Visiting Cappadocia in winter is one of the best experiences we’ve had in our life. If you didn’t already know it, Cappadocia is open to tourists all year round. There’s nothing quite like seeing those fairy chimneys and intricate rock formations covered in snow.
It’s also hard to beat the fact that Cappadocia in winter is one of the cheapest times of the year to visit this stunning region. There are way less people around, the tours are more affordable, and you can have all the magical landscapes to yourself.
If you’re hesitating on whether to visit Cappadocia in winter or not, this guide will show you why it’s a great choice. We discuss various key points such as the pros and cons of visiting Cappadocia in winter, the Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride, where to stay in Cappadocia, how to prepare for your trip, and the best things to do in Cappadocia in winter.
Visiting Cappadocia in Winter
Advantages of Visiting Cappadocia in Winter
Cappadocia in winter is an experience like any other. It has many great advantages which we list down below:
– Everything is CHEAPER! Tours, hotels, transfers, and even the Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride is more affordable in the winter. You can expect most of the prices to be reduced by 30 to even 50 percent.
– The landscapes are truly out of this world. Cappadocia is indeed beautiful no matter the season but there’s something truly special about seeing this place covered in snow. Witnessing the sceneries feels like you’re taking a step into another world.
– Lover of the outdoors? Cappadocia in winter is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Having lived in the French Alps before, the snow hikes and trails we did in Cappadocia were incomparable.
It doesn’t always snow every day, so the snow isn’t that thick to not be able to do any hikes. In fact, it’s the perfect time to get out there and go on an adventure through the trails.
– The best part of going to Cappadocia in winter is doing a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride. Slowly floating over the snowcapped fairy chimneys as the sun rises in the horizon is an experience we’ll never forget.
Disadvantages of Visiting Cappadocia in Winter
As with any experience, visiting Cappadocia in winter also comes with its fair share of disadvantages that we discuss below:
– The weather is unpredictable! You can’t be too sure how the weather will be like when you visit (more tips on this in the latter sections of the article).
– Your Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride might be cancelled. With the weather so unpredictable due to a mix of snow, wind, rain, or cloud conditions – you might not get the chance to see those Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons.
– Various shops and restaurants may be closed, especially these days during COVID-19 times and with the current situation of the Turkish economy. Some tours, like walking tours, may also not be running.
– It’s really COLD! When we visited Cappadocia in winter, the temperatures outside were negative 10 degrees.
It’s important to choose a good hotel for a good night’s sleep. We discuss more tips on this later in the article. Otherwise, you can start searching for Cappadocia Hotels below.
How to Get to Cappadocia in Winter
Travel to Cappadocia by Air
The easiest way to travel to Cappadocia in winter is by air from any major city like Istanbul, Antalya, Izmir, etc.
There are two main airlines that operate flights to the nearby areas of Cappadocia: Pegasus and Turkish Airlines. The cost of the flight ranges from 30 to 35 euros.
Furthermore, there are two main airports that you can fly into: Nevsehir Airport (40 minutes away from Goreme) and Kayseri Airport (1 hour away from Goreme).
Turkish Airlines flies to both Nevsehir and Kayseri Airport while Pegasus only flies to Kayseri Airport. From these two airports, you must then avail of airport transfer to Goreme which costs around 12 euros. You can book your transfer tickets in advance below.
Travel to Cappadocia by Bus
Another cheap option to travel to Cappadocia is by taking the bus to Goreme. Everyday buses leave from Istanbul late at night (between 10pm to 1am) and in the mid afternoon (between 3pm to 5pm). The bus then arrives directly at the town of Goreme after 10 to 12 hours.
The cost of the bus is around 25 euros/person.
Personally, we don’t find this option so convenient just because the flight costs almost the same amount, is less tiring (especially in the cold of the winter), and allows you to get to Cappadocia faster. Also, for COVID reasons, a flight is way more hygienic.
However, if you would like to go for the bus option. It is worth noting that the bus company who serves this route is MetroTurizm. You can book your bus tickets below.
Travel to Cappadocia by Car
You can also drive to Cappadocia yourself by renting a car in Turkey. The drive will take around 6-8 hours and the roads in certain parts of the drive may not be the best.
However, if you would like to be more independent in your Turkey itinerary, then this is a great option to pursue.
Where to Stay in Cappadocia in Winter
Below we have compiled a few Cappadocia hotels in the town of Goreme with prices and information on their facilities (i.e. terrace viewpoint).
Luxury Hotels in Cappadocia
– Sultan Cave Suites: An authentic cave hotel, perfect for those on a honeymoon or looking for a more luxurious option. The hotel also boasts a beautiful terrace surrounded by fairy chimneys and with sweeping views of Goreme. Room rates start at 150 euros/night with buffet breakfast.
