To DoGo forth and explore
Cappadocia boasts many beautiful rock valleys and it is really fun to go hiking in them, explore the landscape and discover cave houses and churches carved within the "fairy chimneys". Some of the valleys I recommend to explore are Red/Rose Valley (named after its color), Pigeon Valley and Love Valley. There are of course many others which we have yet to explore, such as Zelve Valley and Zelve Open Air Museum.
There are lots of small paths near to Tourist Hotel on the main road of Goreme, which will take you to the respective valleys. Ask for a map from your hotel!
Watch sunrise on a hot air balloon
This is really a once in a lifetime experience, which I would really like to have again. Cappadocia is probably one of the top places in the world to take a hot air balloon, because looking at the otherworldly landscape 800m above the ground is already mindblowing on its own.
We woke up at 4am, shivering in the cold and gulping down hot Turkish tea while waiting for the hot air balloon pickup. The minibus dropped us near the balloon, which the crew was just beginning to set up. We packed into the balloon basket, with everyone buzzing with anticipation and slowly, we felt the balloon basket leave the ground and we began to rise.
It is just magical watching the sunrise over the valley, see layers of layers of rolling mountains bathed in golden light and the silhouettes of other balloons around us. Depending on weather conditions, the balloon will also take you to see most of the valleys and admire the strange and beautiful landscape of Cappadocia.
There are tons of balloon companies asking for prices between 120 - 160 euros - be sure to consider the following with the price: Reputation of company and Number of people per balloon basket.
Horseback riding in the Red and Rose Valley
Out of the 3 full days we were in Goreme, it rained in the afternoon 2/3 days. We originally booked our Sunset Horseback Tour on the first day, but we had to postpone it due to the poor weather. So on the final day, which also happened to be my birthday, we were both praying so hard with our fingers crossed that the sun will stay. And it did.
It was really a beautiful experience as I rode up and down the rocky terrain of the Red/Rose Valley - I bobbed up and down with the rhythm of the horse. I was one with nature and my horse - No other distractions. As we rode back in the direction of the sunset, the Red/Rose Valley changed its hue gradually from light reddish rose to golden rose, and it was the second time which I felt like I was truly in a movie or a fairytale. Magic.
Climb atop Sunset Point
Ask your hotel where the Sunset Point in Goreme is - it is really easy to climb atop and a beautiful sight watching the sunlight bathe the valleys in a golden hue. One side of the sunset point faces Goreme town, while the other overlooks Love Valley. In the distance, you can see the Red/Rose Valley, which makes the sunset experience all the more spectacular.
Go stargazing after dark
This was originally not on our itinerary at all as we did not know of it. But because of the friends we have made at Nostalji Cave Suites & Restaurants (more below), we eventually went back to the Sunset Point after dark, brought by the waiter, Ali, who had the same birthday as me. We brought red wine, two giant Golden Retrievers, and climbed back to Sunset Point after dark.
We laid in the grass and stared at the stars, we finished a bottle of red and made toasts to music, friendship and the beauty of Cappadocia. It has been a long time since I felt content and brimming with satisfaction just laying down, doing nothing. Ali started his playlist on the phone and it was London Grammar. I almost couldn't believe - Here, in Cappadocia, an Iranian guy working in Turkey shares the same birthday and music taste as myself. I'm usually not a huge believer of fate or destiny, but then I think it was really fate that we met.
If you'd like to go for a tour, choose the Green Tour
There are 3 main tours which local tour companies offer - Red, Blue and Green. Choose the Green Tour as it covers the most miles and takes you to the Derinkuyu Underground City, which you can only visit with a guide.
Climb atop Uchisar Castle
Uchisar Castle is probably the highest point in the Cappadocia region and it looks like a giant block of cheddar cheese. On a good day, you can see for as far as your eye allows! If you, for any reason, cannot go for the hot air balloon, then a visit to Uchisar Castle is a definite must.
Note: You can skip the overcrowded Goreme Open Air Museum as I found it to be simply too touristy and that takes away the experience of admiring the cave churches while jostling with people in a tiny, cramped space. I would recommend you to explore and discover cave churches on your own in the valleys instead.
To EatTop Deck Cave Restaurant
Probably one of the best meals I've had in Turkey! This family-run restaurant is slightly underground in a cave, offering some really good homey, comfort food. Pop cooks the main meat dishes, which is Chicken, Beef or Lamb and the cooking method changes daily, Mom helps out in the kitchen, and their daughters take your order. Order the Large Meze Platter to get a taste of Turkish mezes. Do call to reserve in advance as they are usually all packed the whole night!
Try the famous Pottery Kebab here! Pottery Kebab is a meat stew served in a small clay urn, which you would need to break to open. At Nostalji, the Pottery Kebab is made according to traditional recipes, comprising mainly of quality meat which the Emin, the restaurant owner, buys from the market daily. Come here for traditional Turkish dishes and really friendly and genuine service - plus the view here is great when they open their rooftop terrace.
This was also the restaurant where I celebrated my 23rd birthday.
"It's her birthday today," Adeline remarked to the waiter who has been serving us at the end of the meal. We were both curious what Turkish hospitality will bring us when we said that.So it was after the restaurant served its last customers, that the lights were switched off and a guy brought out a cake lit with candles and sparklers. The rest of the staff started singing a birthday song in Turkish. They made a big deal of having both me and Ali make a wish and blow candles together, cutting the cake and then popping champagne. We then spoke to Emin, the owner of Nostalji Cave Suites & Restaurant, who was born and raised in Cappadocia, for close to 2 hours. What was originally meant to be a simple dinner progressed to a celebration lasting to almost 4 hours in the restaurant.
"Well, today's my birthday too," Ali, the waiter, replied somewhat casually. He has been half teasing us the whole time while serving us, so we just brushed off his remark.
"No, it's really my birthday," he stressed, pulling out his wallet and giving us his identity card. We stared in disbelief. "You can't leave yet, you have to celebrate!"
Turkish hospitality has yet again surpassed my expectations and amazed me.
This openair restaurant has a great atmosphere and bread here is always freshly toasted to perfection in their stone carved oven. Plenty of good dishes to choose from, but do order a baked dish to taste the difference its stone oven makes!
We didn't try this restaurant but I stumbled upon it on another guide - this is a great place for traditional Turkish plates as well and of course the Pottery Kebab, local only to Cappadocia.
I think for now, Cappadocia will always have my heart - I only spent 3.5 days there, and it has never failed to surprise me what other experiences it can give. From crawling into cave homes, getting lost in hiking trails, sliding down steep sandy paths (that was scary), to riding horses in the valleys and riding a hot air balloon for the first time... Cappadoca has so much to offer and there is so much which I have yet to see in the region. Trust me, go to Turkey and go to Cappadocia.