There’s a valid reason why winter has become a low-peak season to travel. There’s a higher chance for the weather to stop you from having the most fun, and that’s what I experienced when I went to Cappadocia during winter in December.
When I reached the Cappadocia region from Izmir, the weather was super windy that the hot air balloon stopped operating during my 3-day stay in the area. So, even though I’ve been to Cappadocia, I didn’t have any picture of the beauty of hot air balloons in the surroundings because of the weather when I went there.
The other day, I had a chat with a fellow digital nomad who’s planning to go to Cappadocia and she told me that she was debating whether she should go because she actually wants to go there for the hot air balloons. So in this post, I’d like to share my experience of going to Cappadocia when hot air balloons can’t fly.
Is it still worth visiting when you can’t get an Instagram-worthy pic with hot air balloons? What are the recommended things to do around Cappadocia during the shitty weather? Let me explain! 😉
Cappadocia Without Hot Air Balloons
Not so long after I came back from Cappadocia, the touristic spot has gained popularity for my fellow countrymen in Indonesia due to some soap opera with the main character’s dream to go there for hot air balloons.
I decided to go to Cappadocia simply because it is one of Turkey’s most popular spots that I was still yet to visit. From Izmir, I traveled by Kamilkoc bus to Goreme for almost 14 hours. It was by far the farthest journey I had by bus in Turkey.
There are at least 3 (three) main areas to stay around the Cappadocia region. These include Goreme, Uchisar, and Urgup. I chose to stay in Goreme as it seems to be the best area if you’re looking for a place with easy access to the must-visit places in the region. On top of that, cafes and restaurants there are within walking distance.
Although the idea of traveling to Cappadocia with the scene of hot air balloons in the surroundings would be nice, I didn’t expect anything when I went there because I knew that even though the hot air balloons could fly, I wouldn’t do it because it was out of my budget. LOL.
To my surprise, it wasn’t the fact that I went to Cappadocia when there was no hot air balloon that became a problem during my trip. If anything, it was the terrible weather that made me reluctant to go outside my hotel room.
When I went there, it was super windy outside. I had my breakfast at my hotel room terrace, and my facial mask fell down because of the wind. When I strolled around Goreme, I saw a lot of shop banners flying around. The wind was so strong, it felt more like a storm than a stroll.
But other than that, I still tried to make the most out of my stay, so I’m going to share some things you could do in Cappadocia when the weather is not in your favor.
3 Things You Can Do Without Hot Air Balloons in Cappadocia
Hot air balloons fly all year round in Cappadocia, but if you’re planning to go there solely for hot air balloons, you also need to take into consideration that the hot air balloon flights can be canceled due to the bad weather. That being said, it’s safer to go to Cappadocia during summer than winter.
I stayed 3 days in Cappadocia on my last trip, and I heard that the air traffic control in Ankara didn’t give clearance for the hot air balloons for a little over a week in total then.
So, what did I do despite not being able to enjoy the hot air balloons in Cappadocia?!
1. ATV Tour
First of all, I was second-guessing whether I should get on an ATV tour for several reasons. I don’t know how to ride a motorcycle, so I’m not sure if it would be safe to ride an ATV by myself for the first time. I’m a strong and independent woman who doesn’t love the idea of dying alone, you feel me? LOL.
But since I figured the ticket to the colored tours (Green and Red Tour) is quite pricey, I decided to get an alternative so that I could explore the region the cheaper way… I mean, I’m not exactly a person who has to deal with FOMO so I couldn’t care less if I didn’t get enough time to go to where everyone goes.
When I checked in at my hotel at The Dorm Cave by Travellers, I asked the receptionist about the tours available from the hotel. At first, he mentioned that the ATV tour would cost me around 100 TL (around $6.7 USD).
The next day, I decided to join the ATV tour but the other receptionist told me that the price for an ATV tour was 200 TL (around $13.5 USD). I thought it was quite affordable anyway, so I joined the tour from the hotel.
The tour started around 3 PM local time, as the tour guide picked me up after he got some other tour participants from the other hotels. After that, we stopped at the ATV parking spot. The tour guide gave us some instructions about what we needed to do to turn on the ATV and push the brake on the vehicle.
Well, riding an ATV is easier than I thought it would be. If anything, it kinda reminded me of driving a bumper car back when I was a kid. LOL.
The only downside was that since the wind was super strong, the sand was such a killer if you were driving. My top tip for an ATV tour in Cappadocia is to always wear a pair of glasses, no matter how good you think your sight is. Trust me, you’ll thank me later! 🙂
While the ATV tour doesn’t cover a lot of main spots in Cappadocia, the experience itself can be quite fun, especially if it’s your first time riding an ATV. I traveled with two couples on the tour, and one insisted on riding the same ATV tour… And while I respect their romance, I gotta say riding an ATV for two people doesn’t look so comfortable.
The point of visiting Cappadocia is to explore the fairy chimneys in the region and you’ll get to see the view of those on the tour too. You’ll also stop by Love Valley and Cavusin Old Greek Village where there used to be a school and monastery during ancient times.
