I had wanted to go to Cappadocia Turkey for years. The key driver for me was the amazing photos I had seen of the Cappadocia Hot Air balloons against the fairy chimneys.
I’m delighted to say the trip not only met but exceeded my expectations. Here is my 3 Day Cappadocia Itinerary.
Cappadocia Itinerary: How to get to Cappadocia and get around
Table of Contents
- Cappadocia Itinerary: How to get to Cappadocia and get around
- Cappadocia 3 Day Itinerary
- Day One: Take a Walk through the Pigeon Valley, Explore Goreme and visit Uchisar Castle
- Day Two: Ride in a Hot Air Balloon and do the Ihlara Valley Walk
- Hot Air Ballooning over Cappadocia
- Ihlara Valley Walk
- Day 3: The Love & Red & Rose Valleys and/or a Hamam
- The Love Valley
- The Red and Rose Valleys
- Have a Hammam
- Where to stay in Cappadocia
- Things to know before you go on your Cappadocia Vacation
- The Weather in Cappadocia
- When to go to Cappadocia
- What to pack for a trip to Cappadocia
- Travelling Solo to Cappadocia
- Who Paid for What in this Cappadocia Itinerary Post
The closest airport for Cappadocia is Kayseri. Most likely you will need to fly into Istanbul and then take an internal flight which takes about 90 minutes.
From the airport, it takes just over one hour in a car to get to Cappadocia. Take a private transfer or join a group shuttle to get from the airport to Cappadocia.
Cappadocia is a big area. One option is to buy a ticket on the Cappadocia hop on hop off bus. It is possible to buy a 1, 2 and 3-day ticket.
The easiest way to get around Cappadocia is to hire a car from Kayseri airport. It is quite easy to get taxis around Capadoccia but the costs do add up.
Cappadocia 3 Day Itinerary
Day One: Take a Walk through the Pigeon Valley, Explore Goreme and visit Uchisar Castle
On your first day in Cappadocia, a great way to get a feel for the area is to take the lovely Pigeon Valley walk between Uchisar and Goreme and to explore both of these lovely towns.
I suggest starting with the Pigeon Valley walk. This works if you are staying in Goreme or Uchisar (although I do recommend staying in Uchisar so I will assume that you did).
The Pigeon Valley walk was definitely the easiest of all the walks that I did in Cappadocia and it is lovely. If you are joining the walk from Uchisar the pictures you see below of sticks with pigeons on the top lets you know that you’re at its beginning.
Essentially you walk down the hill that is Uchisar and as you get past the town the entry is on your left. Then follow the stunning path to Goreme. There is no need for a guide on the Pigeon Valley Walk in Cappadocia.
This was some of the best weather we had on the trip so these are possibly my best photos (outside of the Cappadocia hot air balloon of course) as I had great light.
We did go to the Goreme Open Air Museum after this walk. To be honest it felt quite ho-hum after the Pigeon Valley. And this was before we’d done the Rose, Love and Ilhara Valleys.
The Goreme Open Air Museum is a great thing to do if you don’t plan on doing any full-on walking as you can see the Fairy Chimneys but you really don’t need to go if you’re doing some of the other walks in Cappadocia (which this itinerary assumes).
After exploring Goreme head back to Uchisar in the afternoon and walk up to Uchisar Castle late afternoon. The castle itself is not particularly exciting.
Payment is required to access Uchisar Castle but it’s a small amount. Wander through the cave/castle and then head up. There are lovely views along the way up to the top of Uchisar Castle, but it’s all about the top and the 360-degree view of Cappadocia Turkey.
I’m not an early morning person without duress so I can’t tell you about the sunrise but I did see the sunset from Uchisar Castle and it was lovely. The castle itself is also very photogenic.
I would advise taking your pics of the castle from the bottom just before the entry point and after the markets. That is where I took the shot attached to this blog.
Day Two: Ride in a Hot Air Balloon and do the Ihlara Valley Walk
I loved everything I did in stunning Cappadocia but when it comes to the best things to do in Cappadocia the highlight was the hot air balloon ride. I have included this as a day two activity in this itinerary.
