Cappadocia is arguably one of the most fascinating regions in Turkey. Located near the city of Kayseri (map) in the geographic centre of Turkey, Cappadocia has a multitude of historical and cultural monuments, but is most famous for its unique geological features.

places to visit in cappadocia
Rock formations in Cappadocia.

Things to do in Cappadocia

This region in central Turkey was formed by a combination of deposits from rivers and volcanic eruptions. The soft rocks gradually eroded to give the region its unique, surreal landscape with countless pillars, chimney-like structures (called ‘fairy chimneys’) and strange rock formations.

things to do in cappadocia turkey
Amazing rock formations (image by K.Koseman/Unsplash)

Underground cities

The soft rock also enabled inhabitants in this region to carve out homes, churches and monasteries from the hillsides throughout the centuries. Early-Christians even built elaborate underground cities to escape persecution. Among the underground cities, Kaymakli (map) and Derinkuyu (map) are the most visited. These cities are truly fascinating, consisting of hundreds of rooms, tunnels and shafts, but I do not recommend a visit for those who are prone to claustrophobic attacks – some of the tunnels are narrow and dimly-lit.

things to do in cappadocia
The landscapes are surreal!

Göreme Open Air Museum

The Göreme Open Air Museum in the Göreme Valley should certainly not be missed. This UNESCO World Heritage site provides visitors with a unique insight into the history of the region and its monastic inhabitants, and houses around ten churches, chapels and convents carved out of the mountainside, some of which have magnificent frescoes that date back to the 9th century.


On the edges of the Göreme Open Air Museum lies the village of Uçhisar. Huddled against an imposing 60 meter high rock and surrounded by fairy chimney landscapes, the village looks absolutely spectacular! Atop the rock sits the Uçhisar Castle, which offers amazing views!

places to visit in cappadocia
Uchisar (left) and the castle atop the rock (image by A.Hassan/Unsplash)

Tours in Cappadocia

There are many possibilities to experience the surreal landscapes of Cappadocia such as jeep safaris, bus tours, on horseback or in a hot-air balloon. I recommend a full-day tour that takes in the underground cities, Göreme Open Air Museum, Uçhisar and the landscapes of the various valleys.

The hot-air balloon flight at sunrise is my personal favourite – it’s a very touristy thing to do but absolutely worth the hefty price tag.

Hot-air balloon in Cappadocia

The hot-air balloons depart just before sunrise – when weather conditions are excellent, there are sometimes tens of balloons up in the air simultaneously, making it a spectacular sight both from the ground and in the air . The views of the verdant valleys, the fairy chimneys and the deep canyons in the morning light are truly breathtaking. I’ll never forget the sight of the wave-like hills below, coloured with warm hues of pink, peach and cream in the morning glow – absolutely enchanting.



20 Responses

  • A hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia is one of the top travel experiences I’m dying to have, thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Carolien,
    Bedankt voor jouw commentaar. Cappadocia is echt geweldig. Jij heb vast van de ballonvaart genoten!


  • Just back from 10 days Uchisar, Capadocia, I am most pleased again to see your article.
    We had a great time! I had the chance to give a retreat there for a group from Holland and it was marvelous!

    Ofcourse i could not resist a balloonflight while being there

    there you can also find other pics – now wait until April and go again

    Carolien Geurtsen

  • Timely read for me as I will be there in less than 2 weeks! Can’t wait… looks incredible!

  • Thanks Velvet, great post.

    I am in favour of all publicity about this marvelous part of Turkey. Both nature and culture wise I think it is of great splendour!
    I visit Cappa at least twice a year and in 010 it will even be 3 times, as I am having the opportunity to organise a retrait week there in October, lucky me.
    Kind regards, Carolien Geurtsen

    Twitter @Caro_Geurtsen

  • Ahh, the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia have always been up there in ‘out of this world’ places! It seems like it would be a surreal experience. Are there a lot of tourists? It seems like its kind of an out the way place. I remember reading somewhere that you can stay in a hotel carved out of the mountainside, that would be unforgettable. Great info, thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Lisa,
    You will LOVE Turkey! Let me know when you go – I’ve got loads of tips for you! 🙂


  • Hi Keith,
    You’ve got a lot of great info about the natural and historic terrain. Really cool post, but I’d like to find some details about Cappadocia’s cave churches:)

    Greetings from Istanbul~

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  • Hi Keith, I agree with you about Turkey – it’s an awesome place, I love the people there. And because the place has been invaded so many times by different civilisations, each on has left a bit of influence behind, which has made Turkey one of the most diverse countries I’ve visited, both in terms of sights and food!

    But I had a slightly different interpretation of the bizarre landforms of Cappadocia!

  • Hi Simon,
    It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Turkey – I actually made this trip about 6-8 years ago I think. I love Turkey, from Istanbul to Ephesus to Bodum & Marmaris to Cappadocia, and from the Black Sea to Kars, Mt. Ararat & Lake Van to Diyarbakir & Mt. Nemrud…. gosh, come to think of it, I’ve seen quite a bit of the country. Hahaha! It’s a stunning country and the people are so incredibly friendly and hospitable. Maybe it’s time for another visit! Will have to start looking for a sponsor! 😉


  • Your lovely posts brings me back to past memories. I visited Turkey and Cappadocia ehm… more than 20 years ago… At that time, it was not such a well-known destination. Not many tourists, only a few Italians and as far as I can remember most visitors were coming from Germany. Cappadocia was still a wild place: no hot-air balloons, no horse-back riding, only simple accommodations.

    I’ve visited many awesome places since then, but Cappadocia and overall Turkey still holds a great place in my heart. I was fascinated by what seemed to me a lunar landscape, so unique.


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