Cappadocia, this region in Central Anatolia, is certainly one of the most impressive regions in Turkey. It is best known for its so-called fairy chimneys.
In fact, these are so fascinating that UNESCO has decided to designate the unique complex as both a World Heritage Site and a World Natural Heritage Site.
A recognition granted to only a few other sites in the world. But why is this rocky landscape in the middle of Turkey so spectacular?
And for what reason, you should definitely put this fascinating region on your bucket list. This and more you will learn in this article.
What Makes Cappadocia So Special?
The Central Anatolian region has probably the most surreal landscape you will ever discover in your life. A fascination that will truly take your breath away once you see Cappadocia with your very own eyes.
Strictly speaking, it almost seems as if you were no longer on Earth but on an entirely different planet. The best thing about the impressive rocky landscape is that they were all created innately, universally.
Of course, not in one fell swoop, but over millions of years. The oldest of the fairy chimneys is over 60 million years old.
In addition, the inhabitants have built numerous underground cities under the fairy chimneys. Some of these cities even go a full eight stories deep into the earth. The most famous of them are Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı.
Another special feature of this region in central Anatolia is the colorful hot air balloons. These hover over the landscape almost all year round and offer numerous photographers a popular subject for their pictures.
How Do You Get to Cappadocia?
The best way to get to Cappadocia from abroad is by plane. Usually, you have to change planes, either in Istanbul or Antalya.
However, the number of direct flights to Cappadocia has been increasing recently, mainly due to the enormous popularity among travelers.
You can find an extensive offer for air travel to Turkey on Skyscanner. The two closest airports are Kayseri and Nevşehir.
From both, you can get to Göreme, the most popular resort within the fairy chimney-dominated region, within less than an hour.
However, if you’re already within Turkey, you can also take a bus to Göreme and other beautiful towns in Central Anatolia. For example, there are regular bus services from Antalya to Göreme.
This way, you can take your time exploring Antalya Old Town and then head to Cappadocia. Especially convenient are the night buses.
Thanks to these, you arrive early in the Central Anatolian region and have all day to explore the fabulous surroundings.
If you feel like taking the bus to Cappadocia, then you’d best check out Flixbus. These have now built a Europe-wide network of bus routes.
Meanwhile, they are even active in Turkey and offer, among other things, three daily connections from Antalya to Göreme.
Another alternative is to rent a car. At all Turkish airports, you will find many reputable providers for rental cars. With these, you can drive completely without time pressure to Cappadocia.
Furthermore, you then also enjoy the advantage that you are completely flexible on-site and can drive to other interesting areas in Central Anatolia and the whole of Turkey at any time.
The Best Time To Visit Cappadocia
The best time to travel to the landscape with fairy chimneys is mainly between March and June or October to November.
At this time, there is not particularly much rain; instead, you will enjoy wonderful sunshine all day long.
Furthermore, during this time, you will be travelling outside the main tourist season. This means that the accommodation prices are also somewhat lower.
However, even from July to September, a visit to the Central Anatolian region is worthwhile during the main tourist season.
In particular, here in the summer months, the temperatures are between 30 and 32 degrees; making a trip during this period-perfect.
At the peak season, you will also discover incredibly many of the distinctive hot air balloons in the sky, which, along with the fairy chimneys, are the emblem of Cappadocia.
If you don’t mind the cold, you can, of course, travel here in winter. However, you should remember to pack appropriate winter clothing in your suitcase, so you do not experience a nasty surprise.
A warm jacket and hat, scarf and gloves you should have in any case.
Many people have thought that Turkey has beautiful weather all year round, but this is true primarily only for the coastal vacation regions.
In central Anatolia, the climate is rather continental. This means that here you can expect the same four seasons as in other European countries.
During winter, which lasts from December to March, it gets rainy in Central Anatolia. In addition, the wind will be your constant companion. But you will be rewarded with a breathtaking winter landscape.
This guarantees you to have twice as much fun going on a snow hike and getting to know Turkey from its wintry side. Especially the fairy chimneys get an exceptional aura as soon as they are covered by a layer of snow.
For a detailed summary of how warm it gets in each month, visit Weather & Climate.
Interesting Activities You Can Pursue
Visit the village of Göreme
Göreme is only a small village. But it convinces with lots of impressive photo opportunities.
A large part of Göreme is underground; stone facades hide the entrances. Inside awaits you a cave system, which acts like a giant maze.
The village is not without reason the most popular destination among visitors exploring this region in Central Anatolia.
Especially for hiking, Göreme is the perfect starting point. Many hiking trails start here and run along some of the craziest rock formations you’ll ever see.