If you can, I would suggest looking to book your Cappadocia hot air balloon ride before you leave home for the first morning of your trip to Cappadocia.
The reason for this is that it is only possible to go up in the hot air balloon in favourable conditions. It took three mornings until I was able to go on my trip.
So I will give you the rundown on the hot air balloon trip here but if you can book this one for your first – early – morning in Cappadocia.
Hot Air Ballooning over Cappadocia
Taking a hot air balloon over Cappadocia was the key reason I came to this lovely area. After a couple of false starts, my alarm went off at 4am on my last day in Cappadocia and thank goodness the weather and the wind were appropriate for a hot air balloon ride.
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I was picked up from my hotel and then driven to a big open area with a rather large restaurant that served a decent buffet breakfast. After food and coffee, we were divided into groups and headed out to our balloons.
Each hot air balloon in Cappadocia has a pilot. Ours was incredibly experienced and I felt very safe. He was also very interactive with the group and chatty whilst being calming.
I was blown away by the view and I think I took about 300 photos in the hour I was up there. It was absolutely stunning.
The juxtaposition of the many colourful balloons against the fairy chimneys and surreal landscape of Cappadocia Turkey was extraordinary. I loved every minute of it.
It was challenging but of course fun to try and get the best composition. You’re not moving fast but you are moving – as is every other balloon up there.
The hour went by far too quickly and we safely and quickly landed. There was then champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries and a certificate.
Then a car back to the hotel and back for a nap. An amazingly wonderful morning and worth every penny.
⇒ Turkey is a fascinating blend of east and west. Check out my Turkey Itinerary 7 days, Istanbul 3 day itinerary and Gallipoli tours from Istanbul.
There are loads of options when it comes to how to choose which hot air balloon trip to take. Many offer extras like champagne or add in a guided tour around Cappadocia.
⇒ Book your Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Trip
Ihlara Valley Walk
The Ihlara Valley is a 16km long gorge that was formed thousands of years ago. It is reputed to have been home to at least 80,000 people at one point – and a lot more pigeons. I learnt a lot about pigeons and the value of their poo on this walk.
In addition to being absolutely stunning, the Ihlara Valley was also the home to a hundred cave churches which were decorated with frescos – some of which can still be seen.
The Ihlara Valley is about 75kms from Uchisar and Goreme and the drive takes about 1 1/4 hours. We chose to take a guided tour as I always get a bit nervous trying to figure out where to start and stop the path, find the most interesting bits etc.
Many of the tours also include a trip to Derinkuyu Underground City. I enjoyed visiting the caves in this underground city which heads down about 60 metres – particularly all the tricks that could be done with blocks of stone to hide entrances.
Then we began our walk through the Ihlara Valley which was so lush and beautiful. It is a lovely big old walk – about 3-4 hours of solid walking and quite flat.
There are a few little restaurants on the river so you can plan your lunchtime stop for a lovely meal by the stream which was very charming.
For me, the highlight of the Ihlara Valley walk was towards the end when we got to the full fairy chimneys. There were quite a few churches with mosaics inside along the way.
Our guide seemed to think we would want to spend a long time exploring these churches. We were more interested in the natural beauty of the Ihlara Valley.
Once we gave him some feedback we were back on track to explore this stunning gorge. We also visited the Selime Monastery on the way back which was definitely worth a visit as well as this rather pretty lake in the middle of nowhere.
If you’re an experienced walker and you also hired a car you could do this walk yourself. Personally, I felt I made the right decision getting a guide as it was much more relaxing – plus I am sure we got to see all the highlights.
⇒ Book your guided tour of the Ihlara Valley
⇒ Or book the well-known Cappadocia Green Tour which includes the underground city, Ihlara Valley, the Monastery and more. This is a particularly good option if you are travelling on your own.
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Day 3: The Love & Red & Rose Valleys and/or a Hamam
Depending on how you are feeling after a day of walking in the Ilhara Valley, Day 3 can either be a combination of the Rose Valley and the Love Valley or explore just one of those and spend the rest of your time relaxing in a Hamam.
The Love Valley
The Love Valley is a relatively easy trek close to Goreme. It is not particularly steep although it is twisty terrain.
