Cappadocia has everything you could ever want in a place to explore: ethereal landscapes, rich history, fresh food, and laid back towns and villages. The fascinating landscape and nature will keep your eyes feasting, soaking in the history will tickle your imagination, the delicious food will stimulate your taste buds, and the people are curious about you just as you are about them. Cappadocia is a place where you can experience unique things you never even knew you wanted to do (sleep in a cave hotel) and experience things that are on your bucket list (hot air balloon ride, anyone?). I spent five days in the region, and I left realizing I only scratched the surface of what Cappadocia has to offer.
Cappadocia is very easy to visit solo. I found it safe, people were curious about me but not in an obnoxious way, and there was so much to keep me occupied. If you’re on a budget (i.e. renting a car is not feasible), there are many tours to a wide variety of places. As a solo female, I had no issues either. I kept my usual wits about me, and it was fine. I also loved that the night buses leaving Cappadocia go the extra step to keep women comfortable: solo female travelers are only ever seated next to another woman!
Day 1: Goreme
I suggest taking it easy on day one. Wander the small town, check out some of the stores, climb some of the hilly streets, and most definitely eat as much as you can. There are many delicious Turkish dishes to try such as the regional dish of testi kebab in a clay pot (a stew of meat and vegetables), fresh honey, menemen (an egg dish), the ubiquitous cay (tea), wines, and kofte.
Day 2: Goreme
If you are willing to wake up early in the morning, Cappadocia is a great place to experience the neat sensation of floating high up in the sky in a balloon. The region’s fantastic landscape is quite a treat. The fairy chimneys, the countryside, and the far-off volcano are stunning from up above!
Cappadocia is an ancient land, rich with history. There are many rock churches to stumble upon, including the humble El Nazar. There is also the amazing Goreme Open Air Museum, including its fascinating Dark Church. You will want a few hours for this museum alone.
Day 3: Valleys, Avanos, and Culture
Due to Cappadocia’s unique landscape, there are many fascinating valleys to explore. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re on a totally different planet! In particular, check out the amusing Love Valley and use your imagination at Devrent Valley. Otherworldly vistas await! Just remember your hat and water as it is pretty exposed out there…
Cappadocia’s people are very friendly and sometimes there are opportunities to learn about specific aspects of their lives. For example, you can learn about traditional pottery making and its history in the Avanos area. In the evening, you can watch the performance of a sacred ritual by a Whirling Dervish. If you do not have a car, tours are available to either place, each lasting a few hours.
Day 4: Underground Cities, Amazing Sunsets
Day 5: Other Options
There are many other things to see and do in Cappadocia. For example, you can meet the doll makers of Soganli, hike lesser visited valleys, visit museums, wander around small towns and villages, and admire ancient sites being excavated – ask and Cappadocia will provide!
Just like arriving, you can either fly or take the bus when leaving Cappadocia. If busing (a surprisingly comfortable option), book your ticket at least one day in advance during peak times as seats do sell out. Göreme’s bus station (otogar) has about four companies from which to choose. Make sure you confirm where the bus will drop you as some final destinations are serviced by a shuttle rather than the bus itself (i.e. you will be dropped off somewhere for a shuttle to pick you up).
If you’re looking for ideas on where next to go, check out this guide to Western Turkey!