3 + 1 Days in Magical Cappadocia

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Photo of 3 + 1 Days in Magical Cappadocia by Breathtaking Postcards

This is part 2 of our 3 series on planning a 12 days holiday to Turkey. We will be covering our itinerary of Istanbul and Cappadocia, along with a few insights on the country. Also there is an interesting reason we have named it '3+1' so read along to know about it.

If Enid Blyton fairy tales could come to life, they would be in the one & only enchanting land of Cappadocia.

A small ancient district in the east central region of Anatolia, Cappadocia is situated on a hilly plateau, north of the Taurus Mountain Ranges. Its landscape comprises of rocky terrains, pillars, chimneys and cone like structures formed due to ancient volcanic eruptions.

Before we pen down our itinerary, here are few handy tips that can help you plan your trip smoothly.

- Choosing a flight to Cappadocia from Istanbul can be tricky as there is a local carrier Pegasus Airways and the national carrier Turkish Airlines flying to the town. Do check online with various booking websites and choose a flight that suits you best in terms of timings and price.

- There are two airports - Kayseri and Nevsehir, nearest to the town of Cappadocia. Once you land at either of the two, you can opt for a shuttle service that will take you to the town of Cappadocia. Remember to book your shuttle ahead of time or via the help of your hotel.

- Book your hotels a few months (preferably 3-4 months) prior to your trip. As it is a very small town, most of its cave hotels always run on full occupancy.

- Cappadocia is surreal in all times of the year. If you are going to be visiting it in winters, brace your self for extreme snow. It looks magical when it falls but becomes a little troublesome for you to go around the town.

- Ensure to always carry the local currency in cash. Most of the tourist attractions (including the hot air balloon ride) will cost you more in case of a card transaction.

We flew into Cappadocia via Turkish Airlines, after spending 3 days in the city of Istanbul. We recommend flying into the town late evening so you can rest the night and get geared up for an adventurous journey ahead.

Here's how we spent our four days in Cappadocia:

Day 1: Experience the Red Tour

Also known as the North Cappadocia Tour, this guided tour option is a gateway to discovering the astonishing natural rock and volcano eruption formations in the northern region along with some historic wonders.

The day long tour is usually in a group of 10-12 people and the package includes:

- Pick up & drop from your hotel.

- Pit stops at iconic places.

- A traditional Turkish lunch.

Once you hop on to the van, the Red Tour will begin with taking you to a a surreal panorama viewpoint known as the 'Esentepe'. This little village is located between Uchisar and Goreme and gives you a spectacular view of the Goreme village and valley. Our guide was a wonderful local who explained us each and every detail of every rock formation that our eyes could see.

The Esentepe Village

After spending some time appreciating the natural yet astonishing rock formations around, the tour will now take you to the next destination which also happens to be in one of Cappadocia's essential must see list - The Goreme Open Air Museum. A UNESCO world heritage site, this museum is a collection of historical monasteries and churches that date back to 10th and 12th centuries.

Move a little further and your guide will now take you to a hidden valley that appears to be just out of a picture perfect postcard. Sitting on a plateau over thousand meters in altitude, the Love Valley houses rock formations from millions of years ago, in the form of unusual shapes likes mushrooms, cones, pillars, pinnacles, fair chimneys and more.

This also a popular hiking zone, so do go for it if you are an adventure junkie.

Love Valley

The Red Tour also includes a gorgeous fine dining lunch at one of the cave hotels in the neighborhood. The menu includes delectable Turkish classics!

The next stop on the Red Tour is one of our personal favorites! A trip to Cappadocia is incomplete without appreciating its ancient craft of pottery.The tour takes you to the infamous Avanos Pottery Village, where you can not just try your hands on creating your own little masterpiece with the help of skilled potters but also take home some of the most exquisite Turkish ceramics.

Day 2: Gear up for the Green Tour

A tour that takes you to roads less taken, the Green Tour is a mesmerizing expedition of discovering the southern landscape and historical side of Cappadocia.

The day long tour is usually in a group of 10-12 people and the package includes:

- Pick up & drop from your hotel.

