Cappadocia… a whimsical geological oddity so of hills, man made caves and rock facades of otherworldly beauty. The land of fairytale chimneys and psychedelic shape of boulders like it belongs to a daydream… or a sci-fi movie. It’s a panoramic landscape that I would remember for the rest of my life.
My first visit was a family vacation and I was blessed to be granted a chance for a second visit a few months later for a Prewedding photoshoot job for dear friends of mine. The second experience was just as breathtaking as the first one. This exceptional natural wonders with a unique historical and cultural heritage is truly a photographer’s dream come true. Cappadocia is probably one of the most, if not the most picturesque region in all Turkey.
For the first timers, there’s no other things to do other than stand on top of the valley, jawdropped in awe and marvel at the otherworldly terrain of Cappadocia (like what I did the first time… and the second time.) This whole Anatolia region is truly a sight to behold, and I’m certain that you’ll find magic in every direction you head to. But for you who needs an itinerary, below is the list of my favorite places to visit, with an extra shopping guide on the end of this post. Yay!
Probably one of the cutest and most photogenic villages in the world, Goreme is half buried into the hill, with hundreds of stone house facades of caves spread out as far as the eyes can see, creating the most epic landscape ever.
Goreme is also the location of the beautiful cave suites and hotels, ranging from boutique to luxury to suit every traveller’s budget. I really recommend you to stay in one of the cave hotels for a truly unique and romantic Cappadocia experience. Worry not, even though you’ll literally stay inside a cave, the interior of the rooms are just like every other normal hotel, with comfortable beds (not made of stone, thank God!), TV and bathroom. Some of the hotels offer Turkish Bath experiences and almost all of them have that delicious Turkish breakfast (oohh feta cheese)
Pigeon Valley (Guvercinlik)
Situated between Göreme and Uçhisar, Pigeon Valley is ideal for walking/hiking, as the trek is relatively easy. The name comes from the thousands of pigeon houses that have been carved into the rocks and boulders since ancient times. For photographers, this valley make the best panoramic background for prewedding portraits.
The Rose and Red Valley (Kızılcukur, Güllüdere)
If you only have time to hike through one valley in Cappadocia, this is the one to choose. This beautiful valley gets its name from the rose-colored rock that varies in hue and intensity depending on time of day, season and weather conditions. The Rose valley look amazing at any time of the day, and especially during sunset.
Monks Valley (Passabag)
Passabag / Monks valley contains some of the most striking fairy chimneys in Cappadocia with twin and even triple rock caps resembling mushrooms. Very, very very tall mushrooms… bearing resemblance to… Nevermind.
Göreme Open-Air Museum
1,5 km walk from the village Center, Göreme Open Air Museum is an outstanding area of rock-cut churches with beautiful frescoes (wall paintings) whose colors still retain all their original hues. Wait, you read it right. Rock. Cut. Churches. Seriously guys, what can be more awesome than that? The Goreme Open Air Museum has been a member of UNESCO World Heritage List since 1984.
Kaymakli/Derinkuyu Underground City
There are 36 underground cities in Cappadocia and the widest one is Kaymakli underground city, while the deepest is the Derinkuyu Underground City.
Just like in Istanbul, Cappadocia is a shopper heaven! I had to shove on my wallet very deep inside the handbag because I was constantly tempted by beautiful kilim, decorative plates, Turkish lamps and teapots that I encountered everywhere. But don’t worry to indulge in some shopping here as most of the things they produce in Cappadocia are mostly beautiful, high qiality handmade items. Here are some places definitely worth checking out:
Avanos: Ceramics and Pottery
With a tradition of pottery making that dates back to ancient times, Avanos has made its name out of ceramic craft. Come here for distinctive terra-cotta pottery and spectacular Ottoman ceramic reproductions.
Actually, you can find carpets in every region of Cappadocia. Two of favorite shops are conveniently located in Goreme and one is located in front of the underground city.
For Turkish precious stones to moderately priced bohemian necklaces, head to Uçhisar for lots of shop options.
Kayseri Kapali Carsi (Grand Bazaar)
By far the most bustling grand markets in the region can be found in Kayseri, the Islamic heart of Cappadocia. Kapali Carsi (just like the one in Istanbul), set in the ornate archways of one of the city’s oldest buildings is filled with vendors selling everything from spices to handmade wares.
Aaaand sadly during both of my visit to this amazing place I wasn’t lucky with the hot air balloons! Both plans to ride in the morning were cancelled due to bad weather (I visited in October and December); but better be safe than sorry, right. That absolutely calls for another visit to Cappadocia because I still need to tick the balloon off the bucket list!8