Are you visiting Cappadocia?
This is the place to start.
Below I answer all the most common questions I receive from visitors. If you have a question that is not listed, please ask it in the comments, and I will add it to the list (and give an answer, of course).
Click the arrow to the left of each question to expand it and see the answer. Also, within the answer you will usually find links to posts that provide more details. Sometimes the header link will take you to another post. The links will open in new pages.
Cappadocia hotels are literally found under every rock. If it is your first time, we recommend staying in a cave hotel as it is one of those things you cannot do anywhere else. We have listed all our hotel posts on our Cappadocia Hotels Homepage. We can personally recommend each of these since we have either stayed in them or know someone who has. Also, we know the owners and feel good about recommending these. If anything goes wrong, let us know, and we will do our best to make it right. These hotels cover a wide price range and geographic locations.
We have also written about the different kinds of accommodations in Cappadocia. You can choose between deluxe and cheap cave hotels, big chain hotels, hostels, pansions, konaks, and more. Click here to learn more.
Regarding camping, at least 6 Campgrounds serve campers in the Göreme - Çavuşin - Avanos area. They are each a little different and so you will need to click to read about them and make your choice.
As I wrote above about hotels, ditto for Cappadocia restaurants. Find a place in Göreme or Ürgüp from whence you cannot see a restaurant sign, and I will give you $5. We have listed all our restaurant posts on our Cappadocia Restaurants Homepage and have divided them by towns to make it easier for you to choose. The list includes our Top 5 as well as many options at every price range and type of food available. One great bonus of Cappadocia is that you can burn calories hiking the valleys and then eat as much as you like. Again, we receive nothing for listing these restaurants. We only list our favorites with the purpose of helping you to have the best time possible.
But once you choose your restaurant you still need to decide what to eat. Turkish food is delicious and to help you with this, we have listed 100 foods to eat in Cappadocia. Check it out and let us know your favorites.
One more note on this topic. The most famous food in Cappadocia is the Testi Kebap which is a type of beef, chicken, or lamb stew cooked in a sealed clay pot and then broken open in front of you. We recommend the Sofra Restaurant in Avanos for this dish (the link includes a video showing the entire preparation and cooking process), but you will enjoy it at most places in the area.
How do I get from the airport to my Cappadocia hotel? Are there shuttles?
Whether you land in Kayseri or Nevşehir you will need a shuttle. Kayseri is about an hour away and Nevşehir is about 45 minutes. You must reserve it ahead of time or take an expensive taxi. Click to see details about the shuttle companies.
What are the Top 10 things to do in Cappadocia?
Here is the quick list:
- Hot-Air Balloon Ride
- Horseback Riding
- Hike the valleys
- Rent an ATV/Quad or Motorcycle
- Mountain Biking through the valleys
- Guided Tour/Sightseeing
- Get a shave with a strait razor (men only, of course)
- Tea Drinking
- Climb to the top of a volcano or ski down it depending on the season
- Rent a scooter and see the region
- Bonus 1: Gondola and/or Jet Boat on the Red River in Avanos
- Bonus 2: Turkish Night and/or Whirling Dervishes
To read about all of these in more detail, click here.
What are the Top 10 things to see in Cappadocia?
Here is the quick list:
- Göreme Open Air Museum
- Underground cities: Derinkuyu & Kaymaklı (or Gaziemir)
- Towns: Each town in Cappadocia has its own unique character.
- Pottery shops in Avanos - try your hand at throwing a pot and pick up some souvenirs.
- Ürgüp wineries - Cappadocia wines are worth a taste
- Valleys: Love, Imagination, Rose/Red, Pigeon are breathtaking. Do not miss the camel shaped rock.
- Çavuşin St. John's Church - the oldest in the region looks like a huge block of Swiss Cheese
- Hısars: Huge rock towers provide captivating views in Ortahısar and Uçhısar.
- Ihlara Valley & Selime Monastery: My favorite area in Cappadocia but one hour+ drive from Göreme.
- Paşabağ and Zelve Open Air Museum: Best examples of fairy chimneys in one relatively small area.
To read about all of these in more detail, click here.
What can we do with kids in Cappadocia?
Cappadocia is a paradise for children of all ages (excluding infants who are happy anywhere as long as they are with their parents). I have put together a Top 10 list. I would encourage giving your kids a chance to explore the valleys and have fun. Cappadocia is great because of its lack of fences. You can go anywhere, explore caves, climb, run, bike... paradise. As parents be prepared to be very nervous.
