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CAPPADOCIA ITINERARY: 2, 3, 4 OR 5 DAYS IN CAPPADOCIA

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Uchisar Cappadocia

Balloons Cappadocia itinerary
Balloons Cappadocia itinerary

If you’re thinking of heading to Turkey and you’re looking for a magical Cappadocia itinerary for 2, 3, 4 or 5 days, then look no further. In this itinerary, I cover some of the best things to do, extraordinary places to eat and some dreamy places to stay.

Whether you’ve only got 2 days in Cappadocia or you’re able to stay for 3, 4, 5 or even longer, this guide should make things simple for you to hop on a plane and begin your magical adventures in Cappadocia.

Where is Cappadocia

Hot air balloons Cappadocia

The region of Cappadocia is situated in the centre of Turkey – approximately three and a half hours south of the capital city of Ankara.

The largest city in Cappadocia is Nevşehir, however by far the most popular town to visit in Göreme as this is where the infamous hot air balloons flood the skies most mornings.

Below you’ll find an interactive map of the exact location of Cappadocia.

How to get to Cappadocia

Turkish airlines plane
Turkish airlines plane

By plane | if you’re travelling from another country, have a decent budget, or want to travel to Cappadocia as quickly as possible, then travelling by plane is the best option.

If you’re coming from outside of Turkey, you’ll need to fly to a larger city such as Istanbul, Antalya or Akara before taking a domestic flight to either Nevşehir or Kayseri.

In my experience, flying to Kayseri seems to be cheaper, but it is slightly further away. From either of the airports, you’ll then need to take a shuttle bus or taxi to the town where you’re staying in Cappadocia. I’d recommend you book these ahead of time as the airports are small and in remote locations, so it’s best to have something organised for when you arrive with a trustworthy company.

Check flights: Omio

Check transport prices from Kayseri: GetYourGuide

Check transport prices from Nevşehir: GetYourGuide

By bus | if you’re travelling from elsewhere in Turkey and you’re on a budget or don’t enjoy flying, then you’ll be pleased to know that there is a pretty decent bus network across Turkey.

However, since Cappadocia is a remote part of Turkey, the timetable isn’t always that great. For example, if you’re looking to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia then currently your only option is to take a night bus. On the plus side, the bus is cheap and you’ll be saving a night on accommodation since you’ll hopefully be getting some sleep on the bus.

I personally chose to fly, but I met plenty of others who took the bus and they said the busses were very comfortable with reclining seats and were well-equipped.

By car | alternatively, it’s possible to rent a car and drive around Turkey. I’d never considered this option before arriving as it seemed quite daunting and I didn’t imagine the roads to be that great.

However, I also met a few people who were driving across Turkey and quickly found that the roads were arguably better than some of those in the UK – even in remote parts such as Cappadocia.

If I ever visit Turkey again, I’d definitely consider this option. If you’re travelling as a group and you’ve got time on your side, then this is going to be cost-effective for all of you. However, I would avoid driving in Istanbul at all costs as it’s incredibly chaotic compared to the rest of the country.

Check prices: Rentalcars.com

How to travel around

By foot | Cappadocia is a relatively small town and so if you’re only planning to stay in Cappadocia itself, then you’ll be able to walk around very easily. However, you’ll need to bear in mind that there are some hills to climb around Cappadocia if you’re wanting to visit some of the popular viewpoints and quaint stores tucked down some of the high streets.

By bus | If you’re looking to venture out of the area – perhaps to do one of the many hikes in Cappadocia – then there are plenty of buses available. The timetable isn’t always that accurate and so the best thing to do is to head to the bus station the night before to see what’s available the next day.

By taxi | Taxis are readily available in Cappadocia if you’d prefer to take this mode of transport. You’ll see plenty in the streets, however, the best option is to ask your hostel or hotel to arrange this for you to ensure you’re travelling with a trusted company that offers fair prices.

How many days to spend in Cappadocia

Depending on what you want to include on your itinerary for Cappadocia will depend on how many days you need. Most people are heading here for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of a balloon trip over this stunning region – so, technically you only need two days in Cappadocia.

However, there is so much more to Cappadocia than the hot air balloons and you could definitely spend much longer here. In fact, I spent almost two weeks in Cappadocia.

Typically, people spend three days in Cappadocia, but I’d recommend spending at least five.

