Situated in the Central Anatolian region of Turkey, Cappadocia is widely known for its underground cities. ‘Cappadocia’ meaning ‘the land of horses’ is extremely popular for a lunar landscape, cave churches, and exciting hot air balloon rides. A beautiful city made from volcanic eruptions a few million years ago, Cappadocia is sure to be a very interesting place to visit for you. There are many fascinating things to do in Cappadocia. A traditional human habitat that dates back to the 4th century, you will be in awe of the rich history and abundant beauty of this place.
- Best time to visit Cappadocia: Between April and June; September and October
If you are wondering what to do in Cappadocia, here is a very exciting list of things to do
10 Best things to do in Cappadocia
1. Explore the underground cities
The area beneath the rock formations in Cappadocia have taken the shapes of some very fantastic cities. You will be surprised to know that there are about 36 of them! A popular belief has it that each of the cities housed over 10,000 people. These were the people who utilised the area to find relief from wild animals and very harsh winter conditions. Later, these cities began to house some hiding Christians who had escaped persecution at the recklessness of Roman soldiers.
Kaymakli Underground City is considered to be the wildest of these underground cities. This city has eight floors below, out of which only four can be accessed by the public. This fantastic work of architecture and mind-blowing engineering offers a sight like no other. A winery, ventilation shafts, bedrooms, stables, storage rooms, and a church were made from only hand tools and no electricity! There are tunnels that connect rooms, so you would need to bend and crouch while making your way through these beautiful cities.
2. Marvel at the wonder of Pasabag (Monks Valley)
Extremely popular for its unique fairy chimneys, Pasabag is pronounced as “Pah – shah -bah”. These magnificent wonders came about naturally due to erosion that took place some millions of years ago. The locals of Pasabag often refer to these marvellous structures as “mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys”. You must be wondering why the word “fairy” has been used so many times.
A popular legend says that the area was home to many fairies who lived under the ground, and hence, its name followed. After a while, in the 4th and 5th centuries, a few monks took refuge here in the early phase of Christianity. One among the three-headed fairy chimneys has a chapel along with a seclusion room that is dedicated to St. Simeon. What is even more exciting is that you can visit this chimney and even climb to its top!
3. Visit the Goreme Open-Air Museum
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, paying a visit to the Goreme Open-Air Museum is one of the best things to do in Cappadocia. Earlier a Byzantine monastic settlement that was home to monks, the 17th century saw it as a famous pilgrimage site. This open-air museum has some of the most beautiful churches that have been cut out of rocks. Fabulously decked with murals that date back to the period between 900 AD and 1200 AD, the walls of these churches still bear their original freshness. One of the churches you must visit is the Dark Church whose walls were protected by pigeon droppings for a very long time. You will be left in awe of the finest forms of Byzantine art that you will see through the scenes depicted from the New Testament. While in Cappadocia, things to do are always exuberant and exciting.
- Timings: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
- Price: 45 Turkish Lira; 539.31
4. Visit the Devrent Valley
Popularly known as ‘the imaginary valley’, Devrent Valley is the place that must make your imagination run wild. What makes this valley stand out from the rest of the valleys in Cappadocia is that it has no cave churches, tombs, or even Roman castles. For a fact, this valley never had any inhabitants! Another speciality of the Devrent valley is its resemblance to a moonscape.
With many rock pillars that look like dolphins, camels, snakes, penguins, and seals, this valley is one of the most exciting places to visit in Cappadocia. The pristine nature and scenic landscape make Devrent Valley an abode of everything beautiful. You can spend many hours trying to find out what each rock pillar seems to resemble. Try spotting the one that looks like the Virgin Mary holding Jesus Christ. Guided tours of Devrent Valley are also available.
5. Stay in a cave hotel
If you have been wondering how the people of Cappadocia have been living in caves for so many years, you can experience their style of living by staying in a cave hotel. Many cave hotels have been established to cater to your inquisitive needs. You can get a taste of troglodyte living in luxury. However, contradictory to the problems faced by the locals back then, you will be given better amenities at these boutique hotels.
These provisions include Hamam, which are Turkish baths, good Internet connectivity, and contemporary bathrooms. You will also witness some arches cut out of rocks, walls with patterns of volcanic colours, and sprawling views from the amazing terraces of the valley. To experience Turkish hospitality at its best, do not miss out on staying in a cave hotel, even if it is for a day.
