Fairy chimneys, mushroom towers, cave castles…You’d think George Lucas made this place up, but the soft volcanic rock of Central Anatolia has actually been shaped by millions of years of erosion and 5,000 years of savvy civilization. Once the home to Hittites, Romans and Ottomans, these days Cappadocia is both a cultural mecca and adventurer’s paradise. Here’s everything you must do there, from hot air balloon rides to lessons in grape leaves.
Explore on Foot
There are so many fascinating heritage sites around Cappadocia. But since you must pick, go with Çavuşin, a Byzantine village carved in the cliffs; Kaymakli, an underground city dating back to 800 BC; and the Göreme Open Air Museum, the elaborate cave monasteries where 10,000 monks lived and worshiped until the 14th century. Since many of the top sites are spread about the region, hire an expert guide to drive you around. (We’re fans of Matiana Travel for exhilarating day trips.)
Explore by Air
When you sign up for a hot air balloon tour, you’re signing up for views of volcanic valleys, ancient dwellings and fairy chimneys you can practically reach out and touch. Afraid of heights? Wake up at sunrise to watch dozens of colorful balloons pepper the sky…from a safe distance, of course.
This incredible property is built directly into a 3,000-year-old rock dwelling, for an experience that’s both ultra-luxe and ultra-primitive. (You’ll feel like you should be chowing down on a mutton leg, Game of Thrones-style.) The sweeping views of sculpted valleys and the incredible Turkish restaurant are nothing to sneeze at. But the real reason to make a reservation? The endless wine tap that runs straight from the bar and into your room.