When to Go I What to Do I Museums I Shopping I Food Culinary Info I Natural Wonders I Festivals/Events I Night Life/Bars

Gay&Lesbian I Cost I Getting Around I Safety I Langguage I Party/Social Scene

 

The lunar landscape of Cappadocia is something of a geological and cultural wonder. Ten million years ago, three volcanoes erupted, leaving piles of volcanic stone and ash called tufa. Much of the tufa eroded, which produced ravines, but the stone that remained produced spires, hills and towers. One of the results are boulders perched on slender cones, which locals call "fairy chimneys."

Visually, the area is amazing. The rock seems to change color, from gray to beige, to yellow and ochre, depending on the time of day. The smell of wood smoke is in the air, and the sky is bright blue with wisps of clouds. The snow-capped summit of Erciyes Dagi rises in the distance. Most people spend the day walking through the valley, visiting primitive churches, climbing stairways, and soaking up the surreal landscape. The frescos of the Goreme rock churches and the eerie underground cities are fascinating and unique. Intriguing, and fascinating, Cappadocia is a great place to explore, relax, or just wander.

 


When to go:
There are plenty of things to do in Cappadocia, and no matter how much time you have, there are still plenty of things to see. July and August is high season, when the area is hottest and busiest. Winter (November-February) is cold. The period from March through October is the best time to visit.

What to Do:
History/Ruins:
From a historical perspective, the area is fascinating. The caves have been around since BCE. Early Christians and local settlers carved into the tufa rock, creating simple rooms, beautiful churches, and even labyrinthine passageways. Monasteries sprung up in Goreme and Zelve. The area is rich in minerals, despite its barren appearance, and was an important agricultural center.

Museums:
At the heart of Goreme National Park is the Goreme Open Air Museum. Some of the most beautiful mosaics and frescos are located at the site. Less well preserved than its counterpart in Goreme, the Zelve Open Air Museum is more conducive to exploration and aimless wandering. Here you'll stumble across tunnels, caves, and the ruins of rock churches.

Truly one of the world's weirdest museums, the Hair Museum in Avanos is famous potter Galip Korukcu's personal collection of women's hair. He has a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for his extensive and disturbing collection.

Shopping:
The region is not particularly known for its shopping, but you can definitely find retail activity. There are ATM machines, a post office and shops that sell necessities. Tour companies make stops at shops that sell Turkish chotchkes and crafts, and there are plenty of places to spend lira around Goreme and Urgup.

Food/Culinary Info:
Wine tasting is a pleasurable afternoon activity while in Urgup. There are several vineyards in the surrounding valley.

Natural Wonders:
The region is unique: the soft, smooth rock, the cave dwellings, and the lush vegetation that grows in rocky landscape. You are very aware of nature when you wander around the landscape of Cappadocia. The area is world famous for its butterflies, and April is the time to see them at their peak. Among the many species you might see then are the Papillio Machaon, the Allancastria Cerisiyi, and the rare Parnassus Apollon. Another natural wonder is the Sultansazlidi Bird Paradise, located beyond Mt. Erciyes, on the road from Kayseri to Nigde. Covering more than 2,000 hectares of marshland, the sanctuary also contains two major lakes, one freshwater and one saltwater. It is the largest wetland ecosystem in the country.

Festivals/Events:
Every June there is a wine festival in Goreme.

Nightlife/Bars:
Plenty of cave-clubs and bars line the streets of Goreme and Urgup. Flintstones is a veritable institution. It is also a great place to get information from other travelers about wherever you may be heading.

Gay & Lesbian:
Because Cappadocia is a highly-touristed region, it attracts a wide range of people. The backpacker havens of Goreme and Urgup are more popular sites for bars and clubs that are gay-friendly. The Cafe Feminin in Avanos is a mostly female bar, and thus more lesbian-friendly.

Cost:
Costs in Cappadocia are on par with those in Istanbul, where prices are significantly lower than those in Europe.

Getting Around:
Most people get to Cappadocia by bus, stopping at Nevsehir, the region's hub. There is also the Erkilet Airport in Gulsehir and train stations in Nigde and Kayseri. Goreme and Urgup are where most travelers stay, and both towns are well-connected by dolmus or taxi. Some people rent horses, bicycles, mopeds or motorcycles to see the sites. From Goreme, many locations are within walking distance. For the most part, it's easy to get around Cappadocia. Often, if you're not going with an organized tour, you'll find that the cheapest and easiest option is dolmus (shared taxi or minibus) service. These depart frequently to most destinations from major towns and cities, and from most minor ones as well.

Local bus service is usually about the same price (all under US$1), and if you can figure out the schedule, it can be less harrowing. You could also rent a car, scooter, motorcycle, bicycle, or horse to get yourself around.

Safety:
Women should be careful walking alone at night in the area.

Language:
Turkish is the main language. English, and sometimes German, is spoken at tourist sites and at hostels.

Party/Social Scene:
Nightlife is more on the quiet side. Long dinners and a couple of drinks are staples of the social scene.

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