Break away from the bustle of Turkey's big cities and experience the rural culture of the Cappadocia region. A series of volcanic eruptions around 10 million years ago resulted in the area being swamped in ash, which then hardened to form a porous rock. The elements carved the terrain into the odd peribacas, or fairy chimneys, and later the inhabitants discovered they too could carve the rocks - even into homes and churches. A base in Goreme allows you to explore Cappadocia at your leisure. See the painted frescoes of Byzantine churches in the Open Air Museum or organise a day trip further afield to valleys dotted with fairy chimneys and pigeon houses. Walk the stretch of the Melendiz Suyu stream through the Ihlara Gorge, splurge on a sunrise hot-air balloon ride over the unworldly rock formations or explore the underground city of Derinkuyu. Top off this adventure with a cave dinner with a local family and perhaps learn a little more of Cappadocia's many mysteries and legends.
Day 1 Arrive Goreme
Set amid the surreal Cappadocia landscape, Goreme is a magical little village. Get acquainted with this region on a full day of sightseeing accompanied by a local guide, including a visit to the Derinkuyu underground city where early Christians escaped the persecution of the Romans by hiding in the intricate network of caves. Admire the strange, natural beauty of this impressive environment and marvel at the ingenuity of the early settlers who hand-carved their homes into the volcanic rock. In the evening, be treated to Turkish hospitality while savouring a delicious meal in the home of a local family.
Days 2-3 Goreme
Take to the skies on an optional balloon ride for unforgettable views over the fairy chimneys and rock houses. Back down on earth, enjoy guided explorations of the surrounding vineyards, valleys and volcanic landscape by foot and by bike. In the evening, marvel at a restored caravanserai that once was used by merchants to trade their wares. Spend the next day with a guide, navigating deeper into the enchanting Cappadocia valleys, hiking along the trails past abandoned rock houses and mushroom-like formations. Get swept up in a mysterious Sufi performance and, later, be dazzled by a Turkish folklore evening in an atmospheric cave setting. This night of traditional dance and live music will not only end this short break on a festive note, but it will showcase the magical ambiance this extraordinary town is known for.
Day 4 Depart Goreme
Its time to say goodbye to the whimsical landscapes of wonderfully bizarre Cappadocia.