Located in the heart of Cappadocia, Göreme is a really small town with many travel agencies, all of which offer the same one day packages that include a stop at one of the underground cities, a walk through the ancient churches decorated with frescoes, and finally a stop at a carpet/pottery/oynx shop. Avoid any of these tours as you can easily travel to all the other destinations around for cheap and you would pay 2-3 times higher through commissions.
Arriving at 4:30am from Fethiye, I checked in to Shoestring Cave Hotel, which is 7 minutes walk from the bus station. Left my bags at the hotel and climbed to the roof-top to see the hundreds of hot-air balloons on the sunrise.
|Why I did not go for the hot-air balloon ride in Göreme?
Some of my friends and fellow travelers, like many hundreds of tourists, went on for that once-in-a-lifetime experience and a must-do attraction of hopping on a hot-air balloon to see the sun rise. And the reviews from all of them were not positive at all. Most of them said it was not the money’s worth, especially if I was planning to go to Uçhisar Castle. And almost all of them were not happy with the way their balloons went off-direction because of the winds.
With all the negative inputs, I did not want to spend anything between €90 – €150 (depending on the size of the balloons and the company) for something that’s not so magnificent.
|Shoestring Cave Hotel
First stop was the Göreme Open Air Museum, which is a 20 minute walk from the bus station. It costs TL 15 and opens at 8am. Be sure to reach the museum at 8am before the bus loads of tourists arrive and choke the entrance of the churches. Every church in the museum has a capacity of maximum 20 people at one time. Across the highway from the gate is a church in a cave, which is included in museum admission (save your ticket).
Cost: TL 15, TL 8 extra for the Dark Church (which is a waste of money!)
If you’re the first ones to arrive then it takes about 2 hours to visit the entire museum, including all the churches. All the churches have nice frescoes, but other have geometric motifs that can be seen for free in the chimneys across the street (easy hike). Nothing impressive about most of the churches, except for Apple church which has beautiful frescoes intact.
Note that photography is not allowed in any of the churches, but if you arrive really early, the attendants care less about who is in the churches and that’s when you can click some shots.
The surrounding caves and chimneys around the Göreme Open Air Museum offer a view in the lifestyles of the people lived in this region thousands of years ago. Take a hike around the valley and visit some of the chimneys and caves, before heading back to the town center.
While on the way back, you will see a sign post saying “El Nazar Kilise (church)“. Follow the stream-bed to the right go some 800 meters further to arrive at a large rock in the form of a kind of tent. This is NOT one of the most interesting churches in the whole Göreme region (admission TL 5). Carved in an isolated cone of rock, it is a cruciform church with vaults as the three longer arms of the cross and a horse-shoe apse. There are tombs in the east wing, and a basement toward which the floor has in large part collapsed, while the east wing is in complete ruins. Despite the ravages of nature and time, however, the paintings on the ceiling are quite well preserved.
If you have already visited some of the churches in the Open Air Museum, then there’s no need for you to visit this lone-church.
Moving ahead on the road, another sign indicates “Saklı (hidden) Church” between El Nazar and the main road. The entrance was blocked off by a landslide at least five hundred years ago, and for all that time the church went unused, practically unnoticed. Only in 1957 was it rediscovered. The architecture has roots in the Mesopotamian tradition; the frescoes are quite unusual. Personally, I think you can skip this one too.
A walk back to the town and it was time for some lunch at one of the most recommended restaurants in Göreme – Sedef Restaurant. The starter (on house) has a huge, fresh pita bread with many cheeses and mashed beef with mushrooms. I ordered Having Karışık Pide (pizza with tomatoes, peppers, mushroom, minced meat, salami, beef sausage & eggs) & Testi Kebab Et (chopped beef, fresh tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, mushroom, garlic, and special ottoman sauce cooked in a pottery in stone oven. Served with rice). Oh and their menu has a lock on it!
With not many attractions in Göreme, I walked around the town visiting some souvenir shops and the post office for a stamp in my Postal Stamps Travelogue book.
And after a quick nap, headed to the sunset point for some gorgeous views of Göreme and Uçhisar (far away).
Dinner was a simple Turkish pizza at Cappadocia Pide restaurant. Pide means pizza in Turkish. The food was bland, boring and not worth the TL 12 I spent on the pizza.
How to reach Göreme:
There are multiple ways to reach Göreme, depending on where you are arriving. Landing at Kayseri airport, there are shuttle buses that run frequently, timing up with the arriving and departing flights. It takes about one hour from Kayseri airport to Göreme and costs 25L. The Kayseri otogar (bus station) is far from the airport. From otogar, there are very limited direct lines to Göreme (10 TL), but more frequent lines to Avanos, where you can transfer to a local bus (TL 2.50) for the remaining 9km to Göreme; the station is unmarked and the ride costs 2.5 TL.
If you’re arriving from Nevşehir airport, the shuttle buses cost 10L and takes about 20-30 minutes to Göreme.
I took the only night bus from Fethiye to Göreme provided by Metro bus company, taking 12 hours and costs 60L. The bus company Metro that runs services across the country has one night bus between Fethiye and Göreme, that does not go via Antalya. The bus is not equipped with wifi and snack services are available. Unlike other bus companies like Kamil Koç, this bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard. The bus stops almost every 2 hours for 10-15 minutes with a longer stop of 30 minutes for dinner.
Remember that not all bus companies run night services, but it’s always wise to shop around (all offices are next to each other at every city bus station) and ask if they have buses equipped with wifi, toilets and snack service.
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult. The exchange rate at the time of publishing is assumed to be USD 1 = TRY 1.80.
|Lunch at Sedef Restaurant||$25||See above|
|Göreme Open Air Museum||TL 15 or $8.30||Entrance fees|
|El Nazar Kilise||TL 5 or $2.80||Entrance fees|
|Shoestring Cave Hotel||€90 or $118||€30 per night for a single bedroom with toilet. For 3 nights.|
|Snacks & water||TL 5 or $2.80|
|Dinner at Cappadocia Pide restaurant||TL 12 or $6.60|
|Total Costs||$163.50||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$2,897.50||Per person|
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Traveling from Fethiye to Göreme.
Main town of Cappadocia region.
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Small towns of Uçhisar & Avanos in Cappadocia region.