Monday, December 13, 2010

Cappadocia in Winter

Thinking about visiting Cappadocia in winter? Good idea.

Cappadocia, or Kapadokya as Turks spell it, is known for its beautiful rock formations. A long time ago, a volcano belched out the precursor to a layer of soft, gritty rock. Over time, wind and water have eroded the rock into pillars, caves, and arches. Enterprising humans (or just Christians looking to lay low) constructed everything from pigeon coops to houses to churches inside the soft rock. An entire tourism industry has sprung up around hot air balloons, guided walks, and ATV rides around the countryside.

Davo and I stayed in Göreme, a village full of pansyions advertising cave rooms and tourist restaurants advertising meats cooked in special clay pots. Yes, we stayed in a cave!

our cave dormitory
Lucky for us, we visited during the off-season. We were two of about 20 tourists in the entire quiet, low-key, laid-back town. The rock formations don't change with the lack of tourists, though, and the setting of the village is lovely. Göreme is the very first tourist-oriented town that I've actually liked.

the village of goreme
Even luckier for us, the very first snowfall of the winter coincided with our arrival. All of the rock columns, cliffs, and cones were frosted with the purest white, glittering snow. So pretty.

so pretty!
Since we've put in a collective 13 years in Upstate New York between the two of us, a little snow was not going to stop the hiking.

snow?  i eat snow for breakfast.  BRING IT, WINTER!
We walked through Pigeon Valley to Uçisar, only about 4 easy km each way. The track was difficult to find, since it was covered in snow and there were no other tourists about. Actually, the first day we couldn't find a crucial turn at all, but we got it right the second day.

"we go that way...  i think."
Highlights of the hike were the a-may-zing views from Uçisar and the pups that played in the snow all the way down the hill.

our pup friends
view from the top
I probably would not have liked Kapadokya at all if I had visited during the main tourist season. Having the place to myself and playing in the snow for the first time this winter made my experience there memorable and enjoyable.
fairies live here :-)


  1. I found your blog when I was googling Cappdocia as me and my husband are planning to go there immediately after New Years (on the 4th) - great pictures!

  2. Oh, how wonderful! I can't believe we were there almost a year ago. The winter is a lovely time to visit... as you can see from my picture, all of the rock formations will be dusted with snow like icing on a cake. Bring plenty of warm layers and have a GREAT time! Let me know if you have any questions about planning your trip. :-)

  3. Thanks Nicole, we're staying the same hotel but was wondering if it's worth booking a tour or is it easy to get around to the sights ourselves? We're also heading to Istanbul and Selcuk which are relatively easy places to get around in, not sure about Cappadocia. What did you guys do?

  4. I usually don't recommend tours, but this is a place where they might be appropriate because of the distances between villages. If you wanted to stay in and around Goreme, you can easily walk through Pigeon Valley to Uçisar on your own (as we did). If you want to go farther, to visit some of the ancient churches for example, you will need transportation. That could be either a car rental (perhaps from Kayseri? I don't know your itinerary) or a tour.

    Personally, if I had the budget I would definitely do a car rental, it seems like a fascinating region to explore and I wouldn't want to be tied to someone else's schedule. But if you don't want the hassle of driving during the winter (I am from cold Upstate New York and it doesn't bother me), or just want to kick back, relax, and have someone else manage the details for once, then go with a tour. You might be able to negotiate a discount because its the "off-season" (though tourism in Goreme is very coordinated).

    Istanbul is quite easy to visit on your own. If you are considering Selcuk and Ephesus on your own, then you could manage Cappadocia on your own, too, if that suits your style.

    Turkey is one of my favorite countries, if not my most favorite. I hope that you have a wonderful experience there! Best wishes to you...

  5. hi!your pics look great!i'm going this week and the cave you stayed at looks really cool.can you please tell me the name of the hostel/hotel?

    1. Wonderful! I hope that you have a very nice time.

      It took me a little while to think of the name of the pansion. But I found some photos on the internet of the funky lounge and I'm sure it's the place!

      We stayed at Ishtar Cave Pansion. It is number 60 on this map, which I found at

      Again, I hope you have a very nice trip. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  6. I'm going to Turkey in Decm and after reading this entry, I'm convinced that I can go to Cappadocia even though it's freezing.

    What was the temperature like? I'm from Michigan so I *think* I can handle it. It looks like from your photos that some days it snowed and other days were clear.

    How many days did you stay in Goreme?

    Did you go for a hot air balloon ride? They're expensive...

    1. You're from Michigan? Seriously, you'll be fine. :o) We're from Upstate NY, and it was more pleasant in Cappadocia than Upstate... more sunshine!

      But you're exactly right, some days it will snow, and some days it will be beautiful and clear. Daytime temperatures were in the 30s. We just bundled up and it was no big deal.

      I do hope that you have some snow. The snow on the rock formations was just so beautiful. I don't think it would have looked the same if it were gray, dreary, and not sparkling white icing everywhere!

      We were there for just a few days - I think 3 or so. We were there to go on walks around the rock formations. We didn't do the hot air balloon ride, not really our type of thing. I'd say that you should know the type of activities and experiences that you enjoy, and if you think you will regret not doing the balloon ride, then you should do it. I didn't, and I don't regret it... our walks in the snow were just so amazing.

      There are more photos here:
      in case you need convincing!

      But I'm glad to see that you are considering a trip there in the winter... we had a lovely time!

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