Cappadocia, Turkey is a popular travel destination known for its “fairy chimneys”—towers of rock that stand up to 130 feet high and stretch for miles.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site features hotels, churches and homes carved right into the rock. Most travelers stay in Göreme, a small town with stunning views of the rock formations.
“The whole city feels like something straight out of a Flintstones cartoon. It's unlike any other place on earth,” noted Cameron Wears, a Vancouver-based travel writer and the founder of TravelingCanucks.com. He visited Göreme with his wife in November and stayed at a cave hotel.
Read on for Cameron’s Göreme highlights.
Lodging is available in Göreme at all price points, from inexpensive hostels to luxury properties.
A quick search on OneTravel.com uncovered March room rates from $33 to $164 per night. Dorm beds are available for $6.25 and up on Hostelbookers.com.
“There are some fabulous upscale hotels in Cappadocia but it's the novelty of sleeping in an ancient cave that attracted us. My room in the cave hotel was literally carved out of a massive stone fairy chimney. It was small, simple and cozy, but left little to the imagination,” Cameron revealed to OneTravel.com.
He stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksagan Göreme, where room rates start at 45 Euros (about $55) for single occupancy.
There are several ways to get around the Göreme Valley, including renting a car, hiring a guide or joining a tour group.
“We hired our hotel manager to drive us around the valley and take us to the best local restaurants and shopping spots. We could have done it on our own, and it likely would have been cheaper, but we elected to spend the extra money to have a local's perspective,” Cameron noted.
Travelers on tight budgets can rent a bike or motor scooter, take a public bus between towns or walk to the mountains for a better look at Göreme’s rock formations.
The Göreme Open Air Museum is a popular attraction and includes several churches with Byzantine murals. The museum is about a 15 minute walk from the city center.
It’s possible to hike around the rock formations for free, but many visitors opt for a balloon ride.
“It's not cheapest activity, but if there is one thing to do in Cappadocia, it's the hot air balloon. You are joined by 50 other colorful balloons as you float over the Göreme Valley at sunrise. It's one of those unique and rare experiences that you'll remember forever,” Cameron said.
Local operator Kapadokya Balloons offers balloon rides from 165 Euros (about US $225). Rides are offered year-round, but may be canceled due to wind conditions. Click here to view a video of Cameron’s balloon excursion.
Turkish Airlines offers frequent flights from Istanbul to Kayseri (ASR) or Nevsehir (NAV) airports.