With its unique landscape, superlative hiking, panoramic drinking spots, hot air balloons and cave hotels, our 4 day Cappadocia itinerary simply, well, rocked.


At the end of three weeks travelling in Turkey and weary from a long day on the road, we took the turn towards Göreme to start our 4 day Cappadocia itinerary. Instantly the landscape changed. The flat open plains that carried the motorway hundreds of miles to our destination gave way to the unusual walls of rock melting into the valley below. Towering cone-shaped chimneys and mysterious caves cut high into the rock faces, divulged our location.

Cappadocia is an intoxicating cocktail of sights and experiences. The dramatic canyons are playground to a mix of activities designed to energise the senses. Hot air balloon rides at the crack of dawn, hiking the beautiful valley trails, nursing a beer at a panoramic sunset point, visiting frescoed churches completely carved into the rock, or simply enjoying the experience of sleeping in a cave hotel.

As a massive bonus, Turkey is currently a very cheap destination thanks to its depreciating currency. Additionally, reduced tourist numbers over the last couple of years has made viewing the big sights easier and more relaxing. This meant our 4 day Cappadocia itinerary packed in many of the things we love to do, without the crush of the crowds, at a great price.



MORE READING | Read about our top 6 moments in Cappadocia, our fantastic hot air balloon experience and get all the detailed information on our favourite hikes in Cappadocia. For some background on why we went to Cappadocia on this trip, read about our experience in Ölüdeniz.


MORE READING

Read about our top 6 moments in Cappadocia, our fantastic hot air balloon experience and get all the detailed information on our favourite hikes in Cappadocia. For some background on why we went to Cappadocia on this trip, read about our experience in Ölüdeniz.


We loved Cappadocia for the simple fact that it lived up to its online promises. While it’s very touristy, the experiences are truly amazing and the main town, Göreme has an otherworldly feel that we loved. It’s unique, bold, enticing and exotic. Here’s how we did our 4 day Cappadocia itinerary.

Trip Overview

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Hot Air Balloon Ride followed by a magical hike through Pigeon and Love Valley
Exploring Ihlara Valley before descending into the Underground City of Kaymakli
Hiking Red and Rose Valleys and investigating the Rock Carved Churches of Göreme
Visiting rural Turkish villages on route to the canyons and churches of Soğanlı

Drifting in a hot air balloon over sublime scenery
Hiking in a rippling sea of coloured rock
Ambling the streets of rural Turkish villages
Sleeping in a cave hotel in quirky Göreme
Legs dangling over panoramic sunset while sipping a beer

Why we loved Cappadocia

Trip Overview

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Hot Air Balloon Ride followed by a magical hike through Pigeon and Love Valley
Exploring Ihlara Valley before descending into the Underground City of Kaymakli
Hiking Red and Rose Valleys and investigating the Rock Carved Churches of Göreme
Visiting rural Turkish villages on route to the canyons and churches of Soğanlı

Why we loved Cappadocia

Drifting in a hot air balloon over sublime scenery
Hiking in a rippling sea of coloured rock
Ambling the streets of rural Turkish villages
Sleeping in a cave hotel in quirky Göreme
Legs dangling over panoramic sunset while sipping a beer

4 day Cappadocia Itinerary – Magical Balloon rides and mystic scenery.

DAY 1 | HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE AND HIKE THROUGH PIGEON AND LOVE VALLEY

AM /Taking a hot air balloon ride is a mandatory activity in Cappadocia, and it was a highlight of our trip. Probably the highlight of most trips to Cappadocia. We got picked up at 4.30 am for what proved to be once in a lifetime experience. The feeling of slowly drifting over the sculpted canyons of the Cappadocian landscape in the early morning light is one we won’t forget in a hurry. Read more about our hot air balloon experience here.

The valleys of Cappadocia offer a multitude of hiking in interesting scenery. So, this morning, after recovering from the thrill of the balloon ride and while the temperature was still cool, we set off on a hike through 2 of the valleys. We started down narrow canyon walls of Pigeon Valley, before rising up to the panoramic views of Uçhisar Castle and descending again into the phallic rock formations of Love Valley. This stunning hike took us 4 hr 30 mins including a couple of stops for tea at fantastically located cafes along the path. We put together a detailed description of the route and maps here.

PM /After allowing our weary legs to recover over a chilled-out afternoon, and as the sunset approached, we drove up to Panorama Point. This is an excellent spot to while away an hour as the sun goes down. The views are stupendous. A nearby stall has some of the tastiest dried fruit we’ve ever tried, and Crazy Ali’s Café has couches and swinging chairs literally on the very edge of the canyon walls. So, with legs dangling over the valley, we watched the sun go down, toasting a very successful first day of our 4 day Cappadocia itinerary.

