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Are you surprised that I am back in Turkey? Probably not because I wrote about this country several times, and those of you who follow me know that I adore Turkey.
The past few years I’ve spent my spring holidays in warm and sunny places, like Egypt, Qatar, Sri Lanka, UAE, and Italy. However, this year I couldn’t really do that because of the Coronavirus situation. Turkey is one of the few countries that allow tourists to come in, so I didn’t really think too much about whether or not I should go. We spent the first 2 days in Istanbul, which finds a way to amaze me every single time. We visited the popular Taht Istanbul and took gorgeous photos there. There is a possibility to rent magnificent Turkish dresses there, which add that extra sparkle to photos. The ticket price includes using the dress, the photos, and coffee/tea (17 euros=150 TL).
General information about Cappadocia
The word “Cappadocia” comes from the Persian language, more precisely from the word “Katpaktuja” which means “land of beautiful horses”. This region is known for its unusual shapes engraved in the rocks, that were formed as a result of three currently inactive volcanoes – Guldag, Hasandag and Erciyes. Cappadocia offers various caves, hundreds of churches in the rocks, which are painted with beautiful frescoes, and the place abounds in fairy chimneys, which are especially attractive because of their appearance. I have never seen or experienced anything like this! There is really no other place like it.
How to get to Cappadocia?
I have already visited Istanbul and other Turkish cities several times, so I decided to visit the magical Cappadocia, which has been on my wish list for a long time. Cappadocia is located 730 km from Istanbul, and it is located in Central Anatolia, surrounded by volcanic mountains whose eruptions are responsible for today’s attractive appearance of the region.
If you have a few spare days, it would be great to combine a visit to Istanbul and a trip to Cappadocia. You definitely have to get to Istanbul first and then fly to Kayseri or Nevshir, two airports in that part of Turkey. When you’re looking for a flight, I recommend that you buy tickets separately. The first ticket could be, for example, Zagreb – Istanbul, and then buy separate tickets for Istanbul – Kayseri or Nevsehir. The best and the safest way to book the tickets is through https://www.turkishairlines.com. Airplanes fly to Cappadocia on a daily basis, and the tickets cost as little as 25 euros. Make sure that the luggage is included in the price of the tickets, so that there wouldn’t be any sudden additional costs.
There are 2 major airports in Istanbul – the first and the most famous one is https://www.istairport.com. Most airplanes from this airport fly to Neveshir, which is closer to the center of Cappadocia, but ticket prices are slightly higher (approximately 80 euros and more). Istanbul’s second airport https://www.sabihagokcen.aerohas a larger offer of flights within Turkey and offers lower prices. Tip: be careful of your time, because this airport is located on the Asian side of the city and is quite far from the center. I bought tickets from Zagreb to Istanbul at the last minute, so they were relatively expensive (240 euros per person), and from Istanbul to Kayseri the price was 40 euros per person.
Kayseri is a more distant airport (75 km away from Goreme), so the taxi price is around 50 euros. Make a reservation at the hotel that offers a shuttle bus from the airport to the hotel itself (the price = 5 to 10 euros per person).
When is the best time to visit Cappadocia?
This area is extremely cold in the winter, and the temperature the summer is roughly 35 degrees. I think that the ideal time to visit Cappadocia is definitely late spring and early fall. However, if you want to fly with a balloon, know that ballooning doesn’t depend on the season, but on the strength of the wind, which must be below 7 km per hour.
Where to stay in Cappadocia?
This whole region is small, covering an area of 80 km2. The three most famous places are Urgup, Uchisar and Goreme, and all of them are located relatively close to each other, so they can be visited without any problems. The most famous place is Goreme because of the beautiful terraces and hotels in the caves that look unreal. At the moment, the prices are extremely low. If you search for accommodation in Cappadocia, you will come across some famous hotels like Sultan Cave Suite, Kelebek Hotel, Koza Hotel, Musem Hotel and others. The prices of these hotels usually go up to 300 euros per night for two people, but now they are much lower.
