While you’ve most likely seen all the insta photos from Cappadocia and Pamukkale, not many people decide to make the trek here. I’m about to change your mind. Or at least I hope I do. You wont regret it. Trust me! So here’s my guide to the Ultimate trip to Cappadocia and Pamukkale
Depending how active you are, you can probably see everything you want in about 3 days. I flew from Izmir into Cappadocia (for about $45) arriving in the morning. Two days here is ideal. From Cappadocia I took an overnight bus (10 hours $15) to Pamukkale. One day is all you need so if the 10 hour trip doesn’t seem worth it to you, that’s your call but it is a spectacular place to visit. But I get it, buses aren’t the most attractive form of transport.
Where to Stay in Cappadocia
There are a wide variety of places to stay here ranging from hostels to five star hotels. For one night I stayed in budget accomodations and the other night I decided to treat myself to a five star hotel with a view. Both offer spectacular natural accomodations
Natureland Cave Hostel Since the main draw to Cappadocia is it’s incredible landscape, it only makes sense that a hotel/hostel would offer accommodations so close to it and this place is as close as you can get. Nestled into former wine caves turned bedrooms Natureland is a great choice for budget travelers and adventurers alike. Dorms start at $8 while private rooms start at $40. It offers free breakfast and surprisingly fast wifi. And if you’ve booked a balloon tour, you’re right at the launch point.
Sultan Cave Suites If you want a place to splurge for a night (or two) this is the place to do it. This is the insta worthy spot you’ve probably seen and it’s worth every single penny. Also set inside a cave, but with every luxury amenity you could ask for. Comfortable beds, an amazing restaurant with one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had in my life including a full buffet of 50 organic local dishes. Breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace and you’re greeted every morning by Izmir, the adorable hotel puppy that I seriously considered packing in my bag. Hotels really should state if there are puppies on premesis, they’d go to the top of my list every time! Oh and my first time trying Cilbir…I will be posting a recipe soon. That was incredible!
What to do in Cappadocia
With the stunning landscape and formations, if you’re into hiking this will be a memorable experience. You can choose to take a tour, but it’s also easy enough to tackle on your own. You can grab a hiking map from most hotels and they’re easy enough to follow on your own and there are hikes for all abilities. Don’t forget to pack lots of water and sunscreen since theres little to no shade available. One of my favourite hikes was the Love valley to Uçhisar Castle hike (6.5 Tl for entrance). This hike takes 1-1.5 hours to compete and it’s pretty easy. If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging I highly recommend hiring a cab to take you to Ihlara Valley where you’ll have a spectacular view of the landscape. The hike takes about 2-4 hours depending on your speed.
If you’re coming all the way here, you’ve seen the photos and you’re most likely wanting to do a hot air balloon ride. Sunrise or sunset is the most optimal time to do this and prices will vary accordingly. Personally I loved sunrise but people I’ve spoken to have been equally mixed between sunrise and sunset so it’s really a personal choice. Since this is the reason most people come to Cappadocia, there are many many companies to choose from. I used this company when booking through Viator. It’s a relatively affordable option ($145), full pick up and drop off service and you get a champagne breakfast.
Where to Eat
Breakfast is a no brainer. You can come to Sultan Suites hotel and have the best breakfast of your life!!! If you’re looking to eat in town there are also some great options.
Topdeck Cave Restaurant offers amazing meals paired with local wine. The menu is simple, local and hearty. Come really hungry. I highly recommend the mezze or mixed grill
Dunya Iskender Kebap offers amazing options for vegetarian travelers. Turkish food is very meat heavy so this is a great moderately priced option. But since Kebap is in it’s name, don’t you worry meat eaters, the barbecue here is top notch
Guide to Pammukale
If you’re up for the 10 hour bus ride you’ll be rewarded with a visit to one of the most amazing natural sites in the world and UNESCO heritage site ….the hot springs and limestone formations in Pamukkale-Hierapolis. This remains the single most visited place in all of Turkey
Pamukkale in Turkish literally means Cotton Castle. Rightfully so, these pools are so pristine even Cleopatra came to bathe here. In Hierapolis you can bathe like the Romans did in their man made baths as well. The best way to enjoy a visit here is to spend a night in Pamukkale and explore the formations and ancient sites first thing in the morning before the tour buses roll in.
The best way to make the most of your visit is to first walk through the formations on the travertine path (on the south gate). You will be required to take off your shoes before entering to prevent staining the limestone, so make sure you have a bag or backpack to keep your shoes in. Also to save yourself some time, wear your swimwear underneath your clothes so you can hop in without having to wait to change. Plan to spend a full day here swimming and bathing in the pools and terraces. Don’t forget to pack a lunch. The site is open Nov-March 6am-6.30pm, April-Oct 6am-midnight.
Where to Stay
Bella Martimo Hotel Conveniently located just a few minutes walk from the centre of Pamukkale, Hotel Maritim provides you with a quiet, nice and peaceful environment where you can enjoy a swim in the large in-ground pool filled with Pamukkale calcium water or relax in the shady gardened terrace.
Where to Eat in Pamukkale
Kayas Restaurant Because it’s touristy there are so many traps in town. Thankfully this was a great local find serving amazing food at great prices. Definitely the best option to eat here without spending a fortune