Cappadocia itinerary

Cappadocia Itinerary: day 1

Arrive and check-in

As mentioned earlier on in this guide, before heading to Cappadocia you’ll almost certainly have come from somewhere else within Turkey beforehand.

It’s common for people to fly into Cappadocia from Istanbul. There are heaps of flights a day from here, but I’d recommend getting into Cappadocia as early as you can to make the most of your time here.

Traditional Turkish ice cream

If you haven’t already done so in another location in Turkey – or even if you have – it’s time to try some of the local ice creams.

Although there isn’t usually a great deal of variety, the whole ordering process is an experience in itself.

To become an ice cream man in Turkey you need to have a lot of character and energy. It’s a real performance.

These stalls are dotted everywhere in Cappadocia. However, if you’re staying in Göreme (the most popular town in Cappadocia) then you’ll find one on the main high street close to the mosque.

Red and Rose Valley

The Red Valley and Rose Valley are two in Cappadocia with incredible landscapes. As their names suggest, the rock is red and pink and at times, it looks as though you’ve just stepped foot on mars.

There are a few options when it comes to these valleys; hiking or driving to the viewpoint.

Personally, I hiked here. There is a well-trodden trail that leads from the centre of Göreme and is approximately 10 kilometres. It also leads past Haçlı Church – a cave-style church which many people are interested in seeing. You’ll also find a sweet restaurant just outside of the church which is a great place to stop and have some lunch if you haven’t already done so in Göreme.

Alternatively, you can take a taxi to the viewpoint. It’s just 15 minutes drive and once you arrive, there are plenty of gift stalls and restaurants where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the unbelievable view over the Red and Rose Valleys.

If you think you’d like to hike, but not 10 kilometres, then I’d suggest taking a taxi to the viewpoint and then walking back to Göreme. This would be almost half the distance and predominantly downhill for most of the way. If you take the trail to the right of the viewpoint, you’ll also pass Haçlı Church.

Read more: Cappadocia Red Valley hike

Turkish Carpets

Turkish carpets
Turkish carpets

Once you’ve taken a rest after visiting the Red and Rose Valley, it’s time to see what all the fuss is about with Turkish carpet shops.

The most well-known shop that’s being plastered all over social media is called Galerie Ikman. However, Sultan Carpets is also popular.

Regardless of which one you choose, if you want to take any photos then you’ll need to pay a small fee. Granted, these photo areas are set up to look absolutely incredible and you’ll even get some drone shots taken for you.

I checked out both stores and there is no denying they’re beautiful, but the whole photo thing wasn’t really for me and so unfortunately I did not take many great pictures. However, if you want to see what kind of photos can be achieved then check out Galerie Ickman on Instagram.

Sunset at Lovers Hill

Lovers Hill Cappadocia itinerary

Watching the sunset at Lovers Hill is one of the nicest things to do to round off the day. The viewpoint is a 10-minute walk from the centre of Göreme and you’ll need to pay 5 Turkish Lira (approximately 20p) upon arrival.

At the viewpoint, you’ll find a couple of stalls selling some food and drink, but mostly just tonnes of people chilling and admiring the view. Oh, and a few dogs doing the same thing.

Dinner at the Wooden Spoon Cave

Wooden Spoon Restaurant
Wooden Spoon Restaurant

Wooden Spoon Restaurant Cappadocia

The Wooden Spoon Cave restaurant is one of the most charming places to eat in Cappadocia. It’s tucked away on one of the many cute side alleys that sprawl from the centre of Göreme and provides a real authentic cave-dining experience.

Upon arrival, you’ll have the choice of sitting on some gorgeous Turkish cushions on the floor or at a table. The choice is yours, however, the floor feels like you’re getting a more immersive experience.

The menu is diverse, however, I highly recommend trying the pottery kebabs. This is the traditional Anatolian dish where the meat and/or vegetables are cooked inside a clay pot. Once it’s ready to be served, the waiter or waitress will smash the pot and the contents will pour out onto your plate.

Cappadocia Itinerary: day 2

Hot air balloon ride

Cappadocia itinerary Balloons

Cappadocia itinerary Balloons
Cappadocia itinerary Balloons

For most people, this is the main reason that they’re visiting Cappadocia. It’s a bucket list thing to do and will almost certainly be included on your Cappadocia itinerary.

However, there are some very important things to consider ahead of your trip if this is something you want to do.

