12 must-do things to do in Cappadocia

Montgolfière en Cappadoce, Turquie

Come to Turkey and discover one of the most beautiful regions on the planet! What to do in Cappadocia? Here are the 12 must-sees.

Located in the heart of Anatolia, the Cappadocia region is unique in the world. Three volcanoes have sculpted a landscape that seems to come straight from another planet. Its powdery ochre-coloured soils are true works of natural art. But the various human civilizations that have succeeded one another here have also bequeathed priceless treasures to the world. You’ll find a profusion of troglodyte remains and cave sites, swept by a veritable mythological breath.

Gorëme, Derinkuyu, Ürgüp… Discover Cappadocia, its valleys, underground towns and villages with evocative names. Here are 12 things you shouldn’t miss during your stay!

1. Gorëme

Maisons, musée à ciel ouvert de Gorëme, Cappadoce, Turquie

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Nejdet Duzen

Of all the wonders to be found in Cappadocia, the Gorëme Valley is the most famous. It contains a small troglodyte village of the same name, sculpted by both erosion and man. As you wander through its narrow streets, you’ll have the opportunity to observe these curious, rounded houses carved out of the rock from the 4th century onwards. All around you, a lunar panorama unfolds. It’s speckled with fairy chimneys, natural rock columns topped with a hat.

Nearby is the Gorëme open-air museum. This is a Byzantine monastic complex that became a place of pilgrimage in the 17th century. Here, you can marvel at churches, monasteries and chapels carved out of the rock. Some of the remains contain breathtaking religious frescoes.

2. Derinkuyu

Ville souterraine de Derinkuyu, grotte

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Nina Lishchuk

Cappadocia’s toponymy often contributes to the magic of the place. This is particularly true of Derinkuyu, which means « deep well ». Derinkuyu is an underground city, the largest and certainly the most beautiful in Turkey. Although its history is shrouded in mystery, it is known to have been dug in the 8th or 7th century BC. At the time, it could house up to 20,000 people and their livestock!

But Derinkuyu had many other functions. A refuge for Greek Christians persecuted by the Roman Empire, then for Orthodox Christians driven out by the Umayyads and Abbasids, a place of protection for Greeks against Turkish nationalists… Today, it is open to tourists. Visiting Cappadocia is an opportunity to explore the maze of Derinkuyu and learn more about the curious daily lives of its ancient inhabitants.

3. The valley of love

La vallée de l'amour en Cappadoce

Photo credit: Shutterstock / volkova natalia

Visiting Cappadocia means discovering valleys that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The Valley of Love is a perfect example. It offers an immense landscape in shades of beige, home to some unusual rock formations! The valley has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in particular for its numerous fairy chimneys. It’s these tall columns that give the valley its lovely name. But why? We’ll let you judge for yourself by taking a look at the photos…

The Vallée de l’Amour offers unforgettable walks among these beautiful, suggestively shaped tufa chimneys. The special light that bathes the area and the scent of apricot trees contribute to the unique atmosphere.

4. Tokali church

Intérieur de l'église Tokali, Cappadoce, Goreme, Turquie

Photo credit: Shutterstock / EvrenKalinbacak

What can you do in Cappadocia to make the most of its religious heritage? A visit to the rock churches is a must. While most were founded around the 11th century, others date back to the 4th century. The region is home to a large number of them, and all are exceptional. But perhaps the most impressive of all is the Church of Tokali, or Church of the Loop. Built in the early 10th century, it houses a spectacular collection of medieval frescoes.

Despite their venerable age, they are admirably well preserved. A visit to Cappadocia is therefore an opportunity to admire these striking examples of Byzantine art from the High Middle Ages. A millennia-old vestige in a class of its own.

5. Zelve

Maison et coucher de soleil à Zelve, Cappadoce, Turquie

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Isa KARAKUS

The Zelve open-air museum is an excellent alternative to the one in Gorëme. If you’re looking for something to do in Cappadocia to escape the crowds, this is the place to go! Zelve offers breathtaking scenery. Lined with small tufa chimneys, the site is also home to numerous rock constructions. Churches, dwellings, mills, dovecotes…

In just over two hours, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the trails reserved for tourists. It’s a delightful stroll, and one in which you might not bump into anyone!

6. Sobesos

Ruines de l'ancienne cité de Sobesos, Cappadoce, Turquie

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Lev Levin

What can you do in Cappadocia to learn more about its history? Did you know that the region once belonged to the Roman Empire? Not much remains of that era. The most notable vestige is the ancient city of Sobesos, founded in the 4th century AD. In fact, it’s the only known Roman city in the region. It was only discovered in 2002! Lost in a green field, Sobesos will be a rather special visit during your stay in Cappadocia. Although excavations are still in progress, you can already get a good idea of what it’s like! Among the Agora, thermal baths, basilica and cemetery, you’ll find magnificent mosaics and bas-reliefs.

Sobesos doesn’t attract many tourists. And yet, we recommend this interlude. Between the ambient tranquillity and the apple blossom, the atmosphere lends itself to immersion.

7. Uçhisar

Château de Uçhisar, Turquie

Photo credit: Shutterstock / myexif

Visiting Cappadocia is an opportunity to discover numerous troglodyte villages. Uçhisar is one of the most beautiful in the region. Less touristy than Gorëme, it offers sumptuous landscapes. What makes it special? It is dominated by a rocky peak, the Château d’Uçhisar, or Kale. The latter is criss-crossed by a complex network of galleries and caves. These were dug in Hittite times, i.e. around 1500 BC! The « first known skyscraper in history » gives Uçhisar an air of Tatooine. And it’s not all « dead » heritage. Some troglodyte houses are still inhabited!

