How to Spend 1 Day in Cappadocia
Two days in Cappadocia gives you enough time to explore both the northern and southern parts of the region and experience Turkish culture. Visit an underground city, take a hot-air-balloon flight over the extraordinary fairy chimneys, and hike in the Ihlara Valley. Here’s how to plan your two days in Cappadocia.
Day 1: Cave Villages and Fairy Chimneys
Morning: Cappadocia is one of the most popular places in the world to experience a hot-air-balloon flight, and you’ll soon realize why. Float over the mountainous landscapes on a sunrise flight, and marvel at the fairy chimneys from above. For an unforgettable start to the day, opt for a tour that includes a postflight Champagne breakfast.
Afternoon: Follow the “Red Route,” which takes in the highlights of northern Cappadocia, starting with a visit to the fairy-chimney valleys. Love Valley, Pigeon Valley, and Monk’s Valley all offer incredible photo opportunities. Afterwards, discover Cappadocia’s early Christian remains during a visit to the Göreme Open-Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; visit the deserted cave village of Çavuşin; and climb to the top of Uçhisar Castle for a spectacular view over the surrounding villages.
Night: Sample traditional Turkish cuisine and learn more about Cappadocian culture this evening by attending a cooking class at a local home. Get hands-on in the kitchen as you create dishes such as börek (stuffed pastries), creamy manti (Turkish ravioli), or sweet baklava. At the end, sit down to enjoy your homemade feast with your hosts.
Day 2: Underground Cities and Overground Hikes
Morning: Set off this morning on Cappadocia’s second tour circuit, the “Green Route,” which covers the highlights of the southern valleys. Most tours start with a visit to Derinkuyu, the largest of all the region’s underground cities, but to escape the crowds, opt for a tour that visits Kaymakli Underground City instead. Whichever you choose, it’s worth visiting with a guide—the sites have very few information boards, and many details can easily be missed.
Afternoon: Take one of Cappadocia’s most popular short hikes this afternoon, an easy 2-mile (3-kilometer) trail along a scenic river canyon in the Ihlara Valley. The hike is a one-way route, so it’s worth arranging pickup and drop-off in advance. Give yourself enough time to explore along the way—the valley is home to a large number of ancient cave churches, dating as far back as the fourth century.
Night: Top off your stay with a dinner to remember at one of Cappadocia’s cave restaurants. The most popular can fill up quickly, so book a table in advance to avoid disappointment. To celebrate your final evening in the region, choose one that includes a live show, and be entertained by folk music and belly dancing while enjoying your dinner.