Before I begin, I want to say that Cappadocia is easily one of the most stunning and breathtaking places I have ever been, and THE most exciting trip I have ever taken. I crossed off a dream destination, alongside crossing off a bucket list item by watching the sun rise from a hot air balloon. This place is truly so different than anywhere I’ve ever been, and although it’s a smaller town, there’s so much to do. And, it is so much more than just hot air balloons! Here is my Ultimate 4 Day Cappadocia Itinerary!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The Hot Air Balloons: The Hot Air Balloons are completely determined by the weather. They are scheduled to go up almost every day, but can often times be cancelled due to wind, rain, and snow. Even if it doesn’t feel windy, it can be in the skies. I always recommend booking your hot air balloon experience the very first morning of your trip— that way if it cancels, you can continue trying throughout the remainder of your trip.
How Many Days: I personally think you only need 3 full days to fully enjoy and experience Cappadocia, but because you aren’t guaranteed to get balloons, I would recommend giving yourself at least 5 days. That way you can increase your chances. And if you get lucky and have balloons the entire time you’re there, you can fly out early to Istanbul! It would just be a shame to go all this way without seeing balloons.
Best Time to Visit & Weather: Historically, May is the best month to go to Cappadocia, as the hot air balloons run the most days of the month. You might get overcast weather, but you’ll get close to no wind. June/July for the same reason, is great, as temperatures get warmer but still comfortable and you’ll get great chances of balloons. August is notoriously hot and unbearable.
September and October drop down to cooler temperatures and would be the second best time of the year to go. You might even get less crowds since it’s considered shoulder season.
During standard winter months (Dec to Feb), expect extremely cold temperatures! During these months, the hot air balloons will also go up for a sunset tour rather than sunrise. And it seems quite magical with all of the snow, but I also can only imagine how frigid it gets.
Getting Around/ Transportation: In Goreme & Cappadocia, you’ll primarily be using taxis, but make sure you negotiate on a price prior to getting in! You can also rent a scooter to get around, which is what we did!
Currency: Turkish Lira, Credit Cards accepted at most restaurants but I highly recommend having Lira on hand.
Languages: Primarily Turkish, but because Cappadocia is heavily tourist ran, plenty of locals and business owners can speak English. Arabic is also common
Airport: Neveshir Airport is only 20 miles from Cappadocia, but flights are few and far between so they may be more expensive and not on the dates you need. Alternatively Kayseri is more affordable, and only 40 miles from Cappadocia. It’s very easy to arrange transportation or take a taxi from either airport to your hotel!
WHERE TO STAY
While visiting Cappadocia, staying in a cave hotel is a must. It’s just part of the entire experience! Staying in Goreme would give you the most centralized experience– you’ll be closest to the hot air balloons and their launch sites, as well as close to all of the infamous Valley’s and hikes.
My personal recommendation for a hotel is Koza Cave Hotel. It has the highest terrace in all of Cappadocia, so guaranteed unobstructed views!
WHAT TO EAT
To be completely honest, food isn’t a strong suit of Cappadocia. There isn’t a huge variety of cuisines, but the Turkish food itself is great. Most of the restaurants serve the exact same things, so just be prepared to indulge in a lot of testi kebabis and Turkish breakfasts.
MUST TRY DISHES
Testi Kebabs or Pottery Kebabs: meat (typically lamb or chicken), cooked in a clay pot for a minimum of 4 hours. The waiters will bring the entire clay pot table side and pour it onto your plate. They used to break the clay pot but I haven’t seen any restaurants do this.
Turkish Breakfasts: a wide variety of light and small side dishes including vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, olives), cheeses (Turkish style feta is my favorite!), dried meats, jams, jellies, and Turkish coffee or tea.
Turkish Ice Cream: sweet, sticky, and so refreshing! My favorite flavors are pistachio and lemon
Manti or Turkish Raviolis: mini pasta pockets with minced meat or chickpea, and sauce
Now that you know where to stay and what to eat, let’s get down the itinerary and what to do!
