Best places to visit in Cappadocia, the “open-air museum” in Turkey

Best places to visit in Cappadocia, the “open-air museum” in Turkey

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21 November

If you are passionate about travelling, you will certainly know that Turkey has one of the most fascinating and unique regions in the world. Yes, that’s right, today we’re talking about what to see in Cappadocia. If you are wondering what are the best places to visit in Cappadocia, you are in the right place!

Known for the famous “fairy chimneys”, and the stunning rock formations, Cappadocia is especially known for its unforgettable sunsets to be enjoyed from a hot air balloon. On the other hand, this is one of the most representative images of a trip to Cappadocia. Yes, I will post a cliche photo, but honestly, can you blame me? 

This area is located in the central region of Anatolia, Turkey, around Göreme. It is an arid and dusty land but at the same time fascinating and unforgettable, where you do not need coloured lenses or Instagram filters. Here the sunlight, whether at sunrise or sunset, will always reflect incredible hues on the rocks. 

I mean, are you planning a trip to Turkey? Then a tour of Cappadocia should be on your itinerary! 


Don’t get us wrong, let’s not talk about the tooth fairy. With “fairies”, in Cappadocia, we identify the rock formations of tuff, typical of this area, called precisely “chimneys of fairies”. Also, thanks to these formations, the whole region around Göreme has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But Göreme is not just chimneys. It is actually one of the most spectacular cities in the world and you will easily understand why. The village is half nestled in the hill: nothing but bonuses! Here, the houses are covered with stone and dug directly onto the side of the hill, creating a maze of rooms and caves

From Göreme, you can reach the valley of the same name to do unforgettable hiking and discover the UNESCO website called “The Open Air Museum of Göreme“. Try to imagine a group of monasteries, chapels and churches carved into the rock, which contains ancient frescoes. A visit of a couple of hours to view firsthand how Christian hermits learnt how to hide to protect themselves from domination. In Byzantine times, these hiding places became real buildings in the rock. In short, one of the places to visit in Cappadocia. 

The Open Air Museum of Göreme
The Open Air Museum of Göreme

Sunset in Cappadocia 

Did you know that, according to one interpretation, Cappadocia’s etymology comes from Huw-aspa-dahyu, that is, “land of beautiful horses”? No, neither did I, but let’s get serious. There are still many things to discover in this region. It seems to belong to another planet, so follow me to get started. 

This region’s history dates back to the Stone Age. Every civilisation that has set foot in this land has left an indelible heritage, creating a unique blend of cultures. Cappadocia is a truly vast and dispersive territory and may seem uncontaminated, but in reality, it hides priceless treasures.

For these reasons, one of the most evocative ways to visit Cappadocia is by hot air balloon. From the sky, you will have a truly unique perspective, and you can appreciate the colours and shades of the sunset. Characterised by very particular rock formations, due to the erosion of wind and rain, this vast region is a spectacle for the eyes of travellers. 

Sunset from a hot air balloon is absolutely one of the things to see in Cappadocia! 

Sunset from a hot air balloon in Cappadocia
Sunset from a hot air balloon in Cappadocia


In the list of cities I would like to visit, there is certainly Matera, the Italian city of stones. So the idea of seeing a Turkish version in Cappadocia excites me. That’s right. Just a few kilometres from Goreme, the village of Uchisar is a unique spectacle. It must be one of your stops on the Cappadocia tour

We have already seen how many wonders there are in this extraordinary region. We discovered the “fairy chimneys” and the reason for hot air balloon rides, but Uchisar has a characteristic that makes it unique. Indeed, the village is entirely excavated into the rock and it develops on the highest peak of all Cappadocia. Rooms dug into the side of the mountain, tunnels, hiding places, in short walking through the ‘streets’ of Uchisar is a truly mythical experience! 

Like me, if you’re already thinking of climbing up and looking down at Cappadocia, then you need to know that you’ll find a castle! Well, yes. Right on the top of the peak, there is a real palace of tuff, with many tunnels and hidden cavities. Just think that inside the palace, I repeat inside, even churches have been discovered. In the centre of the village, there is an entire underground tunnel 100 metres long, which passes under the houses and connects various points of the city. Do I really have to point out that the view from the castle is breathtaking? I didn’t think so, so what are you waiting for? Add Uchisar to your list of places to visit in Cappadocia!

