The otherworldly destination of Cappadocia in Turkey’s Central Anatolia is one place you should visit at least once in your lifetime, and frankly, it puts European hotels to shame. This breathtaking region was formed about three to four million years ago when volcanic eruptions caused solidified rock formations known as ‘tuff’. The landscape which has been nicknamed Cappadocia ‘Cotton Castles’ or fairy chimneys (because of their appearance) resulted from the tuff rocks eroding with wind and water over time and now attracts thousands to admire their unique formation.

These rock formations, caves and valleys promise tourists a stay that is anything but ordinary. Entire luxury hotels now occupy the carved landscapes providing an experience like no other found on our planet. It’s not only the luxury suites made out of rock that makes Cappadocia a tourist hub, but the iconic and unforgettable hot air balloons that dominate the Anatolian skyline.

Cappadocia’s entire landscape which includes the provinces of Nevşehir, Niğde and Kayseri covers over 3000 miles and an altitude of 1000 meters high. It’s now under the realm of Turkey's modern Republic but was once part of Ancient Greece before the Ottoman Empire recovered the unique city..

The early inhabitants of Cappadocia utilized the soft tuff rocks to carve above-ground and underground shelters to create a safe haven from potential invaders. There are about 600 churches formed out of the famous rock that date back to Medieval times, displaying stunning colored frescoes which have stood the passing of time and are visited by thousands annually.

Not all of Cappadocia attracts tourists and if you choose the town of Gülşehir you’ll receive the full local hospitality treatment. Below are some mind-blowing reasons why you’ll be choosing the Cappadocia caves as you’re next getaway rather than a typical European destination.

20 1. Have Breakfast Served With The Sunrise And Hot Air Balloons

One of the few places in the world where you can wake up to breakfast on your balcony, with hot air balloons flying so close overhead you could almost touch their baskets, is Cappadocia.

The hot air balloons usually take off just before sunrise, so you’ll have to set your alarms to not miss their breathtaking rise. If you’re not a morning person you’ll love the strong coffee they serve as an alternative to the classic black tea.

Breakfast in Turkey (kahvalti) is a decadent experience where no detail is left out. Put together with extravagant spreads, freshly baked pastries, cheeses, jams, eggs, olives and fresh fruit, you’ll be craving kahvalti at all hours of the day!

19 2. Glamorous Balconies With A View

The region of Cappadocia is filled with “fairy chimneys” formed by erosion and the volcanic eruptions of the past and makes for some of the most incredible views on our planet. The hotels in Cappadocia all offer something unique with elements of the regions historic past. For example the suites at the Splendid in Argos, Cappadocia come equipped with outdoor courtyards, private terraces and balconies with prizewinning views of the landscape.

Many of the hotels also boast views of the famous hot air balloons, which promise unforgettable sights that almost seem surreal. With pools, gourmet meals and stellar scenic views you may not want to leave your balcony at all in your Cappadocia cave.

18 3. Private Indoor Pools and Baths

The tradition of the Turkish baths (Hammams) dates back to Roman times but was perfected by the Turks. At the Kayapaki Premium Caves Hotel in Nevşehir you will be treated to the tradition of utmost luxury.

You begin by changing into a Pestemal which is a large checkered towel with fringes at the bottom and slipping your feet into nalins (basically clogs) as you make your way across the marble floor into the Sicaklik, which is a very hot room. The Sicaklik is a room with very high-ceilings filled with the sound of trickling water and exquisite scents to begin your relaxation.

The Turkish bath is characterized by the hot steam followed by a massage treatment. Although saunas and pools are not part of the tradition, this superb hotel offers these luxurious amenities to its guests as well.

17 4. Take A Ride In The Famous Hot Air Balloons

After watching the sunrise with the hot air balloons overhead I guarantee you’ll want to take a ride on the iconic balloons yourself. There’s nowhere else in the world where more balloon trips are taken than in Cappadocia so it’s no wonder it’s the most popular activity. There’s no doubt the best way to fully appreciate the unique rock formations of Cappadocia is from way up above.

It’s so popular that about 75-100 balloons take off each and every morning! If you’re lucky enough to budget this bucket-list experience during your stay, you’ll be picked up from your hotel during the wee hours of dawn and will be taken to eat breakfast before takeoff. After your magical ride through the sky, you’ll be treated to champagne and dessert to celebrate.

16 5. Experience Wi-Fi In Your Luxury Cave Suite

You’d think if you were in an ancient city you’d be forced to abide by ancient traditions. Surprisingly in the ancient city of Cappadocia modern amenities have not been forgotten. You can enjoy top-notch quality WI-FI in your luxury suite with extravagant décor all throughout the rock formations made within the landscape. In fact, many bathrooms in the cave suites include huge walk-in showers with heated floors and towel-racks!

