Open Your Heart to Cappadocia
In the center of the Anatolian plateau is one of the world’s most mysterious natural regions: Cappadocia. Visitors love the fairy chimneys and crooked cave churches, overseen by the towering Mount Ericyes, formed 60 million years ago. But the region’s vastness leaves enough space for everyone to have their own, special Cappadocia experience.
Where to eat and drink
There are more than a dozen small villages that make up the Cappadocia region, each offering something unique in terms of dining.
For the experience of a “chef’s table,” Zeferan Restaurant at the Ajwa Cappadocia Hotel offers a dinner that is one of the best culinary experiences in all of Turkey.
Take in the sights
Travelers flock to the Cappadocia region for a hot air balloon ride. With Cappadocia preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the view over the different valleys will feel like time has stopped. Cost for a sunrise ride runs between $145-$200 per person.
On the ground, visitors are drawn to see the valleys from a different perspective. The main valleys are Pigeon, Love, Red and Rose. You can tour them all in a day, but to better appreciate all they have to offer, most tourists plan separate visits over several days. While walking along the valley floors, peek inside the caves to find Byzantine-era churches carved into the rock.Turkey’s fairy chimneys are also a bucket list item.
For a bit of adventure, try a quad-tour or book an excursion on horseback. Area ranches cater to all levels of riders, from beginners to experienced equestrians.
Where to take photos
Cappadocia is full of wonderful photo spots and the locals know it. In full entrepreneurial spirit, popular photo destinations have small tea houses next door. But, that’s part of the charm.
Go to the edge of Love Valley in the center of Uchisar village to grab all the Instagram content you need. Don’t miss Sunset Point, a less-crowded spot at the fork between Red and Rose Valleys on the outskirts of Göreme village.
Technically outside the park, but still boasting fantastic rock formations, in the center of the village of Ortahisar, you’ll find the city carved into the rock as a fun backdrop to your capture.
Peace and quiet at dawn
The region of Cappadocia has been inhabited since the Paleolithic age. Over the centuries the rise and fall of empires swept through the region and though mostly Muslim today, during the Byzantine Empire the community was Christian.
Residents built hundreds of churches into the caves and in some chapels the original ochre painting still remains.
If you are not religious but associate with the spirituality of nature, a visit to Red Valley at sunrise is sure to speak to your soul; as the sun washes over the peaks of the fairy chimneys and the migratory birds sing their morning song you’ll feel the waves of time speeding past as you look out over the ancient landscape.
A local perspective
Most of the economic activity in the villages of Göreme and Uçhisar are totally devoted to tourism. If you want a more authentic Turkish village life feel, you should make an excursion to villages like Urgup and Mustafapasa where you’ll find shepherds herding their flocks and men sitting in teahouses playing dominos.
Meet the journalist:
Ashley Parsons and Quentin are a writer/photographer duo traveling the world by bicycle and horseback. Their work focuses on adventure travel, sustainability, and grassroots environmental movements. Their bylines include Sidetracked Magazine, Fodors Travel, Atlas Obscura, Earth Island Journal and more. You can find them at @enselle.voyage or at www.enselle.voyage