At the end of last year, a flight deal popped up in my email. Round trip tickets to Paris for $450 per person. There it was, the offer even my husband couldn’t say no to. But here’s the thing, I had no intention of really going to Paris for our trip. I simply used it as a gateway to a different vacation.
My dream trip for as long as I could remember was to visit Santorini. Turns out, once your already in Europe flying to Greece is fairly inexpensive. This is my number one tip for anyone looking to take a trip like this. Find your flight deal into Europe and use it as your jumping off point.
Once the wheels were in motion there was no stopping me. I wanted to go so many places, but with the heart of the trip being Greece, I decided to simplify it and just add one more quick stop.
About a year ago, a photo popped up on my instagram explore page. A woman was sitting on a terrace covered in Turkish rugs, the sun was rising, and the sky was filled with hot air balloons. My first thought was photoshop. There’s no way this place exists in real life. Wrong. It is real and it is just as magical in person as it is in photos. And with that, a trip was born.
Our first stop would be to Cappadocia, Turkey.
Now here’s where things got a little interesting. There are 3 main ways to get to Cappadocia. You can take a bus from Istanbul which (from what I read) will take you about 10-12 hours. Not ideal, but inexpensive. The other way is by plane. There are two airports near the city, Nevsehir or Kayseri. Nevshir is about 40 minutes away and Kayseri is closer to an hour. The flights are around $60 and take about an hour and a half.
Our flight from Seattle to Paris had a layover in London. It was cheaper and faster for us to fly into Istanbul from London, so we opted to intentionally miss our connection to Paris and take a flight from London to Istanbul. We landed in Istanbul at 11:30 pm, everything was closed except for 1 Starbucks, we had no wifi, and 6 hours to kill before our flight to Nevsehir. If I would have known this beforehand I would have downloaded movies. Instead, we walked up and down the same terminal countless times, drank coffee, and played about 30 games of war.
The endless night did eventually come to an end though and we made it to our first stop, Cappadocia, Turkey at about 8:30 AM.
Where to Stay
I looked at a few different hotels but in the end, we chose to stay at Sultan Cave Suites, and I would highly recommend it. The hotel is famous for having the best terrace and view of the hot air balloons. The staff even has a table set up that is designated for those coveted photos. Plus, you stay inside the famous rock formations ‘cave suites’ which adds to the overall experience.
Some other great hotel options:
What to Do
Go exploring! Most of the hotels are located in town so there are restaurants and little shops all around. Once our room was ready, we changed and headed out to check out the shops and grab a bite to eat.
Take a Tour. There are two main tours the ‘Red Tour’ and the ‘Green Tour.’ We opted to go on the Green Tour which is a full day tour. Our driver and guide picked us up at our hotel and included all park entrance fees and lunch. On the tour we visited Kaymakli/Derinkuyu Underground City, Ihlara Valley, Selime Monastery, and Pigeon Valley. If we had more time, we would have went on the Red Tour as well which would have taken us to the Goreme open air museum and the fairy chimneys.
Visit Love Valley and the Fairy Chimneys. Since we only had two nights in Cappadocia we ran right into the hotel lobby after finishing up on the Green Tour and called a cab to take us to Love Valley and the Fairy Chimneys before the sun went down. Love Valley is a lookout spot so it really only take a minute to see the valley. Our cab driver was so courteous and waited for us to take a photo, we then hopped back in the cab and took off for the open air museum. I wish we could have spent more time here wandering around and exploring, but since the sun was setting and our driver was waiting we just took a little walk through, admired the camels, and then headed back to the hotel.
Go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride. I wanted to go up in the hot air balloons but unfortunately all the balloons were booked for the two mornings we would be in town. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise though because the balloons didn’t end up flying either day. I was under the impression that I would be able to see them every morning. Wrong. Whether they fly or not is completely dependent on the weather, so even if it’s nice out, if it’s too windy they will not go up.
Watch the Balloons. Our last morning the balloons finally took to the sky! I woke up around 4 am with high hopes that I would finally get to see this amazing site. I got all ready just incase, and at 5 am I called the office. The staff at Sultan Cave Suites is incredibly kind and he informed me that he was almost positive that they would fly. He even told me when I should head to the terrace to get “the shot.” I would have loved to sit there all morning and take in the beauty with a cup of coffee, but we had a flight to catch.
Where to Eat
I have to be honest, we fell asleep at 4pm the night we arrived so we didn’t get a chance to eat. The next day we woke up and took off on the ‘Green Tour’ which provided lunch, so we only had one dinner while in Cappadocia. However, when inquiring about food, our tour guide gave us his recommendations so those are what I will be sharing with you.
Top Deck Cave Restaurant. This was our guides number 1 recommendation. He suggested reservations as it gets busy.
Turkish Ravioli Restaurant. This restaurant looked so good to me! I was able to see it whenever we walked home and it always caught my attention. It’s also rated #1 on trip advisor.
Cappadocia Pide House & Restaurant. This is where we had dinner. We had stumbled upon this restaurant while exploring on our first day. We popped inside for a drink and to warm up and were pleasantly surprised. It was filled with what we presume were locals, most of which were ordering the Kebab. The next day AJ was dying to try it, so we headed back. He ordered the Kebab which is a dish of beef, peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms cooked in a pottery jug. It looks similar to beef stew, he loved it! I ordered the chefs special pizza which is not like pizza back home. It’s toppings with cheese cooked on a thin flaky crust, and it was yummy.
If you visit or are planning on visiting Cappadocia and have anything to add, please leave a comment. I love hearing your feedback!