Cappadocia is such an incredible area with so much to offer. We found it difficult to narrow down the top things to do in Cappadocia on a budget. We did manage to uncover some really great value here while still having incredible experiences. You can have a very budget-friendly Cappadocia experience with a little planning. We now share our findings with you in this Budget Travel Cappadocia Guide. So come take a look to see how you can have a great budget-friendly Cappadocia trip!
Budget Travel Cappadocia: Do This! Not That!
It’s amazing how much you can save by just making some simple adjustments to your plans. And perhaps other than the tradeoff of a balloon ride, we feel that you aren’t really sacrificing much quality for the experience with each of these budget-friendly Cappadocia alternative recommendations. Just look at how all the costs add up! (Note: all prices are based on 2 people and are represented in USD rounded to the nearest dollar using conversion rates in October 2014. Update & good news: the lira has devaluated against the dollar since this post was first written, so all costs listed will likely be even less expensive now!)
The prices in the “Do This!” column were our actual expenses during our 3 days and 3 nights in Goreme. Our only other expenses while in Cappadocia were bottled waters and a snack or two. We feel like we ate really well, loved our cave hotel and had some great experiences. Not bad for a total of about $30 per person per day! Here’s how you can also save nearly $1,400 and still have some truly awesome budget-friendly Cappadocia experiences.
Budget Travel Cappadocia Top 5 Things To Do:
1) Hiking Cappadocia is Free!
Skip the red, blue, and green tours that cart tourists around to stop and take pictures at some of the far-reaching sites throughout the region and instead spend time on the many trails that surround Goreme, where you’ll likely stay. There are some absolutely phenomenal routes right in your own backyard. We hiked right from our hotel everyday during our stay in the area and simply couldn’t get enough of it. Hiking on your own through the remarkable landscape is completely free which is why it tops our list things to do in Cappadocia on a budget.
Some trails are marked better than others. But sometimes it was fun to get lost. It usually wasn’t difficult to retrace your steps to find your way back.
During our visit in early October we couldn’t believe we had these remarkable canyons all to ourselves. Except for the Rose/Red Valley hike, we never came across anyone else the entire time. And the early fall weather was absolutely perfect too with clear skies and highs in the upper 60s / lower 70s (F). There was even some Fall foilage.
Here were some of our hiking highlights:
The scenery in the Rose/Red valley was our favorite of them all. Just beautiful!
Zemi & Görkündere Valley loop
This was the most fun trail to hike on as it winds up a stream, through tunnels, and up cliffs in which you utilize a rope to hoist yourself up. Combine it with Gorkundere and you have a nice loop hike. You can make a circuit that goes up to the Sunset Point, which is what we unintentionally did. It worked out perfectly and we now highly recommend it in this Budget Travel Cappadocia Guide.
This was a nice valley close to Goreme. It was a fitting introduction to the territory and we used it as a more scenic way to get to Rose/Red Valley.
No, its not really called “Mystery Valley,” it was just a mystery to us because we got lost. But this is where we happened to come across some of the most interesting and well-preserved church cave art. We were truly amazed. So go get lost in a labyrinth of passageways and see what amazing sites you may stumble into!
2) Discover Hidden Chapels with No Costs
You can visit the Goreme Open Air Museum just outside town and see the churches and chapels that were carved right into the cliffs. Instead, we recommend exploring some of the remote churches while hiking the area. They are free if you can find them, so it makes for a fantastic budget-friendly Cappadocia excursion. We didn’t know where any of them were yet we happened to stumble across several throughout our day hikes in the area.
It was an incredible sense of discovery to climb up and into what simply appeared as some wholes in the wall, only to find large rooms covered in elaborate ancient frescos, likely from about 1,000 years ago.
There are no signs to indicate where the churches are, so you must be observant. When you do find one, you’ll get the sensation of being the first anthropologist to make an amazing discovery. Beyond the Red/Rose valley we wandered into many of these ancient marvels. So where exactly where are they? Honestly, we got pretty lost but half the fun is the sense of adventure we had while exploring and discovering these gems on our own. So go ahead, get lost, and feel like you are Indiana Jones!
3) Mountain Biking is a Great Budget-Friendly Cappadocia Adventure!
It almost seems like the terrain around Cappadocia was specifically made for mountain biking. Some trails are much more technical than others, so choose a route based on your skill level. It seemed that all of the trails that are open for hiking also allowed bikes, though some routes would be physically impossible to bike on. We enjoyed biking in some areas near Rose/Red Valley. Its almost all single-track action with plenty of awesome adrenaline-inducing downhill segments!
There are plenty of opportunities in town to rent a bike. The price for a 4-hour bike rental in Cappadocia is tl20, making it a great choice for exploring Cappadocia on a budget. An all day bike rental costs tl30 offering even better value if you think you may be out all day.
Not all bikes are created equally, so check around to find an agency with nice bikes available. If you’ve been mountain biking before and can have a decent sense of directions, there’s absolutely no need for a guide. Grab a map and start pedaling! This is a great adventure recommendation for budget travel Cappadocia.
4) Watch or Splurge on an Inexpensive Balloon Tour in Cappadocia
Going for a balloon flight above Cappadocia is a bucket-list experience that is perhaps a worthy splurge. We talked to a number of people who went on one and they all remarked that the price of a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia was worth it. But with prices of hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia averaging at about $200 per person for 60 minutes of enjoyment, we simply could not justify it during our budget-friendly trip to Cappadocia.