The main thing you’ll need to do book in advance. You’ll want to book this for the first morning that you’re in Cappadocia because if the weather does not permit balloons to fly that day, you’ll be bumped to the next available day. Sometimes, if there has been a string of bad weather days in Cappadocia, then there is a backlog of people who are waiting to fly and you will have to wait a few days.

On the day of your balloon ride you’ll need to be up super early. It varies by the tour company, but you’ll most likely need to be ready to leave at 4:30 am when you’ll meet your tour provider and they will transfer you and the group to the launch site.

Once you arrive, you’ll be served champagne, tea, coffee and some light snacks before getting into the balloon basket.

Once you’re in the air, you’ll be floating around amongst the other balloon as the sun continues to rise for approximately 60 minutes before coming back down to land again. Wherever this is, your tour company will be there to pick you up and transfer you back to your hotel.

Usually, you’ll arrive back around 7 am and want to head back to bed for a few hours!

Check prices: Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon

Uçhisar Castle

Cappadocia Uchisar

Once you’ve recovered from the early start, it’s time to head to Uçhisar Castle – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re staying in Göreme and you feel like you’ve got enough energy, then you can walk 5 kilometres through the Pigeon Valley all the way to Uçhisar. This is gradually uphill for most of the way and very idyllic. If you’d prefer not to walk, then hop in a taxi and you’ll arrive in roughly 10 minutes.

Either way, once you’ve arrived you’ll need to pay 10 Turkish Lira to enter.

It’s important to note that Uçhisar Castle is not your typical castle. In keeping with the rest of the region, it’s a cave that was carved out in the 15th and 16th centuries in order to defend the land during the Ottoman period.

Whilst you’re able to wander in and out of the various segments of Uçhisar Castle, the best part – in my opinion – is the view from the top. You’ll need to climb approximately 100 stairs to reach the top which should take around 10 minutes. The view from up here is incredible, with panoramic views over all of Cappadocia.

Love Valley

Love Valley Cappadocia itinerary
Love Valley Cappadocia itinerary

The Love Valley is an area in Cappadocia that’s incredibly unique. Its phallic rock formations make for some interesting images, to say the least, but it’s definitely worth including on your itinerary to capture this unusual sighting.

You can drive here and park up just about anywhere, or you could walk from Uçhisar Castle, through the White Valley and then onto the Love Valley. In fact, there is a great trail which leads through a number of valleys and to Uçhisar Castle if you can find half a day to do it.

Read more: Love Valley hike

Sunset ATV Tour

ATV Cappadocia itinerary
ATV Cappadocia itinerary

A sunset ATV tour is one of the most popular things to do in Cappadocia and it was one of my favourite experiences whilst I was there. It’s relatively cheap and I can’t recommend it enough.

Once you’ve booked your tour, the provider will collect you from your accommodation and take you to the starting point. It doesn’t really matter which tour provider you choose, as they’re all following the same route.

Once you’re adequately dressed and you’ve learnt the basics of how to drive an ATV, you’ll set off on your adventure through a number of the valleys in Cappadocia. You’ll stop off at various viewpoints before arriving at an area where you can leave your quad bike and climb a small hill to watch the sunset. You’ll be joined by 100’s of others who are enjoying an ATV tour, as well as some locals who are trying to sell you some snacks to have during the sunset.

Check prices: ATV Tour Cappadocia

Dinner at Dibek

Dibek Restaurant Cappadocia

To finish off the day, you’ll want to head to Dibek – a traditional cave restaurant that’s over 475 years old. It’s in Göreme and is super cute with little mini cave-like areas for dining. Not only are they renowned for their authentic dining experience and excellent food, but also for their wine.

I’d recommend booking ahead for this one since it’s quite popular.

Cappadocia Itinerary: day 3

Green tour

Green Tour Cappadocia

Green Tour Cappadocia
Green Tour Cappadocia

The two main tours in Cappadocia are the Red Tour and the Green Tour. However, most of what’s offered on the Red Tour can be reached fairly easily by yourself and most of those sites have already been included in this Cappadocia itinerary.

However, the Green Tour is a full day out and you’ll get to explore much more of what’s on offer in the surrounding areas – most notably, the Ihlara Valley.

The day will begin with collection from your hotel or hostel at approximately 9 am. You’ll then proceed to your first location, which is a viewpoint with fantastic views of Uçhisar Castle in the distance.

Next up, you’ll head to Derinkuyu Underground City. You’ll get to wander through the tiny tunnels and venture into different chambers which were built as a way of protecting people during the war. Be warned that if you’re highly claustrophobic then you may want to skip this part.