2. Cafe Hopping Around Goreme
The advantage of choosing Goreme for your place to stay in Cappadocia is that you’ll never run out of options for cafes or restaurants. There are many places you can go, from the coffee shops around Goreme city center, and even some fancier restaurants uphill offering the view from the top at their terrace.
During my stay in Goreme, I got a chance to stop by a few restaurants in Cappadocia. The price was relatively moderate, although I gotta say it’s slightly more expensive compared to other places in Turkey. I also tried various kinds of menu, from the regular chicken chop, Turkish breakfast (kahvalti), to the signature dish of the Cappadocia region: pottery kebab.
Although based on my experience, especially for dinner, it’s best for you to reserve a place to get the best spot at the restaurant if you’re looking into a dinner with the view. I once went to a restaurant uphill for dinner, and most tables with the view were already reserved.
One of the best restaurants with a terrace in Cappadocia that I was impressed the most is Maccan Restaurant. It’s located uphill, and I was lucky that I got a chance to have a nice breakfast with Vika and her boyfriend when they came to visit me from Mersin.
When we came to their restaurant, they just opened around 10 AM, so practically there was no guest other than us and we could pick the loveliest spot with the overview of Cappadocia from the top. On top of that, the breakfast was fantastic and the price didn’t break the bank either. It was great!
3. Explore the Rest of Cappadocia Region
What surprised me was the convenience of staying in Goreme on my Cappadocia trip. Apart from the nice view around the cave hotels and nice restaurants, you could just stroll around and find some good spots to take some good pictures… For free!
Honestly, if there’s one thing that I’ve noticed from the previous ATV tour, it is the fact that the view around Cappadocia is more or less similar. I suppose the advantage of joining the tour package is that you’ll get in-depth information about each place that you visit.
If anything, I don’t think I regret the fact that I couldn’t get to visit most of the popular spots to visit in Cappadocia because it was quite expensive. However, although I didn’t go for either Red or Green tour, I was lucky enough that I had my friend coming over to see me… with a car!
Well, I didn’t get to visit all the places on the tour packages itinerary, but at least I managed to stop by a few places on top of the spots that I stopped by the ATV tour. I even managed to go to Love Valley twice because after going there with the ATV, my friend and her boyfriend wanted to go there again when they came.
But other than that, we got to visit Derinkuyu Underground City and Selime Monastery by car. Those two destinations, I believe, are a part of itinerary for the Cappadocia Green Tour. They’re a bit farther from Goreme, and you can also visit them without a tour if you like.
Although if I gotta be honest, you wouldn’t miss them for the world even if you didn’t get a chance to visit both.
Derinkuyu Underground City kind of reminds me of Vinh Moc Tunnel in Hue, but obviously, the underground city in Cappadocia was much, much more ancient than the latter. If you go there without a tour, the ticket is around 60 TL (around $4 USD) per pax even though I was lucky enough that I paid for only 30 TL (around $2 USD) as I went there with my friends and the lady at the ticket counter thought that we were all students. LOL.
Final Verdict: Exploring Cappadocia When There Is No Hot Air Balloon
So you’re planning to go to Cappadocia, and you wonder which tour package you should join. I visited the places listed on the Cappadocia Green Tour itinerary, and I have to say that I had a lot more fun enjoying the view on the way from one spot to the other.
Maybe next time I go to Cappadocia, I will try to visit the places listed on the Red Tour to see if the experience is different. 🙂
But based on my first trip to Cappadocia recently, I gotta say that the ATV tour was the highlight of my trip because I had a lot of fun then. Not only that I could visit some popular hot spots in Cappadocia, but I got a chance to ride the ATV for the first time too. The tour guide was great too since he told us some necessary information about each place where we stopped.
Among all, you could actually find the real gem when you strolled around the town with no plan. I promise you’ll be surprised by the fact that there is one spot in Cappadocia where they put a toilet out of nowhere so you could stop and take a silly picture of shitting with the view. 😛
I also spoke with two fellow travelers from Bangladesh at the hotel, they told me that they just rented a scooter to get around without joining any tour and they could confirm that even without tour, the town itself was already beautiful.
So I could confirm that even without hot air balloons in Cappadocia, you’ll have a good time exploring the area. But I imagine if you have the budget to get on a hot air balloon and the weather is on your favor, by all means, I couldn’t recommend it more!
Have you ever been to Cappadocia? Or maybe you’ve been there when the weather was bad enough to cancel all the hot air balloons too? Got any more ideas on what to do in Cappadocia when there’s no hot air balloon? Share your two cents in the comment below, and cheerio! 😉
Marya The BeauTraveler
I am the founder and main editor at The BeauTraveler. I spent 4 years working in the aviation industry, but ironically got to travel more right after quitting the industry in 2015. Born and raised in Indonesia, I started working remotely in 2017 and while I stay at home most of the time, I also regularly spend 2-3 months living a semi-digital nomad life elsewhere every year.
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