We stayed at the Henna Konak Hotel (https://www.hennahotel.com/en). According to travel magazines, this hotel has the highest rating because of its beautiful terrace and an even better view. We visited many hotels (more or less all of them are open for photos or lunch) and I noticed that the hotels are extremely similar to each other. The reason for that is that they were once houses and stone caves that have been now turned into hotels. I would definitely recommend staying in Goreme, because all of the important tourist sights are located right here.
What to visit and how long to stay ?
I believe that balloons are the first association for all of us when we think about Cappadocia. Catching a balloon flight is like winning a lottery because the weather conditions have to be perfect. Aside from that, there are many other interesting things to do there. I would say that three/four days are enough for sightseeing, and then you can spend the rest of your holiday relaxing by the hotel pool. A good thing to know is that the excursions don’t have to be booked before the trip. There are travel agencies at every turn there, and they offer plenty of excursions. As previously mentioned, the prices are currently below average, so it would be good to grab this opportunity and travel now. Just for comparison, the price of a balloon flight is usually between 200 and 300 euros. However, the prices now range from 50 to 100 euros. The prices of other tours and excursions are somewhere between 30 and 50 euros. Don’t forget that bargaining is a great way to pay even less.
We decided to go on a ‘red tour’ with the agency. This tour includes a visit to valleys and museums, but it also includes an organized lunch and transportation. The price of this tour is 40 euros.
What did we visit?
- Uchicar Castle
- Goreme open-air museum
- Pashabag Valley
- Kybele (handmade clay pot factory)
- Pigeon Valley
- Love valley
I mentioned before that we went on a ‘red tour’. In addition to that, you can decide to go on a’green tour’ that lasts longer and includes hiking. When we were choosing our tours, the weather was not that great, so wedecidedto go on the ‘red tour’. Some of the excursions include a visit to one of the underground cities, a ride in theold cars, horseback riding and a visit to other valleys (Red valley, Zelve valley, Imagination valley, Sword valley and others).
Turkish people always find a new way to make money, and the tourists are satisfied and pleased. One example of this is the carpet store “Sultan carpets” (https://www.instagram.com/sultan_carpets/), which has been turned into an ‘Instagram place’for photography. The ticket price is 75 euros- it includes renting one dress and using the space, which is simply outstanding.
What is the catering/gastronomy offer like?
Just like everywhere else in Turkey,Cappadocia has a rich culinary offer. The food is very similar to traditional Turkish cuisine, and I would recommend trying”Pottery Kebap” which they present as a specialty. They are absolutely right! Cappadocia has numerous restaurants, the prices in restaurants are more than affordable and the service is great. Some of the most popular restaurants are “Seten restaurant” located in the Mithra hotel, and “Rox Cappadocia” which is currently closed due to renovation. If you ever go to Cappadocia, you will definitely not be hungry or thirsty!
If you want to go shopping, I would kindly recommend that you do that in Istanbul. Cappadocia is known for souvenirs, clay pots, magnets and handmade bags, so these are the only things you can really buy there.
The eight days that we spent in Turkey went by very quickly. Turkey is a beautiful country, which consists of gorgeous and unreal places, and the best thing is that it’s close to Europe. I have to say that the weather in Cappadocia wasn’t the best when we were on our holiday, so I recommend planning this trip in late spring or early autumn when the temperature is a bit higher.
As I get to know Turkey more and more, I can certainly say that it is a country full of great contrasts and many more unexplored areas. I am a big fan of this country and I am sure I will visit it in the future.
Travel expenses – ISTANBUL – CAPPADOCIA (8 days for two people)
Flight: Zagreb – Istanbul – Zagreb 480 euros
Istanbul – Kayseri – Istanbul 100 euros
Accommodation: 7 nights = 300 euros
Public transport: approx. 100 euros
Excursions: 100 euros
Personal expenses: depends on your budget and what you want to do
Visa: not required
PCR test: required to enter the country (400 kn per person with English translation)
HES CODE: required for entry and stay in Turkey
Travel period: April 2021
Camera: Nikon Z6
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If you have any extra inquiries, you can contact me and I will gladly answer your questions. I hope this travelogue helps you plan your next travel.
Thank you for reading.