How to Spend 3 Days in Cappadocia
Three days in Cappadocia leaves enough time to visit the fairy chimneys, tour an underground city, and explore the villages, as well as taking a hike through the Ihlara Valley and experiencing local culture. Here’s how to get the most out of three days in one of Turkey’s most alluring destinations.
Day 1: Cappadocia’s Fairy-Tale Landscapes
Sculpted over millions of years of volcanic activity and erosion, the fairy-tale landscapes of Cappadocia are even more extraordinary when viewed from above. Start your Cappadocian vacation with an unforgettable hot-air-balloon flight over the valleys, and watch the sunrise as you float over the fairy chimneys.
Then dive into the “Red Route,” Cappadocia’s most popular sightseeing route and the ideal way to take in the highlights. Join a tour or explore independently on a hop-on hop-off bus to maximize your time. Must-visit sites en route include the Goreme Open-Air Museum (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Uchisar Castle, and the cave village of Cavusin. Photo stops in Love Valley, Pigeon Valley, and Monk’s Valley provide the best views of the fairy chimneys.
Day 2: Ancient Wonders
Start your second day with a visit to one of Cappadocia’s underground cities; the most popular is Derinkuyu, but Kaymakli is a great choice to avoid the crowds. Used as hideouts by the early Christian communities during the Arab-Byzantine Wars, the vast subterranean complexes are full of remarkable design details—visit with a guide to ensure you don’t miss anything.
In the afternoon, a hike through the Ihlara Valley reveals even more of Cappadocia’s ancient wonders. The 2-mile (3-kilometer) hike winds through a scenic river canyon, dotted with early Christian cave churches, some of which date back to the fourth century. Be sure to organize pickup and transfers in advance, even if you plan to hike independently—the hike starts and ends at different locations.
In the evening, head to Goreme or Urgup for dinner at a cave restaurant (book a table in advance to avoid disappointment), or enjoy a traditional Turkish dinner show.
Day 3: Cultural Immersion
Despite its popularity with travelers, Cappadocia is still a great place to experience traditional Turkish life, and it’s worth taking a day to visit the rural villages and learn about local culture. Head to Avanos, a town known for its distinctive red-clay pottery, where you can watch pottery demonstrations, shop for handicrafts, or even have a go at pottery making. Another fun activity is to take a cooking class at a family home. As well as shopping for ingredients at the local market and sampling Turkish coffee at the local coffeehouse, you can learn to make tasty Turkish dishes such as bulgur soup, borek (stuffed pastries), and manti (Turkish ravioli). After a delicious home-cooked meal, end the day with wine tasting at one of Cappadocia’s wine caves.