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Thrifty Tales in Cappadocia: A Budget-Friendly Guide to Unforgettable Adventures in 3 Days

Myself and my boyfriend, Greg, started our 4 month travels around Europe in Cappadocia in 2019. After quitting our jobs, we had a very strict budget to stick to. We feel we did Cappadocia justice and saw as much as we could for the time we were there, even if we did do it on a budget. Read on to find out some of the amazing things we did in Cappadocia, Göreme in the beautiful country of Turkey.

Disclosure: Some links below may be affiliate links (marked *). If you make a booking through the link I may receive a little extra pocket money, at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your support!

Where to Stay?

The hotel we stayed in was Cappadocian Special House in Göreme which was £20 a night, one of the more cheap hotels in Cappadocia. The host was lovely and could not do more for us. The breakfast was amazing and I highly recommend this place. If you are lucky enough to have a higher budget, then perhaps you could stay in one of the beautiful cave hotels in Göreme.

Day 1 in Cappadocia

Hike from Göreme to Uçhisar via Pigeon Valley or vice versa

This is a 4 km hike each way. The views are incredible throughout the valley. If you are starting from Uçhisar, the entrance to the path is a downhill walk from Uçhisar along the main road, towards Göreme, then turn right into the road which has no car entry. Walk a little way up the hill on this road and you will see a sign on your left that says Göreme and Pigeon Valley. If you start in Göreme, walk along the street Uzun Dere Caddesi and follow the path. The road turns into a path, when it comes to a choice between straight onwards under a rock bridge or left, go straight. Here is a detailed map showing the route.

Views in Pigeon Valley
The start of our trail from Uçhisar to Göreme.
Views in Pigeon Valley
Epic views in Pigeon Valley.

Explore Uçhisar town and Paradise Valley

Uçhisar village has the highest castle in Cappadocia, but it isn’t a castle in the conventional sense. It’s an old rock formation turned ancient castle, on top of the highest point of the town. You can go into the castle, but we didn’t, as we were exploring Cappadocia on a budget. The town itself is small and quaint, with a lot of caves and cobbled stones. On the way down from Uçhisar towards Göreme, there is a smaller valley called Paradise valley. You can climb into some of the rock chimneys and explore freely. Make sure you go early to avoid the tour bus crowds.

Paradise valley
One of the rock chimney houses.

Day 2 in Cappadocia

Kaynakli Underground City

Underground cities are very common in the Cappadocia area. Kaynakli dates back to 1200BC and has remnants of people living in the city until 1926. We didn’t know about these cities until our hotel owner gave us a map. We then acted on an impulse and decided to go.  Don’t get me wrong it was very interesting, but it was also 42 lira each which is at least a meal for us backpackers. It was fascinating to see, but there are so many caves in the area, underground or not. We explored ancient caves on Day 3 and had we already done that on previous days, we probably wouldn’t have gone to Kaynakli. Just a heads up, it is very low in there, my 6″5′ boyfriend had a terrible time bending over the whole time!

Underground city
Interiors of one of the many rooms over the 6 floors of the Ancient Underground City.
Underground city
Greg struggling in a taller part of the cave!

One thing I did appreciate was how efficient the bus service is in Cappadocia. They have both normal busses and minivans, which are called ‘Dolmus’, and they follow prescribed routes. To get to Kaynakli from Göreme, you must take the bus to Nevşehir which comes every half an hour and it cost 4 lira. Then you have to wait for a dolmus with a sign on the windshield saying underground city. These also come every half an hour. This was a further 5 lira. The travel itself took an hour but there were wonderful views on the drive.


Ürgüp is a quaint town which also showcases a castle carved out of the rock on the hill. This village is famous for the Three Beauties, which is just outside of town. You can see them from the van which is a huge plus and another reason why I love taking public busses, you see the scenery! I recommend you go up to the viewpoint which is up the hill by the castle on the left, turn right at the park and follow the path up.

To get to Ürgüp you may have to take a bus to Nevşehir and change to Ürgüp depending on where you are staying. There is a direct bus from Göreme, which has Ürgüp in red painted on it.  The bus stop isn’t in Göreme bus station, you have to walk on the same road past the bus until you see the sign for Göreme Open Air Museum. The bus stop is on the corner before you turn left to the Open Air Museum. This bus is 5 lira.

Day 3 in Cappadocia

Watch the hot air balloons at sunrise

This is a scene not to be missed! They start rising just before 6 am, so you should be at the viewpoint around then. To get to the viewpoint you must go into the middle of town, turn left at the Mosque and follow the road up, veering left, past all the hotels. You have to pay 3 lira to go to the top but it is worth it! (also equivalent to 43p.) Alternatively, if you don’t wish to walk up the steep hill, you can simply look up and see all the balloons from the ground. Still worth the price to pay, even if you are exploring Cappadocia on a budget!

Hot air balloons
The view from the viewpoint in Göreme.

Göreme Open Air Museum surrounding area

We did not go into the museum as it was 54 lira and the landscape around it was very similar with no fences. And we are exploring Cappadocia on a budget here. Across the road from the main carpark, there is a road going up to a hill where the same rock formations can be found as in the museum. These rock formations once housed people 1500 years ago. We went into every single cave we could access; some were underneath the rock and we had to crawl into, but it was so worth it. We discovered paintings and carvings from the era, which would have been shown in the museum. The bonus is that there were barely any people up there doing the hike! We walked up to the top of the hill and the view was incredible. 

Ancient cave
Inside one of the many caves.
Ancient cave
Notice the paintings around the edge of the wall. They have lasted 1,500 years because they have been untouched and well-hidden from the elements.
Ancient doorway
Detailed paintings on a doorway from 1,500 years ago!
View from Goreme open air museum
The views from the top of the hill, past all the rock caves. Definitely worth the steep 15 or so minute hike from the carpark!

A winery on the way back to Göreme from the Open Air Museum offered free wine tastings from the region. This winery dated back to the 6th Century, where the owner and his family now live and make the wine. The winery is inside a cave and they have an outside seating area where people can order drinks. The cave is very interesting inside and worth a little stop on the walk back to Göreme. Plus the owner is very friendly!

Cave winery
The inside of the winery, it is 1,500 years old.

Cappadocia is a truly magical place. We explored without our phones and found it very easy to get to places, even though it’s huge. The transportation links are great. All the sites mentioned are free, except for the Ancient Underground City, which was 42 lira or £6. 


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