Surely when thinking of Cappadocia, every visitor immediately thinks of the overwhelmingly beautiful hot air balloon photos on Instagram, images that make us automatically put Cappadocia in the bucket list. But it is not until we set foot in this rocky valley to see, Cappadocia makes us fall in love for many other reasons. And you probably wonder how many days is enough for Cappadocia? In my oppinion, 3 days is okay. So, what to do, where to go and how to spend 3 days in Cappadocia perfectly? Let’s check out our suggested Istanbul Cappadocia itinerary for 3 days to help you planning a wonderful trip to Cappadocia.
- Cappadocia travel guide — The fullest Cappadocia tourist guide & Cappadocia travel blog for first-timers
- Where to go in Cappadocia? — Explore 9 best places to visit in Cappadocia
- What to buy in Turkey? — Top 26 must, best gifts, famous things to buy in Turkey
- Turkey itinerary 10 days — How to spend 10 days in Turkey perfectly?
- Where to go in Istanbul? — 10 must & best places to visit in Istanbul
Detailed Istanbul Cappadocia itinerary for 3 days in Cappadocia
- Day 1: Istanbul – Cappadocia (1 hour of flying time, if you take a local bus, you should take the night bus to save time and 1 hotel night): Explore the underground city.
- Day 2: Cappadocia (hunting hot air balloons, explore Uchisar Castle, Goreme village, Mushroom Valley).
- Day 3: Cappadocia (continue balloon hunting and leave at noon).
Istanbul Cappadocia itinerary: Interesting places to discover for 3 days in Cappadocia
Growing up like a giant termite nest, Uchisar Castle (a fortress) located in the village of Uchisar that stands out for being a spectacular spot to watching sunset and to be able to see the huge rock gorge next to it. Because we stayed near Uchisar, I could come here every day by walking with only 15 minutes, in addition, there are many attractive restaurants, cafes and rooftop bars with nice views, so you should stop by. It’s also a must-visit place in Cappadocia.
Located in the middle of the Monks valley, natural rock structures “grow” like “mushrooms” here. With the shape of straw mushrooms (rocks form in mushrooms-shaped), making it becomes the most recognizable place in Cappadocia. You may imagine them in slightly “weird” shapes like “reproductive organ of men”, but that’s just your mind.
Derinkuyu Underground City
Where there are traces of ancient inhabitants, coming here, I had the underground experience like going under Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam, but more impressive. This place has a church, a food cellar and natural ventilation skylights, so there is no feeling of suffocation. It is recommended that those who are fear of small spaces (claustrophobia) should not enter. Ticket price is 30 TL.
Goreme Town (Village)
A most bustling and lively village in Cappadocia. Here you will see many sharp rocks pointing up into the sky, formed from volcanic activity, the whole village is a huge open-air museum. Here you can visit many restaurants, bars to sit and chill gently.
Pottery & carpet workshop
Although I’m not a fan of shopping for traditional items, I love watching artisans work on their creations.
Where to take beautiful pictures in Cappadocia? 5 best photogenic spots in Cappadocia
Rooftop with hot air balloons flying up
It is a fact that 99% (I exaggerate) tourists knowing Cappadocia through rooftop photos with hot air balloons. So I was determined to capture the hot air balloons, if did not done that, I was not return back. Here are a few tips for you to shoot while the hot air balloon rising:
A. Where is the location to hunting hot air balloon?
- The best place to view and take pictures is at rooftop of hotels in Goreme village such as Sultan Cave Suites (Agoda.com or Booking.com), Mithra Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com). HOWEVER, these 2 places will “kick” you out because this area is only for their guests. So how to take pictures?
- Taskonak Hotel is an alternative because the hotel owner is quite easygoing, you should ask for permission politely to enter and take pictures and do not speak too loudly.
- You can try at some surrounding hotels, because almost hotels in Goreme have the same view, but each rooftop has a different setup.
B. What to wear?
- Plain clothes: You should choose colors such as sand, white, yellow, blue, orange, red. Limit colors like black, dark shades of cold colors will drown you.
- Patterned clothes: You should wear clothes with small patterns, if they are too big, they will be stunned with the balloons.
C. Important notes
- Hot air balloons are not always available, on rainy or windy days they won’t fly. It is best to check the weather forecast in advance. The best time to see is in April – October because it is not too windy at this time. I was lucky on the first day that I saw a hot air balloon, the next day suddenly it rained and no balloons flew.
- The hot air balloons will take off before dawn. You can go to the app to check the sunrise time. When a group starts to go to the balloon launch site, then 15 minutes later you can go to the rooftops to photograph.
