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Travel Guide: 72 Hours in Cappadocia, Turkey

Although Istanbul and the beaches get more press, those who have visited will agree that Cappadocia, is no less a jewel in Turkey’s tourist crown.

One could spend weeks exploring Cappadocia’s lunar landscape with its fairy chimneys and ancient cave churches, but most people allot just a few short days here on their holiday.

Duke Dillard from Captivating Cappadocia recommends you stay in the charming Middle-Earth town of Göreme in the heart of the region, the most central location.

Day 1

Hot Air Balloon Flight

If you do not take a hot air balloon ride, you should definitely wake up at sunrise and watch them fill the skies.

However, Cappadocia is the world leader in hot air balloon rides. There are over 20 hot air balloon companies in the region.

Open-air Museum

Take the 20-minute walk to the Göreme Open Air Museum, pay your 15TL entrance fee, rent the 5TL audio guide, and spend the next two hours marveling at the 1,100-year-old cave churches and the frescoes. Tip: Pay the extra 8TL for the Dark Church; it is worth it.

Be sure to hit the Buckle Church on the way down the hill (included with the Museum entry ticket) and head back to Göreme’s center. Across the canal, from the bus station, you will find three unique cafes to choose from for lunch.

Uçhisar Castle / Pigeon Valley / Hammam

Take the public bus (3TL) up the hill to Uçhısar, ascend the castle (5TL) and enjoy the breathtaking view of the valley and then explore the town a bit.

Once you are done, hike the breathtaking Pigeon Valley (free) back to Göreme.

Tip: If you do not feel up for a hike, then use the afternoon to do some shopping around Göreme. There is an abundance of the gift, handicraft, and antique shops which cater to all your retail needs.

Stop by your hotel, grab some clean clothes, head to the hamam (Turkish bath – up to 60TL), and enjoy a massage and good scrub down. Feeling squeaky clean you will be ready for a nice dinner.

Sunset Viewpoint

Depending on the time of year be sure to schedule dinner around the sunset. You will want to grab your camera and make the trek up the hill to the sunset point for a breathtaking photo experience.

Day 2

Having woken up with the sun the day before, you can enjoy a bit more sleep today. You will need it for another full day of activity.

Underground City & Hiking

After breakfast, head over to one of the many rental companies and get a scooter (around 60TL for the day). Head South for an hour to one of the big underground cities, Kaymakli or Derinkuyu (15TL).

You may want to hire the guide who will be waiting past the entrance as there is very little signage in the caves. These subterranean cities date back thousands of years and descend 100 meters underground (not a good place if you are claustrophobic).

Ihlara Valley

If you are looking for more hiking, we recommend going a bit further afield to the captivating Ihlara Valley (8TL). This mini Grand Canyon with cave churches and monasteries follows a small river for up to 12 kilometers.