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  • Writer's picturePretty Little Wanders

3 days in Cappadocia

Updated: Feb 6, 2022

Located in Turkey’s Central Anatolian region, Cappadocia is the result of volcanic rock erosion that has formed an utterly incredible landscape. I was not expecting natural beauty on this scale. The landscape is breathtaking at every turn; there are stunning rock formations, caves, monasteries, underground cities, delicious cuisine and amazing hiking trails. Balloon rides are an absolute treat here and the whole region is an Instagrammer’s paradise.

With a limited amount of time the best option is to do one of the local tours. There are 2 main ones: the green tour and the red tour. We ended up doing both and I’d highly recommend this if you can. If you only have one full day then do the red tour which covers the essential highlights of Cappadocia. Different tour companies and hotels will have slightly differing itineraries for each of these tours, but are essentially the same.

Getting There

The flight from Istanbul to Kayseri is a one hour duration. From Kayseri to Uchisar (one of the regions in Cappadocia) took a further hour by taxi.

Best time to visit

We were there in August, it was hot (30 degrees), ideally April, May, September and October are the best times to visit, when the temperature is a little cooler.

Where to stay

We chose to stay in the area of Uchisar which is known for it's amazing views (as it has the highest point in Cappadocia and is peacefully quiet, over Goreme the main tourist hub. We stayed at the Millstone Cave Suites, which was an excellent choice, the novelty of living in a cave accompanied by first class service, a superb setting with a top restaurant located on site was a winning combination. The hotel accommodates the Millocal Restaurant which has stunning views over the valley and serves great food, it was busy every evening. The cave suite was located over 2 floors, and some rooms have balconies with outdoor seating which is a great place to watch the hot air balloons take off. Beware the narrow staircase was difficult to climb with a suitcase in tow!

Views from the Millstone Cave Suites

Day 1 (half a day)

After an early morning flight from Istanbul, we arrived at our hotel in the afternoon. We had lunch at one of the local Indian restaurants which was just a few doors away, the food was passable, but hugely overpriced. It had stunning views but ready-made Mexican tortillas were being passed off as chapatti’s!! There are plenty of other alternatives where both the views and food are amazing. Try any of the following:

- House of Memories (behind Uchisar castle)

- Sira Restaurant (modern Turkish cuisine)

- Millocal Restaurant

- Padishah Restaurant

- Seki

- Elai (Modern Turkish cuisine)

- L’ila Restaurant

Debating whether to do the Red or Green tour, we opted to do both – that would take care of the next two days. We booked these through the hotel and paid 65 euros and 75 euros respectively. This was double what the tours could be purchased for outside but we opted for these as there would be a maximum of 5 people on the tours and we would have an air conditioned vehicle. This turned out to be a great decision.

After booking the tours we went for a wander exploring the local streets, discovered the main square and lots of caves nearby, we even found a camel in one of them!

We climbed Uchisar Castle for a view of the sunset. Uchisar Castle is the highest point in Uchisar offering 360 degree views after climbing over 240 steps. The cost is 9TL. You can see Mount Erciyes in the distance. There are many rooms hollowed out of this rock, all connected through tunnels, passages and stairs. It was very busy just before sunset and closes at 8pm. We left shortly before closing time to avoid the mass of tourists descending at the same time.

The views from Uchisar Castle

On the way back we discovered a small bar/cafe called Kale that had superb views of the castle at dusk as the last of the sun shone on it, there was beautiful rustic seating and cute photo opportunities.

Uchisar Castle as the sun sets
More sunset views from Uchisar Castle

Day 2

We woke up at 5 am hoping to see the hot air balloons take off at sunrise, but all balloon flights were cancelled due to the windy weather. The candlelit breakfast in a cave made up for it.

Breakfast by candlelight in a cave

The Red Tour

This started at 10 am with a pick up from the hotel, there were a total of 4 in the group with a guide and a driver. The beauty of being in such a small group was that often we would arrive at a sight and have the whole place to ourselves (until the next coach load of tourists arrived!)

The first stop was Pigeon Valley which was beautiful and scenic. There were options to take pictures with the evil eye tree (there are lots of these in the region), clay pot tree and take a little stroll in the valley. It would have been great to have returned here for a longer hike. We stopped for refreshments and the guide gave a demonstration of how Turkish coffee is made, complete with a cup reading.

'Evil eye' trees are to be found everywhere
Pigeon Valley

The next stop was Uchisar Castle, but we only viewed it from outside, it’s surprising a climb to the top was not included in the tour. So glad we did this yesterday.

Goreme Open Air museum, is filled with caves including a church, and the opportunity to observe various living quarters.

Lunch was in the town of Aranos, a typical Turkish meal, followed by a visit to a carpet factory, this was informative but a bit of a waste of time in my opinion.

The next stop was Devrent, do the climb up the slope and venture further in, if you are physically able to. Most tourists don’t do this and it’s such a treat to have these magnificent structures to yourself. Do be careful though as the ground can be slippery with loose stones.

Pasabag with it’s fairy chimneys is another great spot to venture further in to escape they busy areas and discover and climb in more caves.

The tour day ended at about 5.30 pm. Leaving plenty of time for dinner and evening stroll.

Exploring the caves at Pasabag

Day 3

Another 5 am start and today the balloons did take off, this was quite an incredible sight to see, about 150 balloons rising in the sky as a new day dawns. Our hotel was perfect for this purpose. This spectacle was followed by another breakfast with incredible views.

Watching magic unfold as 150 hot air balloons ascend at sunrise
Breakfast views from Millstone Cave Suites

It turns out that my husband and I were the only ones on the Green tour today which effectively meant we had a private tour, where we could adapt the itinerary as we wished (no more carpet, pottery or onyx factories then!) Started at 8.30am with a 1 hour drive to Kaymakli (one of two) an amazing underground city. This can get very crowded, fortunately we were there early so were alone most of the time. Be aware if you are claustrophobic or have a back issue, there is a lot of bending to walk through some quite narrow tunnels and is poorly lit in places.

Stopped at Goluve crater a beautiful green lake, take the 10-15 minute walk down to the edge of the river, it's very pretty and not visited by many tourists.

Goluve crater lake

We drove to Ilhara Valley, stopping off at a viewpoint first, then walked down the steps to the bottom of the valley for a 3km hike alongside a river. The valley and riverside walk are very picturesque with some shade and plenty of photo opportunities.

Ilhara Valley

Resting spot along the Ilhara River

Stopped off at Belisirma River Restaurant for refreshment, and lunch was at another riverside restaurant not far. There was the option to sit inside the restaurant or in one of the cabins on the riverside which was far more pleasant.

Riverside restaurant

Ilhara River

There were some unscheduled stops in the fields of maize, pumpkins, and sunflowers just to admire this beautiful countryside.

The beautiful Turkish countryside

Stopped at Selime Monastery and had time for another stop in Devrent Valley for more independent exploring. It was a really fab day and we were back at the hotel for 6pm. There was time for a bath in the freestanding bathtub and an evening stroll admiring the arches and doorways before a mezze for dinner.

Day 4

We took an early morning flight from Kayseri to Istanbul and Istanbul to London and back home.

This was one of my most favourite trips, due to the incredible Cappadocian landscape, it was so magical and other-worldly, it felt like taking a walk through the pages of a fairy tale.

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