I so much looked forward to this particular trip because Cappadocia is awesome woo hoo! 😀 😀
Whenever I searched for instagrammable places in Turkey, Cappadocia would always come up. I would always see gorgeous pictures of the amazing fairy chimneys and hot air balloons and I drooled at the thought of physically being in that kind of place. It looked like a place that was not from this world!
Gorome (Lovely town catered for the tourists. This was our base).
After the night bus trip from Pamukkale, we arrived in Gorome, Cappadocia at 9.30am. Gorome is a very small tourist town so you won’t have a problem getting around. It was too early to check-in, but we stopped by at our hotel to drop our luggages (used google map to navigate our way to our hotel. Convenient and easy to navigate) called Relic House, which gave a traditional and authentic ‘riad’ feel (Relic house). The reason why I picked this hotel was because I saw one of the pictures on booking.com website showing two ladies watching the hot air balloons on the rooftop terrace so I thought that’d be cool, but it was later when I found out that they’ve changed the rooftop terrace and covered most of it so not like the pictures at all haha! Nonetheless, I would still recommend you to stay here because the host Omer was such a splendid person and he would supply never-ending cups of Turkish tea (and I loooove tea).
We left our luggages at the hotel and proceeded to find a nice cafe for breakfast. From Tripadvisor website, I saw one of the popular cafes with high ratings called ‘Cafe Safak’ (Tripadvisor). The cafe was small and humble, and the owner was super friendly. There was a poster saying you can even learn to cook at the cafe on certain days. I’d recommend you to try a drink called Sahlep. It’s a milk based drink mixed with orchid root flower, and topped with cinnamon powder. You will rarely find this elsewhere as it is normally a winter drink. Sahlep was beautifully fragrant and creamy – a lovely comfort drink!
After that, we collected our rental car (arrange this with your hotel host). Omer helpfully took pictures of the car especially the scratches and any dents in case they’d accuse us of creating the old dents and we’ll lose our deposit. Omer was so great and nice. I even disturbed his work hours and discussed animatedly about the Turkish drama ‘Ertrugul’ and my love for his country lol. He could see how much I loved his country, and he even offered that I could come and work at the hotel, and then realised that gaining a visa would be tough, unless you get married to a Turkish man (was that a hint, brother? Haha).
Red Valley Panoramic View Point (The best sunset viewpoint in my opinion)
Afterwards, we drove our rental car (driving is on the left-hand side just like in America. If you are not used to it, make sure you are driving on the correct lane!) to Gorome Open Museum but unfortunately we came too late and it was already closed (I believe they close at 5pm). So, based on Omer’s suggestion, we decided to go to the Red Valley Panoramic Viewpoint (you can find this on google map) to see what the fuss was about. And it was amaaaaazing! There was a cafe located just by the edge of the cliff, and you can have tea on the sofas that was seated right by the cliff edge and gosh the view of the red valley was so spectacular! Devil’s eyes ornaments hung from the tree branches, and people casually relaxed on deck chairs sipping tea and munched on snacks, waiting for the sunset.
We went up to the hills where there were a number of tourists taking their spots to see the sunset, so we went further up the mountain to find the best view! When the sun dipped down the horizon, the mountains were bathed in yellow gold. We stayed till dark before making our way down, and drove back to the hotel. I asked Omer about a mountain who blocked my view from seeing the sun from going down completely, and what was this mountain called so I could go there next time and see the sunset from there, and Omer replied that the mountain was actually a volcano. So I asked couldn’t I go there? He replied, “You’d be the first.”
Later that night, we discovered that the hot air balloon tour was cancelled due to bad weather 🙁 . That’s the risk of visiting Cappadocia at this time of the year, because it can be quite windy in the morning hence the hot air balloon tours can cancel whenever they have to. So, we went and had dinner at Cappadocia Cuisine Restaurant, and tried one of the must-try cuisines: pottery kebab. This restaurant served nice food at very reasonable prices, but I found that I was never a fan of pottery kebab. It was a blend of tomato dish mixed with meat, and cooked in pottery.
Giant Fairy Chimneys In Urgup (if you don’t have much time, you can skip this place)
The next day, we drove after breakfast to see the famed “three beauties” in Urgup. Most of the sight-seeings in Cappadocia are within short-driving distance, so when you rent a car, make sure that you don’t fill the petrol tank full! I thought we would use up our petrol staying in Cappadocia for 3 nights, but in actual fact, we only used a quarter of the tank. Dubbed as the three beauties, these are large fairy chimneys located in Urgup. Many tourists would just stood on the cliff and take selfies with the three fairy chimneys, but we actually went down the cliff (it was just a short walk down), and explored the empty cave houses. There is a legend to do with these three beauties. Once there was a king and his daughter. After the king lost his wife, he became obsessed with his daughter, because she was beautiful and charming. All the men in the country wanted to marry her, but the princess fell in love with a shepherd. The king disapproved the marriage because he wanted her to marry a man of high status, so she eloped with the shepherd and got married. Many years later, she gave birth to a baby. She thought her father would forgive her thanks to her baby so she went to see her father, but her father showed no mercy. He ordered soldiers to kill the family, so when the princess ran away, she prayed to God, “Please God, make us either a stone of a bird.” God accepted their prayer and changed them into large stones (Source: Three Graces).
