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How to Spend the Perfect 3 Days in Cappadocia Itinerary

Last Updated on 8th March 2023 by Sophie Nadeau

A whimsical land of beautiful sunrises and dreamy hot air balloon rides, Cappadocia is an enchanted place to visit if you enjoy out-of-this-world sceneries and breathtaking adventures. Here’s how to spend the perfect 3 days in Cappadocia itinerary to help you plan your next Turkey adventure.

Bizarre rocky landscapes, unusual hotels, and delicious food are just some of the ingredients that await during this experience.

Cave house in Cappadocia
Cave house in Cappadocia/ Huseyin Eren Obuz/ Shutterstock

Whether you are planning a long adventure around different cities and regions in Turkey or you only have a few days for the trip and you’ve always wanted to see Cappadocia, this article has all the details you need. 

You can easily insert this 3-day Cappadocia itinerary in any much longer Turkey itinerary to have the time of your life. Read on and discover the best things to do in Cappadocia in 3 days.

This 3-day Cappadocia itinerary starts in Istanbul, the capital of Turkey, and takes you directly to Cappadocia by plane. Although there are alternative means of transport connecting both areas, this particular route is covered by several local airlines at very convenient fees. 

If you’re planning to spend more time in Turkey, be sure to check out our suggestions for how to spend 3 days in Istanbul.

Cappadocia hotels carved from stone rock
Cappadocia hotels carved from stone rock/ frantic00/ Shutterstock

Where to stay in Cappadocia

The most effective way to explore the Cappadocia region is to book a hotel in Goreme, finding a cave hotel will certainly enhance the experience. These are the ones I suggest:

  • Stone House Cave Hotel: A small but cozy hotel set in a 300-year-old building that has been beautifully restored using Ottoman architectural traditions. Check prices and availability here.
  • Charming Cave Hotel: Featuring a garden, a terrace, a bar, and a restaurant in Goreme. the property is close to important landmarks such as Uchisar Castle. The accommodation offers airport transfers. Check prices and availability here.

What to Do in Cappadocia, Turkey, in 3 Days

Day 1: Goreme 

Start the day by exploring the streets of Goreme, around the area, you will find plenty of bars for a hearty breakfast as well as restaurants and shops where to buy or simply enjoy the view of colorful carpets and typical souvenirs.

Remember that when visiting a carpet shop, most of the carpets are for sale, therefore, respect the local traditions and take off your shoes before entering the shops!

Important tip: Cappadocia can be considered a stunning playground for photographers because the impressive captures you can obtain are simply stunning. However, this comes at a price.

It is important to keep in mind that there are rules to follow if you want to photograph inside some of the shops. In fact, it is not an activity you’ll be able to do for free. You will need to ask for permission and pay to take photos.

In the afternoon, you can explore the surrounding area or join one of the many activities that are available to explore the stunning valleys in Goreme and admire the traditional architecture and bizarre rocky landscapes. 

You can move around on foot, although getting lost can be a risk. Do get a good local map and try to do it with a group.

Alternative ways to see Goreme and its landscape include horse riding, safaris riding a camel like this one, or even an ATV Adventure Tour that in the itinerary includes driving through Sword Valley, the smallest valley in the region, to admire the sword-like fairy chimneys which give the valley its name.

Although horses and camels are the most tranquil and relaxing way to admire the landscape, ATV tours are getting more and more popular among those travelers seeking fun and adrenaline-fuelled experiences.

ATV Quad Bike in front of mountains landscape in Turkey
ATV Quad Bike in front of mountains landscape in Turkey/ givaga/ Shutterstock

This horseback safari, for instance, is held at sunset, and it is probably one of the most romantic experiences you can enjoy in Cappadocia.

Don’t you agree with the fact that an area, also known as the land of beautiful horses, should be seen on the back of a horse? Check prices and availability here.

No matter what activity you choose, you will fall in love with the beautiful valleys, including the Love, White, and Red valleys to end the adventure at the Rose Valley, the perfect spot to witness the sunset in this magical destination.

Goreme/ Shutterstock

Day 2: Hot Air Balloons!

The most exciting day of your trip has arrived! In fact, the main reason why most people long to visit Cappadocia is to venture on a unique trip in which you will rise through the air at sunset to marvel at the spectacular reddish skies of Cappadocia dotted with dozens of colorful hot air balloons. 

It is always a good idea to schedule an early morning tour because, in case of bad weather, this guarantees alternatives or rides at a later time in the day or even on the next day. Some companies include a rain-day option so you don’t miss the experience!

