Cappadocia (Kapadokya) is the land of fairies, balloons and dreamy Instagrammers. From iconic balloons to wonderful walks through other-worldly landscapes, this region is truly unique. With just 2 days in Cappadocia, you really need to plan your time well. This 2 day Cappadocia itinerary includes the absolute highlights of this magical area.
TOP TIP: When we say 2 days, we mean 2 nights too. You will need 2 nights in Cappadocia, as it involves 2 very early mornings (if you plan to make the most of the balloons).
- 1 Why Goreme is the Best Place to Stay in Cappadocia
- 2 DAY ONE
- 3 Early Risers – Hot Air Balloon Spotting
- 4 Option One – The Tours
- 5 Option Two – Relaxed Independent Travel
- 6 Dinner and Drinks
- 7 DAY TWO
- 8 Take to the Skies – A Hot Air Balloon Ride
- 9 Walking Through Wonderlands – Part One
- 10 Pigeon Valley (Guvercinlik Valley)
- 11 Uchisar
- 12 Lunch in Uchisar – Peri Cafe Cave Man
- 13 Walking Through Wonderlands – Hiking Part Two
- 14 Love Valley
- 15 Dinner – Dining in Style
- 16 How to Get to and Leave Cappadocia
- 17 Where to Stay in Goreme
- 18 Information for 2 Days in Cappadocia
- 19 Final Thoughts on This 2 Day Cappadocia Itinerary
Why Goreme is the Best Place to Stay in Cappadocia
Goreme is the perfect place to stay if you only have 2 days in Cappadocia. It has the majority of the best balloon companies on offer, many attractions are within walking distance, tours usually start from here and there is a large selection of food and drink options.
TOP TIP: Cappadocia is pronounced Ka-pa-doke-ya
Early Risers – Hot Air Balloon Spotting
Every morning (weather permitting) the skies above Cappadocia fill with brightly coloured hot air balloons. Ballooning has been part of the routine here for years but it is only in the past decade that the Instagram effect has attracted a whole new crowd. You are more than welcome to sleep through this if you aren’t that bothered but they do make some gorgeous photos and watching them dawdle past is remarkably calming.
Grab a hot coffee from your room and head to the rooftop to start your day. (All three of our hotel recommendations offer a nice spot for the balloon spotting).
Option One – The Tours
If you are keen to see as much as possible, there is an abundance of travel agents offering “the tours”. There are three tours to choose from; red, green and yellow. To match the rest of this itinerary, we would suggest you take the green tour to avoid too much overlap. On the all-day green tour you will visit:
• Ortahisar Panorama
• Mustafapaşa Old Greek Village
• Keshlik Monastery
• Taşkınpaşa Medrese
• Sobessos Ancient City
• Soğanlı Valley
• Lunch in Valley
• Derinkuyu Underground City
• Pigeon Valley
• Onyx Demonstration
• Göreme Panorama
• Return back to your hotel
The highlight of the green tour is Derinkuyu Underground City, a whole subterranean world of tunnels that are up to 80m deep. It is an entirely different way of life and this is probably the best example of it in Cappadocia. Don’t forget to look out for the wine crushing room. Wine has been produced in the region for at least 2000 years and residents were definitely enjoying back then.
Option Two – Relaxed Independent Travel
If you are feeling a little sleepy after your early morning, you can take today nice and easy. Relax for a little while (you could even have a little sleep you a boss at napping) before enjoying an unrushed breakfast
Goreme Open Air Museum
Goreme Open Air Museum is located a one mile walk outside of town. You could jump in a taxi but the walk is pretty easy. Plus, there is a shop just outside of the museum entrance offering cold water and ice cream.
Within the museum grounds, you will be able to explore a collection of intriguing rock churches dating from 10th- 12th centuries. Some of these churches have interiors painted with bright frescoes, a few of which are still very well preserved.
Entrance is 25 Lira but this does not cover the whole site. The Dark Church (Karanlik Kilise) costs an additional 12 Lira but undoubtedly has the best-preserved artwork inside.
A Light Lunch at Nazar Borek
For a flakey, tasty slice of joy, pick up some borek at Nazar Borek. A ten-minute walk (800m) walk from the centre of town, this small family-run cafe serves top-notch borek, stuffed flatbreads and unbeatable sweet, cheesy kenefe. The owner, Rafik, grows his own organic vegetables which feature prominently on the menu. It is great to see such passion for ingredients.
A Spot of Shopping
Strolling through Goreme, you will pass plenty of gift shops, many of which sell locally produced textiles and souvenirs. Especially prominent is the glistening blue Nazar Boncuğu (the evil eye). These are good luck charms or amulets, designed to attract the attention of bad spirits away from someone’s shiny new belongings, business or their person. At first, it can seem that these are just a way to make some tourist dollar, but most Turkish people own one of these in some form.