The highlight of this walk is the rather phallic section at the end as you will see graphically in the photos. This is, of course, where it gained the name The Love Valley.
I would do this one with a guide as I think it could get confusing. However, if you’re an experienced trekker then it is possible to do the walk independently from Goreme.
⇒ Another great way to experience the beautiful valleys of Cappadocia is on a Horse Back Riding Tour.
The Red and Rose Valleys
The Red and Rose Valleys were both major highlights of Cappadocia for me. As you might expect, the rocks of these valleys tend towards the pinks and reds.
However, the colours change massively throughout the day dependent on the light and these valleys are best visited towards sunset.
Again I went with a guide and I am very glad that I did. I never would have figured out how to get around the Red and Rose Valleys without him.
This was the most strenuous of the hikes that I did in Cappadocia. There was a lot of uphill and downhill and climbing through and around tricky spots.
Solid walking shoes ideally with ankle support are a must for this trek.
But gosh it was worth it – the scenery was amazing. I did the walk in the afternoon so I was able to get some great shots with the sun going down over the valleys.
Again, a good reason to go with a guide is that the sun can crop fast and this is not an area you want to be walking around in the dark. There was even a cute cafe within all of the rocks serving some very tasty pomegranate juice.
If I had to choose between going to The Love Valley and the Rose Valley I would definitely choose the Rose Valley. It is far more scenic and the colours are just amazing.
⇒ Join a guided tour of the Rose & Red Valleys
Have a Hammam
I do love a traditional Turkish Bath. Sure the cleaning is usually a bit on the rough side and I’ve had some interesting experiences when I’ve been using fake tan (well I have large Moroccan women laugh out loud at the fake tan coming off my skin – good icebreaker) but you feel SO clean after having one.
If you have had enough of walking – or can fit this in with more walking on your third day – Cappadocia has lots of options for a cleansing Hammam.
As always, there are separate areas for men and women. Once you arrive in the women’s section remove your clothes and grab a towel.
It is normal to lie on the marble for a while and start sweating. Once your pores are open, a woman will approach you for a thorough scrub and massage.
Then enjoy a relaxing dip in a warm pool and some tea. A fantastic way to end your time in Cappadocia.
⇒ Wondering if you should spend more time in Istanbul? Check out my post on the Perfect Istanbul 3 Day Itinerary
Where to stay in Cappadocia
There are several towns in Cappadocia with accommodation. Goreme is the largest of all the towns in Cappadocia and has the most restaurants, facilities etc.
Urgup sounded very cute but a little too small. I decided to stay in Uchisar as it sounded a little more boutique hotel-y to me, whereas Goreme felt a little too much like a backpacker town.
After having been to Cappadocia, Goreme doesn’t feel like a backpacker town and it would be completely fine to stay there. It could actually be easier due to its location.
I was desperate to stay in a cave hotel. It is such a unique experience. Most of them are obviously more like normal hotel rooms inside but you’re staying in a cave.
If you’d like to stay in Goreme and enjoy a boutique-style cave hotel check out the lovely Cappadocia Cave Suites.
⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisor ⇒ Book Now
However, I did love little Uchisar and found that it had more than enough to keep me entertained. So I stayed at the Argos in Cappadocia cave hotel which I loved – such a stunning hotel.
Uchisar is at the top of a hill and Argos is right near the top over several kinds of “levels”. As you can see from the photos, Argos in Cappadocia doesn’t look like a hotel – it does look like it has been carved into the earth.
It is quite a big hotel but it sort of meanders around so it feels very boutiquey (not sure that’s a word but I think I’m going to make it one.).
My room at Argos Uchisar was lovely – beautifully styled and quite large. A big bathroom with a massive walk-in shower and lovely toiletries. The lighting in the room was particularly glowing and flattering.
I ended up eating at the Uchisar hotel restaurant 3 of the 4 nights I stayed. The food was very nice at Seki but it was pretty pricey for the area.
The service was fantastic. Everyone at the Argos in Cappadocia is so friendly and any request was quickly resolved. They did put on an excellent breakfast which I would highly recommend.
And there are stunning views from this Cappadocia cave hotel. Apparently, if you get up early enough you can watch all the Cappadocia hot air balloons from the terrace but the only time I did that I was in one.