Whether you want to climb to a viewpoint on a hill or visit some cave churches, in Göreme, you can reach everything in no time.
In addition, you should definitely make a detour to the Göreme Open Air Museum. Just on the way there, you will pass the two churches El Nazar Kilise and Sakli Kilise.
Both will amaze you with their ancient frescoes. The motifs show, among other things, Jesus at the crucifixion.
This is mainly an indication that Cappadocia and many other parts of Turkey were predominantly Christian a long time ago. The open-air museum itself consists of a giant complex of ancient places of worship.
Fly in a hot air balloon
One of the absolute highlights of any trip to central Turkey is a flight in a hot air balloon.
These represent, along with the fairy chimneys, one of the most famous motifs, which you can discover in pictures of Cappadocia.
Especially at sunrise, numerous hot air balloons fly over the landscape characterized by surreal-looking rocks. In summer, this may well be more than 100 balloons that you can see in the sky.
But instead of watching this spectacle from the ground, you can also simply change the perspective. Just go aboard such a vehicle, from which you can admire the fairy chimneys from the perspective of a bird!
You can book a hot air balloon ride conveniently on GetYourGuide. There you will find numerous providers with whom you may experience this unforgettable adventure yourself.
The time span for a flight ranges from 45 minutes to one and a half hours. However, the weather also plays a role.
You can book the additional option for all tours that you will be picked up beforehand at your hotel and then dropped off there again.
So, you don’t even have to drive yourself to the place where the hot air balloon takes off.
Explore the numerous underground cities
In Cappadocia, you will find numerous cities that were built completely underground.
Why the people did not build their settlements on the surface, but underground, is still unclear.
But there are two different theories, about what moved the inhabitants at that time to do so.
One theory is that the then-Christian inhabitants of Central Anatolia wanted to hide from the Seljuks in this way.
Especially the stones at the entrance of the underground cities, which are very difficult to open from the outside, speak for this theory.
According to the other thesis, the construction of underground cities had mainly climatic reasons.
In summer, it gets pretty hot here in central Turkey, and the air is very dry. On the other hand, it is cold in winter, and there is a lot of snow.
By building underground settlements, many agricultural products could be protected from the sharp fluctuations in temperature.
In addition, it was more difficult for attacking enemies such as the Seljuks to steal food. One of the most famous cities, which was built completely underground, is Kaymaklı.
This represents the largest city underground, Cappadocia, and consists of a giant maze of tunnels.
A whole eight floors go into the earth, but on a sightseeing tour, you can explore only four of them.
The other underground city you should definitely visit is Derinkuyu. As in Kaymaklı, the tunnel system extends deep into the earth.
However, in Derinkuyu, you can expect not only ancient living areas but also cave chapels. Particularly impressive, however, is the air supply system that the inhabitants of that time devised.
Today, not all of them are preserved, but more than 15,000 air shafts ensured sufficient air circulation in the past.
It is quite impressive what the inhabitants have come up with several thousand years ago, so everything to allow life under the earth’s surface at all.
The two cities Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu, you can visit in a single day. Both are not particularly far from each other.
However, if you do not have much time, you should prefer the city of Derinkuyu.
It is less crowded than Kaymaklı, and you can explore the tunnels without being disturbed by crowds of people.
Note, however, that the underground tunnels are quite narrow. If you suffer from claustrophobia, you’d better skip this experience.
Explore the city of Kayseri
Many visitors to Cappadocia arrive at the airport in Kayseri, but hardly any of them visit the city itself.
Quite wrongly because Kayseri has some impressive sights to offer thanks to its beautiful Ottoman and Seljuk architecture.
Magnificent is the citadel, which stands in the middle of the city centre. It is surrounded by numerous modern stores, which are a contrast to this ancient fortress.
You should definitely visit Mimar Sinan Park. There you will also find the Çifte Medrese, the first school of medicine in the world.
Today, this medical school is home to the Seljuk Civilization Museum. Its exhibits include textiles, jewellery, ceramics, and much more.
Of course, there are plenty of other interesting activities you can pursue in Cappadocia. If you need more inspiration, then your best bet is to check out TripAdvisor.
There you will find many more suggestions for unforgettable experiences in this region in Central Anatolia.
We hope this article has sparked your interest in Cappadocia and inspired you to take a trip there yourself.
As you have already experienced, it is one of the most exciting regions in Turkey and holds many breathtaking attractions and sights.
You will definitely not get bored during your vacation in the landscape with the characteristic fairy chimneys.
On the contrary, many visitors wanted to stay only for a day and instead often stayed up to a whole week to get to know the diversity of nature of Central Anatolia and especially Cappadocia.