48 hours in Cappadocia – A 2 day Itinerary

Beautiful girl sitting on the hotel and looking to hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Cappadocia is the new Cinque Terre. It was always a beautiful region in the centre of Turkey with its mystical rock formations, underground cave dwellings, and rich history of craftsmanship. But thanks to Instagram, everyone knows about it and everyone wants to visit. 

If you’re at all on the fence and are still wondering, “is Cappadocia worth visiting?”, the answer is yes. The questions you should be asking yourself are how long to spend in Cappadocia and how will you fill your Cappadocia itinerary.

48 hours in Cappadocia is the perfect amount of time. One of the main reasons why you should consider staying longer is to give yourself more time to catch one of the quintessential air balloon rides at sunrise in Cappadocia just in case there is bad weather. 

Of course, there are always extra things to do in Cappadocia if you have the time to spare and the money to splurge. There are valleys you can hike where you can see the magical ‘fair chimneys’ and there are ancient monuments. But if you want to know the minimum of how many days to spend in Cappadocia, two days in Cappadocia is perfect. 

This 48 hours in Cappadocia itinerary will cover all the best things to do in Cappadocia including what to eat and where to stay in Cappadocia. It has all the best activities and recommendations so you can have an amazing trip to this fairytale land in the middle of the Turkish countryside.

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The Best Time to Visit Cappadocia

July and August are in the peak season for tourists in Cappadocia but it’s definitely not the best time to spend 48 hrs in Cappadocia. Temperatures often soar to 40°C (104°F) in the daytime and many of the hotels don’t have air conditioning. Plus, the hotels book up months in advance and are much more expensive. 

Two of the best times to visit Cappadocia are late spring (May and June) and early autumn (September and October). Daytime temperatures will be warm but not stifling. Even though the nights will be cold, the weather will still be ideal for hot air balloon ride take-offs. Hotels will be less busy and therefore less expensive.

However, don’t write off spending 2 days in Cappadocia in winter from November to February if you find a good deal. Temperatures are around -1°C (30°F) in the coldest months of December and January where you will find the valleys covered in a light dusting of snow.

Balloon rides are a year-round activity so as long as you pack properly, you can do all the same activities in December as you can in June. Plus, the wake-ups for sunrise won’t be so early!

portrait of a valley in cappadocia turkey

How to Get Around Cappadocia

Just in case you didn’t know, Cappadocia is a region made up of small villages or towns. They’re all nearby each other staying in one town doesn’t give you an advantage over staying in other towns. You will likely fly into Istanbul, Ankara or Antalya and catch a regional flight or bus to a nearby city.

The main method of public transport in Cappadocia is the bus. It’s cheap and you can usually catch a bus to any of the local villages every hour, but it’s a slow service that you may not want to hang around for.

You could rent a car in the towns of Göreme or Ürgüp but it’s relatively expensive and gas or petrol is very pricey in Turkey. If the weather is good, many tourists will opt to rent a scooter instead.

Day tours tend to be one of the best and most popular ways of seeing the region or you could hire a private driver if you are in a large group.

Shuttles to and from your accommodation are often included in hot air balloon rides so you shouldn’t need to worry about that. Taxis are expensive so they aren’t a reliable option for your entire trip, but worth it if you only want to hire private transport for one or two journeys.

Where to Stay in Cappadocia

There are four main villages you should consider staying in during your 48 hours in Cappadocia: Göreme, Uçhisar, Ortahisar, and Ürgüp.

They’re all either in or on the outskirts of Göreme National Park, which is where you want to be in Cappadocia. You should also stay in a cave hotel too as that’s one of the things this region is famous for.

Kamelya Cave Hostel in Göreme – Located only 100m from the local bus station, you can stay at this cave hostel for as little as €10 a night in the off-season.

There are light and airy private rooms as well as underground dorm rooms, plus breakfast is included and the staff could not be more accommodating and friendly. If you are travelling to Cappadocia as a solo backpacker, Kamelya Cave Hostel is the perfect place to make friends.

Monastery Cave Hotel Cappadocia in Ürgüp – This is one of the best cave hotels in Cappadocia and has all the comforts and amenities of any other hostel with the novelty of being a cave.