I did really like the Seki bar. This was a lovely rectangular shaped room with a fire that was a lovely spot to have a glass of wine and review the day.
I went in mid-March and it was quite cold – I guess I never expected Turkey to be cold but you do need layers – and thus the fire.
⇒ read more reviews on TripAdvisor ⇒ Book Now
Another stunning property in Uchisar is the beautiful Museum Hotel, literally built from the restored ruins of an ancient village
⇒ read more reviews on TripAdvisor ⇒ Book Now
⇒ Why not extend your time in Turkey and add in Istanbul? Check out my Itinerary for a week in Turkey
Things to know before you go on your Cappadocia Vacation
⇒ If you’re not keen to hire a car Cappadocia has a hop on hop off bus that works really well as a way to get around the area at a very reasonable cost.
⇒ Book your Cappadocia hot air balloon trip before you go and book it for your first morning. When it comes to things to do in Cappadocia this is a must-do.
Taking a hot air balloon trip in Capadoccia is weather dependent. Give yourself every chance of having this amazing experience by booking it for your first morning.
If conditions mean the balloons won’t fly you will be given first preference for the next morning etc.
⇒ Pack your hiking boots, hat and day pack. Cappadocia is all about big walks and exploring.
⇒ Turkey uses European style 2 point plugs.
⇒ Expect wifi in most of the hotels and restaurants in Capadoccia. However, the signal will get patchy when you are out in the valleys trekking.
⇒ Although it is safe to drink the tap water in Capadoccia it may taste a little different from what you’re used to.
Most people in Turkey use bottled water so grab this for your treks but don’t worry about brushing your teeth etc in your hotel with tap water.
The Weather in Cappadocia
Cappadocia has a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. Snow falls during winter in Cappadocia.
The area is 1000m above sea level so there is usually a significant variation in day and night temperatures.
May and June are terrific months to visit the region as are September and October. Click here for a current weather forecast.
The currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira. Most large places in Cappadocia take credit cards but you will need cash for taxis, public transport, street vendors, bottles of water etc.
And you may be able to negotiate a discount if you are able to pay in cash. There are ATMs in pretty much every town in Capadoccia so it isn’t hard to get cash.
⇒ Check out my post on a day trip to Gallipoli from Istanbul
When to go to Cappadocia
Spring (April to May) and Autumn (September to mid-November) are generally the nicest times to visit Cappadocia. The temperature is still warm but not too hot and the skies tend to be clear.
What to pack for a trip to Cappadocia
Turkey is generally quite a conservative country but Goreme is very touristy so dress styles are very relaxed. This is a touristy area and it skews younger due to the number of climbs and treks so most things go.
The most important thing to pack is a pair of good walking shoes, ideally with ankle support, for exploring Cappadocia. Followed by a good day pack, sunglasses, a water bottle and a cap or hat.
For the treks, I would suggest layers. The temperature across the day can vary quite a bit and in the shoulder seasons, it will get cool fast once the sun drops.
There is no need to dress up in the evening – jeans or something relaxed will suit.
Travelling Solo to Cappadocia
I visited Cappadocia on my own and felt very safe. However, as always, when I travel on my own I avoid being out late at night and generally take a taxi home from dinner or eat near my hotel.
If you are travelling solo it is a good idea to dress a bit more conservatively to avoid any discomfort. I also took some Cappadocia tours so that I was with a group.
If you would prefer to travel as part of an organised trip there are loads of options:
⇒ TourRadar offers a number of different tours that can work for solo travellers
⇒ Solos Holidays has a 3-night city break in Istanbul designed for solo travellers
⇒ Just You has a range of trips to Turkey for solo travellers
Who Paid for What in this Cappadocia Itinerary Post
I covered all of the costs associated with my trip to Cappadocia Turkey myself. However, this Cappadocia Itinerary post does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on them and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.
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Saturday 18th of August 2018
I am from Cappadocia and I loved your blog. Very nice article and beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.
The Boutique Adventurer
Saturday 18th of August 2018
Thank you for your lovely comment - it is especially nice to hear it from someone who is from Cappadocia. I loved my visit there!