– Charming Cave Hotel: A second option for those looking for a luxury stay. This authentic cave hotel features a rooftop with Turkish rugs and pillows perfect for those sunrise photos. Room rates start at 100 euros/night with buffet breakfast.
– Azure Cave Suites: Another great option for those on a honeymoon or looking for a more luxurious option. This authentic cave hotel features an incredible terrace with views of the valley beyond. Room rates are a bit more affordable starting at 120 euros/night with buffet breakfast.
Budget Hotels in Cappadocia
– Milat Cave Hotel: This is the cave hotel we stayed at. Our top pick because it’s affordable without sacrificing the quality you get in return. The hotel features 5 terraces where you can watch the Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons and they even designed the rooftop in an instagram-worthy way. Room rates start at 50 euros/night with buffet breakfast.
– Elite Cave Suites: A beautiful yet affordable cave hotel that features traditional furnishings and a lovely rooftop for sunrise shots. Surrounded by fairy chimneys, room rates for this hotel start at an affordable 30 euros/night with buffet breakfast.
Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon in Winter
Cost of Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon in Winter
The wonderful thing about visiting Cappadocia in winter is that the prices of the hot air balloon ride are way cheaper. Granted we visited during COVID-19 (January 2022), our Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon ride only costed us 60 euros per person.
These days, however, given the upcoming Spring and Summer season and with COVID starting to settle down, prices have been increased to 120 euros. This is the lowest we’ve found it as of January 2023.
There are other Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon companies that charge even higher when you buy from them directly so if you want to budget, booking via Get Your Guide is the best option.
We’ve heard that the rates before COVID were around 250 euros (sometimes even up to 300 euros), but given that winter is the low season and that Turkish tourism is not as strong as it was – the prices of the Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Rides have massively decreased.
It probably won’t stay this cheap forever, so now has never been a better time to travel to Cappadocia in winter and support the local economy. Don’t forget to tip your pilot and Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon company too!
To book the Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon company we went with and to see other options in the same price range, check out the link below:
How to Know if Your Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride is Cancelled
It is the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority who gives the go signal if hot air balloon rides can fly on a certain day. So meaning your Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon company has no final say in this matter versus the legal authority.
You can find announcements on whether your Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon ride is cancelled via this page: https://shmkapadokya.kapadokya.edu.tr/en/
The website is updated at 2pm (local Turkish time) in the afternoon everyday. The flags either turn green (given the go signal) or red (cancelled) for the different sectors where the balloons fly. If you do NOT see it updated by 2pm, then that means there’s a 50-50 chance it can go ahead or get cancelled.
This is what happened to us, we had booked a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon ride for the following day. At 2pm, we had no news whether it would be cancelled or not. The weather was sunny but the wind forecast was uncertain.
When we asked our Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon company what will happen, they said we will see in the morning. The next morning, there was no wind. We were already in our shuttle on the way to the flight zones when the flags in the website turned green.
In short, if it’s not updated by 2pm, you will only know whether it will be cancelled or not right before your flight.
What to Know Before Booking the Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon in Winter
Although the Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Rides are cheaper in the winter, there are a few things you need to know about going for a hot air balloon ride during this season:
– There is a one out of three chance that your hot air balloon ride will be cancelled. You are battling with a variety of weather conditions that range from rain, snow, clouds, fog, and mist that can lead to your hot air balloon ride getting canceled.
– Given that the weather during the winter is highly unpredictable, make sure to book your Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride on the first day that you are in town. That way, if it gets cancelled, you are immediately on the list of passengers for the next day.
– On another note, it’s hard to trust the weather forecast. During our time in Cappadocia, the wind forecast showed strong winds but when the time actually came for our hot air balloon ride, there was no wind at all.
So honestly, anything is possible. Even if the forecast isn’t so good when you check a day or two before your hot air balloon ride – don’t trust it in the winter. Wait till the official announcement from the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority.
– Taking a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon in winter is cold! By the end of the ride, our toes and hands were freezing. Make sure to wear warm layers. We discuss more on what to pack in the next section.
What to Pack for Cappadocia in Winter
As we’ve mentioned earlier, Cappadocia in winter is cold reaching below zero degrees celsius. It’s important to pack well for this trip. Here is a short list of what to pack for a Cappadocia winter trip:
- Thermal Layer
- Thermal Socks
- Winter Jacket
- Thermal pants or leggings
- Hand gloves
- Snow shoes
- Thick scarf
- Mirrorless Camera and 50mm lens
- Cash (Bring Euros and Turkish Lira)
Secret Tips for Cappadocia in Winter
Before Your Cappadocia Winter Trip
When we arrived in Turkey, we initially split our trip to 14 days in Istanbul and 6 days in Cappadocia. However, we realized that we did NOT really need to plan the Cappadocia part of our trip so far in advance.