Do I need a tour guide? If so, can you recommend one?
The answer to this question totally depends on who is asking the question. However, for most of you I can give a general answer that will satisfy. Certain sites in Cappadocia are well marked and provide bountiful information (the Göreme Open Air Museum comes to mind) while other areas stand out for their lack of signage (e.g. underground cities) and still other areas do not need anything except directional pointers (think of the valleys). If you are a history buff and have the StrengthsFinder strength themes of Learning or Input, then you will definitely want a tour guide for most of Cappadocia. If you prefer to do your own thing and do not want to be constrained by a guide's program, then go it alone as most of Cappadocia will give you enough information. But even for the latter group I would recommend a guide for your time in the underground city.
If you are looking for a guide, click here to see some I recommend.
Should I do one of the packaged tours?
There are many packaged tours but the main day tours are the Green, Blue and Red tours. The Green and Blue tours cost 120TL and the Red tour is 100TL (see Price List to double check latest prices). They last from 9:30-5, and include van, guide, entry fees, and lunch. They are a good way to see a bunch of sites for a reasonable price. You can book them through your hotel or pretty much any local tour/travel agency.
- Göreme Panorama (view from above Göreme)
- Underground City (Derinkuyu) - Note: Beware that you will be in cramped rooms and tunnels in which you have to crouch down for meters at a time.
- Ihlara Valley - 3 km hike along the river
- Belisirma Village - Note: When I did this tour we did not see this village.
- Yaprakhısar Panorama - Note: On my tour this was not a stop but we saw it from the van.
- Selime Monastery
- Pigeon Valley (just a photo opp, not a hike)
- Onyx Workshop (for shopping)
- Uchisar Castle Photo Op
- Göreme Open Air Museum
- Çavuşin Old Village
- Avanos Pottery Demo (shopping)
- Paşabağ Fair Chimneys
- Devrent (Imagination) Valley - see Camel Rock
- Ürgüp Fairy Chimneys - also called the 3 Beauties - located outside of Ürgüp
- Optional: Carpet shop or Winery tour
Blue Tour (or Undiscovered Cappadocia Tour)
- Mustafapaşa Old Greek town- walk through the town, observe homes and churches
- Keslik Cave Monastery Complex
- Sobesos Town Ancient Roman Ruins
- Soğanlı Valley Hike
- Underground City tour - Usually Derinkuyu but sometimes Kaymaklı or even Mazı
- Optional: Wine tasting
Can I use public transportation in Cappadocia or should I rent a car or scooter?
Public transportation in Cappadocia is dependable although it will never be accused of being rapid or frequent. The buses generally run every hour. Click here to see a guide for getting around the region using the buses.
This would be a good time to point out that Cappadocia is so spread out that you should consider transportation before coming. You can rent a car or scooter, take public transportation, use taxis, or rent a van/driver/guide which may be best if you have a large group. Each of these have their pros and cons depending on your situation. To fully answer is beyond the scope of this post. All are available and your hotel should be able to help you with the decision.
What can I get for gifts/souvenirs in Cappadocia and where is the best place to buy them?
Like most tourist areas Cappadocia is not lacking for trinkets, gifts, and souvenirs. If you are going to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, you will find many of the same items, but for the treasure hunter precious gems do await you here. If this is important to you, schedule time to shop in Göreme and Ürgüp especially. Most of it is Chinese made rubbish, but you may be surprised at what you will find if you take the time.
I have made a list of less expensive gift ideas here and have given an idea for a unique item here. Besides these, the old faithfuls are the handmade pottery from Avanos, wine from Ürgüp, and handmade carpets available in every town.
What is the weather like in Cappadocia?
As in most moderate climate areas, the weather is unpredictable. One winter snow will fall like fireworks on the fourth of July and the next winter will only see a few flurries. One spring will see daily rain and the next you will be wondering if you moved to the Sahara.
However, generally the temperature is wear-your-coat cold from mid-October to mid-April (people put away their coal stoves on May 1) with late December through mid-March being frigid except for a few random warm days.
Mid-April to mid-June and Sept/October are the "nicest" times of the year to visit.
July and August are about the only two months that the temperatures get hot enough to be uncomfortable. If you are looking for a bit more detail, click here at which you will find the daily weather for the last few years.
This may help in general long-term planning, but the best advice is to check your favorite weather website a few days before leaving for your trip.
Even with this do not be surprised if the weather is different from the forecast. On a typical spring week the following really happened: Tuesday the prediction for Saturday was rain. Wednesday the forecast was for sun, and Thursday it said to expect clouds on Saturday. Saturday was partly cloudy and breezy.
