Poor old Nevşehir. Surrounded by the stunning countryside of Cappadocia, this provincial capital of bland mid-rise apartment buildings has never offered travellers an incentive to linger. Things may be looking up though; an underground city was discovered when the town council began clearing away the old neighbourhood around Nevşehir castle.
When Ürgüp's Greek population was evicted in 1923 the town's wealth of fine stone-cut houses were left teetering into gentle dilapidation until tourism began to take off. Now, more than 90 years later, these remnants of another era have found a new lease of life as some of Cappadocia's most luxurious boutique hotels.
Mixing Seljuk tombs, mosques and modern developments, Kayseri is both Turkey's most Islamic city after Konya and one of the economic powerhouses nicknamed the 'Anatolian tigers'. Most travellers whizz through town on their way from the airport to Cappadocia's villages, only seeing the shabby high-rises and ugly industrial factories on Kayseri's outskirts.
Backed by the snow-capped Ala Dağlar mountain range, Niğde, 85km south of Nevşehir, is a busy agricultural centre with a small clutch of historic buildings dating back to its foundation by the Seljuks. Unless you have a soft spot for provincial towns, you most likely won't want to stay, but may have to if you want to visit the fabulous Eski Gümüşler Monastery, 10km northeast.
Known for the jagged castle that gives the town its name, Ortahisar is the epitome of Cappadocia's agricultural soul. Wander downwards from the central square and you'll discover cobbled streets rimmed by gorgeously worn stone-house ruins leading out to a gorge of pigeon house–speckled rock.
Sitting in the shadow of Hasan Dağı (Mt Hasan), Aksaray is symptomatic of Turkey's economic rise: quietly prospering, with high consumer confidence. With a bland, modern town centre, the city doesn't have much to hold your interest, but as it's a jumping-off point for the Ihlara Valley you may find yourself snared here for a couple of hours.
Midway between Göreme and Avanos is little Çavuşin, dominated by a cliff where a cluster of abandoned houses spills down the slope in a crumbling stone jumble. The main hive of activity is the clutch of souvenir stands at the cliff base, which spring into action when the midday tour buses roll into town.
The sights north of Nevşehir may not be as famous as their central Cappadocian cousins, but don't believe for a second that this means they're second rate. Hiding just off the road to Gülşehir is one of the region's most fabulous fresco-filled churches, while Hacıbektaş is the spiritual home of the fascinating Bektașı Alevi sect.
The countryside immediately around Avanos is home to a couple of sights which can easily be tacked onto a day spent exploring the town. Özkonak Underground City is the most interesting, particularly if you want to explore one of Cappadocia's famed subterranean dwellings without the crowds.