- Pit stops at iconic places.

- A traditional Turkish lunch.

The first destination on this tour is one of Cappadocia's best kept historical wonders - the Derinkuyu Underground City, a 55 meter long ancient city that once was home to about 20,000 people. Also known as the world's deepest subterranean metropolis, the ruins will give you a glimpse of their living quarters, wineries, kitchen, storage areas and a lot more.

As you move ahead, the tour takes you the breathtaking Ihlara valley, where you have a peaceful walk along side the Melendiz river & enjoy a traditional meal in the company of nature.

The next stop on the tour is our favorite - the drop dead gorgeous The Nar Crater Lake. Situated 36 km southeast of Aksaray in Cappadocia, this lake dates back to thousands of years. This 21 metres deep lake when seen in winters, is an absolute sight to behold.

P.S We feel genuinely blessed to be able to see the Nar Lake in its most surreal form.

The frozen Nar Crater Lake

The Green Tour comes to an end with a visit to the largest rock cut monastery of Cappadocia, the Selime Monastery. It houses a cathedral sized church and many fairy chimneys, making it an astonishing wonder to see.

Day 3: Take it easy the Turkish way

After 2 vigorous days of discovering the history of Cappadocia, keep the third day easy breezy, while you soak in the luxury of Cappadocian hospitality.

- Unwind in the luxury of your Cave Hotel

A visit to Cappadocia is in complete if you have not pampered yourself at a luxurious picturesque Cave Hotel. These dreamy hotels, spread all across the town are one of the most popular reasons tourists visit Cappadocia each year.

We chose to stay at the Mithra Cave Hotel & Suites, a magnificent 39 room hotel, that has rooms carved out of caves, designed in an Ottoman and Greek architectural style, without compromising on every bit of luxury.

Bonus Point - Mithra Caves is also home to the cutest dog ever - Fendix.

- Go for a Turkish Hammam

There's absolutely nothing like a rejuvenating Hammam with age old traditions, that brings you so close to one of the world's most ancient forms of relaxation and cleansing of the body. Ask your hotel to help you decide a Hammam and simply go experience it.

- Shop for beautiful Ceramic Balloons & Traditional Rugs

If there was a wonderland of Ceramics and Rugs, it would be in the one and only Goreme. Take a stroll in the local town market, hop between stores and don't forget to pick some souvenirs for loved ones back home.

Day 4: (Our bonus day): Take off, up above in the sky

A little anecdote before we tell you about our heart-stopping experience in the Hot Air Balloon.

In our planned 3 days in Cappadocia, the weather was not conducive for flying. We were scheduled to fly to Izmir on the night of Day 3 and were a little disheartened about the fact that we missed a dream opportunity. On the morning of Day 3, our hotel staff informed us that the next day would be a good day for the balloon flight and there are 80% chances of success, we opted to cancel our flight to Izmir, changed our itinerary and stayed back. While it was a big risk, the reward was equally worth the effort. So yes, this is why the article is named 3+1 in Cappadocia. :)

Our Hot Air Balloon odyssey began at 4 AM in the morning. We chose to fly with Anatolian Balloons & had a wonderful experience with them. The journey begins with the balloon company picking you up from the hotel. At the departure sight, you are treated with some cakes & tea, while you wait and watch the astonishing sight of the balloons being prepared to take you on a flight of a lifetime.

The Balloon Departure Site

And then the moment arrives in its full glory! I Imagine floating in the sky, with hundreds of hot air balloons all around you, overlooking the snow capped town of Cappadocia. Well, this is it and there can be nothing more miraculous than it.

Here are some handy tips:

- Always check with the balloon agency for flying dates before finalizing your travel to Cappadocia. In summers & winters, change in wind directions may lead to a cancellation of the flight, so it's important you have a few extra days in hand, to be able to live this out of the world experience.

- The Balloon companies will charge you in Euros. It is recommended you pay the Euros in cash, as all card transactions will have an extra fees attached to them.

- Too many Balloon companies may lead to confusion. The best way to choose one is by asking your hotel to book it for you.

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