Cappadocia Turkey
Cappadocia Turkey/ Tatiana Popova/ Shutterstock

If you’re not sure which are the best available hot balloon tours to book, let me show you which are the most recommended options that have the best reviews and more convenient fees:

Best Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tours:

  • Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Flight with Champagne: Experience the sunrise over the rocky valleys of Cappadocia from above on a hot-air balloon flight and end your experience with a champagne toast. This company offers different options with different fees, including standard, comfort, or private flight. Check prices and availability here.
  • Fairy Chimneys Balloon Flight with Breakfast: This experience takes you on a gliding adventure over the fairy chimneys and rock-cut houses of Cappadocia to watch the sunrise over the valleys, and enjoy breakfast with champagne upon your safe landing. Check prices and availability here.
  • Goreme Sunrise Balloon Official Flight: Organized by a local company, this tour includes choosing your colorful balloon and offers a flight certificate and snacks, and champagne at the end of the experience rising to an altitude of up to 2,000 feet to admire the landscape of Cappadocia. Check prices and availability here.

Wine Tasting in Uchisar

After an epic sunrise flight, why not check out the unique wines produced in the region? What’s so exciting about the Cappadocia wines? – you might be wondering – well, when was the last time you had the chance to taste wines that have been continuously in production for the last 4000 years?!

The best way to try local whines is to head to Uchisar, the main wine area in the region. In the area, a tour like this one offers you the possibility to discover the unique Cappadocia wine country.

Meanwhile you can also explore ancient vineyards and lush green valleys, as well as wine cellars and local wineries. It will also give you the chance to learn about the history of the region’s winemaking techniques and even to taste different local labels. Check prices and availability here.

Uchisar Castle

In the afternoon, devote some time to explore the impressive Uchisar Kalesi or Castle. The curious structure features a honeycombed array of tunnels that rise high up over the small town of Uchisar with incredible views of Cappadocia’s unique landscape.

This amazing structure is deemed to be the finest example of a historic cave home in the area and it is made of very soft volcanic tuff, a material that is quite easy to shape. 

A perfect example of local architecture, the Uchisar Castle replicates the shape of the fairy chimneys that populate the valleys in Goreme. All of them were made by hollowing out structures that were already part of the natural landscape.

Uchisar at the sunrise
Uchisar at sunrise/ MehmetO/ Shutterstock

Goreme Open Air Museum

Located just outside the center of town, this is an interesting and easy place to reach within a few minutes of Goreme, so why not spend the afternoon visiting the magnificent Göreme Open Air Museum one of the most remarkable highlights of your three-day itinerary?

The exhibition features ruins of amazing shape and size dating back to the fourth century, there are ruins of what used to be churches and monasteries with incredible frescoes that have their colors pretty much as they were centuries ago. 

In the open-air museum, you can also see the ancient homes carved in the soft rock that characterizes the area. Keep in mind that this spectacular place is a must-visit. It has even been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Local Cuisine

Finish this adventurous day with a local delicacy, known as testi kebab, or a kebab cooked in a pot (made of clay and known as testi), a dish that is a trademark in Cappadocia, this is a delicious stew made with meat and vegetables cooked in a sealed pot that is broken in quite a theatrical way over the fire before bringing to the table.

Day 3: Derinkuyu Underground City

It can be a great idea to get up early also on your last day to be able to look at the beautiful hot air balloon spectacle, this time from the ground! 

The images you will get are still as amazing, with a completely different perspective. 

Many local hotels offer terraces where they serve early breakfast and enjoy the vastness of the landscape and the view of the skies slowly filling up with colorful dots on the horizon.

Devote the rest of the day to exploring the spectacular Derinkuyu Underground City and the stunning landscape of the Ihlara Valley enjoying what the locals call the Green Tour of Cappadocia.

Drinkuyu Underground City is an ancient multi-level underground city going down for about 85 meters and with an impressive surface that, according to local experts, was large enough to have sheltered as many as 20,000 people as well as livestock, and food stores. Here, you can explore the rooms, stables, cellars, and even ancient wineries! 

Inside the second level, you will be amazed at the old missionary school and the study rooms where the monks used to meditate and study.

The next logical stop after the visit includes a fantastic trekking experience through the Ihlara Valley. This is an out-of-this-world canyon that was formed by volcanic activity from Mount Hasan and fluvial erosion of nearby rivers. 

The gorge walls that rise over the canyon are lined up with over a hundred churches carved in the rock of early Christian origin and end the incredible day with a tour of the rock-carved Selime Monastery a magnificent structure that was even featured in the Star Wars saga!

Several day tours take you to explore the area, the best one also offers lunch served by the river in a truly fairy-tale setting and also combines it with a visit to the Derinkuyu Underground City with a knowledgeable local guide. Check prices and availability here.

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Gabi Ancarola is a journalist and travel writer who has lived over 20 years in Italy, and has been living in Crete for the last five years. She hosts culinary tours, translates and writes for her Crete travel blog The Tiny Book. She’s written for Greek Reporter and published several travel guides about Greece.

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