Ballıca Cave

Central Anatolia

The Ballıca Cave, 26km southwest of Tokat, is one of Turkey's most famous caves. The limestone labyrinth, 3.4 million years old and 8km long (680m is open to the public), bristles with rock formations such as onion-shaped stalactites and mushroom-like stalagmites. Smugglers used to live here and the squeaks of the current residents, dwarf bats, add to the atmosphere created by dripping water.

Unfortunately, the ambience is quickly lost if you share the metal walkways with many others, and with its copious lighting and signposts, the cave can feel like an underground theme park.

The views from the cafe, over the forested hills and oh-so-pretty mountains are enough to make you want to lace up some hiking boots, and the good news is that these caves now sit at the heart of the new Ballıca Nature Park. A couple of signed hiking trails lead off from the caves.

To get to Ballıca, you can take a dolmuş from Tokat's İlçe ve Köy minibus terminal to Pazar (₺6, 40 minutes), where there are taxis waiting to run you up the winding country road to the cave (8km). Drivers in Pazar charge between ₺80 and ₺100 for a return trip with waiting time as most leave the meter on while you're in the cave. If you are driving from Amasya, Pazar is signposted 14km south of the main road to Tokat.

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