We had a fabulous baby moon in Cappadocia and we’d highly recommend this area to anyone looking for a bit of travel magic. If your time is limited, there are lots of organized tours you can do, but since we had some time and wanted more of a romantic trip, we opted to just check things out on our own. It turned out to be very easy and affordable so don’t feel like group tours are your only option! Here are six things we think you really shouldn’t miss when you visit Cappadocia.
- ) Hot Air Balloons
This is probably what the region of Cappadocia is best known for and one of the things that makes it truly magical. There are several options for balloon rides and your hotel can also help you arrange it. Often hotels will partner with certain balloon companies and if you go through them to book you can get a free shuttle ride from the airport, as was the case with Sultan Cave Suites where we stayed. Balloon rides are around 160 Euro per person with prices going up for the different levels of comfort and privacy that are available.
As for who can fly, children must be 6 years and up and there is a strict policy by the Turkish Aviation authority that says that pregnant women are not allowed. This was a bummer for us since we were there on a baby moon, but I did manage to find a third party agent who was willing to book a flight for us knowing that I was pregnant. The day of our flight, the wind was too high and it wound up being cancelled so we took it as a sign that maybe it was for the best if we followed the rules! So now we must go back someday and try a flight. Even if you don’t do a hot air balloon ride, watching them from the rooftops in town is extremely special. Our favorite experience was watching them in peace and quiet from the rooftops in Uçhisar…really a magical and peaceful experience in itself!
2. ) Visit a Hammam
Since we were seeking a little pampering this trip, we decided to look for a hammam to visit and let me tell you…it was a great decision! We visited the spa at the Kelebek Special Cave Hotel, which was right next door to our hotel, and had a fantastic hammam session and sudsy soap massages. It was an afternoon of pure bliss! There are other hammams and spas in town if you’re interested. This one was not the cheapest in town, but it was conveniently located, professional, and very enjoyable!
3. ) Go Rug Shopping!
One of the things on our agenda while in Cappadocia was to buy a rug for the baby’s room since Turkey has some gorgeous handmade rugs. There are several rug shops to choose from in Göreme, but I’d recommend the ones that are a little bit off the main drag and that don’t just draw in customers for photos. I love the rug browsing but when it comes down to talking price and negotiating, I find that part super stressful. Luckily Lukasz steps in then and enjoys the haggling so I pretty much mentally peace out and happily browse until the deal is done! We ended up at a shop where they were not pushy but showed us tons of rugs and plied us with multiple cups of Turkish tea until we found just the right fit and the right price. A success! We intentionally brought a bigger suitcase than we needed knowing that we were hoping to bring home a rug, but most shops are willing to ship worldwide if you fall in love with a rug that just won’t fit in your luggage.
4. ) Explore the Fairy Chimneys in Pasabag Valley
We checked out of our hotel in Göreme and they were able to arrange a taxi to take us to Pasabag Valley, Zelve Open Air Museum, and to our hotel in Uçhisar for much cheaper than the price of a tour. We also liked being at our own pace to explore! We spent about 30 minutes wandering around the fairy chimneys and inside some of the former cave dwellings and even cave chapels. The most famous former chapel in this area known as Monk’s Valley is the tri-level cave dwelling, St. Simeon’s Chapel. You can ride a camel through the passageways here or just spend some time exploring on your own.
5) Visit the Zelve Open Air Museum
Visit the Zelve Open Air Museum and prepare to feel like you fell straight into an Indiana Jones movie! We were blown away by this historic sight and even better…it was practically empty, despite being just down the street from the much more crowded Pasabag Valley. There is a small fee to enter the museum, but once inside you are free to explore the trails and cave dwellings. The area has a rich history and we were shocked to learn that it was inhabited all the way up until 1952 when the last inhabitants moved to the town 2 km away.
6.) Go for a hike in the Pigeon Valley
If you happen to stay at Taskonaklar in Uçhisar like we did, you can easily walk to the start of this trail in the Pigeon Valley. The trail starts at the magic eye tree where swarms of tourists on tour buses will be gathered around, but once you head down the trail into the valley you’ll likely be on your own! Full disclosure, this trail was not very well marked and we went down some wrong paths a few different times but eventually found our way. If you walk by the cutest little tea shop in the middle of nowhere, you’re headed the right way! 😉 If you do the full trail like we did, you can end in the center of Göreme and take a taxi back to Uçhisar.
So there you have it! While the balloons are certainly a magical draw, there is so much more to see and do in this beautiful region of Turkey. There are plenty more valleys to explore and hikes to discover if you have more time, but if you’re in the area for just a few days this list will help you cover your bases! Happy Traveling!