Can you give us any advice on buying a Turkish carpet or rug in Cappadocia?
Yes. We have put together a Turkish Carpet Buying Guide to help you with your rug or carpet shopping. We include 10 characteristics to consider when looking for one of these antique handmade works of art. Read this guide (and watch the video), and you will enter the process with much more confidence and a host of good questions to ask the salesman as you determine what you want.
I like to get off the Beaten Path. Where can I go in Cappadocia?
Depending on how far you want to go, you have many options. The first and easiest is to hit one of the local valleys. With no fences to block your adventuresome spirit, you can head in any and every direction and not see another person for hours.
The next step would be to rent a car and head out any direction. Take side roads and stop at villages. See a hill/rock/cave and go for it.
Beyond this are the Volcano peak expeditions. Erciyes and Hasan Dağ are calling your name. This is a summer activity unless you are into ice climbing.
And lastly, rent a car, pack your camping gear and head to Aladağ (in Turkish dağ is mountain) a couple of hours away in Niğde province. This one is way off the beaten path and will give you a unique experience among Cappadocia visitors.
Is Cappadocia a city?
I see this misunderstanding often. Cappadocia is a region that touches five central Turkish provinces: Nevşehir, Kayseri, Kirşehir, Aksaray, and Niğde. To read about 10 of the main towns in the central region, click here.
What do I do in case of emergency in Cappadocia?
The main emergency phone numbers are:
155 Police - urban
156 Jandarma (Gendarmarie) - rural
Note that the person on the other end of the phone will most likely only speak Turkish so you will probably need a translator. In most cases you can just ask your hotel for help, and they will take care of whatever you need.
To read more about this, click here
Can I use my cell phone when I visit Cappadocia?
If you are staying less than 30 days, have an unlocked phone, and buy a Turkish sim card at any local Turkcell, Avea, or Vodaphone store, you are free to use your phone. If you are staying longer than 30 days, you will probably have to buy a phone unless you have a residence permit.
Click here, to read more about cell phone usage.
Where was Star Wars filmed?
Despite rumors to the contrary Star Wars was NOT filmed in Cappadocia. The internet is full of sites saying that Luke's home in the original movie was and was not filmed here. If you watch the movie, the credits list Tunisia but not Turkey. The landscape does look similar to scenes in the movie and another rumor says that Lucas thought about filming here but was dissuaded by the Turkish government. I have no idea if that is true, but it sounds good. Regardless, Cappadocia has much to offer its visitors even if Luke Skywalker never lived here. Interestingly, the town in Tunisia in which Star Wars was filmed is called Tataouine just like the planet in the movie.
The short answer is that it sits in the center of Turkey (on many Turkey maps it is covered by the word TURKEY in the center of the map) touching 5 provinces (Nevşehir, Aksaray, Kırsehir, Kayseri and Niğde). The main tourist area, often referred to as central Cappadocia, includes the towns of Göreme, Avanos, and Ürgüp, and is located about 20 minutes from Nevşehir. By bus Cappadocia is about 10-12 hours from Istanbul (5 from Ankara) and no more than an hour by plane (plus the 1 hour shuttle from the Kayseri or Cappadocia (Nevşehir) Airports.
How do I get from Istanbul to Cappadocia?
You can fly, take a bus, or rent a car. I do not recommend the train as it takes too long and requires at least two switches. To get the details (companies, times, and prices) on the three options, click here.
If you do choose to fly into Kayseri, you will need to get a ride to central Cappadocia about an hour from the airport. You will need to reserve a shuttle ahead of time as they do not go regularly and will not let you book at the airport. Your hotel should be able to make an airport shuttle reservation or you can make a reservation yourself with one of the three companies listed in this post.
Which airport should I fly into when I visit Cappadocia?
Good question. There are two possible airports. Kapadokya Airport is outside of Nevşehir in a village named Tüzköy and then the Kayseri Airport is in Kayseri. More flights and airlines come into Kayseri each day but Nevşehir is a bit closer and the shuttle is a couple of dollars cheaper. Personally, I think the difference is small enough to make timing and price the key factors. Pick the flight that best fits your schedule and budget regardless of the airport. I wrote more detail about the two airports and how to choose here.
Can you recommend some books about Turkey to read while traveling?
I am interested in visiting a mosque while in Turkey. What do I need to know?