Each room in Cappadocia is shaped in its own unique structure and each has a charm that will surely win any guest over (some include fireplaces too). Although adapting to the modern world, the suites in Cappadocia maintain some historical detail with many of the cave walls still being painted with traditional frescoes.

15 6. Yoga At Sunset Or Sunrise

Yoga is practiced world-wide but there is no place in the world like Cappadocia to be practice your Zen. There’s even a small yoga community because it’s so popular! If you’re interested in something organized, yoga is offered at sunset during the Cappadox Festival. If you’re feeling adventurous all you’ll need is your yoga mat and a short walk to any of the valleys to set up.

Obviously the best time of day for yoga is right at sunset to fully immerse in a relaxing magical moment. If you’re new to yoga there’s even yoga camps and tours such as Kapadokya Yoga, which will take you to the coolest places which combine yoga with a short hike.

14 7. Indulge In Local Delicacies

In Cappadocia not only will you have the opportunity to try local dishes such as kebab, bulgur soup, stuffed grape leaves and chickpeas cooked in crock pots, you’ll also be able to dine in stunning restaurants carved out of ancient rock. The cuisine you’ll find are dishes mostly inspired by the Ottoman heritage and consists of a mixture of Middle Eastern and Central Asian influences.

The staple ingredient to Anatolian cuisine is lamb, and you will find it everywhere! Whether grilled over charcoal or wrapped in a doner kebab, there are endless varieties to choose from. The Turks are also masters of rice and vegetables and everything is made from the purest of ingredients. You will not be disappointed with the delectable food in Cappadocia.

13 8. Enjoy The Spectacular Pools

If your one of a kind cave suite doesn’t come filled with an indoor pool build into the stone, your hotel will most likely offer an outdoor pool with views that will make you forget your room is pool-less. If you’re a water-lover or just want to relax and take in the local atmosphere, you can spend your entire day eating gourmet food by the turquoise pool water under the Anatolian sun.

The outdoor pools are seasonal of course because it snows in Cappadocia’s winters! You won’t be able to take a swim from the months of November through March.

12 9. Watch The Stunning Sunset At Kizilcukur (Red Valley)

The sun sets in every location in the world, but the exceptional sunset in Cappadocia would alone have me booking a flight there instantly. The fairytale landscape is a must-see, whether you’re taking a leisurely walk or a hike, do yourself a favor and make sure watching the sunset is on your top five things to see in Cappadocia.

This spot in Goreme, Cappadocia offers the most beautiful sunset you will ever experience. If you’re thinking of hiking through the valleys before the sun goes down, you can pack a delicious picnic to enjoy as you watch the magic in the sky.

11 10. Something Like Staying In One Of The World’s Top Museums

Make your way to Uchisar to experience a stay like no other at the Museum Hotel Cappadocia. This boutique hotel has been known to be something akin to spending a night in one of the world’s top museums. Most of the cave units include pieces of décor which hold great historic and antique value. Their website refers to their 30 rooms and suites as an unusual ‘living museum concept’ with a true touch of Cappadocian culture.

It’s interesting to know the hotel was named after its founder Omer Tosun who dedicated his life to collecting and expanding his one of a kind antique collection, many of the pieces which now line the Museum Hotel’s cave walls.

10 11. Ancient Mansion and History From 5th Century Greece (Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel)

Although all the hotels in Cappadocia boast an impressive history, the Yunak Evleri is definitely the most intriguing. Dating back to the 5th century, this hotel in Urgup is a five minute walk from Goreme National Park and includes an ancient 19th century mansion. Composed of seven different buildings, the Evleri includes 40 individual suites all featuring dramatic views of the cliffs.

The suites were each carefully thought out and renovated with personalized but elegant designs. The breathtaking lobby is found in an old Greek mansion decorated with inviting traditional Turkish pillows, and steeped in rich history just waiting to be remembered.

9 12. Enjoy Turkey's Traditional Tea

Another special Turkish tradition is that of tea drinking. You can spot many locals sitting back on comfortable couches sipping tea all day and talking amongst good company. One of the first things offered to you as you’re greeted in Cappadocia will be their delicious tea most likely served in an hour-glass shaped glass. The traditional Turkish go-to flavor is black tea, but there’s an array of flavors offered, some of the most flavorful being apple and rose hip tea.

Your tea will also be served to you in an intricate tea-pot accompanied with cubes of sugar to drop into your steaming hot beverage according to your taste-buds. A huge part of Turkish hospitality is their tea, so make sure to try it at least once!

8 13. Participate In The Cappadox Festival

A recent phenomenon to Cappadocia is their annual Cappadox Festival which usually takes place in June and completely transforms the vibe of the city. Locals and visitors from around the globe flock to this festival which is the only one in Turkey where tickets are continuously sold out in advance. A range of activities are offered such as live music from international artists, cooking classes, picnics, yoga, art exhibitions, light shows, and the list goes on!