Back in Göreme, we had dinner at Köy Evi Restaurant (Aydinkiragi Sok No:40) serving the traditional clay pot kebabs, which a busload of Japanese tourists took great pleasure in watching us try to crack open.


Hot Air Balloon /We booked our balloon through Voyager Agency in Göreme the night before. Price: €140 for a 1-hour flight and a glass of champagne. Details: They will pick you up from your hotel about 1 hour before sunrise and drop you back about 2 hr, 30 min later. Tips: We recommend you book the balloon as soon as you arrive in Cappadocia as flights are often cancelled due to weather conditions.

Panorama Point /₺2 per person, if the gate is manned. Location: 5-minute drive from Goreme

DAY 2 | IHLARA VALLEY AND UNDERGROUND CITY OF KAYMAKLI

AM /Enthralled by the hot air balloon ride yesterday, we wanted to see the experience from another perspective. So, we got up at dawn and walked up to sunset point, a few hundred metres from our hotel. Us and a couple of hundred people lined the viewpoint collecting snaps of this post-card worthy scene. As the sun rises over the valley walls and the sky fills with hot air balloons, it’s truly memorable.

While much of the beauty of Cappadocia surrounds the town of Göreme, it is worth exploring a little further afield. So, after breakfast, we drove to Ihlara Village, about 1 hour south-west of Göreme. Ihlara Village is the starting point for a hike up the beautiful narrow canyon of Ihlara Valley. It’s a simple walk along the valley floor. A river gurgles next to you, frogs belch from the mud, birds hoot overhead, churches scar the canyon walls and cafés serve you delicious tea. It’s an excellent way to spend a few hours and you can find all the details here.

PM /On the way back from Ihlara Village we visited the remarkable Kaymakli Underground City. The construction of this cave city begun in the 7th or 8th centuries BCE and it has been expanded over the centuries. Today the city descends 8 levels into the earth, consisting of a series of cave houses, stables, a church and storage rooms connected by over a hundred tunnels. Although only 4 floors are open to the public, it is an eerie and claustrophobic journey as you make your way around. Hunched on all fours in narrow corridors waiting for the queue of other visitors to move on, you can see how this was a place of refuge for Christians trying to escape persecution from Arabs, Turks and Mongols over the years. It is well worth a visit, although if you see a large tour group go in before, we suggest you grab a tea in the courtyard and wait it out. You don’t want to be stuck behind a large group of people in such close quarters.

After returning to Göreme we went to Paşabağı, a collection of some of the most striking fairy chimneys and mushroom topped formations in the area. It compact and close to the highway so it can get inundated with bus groups, but it only takes 30 min to see everything and so it’s worth it for a few quick photos.

For dinner, we went slightly upmarket and treated ourselves to dinner at Seten Restaurant (Aydınlı Mah. Aydınlı So k. No:42 Sultan Cave Suites) for authentic and fancy Anatolian cuisine. It didn’t exactly rock our world because they weren’t doing anything particularly innovative compared to all the other restaurants in Göreme, and it was 2 -3 times more expensive than anything else in town. But hey, the food was fine and you might feel like a bit of posh dining to celebrate a fantastic day.


Ihlara Valley Ticket Office /8:00 – 18:30; Price: ₺20. Travel: The drive is around 1 hr, 15 min from Goreme. Park near the Start Restaurant and follow the signs to the valley trail. Directions are here.

Kaymakli Underground City /8:00 – 18:45 Apr-Oct; 8:00 – 16:45 Nov-Mar; Price: ₺25. Travel: Kaymakli is around 50 min from Ihlara, directions are here.

DAY 3 | RED AND ROSE VALLEYS AND THE CHURCHES OF GÖREME

AM /Already in the routine of shockingly early mornings, we got up at dawn again this morning to hike the Red and Rose Valley trails. Our goal was to do the walk in the cool morning light, while the balloons were floating over-head. Unfortunately, in spite of what looked like very calm conditions the balloons were not flying. But, since we were up we thought we may as well head off anyway. We didn’t regret it.

This is a fantastic hike that winds its way through some of the finest valleys in the area. There are many excellent view-points perched over oceans of rippling red, rose and white rock. Churches, deeply cut into the rock, sometimes columned, sometimes frescoed are sights in themselves. The only downside is the challenge of finding the trailheads and following the paths, which in spite of a profusion of signs, is not particularly easy. The walk took us about 5 hours, including getting lost briefly a couple of times. To help with the navigation we have put together detailed hiking instructions in this article.