You’ll then head to the Ihlara Valley and embark on a short and easy hike before stopping for lunch on the river. It’s a truly idyllic part of the tour and arguably the best bit.

Before returning back to Göreme, you’ll visit the Selime Monastery, the Onyx Jewellery Factory and Pigeon Valley.

Check prices: Green Tour

Dinner at Legarto Restaurant

Legarto Restaurant is situated in Ürgüp and is undoubtedly one of the most romantic restaurants in Cappadocia.

They’ve got a beautiful terrace which overlooks the authentic town of Ürgüp, as well as indoor seating inside the cave which has been decorated with chandeliers.

Although it’s not the cheapest, the food here is outstanding – particularly the mezze!

Cappadocia Itinerary: day 4

Watch the balloons at sunrise

Cappadocia Itinerary Balloons

Cappadocia Itinerary Balloons
Cappadocia Itinerary Balloons

If you can’t justify the hefty price of a balloon trip in Cappadocia – or even if you can – one of the best things to do is to get up early and head to Lovers Hill to see all of the balloons flying.

In order to see the balloons, you’ll need to arrive at Lovers Hill around 6:15 am. Similarly to when you visit at sunset, you’ll need to pay 5 Turkish Lira to get access to the viewpoint. You’ll be able to watch the balloons flying over for over an hour which really is one of the most magical sights!

If you’ve got the energy, then I recommend doing this as many mornings as you can. The view never gets old and the sunrise is never exactly the same.

Göreme Open Air Museum

Goreme open air museum

Göreme Open Air Museum is one of the most popular attractions in Cappadocia. It’s included as part of the popular Red Tour, however, it’s within walking distance from the centre of Göreme (which is where most people stay) and so it’s easy to visit this by yourself.

It costs 40 Turkish Lira to enter the site, however, you can also include an audioguide or pre-book a guided tour for an extra fee.

Once you’ve entered the site, you’ll be able to wander in and out of the various different caves and churches which have a number of different pieces of artwork on display. If you’ve opted for self-discovery then there are plaques on show which explain the history of the region. However, if you’ve decided to include an audio or tour guide, then you’ll get a more in-depth insight.

It’s easy to spend 1 to 2 hours exploring Göreme Open Air Museum and for most people, it’s an important thing to do in order to understand more about the history of Cappadocia.

Horse Riding

Horse Riding Cappadocia Itinerary
Horse Riding Cappadocia Itinerary

Horse Riding Cappadocia Itinerary

Heading on a horse riding trip is one of the best experiences to include on your Cappadocia itinerary. And, regardless of the time of year, it’s quite magical. During the summer months, you’ll typically head out across the valleys for sunset as during the day, it’s far too hot for the horses. During winter, you’re less restricted on time, but you’ll be travelling through the snow which – although I didn’t visit during this time – looks unbelievable.

Similar to many of the other tours in the area, you’ll be collected by your tour provider and taken to the horse ranch. You’ll be provided with a helmet and given an appropriately sized horse. Shortly afterwards, you’ll be given some basic training on how to control the horse before you set off on your journey through the valley.

Just before the sun sets, you’ll arrive at a viewpoint where you’ll dismount from the horse, give them a well-deserved snack and watch the sun go down before returning back to the ranch.

Check prices: Horse Riding in Cappadocia

Dinner at Quick China

For your final dinner in Cappadocia, I’d recommend heading to Quick China. Ok, it’s not traditional Turkish food – it’s Chinese. But, but day 4 in Cappadocia you’ll almost certainly be ready to switch things up a bit, and there is no better place to do it than at Quick China.

As you can tell from the pictures, it’s super modern and looks pretty fancy. The presentation of the food is absolutely excellent and the quality and taste are even better.

Heading to this luxurious feeling restaurant is a great way to end your last night in Cappadocia.

Cappadocia Itinerary: day 5

Retro car trip

Cappadocia Itinerary retro car
Cappadocia Itinerary retro car

One of the things you’ll notice about Cappadocia is the number of retro cars dotted around the streets – particularly in Göreme. These authentic-looking cars are popular to rent so that you can explore the region on your own.

It’s perfectly safe to drive around Cappadocia and to be honest, it’s unlikely you’ll bump into that many people unless you’re heading to the popular viewpoints. Aside from spending the morning gallivanting around the valleys, these cars make for some great pictures – particularly if you have enough energy to begin your drive at sunrise whilst the balloons are flying overhead.

