Cappadocia Travel Guide for First Timers
When you arrived in Cappadocia you would have that disappointing feeling of “I already saw this”, and that it would not be as magical as it had been sold to you. But you are wrong; Cappadocia is everything you saw in photos and more. Undoubtedly, one of the most special places in the world.
Many come to Cappadocia only to take a hot balloon flight; but no! Cappadocia is not a place where justice can be done in one or two days; It is a huge area that includes villages, valleys, abandoned and inhabited caves, SUBTERRANE cities as … you have to be here to believe it.
Currency right now is $1 = 3.5 TL (Turkish Lira) Just to give you an idea, you can get a decent lunch for 10 TL (approximately $3)
First of all, I have to make it clear that no more confusion: Cappadocia is not the name of a city, but a region in central Turkey. Within this region there are cities and towns, although the most interesting places are in the vicinity of the two most tourist towns: Göreme and Ürgüp.
If you take a flight between Istanbul and Cappadocia, it is around 1 hour. There are two airports to which you can reach: Kayseri and Cappadocia (Nevşehir) Airport. From either of the two you will have to take a mini-bus to Göreme or where you are staying. From Kayseri it is 1 hour to Göreme and to Cappadocia Airport is 45 minutes.
Generally the cheapest flights have them Pegasus Airlines , but also checks with Anadolu Jet (only flies to Kayseri), Onur Air and Turkish Airlines .
Of course, you will go visit Cappadocia whenever you can have the time off, but depending on the time of year you travel, you will have to prepare yourself differently.
Here is How Weather Look Like in Cappadocia
Mid-December to mid-March: It is very cold. Snowfall usually starts at the end of December lasting until early or mid-March, and the wind is blowing hard, so it is normal for balloon flights to be cancelled and/or suspended. Many hotels are closed because the expense of heating is not justified with the amount of tourists there are. The positive thing is that when it is low season there is discount in accommodation, and if you can get your hand out of your pockets, you will have fantastic photos of Cappadocia under the snow flakes.
Mid-October to mid-December / mid-March to late April: good time to travel; It is cold but it is tolerable, and there is not so much tourism as in high season. At the end of October, you need to have a warm jacket (sometimes a hat and gloves too) but at the same time you do not not die of heat doing the walks as it happens in summer. This season is not cold as in winter. The temperature is between 8º and 12ºC.
May to late June / September and October: It is the best time to travel in terms of temperature, but crowded too. And think that you are in one of the most touristic place in the country, where 90% of those who travel to Turkey for the first time. Forget the quiet walk through the most popular valleys, and prepare for long lines at all attractions.
July and August: The sun heats of Cappadocia with his anger in the summer (above 35 ° C) and walking becomes intolerable. In mid-August the temperature starts to drop.
Where To Stay?
For some, it is best to stay in Göreme, because it has a great location in the middle of conical formations and there are many places to visit within walking distance. The negative thing is that the town lives exclusively on tourism; Every business is a hotel, souvenir post, travel agency or restaurant. You will always be surrounded by tourists and the prices are higher.
Ürgüp is very much for Turkish oriented domestic tourists. It is bigger, much cheaper and with real options for eating, not all restaurants with ridiculous prices like in Göreme. The big thing is that the most interesting places are far away. Yo would need to rent a car.
As I said, in terms of location, there is no rival to Göreme, so if you are staying for a few days, I recommend you stay here.
In Ürgüp you would feel like you are back in Turkey. You can find cheap food stalls, bakeries, many tea houses and life beyond tourism in Ürgüp.
In all of Cappadocia, the integrity of the places to their surrounding is very well taken care of, so you will not see cement monstrosities with a tin roof ruining the whole landscape, as you could see in so many places. One of the rules of conservation of UNESCO is that everything that is built has to be done with the stone of the place, maintaining a uniform color and style.
Most of the hotels are built thirty or forty years ago which were caves where ancient people lived. Many rooms are real caves renovated and others are new constructions that are inside as such.
Options you can imagine are plenty, but everything depends on how much you want to pay.
Places To Visit From Göreme
Göreme Sunset Point: is 10 minutes from the town center. It is a very good place to watch the balloon flight in the morning. Free.
The balloon departure schedule varies according to the time of the year, usually 6 AM in the morning and (end of October) they take off after 7AM.
Uçhisar: Even before arriving in Göreme, this town is the first thing you’ll see in Cappadocia. The spectacular castle is the highest point of the area, and one of those images that shows up in almost any tourist brochure.
To enter the castle they charge entrance, but the best is to view from far, and not so much inside.