You’ll find cosy rooms lined with Turkish carpets in this friendly, family-run hotel. It’s a short distance away from the main activities, restaurants, and bars so Monastery Cave Hotel is ideal if you want to stay somewhere a little quieter.

Millstone Cave Suites in Uçhisar – Want to splash out on a luxury four-star suite? Millstone Cave Suites over upscale yet rustic accommodation at a fraction of the price that you’d pay in big cities for the same service.

You can eat breakfast on their rooftop terrace overlooking the fairy chimneys, relax in their onsite spa, and taste delicious local and international cuisine in their dining room.

Vacation in Goreme cave hotel at summer, Cappadocia

Things To Do in Cappadocia

Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

Taking an air balloon ride is the top thing to do in Cappadocia. You might be wondering why Cappadocia even became synonymous with hot air ballooning, and it’s a fair question. One of the main reasons is the climate.

Hot air balloons fly in Cappadocia around 220 days of the year, year-round. It also has absolutely stunning views for miles around from all angles. Plus, it’s a fairly large and flat area that allows for around 200 balloons to fly at the same time.

Book your hot air balloon ride in advance so you’re not disappointed and book it on the first day of your trip so you can try again the next day if the weather is unfavourable. Choose one that includes a shuttle to and from your accommodation.

Most do, but that’s something to keep in mind as you don’t want to be scrambling for a taxi at four in the morning because they all fly at sunset! And check the reviews so you know you are flying with a reputable company.

Spectacular drone view of hot air balloons ride over Turkeys iconic Cappadocia, the underground cities and fairy chimneys valley, rock formations.

Watch the Hot Air Balloons From Your Rooftop

When you’re wondering how many days in Cappadocia is enough, this is the main factor you should keep in mind.

You want to have enough time in Cappadocia to fly in a balloon on one day and watch them fly on another day.

So, scout out your hotel’s rooftop in advance or one of the scenic viewpoints from your hotel (ask the staff) and set your alarm clock! Wrap up warm because the mornings in Cappadocia can be cold when it’s not summer.

Rooftop terrace decorated with pillows and carpets in Turkish style with the view in the morning over balloons in Greme from Uhisar, Cappadocia, Turkey

Shop for Turkish Carpets and Lanterns

There are lots of amazing craftspeople in Cappadocia who make the most amazing, handmade souvenirs.

There are lots of art and carpet shops in Göreme, especially, so you should shop there before you leave. Galerie Ikman is a very Instagrammable shop, so much so that the owner will only let you take photos if you buy something. Which is fair enough!

If you’re worried about how you’re going to fit an entire rug in your suitcase, some are very light and thin. Plus, you can invest in a travel vacuum bag that will help you save space when you travel.

Amazing traditional handmade turkish lamps in Local souvenir shop ,Goreme. Cappadocia Turkey

Hike Through Cappadocia’s Valleys

You cannot visit Cappadocia without hiking through the many valleys in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some of the top ones are Rose Valley, Pigeon Valley, Love Valley, Monks Valley, and Ihlara Valley. Guided hikes here are so popular, that every tour company in the area follows set hiking routes labelled Green, Red, or Blue tours.

They all include a selection of valleys so you can experience a few during your trip to Cappadocia.

Beautiful mountains and Red valley at sunset in Goreme, Cappadocia in Turkey.

Taste Local Turkish Cuisine

Because Cappadocia is becoming more and more popular with international travellers, there are lots of restaurants serving international cuisine. But you should still make an effort to try the local fare

Turkish food is a combination of Mediterranean cuisine and Middle Eastern cuisine. Expect mezze platters, yoghurt-based dips, kebabs, grilled meat and fish.

Cappadocia’s signature dish is manti which is a little like ravioli in a tomato-based sauce. You should also try baklava cake while you are in Turkey too.

Breakfast with great landscape on rooftop of cave house in Goreme city, Cappadocia Turkey.

Places To Visit in Cappadocia

Göreme National Park 

Also known as Göreme open-air museum, this is a UNESCO World Heritage site where you will find Cappadocia’s strange rock formations called the ‘fairy chimneys.’

These towering rocks were caused by erosion and they cover around 39 square miles of landscape in the middle of Cappadocia.

