Let’s preface by, that there are hundreds of blogs and materials online on what to do and see in Cappadocia. Before you dig into another post about the attractions, make sure to read through our lesser known tips & tricks on traveling through the region where we cover what to know before getting to Cappadocia, cities to discover around Göreme, what to expect before getting on a hot air balloon and the good places to eat.
You can “do” Cappadocia in two ways, either independently- which is what we recommend so you can own what attractions are important to you and decide on how much time you want to spend at each place… or take the Cappadocia tours locally known as the Green and Red tours. Here are links for each and what they cover: the Red Tour and the Green Tour.
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, here’s a pictorial low down on what attractions you don’t want to miss in Cappadocia and suggested day plans. You want to plan for at least 3 jam packed days in Cappadocia.
Like most tourists, if you’re in Cappadocia you’re most likely going to be lodging in Göreme. So, let’s start there. The first usual suspect in Göreme is the Zelve Open Air Museum.
The museum is home to a Byzantine monastic settlement that dates back to the 17th century and only about 1km uphill hike from city center. On the way you’ll be greeted by many stables and horses roaming.
It’ll take about an hour and half to get through the many rock-cut churches, chapels and monasteries.
The paintings in the churches are impeccable, and the fact that the color is so vividly preserved is quite a mystery – but a beautiful sight nonetheless.
Once you wrap up at the museum, there’ll be plenty to see in the area. Here are a few options.
In Göreme, there’s a great bus station that can easily take you to any of Cappadocia’s attractions for as little as 3 Turkish Liras (TL). More on the routes here.
Take the bus to the drop off point at Pigeon Valley. It’s a great viewpoint of the valley and the start of your first hike.
There’s one of many evil eye trees that make for great photos and plenty of pigeons.
Hike through the valley and you’ll spot several rock-cut formations, potentially ancient living quarters.
You can stop midway and hike uphill towards Uschisar – as the scenery doesn’t really change much after the first several kilos of walking.
You’ll be hiking up to reach the Uschisar Castle, and will pass by some beautiful private homes, cave suites and more amazing views.
The Uschisar Castle is the single highest point in Cappadocia, and one of our favorite locations for panoramic views of the area. It’s quite the attraction with many rooms connected with sets of stairs, hallways and hidden quarters.
If you’re halfway through your first day at this point, then it’s time for an early dinner. Make sure to stop at the Millocal Restaurant, check out why we love it here!
Once you’re done, take a bus or taxi back to Göreme. Hike up to the 360 Panorama Viewpoint in Göreme, right past our very favorite Artemis Cave Suites Hotel.
This was absolutely my favorite sunset view point, you get to see the entire Red and Rose Valley, the lights of Göreme’s city center lighting up, and just complete serenity.
Plan to do the Hot Air Balloon ride early on in your trip. Depending on what time of the year you’re in Cappadocia, it could get quite windy in the valleys and air balloons rides are often cancelled and rescheduled for the next day. Make sure you give yourself ample time and wiggle room to re-book to get on that tour.
We go over Hot Air Balloon expectations quite a bit in our tips & tricks to traveling through Cappadocia, so make sure to read that! You’ll also read about best places for sunrise photography. For the rest of the day you’ll be a bit tired so take it slow. After all you probably woke up around 4 or 5 am depending on the season.
From Göreme, hop on the bus to the Pasabag Valley. The valley is huge, you can easily spend 2-3 hours here. Snap photos of the odd cone shaped rocks, enjoy a horse ride, hike a few hills and climb through the formations.
Back on the bus we go, this time to Devrent Valley (also known as the imagination valley) -where you can see what locals believe is a formation of a camel. To me it looked like a rooster. There will also be several other animal formations, use your imagination.
Once you’re done, head to the town Ürgüp for dinner and a lovely sunset. Best place for food & panoramic view of the city here!
If you have some time before sunset, make sure to check out the town of Mustafapasa (formerly known as Sinasos or city of the sun). Must see? The Saint Nicholas Church of Mustafapasa.
Back to our central bus station, this time take the bus to Nevşehir,which is the town over. You’ll need to tell the driver you’re heading to the Derinkuyu Underground City, he will let you know which stop you’ll get off at. At the stop, you’ll need to take another bus directly to Derinkuyu. The bus trip and the visit will take you at least 3 hours, so plan accordingly.
Head back to downtown and take a ride to Love Valley, a lot more imagination needed here as you will be surrounded by tens of phallic formations. Enjoy.
From the valley you’ll be a few minutes away from the town of Çavuşin, where there is yet another incredibly unique castle.
If you’re in Cappadocia in the fall or winter, the days will be much shorter – well sunlight is. Around 4 pm everyday you’ll want to reach your sunset viewpoint location.
On your way back from Çavuşin, stop at the Sunset Point Panorama Viewpoint. Enjoy tea at Crazy Ali’s Panoramic Café.
And that’s the best way to spend 3 days in Cappadocia, of course there is a lot of ground to cover, so spending more days is ideal. In all cases, we hope this guide will help you plan your next trip!