- Price: Budget to luxury options available
6. Witness intricate art in the Pottery and Ceramics Shops in Avanos
The pretty little town of Avanos offers one of the best things to do in Cappadocia. Bustling with activity, this town has fantastic pottery and ceramics shops. Situated on the shore of the Red River, Avanos is a haven for art lovers. Since the Hittite period, this town has been a major centre of pottery and craft. The reddish-brown clay that is harvested from the Red River is continually used in workshops to make some exotic ceramicware. As one of the most enriching experiences, witnessing a demonstration by a potter is truly unmatched.
There are also many family-run pottery shops that you can pay a visit to. You can later visit a demonstration workroom before proceeding to the main showroom. You will be amazed at the wide variety of jugs, ashtrays, vases, figures, and plates that you will found here. Some of this artwork can even take up to many months to reach its final form and be up for sale. Avanos is a fantastic place to shop for souvenirs to take back home to your friends and families.
Also Read: Grand Bazaar Turkey: The World’s Oldest Mall
7. Go horse-riding
True to its meaning, ‘land of horses’, Cappadocia has many beautiful horses. You will come across many clay scriptures that date back to 1460 BC which showcase the region’s ardent devotion to horse breeding. You can explore the gorgeous landscape of Cappadocia while riding a native Anatolian horse or an Arab horse. With these horses, you can easily access areas where tour buses will not be able to get through. You can choose between rides that go on for 2 hours and those which extend to 4 hours. The trail of these rides offer spectacular views of the valleys and mountains. Your experience will definitely be an unforgettable one as the splendour of your ride will gain an accentuation as you pass through apple, walnut, and apricot orchards. You will also meet local Turks when you ride through ancient villages.
- Timings: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
- Price: 2 hours: EUR 45, INR 3474.45 ; 4 hours: EUR 85, INR 6562.85
8. Savour pottery kebab
The very popular local speciality of Cappadocia is the pottery kebab. With a cooking time of about five hours, pottery kebab is so much in demand and very exhaustive. In order to have a taste of its authenticity, you will need to make prior bookings. You cannot miss out on tasting this speciality because it is one of the most fun things to do in Cappadocia.
However, you must know that the locals call everything that is cooked with meat as ‘kebab’, so steer clear of your confusion right away! You will find the delectable pottery kebab in almost every restaurant here, a clay pot meal containing a ceramic pot filled with vegetables, meat, and spices. All of this is sealed and baked until the flavours blend together and a scrumptious meal of slow-cooked meat and vegetable stew is placed in from of you. A range of options await you, from lamb and chicken to beef or vegetables, you have it all along with a serving of rice pilaf.
- Price: USD 2 – USD 17; INR 137.38 – INR 14905.84
Also See: 7 Amazing Indian Restaurants in Istanbul
9. Enjoy a traditional Turkish night
One of the best things to do in Cappadocia in the night is to indulge in the true Turkish traditions. This will make for a perfect end to an exhausting but enriching day of sightseeing in Cappadocia. You can witness the remarkable show that is a fantastic display of the dance traditions of Turkey. Exuberant with traditional dancing costumes and beautiful belly dancers, most of these shows happen in the cave restaurants of Cappadocia.
A truly enchanting experience to watch the belly dancers perform in the purest traditional ways that a Turkish girl gets married, you cannot miss out on one of the most fun things to do in Cappadocia. Your moments will be made better when one of the belly dancers invites you on stage to imitate her dance moves!
- Timings: 8:30 PM – 11:30 PM
- Price: EUR 45 – EUR 50; INR 3471.93 – INR 3857.70
10. Go on a hot air balloon ride
One of the best things to do in Cappadocia, going on a hot air balloon ride is sure to be an experience like no other. Viewing the breathtaking landscape of Cappadocia from such a great height can leave you feeling absolutely amazed. Offering a very unique experience, these hot air balloons move above the lush valleys and gorgeous rock formations to give you a memory that will last for a very long time. You can peek into the caves and watch the many vibrant colours of hot air balloons fill up the sky around you. Bask in the aura of the spectacular view that unfolds itself in front of you.
- Best time: Mid-April and June; September and October
- Price: EUR 125 – EUR 210; INR 9640.31 – INR 16195.72
Further Read: Hot Air Balloon Ride Cappadocia
A land emanating beauty and splendour, Cappadocia is a wonderful place to visit.
There are many interesting things to do in Cappadocia and you must not miss out on the enjoyment of any of them!