See a different side of Turkey on a 5-day visit to Cappadocia, one of the most incredible regions in the country. Located in the plains of Central Anatolia, it's known for beautiful valleys dotted with unique rock formations and cave dwellings. You'll see it all on valley hikes, tours of ancient underground cities, and even a hot-air balloon ride where you can marvel at the entire region stretched out below you.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a sundowner amid the lunar valleys of Cappadocia
  • Hike across valleys and see an ancient whirling dervish ceremony
  • Soar high over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cappadocia, Sunset Wine Toast Cappadocia
Day 2 Sunrise Balloon Tour, Göreme Museum Hike to Uçhisar Cappadocia
Day 3 Pottery Experience, Valley Hike & Whirling Dervish Ceremony Cappadocia
Day 4 Kaymakli Undeground City, Ihlara Valley Hike Cappadocia
Day 5 Free Morning in Cappadocia, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cappadocia, Sunset Wine Toast

Enjoy a sundowner with a view of Cappadocia's valleys

Welcome to Turkey, one of the oldest civilizations in the world! There's no shortage of historic ruins here, ranging from ancient Greek to Roman to Christian and Islamic cultures. Then there's all the natural beauty, from the stunning coastline along the Aegean and Mediterranean seas to inland valleys and mountain regions. The trip kicks off with one such highlight: Cappadocia. Located on the arid plains of the Central Anatolia region of Turkey, it's an area known for its towering "fairy chimney" geological formations and lunar-looking valleys. 

You'll arrive at the airport in Kayseri, the central hub for travel to Cappadocia. A personal driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in the heart of the region. After checking in and getting settled, you can head out on the terrace and enjoy a sampling of local delicacies as well as a glass or two of quality Turkish wine. The best part is you'll enjoy it as the sun sets over the stunning valleys, whose unique rock formations change color in the shifting light.  

Day 2: Sunrise Balloon Tour, Göreme Museum Hike to Uçhisar

Conquer your fear of heights with a hot air balloon ride
Get the best views of Cappadocia on a hot air balloon ride
Most images of Cappadocia feature its incredible valleys and volcanic rock formations—plus colorful hot air balloons flying overhead. That's because the most famous activity in this area is a sunrise balloon ride over the valley. It's an unforgettable experience not just because of the views but also because the plateaus and rocks here have a painted quality and look great from above. First thing in the morning, you'll hop in the basket and embark on a 3-hour balloon tour over the valley.
 
After your hot-air balloon adventure, you'll return to earth to experience Cappadocia's living history on a 3-hour tour of the Göreme Open Air Museum. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a cluster of rock-hewn churches and Byzantine landmarks home to ancient art and beautiful frescoes. As you stroll the site, you'll learn about the techniques the residents used to create these structures and artworks. Note that most of the churches here date from the 10th-12th centuries.
 
Then it will be time to stretch your legs on a hike from Göreme to the town of Uçhisar. This 4-mile (7 km) hike takes about two hours and passes along beautiful landscapes, like Pigeon Valley, whose trails offer sweeping views of Cappadocia. This valley was so named because of the thousands of pigeon houses carved into the rock formations since ancient times. The destination of Uçhisar is fascinating as well, as its highest point is a citadel carved into towering volcanic rock. A popular activity is hiking to the top, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding valleys.  

Day 3: Pottery Experience, Valley Hike & Whirling Dervish Ceremony

See a traditional whirling dervish ceremony

Today, you'll witness another type of local art when you visit a pottery studio. Pottery craft has been a long-standing tradition in the region, probably since the Hittite civilization (2000-1500 BCE). That's because the nearby Kızılırmak River has supplied all the red clay used to produce these earthenware items since antiquity. The visit includes a live demonstration from a master ceramist, plus you'll get to try making some pottery yourself.

Then, in the afternoon, you'll embark on a brisk hike to one such locale: Love Valley. It is so named for the distinct shape of the towering rock structures here. The hike is relatively easy and covers 2.5 miles (4 km).

The day ends with an authentic whirling dervish ceremony. A Sufi mystic created this traditional religious ceremony in the 13th century, and it spread throughout the Ottoman Empire. It's a form of meditation designed to lead to closeness with God through dance and music. The dancers wear flowing white robes and spin in rhythmic patterns accompanied by musicians, creating a stillness of mind for the performers and the audience. The 1-hour performance takes place at a traditional caravanserai (roadside inn), which dates to 1249 during the era of the Seljuk Empire (1050–1300 CE). 

Day 4: Kaymakli Undeground City, Ihlara Valley Hike

The Amazing Underground City of Kaymakli
Tunnel in the Kaymakli Underground City 

You'll head out on a 3-hour tour of the Kaymakli Underground City in the morning. This is one of a few underground cities built by the early Christians, who fled to this region to escape religious persecution. Kaymakli is one of the widest of Cappadocia's underground cities and comprises an elaborate maze of nearly 100 tunnels and various caves. Four city levels are open to the public, with the fourth level located 65 feet (20 m) underground.

Up next is a scenic hike in the Ihlara Valley. This 4-mile (7 km) walk follows the canyons of the lovely Melendiz River and takes about two hours. The terrain is flat, making it easy for most age groups and skill levels. Keep an eye out, as, along the valley, there are several rock-cut churches. If you'd like, you can extend the hike another four miles to visit the Selime Monastery. This massive religious structure, which dates to around the 9th century BCE, is carved right into the volcanic rock. Inside is a cathedral, kitchens, stables, and living quarters decorated with ancient frescoes.

Day 5: Free Morning in Cappadocia, Depart

Cappadocia
Goodbye, Cappadocia
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and then spend a few hours taking in the sights of Cappadocia one last time. A driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport in Kayseri at the appropriate hour. From there, you'll fly to Istanbul and catch your connecting flight home. Until next time!

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Map

Map of Highlights of Cappadocia - 5 Days
Map of Highlights of Cappadocia - 5 Days