This Five-Day Itinerary in Cappadocia, Türkiye is a Real-Life Fairytale

Immerse yourself in natural and cultural wonders as you uncover an enchanting landscape of ancient rock formations and underground cities.

Hot air balloons floating over high desert peaks in Cappadocia



The first impression many visitors have when they arrive in Cappadocia is of hot air balloons slowly ascending through a softly lit morning sky. But that’s just an introduction to the possibilities and adventures that await in this enchanting realm. Shaped by millions of years of erosion and early cultures that carved dwellings, churches, and underground cities into the surrounding rocks, Cappadocia has evolved into an open-air museum of natural and historic wonders—an otherworldly landscape of fairy chimneys and troglodyte villages that are waiting to be discovered. During this five-day itinerary in Cappadocia, Türkiye, you’ll admire soft rock-carved churches adorned with exquisite Eastern Roman (Byzantine) frescoes, learn about the art of Anatolian rugs and carpets, and explore the largest excavated underground city in the world.

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Trip Highlight

Cave Hotels

No trip to Cappadocia is complete without a stay at a world-renowned "cave hotel." Transformed from underground dwellings, these luxurious boutique hotels offer an authentic taste of the region's unique architecture, seamlessly blending historic charm with modern amenities.
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Go Türkiye

Discover the endless wonders of Türkiye with Go Türkiye as your guide. Whether you’re looking for sustainable travel, cultural and historical trips, outdoor and nature expeditions, culinary journeys, or more, Go Türkiye will help you every step of the way.
An arial view of the desert town of Cappadocia-Göreme at dusk, nestled in a valley surrounded by tall peaks.



Day 1:Welcome to Cappadocia

Nestled in the heart of Cappadocia, the picturesque town of Göreme makes an ideal base for exploring this enigmatic region. Renowned for its moonlike landscape of chimneys, cones, pinnacles, and pillars, this captivating village is also home to the Göreme Open Air Museum, a vast monastic complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site with some of the most intricate rock-cut churches and beautiful frescoes in all of Cappadocia. Among its highlights is the Dark Church, celebrated for its vibrant depictions of the Bible dating to the late 11th and early 12th centuries.

Take a shopping break at Bazaar 54, where you can find Anatolian rugs, carpets, and kilims. Crafted by nomadic Turkic tribes from Central Asia, the distinctive design motifs, earthy color palette, high-quality wool, and symbolic elements make Cappadocian rugs fascinating expressions of the region’s history and artistic traditions.

Just moments from Göreme lies the seemingly ordinary Çavuşin village, your gateway to ancient wonders and fairy chimneys (a unique rock formation produced by volcanic explosions). Follow the tracks beyond the village, and you’ll find a realm adorned with ruins, churches, and clergy houses. Extend your walk, and within half an hour, you’ll arrive at Güllüdere and Kızılçukur, where an enticing site awaits near the cliff’s slope—the Church of St. John the Baptist, one of Cappadocia’s oldest and largest examples of early Christian architecture.

For dinner, head to Dibek to sample one of Cappadocia’s culinary gems: Clay pot kebab (testi kebap). Meat, vegetables, and lentils are slow-cooked in a sealed clay pot in traditional earthen ovens before the pot is broken to release an irresistible smoky aroma and flavor. Afterward, enjoy your first evening at Sultan Cave Suites, where many rooms have the original cave walls integrated seamlessly into their design.
Light streaming in through doorways in Derinkuyu, one of Cappadocia's underground cities.



Day 2:Uncover the Secrets of Cappadocia's Underground Cities

Mysterious and vast, Derinkuyu is the largest of two subterranean cities that lie beneath the famous fairy chimneys of Göreme National Park. The largest excavated underground city in the world, it housed up to 20,000 people for thousands of years in its cave-like rooms, descending 18 stories underground. Derinkuyu changed hands from the Phrygians to the Persians to the Christians of the Eastern Roman Era until it was abandoned by the Cappadocians in the early 20th century. Wander through its narrow tunnels, strategically designed to neutralize larger armies, and imagine how its ancient inhabitants defended themselves with little more than rolling stones to block doorways and ceiling holes for spears. If you’re not ready to return to the surface, consider going to Kaymaklı, a smaller underground city that’s a short drive away.

The ultimate spot to soak up Cappadocia’s astounding beauty, Uçhisar Castle is a soaring volcanic-rock outcrop with one of the region’s most enchanting trails through Pigeon Valley. Slowly make your way up the path to the peak, passing natural tunnels that were used for centuries by villagers as a place of refuge from enemy armies, as well as bustling shops offering souvenirs like marble ornaments, mirrors, and delicious dried nuts and fruits.

