We had a mixed feeling about visiting Cappadocia during winter time but we couldn’t resist to Sami’s invitation to fly to this wonderful region and discover Cappadocia Cave Suites in February this year. Luckily, we don’t regret it. Cappadocia has so many things to offer, our days were full of activities even though travelling in winter can be a little bit tricky as sometimes hot air balloons don’t fly in the sky because of the weather conditions. We had a chance to enjoy them only 2 days out of 6 from our trip.
Cappadocia is a true land of wonders. It is located in the central region of Turkey, Anatolia and is famous for a unique landscape formed after thousands of years of volcanic ash spreading over the ground. Thanks to volcanic eruptions there were created unbelievable forms, colourful shapes and rock formations which also include mushroom-like spires as locals call them “fairy chimneys”. Within some time, people transformed this miracle into their homes shielding themselves against the threat of invasions as centuries ago the area was attacked by conquerors from Persia, Alexandria, from the Roman Empire, Byzantine, and the Ottoman Empire that claimed to the land at one time or another.
Today, tourists can stay in caves and chimneys as they have been remodelled into modern hotels and suites. Although there are many hotels now in this area, Cappadocia Cave Suites is considered to be the very first boutique hotel in Göreme.
It is possible to use two closest airports to reach Cappadocia. The first one is located Kayseri from where it will take you around 1-1.5 hour to get to Göreme and the second one is in Nevsehir with only 40 minutes drive. By the way, by booking a stay at Cappadocia Cave Suites the transfer is included for both ways. For international flights, it is only possible to reach the area via correspondence in Istanbul or other big Turkish cities.
There are two main cities that offer the best views on sunrise hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia: Göreme and Uchisar. As for me, we tried to live in both places during our first trip in September 2017 and I, definitely, preferred staying in Göreme as it seemed to be more interesting with a better choice of hotels and restaurants as well as because of the fact that the majority of activities and entertainment is done there.
Uchisar is also a very nice place to live. At some point, it has a better view on the valley, offers a wide variety of local shops and interesting museums but is very tiny itself, so mainly, we spent all of our time at the hotel. Nevertheless, the cities are very close to each other and a 5-minute taxi ride will cost you only 20 TLR (approximately 5 EUR).
Hot Air Balloons
Upon our arrival, we booked a balloon flight at the hotel (price ranges between 120 to 160 EUR per person). Maybe the flight won’t seem to be cheap, but it’s little enough to pay for a truly unforgettable experience in your life. One day the flight was cancelled, but on the next try we, finally, raised in the sky to meet the first rays of sun breaking through the red painted hills.
The hot air balloons are only flying at dawn since only at this time there is no wind offering the safest conditions for the flight. The best period to visit Cappadocia is considered to be between April and October when the sky is clear. Generally, they fly approximately 320 days a year carrying more than 27 000 passengers on 100 balloons a day maximum. Can you imagine? 100 hot air balloons in the sky! Isn’t it incredible? Totally, worth all its money.
An hour or two before the sunrise your balloon company picks you up from the hotel and drops to a stop-over point where all the clients are having breakfast while waiting for the government’s approval for flight (safety first!). When the ride is confirmed, you are transferred to a take-off site. It is always different as it depends on the weather conditions but usually happens to be on picturesque valleys overlooking the best views of Cappadocia. The flight lasts around 1 hour, and everything depends on the wind: the places you see, how high you can go and where you will land. Baskets can carry up to 20 people, but there is a possibility to rent a private flight (which I strongly recommend if you want to get the best shots, hehe).
After arriving on take-off site and briefing on safety during the flight, the burners are lit. The balloon lifts up in the sky and shutter button of your camera never stops as you want to capture every moment of this magnificent scenery. Approximately an hour later the journey comes to an end.
Just to give you a little background, the first recorded manned flight in a hot air balloon took place in Paris. From the centre of Paris, the pilots ascended 155 meters above the rooftops before eventually landed about kilometres away in the vineyards. The pilots offered champagne to celebrate the flight, a tradition carried on to this day is not an exception in Cappadocia. So, you can celebrate a smooth landing over a glass of champagne and some sweet treats.
The first time we visited the region we had no idea what it stored for us. We had done a little research, of course, but in our minds, Cappadocia was the land of balloons and underground museums which already built up our curiosity.
Open Air Museum
When the balloons weren’t flying, Cappadocia Cave Hotel organised a museum day for us, so at 9 am we were up to discover the region with Flintstones Travel. Actually, Cappadocia is divided into different sections which you can discover in day tours. The prices range between 100 and 120TL per person (app 30 EUR). It includes entrance fees, transportation, a guide and lunch. Expect to be gone for the whole day from 9 am to 5 pm.
We followed a Green tour, where we discovered magnificent Valleys of Cappadocia and its main sight – the underground city. No visit to Cappadocia will be complete without seeing its underground city.
For those who like horses, Cappadocia is a great place as the landscape is perfect for riding with few trees and low hills. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect activity for beginners but the guides are very helpful and you can still enjoy the ride. They show the way but every rider is on their own leading their horse. The two-hour tour costs between 20 and 50 EUR depending on the ranch. We chose Cappadocia Ranch. The team is very welcoming, always keen on showing the best sunset spots creating a lifetime experience for you in Turkey. Take your chance to enjoy horse riding in Göreme!
Wheeler (ATV)/Motorcycle/Bicycle/Jeep Safari
Yep, there is a lot of choices! When we arrived at Hitchhiker Tour office, we were like kids in a candy store (especially Lev). Just as the landscape is good for horse riding (by the way, the name “Cappadocia” comes from the ancient Hittite word ‘Katpatuka’, which means “land of beautiful horses”), the motorcycle & ATV enthusiast enjoy the trails between Göreme and Çavuşin. The problem with guided tours is that the leader (the guide) is the only person who does not get dust in his face the whole time. Regardless, everyone seems to enjoy the time. It is a perfect place for ATV riding with a good balance of hills and flats, great scenery, and dirt roads stretching in every direction. I have not seen rental places outside of Göreme so expect to start from there. The rates range between 17 EUR for one hour and 26 EUR for two hours.
Shopping and Local Food
On the last day, we went shopping souvenirs for our friends and family. We are currently arranging our flat in Paris and couldn’t miss carpet shopping. For that, we went to Anatolyan Carpet Shop in Göreme which has the finest selection of hand-knitted Turkish carpets (more than 10 000 items!!!). In addition, we took typical Turkish lamp for our bedroom and some tiny objects from onyx.
I added all my favourite spots for food and shopping to my map in Mapstr app. Go check out my page “Katieone” with some tips and gems not only in Turkey!
I hope that you enjoyed my small guide and suggestions on visiting Cappadocia, for more inspiration have a look on my video on my YouTube channel (like & subscribe ❤️) from our last trip.