PM /In the late afternoon we drove to the Göreme Open Air Museum. This museum surrounds an area of many of the best preserved frescoed churches. Three of the churches, included in the entrance fee, have frescoes in decent condition. But the best is at Karanik Kilise where you have to pay a little extra, which we recommend you do.

After spending just over an hour at the museum, and as the sun began to sink over the horizon we walked up to sunset point in the south of Göreme. Here we grabbed a beer from the stall on the summit and sat at one of the many benches to enjoy sunset over this beautiful landscape.

For dinner we went to My Mother’s Cafe. Despite the terrible name, the food was pretty good. Honest, hearty Turkish cooking without too much fuss.


Göreme Open Air Museum /Allow 1 hour to 1 hour, 30 minutes to explore the museum. Hours: 08:00 – 18:30; Price: ₺30 + ₺10 more for if you want to go inside Karanik Kilise, which we recommend. Location: here.

DAY 4 | VILLAGE LIFE AND THE CANYONS OF SOĞANLI

AM /Today we jumped in the car and took off for the rural villages of Mustafapaşa and Cemil, on the way to the canyons of Soğanlı. Mustafapaşa – just 10 minutes south of Göreme – is halfway between a rural village and a town coming to terms with tourism. Tractors roam the streets where a few tourist shops, cafes and hotels have slowly started to pop up. We enjoyed a quick stroll around the town and tea overlooking a fairly deserted square.

Cemil, however, is untouched by tourism. It actually looks like it’s been untouched by everything for a few hundred years. The town is crumbling down a valley side; chickens and cows line the roads – there’s not even a chance of a cup of tea here. The closest we got to encountering a local was an old lady who kept a very suspicious eye on as we strolled around. But, it’s a very photogenic place.

About an hour drive after leaving Göreme we arrived at Soğanlı, a town that has been occupied since Roman times and was a centre for Christianity in the Byzantine Empire. We first visited the very pretty frescoed Tahtali Church, but the real highlight was strolling through the second valley with a number of carved churches and beautiful views of the valley.  Our favourites were: Snake Church, Domed Church and Hidden Church. At the end of the valley, a cafe is set up in a beautiful garden by the river.

PM /After returning to Göreme, we went for a late afternoon stroll around the Gorkundere Valley. It’s a shorter valley than some of the others in the area but it has some very impressive phallic rock formations that make great photo opportunities. Next, we went to the nearby Zemi Valley and visited the very cute El Nazar Kilise – a 10th-century church carved from a single piece of rock. The frescoes inside are very impressive and a chatty attendant was very keen to point them all out.

For dinner this evening we went to the Organic Cave Kitchen (Isali Mahallesi Ali Cavus Caddesi No 15) for very tasty food on their outdoor deck. They have a larger selection than most restaurants in Göreme, so if you’re a bit over kebab and rice, other options are available here.


Soğanlı /Driving time from Göreme is around 1 hour. Download directions here. Total driving time for the day, including stops was around 2 hours, 20 minutes. Hours: 8:00-20:30. Price: ₺5. Tips: After paying the entry fee, continue pass the ticket both where the road splits. Take the left road and follow it end until you come to the Tahtali Church. The, return the way you came turning right to enter the second valley.

Gorkundere & Demi Valley /Park at the large empty looking carpark here, and walk past the awful looking Tourist Hotel to enter the valley. El Nazar Kilise entry fee: ₺5.

Information that might help you plan your own magical 4 day Cappadocia itinerary.


We are firm believers that condensed itineraries like this don’t happen through luck alone. A little pre-planning, research, and understanding what you are looking for in a destination, will help make your travels far more successful. Here’s some further information we think you might need to plan your own Cappadocia trip.

