X

Take an Exotic Honeymoon to Cappadocia, Turkey

There’s an otherworldly magic to Cappadocia, Turkey. The city has a surreal lunar landscape that feels light years away, even though it’s just a short flight from the capital city of Istanbul.

 

The unearthly millennia-old rock formations set the scene for a clutch of cozy cave hotels and restaurants, but this distinctive part of south-central Turkey is best explored by air: clamber into a hot-air balloon at sunrise for a spellbinding spectacle of craters and valleys aglow under the first rays of light.

By: Sarah Kahn

Enter Slideshow
  • What to Do

    What to Do

    There are countless hot-air balloon operators to choose from, like Sultan Balloons, but the experience is pretty much stunning no matter who you go with. Rise before the sun and join hundreds of others climbing into wicker baskets that will twirl you high above the ochre mountains and valleys. The rainbow of balloons sharing the sky adds to the remarkable visual drama.

    Tip: There’s loads to see in Cappadocia, so it’s best to hire a guide and car. Sami, with GPC Travel, has an unparalleled knowledge of the area and a whip-smart sense of humor.

    Photo courtesy of The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey

  • What to Do

    What to Do

    Honeymooners who flock to this swath of rock formations looking for romantic inspiration might be in for a bit of a surprise: the Valley of Love derives its name from a collection of rocks that have been erotically eroded, shall we say, into phallic obelisks.

    While there’s nothing quite like gliding over Cappadocia’s terrain in a hot-air balloon, in order to really appreciate the whimsical rocks and caves carved through millennia of erosion, marvel at them up close on a hike. The three-hour Rose Valley walking trail leads through fairy chimneys, ancient cave churches and orchards, with a café that seems to pop up along the way just when you’re ready for a break. Stay for sunset, and you’ll see how the valley gets its name, courtesy of the pink hue cast against the mountains by the sun.

    Photo courtesy of The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey

  • What to Do

    What to Do

    The caves of Cappadocia were a perfect hideout for Christians fleeing persecution at the hands of the imperials of the Roman Empire as far back as the first century. They celebrated their faith underground— literally—by constructing churches within the Cappadocia caves, elaborately adorned with striking frescoes. Eleven of these churches have been painstakingly restored to form the Goreme Open-Air Museum, where you’ll find vivid murals plastered onto the cavern cathedrals dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries.

    P.S. It’s not truly known how “fairy chimeys” got their moniker. Some say the fantastical structures seem to be constructed by fairies.

    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

  • What to Do

    What to Do

    Spectacular churches are tucked within the caves of Cappadocia. Check out the fresco detail pictured here.

    The quiet village of Mustafapasa was, until the early 1900s, the predominantly Greek town of Sinasos. The Greeks fled the area in the 1920s, but they left some of their stately architecture behind, including a beautiful 1887 mansion, called the Old Greek House, that’s been converted into a guesthouse and restaurant. Take a stroll through the hamlet before stopping for a lunch of firanda patates ve kofte (meatballs and French fries in a sizzling clay pot) beneath its beautifully weathered arches.

    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

  • What to Do

    What to Do

    Cappadocia has been renowned for its distinctive local pottery for 5,000 years. The Guray family has been in the ceramics business for seven generations, and a visit to their studio is a must for brightly colored jars, wine jugs and dishware. The family has also opened the country’s first underground museum, which is a tribute to the region’s rich ceramics history.

    Photo courtesy of The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey

  • What to Do

    What to Do

    Be sure to check out the famous whirling dervishes.

    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

  • Where to Stay

    Where to Stay

    This may be the most unusual hotel hideaway where you’ll ever stay. Deep within one of Cappadocia’s distinctive ochre mountains, the Museum Hotel is comprised of a labyrinth of cozy subterranean chambers.

    Photo Credit: The Museum Hotel

  • Where to Stay

    Where to Stay

    Thirty suites are laden with regional antiques and vintage Turkish costumes, and some have taps that dispense wine at the turn of the faucet.

    Photo Credit: The Museum Hotel

  • Where to Stay

    Where to Stay

    Watch out for the peacocks or tortoises on the cobbled pathways that lead to the open-air lobby, where you can curl up with a cocktail and watch the sun set over the “fairy chimneys” (rock formations). Early birds will want to perch on the terrace to see the festival of hot-air balloons at dawn (room rates start at $305 a night and include breakfast; museum-hotel.com).

    Just steps from the Museum Hotel, Sira is a small restaurant with big views. It also serves delicious regional fare, including a sublime take on the classic Turkish kofte (a massive grilled meatball stuffed with cheese and mushrooms). The friendly service means you’ll want to linger long past sunset, when the neighboring towns of Goreme and Avanos begin to twinkle in the distance.

    Photo Credit: The Museum Hotel

Take an Exotic Honeymoon to Cappadocia, Turkey

X