Sentez Hali Carpet School, Avanos (if you want to learn the art of carpet making and its history)
On the way to Devrent valley, we stopped our car by the edge of a cliff to admire the scenery. There, we met a Turkish man who recommended us to visit Sentez Hali carpet school in Avanos (Tripadvisor). If you are into the history of carpet making, or want to know more about the rich culture of carpets, I’d recommend you to visit this place. There, I met a friendly manager called Borak who demonstrated us how they make carpets from wool, cotton, or silk. Carpet making is a dying art. Now, largely the carpets are made in factories, rather than handmade. So, this organisation is encouraging young women to learn and work in making carpets. The demonstration of extracting silk from the cocoons of the silk worms were really cool, and it was a very educational experience. Borak showed us a huge gallery of the carpets that were ready to sell. Every carpet has history. You can tell the origin of the carpets by looking at the patterns. Because these carpets are handmade, the prices of these carpets can be insanely expensive, so if you don’t have much money like me, then you can buy carpets from other stores that sell manufactured carpets (I ended up buying my lovely carpets in the Grand Bazaar at Istanbul at such a bargain).
Learning how to make knots to make carpets.
Extracting silk from the hot, boiled silk cocoons:
With the friendly manager, Borak:
Back to Gorome, we had lunch at this place called kebabzade restaurant (Tripadvisor). I would recommend you to try grilled pistachio kebab and Adana kebab. The meat was so juicy and delicious!
Uchisar Castle (you can skip this if you don’t have enough time)
We went to Uchisar Castle to view the sunset from the top of the castle, as this was mentioned as one of the best sunset watch in Cappadocia (cost 6.50TL). Uchisar Castle is a huge volcanic rock and the tallest fairy chimney in Cappadocia. The place was riddled with many tunnels, and used for centuries by villagers as a place of refuge when enemy armies overtook the surrounding plains. A lot of these tunnels are closed off, so you only get a chance to climb up the stairs and straight to the top of the castle. You can see the entire view of the Cappadocia countryside from Pigeon Valley to Avanos, and all the valleys and mountains.
I watched the sunset there, but I preferred the sunset from the Red Valley as I found the sunset there to be more stunning. I was quite disappointed with the place and there were a lot of tourists here.
Galerie Ikman in Gorome (one of the famed instagrammable places in Cappadocia)
The next morning, we found out that we missed the hot air balloons at sunrise! Omer’s friend played a trick on him and told him that there would be no hot air balloons due to bad weather. It turned out that they had it! I was hoping to see at least the hot air balloons in the air (getting on it was out of question. We didn’t get it because there was a long waiting list for the balloon ride), but it wasn’t our luck this time. Before breakfast, we walked early to Galerie Ikman to take pictures of the amazing display of the carpets, before there was any crowd. Unless you actually buy one of the carpets, you can only take pictures of the shop at a fee: 50TL! They even have in-house photographer with a drone, and they charge you 50 euros if you want drone pictures! I found out that the fees were never implemented previously. It was only implemented when the owner saw a way to make business out of eager tourists who would readily pay up for good photos. And people do pay for these drone pics. My friend and I just got creative and took pictures of each other.
Derinkuyu Underground City (skip this if you are claustrophobic!)
This took a bit of a drive from Gorome. There are two underground cities. I went to Derinkuyu, which is the deepest excavated underground city in Cappadocia (cost: 25TL). There were many passages and tunnels leading deep down the earth, and can fit up to 20,000 people! This was used as a safe haven for the Christians running from Roman prosecutions. I’d suggest that you get a tour guide for this as he can explain to you what happened and what the rooms were used for. I found this to be the most unpleasant trip in Cappadocia. The deeper I went inside, and mixed with so many tourists, and the lack of oxygen in the air mixed with the smell of human bodies – I felt literally sick. I literally wanted to vomit, and my head was spinning and going crazy, and that was the time when I realised that I have claustrophobia. I had to be many feet under the ground to figure that out haha. My friend wanted to go to another underground city, but seeing how green I got, we agreed it wasn’t the best idea.
Gorome Open Air Museum (skip this if you are short on time)
We went to Gorome open air museum after that, which for me was kind of boring. It was a place filled with ruins of monasteries, churches and houses carved in soft, volcanic rocks. The entrance fee was quite pricey (45TL). There were heavy Christian influences here, so you can see many old Christian paintings in churches which were quite interesting. You may find this more educational if you get an audio tour, so you will know what happened back in the days.
We had dinner at Dibek restaurant which was supposedly to be quite famous and posh. You have to book this beforehand as it can be very busy at night. But for me, it wasn’t all that special – not for the price anyway.