- You’ll have about 1 hour and 30 minutes before the balloons land. So, take advantage of time.
2/ Sunset at Uchisar
As I introduced above, Uchisar gives a panoramic view of the magnificent rocky valley. The sunset here is equally magnificent and spectacular. When taking photos here, you need to note a few small points:
- Getting close to Uchisar castle, from there you’ll see a view over the rocky valley and the picture will be more magical.
- If you want to take a picture of the castle, you should pass through it and then turn around to look back because the sunset will cover one side, making the photo underexposed.
3/ Beautiful carpet shop in Goreme
Goreme on the last day made me even more amazed because this carpet shop is a place that there is no recommended on any tour, you have to find it by yourself. This store is called GALERI IKMAN, please Google this location.
This place is more obvious, you will pay 50 TL/person to have 10 minutes to take photos here. They even offer a drone service for 500 TL/session to assist you in shooting. However, when my group took pictures, the owner excitedly rushed in to take pictures for me, and ended up being photographed for an hour.
Maximizing any angle to shoot and take advantage of the props available here. Clothes should be a little simpler because the textures in the store have too many, so it will not look good when shown on the picture. Avoid hot colors, too much patterns.
4/ Where balloons take-off and land
It was beautiful when the balloon took off, but when it landed, it was even more impressive. You can complete your morning hunt by hiring a taxi to take you to the hot air balloon landing sites, definitely a different experience because of seeing the hot air balloons up close.
There are many landing sites you can approach, but I stopped by at the middle of the road connecting the villages of Uchisar and Goreme which is quite convenient.
5/ Mushroom Village
With impressive rock formation, the mushroom village is a perfect natural background. Here, you should climb up the cliff on the left, from there you will see the entire geological village.
Here you are free to wear bright clothes. In addition, right at the entrance you can take pictures with camels for 15 TL.
3 days in Cappadocia: Where to stay in Cappadocia?
I chose to stay at Uchisar Kaya Otel (Agoda.com or Booking.com), which is located on the edge of Uchisar castle, so it is convenient to get from here to watch the sunset. But the big minus point is that the balloon when flying up will be quite far from the view and have to take a taxi for about 20 minutes.
If you have a small budget, you can still stay at a Cave hotel in a dorm called Cave Garden Hotel in Goreme, cheap 10€/night. It is located high on the mountain and does not have a rooftop, but it is also beautiful to climb up to the panorama view spot nearby and watch the hot air balloon towards Red Valley. (This information is contributed by Ms. Hang Nguyen).
The more popular option is in the village of Goreme. But the price here is quite expensive because the view of the hot air balloon in this village is the most beautiful. Prices range from $65 to $435/night. Hotels that are too cheap will not have a rooftop.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Aydinli Cave Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Millstone Cave Suites (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Mithra Cave Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Kelebek Special Cave Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Argos In Cappadocia (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
Istanbul Cappadocia itinerary: Getting to Cappadocia from Istanbul
Turkish Airlines daily operates a quick flight of only 1 hour from Istanbul to Cappadocia, a beautiful small airport. This is the fastest way to get to this rocky valley.
The air tickets ranging: 280 TL – 350 TL, if you book earlier about 2 – 3 months, you can get less than $35.
Note: There are 2 airports near Cappadocia, Kayseri (ASR) or Nevsehir (NAV), but Kayseri is 1 hour from Cappadocia and Nevsehir is only about 20 – 30 minutes. You should choose the most suitable airport because the transfer service prices will sometimes differ.
This is the cheapest means to get to Cappadocia, with only 90TL, you can sleep on the way to save a hotel night. However, the trip will take more than 10 hours, so it will be tiring when you arrive. There are many companies selling these bus tickets like Metro Turizm and Nevşehir Seyahat you can search online to buy them.
When should I visit Cappadocia?
The winter months from December to February with heavy snowfall and constantly changing weather are not the best time to visit Cappadocia because you will miss the legendary hot air balloon scene in this land. However, a snow-covered rocky valley is also an interesting image if you want to choose a strange experience.
From April to September every year is a good time to go to Cappadocia if you want to see hot air balloons, this time has little rain and moderate wind. But it is not 100% guaranteed that this rate will be successful because on windy days, the flights will have to be canceled. You should stay here for 3 to 4 days to ensure you are lucky enough to see the hot air balloons.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Cappadocia you can refer to
- Hot Air Balloon Flight in Cappadocia
- Cappadocia Devrent Valley Tour
- Blue Tour Cappadocia
- Green Tour with Trekking in Ihlara Valley
- Historical Cappadocia Red Tour