It is 5 kilometers from Göreme. You can go along the route (all uphill) and walk back by the Pigeon Valley (Guvercinlik Vadisi), which is very easy to do.
Çavuşin: The imposing rock of Çavuşin is where the villagers once lived. The place is fantastic and it is only 4 miles from Göreme. Free.
(Gulludere) and Rose Valley (Kizilcukur): They are the two most spectacular valleys, especially at sunset. Local guides’ favorite place to watch the sunset. There is nothing like the view from the observation deck that is behind the church Haçli Kalesi, in the Rose Valley (there is a little stand that sells juices and Tea next to the church). From the hills that separate the route from the valleys also has a magical panoramic.
The problem is that the signage of the walks is not very clear, and there are several divisions, so it is easy to get lost.
The only way to get around is to walk, because quad biking or motorcycles can not enter the trails, and the terrain is not suitable for bicycles.
If you have little time in Cappadocia, definitely this valley is the one you can not miss. In addition to the natural formations and caves, you will also find several churches with crosses carved on the roof and formidable frescoes (Haçli Kalesi is S.IX).
Love Valley: Even you do not have much imagination to find figures curiously staring at stones, the Love Valley are sufficiently explicit to make sense of the name.
Pigeon Valley (Guvercinlik Vadisi) is a short, easy walk to follow linking Uçhisar with Göreme. The name (Valley of the pigeons) was given because there are several caves that until recently were used to feed pigeons and to gather the manure of these birds, which serve as fertilizer. When tourists’ money began to arrive, most of them quit that shit job and traded for industrial chemists.
Open Air Museum: Always full of tour groups, is the appeal is not lacking in any tour. However, not many tourists find it interesting. You can skip it if you want.
Entrance 25 TL ($8).
If you are planing to spend the whole day to walk from Göreme to Çavuşin (no need to go for the paved road, you can take the dirt road that divides thereof). After visiting Çavuşin get back on the the paved road and walks towards Göreme to the turnoff that goes to “Love Valley”. There is a path that takes you inside the valley and another that goes up. The road that goes up is good because you pass by a viewpoint and you can appreciate the landscape better, but then it becomes a normal dirt road; While below you do not have such good views but you are always inside the valley.
After about 4 or 5 km walk you arrive at Uçhisar. Visit the village and come back to Göreme by the “Pigeon Valley”, which will be two more kilometers.
So remember that, it is a long and tiring trek, but absolutely recommended.
Places To Visit From Ürgüp
Mustafapaşa: is a town established even before the formation of the Turkish Republic and Greeks and Turks lived together.
There is also an old church converted into a mosque, which clearly note the difference between the original building and the minaret added decades later.
Right across that, there is a madrassa (school in Arabic, usually refers to Islamic school) converted to church. Notice that on both sides of the entrance there are rotating columns that are used in case of earthquake to know if there is a danger of collapse. If the columns turned it is because everything is fine, but if they are locked, better run out because the roof may collapse over you.
Aktepe Hill (Sunset Point): No need to pay the entrance (2 TL) for this viewpoint. It is filled with tourists. Just before you reach the entrance barrier, you will take the dirt road that goes out to the left. After about 300 meters you will reach a terrace where you will have even better views of the Red Valley than paying, and on top well away from the huddle.
It is the best place to see the flying balloons, but you’ll have to wake up very early because it is 6 kilometers from Ürgüp. At that time of the morning they do not charge.
Ortahisar: is a less touristy town than the others in the area, where only a few tour go visit the castle and take off. It is good to stay for a while sitting watching the life that no longer exists in Göreme.
The castle is dug in an imposing rock in the center of the town. The entrance costs 2 TL.
It is 6 kilometers from Ürgüp.
(Devrent) Valley and Pasabagi: from Ürgüp you can Hitchhike or take a dolmuş to Devrent Valley, where it joins with another paved road, which is what you have to take. From there it is better to walk to not miss anything.
In the “Devrent Valley” you’ll have to fairly use your imagination to discover figures of animals on the rocks, except for Camel is very clear. What you find depends on you; You could see Donatelo of the Ninjas, the five Power Rangers (the original ones, not the lie) and Polino.
After a couple of kilometers you’ll reach Pasabagi, where in one place, you have a dream-team of rock formations; Conical, penis-shaped, rabbit shaped rock formations, a church dug in the rock.
If you still want to go Çavuşin, you can keep walking for another 3 kilometers.
The same way you can do it from Göreme, but in the opposite direction. From Göreme to Devrent Valley is 10 kilometers.