The Castle of Uchisar
The Castle of Uchisar

The Ihlara Valley 

Did I mention that Cappadocia is an arid territory? Yes, of course, but not quite. This is a blog for people who love travelling, and such fans cannot forget the green valley of Ihlara. In travel articles, the term “unique” is often abused, but after looking at the image below, how else could you define it? A forest inside a canyon dug by a river, divided between the light and parched colours of the rocks and the emerald green of the vegetation. I mean, I don’t know, uh, if you have a bidet instead of a heart, okay, but for me, this place is unique.

Ihlara is also the perfect valley for hiking lovers. Here you can take one of the most beautiful and unique walks in the world: a path that runs through endless expanses of vegetation, fields dotted with stumps, boulders, and jagged cliffs by the Melendiz Suyu River. The stream meanders through a gorge dominated by a 100-metre-deep canyon, offering truly unique scenery. 

Along the way, you will find many frescoed churches, testifying that the Ihlara Valley was once one of the most loved places by Byzantine monks for their spiritual retreats. How can you blame them? The silence of the valley is interrupted only by the birds singing and the flow of the water of the river. In short, a paradise. To refresh yourself after a long hike, you can stop and relax at the village of Belisirma, equipped with several restaurants by the river.

The Melendiz River carves out the Ihlara Valley
The Melendiz River carves out the Ihlara Valley


Can you imagine renovating your house and discovering an underground city during the works? If I do mine, all I find are broken pipes and infiltration. In 1963, however, a local inhabitant found a labyrinth. And so Derinkuyu came to light: one of the best places to visit in Cappadocia.

This underground city, which is located about 45 minutes by bus from Goreme, was opened to tourists shortly after its discovery but is still used by locals, who use the tunnels as storage areas, stables or cellars. Derinkuyu dates back to the seventh century BC and is composed of a series of ancient caves excavated by hand. A system of caves, tunnels, and tunnels divided into 20 underground levels. 600 doors have been found in the subsoil, leading to as many huge rooms, used for praying, eating or sleeping. 

Of course, many tools and utensils used to make wine have been found in Derinkuyu. Real stables for animals and even a tree have also been found! This underground city is one of the 200 discoveries in this area. It is well worth a visit during the Cappadocia tour.

A cave leading to Derinkuyu
A cave leading to Derinkuyu

After talking about the places to visit in Cappadocia, it will be necessary to understand how to get to this beautiful region of Turkey, don’t you think? If you are the classic traveller who does everything at the last minute and has no qualms, then do the friend who will accompany you a favour, and send them this article. If you’re the other friend, the one who needs to have everything under control, I’m here for you!

How to get there: from Istanbul to Cappadocia 

From the UK, take a flight to Istanbul, a city worth visiting if you have a few more days of vacation. From Istanbul, you can choose how to reach Cappadocia, but it is fair to point out that it’s 800 km far. Therefore, in my opinion, you’ve to exclude the journey by car, preferring rather the bus journey, which lasts at least 12 hours in total.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to fly! From Istanbul, you can take a flight of about 90 minutes to Nevşehir or Kayseri. The first airport is 40 km from the places you will visit, while the second airport is 70 km away. Don’t worry, once you arrive in Cappadocia, you can book a private or group transfer, or arrange one with the hotels, which offer this service. Are you ready to book now

The trip to Cappadocia will undoubtedly be part of the list of things to tell your grandchildren (without even having to sweeten the story or exaggerate in detail). This region will take a place in your heart its sunsets will remain etched in your memory forever. Green valleys, hidden churches, arid lands coloured by the light of the sun and the inevitable journey by hot air balloon: Cappadocia is a perfect destination for those who love nature, silence and photography

You can visit this land alone or take advantage of the many organised group tours, which will take you to both Cappadocia and Istanbul. If the idea of literally walking in an open-air museum is teasing you, then take a look at WeRoad’s proposal for a tour of Istanbul and Cappadocia!

WeRoad Team
Written by WeRoad Team