One thing to take caution with if you’re travelling around the time of Cappadox is that you’ll experience Cappadocia in a completely different way than you normally would. For one, prices will sky-rocket and there will be more tourists than on average, but regardless of that, it’s an experience well worth the money.

7 14. Live The Cappadocian Experience At Kelebek Special Caves Hotel

Set at the top of the scenic town of Goreme lies the Kelebek Special Caves Hotel, which as the name describes is certainly special. This hotel is known for having the best views of the hot air balloons and can get booked out pretty quick. All their rooms are specially hand-crafted and filled with authentic textiles from the surrounding local area. Rooms range from traditional fairy chimney rooms to top of the line luxury suites.

On top of the breathtaking view from the top of Cappadocia, Kelebek Hotel is also built around a rose garden and offers the traditional Turkish Hammams and baths with a gourmet restaurant serving the best of the best Anatolian cuisine. You’ll truly live the ultimate Cappadocian experience at Kelebek.

6 15. Rooms Carved Out Of Stone

The architectural traditions in Cappadocia date back to the 4th and 5th centuries where the Early Christians carved out dwellings into the landscape.

The prestigious Imperial Cave Hotel states on their website to offer the “best hospitality in a traditional Goreme house that has been restored to the highest standards whilst maintaining cultural traditions with a blend of Turkish warmth”. This romantic boutique hotel is ideal for couples who want to indulge in sophisticated luxury and spoil themselves to personalized local hospitality.

The Imperial Cave Hotel boasts authentic Ottoman heritage with traditional golden Cappadocian stone which is the basis for all the suites and provides guests with a stay guaranteed to be found nowhere but in Cappadocia

5 16. Walk To Ihlara Valley And Dine At The Unforgettable Belisirma

The most famous valley in Turkey, and rightfully so is Ihlara Valley with its 16-kilometer long gorge situated in Aksaray Province. This area can be walked or hiked and leads to the huts on the river pictured above. These picturesque huts on the river not too far from the town of Guzelyurt are mostly restaurants which serve local cuisine and are certainly worth the visit.

Before reaching the enchanting huts you’ll observe ancient churches (Byzantine churches and monasteries) depicted on frescoes inside the caves along the path. Formed out of the volcanic eruption of Mount Hasan, Ihlara Valley will transport you to a time where monks would use these rock formations as a hideaway for their worship.

4 17. Suites In A Cave Dwelling From The 19th Century (Modernized Of Course)

With only as little as 6 suites, the Terra Cave Hotel offers the experience of the ancient rock dwellings fully renovated and situated right in the heart of the town called Goreme. The six suites are home to magical names including the Emperor’s Room, the Winter Suite, the Veranda Suite, the Stonework Cave Room, the Winery Room and lastly the Honeymoon Suite. The Terra Cave Suites are located in Goreme but aren’t too far from Nevşehir.

These ultra-personalized suites will have you forgetting you’re sleeping in a room made out of rock and stone formations. The atmosphere is rustic yet modern and even accommodates pets!

3 18. Climb Volcanoes That Formed Cappadocia

By now you should know the unbelievable landscape of Cappadocia was formed through volcanic eruptions. This occurred thousands of years ago and today none of these volcanoes are currently active; perfect for those who want to explore Cappadocia’s past.

There are trails and hikes which vary from a full-day trek to a brief walk depending on your expertise and adventure level. One of the coolest trails is Pigeon Valley where you can start at the ancient Uçhisar Castle and make your way through an underground tunnel to the famous Love Valley.

Of all the spectacular activities in Cappadocia, you must walk or hike through the magnificent valleys and formations from volcanic eruptions only found here.

2 19.  Bike Through The Landscape And Find A Cave On Your Own

Once upon a time an adventurous man set out on his bike and stumbled upon an undiscovered cave and made it his own for the night. If you’re in Cappadocia, one of the most insta-worthy places on earth, you too can pursue your inner wilderness and see where the path least traveled takes you. Some of the trails include rough terrain reserved for only experienced bikers who can meander through the difficult rock valleys.

If it’s your first time just hop aboard a biking tour where your guide will lead you through a trail based on your level of experience. No matter which trail you embark on, I promise you will experience a true taste of Cappadocia’s landscape which will make you feel you’re on another planet.

1 20. Check Out The Famous Grape Harvest

The fertile soil in Cappadocia makes for some excellent wine and if you’re a wine enthusiast don’t miss out on visiting some of their iconic grape harvest vineyards. Cappadocia is actually the most ideal location in Turkey to produce wine and its sold all over the country. The best time of year to visit the vineyards is in September when the locals actually harvest the wine by hand (which you can witness on a guided tour).

Winemaking in this region goes back centuries where locals used to crush grapes with their feet. There’s even the annual International Grape Harvest Festival which will be celebrating its 47th year this September with an exciting grape eating contest!