Driving around Cappadocia
Cappadocia isn’t like anywhere else in the world. With its unique rock formations, you’ll feel like you’ve landed on another planet. When we first arrived it was in the night and we did not see much driving from the airport to our cave, In the morning, stepping out of our AirBnb (Cave Hotel). It felt more like we were getting out of a spaceship. It was the oddest-looking landscape I had ever seen with its mushroom-capped fairy chimneys and cities carved in stone. Cave dwelling has a long history in Cappadocia so people have likened its landscape to the Flintstones, for me it felt more like the surface of the moon, completely alien.
How many days to stay
A minimum of two full days, no less and you’ll see pretty much all the major sights in Cappadocia. If you plan on taking a hot air balloon ride, then you can do it on either of those days. It starts bright and early at around 5:30AM, and they’ll have enough time to cover all places. If I were you, I’d throw in an extra day just to take it easy and do some exploring on your own. Cappadocia is captivating and one of the most interesting landscapes I’ve ever seen. It’s fun to just walk around and soak in the atmosphere
How to get there
BY AIR: It takes about 1 hr and 15 mins to fly to Cappadocia from Istanbul. Cappadocia has two airports — Nevsehir Kapadokya and Kayseri Erkilet. There are direct flights daily from Istanbul Istanbul International Airport or Sabiha Gokcen) to either airport. Turkish Airlines offers daily flights from Ataturk/Sabiha Gokcen to Nevsehir/Kayseri while Pegasus Airlinesservices just the Sabiha Gokcen-Kayseri route. Nevsehir is closer to the main towns of Göreme and Urgup but Kayseri is the larger airport. If you’ve already booked a hotel, then you may want to ask them if they offer airport transfers. If not, then there are many agencies that offer shared shuttle bus transfers from either airport such as Argeus and Heritage. If you’d rather book a private transfer, then you can do so through Get Your Guide.
BY BUS: Several companies run nightly buses from Istanbul to Cappadocia, including Metro Turizm and Nevşehir Seyahat. This is the cheapest way to go but it’s also the longest, around 10 hours so it’s best done as an overnight trip. With that said, Turkish long-haul buses are among the most comfortable we’ve ever been on.
How to apply E-visa for Turkey?
This was one of the easiest visa applications I’ve ever had to go through. The entire process is done online so if you’re eligible, then your application can be approved instantly. Just print the e-visa and you’re good to go. You can apply here
Where to stay in Cappadocia?
The Cappadocia region is comprised of multiple cities and towns, though the majority of travelers stay in Göreme, Ürgüp, Uçhisar, Ortahisar, and Avanos. So far, we’ve only stayed in Göreme, but I’ll write a brief description of the other areas so you have a basic idea of what to expect.
Göreme is considered the hub for tourism in Cappadocia. There you’ll find Cappadocia’s main bus station as well as numerous restaurants, travel agencies, and hotels of varying price ranges to suit every budget. If it’s your first time in Cappadocia, then Göreme is definitely the most convenient place to stay. It’s also walking distance to Göreme Open Air Museum which is the most visited attraction in Cappadocia.
We stayed at an AirBnb called Garden Cave Hotel. For just 42 Euros a night for 3 Adults, we got to stay in a cave room carved from the area’s soft volcanic tufa rock. In my opinion, cave rooms are quintessential to the Cappadocia experience so if it’s your first time here, then staying in one is a must. If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get free travel credit when you sign up via this link.
How to get around Cappadocia
Personally, I prefer exploring on my own so I try not to go on guided tours. But in Cappadocia, I felt it was necessary to get one unless you have a car. Attractions are spread out over large distances so unless you have a rental car, it’s tough to go from one place to the next. Kayamkali underground city and Ihlara Valley, for example, are over an hour away from Göreme. Public transportation in the form of minibuses does exist between towns, but not all attractions are within the towns themselves. On top of that, you’ll need to wait around for the minibuses which only adds to the travel time. So Rent a Car or go on guided tours.
What Type of Car Should I Get?
I had a Skoda Octavia which definitely did the trick for me. The car was big enough to not feel tiny on the roads in Turkey, and also rugged enough to let me go off-road a bit. But, it also wasn’t too big to feel squeezed driving through some of the more narrow and packed roads through some of the towns. I think a mid-sized car like this is your best option. Lots of people in Turkey drive bigger cars that are like cube-shaped minivans, but I’d say the average car is mid-sized and it’s very appropriate for the country.
Tips on Driving in Turkey
Outside of Istanbul, driving in Turkey was easy. The highways are easy to follow and drivers understand that slower cars should stay to the right. If you are the slower driver, make sure you remember that as well. There are speed cameras along the way, so keep an eye out for signs warning you about them. You may see flashing lights that look like a police car is up ahead, but sometimes they were just lights on a pole or lights on a wooden cutout of a police car. There are also police checkpoints where you may be pulled over because of the current political situation in that area.
Kayamkali Underground City: Ancient multi-level underground city.
Ihlara Valley: Picturesque valley famous for hiking.
Uçhisar Castle: Rock castle offering the best panoramic views of Cappadocia.
Göreme Open Air Museum: Vast monastic complex and Cappadocia’s most popular attraction.
Cavusin Cave Village: Ancient village built into the region’s soft volcanic rock.
Hot Air Balloon
Göreme Panorama: Area offering fantastic panoramic views of the landscape.
Love Valley: Valley with erotically shaped fairy chimneys.
Selime Monastery: Rock-cut monastery and the largest religious structure in Cappadocia.
Pigeon Valley: Long and beautiful valley with interesting rock formations.
Red Valley: Landscape with some of the most striking views in Cappadocia.
What are the Costs of Travel in Turkey?
Price of Fuel in Turkey: When I travelled Turkey in August 2019, the price of Dielsel was 6.2 Lira per liter. The price varies a bit depending on the location, but those were about the averages.
Price of Hotels in Turkey: There are lots of cheap options like hostels and guesthouses even in the high season, I stayed in a cave hotel for about 40 Euros a night for 3 adults (2 of my friends)
Price of Food in Turkey: The average meal was about 10-15 Lira, which is about 4-8 Euros.