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Destination inspiration: Cappadocia, Turkey

Warm sunset colours flush Cappadocia's bizarre landscape

Warm sunset colours flush Cappadocia's bizarre landscape

Why go?

There are landscapes, and seascapes, even cityscapes. But not many places can claim to possess dreamscapes.

The Turkish region of Cappadocia is one such place. Its rocky valleys are wrinkled with wavy indentations and dotted with towers hewn by nature’s slow ravages, creating a scene that seems transposed from the surface of another planet, or from the recesses of Salvador Dalí’s twisted subconscious.

The best way to survey this otherworldly scenery is from a hot-air balloon. As the sunrise slowly soaks the rocks with soft light, curious shadow-plays accentuate the chaotic beauty of the valley floor. Suspended silently above these rocky folds, the magic of Cappadocia really hits home.

It's always an adventure to explore the networks of tunnels carved into the rock

It's always an adventure to explore the networks of tunnels carved into the rock

The soft volcanic tuff rock that makes up this scenery was sculpted by millennia of erosion, but also by human hands. Look closely and you’ll see that many of the hillsides have been burrowed into to make cave dwellings – a lot of them deliberately labyrinthine and discombobulating.

Subterranean mazes like Kaymakli Underground City were used as hideouts for persecuted peoples for nigh-on two thousand years. These are hidden, dusty nooks that reward the intrepid hiker. And in towns like Göreme, the buildings blend seamlessly into the topography. For a truly authentic Cappadocia experience, do as the locals have done since time immemorial – and spend the night in a cave, deep inside this magical dreamscape.

Winter snowfall adds to Cappadocia's other-worldly feel

Winter snowfall adds to Cappadocia's other-worldly feel

When to go?

Cappadocia’s peak tourist season is in July and August, so time your visit either side of that to enjoy fewer crowds and milder temperatures – perfect for that unforgettable balloon flight. That said, Cappadocia’s amazing landscape takes on an extra dimension when dusted with snowfall, so consider December or January as left-field options.

Cappadocia Cave Land Hotel

Cappadocia Cave Land Hotel

Where to stay?

Cappadocia Cave Land Hotel – Göreme, Turkey

This cave hotel gets superb scores in all areas from Booking.com guests. The one thing that all reviewers highlight is the friendliness of the owner, Ibrahim, and his team. The affable host is always ready to go the extra mile to make his guests feel welcome, including late-night pick-ups from the bus station.

Shoestring Cave House

Shoestring Cave House

Shoestring Cave House – Göreme, Turkey

This charming cave dwelling has a lot going for it, but the highlight has to be the pool and its terrace. From here, there are great views over the valley – and if you get up early enough, you can see the dawn balloons suspended in the air like celestial bodies.

Bedrock Cave Hotel

Bedrock Cave Hotel

Bedrock Cave Hotel – Göreme, Turkey

Hospitality in Cappadocia is generally excellent, but even here, Ozan stands out for the warmness of his welcome. Almost every Booking.com reviewer praises him for his helpful attitude – and there’s also a lot of love for Bedrock’s stylish cave suites.