DAY ONE OF THE 4 DAY CAPPADOCIA ITINERARY
ARRIVE IN CAPPADOCIA
Welcome to Cappadocia!! It is quite a long trek to get to Cappadocia, so you’ll most likely not arrive early in the morning. The most common way is to fly from Istanbul to Kayseri and drive about an hour. Alternatively, Istanbul to Nevishir is the closer option with a drive time of 20 minutes. Since Day 1 is often a tiring travel day, I reserved it for the smaller in-town and less strenuous events. Starting with checking into your hotel, and visiting the infamous carpet store!
There are plenty of carpet stores in Cappadocia, but the two most famous ones are Sultan Carpets and Galerie Ikman Carpet Store (pictured below). You can definitely come in to fully shop, just peruse, take photos and have some tea! But keep in mind if you are coming for photos, a tip is always appreciated to support the locals and respect their time!
While you’re by the carpet stores, walk around downtown Cappadocia for a little and just enjoy the souvenir shops! There’s also little food stands with fresh juices and Turkish ice cream! And parts of Goreme remind me so much of Tuscany for some reason?! This was a hotel entrance (not sure which one!) but you’ll definitely walk right by it!
Sunset Point in Goreme is a beautiful spot to enjoy the sunset and I would highly recommend spending your first sunset here! It’ll give you a great view of Goreme and Cappadocia, and give you a better idea of where you’re located! Sunset Point can get super busy, but it’s so spread out that there’s definitely enough space to enjoy it from all corners. We grabbed some pillows and blankets from our hotel and made our way over for a sunset picnic.
For dinner, I would recommend having traditional Turkish food at Setan, one of the most popular restaurants with a terrace view in Cappadocia! This restaurant is owned by the famous Sultan Cave Suites!
DAY TWO OF THE 4 DAY CAPPADOCIA ITINERARY
HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE
Good morning! Day 2 is going to be a VERY early wake up call. As I had mentioned earlier, it’s imperative to book your hot air balloon the very first morning you are in Cappadocia because, although the balloons are scheduled to go up every day, the weather doesn’t always permit. Both times that I’ve been to Cappadocia, I’ve had multiple day cancellations! So just make sure you are flexible and can roll with the punches.
The hot air balloon rides vary, but they are so much more affordable in Turkey than in the U.S. They cost anywhere between $80-$150 per ride, per person. You can buy vouchers on travel websites like Viator for less than $100, and that includes morning pastries and coffee, hotel pick up, and champagne/juice at the end. The tour company I personally recommend would be Turquaz Balloons Cappadocia, or Butterfly Balloons.
The balloon company will pick you up while it’s still dark outside, so depending on sunrise and time of year, this can be as early as 4AM. I believe we were picked up around 5AM for our flight in a hotel shuttle car. From there, they’ll take you to the balloon launch site, where you’ll see dozens of other hot air balloons ready to take off. It’s honestly such a magical experience and a MUST DO if you’re in Cappadocia. Like truly. It’s so much more affordable than other hot air balloon rides, but the most unique aspect is the amount of hot air balloons that take off with you.
The hot air balloon ride lasts about an hour and a half, and then you’ll be dropped back off at your hotel! It’ll probably only be 8AM by the time you wrap up, so I’d suggest taking a nap. Breakfast in a lot of Cappadocia hotels end later than normal because of the hot air balloons!
ZELVE OPEN AIR MUSEUM & GOREME OPEN AIR MUSEUM
Take a trip to the Zelve Open Air Musuem! Entrance is about 20TL per person (sometimes more expensive for tourists than locals), and you don’t need a guide. The Open Air Museum spans about 2km with nice walking paths, so you can just enjoy all of the architecture and fairy chimneys. You can also enter some of the churches and chimneys too! The Zelve Open Air Museum is very similar to the Goreme Open Air Museum and they’re about 10 minutes apart. Swing by both if you can!
HIKE ROSE VALEY FOR SUNSET
End the day with watching the sunset at Rose Valley. Rose Valley is stunning and has a beautiful soft pink glow when the light hits it. You can make the hike as easy or as strenuous as you’d like, depending on how far you want to go! A popular way to get to Rose Valley is through a guided ATV Tour, but we just rode scooters there instead!
