Fairy chimneys (unique rock formations that reach into the sky), underground cities, cave hotels, hot air balloons, Turkey’s Cappadocia region is as beautiful as it is ancient. If you scroll Instagram, you’ve likely seen photos that looks similar to this. This is the Cappadocia region.
After a week in Istanbul, my wife, five-year-old daughter and I took a one-hour $100 one-way flight on Turkish Airlines to the Nevsehir airport. Renting a car for $100 and staying in Göreme, we explored the region in 60 hours. (Here’s the lightweight travel car seat we use for our daughter.) Here’s what we recommend.
- Baklava from King’s Coffee Shop, a wife-husband cafe that sells pastries from baklava to red velvet cake.
- Butter chicken from Namaste India, a popular Indian restaurant with free Wi-Fi.
- Garlic chicken skewers at Ziggy Cafe and Shoppe, a small restaurant with rotating seasonal dishes in the quaint town of Ürgüp.
- Mulled wine from Göreme Restaurant, a Turkish restaurant where visitors dine on the floor.
- Book Woop Woop Travel’s Green Tour for a day of sightseeing.
- Costing 35 euros per person, the tour company picked us up at our hotel in the morning and dropped us off in the evening.
- Throughout the day, we saw a valley, an underground city and a mountain monastery. We also hiked a valley followed by a local three-course meal.
- Note: If you’re in the area for just a day or two, forgoing renting a car and booking this tour instead is recommended.
- Explore Ürgüp, a small town with winding streets filled with parks, shops, and cafes.
- Stay at Mithra Cave Hotel, a boutique cave hotel on the highest points of Göreme with free breakfast and rooftop views of the morning hot air balloons.
- Regional views from a hot air balloon.
- We booked Royal Balloon, allegedly the area’s safest company, but there are a multitude of companies offering morning hot air balloon rides.
- Paying 200 euros per adult and 170 for our five-year-old daughter, the company upgraded us to the Royal Queen Plus Flight.
- Picking us up at our hotel, we had breakfast at Royal Balloon’s HQ before boarding the hot air balloon to watch the sunrise over the region.
- For one hour, 16 of us took in the views while I kept a steady hand on my daughter. (There aren’t seatbelts so be mindful of little kids leaning off the side of the basket.)
- Once back on the ground, we popped open a bottle of champagne, ate chocolate-covered strawberries, and received medals.
- Note: Hot air balloon rides are booked every day of the year, but can only fly if the government gives a green light based on weather conditions. Out of the three mornings we were there in December, only our day was approved to fly.