Check prices: Retro Car Tour

Hammam Spa

No Cappadocia itinerary would be complete without a trip to a Hammam Spa and if you’re in Göreme, there is one place to visit that trumps the rest: Kelebek Hamam Spa. It’s part of Sultan Cave Suites and is well known for its excellent range of treatments as well as the traditional Turkish Hamam experience.

If you’re not familiar with what a Hamam is, then the process usually goes something like this: you enter a steam room, wash away all of the sweat, enjoy a soapy scrub of at least a couple of layers of skin and then get washed down again.

This kind of treatment isn’t the most relaxing, but you will feel super clean once you leave. Of course, you can also compliment this with a more relaxing treatment such as a massage.

Check prices: Kelebek Hamam Spa

Best time to visit Cappadocia

Cappadocia winter

The best time to visit Cappadocia is during the shoulder season, which is April, May, September and October. This is when temperatures will be warm, but not sweltering. However, if you’re tied to a certain time of year, then below is what you can expect.

Winter | December, January and February will see snow on the ground in this region of Turkey. It’s undoubtedly incredibly picturesque, but you’ll need to be prepared for temperatures which can reach -20 degrees in the height of winter.

Spring | March, April and May see significant shifts in temperature as you move through the year. In March there will almost certainly still be snow on the ground. As April comes around, it’s still cold with temperatures around 15 degrees and occasionally a dusting of snow overnight. As we move into May, things start to warm up rapidly, with average daytime temperatures of 22 degrees.

Summer | June, July and August is the peak season in Cappadocia with temperatures soaring above 30 degrees in July and August. Towards the tail end of the month, things start to cool down slightly, but not significantly.

Autumn | September, October and November is another season which sees a significant change from the start to the end. September and October will see some comfortable temperatures, yet November drops down to an average of 13 degrees during the day and falls below 0 degrees at night.

Is Cappadocia worth the hype?

Cappadocia Itinerary balloons

Yes, Cappadocia is absolutely worth the hype. Not only are the 100’s of hot air balloons an incredible sight, but the diverse and unique landscape, too.

You’ll get a different experience depending on the time of year you choose to visit Cappadocia, however, one thing that remains is the magical experience which you will almost certainly have.

Do balloons fly over every day in Cappadocia?

No. The hot air balloons fly over Cappadocia every day if the weather permits it. During the summer months, the weather is more stable and as such, the balloons fly more often than in the winter.

This is something to bear in mind when planning your trip to Cappadocia as you may have to wait a few days to experience flying in a hot air balloon if the weather is not good enough.

Where to stay

When it comes to choosing a place to stay in Cappadocia, you’ll be overwhelmed with choices. However, one thing that most people look for is a cave-style hotel, since this is one of the things that make Cappadocia unique.

In this section, you’ll find some options to consider, however, if you’re looking for an extensive list and some recommendations on which area to stay in Cappadocia then I have the below guide:

Read more: Best hotels in Cappadocia

Cappadocia hotel
Cappadocia hotel
  • The Dorm Cave by Travellers

    The Dorm Cave by Travellers is one of the best budget-friendly cave-style hotels and hostels in Cappadocia. It’s conveniently tucked away down a side street in Göreme and as such, benefits from privacy and peacefulness whilst still being close to the atmosphere.

    Check prices: Booking.com / Agoda

  • Local Cave House Hotel

    A mid-range hotel that is often seen on social media platforms due to its aesthetic features. It’s in a central location in the most popular town of Göreme and you’ll find an excellent swimming pool, impeccable views and fantastic food.

    Check prices: Booking.com

  • Museum Hotel

    Museum Hotel is a luxury hotel in Uchisar. It’s the only hotel in Turkey that is a member of Relais & Chateaux – a group of individually owned luxury hotels and restaurants. With qualities like a free wine tap and a pillow menu upon arrival, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best hotels to stay in Cappadocia.

    Check prices: Booking.com / Agoda

Explore Cappadocia further

If you liked the sound of this Cappadocia itinerary and you’re looking for some more in-depth guides about things to do or where to stay in Cappadocia, then I’ve written plenty of guides which can be found below:

Read more: Cappadocia

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Disclosure: just a heads up that some of the links within this blog are affiliated which means that we may receive a small commission. We only recommend things that we truly believe in. If you use any of these links, it really helps support our blog, so thank you!

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