because Cappadocia is a whimsical magical place you have never seen before. From admiring unique land formations to exploring valleys to exiting adrenaline pumping activities - Cappadocia will not leave you disappointed. I was there in Nov 2019 for only 3 days (I wished i had at least a week there) and here are the Top 5 things to do!
1) See Amazing Views from Above by riding on a Hot Air Balloon
Going on a Hot Air Balloon Ride is one of the top if not the most sought after activity to do in Cappadocia. Prices are steep and can go up to 200-300€ in the Summer. I went during the low season in November and I paid 170€ through a booking on Viator. However, when I was there, the hotel owner said that he could have gotten a lower price for me if I had liaised directly with him. I booked my ticket online as I will only be there for 3 days and I wanted to secure my seat in advance. If you are going during the winter months, have more than a few days to spent there and would like to save some money, you can try your luck at buying the tickets in person.
On the day of the balloon ride, I was especially nervous but not because of the ride but because I was afraid that the weather might not be optimal and the ride would be cancelled. And if that would happen, the tour would be rescheduled to the next day. There was a real possibility that the ride would not take place during the time I was there. So if you are planning on going on the ride, please try to do it on the first day you're day to avoid disappointment.
I thought that I would have to wake up really early at 4 or 5 am but was picked up at 6 am instead and was even the first to get on the minibus to the lift-off point. At the waiting area, some refreshments were provided and were adequate. Everyone huddled around the fire as It was also really really cold in the morning, maybe about -5 degrees Celsius - the fire provided much relief.
It was a magnificent sight to behold watching them heat up the air inside.
Altogether, there were 26 people on board - 4 compartments with 6 people each and two pilots. I can't complain about the number of people on board because that was what I paid for. If you want something more private, be prepared to fork out quite a large sum of money.
It is vital that u get a good spot either at the outer ring or at the corners to get an interrupted view.
Finally a shot without anyone else in it.
Every minute was well worth the money spent. I definitely do not regret taking the ride. One more item checked off the bucket list!
2) Get your Heart Pumping by Driving an ATV
What better way to cover the vast terrain of Cappadocia than to ride an Atv. I have never driven an ATV before this tour and that made me more excited than ever to do it.
I booked a Sunset Atv tour on Viator with Cappadocia Adventure Atv at about 34€. For 2 hours, this was a really good deal. Moreover, there were only two other people besides me on the tour.
I was geared up with a helmet and face mask and off I went to do a practice ride. The accelerator was just a push of the button with your left thumb and brakes were operated by both hands. I have both a car and motorcycle licence but this felt a little strange.
A minute into the start of the tour and I lost control of the Atv for a second. The tour guide was worried and wanted me to sit behind him. But I couldn't give up and continued trying. If you haven't ride an Atv before, there's just a slight learning curve at the beginning and after that you will be fine.
The highlight of the tour was riding to the sunset viewpoint at Love Valley.
The view of the sun setting was just spectacular and while I was enjoying the view, I savored a cup of warm wine sold by the people in the car.
Combing the valleys on an Atv is one of the fastest and most thrilling way to explore Cappadocia. The road may be bumpy and sometimes hard to maneuver around but I promise that you will have an awesome time. If you have a Gopro, bring it along to record the journey, they provide helmets with the attachment.
3) Be Adventurous and Explore the Valleys on your own
Going on tours give u the upmost convenience in having everything planned out for you. However, there is always that sense of excitement, adventure in exploring on your own.
I met Ahmet who was my tour guide on the Atv tour and because we shared a commonality in speaking broken Thai, we became friends. He offered to bring me around on his Atv on my last day to explore the valleys that are not populated by tourists and I'm so grateful for that.
We walked through what used to be water channels
Climbed into a cave house.
Exploring without a tour has its own advantages. Give it a try if you have the time, you will not regret it.
4) Take the Green Tour
If you do not have a lot of time to spend in Cappadocia, joining a tour would allow you to see the most in the shortest amount of time. The Green Tour costs a reasonable 40€ for a whole day pack with sight-seeing.
One memorable stop was at Derinkuyu Underground City. It is the biggest underground city in Turkey and the deepest in Cappadocia. It was interesting to see how small the rooms and passageways are and interesting to note how people then were much smaller than us right now.
We also visited Selime Monastery. According to our guide, he said that star wars was shot here. I can see the resemblance but I don't know how true this is.
This was the most scenic part of the tour. We did a short hike at Lhara valley The trees were lush and in abundance - a stark contrast to the sandy eroded landscape I've been used too.
The last stop of the trip was to Göreme Panorama Viewpoint. From this viewpoint, you'll get to see clear extensive views of Pigeon Valley. The valley is aptly named because of how people who used to live there, used the small holes to attract pigeons and after which utilize their poop as fertilizers.
This day tour was very informative. I got a glimpse into the lives of people who lived there and got a chance to revel in the most amazing landscapes on earth.
5) Visit Göreme Open-Air Museum - A Museum like no other
If you do not want to go on a tour and also do not have means to hike and explore the valleys and it's structures on your own, Göreme open-air museum is a destination you do not want to miss.
The museum is accessible with just a 20 min walk from the center of Göreme. A complex of monasteries each with is own church is an amazing example of rock hewn architecture.
The only downside to this is that you would have to pay 75TL to enter. But of course the money is well spent considering the convenience and accessibility to this amazing place!
Cappadocia is an amazing place to visit if you are interested in embarking on a thrilling adventure to discover vast landscapes and rich histories. It is definitely a place not to miss on anyone's itinerary to turkey!