You can take photographs and see the rocks up close by joining one of the green, red, or blue tours through the valleys.

Love valley in Goreme national park. Cappadocia, Turkey

Uchisar Castle

This rock fortress is one of the tallest buildings in the Cappadocia region so it’s the perfect place to see panoramic views of the area (except, perhaps, from a hot air balloon!).

It is a centuries-old castle built into the rock like many of the cave buildings here. What is most impressive about the castle is its sheer size and scale as it can be seen for miles around.

Uchisar castle in rock formation. Cappadocia. Nevsehir Province. Turkey

Derinkuyu Underground City

There are many underground cities in Cappadocia. And even though Derinkuyu Underground City is 35 km from Göreme, for example, it is well worth booking a tour or a private transfer to visit it.

Built during the Byzantine era, this is an impressive eight-level underground city with many tunnels and rooms open to the public.

This underground city, and others like it, were built to house thousands of people (this one can hold 20,000) to protect them from invaders, wars, and religious persecution. They have an incredible ventilation system and really are unbelievable places.

The Derinkuyu underground city is an ancient multi-level cave city in Cappadocia, Turkey. Green tour

Tours To Do in Cappadocia

You will already be booking hot air ballooning experiences and hiking guides through the valleys as these are the top two things to do in Cappadocia.

But there are two lesser-known experiences that are quintessential to the region that you have to book during your stay.

Traditional Pottery-Making Experience

Skilled artisans and handcraftsmanship are revered in the Cappadocia region. This applies to the traditional Turkish carpets, yes, but mostly to the ceramics and pottery created in Cappadocia.

That’s why trying a traditional pottery experience is one of the best things you can do when you visit the region.

You will learn about the craft, its history, and its importance to Cappadocia from a local who will teach you how to make a pot. Even better; if you do a good job, you can take your creation with you!

Potter teaches the student the art of clay pottery

Horseback Riding Through the Valleys

You can hike, ride a scooter, or ride an ATV through the many valleys in Göreme National Park. But the most romantic way to experience the fairy chimneys in the region is by riding past them on horseback. Book a sunset tour for an experience you are unlikely to forget!

Goreme, Cappadocia- Local people rent horses for riding and photography in Love Valley in Cappadocia, Goreme, Turkey.

48 Hours in Cappadocia

Day 1 in Cappadocia

So, you know what to do in Cappadocia in 2 days, but this is the best way to plan your Cappadocia itinerary! Book your hot air balloon ride for the first day of your trip. Then, if it is cancelled due to bad weather, you have another shot.

It normally lasts a couple of amazing hours before you return to your accommodation. Then, have breakfast and possibly a nap depending on how early you had to wake up!

In the afternoon, book a hike through Göreme National Park. You will probably see the Love Valley and the most iconic rock formations there, but there are very cool rock formations in all of the valleys.

Try and stay awake to catch the sunset from your hotel’s rooftop terrace or one of the easily accessible viewpoints in the village where you are staying.

Sunset view of the Cavusin fortress and church Vaftizci Yahya, Saint John the Baptist in Cappadocia, Turkey

Day 2 in Cappadocia

Managed to ride in the hot air balloon on your first day? Great! You should still get up early to watch the hot air balloons lift up with the sunrise. You will not regret it.

Afterwards, head back to your hotel for breakfast and a nap.

Once you’re feeling more awake, explore Cappadocia’s main villages. Head out to Uchisar Castle, shop for carpets and lanterns at Galerie Ikman, and take a local pottery-making class.

If you have time, check out one of the underground Byzantine cities in and around Cappadocia. But make it back to your hotel in time for sunset.

Yes, it’s just as beautiful the second time around and you could watch it while horseriding through the valleys if you want to add an extra dash of romance to the last night of your trip.

I hope that this 2 day Cappadocia itinerary has been useful and you’re able to really enjoy your trip!

Goreme town on sunset in Cappadocia, Central Anatolia, Turkey

Recommended tours in Cappadocia

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48 hours in Cappadocia - A 2 day Itinerary
48 hours in Cappadocia - A 2 day Itinerary
48 hours in Cappadocia - A 2 day Itinerary

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