Published on October 7th, 2021
Our first three days in Cappadocia were splendid! We got to watch hundreds of balloons float in the sky on our first morning and it was truly magical! We slept and dined in caves, hiked through impressive valleys, saw old hidden churches and just enjoyed being there.
After the balloon flight on our first morning, subsequent flight days were cancelled due to bad weather. Since we were going to be in Cappadocia for another 3 days, I wasn’t too worried about it and just enjoyed exploring other items on our itinerary in the meantime.
Over the next couple of days, we got to visit Avanos, the Derinkuyu Underground City, Ihlara Valley and Lake Tuz. And yes, we also got to take our living-list worthy hot air balloon flight over the Cappadocia landscape. Here’s how that went…
Day 4 | Day Out to Avanos, Sunset Point
Our hot air balloon ride scheduled for this day got cancelled again. This time was much worse though because we had already gotten picked up and were in the Voyager Balloons lounge waiting for the flags to turn green. They did not, so we returned to the hotel and opted to visit Avanos for the day.
I had originally put Avanos as an optional stop on our itinerary. I just didn’t think there was anything interesting about the town but boy, was I wrong! Avanos turned out to be one of our favourite stops on the entire trip.
We also found the town to be cleaner and more appealing than Goreme. Perhaps this is because it feels more modern but unlike Goreme, there was very little construction going on in the places we visited, hence there was no rubble on the ground and everything just looked more organized.
Avanos is known as the pottery making hub in the region, so we decided to visit one of the stores, get some pottery lessons and buy a few items for our home.
Mark found Chez Hakan online and after reading glowing reviews, we visited this pottery shop. There, we met with the owner, who was a pleasure to interact with and then, we indulged in a short (free) pottery making class, where we both made cups or something that looked like cups 🙂
After the pottery making lesson was over, we looked around the shop for items we could bring back and settled on a beautiful vase, Turkish tea and wine cups. Mr Hakan packaged the items compactly and I was happy that they made it back safely to Nairobi with us.
The rest of our time in Avanos was spent walking around, sitting in the parks, people watching and just having a good and relaxing time. Afterwards, we returned to Goreme to watch the sunset at Sunset Hill.
Day 5 | Derunkuyu Underground, Ihlara Valley & Lake Tuz
On our fifth day in Cappadocia, we received a message from the balloon company that flights were cancelled again and worse, all flights for the following day were fully booked! We were advised to book another flight on our last morning.
Naturally, I wasn’t pleased about this because I really wanted us to experience a flight in Cappadocia and saving it till the last morning was very risky considering the number of cancellations we had already faced.
Lucky for us, Voyager Balloons found us 2 spots on a Standard Plus flight the following day! And with that, we proceeded to check out the next few stops on our itinerary.
First, was the Derinkuyu Underground City, which was quite fascinating for me to visit. But the best (and worst) experience of this outing was our stop for tea and Turkish pancakes at a cafe close by.
The best experience was the owner singing and playing his bağlama and the worst was his cat biting me after we had spent some time bonding! It wasn’t anything serious by the way, in fact, I found it rather amusing!
After spending some time at the cafe, we then went to Ihlara Valley for a short walk and had lunch at a restaurant situated right on the river.
Then we contemplated on whether or not to include the 1hr30 minutes drive to Lake Tuz but eventually, we agreed to do so.
The drive was very long and there were several moments I contemplated cutting the trip short and heading back to Goreme but Mark was an absolute gem and got us to the salt flats just before sunset.
We got to see the pink hues of the lake bed and watched a beautiful sunset before heading back to Goreme.
Day 6 | Hot Air Balloon Flight with Voyager Balloons
Our flight day finally came and I was very optimistic that the flights will take off on this day. We were to be picked up from our hotel around 5:00 am, however, at about 5:30 am when no one showed up for us, we realized that there had been a mix up somewhere.
Lucky for us, we had a car and drove only 10 minutes to the Voyager Balloons lounge. The flags were still yellow at the time, so we hadn’t missed anything. We paid for our flights (Mark had negotiated a discount as a result of the confusion) and we all waited for the flags to turn green. On this day, they did!
We finally got to enjoy our 75 minutes flight across fairy chimneys, with a backdrop of about a hundred other balloons. The flight was enjoyable, the weather was perfect… there were just 3 people in our compartment, which meant there was enough space for everyone to move around. It was a wonderful experience!
After the flight, we drove back to the hotel for breakfast and unwinded for the rest of the day…
In the evening, Mark and I enjoyed a romantic dinner at the Inci Cave Restaurant and it turned out to be the perfect ending to our time in Cappadocia!
Day 7 | Cappadocia to Istanbul
The next day, we got to watch the balloons fly one more time before our departure. First, we watched them from the terrace at the Mithra Cave Hotel, then Mark and I drove out to chase them to a nearby field. And with that, our time in Cappadocia came to an end…
Finally, to end this series, here’s a few questions I got asked about our trip and my answers…
How many days do I need in Cappadocia?
I think a minimum of 3 nights should be fine. This would give you a few chances to get on the hot air balloon flight and also explore some of the hiking routes, attractions and restaurants around.
What is the best month to visit Cappadocia?
The months of April-May and September – October are considered the best months to visit Cappadocia because the weather then is much nicer and prices are slightly lower before and after the peak months of June-August.
Are there other activities to do besides the hot air balloons?
Although I consider the hot air balloons the highlight of a visit to Cappadocia, there are other activities you can indulge in. Hiking is a big one, exploring the valleys, dining at restaurants, pottery making in Avanos are just some of the things you can do in Cappadocia.
PS: if you would like to see my original itinerary without the deviations, I’ll be posting it on my buymeacoffee page – where I have a no-frills guide to exploring Turkey (Istanbul & Cappadocia).
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series as much as I have loved writing them! Have they convinced you to visit Cappadocia? Let me know in the comment section below!
If you have been to Cappadocia (or any parts of Turkey), please share your experience with me as well! I’d love to visit Turkey again in the future to explore the coast and other places we missed.