Like many other popular destinations in Turkey, visiting Cappadocia in winter will spare you from big crowds and long lines. You will also most likely encounter lower prices. However, these shouldn’t be your primary reasons for coming here during the winter months.
While fascinating at any time of the year, Cappadocia is a delightful winter destination with hiking options and varied indoor and outdoor activities (hot air ballooning included), all set in a unique, otherworldly landscape.
Also, contrary to what many may think, Cappadocia does not shut down during the low season. With there are some exceptions, most sites remain open year-round and most hikes are still doable as well. The winter months in Cappadocia are a special time to visit this area of the country.
Winter Weather in Cappadocia
Despite the cold, Cappadocia offers much in the way of outdoor activities, making it a great winter destination. Unlike other tourist spots in Turkey along the coast, Cappadocia actually receives a lot of snow during the winter months, from November until mid-March. The snow isn’t necessarily deep and cumulative; often, it’s more a dusting that magically enhances the area’s valleys and fairy chimneys.
If you visit during wintertime, be prepared for temperatures of around 0-12 degrees Celsius. Temperatures also drop significantly at night so be sure to bundle up (preferably next to a fireplace). November is typically the mildest part of the winter season and the most agreeable time for hot air balloons and with less chance of snow.
The coldest months are December, January and February, with January and February having the coldest and shortest days. Temperatures can drop to -5 degrees Celsius during this time. This is also when you are most likely to see snow. It can also be rainy, windy, and icy, which can impact whether or not you can take a hot air balloon ride.
Getting to and around Cappadocia in Winter
An easy way to get to Cappadocia is by plane. Pegasus, Turkish Airlines, and Anadolu Jet, which is a Turkish Airlines carrier, offer regular flights to Cappadocia. From Istanbul, Cappadocia is an easy 80-minute flight.
There are two main airports in Cappadocia: Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV) and Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR). Nevsehir airport is the closest to Cappadocia’s tourist centre, Göreme, but is serviced mostly by domestic flights.
Kayseri is a larger airport and typically sees more international flights and direct flights from other cities in Turkey such as Izmir and Antalya. From both airports, it’s fairly easy to find a taxi or shuttle bus to your accommodation in Cappadocia.
Buses run from Istanbul to Göreme, a ride of about 11 to 12 hours.
You can also rent a car and drive from Istanbul, which will take about 6-8 hours. However, some of the roads may not be in the best condition during the winter, so it’s best to exercise caution.
Once in Cappadocia, it’s easy to travel around by taxi or even on foot if the main areas you want to visit are in and around Göreme. There are public buses, but they may offer less flexibility. You can also rent a car in Cappadocia to get around but, again, be careful as in winter the roads may not offer the best conditions for driving.
What to Pack for Cappadocia in Winter
Since it snows often in Cappadocia, be sure to bring winter gear for your trip, like a warm winter coat, hat, gloves, scarf, and boots.
If you want to do a lot of hiking and walking and/or an early morning balloon ride, it’s best to make sure you have waterproof shoes or boots with good traction. Also, consider taking thermal base layers, wool socks, and a protective rain layer.
Other items to bring include:
- cash (in Turkish lira and euros)
- head torch
Top Things to Do in Cappadocia in Winter
Stay in a cave hotel
This is a must for a stay in Cappadocia as it’s really part of the fun of visiting such a unique place. There are plenty of options to choose from that are well-heated and very comfortable. See more below.
For a winter visit, ideally, it’s great to have a fireplace in your room. There’s no better way to cosy up for the evening in Cappadocia than to spend it fireside in your cave hotel room. Little ones will find this especially fun. But for adults and kids alike, it’s pretty cool to sleep in a cave and one of the best things to do in Cappadocia in winter.
Many hotels also have very comfortable lounge areas, which are great to relax in with hot çay and some board games, and hammams, or traditional bathhouses, which are perfect for warming up and relaxing.
