Let's go to: Cappadocia, Turkey
Be prepared to be transported into a whole other world with unique rock valleys and the magical feeling of waking up to a hundred balloons in the sky.
- In the region of Nevsehir and Kayseri, ancient people built over 200 underground cities
- Cappadocia is made of of many valleys
- Volcanic eruptions created this unique geological landscape. The lava flows formed tuff rock, and erosion has worked on the soft stone to form the valleys and fairy chimneys we see today.
- Language: Turkish
- Currency: Lira
- Tipping: Discretionary but mostly expected in restaurants and hotels. Modest tipping (a few percent of price paid)
- Transportation: arrive by plane and arrange a shuttle from your hotel. Walk around to explore Goreme. Other options include renting an ATV or horseback riding through the valleys
- Purchase some local handmade carpets, jewelry and pottery
- Try Testi Kabab (or Pottery Kabab) and Apple tea
WHAT TO DO & SEE
- Stay in a cave hotel in Goreme
- Hot air balloon ride - experience the magical feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of balloons in the sky during sunrise.
- Generally 120 euros for 20 person multi site (I did my ride with Universal Balloon company - booked through the hotel)
- Options to chose from (multi site vs single site and number of people):
- Multi site = company has multi sites to fly from so they can choose the best site the day of depending on the direction of the wind to allow for best view
- Single site = company has only one site so they can’t choose where to fly out from so you might not get the best view
- Less people = smaller balloon so you can go deeper into the valleys
- Tip: During peak travel season, book ahead of time as spaces fill up quickly. If weather conditions does not permit, flight may get cancelled so it is best to book for the first day you are there.
- Watching the sunrise from the top of your hotel roof - Wake up early and spend a morning watching the sky fill up with hot air balloons during sunrise
- Tip: If you wake up early enough, hike up the valleys and watch the sunrise from on top of the valleys.
- Hike through the valleys or up the valleys for a great view of Goreme. Make sure to keep an eye out for the fairy chimneys. Here are a couple of the valleys you can explore:
- Pigeon valley
- Love valley
- Red & Rose valley
- Other unique ways to explore the fascinating valleys include:
- Horseback riding through the valleys, after all, Cappadocia is known as “Land of the Beautiful Horses”
- Renting an ATV
- Explore the city by taking a Green tour. Taking the tour is easier than organizing your own method of transportation to get to these sites and the entrance fee is covered in the tour price. These are the different sites you will stop on along the way:
- Derinkuyu Underground City - This underground city has over 18 stories and is over 250 feet below the Earth’s surface. Many tunnels, halls, meeting rooms, wells and passages
- Ihlara Valley - Longest and deepest gorge in Cappadocia and home to some of the oldest rock-cut churches
- Selime Monastery - Carved by monks and is the biggest monastery in Cappadocia and took over 200 years to shape.
- Collection of caves cut into rocks to form many churches, dining space, kitchen, etc
- Interesting fact: the surrounding area was used for some of the Sand People scenes in Star Wars
- Relax with a Hamam or Turkish bath
- Watch a Whirling Dervish Show, an amazing dance performance during dinner
WHERE TO EAT
- Anatolian Kitchen - try the Testi Kabab (Pottery Kabab)
LIST BY: CAROLYN CHEN
Carolyn Chen has done two backpacking trips around Europe and spent six months studying abroad in Italy. She loves finding the most beautiful scenery, hidden gems and indulging in great food. Follow her adventures on Instagram: @carolynjxchen