Cappadocia is a magical place located in the heart of Turkey. It offers a fascinating history, stunning landscape, and lots of outdoors adventures. Of course, most people know this place from the pictures on social media of hoards of hot air balloons in the morning sky. However, it has a lot more to offer than that. If you ever get a chance to visit, here are the top 10 things you should do.
1.) Find trees covered in evil eyes.
This blue amulet, often referred to as a nazar, is used to ward off the curse caused by others’ malicious glares towards you. Thus, it is often referred to as “the evil eye.”
2.) Stay in a cave hotel.
Why not! The more affordable cave hotels can be found in Urgup, rather than Göreme-Uçhisar.
3.) Eat Testi Kabob.
A local, traditional dish of meat, tomatoes, onions and spices, cooked in a clay jar.
4.) Visit one of the underground cities.
During the Byzantine era, Christians hid in these caves to avoid the violence of the Arab-Byzantine War. As many as 25,000 would live in these man-made, 7 story caves underground.
5.) Visit the Goreme Open Air Museum.
The Christians that inhabited these caves for centuries created beautiful churches in their caves cities, which have been almost immaculately protected from weathering. In particular, make sure to see the “Dark Church.”
6.) Hike in a valley or canyon.
There are lots of hikes to be had in Cappadocia. Click here to see all your options.
Pictures are from the Ihlara Valley. Make sure you stop to have tea in one of the river tents.
7.) Watch how local ceramics are made.
Avanos is the place to go to buy and make ceramics. The culture of ceramics is part of the ancient Hittite culture. In particular, the design of animals seen on some of the ceramics symbolize the animals that were sacrificed as part of their rituals.
8.) Horse back riding at sunset or sunrise.
While Cappadocia is currently known for the spectacle of hot air balloons at sunrise, the name was given to mean “land of beautiful horses.”
9.) Take a hot air balloon ride.
Because duh! Watch out though, the weather can be unpredictable. Unfortunately, when I went to visit with my friend, the weather was bad every morning we were there. For safety purposes, all air balloons were grounded.
While getting in a hot air balloon yourself is fun, watching them safely from the ground provides an equally spectacular view. You’ll have to get up around 4:30 am, but the view is worth it.
10.) Admire the natural rock formations.
The landscape is dominated by fantastic colors and shapes that were caused by a nearby volcanic eruption millions of years ago. One of the most interesting shapes is locally known as “the fairy chimneys.”