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19 Best things to see & do in Cappadocia

  • Central Anatolia, Turkey

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Jeremy Seal
  • Goreme, Central Anatolia, Turkey

Cappadocia tends to mean spending plenty of time underground, which is why taking to the air over this unique landscape makes for such a welcome change of perspective.

Flying low along these valleys is a magnificent way to appreciate the interplay of rocky outcrops, cave homes, vineyards and orchards, especially as the dawn light lends the local stone a surreal pink tint.

One of the world’s greatest balloon flights.

Adult price: £75

Min age 6

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 4 hours

  • Goreme, Central Anatolia, Turkey

People walking into natural openings in a large rock formation.

Bucket List Experience

Goreme Open-Air Museum

Cappadocia’s most visited site, just outside the village of Goreme, is a monastic complex consisting of dozens of chapels and cells set side-by-side, all carved into a natural amphitheatre of rock that has been preserved today as a UNESCO-listed open-air museum.

The complex contains more than 30 churches and chapels, some decorated with exceptional Byzantine frescoes dating from the 10th century to the 12th century.

Adult price: £10

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 2 hours

  • Avanos, Central Anatolia, Turkey

Whirling dervishes perform in an old caravansary in Nevsehir, Turkey.

Bucket List Experience

Whirling Dervishes of Saruhan

Saruhan Caravansaray is the nightly setting for the region’s famed Whirling Dervish ceremony, a moving and extraordinary ritual expressive of Sufi mysticism, and dating back to the 12th century. Watch on as the sect’s white-clad initiates spin themselves into a trance state to the haunting accompaniment of drum, flute and chant.

Often mistaken for a dance, it is rather a meditation practice, a form of ritual whereby the dervishes aim to reach a state of karma by focusing only on God and the music. The spinning helps concentration, and it supposed to symbolise the planets orbiting the sun.

The surroundings, a restored 13th-century fortified inn set amidst Cappadocian steppelands, add to the atmosphere of the occasion.

Adult price: £10

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 40 minutes

When: Daily

Freq: daily

  • Goreme, Central Anatolia, Turkey

A walk through jagged rocks and mountains.

Bucket List Experience

Walk the Pigeon Valley

Cappadocia’s signature walk is a fairly easy (barring one scramble section) 4km stroll through fantastical, magical landscapes.

Starting in either Goreme or Uchisar, the path takes you into a wooded chasm with natural arches and tunnels, and leads past rock-carved pigeon cotes, idyllic orchards and vegetable plots.

Poor signposting and that scramble section make the walk unsuitable for the elderly or young, but for the fit and able it’s a must.

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1-2 hours

  • Goreme, Central Anatolia, Turkey

People walking up a steep mountain with tall pointy rocks on either side. Taken at sunset.

Bucket List Experience

Walk the Rose Valley

Just to the north of Goreme lies the Rose Valley, one of the most scenic and accessible of Cappadocia’s walking valleys.

From the Panoramic Viewpoint, a network of good trails criss-crosses the valley, passing through vineyards and wondrous rock formations, leading after 6 km to the valley’s end at the village of Cavusin. Look out for local rock churches and resting points en route for tea and fresh orange juice.

It’s a leisurely three hours, allowing stops for refreshments and to visit churches, to the main trail’s end at Cavusin.

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 3 hours

  • Central Anatolia, Turkey

Cappadocia boasts some of the best single track – paths rather than vehicle tracks – mountain biking in the world. The super-soft but gritty volcanic stone makes for smooth riding, often steep but with plenty of traction, through landscapes that are both spectacular and varied, with the panoramic views from the open uplands giving way to amazing wooded canyons, caves and carved tunnels.

The network of tracks is extensive, with ascents and descents to suit every level. Many of the valleys are easily accessed from local centres like Goreme and Uchisar. In the high season, should the like of the Red and Rose Valleys get busy with walkers, there are plenty of lesser-known ones to escape to in the Meskendir and Gomeda Valleys.

Quad biking tours are also available and increasingly popular (if more destructive); these tend to be shorter, faster and limited in routes. To truly explore and connect with this remarkable landscape and its people, opt for the mountain bike.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 3+ hours

  • Avanos, Central Anatolia, Turkey

Close up of person painting ceramic pottery in Avanos, cappadocia

Bucket List Experience

Pottery in Avanos

The Cappadocian town of Avanos has for centuries – been renowned for its pottery – traditionally made by men. (Women traditionally make carpets). It’s thought the tradition started in Hittite times, 2000-1500 BC.

The town benefits from two major natural advantages for pottery-making. First, the oily and soft red clay soil collected from the Kizilimark River delta is ideal for pottery shaping.

Second, the local tufostone rock is easy to cut and shape into ceramic kilns for heating; it’s also an insulating stone, essential for achieving temperatures of between 950 and 1200 degrees Celsius to turn the clay into ceramic.

Third, the soft bedrock also allows potters to carve out studios; these semi-caves maintain a stable temperature across the varied seasons.

You’ll find studios hune into the rock at every turn, where you can watch the potters at work, and purchase some beautiful ceramics of exceptional quality.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 1-2 hours

  • Avanos, Central Anatolia, Turkey

Woman in Avanos making a carpet on a wooden loom

Bucket List Experience

Carpet weaving in Avanos

Cappadocia’s renowned handicrafts town, Avanos is famous for both its ceramics, made by men, and its exceptional carpets – usually made by women. It’s a tradition handed down from mother to daughter, and still thrives today.

The carpets are hand-made on traditional wooden looms, using locally sourced wool and natural dyes. They’re especially prized for their exceptional quality, intricate patterns, and vibrant colours that reflect the region’s cultural heritage.

There are plentiful carpet shops to peruse, and several have women weaving in them or outside as you shop so you can watch the process – and of course, buy an exceptional carpet to take home.

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 3+ hours

  • Cappadocia, Central Anatolia, Turkey

horse riders crossing a cappadocian landscape

Bucket List Experience

Horse riding in Cappadocia

With unique, jaw-dropping landscapes of fairy-tale-like rock formations, ancient caves, and scenic valleys, where better in the world to horse ride?

You’re guaranteed an idyllic backdrop, and riding through this mesmerizing terrain allows you to immerse yourself in the region’s rich history and diverse geology, while enjoying the panoramic views. Saddle up!

Adult price: £40

Min age 10

Good for age: 10+

Duration: 1-5 hours

  • Central Anatolia, Turkey

Wine in Cappadocia

Bucket List Experience

Wine in Cappadocia

It may surprise you to learn that wine production in Cappadocia has a remarkable history spanning thousands of years. The region’s unique geological features, including volcanic soil and a temperate climate, provide optimal conditions for viticulture, which in combination with indigenous grape varieties and traditional winemaking techniques produce unique and distinctly flavoured wines.

The region produces a variety of wines, notably red wines such as Okuzgozu and Kalecik Karasi, and white wines Narince and Emir. In recent years, these wines have gained international recognition and a growing reputation for their distinct flavours, exceptional quality, and character.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 1-3 hours