Cappadocia, Turkey. The ultimate bucket list place.
Cappadocia has been on my bucket list forever! During the days that my Lyme disease was so bad, the only thing that I could do, was scroll through the feeds of my favourite instagram travel bloggers writing down a list of the places that I would visit when I got better.
I can still remember my first time seeing Cappadocia on my feed. This magical place where hot air ballons rose every morning over a landscape that looked like it belonged to a different planet. Surely it couldn’t be real! I mean this had to be staged for a very extravagent photo shoot. Didn’t it? It couldn’t be accesible to someone like me. Could it?
So I did some research and found out that not only was this dreamy place real it was completely accesible to someone like me and so it went straight to the top of my bucket list for when I got well. After my stem cell treatment was succesful in Infusio, Frankfurt I began to plan my travels and knowing that I was turning 40 in May (I still can’t talk about it!) I knew there was nowhere else in the world that I wanted to celebrate this milestone.
How to get to from Istanbul to Cappadocia
The easiest way to get to Cappadocia is to fly direct to Istanbul and get a connecting flight to Kayseri or Nevsehir. This connecting flight only takes about an hour. Your hotel will usually organise an airport pick-up for you. It then takes a further 50 minutes to reach the popular area of Goreme. We flew with Turkish airlines and I can’t recommend them enough. I had no expectations but it was by far the best flying experience that we’ve had. The seats were comfortable, the in-flight movie selection was amazing and the food and service was truly excellent.
We missed out on a crucial piece of advice however. If you are visting from certain countries you need a Visa. Ireland was one of those countries. There was a moment of panic when we realised this. I had images of us being interogated “Nothing to Declare” style but luckily we weren’t the only ones to do this and there was a machine to purchase your Visa for $20.
Layover in Istanbul
Mister Lavin and I decided that to fly the whole way to Turkey and not visit Istanbul would be a shame so we built in an over night stay in Istanbul before getting our connecting flight to Kayseri the following day. In reality, I don’t know what I was thinking as this was no where near enough time to explore even a fraction of this beautiful city.
My first impressions of Istanbul were that it was vibrant, colourful and certainly mystical. It is also huge! We arrived into Istanbul at 5pm during rush hour traffic! Our taxi driver did his best swerving down side streets away from the bumper to bumper traffic on the motorway to get us to our hotel. We stayed at the Elite World Business Hotel in a gorgeous room that cost only €53 for the night for both of us. We didn’t have very much time to enjoy the hotel as I was determined to make a bee line for the Sultanahmet Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia before sunset.
After the traffic situation we decided that the quickest way would be to go with public transport so with a little difficulty (as in, no English on the machine we needed to purchase our tickets from) and help from a local we got a day travel card for €4 that allowed us to travel on any of the buses, trams and even the public boats.
We made it just before the golden hour and we were simply blown away by the enoromity and beauty of these mosques. Even at this time of the day it was still very busy with tourists and quite hard to get a good photograph without people jumping in the way. I still need to master the art of being authorative and asking people if they mind just not photobombing every fricking photo! I was gutted that I hadn’t planned more time to explore this city and I will certainly go back. In fact my bucket list of things to do in Turkey just ended up longer on this trip.
The magic of Cappadocia Turkey
Cappadocia is a place that will make you believe in magic. Once a province of the Roman Empire, Cappadocia is now the sprawling area of central Turkey which lies between Aksaray in the west, Kayseri in the east and Nigde in the south. Modern Cappadocia is an incredible place, criss-crossed with valleys and dotted with dramatic rock formations that will make you feel like you are on the set of a science fiction movie.
Thousands of years ago a group of ancient volcanoes, Mt Erciyes, Hasan and Melendiz, spewed out layer upon layer of thick tuff which blanketed the countryside for miles around. Over the centuries the wind and rain worked their magic on the soft rock, carving out spectacular gorges and leaving behind the dramatic pinnacles of rock – the ‘fairy chimneys’ – that have created the Cappadocian moonscape.
Humans, too, have left their unique mark on the region, carving cave storerooms, cave stables, cave houses and even entire underground cities out of the rock. To this day many of the soaring pinnacles are still inhabited and many of the rock-cut storerooms are still stuffed with grapes, lemons, potatoes and flat bread waiting for the winter.
Where to stay in Cappadocia
Our hotel had arranged airport transfers and it didn’t take too long to arrive at our beautiful Kelebek Special Cave Hotel. We got the most beautiful room built into the cave of the hotel, with a terrace that had the most magnificant view. It was the perfect base to explore Cappadocia from and the hotelier couldn’t be more helpful.
We went straight to the terrace of the sister hotel Sultan Cave Suites, which was connected to ours, for a beer at sunset. I could have stayed here surounded by Turkish carpets and colourful cushions with Mr. Lavin and Ismir the cocker spaniel forever.
I still get goosebumps when I think back to looking out my bedroom window on that first morning at sunrise and seeing the sky filled with hot air balloons. I had a little tear when I thought back to that girl sick in her bed dreaming of making it here someday.
No matter how bad times got with my Lyme disease I never let go of those hopes and they have certainly driven me to achieve what I have. I am a firm believer in never giving up on your dreams, one day they might just come true. And that morning standing there watching the balloons dance in the sky I knew how far I’d come and how lucky I was to get a second chance.
We had decided to take the hotel up on their offer of trying an organic breakfast in a local farm nearby. We were collected by jeep and driven down bumpy roads until we reached the most beautiful vista. We were only able to take in the view for a few minutes before realising that we were to climb down into the valley on steps hand carved out of stone. As we got closer to the bottom we were greeted by the most beautiful orchards of apricots, plums and apples.
