Urgup is ideally situated for discovering Cappadocia, and with three days in the area, you’ll have time to visit fairy chimneys and cave dwellings, hike in the valleys, and experience Turkish culture through food, coffee, and performances. Here’s how to get the most out of three days in Urgup.
Day 1: Fairy Chimneys and Fairy-Tale Views
A hot-air-balloon-flight over Cappadocia is an unforgettable experience, and it’s worth the early wake-up call to watch the sunrise as you float over a sea of fairy chimneys. Then devote the rest of your first day to visiting the villages and valleys of North Cappadocia, a sightseeing circuit known as the Red Route. Opt for a guided tour, customize your time with a private guide, or explore independently with a hop-on-hop-off-bus tour. However you sightsee, be sure to visit the Goreme Open-Air Museum UNESCO World Heritage Site, the abandoned cave village of Cavusin, and Uchisar village, dominated by its towering rock “castle.” Time your visit to the fairy chimney valleys, such as Love Valley, Pigeon Valley, and Monk’s Valley, for sunset, when the light is perfect for photos.
Day 2: Underground Cities and Overground Hikes
Follow the Green Route today to tour the highlights of southern Cappadocia, starting with a visit to an underground city. Derinkuyu and Kaymakli once housed up to 20,000 people and were used as hideouts by the early Christian communities during the Arab–Byzantine wars. In the afternoon, head to the Ihlara Valley to enjoy one of Cappadocia’s most rewarding hikes. The 2-mile (3-kilometer) trail through the river canyon affords incredible views and passes a series of notable cave churches, some of which date back to the fourth century. The hike starts and ends at different points, so it’s most convenient to visit as part of a tour or arrange transport in advance. Back in Urgup, sample Cappadocia’s nightlife. Perhaps enjoy dinner at a cave restaurant, accompanied by traditional Turkish belly dancing and entertainment; attend a spiritual Whirling Dervish ceremony; or visit one of the cave bars in neighboring Goreme.
Day 3: Cappadocian Culture
Devote your final day to experiencing Turkish culture and local Cappadocian life. Visit village markets to shop for fresh produce, sample Turkish coffee at a typical coffeehouse, and take part in a cooking class at a family home. After tucking into homemade Anatolian dishes such as börek pastries or bulgur soup, visit one of the region’s wine caves to sample Cappadocian wines. End the day in the riverfront town of Avanos, famous for its red-clay pottery. Creative types can take part in a pottery workshop; otherwise watch the professionals at work, and browse the shops for handcrafted souvenirs. In the evening, head down to the waterfront and enjoy a sunset cruise on the Red River, then have a romantic dinner with a view at one of the riverside restaurants.