DAY THREE OF THE 4 DAY CAPPADOCIA ITINERARY
SUNRISE FROM HOTEL TERRACE
Whether you’re staying at a hotel like Koza Cave Hotel or Sultan Cave Suites, if you booked a hotel with a terrace, you MUST watch sunrise from it! Otherwise, it would just be a waste. The sunrise from any terrace in Cappadocia is unbelievable. You’ll never see more people waking up at 5AM anywhere on vacation, than in Cappadocia! Women in remarkable dresses, men in full suits and the whole get up, tripods everywhere, camera’s clicking– there’s no place that has as many professional photoshoots at once. This is why I highly recommend making sure your hotel has a private terrace only for guests! That way you can soak up all the beauty without hundreds of people.
Top two photos are taken from the Sultan Cave Suites terrace, and the bottom two are from Koza. The Sultan Cave Suites terrace is special due to the breakfast set up, while Koza’s is the highest roof top in all of Cappadocia. They’re both wonderful hotels to stay at!
HIKE LOVE VALLEY
Love Valley is extremely popular due to the gigantic phallic shape rocks throughout the valley. If you ask a driver to take you to the Valley, they’ll most likely drive you to the scenic lookout which is where all the extremely touristy Instagram swing hearts are and gift shops. The trail begins directly underneath. Instead, you can walk to this location: 50180 Göreme/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey HERE. We simply rode our scooters straight to it!
These phallic rocks formed naturally due to a volcanic eruption anywhere between 3 to 9 million years ago, and have been coined the “cock rocks.”
UCHISAR & UCHISAR CASTLE
From here, head to Uchsiar Castle! We took our scooters to Uchisar Castle which was less than 10 minutes, and the entrance fee is 10TL. We walked around Uchisar after, and enjoyed some tea. Uchisar has a much more laid back and luxurious vibe to it than Goreme, while Goreme feels much more busy.
RELAX AT THE HOTEL
If your hotel has a pool I would definitely recommend lounging by the pool for a little! One of our nights, we stayed at Aza Cave House, and they have an extremely beautiful pool! Other beautiful hotels in Cappadocia and Uchisar that are worth looking into and have pools are Local Cave House and Museum Hotel!
DAY FOUR OF THE 4 DAY CAPPADOCIA ITINERARY
VINTAGE CAR RENTAL
One of the coolest parts about Cappadocia, is that it literally just has everything. Hire a vintage car with Skyway Travel, and you’ll be driven around to all of the best sunrise spots. Our driver took us straight to where the balloons launched and took off, so we were able to take photos during take off which was definitely a unique experience. Afterwards, he drove us to Love Valley where most of the balloons fly over! I would highly, highly recommend this experience!
PASABAG / MONK’S VALLEY
Pasabag, or Monk’s Valley, has one of the more unique landscapes of Cappadocia as well! It’s also a beautiful area to walk around, so I highly recommend just swinging by. They also have camels here you can take photos of, but I definitely don’t advise riding.
DALTON HORSE RANCH
Cappadocia quite literally means, land of the beautiful horses and so, a visit to the horse ranch is absolutely necessary. I’ve never seen horses as majestic and beautiful as the horses at Dalton. You can tell the owners and ranches really take great care of them. Dalton Horse Ranch provides all kinds of tours, from horseback riding during sunset, and our styled photoshoot with the horses.
There is also a place in Kayseri that is known to have hundreds of wild horses where you can go and take photos of! However, it’s almost 2 hours away, and so with the time crunch, we opted to take photos of horses running at Dalton’s instead! It seems like a truly scary and dangerous experience, but it’s worthwhile to note how intelligent horses are, and they don’t want to run into you as much as you don’t want them to. So keeping calm, and walking forward, I trusted that we’d be safe and in good hands.
I would also highly recommend a sunset horseback riding tour!
And that’s a wrap!! I can’t wait for the day I can return to Cappadocia. It is truly such a magical and beautiful place. As long as you book a cave hotel in Cappadocia and catch sunrise from a Hot Air Balloon, I promise you will not be disappointed! Hopefully you found this blog post useful!! Let me know if you have any questions below!