Formed 60 million years ago by ashes from different mountains and by erosion of soft layers of lava, the Cappadocia region is one of the most attractive regions of Turkey. Human settlement in this unique region goes back to the Paleolithic era. Various human communities lived in this region.
With picturesque scenery, distinctive rock formations, historical heritage, and scenic hot air balloon trips, Cappadocia is one of a kind. If you are visiting Turkey, you have possibly already heard that one of the must-visit destinations is Cappadocia. This blog is for the ones who are looking for one day tours from Istanbul to Cappadocia. In this blog, I will tell you how to get to Cappadocia, what to do there, and give some important tips, all current and updated to 2022 for you to have the best one day tour from Istanbul to Cappadocia!
1. Transportation to the Cappadocia region
So, you are already in Istanbul, and you are looking for a trip to Cappadocia, how do you get there?
Firstly, Cappadocia is not a city. It is a region spread in the area covering the provinces of Nevsehir, Kirsehir, Nigde, Aksaray, and Kayseri. Göreme is the main tourist town of Cappadocia but it doesn’t have an airport. Thus, you should choose one of the airports in the cities I’ve mentioned above if you plan on going by plane.
I recommend you to take a flight directly to the region because Turkey is a huge country, and Cappadocia is located in the middle of it. Here are approximate prices to go to the Cappadocia region by different transportation options:
- By car, it can take +9 hours to go. Renting a car can cost 15£ to 100£ depending on your choice of car. But on average it costs 30 £ / per day.
- By bus, it approximately takes 12 hours, and it costs approx. 20£. You need to go to the bus terminal for that.
- By plane, it takes 1h and 15 minutes and it costs approx. 45£.
Tip: If you are a budget traveller and you choose the bus option, you can take a night bus to save you daytime. Also, it will allow you to save one night’s pay for a hotel!
You can lend to Nevşehir airport or Kayseri airport to reach the Cappadocia region.
Istanbul has 2 major airports: you can choose a flight to Cappadocia from Istanbul Airport or to Cappadocia from Sabiha Gokcen airport. They are not closely located to each other. If you are planning on going to the Cappadocia region directly after you land in Istanbul, I recommend you buy the ticket to Cappadocia from the same airport you landed in Istanbul, otherwise it would be burdensome and take much time.
Tip: If you fly directly to Cappadocia and you have some time between flights, there are stalls selling sim cards at airports. You can provide yourself with one to use directly. If you are in Istanbul already, it is usually cheaper to buy the sim card in the city (you can also wait for going to Cappadocia to buy a sim card for sure, this tip is for internet saves)
How to get to Istanbul airport from the city
If you are already in Istanbul and decide to have a one day tour to Cappadocia, and you choose to go there from Istanbul airport, then you need to know the following. There is no direct metro line that goes directly to either Istanbul airport or Sabiha Gökçen airport. It is a good idea to use airport transfer. You can take the transfer bus from Taksim, it is a very affordable option; just 3.67 £.
Tip: Taxi can be expensive, but you can choose this option too.
How to get to Sabiha Gökçen airport from the city
Similar to Istanbul airport, you can also take a transfer to the airport. You can take those transfers from either Kadıköy or Taksim and it will cost around 3 £ from Taksim and 2 £ from Kadıköy.
2. Cappadocia Airports
As I’ve mentioned above, there are two airports from which you can reach the Cappadocia region; the Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport and the Kayseri Erkilet Airport, which are located in the respective cities.
How to Get from Nevsehir Airport to Goreme
The Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport is the nearest airport to Cappadocia. The Nevsehir Airport is located about 40 minutes to the west of the central touristic town, Goreme. The Transfer bus ticket costs around 6.40£.
How to Get from Kayseri Airport to Goreme
If you choose Kayseri Erkilet Airport, there are also plenty of ways to go from Kayseri to Goreme. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to get there. It costs about 6.20£.
Whatever option you choose, they both have plenty of services to the Cappadocia region.
Tip: You can also rent a car from the airport to the city, and use it during your day trip! (Approximately 33£/ per day. )
3. Istanbul to Cappadocia Day Trip
After taking a one day trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia, you may start thinking about all the adventures waiting for you. Cappadocia offers much more than the hot air balloons! There are a bunch of things for you to do! For example, Quad Biking, Hiking in the Valleys, Horse Riding, and of course the best part of being in Turkey; eating delicious Turkish Food!
What to do in Göreme
First, just walk around and explore this beautiful town! See old shops, and stone buildings, and eat some tasty Turkish food.
You will see open-air museums in Göreme- the entrance is free!
