Cappadocia, a two-day unforgettable adventure
Cappadocia is probably one of the most surreal places I have visited so far. Everything from the sunrise, to the sound of prayers at different times of day, to the charm of the people, to the exquisite food and the astonishing landscapes makes this area breathe magic.
If it's in your travel plans, you are doing the right thing. If it's not, then please listen to me, a person with little to no influence in your life, and at least check it our online before scratching it off completely.
The first basic thing you must do is decide how you will move around because when you arrive, there are two airports - both, around 30-40 minutes away from Göreme, where most of the fun happens. And even when you are in Göreme, you are going to have the need to move around constantly to explore at your pace and will. What I'm trying to say is, RENT-A-CAR. It's the second best investment you will do when you visit. It is cheaper than getting different tours to the different locations, and it is better to get off the track for a bit and take any desired detours.
Book a Sunrise Balloon Ride:
The first activity that you need to do is one that must be done (sounds a bit redundant but I'm trying to emphasize the point. You need to book this one in advance because it books quickly... Like VERY quickly. The views are breathtaking. Arriving before dawn to that rocky field surrounded by the mountains, and then seeing a sunrise like you've never seen before, adorned by the 150 balloons that take flight 230 days of the year if weather permits, is as magical as this place can be. Our company gave us a one hour ride, and after that some complimentary champagne and cake, which left us all tipsy at 8am in the morning and in need of a nap.
Visit the Open Air Museum of Göreme (5 minute drive):
In various parts of the valley you will find homes and structures within the rocks (like the fairy chimneys), but in this museum you will find the ones with the most detail carved into the rock formations. Churches and homes built as places to live, worship and hide from prosecutors for centuries, and are now kept for the world to admire. Used by various peoples, from Hittites to Christians, these mountains have been the refuge to many.
Wonder around Çavusin (5 minute drive):
A small and modest town, that has a few simple restaurants and antique shops. Nothing sounds too impressive, until you look up and see a huge rock formation with many homes in it. The homes within the walls were used until around the 1920s, and the town itself was evacuated in the 1950s due to falling rocks. People later returned to town, and nowadays you can either walk up the side of the mountain to the top, or climb through the rocks, a great experience either way to find an amazing view at the top of the Rose Valley.
Visit Uçhisar (5 minute drive):
Just at the outskirts of Göreme, you will find Uçhisar, a town that has its own palace carved on the mountain, which you can also visit, and a few good dining spots if you are hungry (you can visit the maps section of the website to find what I'm talking about).
Visit the Underground city of Kaymakli (30 minute drive):
I am still debating what I found more amazing... the balloon ride, or Kaymakli. This is the largest underground city in existence, and was fully functional for many many years. Only four of its eight levels have been opened to the public so far, and you can walk in and explore how people lived under the ground. The city had an internal mechanism that could be used to close the city from within, with huge boulders, protecting those inside.
Visit the underground city of Derinkuyu (40 minute drive):
Although we did not visit Derinkuyu, I have heard its just as impressive as Kaymakli. Although a bit smaller in overall size, this city surpasses Kaymakli with its 80 meters of depth, and is also apparently remarkable.
To complete the visit to Cappadocia, and leave feeling completely happy, you will only need to stay for 1-2 nights. I would suggest arrive at around midday, visit around Göreme and its surroundings. Then wake up early the next day to do your Balloon tour, and later drive to Kaymakli-Derinkuyu area (they are neighboring towns).
An added bonus... if you go to Kaymakli, and are interested in local artisan carpets. Visit Seven Brothers Carpets. The store is filled with wonderful pieces, and prices seemed reasonable. They are willing to spend hours with you, flipping the whole place upside down, and throwing carpets everywhere as long as you have a good time. If you end up buying, great. If you do not, they won't be mad.