Kappadokya wins the “Best place to visit in Turkey” hands down! Sights you have never seen will soar up in front of your face. The city of Goreme, Urgup and surrounding areas are filled with mammoth hoodoos with tiny windows and multi-storey underground cities which have so many tales to tell.
Goreme has so many hoodoos converted into hotels so you can stay inside the cave like structures to see how people lived there before. These were used by Romans and Byzantines to hide from the Turk invasion. You can see so many churches built inside of this hoodoos which have beautiful paintings which are centuries old! We were here only for 2 days but I wish I had stayed for atleast a day or two more.
What are hoodoos did you ask? Hoodoos are rock formations which shoot up to the sky from ground which have soft sand like rock inside and harder rock layer outside. This makes carving into a hollow on the inside easier.
Things not to miss –
- Goreme Open Air Museum – For its cave churches
- Zelve Open Air Museum – For the variety of formations.
- Pasabag – For those beautiful fairy chimneys.
- Love valley, Pigeon Valley and Rose valley – You can drive through these places and stop everywhere to take in the views
- Uchisar Castle – a CASTLE built inside these formations!! How awesome is that? Is you are pressed for time, I would drive up to it just to be amazed by the structure and see what they did with it!
- Underground cities of Kaymakli & Derinkuyu – MUST visit at least one of them. The entire city including cattle would hide inside this 9 storey’s of winding underground city to escape from invasions. Do not forget to get a guide as you will definitely get lost inside. I loved Kaymakli and my guide who happened to be the first govt appointed guide for that area and he knew 10 different languages!!
- Sunrise and hot air balloon mass ascension from Panorama point – Panaroma point is in Goreme right on top of the hill behind the cave hotel – Caravenserai Cave Hotel we stayed at. There are no directions to this place so walk the road, where this hotel is at, uphill till you hit a dead end and all you can see is an entrance to sunset hotel (or some other hotel). I went directly into this sunset hotel which led me to a small scary lane which suddenly put me on to a paved road and then it was easy to hike up. If you don’t find it just scout around till you find that paved road! It is only a 500m walk but it gives a 360 deg view of the entire city of Goreme. It is magical to see sunrise on one side and hoodoos on the other and hundreds of balloons rising up in the air. My recommendation is to take a walk and see the place the previous evening by asking the locals so that you can easily find it the next morning.
Closest Airport to Goreme is Nevsehir, although most airlines fly to Kayseri, which is the biggest city closer to Goreme (an hour’s drive). We rented a car from the airport and drove everywhere as we did not want to take any tours and we love to explore on our own and create adventures for ourselves :).
There are only 2/3 on-site car rental at Kayseri airport. I would advise you strongly to rent from there even if they are slightly expensive unless you want experience what we did. We booked an off-site car rental from Dollar Rent-A-Car (When you say dollar, you kind of hope they would know some English). A couple came to pick us up from the airport in a small compact car and they were surprised to find 4 of us waiting. We somehow managed to squeeze in the luggage and ourselves inside and tried talking to them in pseudo Turkish (from our Lonely Planet language book) and sign language. After 20min drive to reach the office which was on one of the busiest streets of the city and another 40min of unspoken conversation, we managed to get a dusty car. Upon which when we asked for insurance he just laughed and said no one has insurance here (Or I think that is what he tried to say)! It was a strange, nervous and funny experience. But it strengthened my belief that we just need to trust people in such situations. Both, husband and wife were apparently newly married and they could not stop giggling at how we tried to communicate with them! Amidst this chaos, my mom managed to yell at him for smoking in his own office even when he had put up a “No Smoking” sign himself but he kept laughing! 😛
Other Sites –
If you have more time you should also to go see the humungous volcanic mountain, Mt Erciyes, towering to 12,848ft! It is a short driving distance from Kayseri. You have great views of this when you are driving to and from Goreme. You can also see the city and the citadel of Kayseri.
Photography Tips – Set your aperture very low for sharp images as you will be shooting outdoors and landscapes mostly.
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