What to see in Turkey
There are so many places to visit in Turkey, starting with Istanbul. Delightful at every step, this city is the gateway that connects two continents and civilizations. Moving on to Polonezköy, which is a village founded in the mid-nineteenth century by Polish immigrants. Then, there are the limestone terraces of Pamukkale, which in ancient times were part of the spa town of Hierapolis. For a dose of Turkish culture and heritage, head to the east of the empire an historic cities such as Sanliurfa, Mardin and Midyat. Finally, Lake Van and its surrounding monasteries are fascinating, as is the the mystical mountain of Nemrut.
Anatolia’s most famous attraction is Cappadocia, which, due to its spectacular landscape, is often compared to Jordanian city of Petra or the Egyptian pyramids. The volcanic landscape makes an extraordinary impression and is all the work of wind and water that have formed spectacular rock formations over the millennia.
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What is Cappadocia famous for?
The land of hot air balloons, lunar landscapes and absolutely cosmic-looking houses carved into the rockface is a historical region of central Anatolia where people have lived since at least the Bronze Age. The main tourist attractions here are Cappadocian villages, which are houses carved into the hillsides. You’ll also marvel at Byzantine churches with dazzling frescoes and labyrinthine underground cities.
Cappadocia is the perfect destination for both nature and history lovers and its valleys are one of the best places in Turkey for hiking and horse riding. The region is also known as one of the best places in the world for hot-air ballooning. You can reach Cappadocia via its two airports – Nevsehir Kapadokya (NAV) and Kayseri Erkilet (ASR). Both airports have daily direct flights from Istanbul (IST) or Sabiha Gokcen (SAW) and Turkish domestic ticket prices are very competitive.
Hot-air balloon rides
A hot air balloon ride is a must in Cappadocia! Tourists from all corners of the globe flock here to participate in this iconic ceremony, for which this region is best known. This unusual attraction is offered by a number of local companies – most often in a package that includes a hotel transfer and champagne. Your balloon ride lasts an hour and often takes place at sunrise or sunset. Prices are surprisingly affordable, given the area’s stunning scenery and its popularity. Morning flights start from €160 per person, but it is important to book well in advance.
Cappadocia is a magical place where you can lose yourself as you watch the balloons soar. Almost 150 colourful balloons rise above the rocky landscape every day, with sunset and sunrise providing visitors with the most spectacular scenery.
An open-air museum and an underground city
Admiring the rocky cliffs and caves of Zelve is an archetypal Cappadocian experience. This former village settlement, which until the 9th century was a monastery, is now an open-air museum. The ability to immerse yourself in the experience and the history undoubtedly makes it one of the most interesting museums in the world.
The underground city of Kaymaklı is a rocky labyrinth of rooms connected by tunnels, located over eight levels. Four levels are open for sightseeing, with Derinkuyu being the deepest underground shelter in Cappadocia. Claustrophobic tunnels plunge deep into the earth’s structure in an incredible underground labyrinth that contains a cave with a chapel, along with and many living and storage rooms to explore. You can also see the characteristic ventilation shaft systemn used by the inhabitants of Derinkuyu.
Visit a Turkish bath
Turkey’s cultural heritage is important not only to its residents, but also to overseas visitors. While in Cappadocia, it is worth visiting a traditional Turkish bath, or hammam. An experience like no other, a hammam is a combination of a sauna, a scrub and a massage and plenty of foam. articipant undress to their underwear on a heated marble slab in a beautifully decorated steam room and are subjected to head-to-toe treatments.
Jeep or quad bike around the stone city
Renting a quad bike or jeep is another way to explore the natural wonders of Cappadocia as well as an unforgettable adrenaline rush! The volcanic terrain of the Sword, Love and Rose valleys are ideal forgentle off-roading combined with sightseeing. There are many companies offering quad safari programmes, with prices starting from €20-30 for a two-hour drive around the area.
Your schedule includes stops at the most interesting panoramic points to take photos. Be sure to stick around for your certificate of participation and a glass of champagne served at the end!
Check flight and accommodation offers in Cappadocia
One of the most interesting things about Cappadocia is its unique landscape. There are plenty of great hiking trails in the region, but Cappadocia’s most beautiful valleys lie between the villages of Göreme and Çavusin. This is a kingdom of pastel-coloured rock formations that form old desert settlements. Churches are hidden in the rocks and you can see hermit shelters from the Byzantine era. Between the cliffs are lush orchards and vegetable plots still tended by local farmers. There are also plenty of hiking trails here,, with routes lasting from a couple of hours to an all-day endeavour.
Horse riding is also very popular here. Due to the rocky terrain, most rides are best suited to intermediate riders, rather than beginners. A real treat for nature lovers is hiking the Ihlara Valley. This lush, green valley is situated at the bottom of a 100-metre-deep gorge in southwest Cappadocia. Bound by rugged, sheer cliffs, the Ihlara Valley is a haven for tall poplar trees and fertile farms. The mesmerising Melendiz River runs for 14 kilometres from the village of Selime to the village of Ihlara. In the Byzantine period, it was a favourite refuge for hermit communities of monks who carved churches and monastery complexes into the cliff face.