Many visitors do not realize that they are welcome to tour the mosques, many of which are hundreds of years old spanning two or three empires. You should be respectful so as not to offend those practicing Muslims who you may encounter. We have put together some guidelines to help you navigate the issues since most of the mosques do not provide any literature in English.
Can you recommend a travel agent or tour company for my time in Cappadocia/Turkey?
We are compiling a list of companies we recommend. If a company is on our list, it means we know the owners personally, have used their services, and find them worthy of recommending. If you use one of these and are not pleased with your experience, please let us know, and we will do our best to make it right. Click here to see the list.
I have heard about the different valleys in Cappadocia. Do you have information on them?
If you enjoy hiking or mountain biking, then you will find Cappadocia's valleys to be paradise on earth. In central Cappadocia near Göreme lies Love Valley, Pigeon Valley, Rose/Red Valley, Monk's Valley, Imagination (Devrent) Valley, and many more. A bit further afield you will find Ihlara Valley and Soğanlı Valley and Monastery Valley. We have put together a page to highlight the valleys
I heard about the Cappadocian Fathers. Who were they?
St. Basil of Caesarea (Kayseri), aka Basil the Great, his brother St. Gregory of Nyssa, and their friend St. Gregory of Nazianzus make up the triumvirate that historians call the Cappadocian Fathers. They lived in Cappadocia during the 4th century and played a significant role in the development of the early doctrines of Christianity, especially the Trinity. Click here to learn more about each historical figure.
I have heard about Turkish Baths (Hamams) but am not sure about going to one. What can I expect? Should I go?
The Turkish Bath or Hamam is a wonderful experience for most, once they get past the awkwardness of going to a public bath. You may find it easier to think about it more as a spa, which is what many of them have become to better serve the tourist population. They are clean and safe and you leave feeling clean as a whistle and totally relaxed. Expect to sit in a hot room with running water available, visit the sauna, and get a good rub down and a massage, if you like. They provide a towel and you can wear a bathing suit if you like. Some of the hamams are single sex and others are coed. If this matters to you, be sure to verify beforehand. We recommend going with friends as historically the baths were social times. We have listed the different hamams in the Cappadocia area on our Turkish Bath-Hamam Hompage.
Where can I exchange money in Cappadocia? Also, can I expect most businesses to accept credit cards?
ATM machines are ubiquitous in Cappadocia. We use our US bank debit cards to withdraw cash regularly. Most ATM machines only give Turkish liras although a few will give US dollars and euros. If you have brought dollars or euros or pounds or yen, finding exchange places is not so obvious. In Avanos and Ürgüp you can exchange money at many jewelry stores. Also, some shop owners will exchange money, but you should be sure of the exchange rate before asking them. Lastly, all hotels and most restaurants and many shops will accept credit cards, although we do find that some have difficulty with foreign credit cards. Be prepared for all outcomes. Click to read more details about exchanging money in Cappadocia
Which underground city do you recommend?
According to experts hundreds of underground cities lay beneath Cappadocia's moonscape surface, but only a few are open to the public. We have visited them and created a Cappadocia Underground Cities Homepage from which we link to all of our related posts. Check it out if you are not sure which one to visit. Most tours go to either Derinkuyu or Kaymakli, the two largest. Both are worth seeing, but they are relatively similar so you only need to see one.
We have heard a lot about fairy chimneys. What can you tell us about them?
Fairy chimneys are unique to Cappadocia and give it that Flintstones feeling. They come in all shapes and sizes and are scattered around every bend in the road in central Cappadocia. They were created by the volcanic lava, the native tufa soil, and water erosion over thousands of years. Click to see 45 photos of different fairy chimneys.
Are there sites in Central Cappadocia that are NOT on the tours and/or are given short shrift?
Cappadocia is an open land with very few fences and walls making it an ideal place to head out on your own and explore. However, if you are looking for sites that do not get as much attention, we recommend three.
Zelve Open Air Museum is the "other" open air museum, the undervalued step child. It is fascinating but quite different from Göreme's version as it has no frescoes. Click to read about it and decide for yourself.
Paşabağ with its perfectly clustered fairy chimneys and Devrent (Imagination) Valley with camel rock and other crazy shapes are two other places that many tours visit but do not take full advantage of. One could easily spend a 2-3 hours exploring each place, but most tours only allot 30 minutes for taking photos.
There are many other places like Monastery Valley near Ihlara and many stand alone churches all over the place. Go exploring down almost any road and you are guaranteed to find something.
We want to travel around Turkey when we leave Cappadocia. Can you give us any help with the bus schedule?
