by Katie McCabe | @awelltraveledpair | October 11th, 2021
The first time I saw a picture of Cappadocia, I have to admit, I thought it was heavily photoshopped. There were dozens and dozens of hot air balloons flying amongst each other in such a small area, I figured it couldn't be possible. Boy, was I wrong.
During the peak tourist season in Cappadocia, more than 150 hot air balloons cruise through the breathtaking Love Valley, creating one of the most incredible sights to be seen. There's no question that I love traveling, but only a handful of times during my adventures has my jaw actually dropped because of the beauty of a place. Cappadocia is one of those places.
When to Go
The best months to visit Cappadocia are April, May, June, September, and October due to the warm days and the frequent clear and calm mornings. If you're going to Cappadocia to see or ride in the balloons, it is best to visit during one of these months. The balloons only fly at sunrise, and the weather conditions need to be perfect in order for them to take off. If there are high winds, rain, or snow, the balloon rides will be cancelled that day. July and August can be a good time to visit as well, but only if you don't mind hot days. Temperatures often exceed 95°F / 35°C during these months. The winter months of November through March bring cold temperatures and barely any tourists. The landscape is usually dusted with snow, making it a truly special time to visit. The hot air balloons fly year-round, but remember, the weather must be clear and calm in order for the balloons to take off.
Where to Stay
The most popular place to stay in Cappadocia is Goreme. It's close to all the main attractions and its unique cave hotels are truly extraordinary. Some people prefer staying in Uchisar or Nevsehir, however, I find Goreme to be the best, and I suggest you stay there, too.
We stayed at the Sultan Caves Suites, and I cannot recommend this place enough. It has by far the prettiest rooftop in all of Cappadocia, as well as cozy rooms, stunning grounds, and a fantastic restaurant.
We have also stayed at the Goreme Suites. It's a wonderful hotel, and it is only steps away from the Sultan Cave Suites. Emra, the man who runs the place, is so kind and helpful, and it's his mission to give every guest the best stay possible.
The Local Cave House is another great, and affordable, option. The grounds are so beautiful, and the hotel's location is fantastic. It also happens to have one of the most photographed pools in all of Cappadocia.
If you wish to stay in Uchisar, I absolutely love the Argos in Cappadocia hotel. We visited the grounds one afternoon and completely fell in love with it. This place is five stars all the way. The only problem is, it's so beautiful that you may never want to leave.
We didn't have the best luck staying in an Airbnb, plus there are so many amazing hotels to choose from, so I don't recommend Airbnb as a lodging option. Pick one of the beautiful cave hotels to stay in instead. You won't regret it!
Sultan Cave Suites
What to Do
Sunrise Balloon Viewing
This is most likely why you're visiting Cappadocia. Anywhere from 80 to 150 hot air balloons fill the morning sky (on most days), and offer a simply splendid display. Even though you will have to wake up at around 4:00 or 5:00AM to view them, this mesmerizing sight should not be missed. Whether you head to Love Valley, Sunset Point, or one of the many hotel rooftops, you will be blown away by the beauty of Cappadocia's hot air balloons.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
For anywhere from $50 to $250 USD, you can soar across the skies of Cappadocia in a giant hot air balloon. During the first glimpse of morning light, you'll lift off in a private or shared balloon, and seamlessly float over one of the most magnificent landscapes in the world. This isn't for the faint of heart, as the hot air balloons can travel as high as 8,000 feet in the air, and fly for one hour to ninety minutes, but it is such a thrilling and one of a kind experience, and everyone should try it at least once in their lifetime.
Note: Some highly recommended companies are Royal Balloon, Butterfly Balloons, Voyager Balloons, and Atlas Balloons. Be sure to book your balloon flight well in advance, as they tend to sell out during peak months.
Goreme Open Air Museum
The Goreme Open Air Museum is one of the most popular sights in Cappadocia. An audio tour guides visitors past more than thirty sights, such as ancient paintings, cave houses, and centuries-old churches. An hour or two is enough time to thoroughly explore everything this great place has to offer, and you can arrive at the museum after a short twenty minute walk from the center of Goreme. Tickets cost $11 USD / 100 TRY, and the museum is open from 8:00 to 19:00 from April 1st until October 1st, and from 8:00 until 17:00 from October 1st until April 1st.
Zelve Open Air Museum
Another great outdoor museum is the Zelve Open Air Museum. Here you can walk amongst historic dwellings, churches, and religious structures in a smaller, yet prettier, open air museum. Sure, it may be a lot smaller than the Goreme Open Air museum, but there are way less tourists, and in my opinion, prettier sights. It would take quite a while to walk here, so it is recommended to drive or take a bus or taxi. Tickets cost $3 USD / 25 TRY, and the museum is open from 8:00 to 19:00 from April 1st until October 1st, and from 8:00 until 17:00 from October 1st until April 1st.
Pasabag Valley (Monks Valley)
Epic fairy chimneys and two-to-three-story cave dwellings is what you'll find at the picturesque Pasabag Valley. This was once the home of a hermitage of Simeon Monks that hid away from the world in their own cluster of handmade homes. Just a thirty minute walk, or a ten minute drive, from the center of Goreme, this photogenic spot is also very close to the Zelve Open Air Museum, making it easy to see both places in a short period of time. Tickets cost $2 USD / 20 TRY, and the valley is open from 8:00 to 19:00 from April 1st until October 1st, and from 8:00 until 17:00 from October 1st until April 1st.
Love Valley and Uchisar Castle
If you enjoy hiking, then I suggest you take the Love Valley Trail to Uchisar Castle. This relatively flat and peaceful trail leads visitors past towering rock formations, some of them phallic-shaped, hence the name 'Love Valley.' Toward the end of the trail, hikers can continue on to the top of Uchisar Castle, where they will be rewarded with some of the best views in Cappadocia.
No matter where you decide to stay, you must spend an afternoon (or evening) wandering around Goreme. It's very small, and easy to see within an hour or two, but there are so many quaint shops and restaurants to explore. A lot of these businesses rely on tourism, and they sell beautifully handmade pieces from tea and coffee sets to ceramic plates and Turkish clothing, so be sure to stop by and purchase a special gift to take back home with you. Also, if you are looking for a delicious meal, I highly recommend Sedef Restaurant, Seten Anatolian Restaurant, Turkish Ravioli Restaurant, Cappadocian Cuisine Restaurant, and Meihua.
Lover's Hill Sunset Point
Known simply as 'Sunset Point', this is one of the best places to catch the sunset. Just a quick fifteen minute walk from the center of Goreme town, this popular spot attracts dozens of tourists looking to watch Cappadocia end its day in a spectacular way.