As many of you know, we spent a year and a half living in Turkey recently which is where we started Eastern Boho. We absolutely adored Turkey and the wonderful people, art, and culture. There are so many incredible cities, villages, and regions in Turkey but one of my absolute favourite places was the magical region of Cappadocia.
The history of Cappadocia is rich and the landscape is unbelievably unique and breathtaking. Fairy chimneys, cave hotels and restaurants, ancient winding streets, and beautiful stone homes that melt into the overall landscape are just some of the features of this incredible place. Despite the growing tourist population, there is a real village-feel to Cappadocia and you can’t help but feel that you’ve stepped back in to some magical time past. You can find authentic Turkish breakfasts made almost entirely with products from the restaurant owner’s farm, carpet bazaars that make you feel that you’ve stepped in to the story of Alladin, and hotels that you’d almost never want to leave… except that there is so much more to see!
Every morning there are hot-air balloon rides over the main city of Goreme and simply watching the balloons is a wonder of itself. Waking before sunrise and finding the perfect spot to perch yourself as those incredible balloons rise over this fairy-tale city is part of the experience.
Although you almost “can’t go wrong” in Cappadocia, I’ve decided to walk you through my top 4 tips for Cappadocia, highlighting the best places to stay, eat, see, and do so that you can make the most of your time there.
1. Where to stay?
There are a few different towns in Cappadocia. They’re not far apart but they do have very different atmospheres. The main city is Goreme and although it does have a number of tourists, staying here will throw you right in to the Cappadocian experience. If you want to muddle through beautiful carpet shops, wander down the bustling main street, explore little alleyways and walk to a variety of restaurants then this is the place for you.
Hotels in Goreme: We really enjoyed our time at the Sultan Cave Suites while we were in Goreme. The grounds of this property are beautiful and they have a wonderful view of the balloons from their own platform which is only open to hotel guests. Breakfast is simple but authentic and you can choose which style of room you’d prefer. We stayed in a cave room which was lots of fun. They have an excellent restaurant onsite and it’s only a short walk down some beautiful stone streets to get to the main strip of Goreme.
Ucisar is the other town that I’m going to talk about here. It’s a 5 minute drive from Goreme and is a lot less touristy. Ucisar is home to the famous Ucisar Castle from which you can watch the sunset over Cappadocia from the highest point in the region. It has beautiful quiet streets to wander along, lovely landscapes to admire, and is where you want to stay if you’re after a more relaxing trip while still being close to the action.
Hotels in Ucisar: My favourite hotel in Cappadocia is the Kistar Cave Hotel. When my mother visited from Australia, this is the hotel we stayed at. It’s a family run hotel which translates to beautiful customer service and incredible food. The rooms are divine and the owner clearly has a carpet obsession (heart after my own!) and has decorated the hotel superbly. We stayed in a room with a view over Pigeon Valley during winter and I honestly could have sat in my beautiful stone room, watching the snow fall over the other-worldly landscape all day. Now breakfast… oh my! The breakfast was cooked by the family with products from their own farm. All the condiments were homemade and we were made to feel so special and welcome. If you want to take in the local Cappadocian atmosphere at a quiet (but delicious!) pace, then this is the hotel for you.
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Çok değerli antika eserler ile dizayn edilmiş Kistar Cave Hotel Kapadokya'da sıradışı bir konaklama deneyimi ile beraber sizi tarihte yolculuğa davet ediyor . . . . . Kistar Cave Hotel is located at the central Anatolian and decorated with priceless antique collection pieces , Kistar Cave Hotel invites you a journey in the history. . . . #cappadocia#voyage#travelvibes#trip#supreme#vsco#honeymoon#luxury#decoration#love#amor#turkei#kappadokia#cave#booking#great#friday#today#best#day#instabest#instagram#instaphoto#cozy#lifestyle#izmir#ankara#istanvul#f4f Photoby @yemelin.art
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2. Where to eat
Breakfast: Breakfast will almost always be served at the hotel which is perfect. The hotels offer breakfast until quite late in the morning to cater for guests who take a hot air balloon ride and come back in the late morning to eat. Our favourite breakfast of Cappadocia was at the Kistar Hotel as I mentioned above.