In the town of Uçhisar, stop for dinner at Saklı Konak where dishes including grilled sea bream and mushroom stuffed with grilled eggplant and cheese are cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven.
Hot air balloons over a valley in Cappadocia-Göreme



Day 3:Glide Above Cappadocia's Timeless Wonders

Start your day with the adventure of a lifetime: A sunrise hot air balloon ride. Over the past two decades, Cappadocia has evolved into an epicenter for ballooning, captivating travelers with morning aerial escapades over fairy chimneys. Launching from the trails around Göreme, these balloons ascend up to 1,640 feet, unveiling majestic valley landscapes painted in a mesmerizing array of hues.

Once you land, drive to Zelve, an open valley with a large cave settlement and an open-air museum. While the churches are not as intact as those found in Göreme, the region boasts the highest concentration of fairy chimneys. Within the valley, you’ll also encounter significant churches like Balıklı and Üzümlü that vividly illustrate the ancient monastic life. Nestled just off the Göreme-Avanos road to Zelve, Paşabağı, also known as Monk’s Vineyard, beckons with its entrancing allure. Marvel at numerous fairy chimneys, some boasting multiple stems and unique caps housing chapels and living areas specific to this region. The capped chimneys, crafted from tuff and volcanic ash, feature durable rock hats, a testament to those who once made these ethereal formations their homes.

This afternoon you’ll have an opportunity to unleash your own creativity at a pottery workshop in Avanos, a pottery haven with roots tracing back to the Hittites. Position yourself before the potter’s wheel at Chez Galip, and let a skilled master offer guidance on how to shape red Cappadocian clay from the Kızılırmak River. As you bid farewell, don’t forget to take home a piece or two of the craftsmen’s creations, tangible mementos of your artistic journey in Avanos. Unwind with a relaxing meal at Seyyah Han, where you can taste local dishes such as meatballs stuffed with spinach and cheese and towering plates of meze.
A man with a bike and a dog on a hill overlooking the desert and hot air balloons in Cappadocia.



Day 4:Pedal Through Wonderland

Cappadocia beckons cyclists with its diverse and exhilarating biking trails. Whether you’re into mountain biking, downhill rides, or road cycling, the region’s unique terrain caters to all preferences and skill levels. Book a biking tour with Middle Earth Travel or rent a bike in town and set off along the winding Göreme valley, taking in canyons, rock-cut structures, and churches, or ascend the shoulder of the Erciyes volcano.

In the afternoon, head to Mustafapaşa, a charming Cappadocian town of 1,300 inhabitants that serves as a living open-air museum where 19th-century houses showcase the brilliance of local stone masonry and wood craftsmanship. Selected by the UN World Tourism Organization as one of the Best Tourism Villages in 2021, many of the intricate facades still stand today. Notable structures include the Maraşoğlu Bridge, Agios Nikolaos Monastery, Agios Stefanos Church, and the 17th-century Mustafapaşa Cami-i Kebir.

Before returning to Göreme, learn how to prepare authentic Cappadocia cuisine at Aravan Evi. After cooking up casseroles and homemade flatbread, savor your efforts on the restaurant’s quaint terrace.
Tall cliffs and foliage in Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia



Day 5:Step Back into the Past in Ihlara Valley

This morning you’ll discover Ihlara Valley, one of the world’s longest canyons. Steeped in religious significance, a hike here offers the chance to witness Cappadocia as it was more than 1,000 years ago. Marvel at the frescoed churches seamlessly carved into the cliffs—14 of which are open for visitors.

After your day in nature, it’s time to appreciate Cappadocia’s viniculture legacy. Anchored in the region’s volcanic soil, local vineyards nurture a diverse array of Anatolian and European grape varieties, offering a rich, full-bodied flavor; white wine crafted from the indigenous emir grape is particularly beloved. Stop by one of Cappadocia’s vineyards, such as Turasan Winery, Kocabag Winery, and Mahzen Şarap Evi, to indulge in pairings featuring unique varieties like Divle Obruk, Konya Küflü, and Kargı Tulum.

Toast your final evening in Cappadocia with a celebratory meal at Lil’a at Museum Hotel, the only Relais & Châteaux hotel in Türkiye. There, chef Saygın Sesli interprets the classic flavors from Anatolia and Cappadocia with a contemporary twist in dishes including beef cheek smoked with vine branches and crushed pastrami and dumplings (mantı) filled with partridge.
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