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Cappadocia is a playground for kids young and old. With it’s towering fairy chimneys, thousands of caves, and underground cities, it’s no wonder that this area is becoming increasingly popular.
For those very few of you who have been reading the blog from the beginning (thanks so much by the way), we’ve been dreaming about visiting long before we wrote about our dreams of visiting nearly four years ago. We were all thrilled when Cappadocia turned out to be even better than we had imagined (and yes, we had quite high expectations). If you love to explore, this place is for you. Naturally, this was an amazing fit for our family. You could literally spend a week here just hiking around and I’m sure be totally happy, but if you’re looking for some tips, we’re here to help. Here are our favorite places and the best things you can do in Cappadocia with kids (and what you can skip):
Sleep in a cave hotel.
If you do a little research, you’ll quickly find that Goreme is the main town in the Cappadocia area. Most of the hotels have the name cave in their name, but NOT all of them are actual caves so do your homework diligently (many are just regular hotel rooms). We scored big both in price and in the quality/size of our hotel room. We stayed at the Dervish Cave Suites in their family room, which had 2 king sized beds, a large couch, and a jaccuzzi tub for only 100 Euros a night including breakfast (a great deal for Americans like us since the Euro is down right now). The staff was endlessly friendly and helpful and we would highly recommend this room.
Explore Selime Monastery.
While the word monastery may not immediately pique your interest, I assure you that this is no regular church. It’s a church full of twisting corridors, tunnels and secret passageways galore. We planned on stopping in for 20 minutes and came away 2 hours later wishing we had planned a whole day there.
Discover the underground cities.
The two main underground cities are Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı. Most tours visit Derinkuyu so we anticipated that it would be better. While it is deeper, we found that it was very crowded and there were fewer options for us to explore on our own (there is a pretty set route through it with most side tunnels blocked off). For kids, the Kaymakli underground city was much better. Here, everything felt alive as the kids got to crawl through tunnels that connected dwellings, squeeze through passageways, and get dirtier than I’ve seen them in a long time. If you have time, visit both, but don’t miss Kaymakli.
Fly in a hot air balloon.
Yes, I know it’s really expensive, especially when you’re looking at taking an entire family but you really should try to make this one happen. Remember that this is one of the only places in the world where you can get the chance to fly with so many other balloons, and it’s unbelievable. I could go on an don about it, but you should probably read my post all about it to get convinced. Don’t wait until the last day of your visit to arrange for a flight because if the weather is bad, the balloons will not go up (as happened to many people we met on our trip). Give yourself an extra day or two just in case.
Hike the Ihlara Valley.
For a little change of scenery, head south to the lush Ihlara valley. It’s about an hour from Goreme, but well worth the drive(and you can combine it with other sites like Derinkuyu and Selime for a long day). Drop into this river fed gorge and hike up and down as you explore ancient dwellings and churches carved into the rocks. If you’re lucky like we were, you’ll get a chance to see plenty of frogs and even tortoises along the way (we saw 4 tortoises).
Goreme Open Air Museum.
This open air museum is really a group of cave churches just outside Goreme. There are a few cool things to see there, but the crowds were busy whenever we went past and there are not a lot of places to explore. As the name suggests, it really is like a museum (along with a lot of the same rules). If you want some fun, skip the museum with the kids and play on the hills across the street where you’ll experience even more of what cave dwelling was like, along with some breathtaking views.
How to get there:
Istanbul has become a major hub connecting Europe and Asia. As such, its easy to find a good deal on tickets to fly there. Once there, both Pegasus and Turkish airlines provide quick (1.5 hour) flights into either Kayceri or Nevishir that can often be found for around $20 each way. Once you’re there, we highly recommend getting a car. Most attractions are quite spread out and without your own transportation, you are either subjected to joining a tour group or missing out on a lot of sites.