How to make the most out of your solo trip to Cappadocia, Turkey? I spent 3 days in Göreme National Park during a two-week-long backpacking trip to Turkey, and it was one of the must-visit places besides Siberia and the Amazon rainforest that I really wanted to see. Although Turkey is a popular summer destination, I can highly recommend it for those who seek the winter sun as it’s rather warm all year round.
During this trip to Cappadocia, I explored the fairy chimneys and other rock formations, visited an archaeological site, made new friends from around the world, and even rode a hot air balloon!
Related Read: How to travel with a small backpack?
Is it safe to travel as a solo female in Cappadocia?
Turkey is not the easiest country to travel solo, especially if you are a girl, but don’t let it discourage you from exploring it! I hitchhiked and Couchsurfed, and yet here am I. The world is full of wonderful women traveling and hiking alone, and I can assure you you will meet with some of them on your way. But let’s talk about Turkey.
Yes, you will get compliments and invitations (for tea and dates) all the time, both in-person and online. You can politely decline them, nothing to stress about. I’ve read that Cappadocia is a more conservative Muslim region. Still, I found it (at least Göreme) very touristy, and I barely met locals, unlike in Malaysia or Indonesia, where we spent most of our time off the beaten path.
I dressed in long pants and t-shirts (plus had a long shirt with me all the time) to avoid extra, unwanted attention due to my clothing. But you will see people in short skirts and pants a lot too.
Actually, there are so many tourists that you can easily walk near to groups, talk to them, and join them if you feel uncomfortable wandering around alone.
Cappadocia is totally safe for solo females.
Where to stay if you travel solo to Göreme
I took a bus from Ankara and arrived late in the village without having any pre-book accommodation. It was dark, and I was traveling without a smartphone. I didn’t own any at that time (2013).
I only recommend this to pro travelers. If you tend to stress over details of your travel or uncertainty, book your place now! You will find plenty of deals for bookings.
I researched beforehand that there is a popular hostel among backpackers and was hoping for some free beds. Do you want to stay in the same place? Check the current prices!
My choice fell on that property based not only on the recommendations but also on a cave hostel. Actually, most of the hotels and rooms in Göreme are carved (at least partially) into the volcanic tuff that covers the area. And it was a hostel, so I had a chance to socialize with other people and not exploring on my own most of the time.
The fairy chimneys of Cappadocia: how were they made?
I was always fascinated by the fairy chimneys, and as I studied geography extensively, I knew the history behind those landforms very well.
These weirdly eroded rocks are common sights in arid basins and badlands. This one is special due to its wide extent.
The Göreme National Park lays on 1000 m above sea level in the center of Turkey, in Central Anatolia, has a limited amount of precipitation, and is surrounded by great volcanos.
Let’s see how these miraculous towers are shaped.
Firstly, the nearby volcanos’ fresh lava covered the more porous volcanic pieces and ashes (the tuff). Secondly, it needed time. A lot. Nature started to shape the pinnacles. The lower, softer rocks, the tuffs, are more eroded (mostly by the wind) than the top’s tough ones. The forces carved them into these unusual shapes we can admire nowadays. They are also called hoodoos.
When nature finally deals with the top, hard layer (usually, gravity pulls it down as the neck of the pinnacle becomes too narrow), they slowly erode totally away and disappear.
Not to miss attractions in Göreme National Park – UNESCO World Heritage
Day trip from Göreme to the sights near Ürgüp and Uçhisar
First, I was planning on hitchhiking around, but due to the short time, I decided on a more efficient way of seeing all the places, as it was on my bucket list for a really long.
I signed up for a day trip exploring the nearby settlements and sights. It was awesome. We traveled by minibus and visited the must-see attractions. Our guide told stories, and we also had time to explore on our own while taking even more photos.
Must-see places on a day trip?
The Fairy Chimneys at Pasabagi (Paşabağı)
Derinkuyu Underground City
the Rose Valley
the Pigeon Valley
The restaurant with the Hungary fan owner/waitress
With the newly made friends from the trip, we decided to go out for dinner. We were invited to the second place we passed by a friendly and funny waiter. Later, it turned out he even lived in Hungary a decade ago (what a coincidence!), and while tasting the local specialties and wines, we were entertained and chatted a lot with him. It was a memorable dinner, probably the only one I still remember from my Turkey trip.
Goreme open-air museum
There is a smaller open-air museum that was interesting yet so crowded that I was not a real fan. You can learn about the region’s history and architecture so you shouldn’t miss it. As I was craving a unique experience, I went on a shorter hike near the town.
Wandering between the chimneys
When I needed some alone time (and photo shooting time), I said goodbye to the others and took 2 hours to walk between the fairy chimneys. It was scorching and had almost no shadows, so make sure you take enough water with you. I only had a similar experience later in the Death Valley in the US.
I met with quad tours, other curious explorers and got offered tea and juice (both that I refused) from sellers in the middle of my walk.
Hot air balloon ride
I have been debating whether to take the trip or not, as the price of it was quite high, but I have to tell you, the views absolutely worth it! If you have similar doubts, and you can actually afford it, don’t skip it!
You can choose between several companies, all having a similar price for the adventure. They will pick you up from your place, offer you a light snack, then, if the weather permits, go to the balloons and enjoy the ride.
It was a very windy morning, and we were on hold for at least an hour (meanwhile, I had breakfast from the tasty bakeries that were offered). I was already prepared that it’ll be postponed to the next morning, but eventually, the weather was kind of us, and we headed to the balloons.
That made me realize again how scared am I even on a ladder. And we will be flying! Standing in a basket with a giant balloon above my head! Am I crazy?!
It didn’t take as much time to inflate the balloons as I expected, or I was just busy with my little panic wave. Soon we were in the air! The sunset colors were gone, but the lights were still low, and I took a few decent pictures.
Take away thoughts
Easy to connect with locals and others on the road, tasty food, and stunning landscapes. Cappadocia is a perfect destination for solo female travelers who want to discover local culture, nature, and dishes.
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About the Author
Katalin is a Lapland-based outdoor enthusiast who loves hiking, road-tripping, and traveling with her family. She spends her free time far away from civilization in one of the national parks around the world, explores off-the-beaten-path places, or hops on a road trip with her kids in an RV.
Read more about her adventures and the blog.