Lunch and Dinner: There is a traditional Cappadocian meal called Testi Kebab which is basically a Turkish stew cooked inside an enclosed clay pot. When the waiter brings it to your table, they will use a knife to crack open the clay container and pour a steaming hot meal onto your plate – this is quite the experience so I suggest trying it at least once! Of course when you’re in Turkey, you must try freshly baked Turkish Pide. This is a real treat when it comes straight out of the traditional wood oven and is served with home-cooked condiments.
Our favourite restaurants for dinner and lunch in Cappadocia were:
- Sedef Restaurant (beautiful Turkish Pide and Testi Kebab)
- Seten Anatolian Restaurant (Lovely atmosphere and Turkish cuisine)
- Viewpoint Café Restaurant (Stunning view and good food)
3. What to Do
- Goreme Open Air Museum: This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was once the home of a Byzantine community of monks. Churches carved into the edge of stone have been intricately painted inside, with art dated back to 900-1200 AD. Simply wandering around and exploring all the little hidden churches, graves, and other rooms that are hiding in the landscape will keep you busy for at least an hour.
- Underground City: Explore an ancient city and see how an entire community lived…underground! You’ll see where they made wine, cooked, slept, and stored food. It’s a truly fascinating place but you do need to climb through small spaces and bend down to walk through tunnels so if small spaces aren’t your thing, this might not be for you. There are many underground cities, I personally suggest visiting Kaymakli.
- Hot Air Balloon Ride: If you would like to silently float above the picturesque landscape of Cappadocia at dawn, this is a must do! Admittedly, I’ve actually never done this in Cappadocia! It’s on my list. Your hotel can book this for you and they will point you towards a reputable company.
- Watch The Hot Air Balloons: This is really a must-do, even if you don’t want to take a ride. It is truly magical to see the balloons rising above the fairy chimneys as the sun rises. However, it’s quite difficult to find the perfect vantage point to watch the balloons… but I’ve got you covered ;) We have found that one of the best places to watch the balloons is from Muze Canak Atolyesi. You’ll have to use Google Maps to find this. This is right where the balloons take-off from so you’ll be watching from the ground as they first rise. If you’d prefer a higher vantage point, drive to the top of the hill to Aydin Kiragi. There are little chai (tea) stalls up here so you can fuel your early morning with a hot Turkish Chai while you’re there. Tip: Head to the top of Aydin Kiragi at night for the most beautiful view over Goreme. There is free parking up the top.
- Pasabag: This is a lovely national park where you can wander through the fairy chimneys and see them right up close.
- Take a hike, horseback ride, or motorbike ride: This is quite a popular tourist activity in Cappadocia, although again, I personally haven’t done it.
- Drink Turkish Tea: You can’t go to Turkey and not try a Turkish Tea. Chai, as it’s called in Turkey is incredibly popular and a big part of Turkish culture. Find a little tea shop on a street in Goreme and sit with a Turkish tea (and maybe a delicious Turkish sweet) and take in the atmosphere.
There are many more things to do in Cappadocia and I suggest researching all the options so you don’t come home and feel that you missed anything. The above are my personal picks.
4. How to Get Around
Getting around in Cappadocia is not incredibly easy, to be frank. If you feel confident driving in a foreign country, I would recommend hiring a car (with a good GPS or Google Maps on your phone). This will give you the freedom to drive between towns, especially if you want to stay in Ucisar and drive to Goreme for meals. Also, some of the highlights that I mentioned above are not within walking distance of Goreme or Ucisar. Of course, there are taxis and you can get around by taxi at a reasonably low fee. I do like the freedom that having a car gives you and driving to some of the further away attractions such as Kaymakli Underground City (a half-hour drive from Goreme) is much more relaxing in your own car, not worrying about the taxi fee you’re racking up.
There is so much more I could say about Cappadocia, but the most important thing is that you take the time to truly appreciate the incredible atmosphere and landscape that surrounds you. If you have any questions or would like to leave a comment, please comment below!