8 tips for visiting Cappadocia on a budget

Although Türkiye is a relatively cheap country in which to travel, there are some regions which are a bit pricier, and Cappadocia is one of these, thanks to its popularity with both domestic and international tourists.

You’re likely to still find travel here very reasonably priced compared to your home country, but if you’ve been in Türkiye a while, Cappadocia will probably feel a little more expensive than you’re used to. Accommodation, in particular, costs a bit more than elsewhere in the country, and there’s a price hike on food and drink too. That said, it remains a pretty affordable destination. These tips will help you to make the most of your budget.

You can still enjoy the beauty of Cappadocia’s hot-air balloons without the expense of riding in one © Francesco Riccardo Iacomino / Getty Images

Daily costs in Cappadocia

  • Hostel dorm bed: ₺500
  • Hotel room for two: ₺2000
  • Glass of çay: ₺30
  • Lunchtime pide (Turkish-style pizza): ₺200
  • Two-course meal in a restaurant for two: ₺1100
  • Glass of wine: ₺150
  • Local taxi trip: ₺300
  • Dolmuş trip between towns: ₺260
  • Hire car (per day): ₺1450

Arrive by flight

Flying is the cheapest way to reach Cappadocia, with direct flights from numerous cities within Türkiye as well as a handful of European destinations. Internal flights are particularly good value, so consider taking a budget airline flight to Istanbul or Antalya with Wizz Air or SunExpress, and picking up a connecting flight from there. (Don’t forget, though, that Istanbul has two airports: make sure that your connecting flight goes from the same one you’re flying into.)

There are two airports which serve Cappadocia: Kayseri Erkelit and Nevşehir Kapadokya. Nevşehir only has flights to Istanbul, but is considerably closer to Cappadocia’s main sights, while Kayseri has more connections, but you’ll then need to arrange onward transport to the heart of Cappadocia. If you can find a conveniently-timed flight to Nevşehir, this is likely to be your best-value route into Cappadocia.

Cave dwellings in the snow as a flock of birds flies by
It might be snowy and cold in winter, but it’ll be a much cheaper time to visit © Ayhan Altun / Getty Images

Visit outside peak season

It’s worth timing your trip to Cappadocia to take advantage of low season. You’ll be able to save on accommodation, as hotel owners tend to lower their prices when there are fewer tourists about, and you’ll have the added bonus of being able to see the stunning scenery without the crowds.

Cappadocia’s main tourist season is from May until September, so visit a little earlier or later in the year to take advantage of lower prices. Note that it can be cold and snowy in the region in the winter months, so if you’re planning on taking a hot-air balloon flight or hiking the valleys, this may not be the best time to travel here.

Travel by dolmuş 

If you’re not in a hurry to get around, Cappadocia’s dolmuş service (minibus with a prescribed route) provides an excellent and cheap mode of transport. Dolmuşes connect the towns and villages of the region, departing relatively frequently from the town center or village main street, and cost a fraction of the price a taxi would charge.

The downside, of course, is they’re not always available exactly when you want them, and they offer less capacity for visiting off-the-beaten-track spots. Using a dolmuş for reaching mainstream destinations and a taxi for finding hidden gems will balance budget and exploration perfectly.

Find accommodation outside the main tourist hubs

Cappadocia is a popular tourist spot, and hotel owners know it. There are some beautiful hotels here, many of them cave dwellings that have been fashioned out of the soft tuff rock – and they’re usually pricey. If you’re not bothered about staying in a cave hotel, you can usually get a better bargain, but if you would like to overnight in one of these iconic places, consider looking outside the main tourist hubs to find cheaper deals. The town of Göreme has cave hotels aplenty, but it’s no secret, and prices can be high. Instead, check out nearby towns and villages such as Çavuşin and Uçhisar to find gorgeous cave hotels at a lower cost.

Seek out the cheap eats

Many restaurants in the region – in Göreme, in particular – have aimed their prices squarely at the tourist market, and don’t offer the best value. To eat more cheaply, head a few blocks back from the glitzy restaurants on the main streets and find smaller local places. Pide salons are a great choice for lunch: these delicious flatbreads packed with cheese or minced meat will fill you up for the afternoon and cost next to nothing.

Two glasses of red wine set against a rugged desert valley
Local wines from Cappadocia’s well-established wine industry are likely the cheapest option on the drinks menu © Elena Odareeva / Getty Images

Drink the local wine

It can come as a surprise to find that Cappadocia has a well-established wine industry: there are two major manufacturers and several smaller vineyards operating in the region. Imported wine can be expensive, but the local wine generally isn’t – it’ll almost always be the cheapest option on the menu. Happily, it’s usually very good as well, meaning it’s likely to be your best choice for an evening drink.

Buy the MuseumPass Cappadocia card

If you’re in Cappadocia to explore the region’s remarkable historical sites – including the Göreme Open-Air Museum, the Ihlara Valley churches and Derinkuyu underground city – you’ll quickly find that the entrance fees are relatively high. In particular, the Göreme Open-Air Museum is a pricey attraction.

Happily, if you are visiting several of these sites, you can invest in the MuseumPass Cappadocia card, which is a combined ticket covering most of the region’s most expensive cultural highlights. It costs ₺1500 to buy, so it’s not cheap, but if you visit four or more of the sites it quickly shows its value. The only catch is that you have only three days in which to use the card, so you may have to move quickly to get your full money’s worth. You can buy the MuseumPass online, but it’s usually easier and more convenient to buy it at the ticket offices of any of the participating sites.

Skip the hot-air balloon trips

Okay, so one of the most iconic things to do in Cappadocia is to take a hot-air balloon flight over the fairy chimneys, but it’s extremely expensive – if you do it, it’ll probably end up being the single biggest outlay of your visit to the region. Consider not taking a flight and instead getting up early to watch the balloons from the ground – there are plenty of places in and around Göreme where you’ll be able to see them, including the panoramic viewpoints to the west and south of town, or even from your hotel’s rooftop.

If you do decide to take a hot-air balloon flight, you might be tempted to cut costs by using a cheaper operator, but remember you almost always get what you pay for: cheaper balloons may have a lower safety record, use less qualified pilots, or may cram too many people into the basket, with the result that you won’t be able to see. This is one case where it’s worth paying a little more to get a much better experience.

Source: lonelyplanet.com

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