Famous for its otherworldly lunarscape scenes of distinctive lofty boulders, romantically referred to as ‘fairy chimneys’, this region of semi-arid land tells captivating tales, dating back to pre-historic times. Best experienced from a suspended basket, swaying in a cloth of milky clouds at dawn, or within the ghostly cities, tunnelled under the soft ground, Cappadocia is sure to leave even the most experienced traveller dumbfounded.

Perched on a high plateau, peppered with volcano peaks, the town of Göreme is a particular highlight of the Cappadocia region, serving as the base from which the hot air balloons set flight. Its dramatic Güllüdere Vadısı (Rose Valley) of golden-hued villages, sculpted into the hillside, is equally as enthralling when explored on foot. Dusty, twisting trails, reveal hidden churches cut into the rock, with carvings and murals embellishing the interiors.

For a look-see into Turkey’s Byzantine period, the Göreme Open-Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a spread of al fresco-decked monasteries, chapels and churches, linked by cobbled paths hailing back to that era. More subterranean sightings can be viewed at the centuries-old underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı. Constructed beneath the surface in a labyrinth of multi-levelled tunnels, Derinkuyu, the largest excavated underground city in Turkey, extends to a depth of around 60 meters (200 ft) and was believed to have housed 20,000 people.

Part of an authentic Cappadocia stay involves residing in one of the cave hotels, which reject any notions of damp, cold or gloomy spaces. Instead, you can expect the utmost in comfort and luxury, with all the modern amenities, and more. Additional touches include the likes of Jacuzzi bathtubs built into the surrounding stone, underground wine cellars boasting a vast array of Turkey’s finest labels, and panoramic terraces hugging the façades, with vistas of the hot air balloon speckled backdrop.

When to go

The best time to visit Cappadocia and enjoy those wonderful views during a hot air balloon ride is from May-October. The rest of the year is also possible for Cappadocia, and in fact it is considered at its most charming when blanketed in snow, but balloon rides have been known to be cancelled more in the winter months.


What to do

  • Soar at sunrise in a hot air balloon to take in views of the entrancing landscape from above.
  • Follow a hiking trail through Güllüdere Vadısı (Rose Valley) in search of the ancient villages and churches cut into the rock.
  • Explore the Göreme Open-Air Museum, home to an assortment of al fresco-adorned monasteries.
  • Venture underground to the cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı, and wander through the tunnels and carved out rooms.
  • Walk amongst the famous ‘fairy chimneys’, formed from natural rock and shaped by the rain and the wind.
  • Wander around Cappadocia’s cave dwellings, scattered throughout the city, ranging from houses and churches to museums and hotels.
  • Stay in one of the many boutique cave hotels for an authentic taste of the troglodyte lifestyle.