Since you have one day, arriving in the region early is a huge plus. Here is an hour-by-hour plan for you to have one fantastic day in Cappadocia.
Hot Balloon trip
All the Hot Air Balloon trips in Cappadocia are done at dawn just before sunrise. It can be quite early. That’s why it is important to be in Cappadocia at an early hour. Of course, first, have a nice breakfast, we need energy! Most tours will serve a light breakfast before taking off.
Each hot air balloon has 4 different baskets that fit around 6 – 7 people per basket.
The first light of the day touches your face, that’s when the Cappadocia region spreads its spark the most. While the sun rises above the horizon, you will recognize several other hot balloons in the sky of Cappadocia.
The tour lasts around 1 hour and a half. And it costs 160£.
Göreme open air museum
Göreme’s open-air museum is located right at the center of Göreme town. It is an outdoor museum where you will find the most well-preserved rock-cut caves, churches, and dwellings in the area that are being protected and preserved.
In the museum area, there is a valley made of rock blocks that also contains living quarters, along with a large number of preserved rock-cut cave blocks, monasteries, churches, and chapels. In most of them, it is possible to see 10th-century wall paintings and examples of Byzantine art.
It is a huge museum and will take around 2-3 hours to explore its main attractions. These are Girls and Boys Monastery, St. Basil’s Chapel, Elmalı Church, St. Barbara Chapel, St. Catherine’s Chapel, Yılanlı Church, Dark Church, Çarıklı Church, and Buckled Church. The most popular one is Elmalı Church. It is famous for its well-preserved architecture, frescos, and murals.
The museum is open every day between 8 am- 7 pm. It costs around 7£. This is the official website of the Turkish Culture and Tourism ministry:
11 am- 1 pm
Hiking the Red Valley
Love, Pigeon, Devrent (camel rock), or Red valleys are appealing. I recommend Red Valley for this trip, it is not too far away from Göreme town center. The trailhead starts near Göreme’s open-air museum and merges with the Rose Valley trailhead. You can also combine it with Rose Valley, and you will have a 2-3 hours hike.
The hike is quite easy with a few ups and downs.
Tip: Make sure to have a copy of the hiking map saved offline on your phone just in case.
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1- 2 pm
You can have some rest at one of Göreme’s restaurants while watching the locals.
2- 5 pm
Visit the underground city of Derinkuyu
This will be a relaxation activity after all the hikes. Derinkuyu is famous for its underground city that extends to a depth of approximately 85 meters. It was constructed during the Byzantine era and it could accommodate more than 20,000 people inside with their livestock.
Tip: Derinkuyu is at least a 30-minute drive from Göreme, and 60 minutes if you take the bus. Therefore, if you want you can either rent a car or a driver so you can use them all day.
5 pm – 7:30 pm
You can choose one of the activities that I will write below depending on your mood, budget, and the season.
- Shopping in Ürgüp
– if you want to buy some souvenirs and find good gifts, you can shop in the center of town.
- Pottery in Avanos
– If you are into arts, you can visit a pottery demonstration. You even can try to do pottery yourself. It is also a very good souvenir; ceramics for yourself and your loved ones.
Tip: if you buy from smaller shops, you can get them for cheaper prices.
- More Hiking
– If you are hiking fan and the morning hike is not enough for you, you can pick one of the other valleys to hike again: Red, Love, Pigeon, and Devrent Valleys.
- Pick a site
– If you want to see some other sites and towns, there are some options: Çavuşin with its rock churches, Ortahisar and Uçhisar have amazing scenes with towering rock castles, Paşabağ offers you to see perfect fairy chimneys in one small area, and Zelve Open Air Museum, if you want an experience similar to the Göreme Open Air Museum.
- Drink some tea
– If you are a solo traveler and you like to meet locals, find one who speaks English and drink some tea with them. Seeing all the region from their eyes and having a lot of insights about the culture and people will be huge bonuses of this activity.
7:30pm – 10:30pm
Turkish Culture Night
Tasty appetizers are followed by a traditional dinner. You can watch a dance performance with your meal.
You can see a performance of traditional Turkish wedding dances in which the bride dances in the middle of the stage, as the groom performs a variety of dances for the bride.
Then you will see a few folk dances from different parts of Turkey, and then the belly dancer takes the stage.
This costs around 50 euros, and they mostly offer you a ride, too.
Heading to the airport
With all the sweet memories of this magical trip, now it’s time to move on and go to your next station (wherever it is). This trip will be surely an unforgettable day trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia, which you will probably recommend to anyone who visits Turkey.