A modern classic in the Cappadocia Instagram pantheon. If you ask very nicely, you will be allowed to wander around this labyrinthine carpet shop, and even take some gorgeous photos. Just check out their Instagram page!
Take a Turkish Bath at Kelebek Hammam and Spa
The perfect way to relax, you will enter the Kelebek Hammam covered in the dust of Groreme and come out super clean.
Take your seat and let the steam and heat begin to slough off the rest of the day. Then, once your muscles have relaxed, the rubbing begins. Every dead skin cell you knew you had, and plenty that you didn’t, are removed in enthusiastic fashion by your therapist…you really are squeaky clean afterwards.
Sunset – Lover’s Hill/Asiklar Tepesi
A firm favourite, it is wise to get here a little early to secure a spot. Not only will you get somewhere to perch, but as it is a steep hill, you won’t have the embarrassment of being watched by everyone else on the way up! There is a fee of 3 Lira per person so keep some change handy for it.
When you reach the top, be sure to take a small walk along the ridge as it gives a great view over The Red and Rose Valleys. If you fancy a sundowner then pop into the restaurant/shop that is close to the entrance, they serve a selection of beverages to take away including hot drinks, soft drinks, wine and beer.
TOP TIP: If you are using google maps, look for the pin named “Sunset View” rather than “Sunset Point”.
Dinner and Drinks
Bargain Bites – Cappadocia Pide House
Pide is known as Turkish pizza. A boat shaped bread is filled with cheese and often mincemeat and eaten with the hands, just like a pizza. At Cappadocia Pide House they are less of a boat, and more of a topped flatbread. Simple, filling and delicious. Best of all, a large glass of wine here will cost you £2.
Cocktails and Comfort Food – Fat Boys Restaurant and Cafe
This is not haute cuisine, but it is not about that. Grab a low table and laze back on some comfy cushions as you sip a cocktail, beer or local wine. Food ranges from western fodder like burgers and fajitas, to all your Turkish favourites.
TOP TIP: Don’t stay up drinking too late because tomorrow is going to be another very early morning!
Take to the Skies – A Hot Air Balloon Ride
After whetting your appetite on day one, it is now your turn to experience ballooning over Cappadocia! Stepping into the basket of hot air balloon is a wonderful reward for a horrendously early morning. There are plenty of operators to choose from, with every travel agent and hotel in town selling trips. We took a trip with Turquaz Balloons.
Companies evaluate the weather conditions daily to try and plan the best sightseeing flights, encompassing the twisted rock valleys and towns of Cappadocia.
Walking Through Wonderlands – Part One
Pigeon Valley (Guvercinlik Valley)
After seeing the weird and wonderful rock formations of Cappadocia’s valleys, it is time to explore at ground level. Over the course of a day, you can traverse Pigeon Valley and Love Valley, stopping off in Uchisar. We took our directions and inspiration from this wonderful blog post. Look for “HIKE 1 / PIGEON VALLEY, UÇHISAR CASTLE AND LOVE VALLEY IN CAPPADOCIA”. Combined with Lonely Planet Turkey, we felt like we had our very own tour guide.
Things to bring on this walk:
- A sandwich for lunch. There aren’t too many snack stops along the way.
- A hat. The sun is high at midday and there is little shade along the way.
- Plenty of water.
- Trainers or walking shoes. This is not a walk to be taken in sliders.
This walk begins in Goreme and comes at Pigeon Valley from the opposite end from the tour busses and taxis. You will have the trail to yourselves for quite a while. The climb up to the top of Pigeon Valley slowly reveals the view to you. As you climb uphill, try and resist the urge to turn around until you get to Calgary Tea Garden. Here, the view back from where you’ve come is astonishing.
Continuing uphill, you will come across the cave dwellings that evoke serious Frlinstones fantasies! The view of the valley from here really brings to mind Karl Pilkington’s quote, “I’d rather live in a cave with a view of a palace than live in a palace with a view of a cave”.
After trekking up the hill, you emerge into the small town of Uchisar. Ths small spot, full of hotels is the favourite town of French holidaymakers. It is all rather high end so don’t expect to grab a little something for a picnic here. Instead, head to the castle first.
Crowning the hill is Uchisar Castle, a tunnel-riddled hill that was used a fortress for the area in the 1500s. There are around 100 steps up to the top so take your time if it is a hot day. The vista from the top is absolutely phenomenal, giving a 360-degree view of the valleys and hills that make up Cappadocia.