Keep reading for some of our best suggestions on where to stay with the family in Cappadocia!
Take a hot air balloon ride
Yes, you can do the famous Cappadocia balloon ride all year round. While trips are weather dependent, it’s possible to take a ride during the winter months. Try to book early in your visit to give yourself time to book again if your first reservation gets cancelled due to bad weather.
Floating in one of Cappadocia’s hot air balloons over fairy chimneys and jagged gorges is an incredible experience—especially when the terrain is covered in snow.
Be sure to book with a reputable company like Royal Balloon or Butterfly Balloon, first and foremost for safety reasons but also for potential refunds if bad weather prevents you from flying.
If you don’t want to fly, it’s also lovely to watch the balloons from the comfort of your hotel as they float silently over the dreamscape of Cappadocia at sunrise.
Go for a hike
An outdoor hike in Cappadocia during winter is really a great experience. Just be sure to dress appropriately and wear layers you can remove as you warm up while hiking.
Hiking in Cappadocia in winter is not only totally doable but really enjoyable. Often the snow is just a light dusting and not very deep, which makes it fairly easy to navigate the trails and pathways around the valleys. Of course, this should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The well-known valleys around Göreme include Love Valley, Rose Valley, Sword Valley, and Pigeon Valley. Some, like Rose Valley, are known for their little hidden rock-cut churches and coves to explore, many of which are painted in frescoes. Also, the Sunset viewpoint is a great spot to get a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape as the sun goes down.
Go Horseback Riding
Another thing you may not have thought was possible during winter! You can tour the valleys of Cappadocia on horseback. Many hotels offer excursions, or you can book an independent tour, which often lasts about two hours and are a great way to experience the landscape. Some tours take you out around sunset as well.
Some people also opt for ATV tours through the valleys as well, which can offer a quicker overview of the valleys.
This museum is easy to walk to from the centre of town and it is a good way to learn about Cappadocia’s unique landscape and history. Reclusive monks first settled around Göreme starting in the second century, and the area eventually became a thriving centre of monastic and religious life.
Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the caves and churches that make up the museum are decorated with colourful religious Byzantine frescoes. The Dark Church, named as such because it has no windows, is one of the most famous places to visit here because of its bright and well-preserved frescoes.
Visit an underground city
There are more than 200 underground cities in Cappadocia, the most famous of which are Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. You can visit them independently and find a guide onsite or go there as part of a tour.
These subterranean worlds where societies from the Persians to the Byzantine Christians lived for years underground, unfold as extensive and spooky labyrinths. A visit is a great adventure for kids and adults alike.
Derinkuyu is the most extensive of the underground cities and four of its eight levels can be visited by tourists. It also has the widest passages, making it the best option for anyone who tends to get claustrophobic. Kaymakli is the oldest city and is smaller than Derinkuyu with several tunnels and passages.
Located south of Kayseri, Mount Erciyes (3,915 metres above sea level) is Turkey’s sixth highest mountain and home of Cappadocia’s sole ski resort. There are 150 km of slopes and 33 beginner or intermediate level runs.
The central areas of Göreme and Uchisar have lots of a wide selection of stores where you can find all of the classic Turkish handicrafts like rugs, lanterns, and tea sets.
Recommended Cave Hotels:
Museum Hotel: An ultra-luxurious take on a cave hotel. Museum Hotel has an array of elaborate rooms, including pool suites with cave pools in some of the rooms. Cooking classes and a spa are some of the amenities offered onsite.
Chelebi Cave House: Located in Göreme, this hotel is in an old Greek house with a combination of cave rooms and rooms of original Greek stone architecture. A nice lounge and two terraces offer beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Kelebek Special Cave Hotel: Also in Göreme, this hotel has beautifully decorated cave rooms, most of which have individual fireplaces and standard rooms. There’s a comfortable common-area lounge, a library, and a beautiful view from the terraces. Kelebek also has its own hammam.
See more hotel and rental property options in Cappadocia here:
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