We saw that, because it was the low season in January – the prices of hotels, activities, flights, and tours didn’t really change that much.
While we were in Istanbul, we saw a snowstorm warning for the following week – the week that we had initially planned to be in Cappadocia.
So trusting our gut, we decided to change our entire plans, stay for 3 days instead of 6, and take advantage of the last remaining sunny weather before the snowstorm. Also, so that we could have the chance to see the hot air balloons!
Thankfully, we only booked things that were cancellable/refundable (especially important during these COVID times). So to change our entire plan and book everything again last minute, it didn’t cost us extra. Some things were even cheaper given the different companies wanted to book out their offers.
Best Things to do in Cappadocia in Winter
The town of Goreme is beautiful in the winter. It’s worth walking around, discovering hidden alleyways and streets, saying hi to resident cats and dogs, and seeing the town from a higher vantage point. Goreme itself is built on caves and fairy chimneys so it’s an enjoyable place to explore for its rock formations and historical culture.
If you’re staying in Uchisar instead, then a trip to the Uchisar Castle is an alternative activity you can do.
Watch the Hot Air Balloons during Sunrise
A trip to Cappadocia in winter wouldn’t be complete without watching the hot air balloons during sunrise from a terrace or viewpoint near town.
Whether you choose to do this because you don’t want to budget for a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride or you’re simply scared of heights, it’s just as magical of an experience to see these balloons from below.
Hike one of Cappadocia's Valleys
There are four main valleys surrounding the town of Goreme: Love Valley, Rose Valley, Sword Valley, and Pigeon Valley.
All are equally unique. Love Valley is known for it’s unique-shaped rock formations (resembling manhood). Sword Valley is famous for its sword-shaped rock formations that look like cones. Rose Valley is known for its fiery red colors that make you feel like you’re somewhere in Arizona, while Pigeon Valley is known for its ancient caves and carved pigeon houses.
Whichever area you choose to hike to (and we recommend going to all of them), there’s no shortage of amazing landscapes that will surely take your breath away.
Visit the Goreme Open Air Museum
The Goreme Open Air Museum is one of the best things to do in Cappadocia no matter the season. This UNESCO World Heritage Site originates back to the Byzantine monastic settlement with its intricately designed rock-cut churches, chapels, and monasteries. If you want to learn more about Cappadocia and its history – this is the place to go to.
Entrance fee to the museum costs around 100 liras or around 7 euros. The museum is open from 8am to 5pm.
For the most updated information about the tickets and opening hours of the Goreme Open Air Museum, you can check this link: https://muze.gov.tr/
You can visit the Goreme Open Air Museum by joining one of the tours below. Otherwise, it’s an easy 20 minute walk from the town of Goreme.
Ride a Horse, Camel, or ATV through the Snow
A sunset ride through the snow is a great activity to look into. For those who prefer a slower and more relaxed pace, discovering the valleys of Cappadocia with a horse or with a camel is the best option.
However, if you’re like us and prefer something a bit more adventurous and thrill-seeking, then go for the sunset ATV ride! A 2 hour sunset ride costs about 20 euros for 1 to 2 people.
It’s a fantastic way to see all of Cappadocia in winter (all the valleys and towns) during the magical hours before and after sunset. It’s also ideal if you don’t have a lot of time in Cappadocia as you can cover a lot of places with your ATV in a short span of time.
Warm Up with a Pottery Kebab and Turkish Tea
Cappadocia is well known for it’s pottery kebabs and with the weather so cold outside, there’s never been a better time to enjoy Cappadocia’s local cuisine than in the winter. Our favorite pick for a pottery kebab in Cappadocia in winter would be the restaurant called Turkish Ravioli.
After your meal, don’t forget to order a cup of Turkish tea and simply soak in the view of the fairy chimneys outside the restaurant.
Discover the Underground Cities of Cappadocia
With more than 200 underground cities in the region, discovering one of them is amongst the best things to do in Cappadocia in winter. If we would have to choose as first timers, the underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are the must-sees. They can easily be visited by joining a tour or renting your own car and driving over.
Shop for Souvenirs and Carpets
Cappadocia is also well known for its carpets and beautifully-designed souvenirs like flatware, lights, and glassware. More than just searching for those famous instagram photography spots – we recommend that you actually take the time to discover each shop, talk to the locals, get to know their artworks, and find meaningful goodies to bring home to your family and friends!
Final Thoughts on Visiting Cappadocia in Winter
So there you have it! We hope this helps you organize your itinerary to Cappadocia in winter. It’s a place that is beautiful in every season but feels even more magical and dreamlike in the winter. Plus, we love how Cappadocia in winter is more budget-friendly and less touristy as well.
Have you ever been to Cappadocia in winter? If not, perhaps during another season? What was your experience like and what did you love most about it? Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below!