Last updated: December 2021
If you’ve landed on this guide, chances are you’ve been lured into Cappadocia by visions of whimsical balloons soaring above the fairytale-like, lunar landscape at sunrise. While riding in (or simply watching) the balloons is indeed an epic affair, there is SO much more to see and do in this magical destination! Inhabited since ancient times by such civilizations as the early Hittites, Greeks, Persians, Romans and more, this centuries-old region is overflowing with both historic and geologic wonders waiting to be explored.
From fresco-preserved rock churches to the fantastical Uchisar Castle, wild rock formations to mind-blowing underground cities (not to mention beautiful cave hotels and authentic Anatolian cuisine) we give you our tried & true, streamlined Lama List to a destination that should easily be at the top of YOUR bucket list: awe-inspiring Cappadocia, Turkey.
Editor’s Note: Travel is complicated right now. While there are many factors that will result in your decision of whether or not to travel, this decision is ultimately your responsibility. Travel rules, restrictions and entry/exit requirements, as well as Covid policies, are subject to change frequently. Please check with both your home country’s official advisories as well as those of Turkey prior to traveling for up-to-date information.
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BUT FIRST – TRAVEL INSURANCE
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1) Climb the otherworldly, centuries-old cave fortress of Uchisar Castle. Epic views of the surrounding landscape await at the top!
2) Explore ancient rock monasteries and churches, complete with remarkably preserved frescoes, at the Goreme Open Air Museum. TIP: Pay the extra fee to enter the Dark Church – it’s 100% worth it.
Swipe below for an even better preview as to what’s in store! –>
4) Head down into the 150 meter deep canyon that is Ihlara Valley. Hike any (or all of) the 14 km riverside stretch, stopping to explore the many ancient rock churches along the way. TIP: Refuel with Turkish tea & treats at the idyllic, in-river Star Restaurant.
5) Don’t miss the sprawling, 8th century Selime Monastery (complete with an ancient rock winery) at the end of Ihlara Valley. The whole place is mind-blowing.
Swipe below to see what we mean! –>
6) Head WAY down into the underground cities of Kaymakli or Derinkuyu, both stretching all the way back to 7th century BC. Kaymakli is wider; Derinkuyu is deeper…neither are really a good idea if you’re claustrophobic.
7) Head way UP in a hot air balloon! It really is worth the early wake-up call (and the steep price tag) to view the epic landscapes of Cappadocia from above.
8) Try the region’s famed, traditional Testi (Pottery) Kebab: slow cooked meat & vegetables (typically lamb or beef) that’s been simmering for hours in a sealed clay pot. At Pumpkin Goreme, the owner comes out and expertly cracks open the flaming pot right in front of you.
10) Stay at easily one of our top boutique hotel experiences, ever: Takaev Cave Hotel. TIP: Book the Deluxe Suite. King bed, double sinks, clawfoot tub with a jaw-dropping view. Need we say more?
Actually – we do! Which is why we’ve put together an entire guide to Cappadocia’s best and most beautiful cave hotels (including neighborhoods in brief), here!
Swipe below for the full room tour, and keep swiping for a taste of Takaev’s breakfast-with-a-view –>
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All photos in this post courtesy of your favorite pair of @travelinglamas.
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