With its dramatic, dream-like landscape, setting foot in Cappadocia feels like stepping into the pages of a fairytale. These pink- and gold-hued volcanic hills are home to ancient underground settlements – and truly unique boutique hotels. Its valleys promise jaw-dropping hiking routes, the skies above are dotted with hot-air balloons and the old citadel of Uçhisar looks over it all. From up high or down low, Cappadocia promises a memorable escape.
Cave houses and fairy chimneys: this is Turkey’s enchanting ancient heartland.
Things to do
Glimpsing Cappadocia’s ‘fairy chimneys’ for the first time is magical. Formed from lava millions of years ago, these towering, mushroom-like cones have created a one-of-a-kind skyline. To see what lies beneath, visit UNESCO-listed Göreme Open-Air Museum. Here, 10th-century churches are hewn from the rocks and home to bright, beautiful frescoes.
From Alexander the Great to Emperor Caesar, Cappadocia has a varied and fascinating dynastic history. To immerse yourself in the stories of this ancient land, venture below ground and explore atmospheric cave cities. Kaymakli, Derinkuyu, Gaziemir and Özkonak are excellent examples. Many have their defence networks still in tact – including millstone doors and spear holes. In others, you can view bathhouses, kitchens and even prisons.
Be sure to bring your hiking boots to Cappadocia – its canyons make it magnificent walking country. Try the evocatively named Love Valley, Rose Valley or Pigeon Valley. A trek through the Ihlara gorges will see you following the Melendiz River, past pistachio trees and through rust-red rock formations. Look out for ancient cave dwellings and Byzantine chapels as you travel.
One of the best (and most popular) ways to see Cappadocia is from on high. After a day exploring the cave cities, take to the skies in a hot-air balloon.
Top tip from slh