Have you been to Cappadocia, Turkey? I visited the region for the first time during the Intrepid Travel Turkey Highlights group tour. I was initially so excited to visit Cappadocia for one reason in particular: the hot air balloons! Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize upon signing up for the tour in February, was how infrequently the hot air balloons take off during off-season. This is, of course, due to the weather – though I didn’t put this together until after the fact. I was initially very disappointed, however, once I started exploring the area, I quickly got over my initial upset. Why? Because there are plenty of things to do in Cappadocia in winter!
Cappadocia, Turkey is, of course, well known for the hot air balloons. However, as their take-off is entirely dependent on weather, its always good. Furthermore, you can easily put together an incredible itinerary and have an amazing experience in Cappadocia, with or without a hot air balloon ride. The area is one-of-a-kind and there are all kinds of things to do in Cappadocia in winter. Check out my suggestions below.
1. Visit the Goreme Open Air Museum
The Goreme Open Air Museum is a fascinating place to visit in Cappadocia, Turkey. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a preserved area used in the fourth-century by Byzantine Monks. Monasteries are carved into the volcanic caves and were used as churches for many centuries by monks and other settlers. Moreover, it is still available to visit today as the Open Air Museum for 15 Turkish Lira! Additionally, 8 lira will provide entrance to the largest, most impressive church, the “Dark Church,” on the premises.
2. Hike in the Valleys
Cappadocia, Turkey is full of colorful, intricate valleys, through which you can take many hikes! For instance, the top hikes in the area are Red & Rose Valley, Ihlara Valley, Love Valley, and Pigeon Valley. You can spend a month or more exploring all the hiking trails in Cappadocia. It will be unlike any hiking you’ve ever done! This is one of the things to do in Cappadocia in winter, even if it’s a bit cold!
3. See the Fairy Chimneys
Unique to Cappadocia, the fairy chimneys are a notable attraction. In fact, the fairy chimneys are found everywhere in the region. They are named for their magical appearance – a home at the top of the rock column made for fairies. Formed from volcanic eruptions centuries ago, a visit to Cappadocia, Turkey is not complete without admiring these impressive geological formations.
4. Go Underground
If you can believe it, there are many underground cities located in Cappadocia, Turkey! These underground cities protected the inhabitants in case of invasion. Two of the most visited cities are Derinkuyu and Kaymakli. 60 Turkish Lira each will grant you access to explore the cities!
5. Stay or Eat in a Cave Dwelling
Cappadocia’s unique geological structure easily allows for dwellings to be built right into it. While many of these dwellings are now tourist attractions, there are still a lot of individuals who call them home. I visited one during my Intrepid Turkey Highlights tour, where we had a home cooked meal made by a local family. You can eat a meal in a cave at restaurants such as the Topdeck Cave Restaurant or Senator Restaurant. You can also stay overnight in a hotel cave, like the Cappadocia Cave Suites and Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel.
6. Check out the Saruhan Kervansaray
There are amazing Kervansaray’s all over Turkey, which were resting places for caravans travelling along the ancient Silk Road. In fact, Cappadocia, Turkey has the Saruhan Kervansaray, which is just as impressive as any of the others.
7. Take in a Whirling Dervish Ceremony
Speaking of the Saruhan Kervansaray, you can watch a traditional Whirling Dervish Performance for 25 Euros, put on by Turkish Dervishes and trained performers. Dervishes are devout Muslims who have taken a vow of service and poverty. One of their most well-known traditions, is a dance which has coined them their name, the Whirling Dervishes.
8. Pet Adorable Puppies
The strays are everywhere in Turkey, but they are particularly adorable in Cappadocia. The pups are well taken care of too! Definitely grab some selfies with these cuties before you head home.
9. Eat Local Cuisine
There are some delicious restaurants in Cappadocia. Traditional Turkish food is always a safe bet. Eat at some highly rated restaurants like Revithia Cappadocia, Aravan Evi, or Sakli Konak. There are also plenty of mouthwatering, alternatives, like the Cappadocia Steak House or Paprika Burger & Pasta. Either way, don’t leave the Cappadocia region without supporting the local restaurants!
10. Purchase a Beautiful, Handmade Souvenir
Number ten is truly something that you can, and should do, everywhere in Turkey! The Turkish people create some beautiful art – whether it’s to wear, display, or use. Cappadocia is no exception to the rule. There are many authentic souvenir shops found all over. You absolutely need to stop in to purchase a gift or two to take home.
If you’ve been to Cappadocia, is there anything else you would add to my list? There is so much else to do, and what I mentioned above is by no means, comprehensive. I only spent three days in Cappadocia, but I recommend a week! Going during high season, of course has it’s benefits. However, low-season was so nice because there were no crowds. As you saw above, there is still plenty of things to do in Cappadocia in winter! Regardless of what you choose, what I can guarantee, is you will have a fabulous time!