A long weekend break in Göreme is the perfect base to explore the valleys and experience the unique landscape of the Cappadocia region, otherwise known as The Land Of Fairy Chimneys.
This incredible part of the world has so much to offer adventure lovers of all types; from adrenalin junkies who get their kicks on the two back wheels of a quad bike, to animal lovers who enjoy a gentle stroll on horseback, or those who simply prefer exploring on their own two feet. However you choose to enjoy the views, there are plenty more experiences that you just can’t afford to miss on your next visit to Cappadocia. Here are my top 12 ideas for you to enjoy…
ONE: VISIT GOREME OPEN AIR MUSEUM
One of the most popular attractions to explore in this region is the Göreme Open Air Museum. A huge outdoor monastic complex filled with the remains of the finest rock-cut churches carved into the volcanic rock during the middle ages & decorated with frescoes.
TWO: WATCH THE SUNRISE
If you choose to stay at a hotel with a roof terrace you’ll have easy access to the stunning balloon filled skies at sunrise every morning and the perfect base to enjoy the views before breakfast.
THREE: FLY IN A HOT AIR BALLOON
A hot air balloon experience will likely be the highlight of any visit to Cappadocia and allows you to capture a birds eye view of the unique rock formations as you blissfully float across the stunning valleys. See more from my flight over the valleys in my YouTube video here.
FOUR: HIKE A VALLEY
Whether you go it alone or hire a guide to navigate you, a valley hike is the perfect way to get up close and personal with the landscape whilst burning off a few baklava calories. This region is full of hiking tails and perfect for nature lovers.
FIVE: GO UNDERGROUND
The Underground Cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are the most popular places to experience the fascinating history of underground Cappadocia whilst exploring a maze of tunnels and rooms carved deep into the earth. I visited Kaymakli Underground City which was one of the highlights of my trip.
SIX: TOUR THE VALLEYS
No two valleys look the same! From pigeon caves to camel shaped rocks – each valley has it’s own unique identity as a result of erosion from the elements over millions of years. There’s Devrent Valley, Monk’s Valley, Love Valley, Pigeon Valley, Red Valley, Rose Valley, Swords Valley… just to name a few! See as many as you can, you definitely won’t get bored of the ever changing rock formations.
SEVEN: MAKE POTTERY
Pottery has been produced in Cappadocia since as far back as 2000 BC and today you can visit many family run businesses in the region to witness this historic tradition in action. The hand painted works of art are made from red clay and the ceramic exhibits are absolutely incredible. You can arrange a demonstration or even have a go yourself before browsing huge collections of local artwork as a much more authentic experience to browsing the tourist trap souvenir shops ( I love doing this too!).
EIGHT: VISIT VIEWPOINTS
There are lots of viewpoints that have been set up with photography props, cafes and facilities to attract tourists to locations that are fantastic for seeing the surrounding views at sunrise or sunset, or any time of day. One of my favourites was the view of Ortahisar Castle from the Lavanta Panorama café. Various photobooths including swings and floral frames add an extra element of fun to your viewing experience. Perfect for Instagram lovers!
NINE: EAT & DRINK
From cheap eats to gourmet restaurants, there is something for everyone to enjoy. From local authentic cuisine to international dishes, there is no shortage of food and drink options. Try the Turkish tea and Turkish coffee over a traditional Turkish breakfast after watching the hot air balloons at sunrise and you won’t be disappointed. My favourite lunch spot with a roof terrace and great view in Göreme is Keyif Restaurant where you can try the famous local dish of a pottery kebab. There is also a great coffee spot next door called Hopper Coffee House. For a special dinner, try the Haruna Restaurant which serves delicious authentic dishes with farm-fresh ingredients as well as international cuisine.
TEN: BUY SOUVENIRS
From evil eye keyrings to hot air balloon magnets, tea, Turkish delight, and all the usual gifts you need to bring home, there are plenty of places to stock up on souvenirs. But there are also plenty of special gifts, handmade locally or unique to Cappadocia. From stone carvings to rugs and jewellery, whether you buy anything or not, the gift shops are amazing to visit.
ELEVEN: VISIT A WINERY
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Turkish wine as much as I did. Especially the Emir variety which only grows in Cappadocia and thrives on the volcanic soils. It’s not too dissimilar to a Pinot Grigio.
Visiting a winery is great way to discover the history of local winemaking and sample the goods. I visited the Turasan winery which has been run by the Turasan family for 3 generations since 1943 and they have been proud pioneers in the development of the Cappadocia wine region. It was the perfect pit stop to grab a bottle of wine on our way to watch the sunset on our final evening.
TWELVE: WATCH THE SUNSET
Watching the sunset with wine (optional) is a fabulous experience. There are plenty of locations to enjoy the view with beanbags, cafes, and cosy little viewpoint stations created for a comfy and enjoyable experience. As the sun sets over the valleys, the rocks change colour and the view is spectacular. I watched the sunset over Red Valley from a viewpoint in Rose Valley on a beanbag with my local wine and my friends – the perfect end to an incredible trip. Local guides know the best places to visit in time for sunset and it’s easy to hire a driver when you need one.
Read more about the history and landscape of Cappadocia’s valleys in my blog called The Land Of Fairy Chimneys.