Cappadocia is one of Türkyie's most popular destinations for a good reason – its stunning scenery is quite unlike anywhere else.

When this is coupled with a rich cultural heritage full of ancient historical sights and warm, welcoming people, it's easy to see why it becomes a must-visit on everyone's Türkyie itinerary.

Don't feel overwhelmed by all the options – we've rounded up the eight most spectacular places to visit in Cappadocia, so all you have to do is book those tickets and go.

1. Göreme

Best place for fairy chimneys

One of the top draws for tourists visiting Cappadocia is its iconic fairy chimneys – stacks of soft tuff rock formed by volcanic upheavals and then weathered into otherworldly shapes over millennia. They can be found across Cappadocia, but the central town of Göreme has perhaps the best concentration in its surrounding valleys.

Take a hike through Red or Güllüdere (Rose) Valley in the late afternoon to admire the fairy chimneys as they turn fiery red in the evening light, or wander through Love Valley where the chimneys have formed into particularly suggestive shapes.

Göreme is also an essential stop for history lovers – in the Byzantine era, many of the fairy chimneys were hollowed out and used as monasteries. The monks decorated the interior caves with brilliant frescoes, many of which have survived to the present day and are now preserved in the must-see Göreme Open-Air Museum.

Planning tip: The valleys around Göreme are particularly suited for one-way hikes. If you have a car, save yourself doing them as out-and-back trips by parking at the endpoint and taking a taxi to the trailhead.

2. Kayseri

Best place for Seljuk heritage

Many travelers skip Kayseri in their haste to reach Cappadocia’s iconic attractions, but this large and bustling city is well worth a day or two’s exploration. It’s one of the best places in the country to check out the elegant architecture left behind by the Seljuks, who ruled much of Türkyie in the thirteenth century.

The black-stone castle in the city center is of Seljuk construction, though it’s been extensively restored and looks a little over-pristine. Across the road, however, is the Mahperi Hunat Hatun Complex, a mosque and madrassah which are perfectly preserved. Check out the intricate carving around the portal of the mosque, and enjoy a glass of çay in the madrassah’s atmospheric courtyard. While in town, you can also get an insight into life in the Ottoman period at the outstanding ethnographic museum in the fifteenth century Güpgüpoğlu House.

Planning tip: Allow yourself an afternoon to take in Kayseri’s various sights. Start at the Museum of Seljuk Civilisation in Mimar Sinan Parkı and work your way south to take in all the city’s big hitters.

A young woman exploring an ancient cave church in Ihlara valley, Cappadocia, Turkiye
Take a hike through the Ihlara Valley and explore the ancient churches in caves © frantic00 / Shutterstock

3. Aksaray

Best place for historic valleys

The busy city of Aksaray, in Cappadocia’s west, is of relatively limited interest to travelers but it’s a pleasant place to base yourself for visits to some of the region’s cultural highlights – the valleys of Ihlara and Güzelyurt (also known as Monastery Valley). Both these wide canyons make lovely scenic walks, and the cliffs on either side are lined with Byzantine cave churches which are ripe for exploring.

The Ihlara Valley is an especially impressive and popular route, offering a well-defined path that follows a gushing river along the canyon floor, past cave churches containing some of the best frescoes found in Cappadocia. The Yılanlı Kilise (Snake Church) is a characterful highlight, its lively images depicting four snakes biting people as punishment for various sins.

Güzelyurt Valley, meanwhile, is a quieter walk. Its churches are perhaps a little less dramatic but it gets fewer visitors and is a lovely peaceful route through gorgeous surroundings.

Detour: Make a quick stop at Aksaray Museum, where you can see a collection of 1000-year-old mummies that were discovered in the Ihlara Valley.

4. Avanos

Best place for quirky museums

The small town of Avanos, 8km (5 miles) north of Göreme, makes a refreshing change of pace if you’ve seen plenty of fairy chimneys and Byzantine churches; here, the attractions are pleasingly offbeat. Start with a visit to the Güray Müze, an underground art gallery that displays beautiful pieces from contemporary Turkish artists, and also boasts quite an astounding array of ceramics in its attached shop.

Then head over the river to the truly one-of-a-kind Chez Galip Hair Museum, which is exactly what it sounds like – a collection of locks of hair, attached to the walls and hanging from the ceiling, all donated by female visitors to the museum. There’s nowhere else quite like it.

Tourist man in Kaymakli underground city ancient cave in Cappadocia, Turkey
Explore the fascinating underground city in Kaymaklı © Parilov / Shutterstock

5. Kaymaklı

Best place to wander underground

The Byzantines might have burrowed into Cappadocia’s soft rock to produce churches, but the inhabitants of Kaymaklı went one better – digging deep into the ground, they developed a huge network of caves and passageways now known as Kaymaklı underground city.

Visiting this subterranean labyrinth is a unique experience. It’s fascinating to imagine how people lived in this hugely complex site which contains all the essentials for daily life, including bread ovens, wine presses, horse stables, and vast shafts to ensure clean air circulation.

There are several such underground cities in Cappadocia – nearby Derinkuyu is bigger, but Kaymaklı is more fun to explore as its passages encourage random wandering, and smaller visitor numbers make it feel less claustrophobic.

6. Aladağlar National Park

Best place for multi-day treks

Down in Cappadocia’s south is the beautiful and rarely visited Aladağlar National Park, which is one of Türkiye’s most unspoiled trekking destinations. From the village of Çukurbağ, you can take paths through craggy limestone gullies leading you up onto alpine plateaus and eventually to the gorgeous Yedigöller lakes. The routes are lengthy and there are few that can be tackled as a day hike, but if you enjoy multi-day treks and camping amidst stunning mountain scenery, Aladağlar National Park is a great destination.

Detour: While in the area, check out the nearby Eski Gümüşler Monastery, which is one of Cappadocia’s most overlooked highlights. A cave monastery dating back to the Byzantine period, the frescoes at Gümüşler are some of the best in Cappadocia, including a stunningly well-preserved Nativity scene and a rare image of a smiling Virgin Mary.

7. Ürgüp

Best place for local wine

The volcanic soil of Cappadocia is ideal for grape growing, and for many centuries this part of Türkiye was a major wine production region. The industry took a downturn in the early twentieth century but it’s expanding again with the town of Ürgüp leading the way.

Take a tour of the friendly Turasan company’s factory and sample their excellent vintages, or stop by in September when the town hosts the Cappadocia Vineyard Festival. Alternatively, you could just relax in one of the town’s many wine bars and enjoy a glass or two.

Detour: While in town, make sure to take a look at the rock formation known as the Three Beauties. It’s an iconic Ürgüp landmark that's featured on many Turasan wine bottle labels.

Skiing in Turkey
The winter season brings excellent skiing options in Cappadocia © Nejdet Duzen / Shutterstock

8. Erciyes Dağı

Best place for winter sports

Cappadocia probably doesn’t spring immediately to mind if winter sports are mentioned, but there’s an excellent ski resort at the mountain of Erciyes Dağı, a short distance south of Kayseri. It’s one of the highest mountains in Türkiye and is a very popular destination for skiers, with ski lifts, equipment available to rent, and plenty of runs for all abilities. Outside the winter months, the mountain offers good trekking opportunities, so you don’t need to limit yourself to the winter season.

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