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Things to do in Cappadocia Turkey - Hot air balloon ride sunrise

Cappadocia: Rich in History and Mystery

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Turkey’s Cappadocia region is a destination like no other — a journey far off the beaten path, perfect for a family adventure. Both kids and parents love the Martian-like landscape and rock formations, and the history of this area is fascinating and ANCIENT.

A good place to begin your journey is Hilton Kayseri, conveniently located near the Kayseri airport and a short drive to all the interesting sights in the Cappadocia area. The city of Kayseri is an easy one-hour flight from Istanbul and a surprisingly affordable destination.

Here is our list of top things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey:

Up In the Air – Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride

You really cannot visit this area without experiencing sunrise from the air, safely suspended from the basket of a hot air balloon some 1,500 feet aloft. I won’t lie, a few people in our group were a little nervous, but they soon got over their fear as the vistas from up high are overwhelmingly beautiful. Sunrise from this level is a must-see, and the kids loved it so much they even forgot about the early wake up time!

The whole experience lasts about four hours from start to finish, with 90 minutes in the air. Transport from the hotel is provided, and you’re served a little breakfast and coffee, as well as given an authentic certificate signed by the balloon captain to memorialize the flight. I must have snapped about 300 photos of this entire experience — very cool, indeed.

Things to do in Cappadocia Turkey - Hot air balloon ride

Our family loved the hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey.

Underground Cities – Kaymakli

The history of the Cappadocia region is rich, troubled and fascinating. One of the earlier settlements in this area was occupied by Assyrian colonies as far back as 1900 BC (!), and later became home to the Persians, Alexander the Great, Romans, Byzantines, Hittites, Christians and many more ancient cultures than I can recall. Let’s just say it’s pretty darn old and super cool.

Things to do in Cappadocia Turkey - Unusual rock towers

Years of volcanic activity formed other-worldly rock formations.

Because many of these people were persecuted, they dug homes underground where they could escape when under attack. These underground cities, Kaymakli is a notable one, remain, dotted throughout the landscape and easily accessible…for visitors who are not claustrophobic, that is! The kids were both enthralled and a little freaked out.

Hidden Churches in the Rocks – Goreme

Built into the walls and valleys of a rocky canyon, Goreme, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was home to Christian families for centuries. Persecuted by those in power at the time, the inhabitants built homes and churches into rock formations. Nunneries, monasteries and other relics of this time still exist for visitors to explore. The original frescoes date back as far as the 10th century, and the colorful paintings are quite well preserved.

The museum tells the story of each church in Goreme, nicknamed Apple Church, Snake Church, Dark Church, Buckle Church, because of interesting stories the paintings in these churches represent.

Things to do in Cappadocia Turkey - Cave churches at UNESCO World Heritage site

Seeing the churches at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Goreme is one of the best things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey with kids.

Magic Carpet Ride – Turkish Rug Factory

If you have plans to buy an authentic rug while visiting Turkey, this is the place do it! The Cappadocia region is where most of them are made. Our guide brought us to a place that catered to families, and they gave us a guided tour of their handmade rug factory.

We were shown how a silk worm spins the cocoon, how the thread is unraveled and turned into yarn, how the yarn is dyed with natural pigments and how it is woven by hand into a beautiful work of art. The whole process was made fun and entertaining by their expert team, and held the kids’ attention through to the end. The best part was when the kids reenacted the magic carpet scene from Aladdin; the staff even played along with the fun!

Things to do in Cappadocia Turkey - Turkish Rug factory

The process of weaving silkworm casings into yarn to make Turkish rugs is fascinating.

One Last Travel Tip

A total of two or three nights is a good amount of time to spend in Cappadocia. There is a lot to see in this region, and you can cover it easily by car or motor coach. We loved splitting up this trip with four nights in Istanbul for a full range of Turkish experiences. Cappadocia was definitely a highlight of our trip and so very different than the cosmopolitan city of Istanbul. Have fun and stay cool!

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A Cali boy his entire life, Jon prefers to be near the water at all times. He grew up in San Francisco and now lives in San…

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