Click to see the bus schedules for the different companies departing from Cappadocia's bus stations. We have listed every option available. One thing to note is that buses go everywhere in Turkey so if your desired location is not listed from Cappadocia, then do not be discouraged. You just need to go to Kayseri (if you are going east) or Ankara (west) and get a connecting bus from there. The clerk at the bus company desk should be able to advise you.
Should we make time to visit Erciyes Volcano?
Most Cappadocia visitors only see Kayseri when they go from and to the airport. But if you visit in the winter and like to ski and/or your kids want to enjoy a day of sledding, then Erciyes Volcano's ski resort may be just the place for you. You can take the Gondola to the top of the mountain for a spectacular view of the region. Do not expect Vail, Colorado, but you will still sound quite impressive telling your friends that you snow skied on a volcano in Turkey. The prices are very reasonable making it more attractive.
What is up with all the camels in Cappadocia? Are they indigenous to the area?
Camels were brought to Turkey during Ottoman times and used as pack animals. Today's technology has made the need obsolete so the only camels left are in the Aydin/Denizli area where they engage in the annual camel wrestling matches that are a big tourist draw. In the 1980s the first camels were brought to Cappadocia for tourists' amusement. Click on the blue words above to read more details on each camel in this region.
We are not just tourists, we live in Turkey and want to buy a car. Since you live here maybe you could give us some advice?
What is the history of Cappadocia?
The short answer is that the Hittites were here for a time (apparently they began the underground cities), then different ancient empires ruled the area, before the Romans moved in. Early Christianity came to the area in the first century and remained strong for centuries with the Cappadocian Fathers playing a significant role in the development of orthodox Christian theology. Much of what you see on your tours is the remains of the Christian civilizations. Islam arrived in force with the Seljuk Turks and then the Ottomans. One benefit of hiring a guide is that you will get a fuller description of the history of the area while looking at the different sites to which the history belonged.
One other historical act of note is the people swap that took place in the early 1920's. The Greeks living in Turkey were sent to Greece and the Turks in Greece moved to Turkey. Some of the towns here are advertised as old Greek towns. This means that most/many of the inhabitants were Greek until 1923-24 and their buildings are all that remains to remind one of their former presence.
For more reading check out Wikipedia.
The pottery is beautiful. Can you give us some shopping recommendations?
The Avanos area is known for pottery and there are no shortage of masters plying their trade. You need to be careful as this is an area in which prices are inflated due to all the different commissions paid to tour operators, guides, bus drivers, etc. If you are not with a tour, be sure to bargain. I would go for about 30% of the listed price for many items (70% discount). You may not get that but definitely start there. Chez Bircan is a friend and specializes in miniatures. We have included a video of him making a couple of different items. The most popular item is the Hittite wine jug which comes in all sizes and is the most difficult piece to make as it requires 4 different pieces. However, you need to be careful if you want the Hittite wine jug because some of the potters have started using a mold to make these. You don't want to buy a molded one thinking it is handmade or worse paying handmade prices for a molded item. We made a video to show you how to tell the difference. Click here to watch it.
We are also friends with Ömürlü Çömlekçi in Avanos and are happy to recommend him.
What do I do if my cell phone breaks in Cappadocia?
You do not need to worry. One of the Turkcell offices in Nevşehir has repairmen who can work wonders. They can fix most problems like broken screen or even wet phone the same day. I have written details about which store and what to do here.
We are considering a Jeep Safari. Which companies do you recommend?
Click here to get detailed information on all the companies offering jeep safari tours.
What about Horseback riding? Which ranch should we go with?
Click here to get detailed information on all the companies offering horseback riding. I think reading this will help you determine which is the best one for you.
What about night life in Cappadocia? Would you recommend the Turkish Night Show or the Whirling Dervish Show? Also, are there places to hear live music?
Honestly, people do not come to Cappadocia for the night life. Relatively, there is not a lot going on here after the sun goes down. However, there are a few places in each of the main towns that offer live music. There are some bars/clubs in Avanos and Ürgüp that may be what you are looking for. I have not been to them so can't speak with any expertise on the subject.
How much is a hot air balloon ride? How about the ATV? Do you have prices listed somewhere?
I am glad you asked. I found it difficult to keep updating every post whenever the prices changed so I made one post that lists all the different prices. Click to see the Price List.
Visiting Cappadocia? You need a guidebook!
Note: If you are visiting Cappadocia, This FAQ will help but a better (and more money saving) resource is one of our 3 Guidebooks.
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