4 DAY CAPPADOCIA ITINERARY COSTS

Turkey is cheap at the moment, so visiting Cappadocia is relatively affordable. The total cost of our 4 day Cappadocia itinerary, for two people, was ₺6,000. With May 2018 rates of ₺6 to the British Pound; ₺4.5 to the US dollar; and ₺5.1 to the Euro, this equates to:

4 day Cappadocia Itinerary

US$1,330

4 day Cappadocia Itinerary

GBP£1,000

4 day Cappadocia Itinerary

EUR€1,150

Total Cost

For 2 people, 5 nights
₺6,000Turkish Lira
  • ₺990 5 days car hire and insurance (₺198/day)
  • ₺1,800 5 nights w/breakfast at Artemis Cave Suites (₺360/night)
  • ₺1,450 Balloon trip for 2 people (€140/pp)
  • ₺1,300 Food and booze
  • ₺460 Entrance fees, petrol and other bits
WHERE TO STAY IN CAPPADOCIA

We highly recommend staying in Göreme. Many of the best hiking trailheads are nearby, sunset and sunrise viewpoints are easily accessible, and the town has plenty of facilities and restaurants. It’s a unique place with many buildings carved into the rock and lots of rooftop terraces overlooking the fairy chimneys and valleys behind them. While it’s sole purpose is tourism, it actually maintains something of a local feel without too much annoying selling.

We also suggest you stay in a Cave Hotel. Cave Hotels are a relatively unique experience to Cappadocia. The hotels are carved into fairy chimneys or into the canyon walls and usually have excellent facilities overlooking the town and the surrounding landscape.

We spent 5 excellent nights at Artemis Cave Suites which we would recommend. It’s in a great location, just under sunset point.

HOW TO GET TO CAPPADOCIA

Cappadocia is smack bang in the middle of Turkey and with minimal significant things to see nearby, it does take some effort to get to. We recommend you hire a car as Ihlara Valley and Soganli Valley are both one hours drive away, and it makes getting to Panorama point at sunset much easier.

We completed our 4 day Cappadocia itinerary as an excellent finale to our 2-week road trip around Turkey. So, we had already hired a car and drove in from Antalya, which was a 7-hour drive, Istanbul is an 8-hour drive. If you are nervous about driving in Turkey, there’s no need to be, just read our tips on driving in Turkey here.

Cappadocia also has two airports, one at Nevşehir (40 mins drive to Göreme) and the other at Kayseri (60 mins drive to Göreme) both of which fly to a number of domestic locations for about ₺250 (£41 or $55) and offer car rental facilities. If you are not hiring a car you can pre-book a transfer or get your hotel to organise your pick up.

BEST TIME TO VISIT CAPPADOCIA

Cappadocia sits on a plateau over 1,000m high, so in winter the temperature can drop to around 0°C and in summer it’s often upwards of 30°C. If you enjoy hiking, as we do, then the shoulder seasons (April – June and September – October) are perfect.

Rainfall is higher in Spring than in Autumn, and being a little windier, this makes balloon riding a bit more susceptible to cancellations. The up-side is the landscape is greener, flowers more abundant and the days a bit longer.

Our 4 day Cappadocia itinerary was part of a 2-week road trip around Turkey in late May and for us, this time was perfect. Flowers lined the valley floors, temperatures were not too hot for hiking and the days were long enough for us to fully appreciate the spectacular landscapes.

Balloons flew 3 out of the 5 mornings we were in Cappadocia, giving us plenty of opportunities to catch a flight. We had a few thunderstorms which we worked around, mainly by hiking early in the morning.

We travelled to Cappadocia during Ramadan which meant the big sites were much less busy as locals don’t take holiday during this time. We also had no problems booking hotels late (so we could keep some flexibility) or getting into good restaurants with the best viewpoints on offer.

TIP | In 2019 Ramadan will be 06 May to 04 June and in 2020 it will be 23 Apr to 23 May, making both excellent times to visit Turkey.

Finally, the Turkish currency has been very weak recently, making Turkey a very cheap holiday destination. Our advice: go earlier rather than later if you plan to visit Turkey.

WHAT WOULD WE DO DIFFERENTLY?

We were generally pretty happy with our 4 day Cappadocia itinerary. We felt like it was a good amount of time to see everything the area has to offer and allowed us some time to do some fantastic walks.

The only thing we would do differently is check that the balloons were flying on the day we did the hike around the Red and Rose Valleys. We got up at dawn to capture some photos of the valleys with the balloons overhead, but they weren’t flying that day. This oversight cost us an hour or so we could have spent in bed if we had checked with the hotel the night before. Luckily, the walk was great anyway.

OTHER THINGS TO DO IN CAPPADOCIA

As you have probably worked out by now we love to walk. We find it a great way to take in the scenery and learn about a new place. It means however that some of our itineraries can be hiking heavy, such as this one.

So, if you want some other options in Cappadocia you could; take a horse ride at sunset into the valleys, quad bike across the moonscape or have an All-Terrain Vehicle experience. Most tour agents also offer a series of pre-arranged tours that take in different parts of Cappadocia.

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