Cappadocia in Türkiye is best known for its hot-air balloon rides at sunrise and sunset, with its volcanic spires and honeycombed hills and the sun peeking out over the infamous “fairy chimneys.” This landscape, carved out and inhabited since the 6th Century, is a magical tourist destination with far more to experience than just an exhilarating hot-air balloon ride.
Sights to see
Göreme is the most famous town as this is the jumping-off point to book your ride on a hot-air balloon. You have easy access to restaurants, hotels, and shops, and you can rent a quad bike in order to explore the area. Don’t forget to visit the Open Air Museum to visit ancient villages with monasteries cut into the rock.
Uçhisar is located 3 miles from Göreme and is the highest point in Cappadocia, offering stunning views of the valley and the balloons in full splendor. You can spot Mt. Erciyes (great for winter skiing) with its valley cave dwellings.
Çavuşin is where you will find most overlanders camped out around the National Park. This is a popular launch site for the hot-air balloons setting out at sunrise. We awoke to several hot-air balloons bellowing with flames from the burner, ready to take to the sky.
If you’re looking for a troglodyte experience, you must visit Ürgüp. Here you can sleep either in a cave or a fairy chimney that has been converted into luxury hotel rooms.
Best time to visit
The best time to avoid the heat and wind (which forces most agencies to cancel their flight plans) will be between May and June and September and October. The days are warm, the nights cool with little to no rain.
How to get there
A round-trip flight from the East Coast of the USA to the capital, Istanbul, will set you back in the region of USD750. Considering that it is a non-stop flight and the flight time is only 10 hours, it can be regarded as the perfect getaway.
Once in Istanbul, a one-hour flight for USD100 will take you to the nearest airport which is a convenient 40-minute transfer from Cappadocia.
Although Türkiye is currently open to all tourists, please visit goturkiye.com for all COVID entry requirements.
If flying into Cappadocia, hiring a car is relatively simple and cost-effective. It will allow you to explore the surrounding area of Cappadocia, which is plentiful. Alternatively, you can hire a transfer, but this limits your ability to travel between the main cities, granted they are only 15 minutes apart by car. The cheapest option is to take a bus but not the most convenient. You can depart from Istanbul; however, the trip takes 10 hours and does not deliver you directly to Cappadocia.
In our personal opinion, overlanding with your own rig to Türkiye is the best way to travel in this beautiful and unforgettable country. Türkiye is one of our favorite countries with amazing off-road trails, free and wild camping and very few travellers. We found the Turks to be exceptional hosts, the food amazing and the country generally safe.
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