8. Açik Saray

Açik Saray, Cappadoce, Turquie

Photo credit: Shutterstock / spi88

Açik Saray is a must-see if you want to see Cappadocia in all its complexity. It’s an exceptional heritage site, known as the open-air palace. In truth, it’s a monastic complex founded by the followers of Saint Basil the Great of Caesarea.

There are three rock churches on the site, as well as a series of rooms carved out of the tufa rock. Two sculpted facades are particularly eye-catching. In a way, they are reminiscent of Petra’s Al Khazneh Gate.

Along the way, don’t miss the Mantar, the star of postcards! Indeed, it’s Cappadocia’s most emblematic fairy chimney. An unusual treasure.

9. The pink valley and the red valley

Vallée de Kizilcukur, Cappadoce

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Ahmet Cigsar

Visiting Cappadocia without admiring the palette of flamboyant colors offered by the Pink Valley and the Red Valley? Unthinkable! Güllüdere and Kizilcukur are must-sees. Take a day to explore the characteristic relief of these sites. Erosion has carved delicate curves into the landscape. But nature isn’t the only craftsman! Along the way, you’ll also come across rock churches adorned with frescoes dating back thousands of years.

Although the trail is reputedly easy to walk, we recommend that you bring a map to help you find your way around. Many visitors finish the hike having missed certain points of interest. In any case, this escapade into Turkish nature will engrave many shapes and colors in your mind.

10. The Sarihan caravanserai

caravansérail de Sarihan, Turquie

Photo credit: Shutterstock / MicheleB

Le caravansérail de Sarihan est un superbe exemple d’architecture islamique à visiter en Cappadoce. Mais qu’est-ce qu’un caravansérail ? Il s’agit d’un lieu destiné à servir de halte aux caravanes de marchands et aux pèlerins. Fortifié, il dispose d’écuries, de magasins et de chambres. Le caravansérail de Sarihan a été construit au XIIIe siècle par les Seldjoukides et restauré au XXe siècle. D’où les différentes teintes de pierres que vous pourrez observer sur le site.

L’entrée monumentale de Sarihan est particulièrement intéressante. Sa façade, superbement conservée, est très finement sculptée. Elle comporte des motifs complexes, dont certains sont tout simplement uniques dans la sphère islamique.

11. Mustafapasa

Village de Mustafapasa

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Nejdet Duzen

Mustafapasa is a charming commune that was inhabited by Greeks until 1923. It’s an ideal place to visit if you’re looking for something to do in Cappadocia to find out more about this cohabitation! Indeed, among the beautiful troglodyte houses cut into the cliffs, you’ll come across some typical Greek dwellings. You have the opportunity to visit them. Their stonework is admirable. Stop off for a mint tea at the Old Greek House, built in the 19th century.

In Mustafapasa, don’t miss a visit to the churches of St. Constantine and St. Helena. Their pediments are adorned with paintings of bunches of grapes. If you’d like to go inside, you can request the keys from the tourist office.

12. Ürgüp

Comerces à Ürgüp, Cappadoce

Photo credit: Shutterstock / el_cigarrito

What can you do in Cappadocia if you’re looking for authenticity? Ürgüp is a troglodyte village that has retained all its charm. A stroll through its old quarters carved out of the white rock promises a true moment of escape. In addition to the sumptuous landscape at its feet, its lively alleyways are well worth a visit.

The clatter of craftsmen’s tools and the buzz of small shops add to the atmosphere. If there’s one day of the week to visit Ürgüp, it’s Saturday! The market is particularly pleasant. Want to relax? Visit Ürgüp’s hammam, a refurbished former Greek church.

How do I get to Cappadocia?

To visit Cappadocia, you can fly from any of Turkey’s major cities. From France, you’ll usually land in Istanbul. But you may also want to get there from Bodrum, Izir, Antalya, Ankara, etc. To find the most attractive flights, visit our partner Ulysse’ s website: the comparator selects the most affordable fares according to your departure dates.

There are several ways to reach Cappadocia:

  • By plane: Kayseri airport is 80 kilometers from Uçhisar. There are domestic flights from Istanbul, Bodrum, Izir, Antalya, etc.
  • The bus: an inexpensive solution, it allows you to visit Cappadocia from many Turkish cities;
  • The car: renting a car is an excellent solution. It allows you to visit Cappadocia in complete freedom!

Once there, you can use the most Turkish of means of transport, the dolmuş. Ideal for reaching various villages and places of interest.

Where to stay in Cappadocia?

Wondering where to stay in Cappadocia? There are plenty of choices. If you’re looking for a postcard-perfect setting, Gorëme or Uçhisar is the place for you. These are tourist resorts with a wide range of accommodation options. To find out more and take advantage of the best deals on offer, we suggest you use a hotel comparator.

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of tourism, you can visit Ürgüp or Cavusin. These typical troglodyte villages have a formidable charm that combines with a gentle tranquility.

Want to stay in a real Turkish town? Then Avanos is the place for you! While it doesn’t boast many sites of interest, it offers visitors a beautiful authenticity. You’ll find hotels and Airbnb at good prices.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Cappadocia