Free: So what’s the next best thing? Get up at dawn and watch them soar above the exotic landscape. Watching the colorful balloons dotting the air above is really a magical site. Sure, it’s not a comparable experience to actually being in the basket. But as a couple, you will also have an extra $400 in your pockets, which will fund an additional week of travel in Turkey at a pretty comfortable level.
Go ahead, live a little: For those who do want to splurge a little in order to take in this incredible experience, the best prices for hot air balloon tours in Cappadocia that we found was through Viator with this 60-minute hot air ballon tour with champagne breakfast included for only $116 per person. While that cost may not be in line with some of the other low-priced experiences within this Budget Travel Cappadocia Guide, this is certainly one of the best-priced balloon tours in Cappadocia, so we’d be remiss not to recommend it for those who have it on their bucket list.
5) Sunset Point – A Perfect Cappadocia on a Budget Finale
About a 5 minute walk up the a small road that climbs above the town of Goreme, you’ll find a place called “Sunset Point.” Come here just before dusk to watch the sun begin to hide behind Goreme in the west while it lights up the fairy chimneys to the east. There’s a café here slinging overpriced snacks and drinks but it seemed very acceptable to simply arrive with your own supplies for those subscribe to a more “budget travel Cappadocia” philosophy.
Where to Stay in Cappadocia on a Budget
Staying in a cave hotel is a must-do experience when traveling to the region. Yet the novelty of doing so can be quite pricey; typically much more expensive than comparable non-cave accommodation. Many cave hotels deliver a luxury experience that I’m sure is quite nice but we were hesitant to pay the $100+ price tag to sleep in a cave. Instead we found a budget-friendly cave hotel called Cave Life that was just perfect for us!
Our room with ensuite bathroom was simple (it is a cave after all) yet comfortable and included a nice Turkish breakfast. And it was such an awesome experience to live inside an actual cave. We felt like the Flinstones! So cool!
Cave Life’s central location is just a two-minute walk above Goreme’s town center and right below the sunset point. In fact, the hotel has great views from its terrace in which you don’t even really need to trek up to the point. We paid $30 per night booking online in advance (update: now only $25 per night!). Here’s a link directly to the Cave Life page on hotelscombined.com where you can enter your dates and it will search all the major booking sites to find you the best price.
Where to Eat in Cappadocia on a Budget
While the area is loaded with overpriced tourist restaurants, we still managed to find some good value during our stay in the area.
For lunch, there are a number of cafes, which offer decent meals at decent prices. We liked the meatball sandwiches for tl7 (~$3) at MM Café. Also the borek and gozleme at Nazar Borek were the best we’ve had in Turkey and at about $3 including a salad, you simply can’t beat the price.
Those are nice options for lunch and/or if you’re really on a shoestring. But for dinner there are some worthwhile places in town to spend a bit more for some incredible turkish dishes. So skip the tourist restaurants with a show and instead try some of these delicious alternatives.
Cappadocian Cuisine Restaurant
Here you can find six fantastic set multicourse menus ranging from tl16-tl20. A glass of local wine (surprisingly great) will set you back another tl8, as will a large Eses beer, which is the cheapest we saw in town. The pomegranate dressing on our salads still has my lips puckering and the chicken dish that was cooked in a traditional clay pot over an open fire was just phenomenal. The clay pot was cracked open right at our table which revealed its sizzling goodness within. Our dinner and drinks for two came out to about $30 including tip. For $15 per person, you can certainly eat & drink for much less in the area but I’m not sure you can come across any better value than this, which is why it tops our Cappadocia on a budget restaurant recommendation.
Top Deck is a consistently well-reviewed restaurant in the area and we can now vouch for it too. It was a neat experience to dine on the floor of a dark cave!
But the quality of the homemade local food really made this place shine. There is a different menu each day typically providing a choice of chicken (tl20), beef (tl22), lamb (tl30), or vegetarian (tl18). The chicken dish on our night was chicken wings. I’ve never before had wings so fall-off-the-bone tender and flavorful without being doused in some sort of sauce. The beef dish was equally good. But what really shined was the medium meze course (tl21) beforehand, which was a wide assortment of all types of delicious cold Turkish appetizers. Yum! Top Deck also delivered on having a good quality-to-value ratio.
Where to Drink in Cappadocia on a Budget
Your best bet is probably to pick up some local wine or beer to enjoy on the terrace of your hotel.
Or if your accommodation doesn’t have a scenic view, take it up to Sunset Point to enjoy, as that is how we saw both locals and tourists unwinding in the evening. We can’t imagine a more perfect way to relax after a long day of hiking.
There is a bar or two in town. We only popped into one and got bad service so wouldn’t recommend it. Besides, why waste time inside a bar when in such an enchanting place?
Further Resources for Budget Travel Cappadocia
If you’re intrigued about Budget Travel Cappadocia, here are some additional resources to check-out:
Fellow travel bloggers, Never Ending Voyage, wrote a great Lightweight’s Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey post that provided us some travel inspiration and ideas before visiting the area. Their guide introduces you to the area’s sites at a slower pace of travel.
Its hard to do a Google search about anything related to Cappadocia and not stumble across CaptivatingCappadocia.com, which is an invaluable resource on all things Cappadocia. From bus information to balloon prices to restaurant recommendations to hiking routes – the expat who wrote it (who now lives in Turkey) covers it all and then some. The FAQ page alone should be must-read for all logistical information before any visit to the area.
For hotels around Cappadocia we recommend to search Goreme hotels in hotelscombined.com, where you can find the Cave Life Pension that we recommend. Wherever you stay and whatever you use to search, definitely book a cave hotel in Cappadocia!