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I’m the first to say that I hate organized tours. Seriously. Yes, they’re incredibly convenient, but they’re often expensive and can be done on your own for much less money. Plus, you (usually) only get a superficial view of the city.
Sometimes, out of necessity, you have no choice but to take a tour. Maybe you’re pressed for time, or the public transportation is lacking. That’s the position my friend and I found ourselves in when we decided to spend a couple of days in Cappadocia. Apparently there is limited public transportation. We probably could have figured out our way around with buses and taxis but, given that we only had two days in the city, that wasn’t really an option. Oh, and it was freezing so we really weren’t keen on walking, either.
So being the “budgeter” that I am (also known as cheap, whatever), I researched and researched until I found the best deal available. At the time, that best deal meant a two-day private tour package with Istanbul Tours that included entrance fees, lunch, a guide, hotel pick-up/drop-off, and a hot air balloon ride. We stayed in a really cool cave hotel called the Ottoman Cave Suites (you can see just how awesome it was in the Cappadocia images later) and booked a round trip flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia using Pegasus Airlines. It ended up costing us around $350 per person due to a poor exchange rate and the fact that hot air balloon rides are pretty pricey. Today’s exchange rate would have saved us over $100 each. Shrug.
Depending on your budget and how long you have in the city, I highly recommend a tour. Not only did we learn a ton, but we were easily transported throughout and outside the surprisingly large city. Why the title “Fairy Chimneys and Fairy Tales: Cappadocia in Photos?” Well, visiting Cappadocia is like walking through lands straight out of a fairy tale…and yes those fairy chimneys are included. Just look at the Cappadocia images – I honestly couldn’t describe it in words. Keep reading for a glimpse of all the incredible things we saw!
Kaymakli Underground City
Kaymakli is an entire city made of caves built underground, which were used as protection during war. This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
Spectacular Rock “Castles”
Ancient Craft Lessons
You can read my comprehensive guide to Turkish cuisine here.
And much more!
So, after staring at all these snow-dusted Cappadocia images, are you ready to book your flight there? Awesome! Here are a few tips:
1. There are both buses and flights from Istanbul. If you choose to take a flight, check out Pegasus Airlines, Turkey’s budget airline, and book early!
2. Cappadocia is gorgeous in the winter, but it is absolutely freezing (in case you can’t tell, I’m wearing 5+ layers). I recommend a fall or spring visit for a somewhat less crowded but much more enjoyable experience.
3. Stay in a cave hotel! They’re poorly insulated, but it’s still a “cool” (pun!) experience. I stayed at the Ottoman Cave Suites*.
4. Research tour companies! The prices vary wildly, especially with fluctuating exchange rates, so check frequently. I used Istanbul Tours, but I went in early 2015, so things might have changed since then. You can probably get from place to place independently, but you’ll likely need more than two days.
5. Book a hot air balloon ride! I know that hot air balloon rides are pricey ($100+ per person), so if you’re really on a budget, then go to Sunset Point at dawn and watch the balloons rise. But it’s an incredible view if you do manage to go up.
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Have you ever been to Cappadocia? Did we manage to capture it in these Cappadocia images? What tips do you have for traveling there on a budget? Share your experience in the comments below!