Love Point Hill (to watch the hot air balloons at sunrise)
We woke up early in the morning to catch the sunrise on the hill of Love Point. It’s about 20-minutes walk from Gorome and you won’t miss it as you’ll see other people hiking up to see the hot air balloons too. The hot air balloons were breathtaking! I loved to see that glimpse of the fire lighting up the balloons, which was the only light in the night sky, until the sky lightened with sunrise and then they were off in the air! We took really nice shots here, but what I realised was that there weren’t that many balloons in the air, like how it was on pinterest. I figured that a lot of the pictures from pinterest must be photoshopped to add more balloons to give a more wow factor.
Devrent Valley (the land of imaginations – skip this if you have little time)
After breakfast, we drove to Devrent Valley to see this famous rock shaped of a camel (natural formation). I was told that to enter this imagination valley, I needed a lot of imagination. So I figured yeah sure, I have a lot of imaginations. They run wild sometimes (too wild). The idea is that on this valley, there are many rock sculptures made by Mother Nature. If you use your imagination, you will see that these sculptures resemble something. I’ve heard you can see an eagle here, or a monkey, and many other things. When I went there, the only thing that was obvious was the camel. Everyone could see the camel, and around it was fenced so that the tourists wouldn’t try to ride it lol. I went deeper into the valley, trying to see other shapes, but maybe that time my imagination left me because all I could see was rocks and none of the imaginary stuff. But still, we managed to get nice photos here.
Avanos Pottery Making (you can visit if you want to learn how to make pottery)
I didn’t have a clue where to go to see nice pottery making. From Tripadvisor, they recommended me to go to Sultan Ceramic shop. It was nice, but we came at lunchtime so they didn’t have any pottery demonstrations then. I think it was a waste to make that long trip, so I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you want to do pottery making, then go ahead and research it before you go.
Ah, the famed love valley. The name was given because of its ahem, unique rock sculptures. We only drove to the top of the valley, and didn’t linger for too long. But I was really impressed with the views and it was much different compared to red valley and other landscapes. Here it was cleaner and whiter, and pretty surreal. If I had time, I would definitely love to take a hike here because the view was lovely!
Pasabag Valley (Monks Valley)
I took an insane amount of pictures at this place. Many tourists missed out on exploring Pasabag Valley because of the limited time they had here, before they had to get on the bus again. But this place is worth exploring! Everywhere we walked, we would always stop by to take pictures. The valleys and fairy chimneys were so breathtaking! So expect to spend at least 1 hour here.
It was quite scary to climb up here because it was steep:
But it was worth the climb for this heroine pose! XD
Quad Safari with alaTurka tours
We went for an ATV ride with alaTurka tours (Quad Safari) which lasted for two hours. It was a fun ride as we drove down the many hills with a very friendly guide. In the itinerary, it said that we would be visiting sword valley, red valley, rose valley, and cavusin.
Just take note that with all ATV tours, you don’t actually pass these individual valleys. I don’t think we were allowed to bring the ATVs down the valleys because of wild life reservations, so we simply stood in front of the cliffs and looked down the the valleys below haha. Nonetheless, it was a nice, thrilling trip.
Horse Riding Sunset Tour with Museum Ranch (A MUST TRY)
We didn’t get a chance to ride the hot air balloons, so as a treat, we decided to try out this horse riding tour as recommended by Omer. We went with Museum Ranch company who picked us up from our hotel and to their ranch. It cost 160TL per person but it was worth every penny. The tour lasted for two-hours, and it was the highlight of my trip! You can get further details here: Museum Ranch Sunset Tour
The best thing about this is that you don’t need any prior horse riding experience. You will ride in a group, and the horse will just follow the person in front of you. I’ve mentioned that with ATV rides, you won’t be able to physically go through the valleys yourself but with horse riding, you can. We rode through the heart of the valleys and it was such an impressive sight! Some parts can be quite scary as you have to go down steep hills, but hold tightly to your horse and you’ll be fine. I thought the sunset at red valley was amazing, but actually, the sun set from the horse riding was even more spectacular and breathtaking. I would 100% recommend you to try this out 😀
Tip: Rent a car (I think it cost £25 a day, depending on the peak times) when you are in Cappadocia, instead of following bus tours (unless you are a solo traveller). It is much cheaper to get a car, and renting a car will allow you to explore at your own pace and have the freedom to go wherever you want. I notice that if you are with a tour, you are only given a limited time to see the sight-seeing sites, hence I saw a lot of tourists only concerned about taking the pictures of the famous parts of the sites, but in truth, the true beauty lies in exploring these sites. We spent ages hiking and exploring the entire place, and what we discovered was insanely beautiful landscapes that many tourists weren’t aware of.
Note: The pictures were taken with Samsung S9 and Canon Rebel T3i. Some of these pictures were captured by my friend (IG: @kydieuworld).