Lunch in Uchisar – Peri Cafe Cave Man
Coming back down from the castle, you have definitely earned a rest. The Peri Cafe is a great sun-dappled spot for a cold drink or a strong Turkish coffee. Visitors are often treated to a little dish of pumpkins seeds and nuts as they sit and sip. After your drink, check out the jewellery store and traditional cave house that used to be the owner’s home.
If you time your break just right, the call to prayer reverberates around the fairy chimneys that surround the cafe with the most beautiful echo.
Walking Through Wonderlands – Hiking Part Two
It is time to head back downhill, into Love Valley. The white stone is almost blinding in the Turkish summer. It almost looks like snow.
There are two paths, one runs along the valley floor but taking the winding path that meanders up and down the valley wall gives you a better view. The two join up eventually and then the valley begins to widen.
After half an hour of walking, you will get your first glimpse of why they call this Love Valley…
…before continuing on a short way the main area dotted with these famous “fairy chimneys”. By this point, you may need another little break and happily, there is another shaded cafe. The tea is good, the bathroom is a disaster zone!
The soft volcanic rock that marks this area has been eroded to leave these distinctive rock formations. The wind has whipped them into these intriguing fairy chimneys.
Dinner – Dining in Style
After such a long day, it is absolutely time to treat yourself. Seten Restaurant is the signature restaurant in the acclaimed Sultan Cave Suites hotel. Eating here isn’t cheap but it certainly won’t break the bank.
Try the Testi Kebab. This giggle-worthy name actually means pottery kebab and it consists of a stew, cooked slowly in an earthern pot. The pot is cracked open at your table, releasing a whoosh or delicious aroma.
How to Get to and Leave Cappadocia
There are two main airports in Cappadocia, Kayseri Erkilet and Nevsehir Kapadokya. Nevsehir is closer to town (the drive is around 35 minutes vs an hour) but you will find more flights going to Kayseri. Turkish Airlines runs to this airport from Istanbul,so for those transferring from most destinations, it is a lot more convenient.
There are stories (mine included) about bags not turning up on the baggage belt at Kayseri Airport. Ask the staff and it is possible your bag has popped out in the other baggage hall.
Goreme Bus Station is right in the middle of town, so incredibly handy! Most big bus companies have their offices here and big boards displaying their destinations. Buses arrive pass through here from points across the country and bus travel in Turkey is relatively comfortable.
Where to Stay in Goreme
Goreme itself is not too big. You can walk from one side of town to the other, even with the hills. The best thing about this is that you can stay anywhere and you will be in a good position. The main thing to think about is the standard of the accommodation, does it have a spot from which you can see the balloons and do you want to try out one of the famous cave rooms on offer?
Save the Pennies – Goreme Cave Rooms
This is a cheap and cheerful option for those on a really tight budget. It has the feeling of a hostel/guesthouse, with a laid back but helpful reception and dark but sizeable rooms. For just £10, Goreme Cave Rooms is surprisingly well equipped, offering a simple buffet breakfast and a small rooftop from which you can watch the balloons.
Mid-range Choice – Mithra Cave Hotel
Kalabek Cave Hotel offers 39 unique rooms, some are cave room, some stone arches and others bright and airy. The honeymoon suite has a jacuzzi and a round bed…groovy baby! The Caverna restaurant is good enough that you don’t need to venture out for dinner and the hammam is recommended above.
Splash the Cash – Sultan Cave Suites
Featuring Cappadocia’s iconic stone hewn rooms, Sultan Cave Suites is the quintessential Goreme stay. Some rooms have stunning roll-top, free-standing baths, some are bedecked in beautiful local textiles and The Sultan Suite even has a jacuzzi! For relaxation, there is an outdoor pool and an indoor spa and Turkish bath. The large rooftop area is the perfect place to watch the balloons,. It became a tourist destination in its own right but access is now restricted to guests only.
Information for 2 Days in Cappadocia
- The ATMS in town are all to be found on a small strip in the main square, opposite the bus station It is worth having cash on you so you don’t end up trekking down here from your hilltop hotel.
- The best time to visit Cappadocia is during the spring and autumn months. Summer is too hot for hiking, and the influx of summer holiday tourists hikes prices. In winter, it can dip down under 10° in the day, and colder at night, making balloon watching and riding, a little too chilly.
Final Thoughts on This 2 Day Cappadocia Itinerary
Cappadocia is a truly unique (some would say weird) destination, an amazing blend of intriguing nature and ingenious ways to experience it. There really isn’t anything like it anywhere else on Earth so if you only have 2 days in Cappadocia, we hope this helps you make the most of it!