The gnarled yet graceful landscape of Cappadocia in Turkey is the stunning result of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Since then, numerous civilisations have passed through, all leaving their mark. The result is a magical and utterly captivating environment of extraordinary rock formations, rose-coloured ravines, stone-hewn churches, labyrinthine underground cities, ancient cave dwellings and castles perched atop rocky outcrops.
With these aesthetic credentials, it’s easy to understand why scores of holiday makers – ourselves included – keep going back for more. Whether wine-tasting in Urgup or sedately strolling the cobbled streets of Mustafapasa, there’s plenty of cultural character and charm to drink in. What’s more, with magical and stylish subterranean boltholes like Serinn House, or beautiful hilltop Museum Hotel, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to quirky boutique hideaways.
What to do
The region is beautiful whatever way you look at it, but nothing quite compares to a breath-taking balloon’s-eye-view first thing in the morning. The spectacular conical rock formations and graceful valleys look resplendent in the sunrise, making hot-air balloons a popular and unforgettable way to view the landscape.
Cappadoccia also has a thrill-seeking heart and is popular with those attracted to more adventurous pursuits such as cross-country golf, quad biking, horse riding and mountain biking – argos in Cappadocia has easy access to such sports. Or, for a slower pace, we suggest one of the impossibly beautiful trekking routes from the pretty village of Uchisar, the highest point in Cappadocia. Here you can climb to the top of the citadel for panoramic views before hiking along the beautiful Pigeon Valley (named after the numerous dovecotes carved into the cliffs) to Goreme. Museum Hotel is an amazing base for this route.
At night, sample the region’s delicious food and local wine, or watch as dervishes whirl at an atmospheric caravanserai. Alternatively, try the music recitals in the excellent underground acoustics of argos in Cappadocia, or just look up – Cappadocia’s clear skies are perfect for stargazing and it’s one of the best places in the world to see meteor showers.
Where to eat
For seductive romance, we head to award-winning Lil’a at the Museum Hotel. With traditional Cappadocian home-cooked food, a candle-lit dining room full of intriguing wood cabinets and views across Cappadocia’s enchantingly alien landscape, it’s a must-visit.
You’re in Turkey, so it would be a shame not to have an authentic Anatolian kebab! Our favourite stop for this is Dimtirt, sat on top of a hill near Serinn House. We loved the Testi kebab: lamb stewed in a sealed clay pot for 4 hours!
Seki, argos in Cappadocia’s eatery, overlooks the Uchisar valley – just make sure you remember to shut your jaw as you tuck into their gorgeous array of meze.
Where to stay
Labyrinthine subterranean dwellings have been built into the stunning landscape over centuries, so it’s unsurprising that they’re now being utilised for quirky and memorable hotels. Thankfully, there’s nothing caveman or Spartan about these boltholes, particularly in Urgup, Serinn House is as stylish as it is quirky, employing minimalist design to offset the rugged character of the caves.
Further west in Uchisar are the historical Museum Hotel (a cosy and romantic hotel built from the reclaimed ruins of a village) and argos in Cappdocia, a large, stunningly designed hotel where rooms have private plunge pools. Finally, between all of these is Hezen Cave Hotel which sits in the somewhat quieter but no less charming village of Ortahisar. This is the perfect place to get away from it all and unwind – something made considerably easier by a sunset drink on the terrace.