Last month I turned another year older and to celebrate switching a digit in my age I travelled to a destination that has been at the top of my bucket list for years, Cappadocia.
The famously unique region of Goreme is located in central Turkey and to travel from the UK we first took a flight from London to Istanbul and then a second onwards to Nevsehir which was a thirty-minute taxi ride to the town itself.
Cappadocia has become increasingly popular as a destination in the past few years due to the awe-inspiring pictures of the multiple hot air balloons that take to the sky daily over the region’s dramatic moon-like landscape. Having personally spent the past few years double tapping in admiration on Instagram at the surreal photos of the balloon spectacle I hadn’t ever really taken the time to appreciate the rest of the destination.
Having now visited, I can best describe Goreme as an enchanted and extraordinary fairy town. Not a fairy tale, but a fairy town, a pixie perfect location featuring the most uniquely fascinating scenery I’ve ever seen. The natural landscape varies from chimney style cave houses to vast expanses of hidden valleys, underground villages and cone-shaped rock formations. There really is no place quite like it! Goreme captured my heart from the moment we arrived!
As with most dreamy destinations, we chose to spend the majority of our time exploring, fitting in as much as we could in the few days we had in town. From quad biking through the valleys to exploring the underground villages we covered the intriguing ancient times of the area as best we could so here’s my put-together list of the best things to see and do in Cappadocia.
1. Hot Air Balloon Ride
The experience of slowly raising into a sky filled with dusky pink and purple hues, as well as hundreds of other colourful hot air balloons was an experience of a lifetime. One that I will never forget and one that I’ll treasure as one of my all-time favourite moments. The spectacle of being one of hundreds in the air is one thing but the ride itself over the remarkable landscape below was beyond my imagination.
2. Stay in a Cave Hotel
We opted to stay in one of the traditional style cave houses that naturally formed in the region over hundreds of years and our hotel had one of the best views in town. We spent three nights at the Kelebek Cave hotel and the team there were outstanding. The boutique hotel featured a swimming pool, authentic and delicious food choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a wonderfully traditional Hamman spa. The architecture of each room was historically intact and the décor reflected this, we loved being fully immersed in the destination’s culture.
3. Indulge in breakfast at Sultan Caves
Quite possibly the reason you booked a trip here in the first place? The ‘show’ breakfast at Sultan Cave suites really is something, a pretty little spread of authentic food is laid out in the centre of what looks like an Ottoman palace. Rich exotic fabrics cover the stone exposed balcony and the view first thing in the morning is nothing short of breathtaking! You can only enjoy the viewing platform turned ‘grammable’ photo spot if you are staying at Kelebek Cave Suites or Sultan Cave suites so bear that in mind when booking your accommodation.
4. See the landscape on Horseback at Sunset
The wonder of Cappadoccia stretches so far past the unique buildings and hot air balloons, the moon like landscape is like nowhere else in the world. The balloon ride was a once-in-a-lifetime experience no doubt but horse riding at sunset was one of my favourite things I’ve ever done whilst travelling. I couldn’t recommend it more, the scenery really comes to life as the sky fills with colour and seeing everything on horseback was just so special. We had a private tour with Lucky Horse Ranch and the connection the owner has with the horses is magical, I felt like I was riding a mythical creature! I highly highly recommend this company for a riding tour.
5. Take in the view at Goreme National Park
Looking for the ultimate view in town? Look below at the pictures and tell me this isn’t it! Just a few minutes outside of the main town, with zero climbing effort, you can look out and down over an expanse of land that your day-dreams could have never fictionally created.
6. Make your own clay pot
A super fun traditional thing to do is to create your own clay pot, this is a great escape from the midday heat too. After you’ve spun the wheel on your own lump of clay you can wonder around the showroom and maybe chose something more professional for your own home 😉 We went to a place called Kapadokya Seramik and the items on display were simply stunning, we came back with two completely unique and special additions to our home.
7. Wander through an Underground City
Step back in time, quite literally and visit one of the underground villages in Goreme. Make sure you venture down with a guide so they can fill you in on all the history of each passage and room, it’s quite a spectacle to see and amazing to hear about how these villages served such a purpose in history.
8. Marvel at the Goreme Open Air Museum
Somewhere else that needs to make it onto your Cappadocia discovery list is the open air museum, as a UNESCO world heritage site the setting and structures here are phenomenal and again so completely unique. The caves that were lived in were all formed naturally and seeing this particular collection of fair chimneys solidifies that feeling of being in another world entirely! It’s free to walk around and explore and yet another amazing photo opportunity.
9. Visit The Valleys on Quad Bikes
The surrounding area has so much to offer and a great way to see everything is on a quad bike. There’s daily tours that lead out in big groups and take you to all the best areas, there’s the fun factor of the ride and then the gorgeous scenery to enjoy whilst on the move, definitely a must do when visiting Cappadocia.
10. Watch Sunset at the Sweetest Spot
Whether you arrive by quad, car, foot or hooves, watching the sunset from above a valley is magical. Little explanation needed for this one but you can park up or rock up to one of the many lookouts and watch the stunning view as the scenery changes from orange to pink to navy. The Red Valley is a favourite when it comes to the most breathtaking view.
11. Have a traditional Turkish Bath
So I didn’t get any pictures for this last one because, well, a – I was pretty much nakey the whole time and b – the Turkish bath is steamy! It is an absolute must though if you are traveling to Turkey especially if it’s your first visit in the country, to get a traditional Turkish bath. You lay on a large heated rock whilst your therapist scrubs you down, suds you up and gives you a firm and soothing massage, the whole experience is divine! There’s a few places in town where you can get one but we had a private experience at Kelebek Cave suites and it was amazing, I highly recommend.
I had to pinch myself regularly during our trip to Cappadocia, it was a true escape from reality and a trip that I will be recommending freely and often. Nothing will prepare you for the beauty of the land and the warmth of the culture, I’ll be heading back in my lifetime and I hope my return is not limited to once!