The table was laid with the most delicious home-grown food and even the honey had just been freshly collected. We got to take turns baking a Turkish Bread and after breakfast the owner showed us around as they had recently added accommodation for those wanting the complete organic get away. You can come and stay in rooms built into the caves and help on the working farm each day. It really has some great potential and is the perfect place to just come and get back to nature and completely unwind.
As it was my birthday we had decided that we didn’t want to be tied down to any tours on such a short trip and instead spent some time by the hotel pool, wandering into the local town for lunch and enjoying a glass of red wine at sunset.
There is plenty to see in the area though other than the magical balloons. Pottery and ceramics are big trades in the area and there are plenty of places to go view this craft in action. The Goreme Open Air Museum is free and can easily be reached from the town. Although be prepared for what looks like a rather steep climb. Tours of the area including the underground city and fairy chimneys can easily be organised by your hotel. They can also organise your trip in a hot air balloon, which will set you back roughly €140 but Mister Lavin was far too much of a scaredy cat for that!
It was literally a dream come true for me to visit Cappadocia Turkey. It was a birthday I will truly remember. I have lost track of the amount of times that I have said that I want to collect memories and not things. These are memories that will stay with me forever. If it isn’t already, Cappadocia needs to go straight onto your bucket list.
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Until next time you crazy kids!
Cappadocia has been on my bucket list forever also, and now I am adding that cave hotel. I like that you added more images than just the traditional one, as it gave a better feel for what I might expect. We have been to Istanbul, and side tripped only to Ephesus. Next time.
I think you would love Cappadocia. It is truly a magical place.
I’m definitely pinning for later–these are some beautiful pictures!
Thank yo that makes me so happy.
Looks amazing! So happy you got to check this off your bucket list!
It was such a good feeling.
This is a beautiful post with great pictures. Turkey is on my bucket list and I hope to do this on my list of things to do. This is truly an amazing experience!
I was blown away by it and I’m sure you will be too.
Wow your pictures are so beautiful!! I’ve always wanted to visit Turkey and view the hot air balloons it looks amazing!
It was so magical to see them rising every morning.
Cappadocia looks so magical and dreamy. This is definitely a place that I want to visit some day. I’ll save this post so I can find your tips whenever I’m traveling to Turkey.
Thank you Sarah and I really hope you make it there some day.
Being from Romania, Turkey is such a popular destination because you can easily drive there or hop in a plane and get there in a blink. And yet, somehow I still haven’t managed to get there, even though Capadoccia has been on my list since forever. Your pictures look so amazing!
You would fall in love with it. I got to spend some time in Romania this Summer and it is one of my favorite countries with the nicest people.
Capadoccia is one of those places I ticked off from my list really early… and I mean too early! Back in the day the cool thing was actually going on the hot airballoon (that’s what I did) but I know I will be crazy taking instagram photos when I come back. I loved reading about your experience. And happy belated birthday!
Thank you so much Diana. I think your posts were some of the ones that inspired me to go. You really are an inspiration to me.
Glad you are feeling better and could visit magical Cappadocia! You appreciate health and being able to travel after not feeling well, right?! (Me, too!)
Yes you explore the world with the enthusiasm of a young child. Getting sick was the hardest thing I’ve been through but I wouldn’t change a second of it because of the insight it has given me.
I am dying to visit Turkey, and honestly this post just made me put it higher up in my priority list. Thank you so much for the in depth tips and recommendations! So cool you got to spend your birthday there!
It is the most magical place to spend a birthday so add it to your wishlist for next year 😉
I need to get myself to Turkey. Maybe this is the year. In any case your photos and this post continue to inspire me to want to make this a reality
It was a dream come true for me.
Talk about birthday ideas <3. I don't know if it's not too hot in June, but I am adding this to the short list. I've been dreaming to go on a trip in Cappadocia, but I will not chicken out of the hot air balloon. I already did a flight with a small plane, can't be that bad :))
It was May when we were there and it was a lovely temperature, not too hot.
Stunning pictures! I hope to get to Turkey someday, it’s high on my travel bucket list
It really deserves to be. It is magical there.
Cappadocia, the ultimate bucket list for every travel lover.
Hopefully going to visit this year.
Loved your pictures, Nicola.
It is such a beautiful place. I really hope that you get to go.
Cappadocia Turkey is one of my favorite place to go. I had great hot air balloon experience in Cappadocia. I have to share my trip
Thanks for the wonderful article
I am so glad you liked it xxx
Thanks for the wonderful article
So i need to put Cappadocia to my wishlist travel 😀
how you felt with air baloon?
It was so amazing Deddy. You would love it. We didn’t get to go up in the balloon as my husband is afraid of heights!!
Loved your post! The pictures are amazing! This place has been on my bucket list for so long. Saving this for future ?
I’m so glad it truly is the most magical place. Words can’t even describe it clearly enough.
Loved reading this and beautiful images to go with it. Your pictures make me want to go to Cappadocia. 🙂
Absolutely in love with your photos!!!! They’re all so dreamy!
Such a wonderful post Nicola for an incredible destination. It’s now firmly on my bucket list so Thank-you x
Cappadocia really is a dream! So wonderful that you made it there! I discovered this magical destination on my RTW trip ten years ago and took the sunrise hot air ballon ride. Memories to last a lifetime!
Aw this place looks beautiful! I’m so glad you had a great birthday!!