The Cappadocia region of Turkey is magical to say the least. Hot air balloons fill the sherbert painted sky at sunrise. You can sleep in a cave hotel with fairy chimneys that are more luxury than paleolithic. Spend your days exploring underground cities or hiking through geological wonders. The unique landscape and experience in Cappadocia makes it an essential stop to any itinerary to Turkey.
When planning a trip to Turkey, Istanbul is the most common entry point. There are direct flights from there to Nevsehir on Turkish Airlines that take slightly over an hour. Bus rides typically average ten to twelve hours. They fly three times a day during the summer. If you book in advance, it can be the same price or less than riding the bus. Check the website directly for current flights and deals.
What to do
BALLOON RIDE OVER VALLEY
Even if you have flown in a hot air balloon before, the experience in Cappadocia is truly unique because of the terrain. If you have never been and you only go once, do it in Cappadocia. You will be picked up from your hotel around 4:30 AM where you will be taken to the office for breakfast. From there you will be assigned a driver and you will be taken a short distance where you will take off. The whole experience is about an hour which is the perfect amount of time. When you land, they will set up some champagne, juices and fruit to celebrate your journey. You will also be presented with a cheesy but fun souvenir certificate.
There are literally hundreds of balloons that go up so the operators run the gambit in safety, price and experience. Butterfly Balloons has a meticulous reputation and safety record. Only go with a early morning operator. The ones that try to get a second run in later in the day often fly in unsafe conditions.
PASABAG (MONKS VALLEY)
You can take an intense or easy hike at the bottom of these mushroom shaped fairy chimneys that populate Monk's Valley. It's picturesque and you can explore where the Simeon monks isolated themselves from the rest of the world.
The inside of the castle is not as interesting as the view from the top. It's a good moderate hike up where you can catch a 360 degree view of the region.
This complex has multiple rooms and churches cut out of rock. There are vivid frescoes that still exist. You can do this as a self guided option if you want to take your time to explore and climb around.
Where to sleep
The Kelebek Cave Hotel is one of the oldest boutique hotels in the region. There are several room options. They do not have online booking, you must book directly by phone or email. They will let you know what rooms are available and they have galleries online. They have two complimentary breakfast options. One is an organic breakfast where they take you on a tractor ride to their farm and some women from the village make you breakfast. If you pay cash, they offer a 10% discount. They often book up, so if something is not available Goreme is still a good town as a base. The town is full of charming shops with non-aggressive vendors, food and tour options. It is walkable and close to the Goreme Open Air Museum. Minimum of 3 days is recommended to get a good taste of the area.
Where to eat
Located right next to Kelebek Cave Hotel is Seten Restaurant. Seten serves contemporary Anatolian cuisine. The setting is romantic and you can eat under the stars. The restaurant is a triple threat with high standards in taste, ambiance and service.