When planning a visit to Cappadocia, you will most likely start in Istanbul but you’ll find a number of ways to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia, so it makes perfect sense as a starting point for your adventure! Turkey is a massive country and the area of Cappadocia is fairly remote in comparison, so you’ll have to find a larger city to travel to first in order to access this remarkable fairy tale land.
Istanbul is the perfect spot to start your adventure, filled with hundreds of remarkable experiences of its own.
From magical fairy chimneys to sprawling gorges filled with carved stone monasteries, Cappadocia is a tourist destination that many can only dream of experiencing in their lifetime. With such unique and breathtaking scenery, this region gives the impression of stepping into an alien world of wonders unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else in the world.
Additionally, the vast history and culture of the area goes back as early as 2,000 BC, giving you plenty of options to explore ancient ruins and remarkable sites dripping with history and charm. Artisans, local restaurants and ancient lands producing delicious produce make a visit to Cappadocia a special and truly memorable experience for anyone who visits.
You have many different options when traveling in Turkey from Istanbul to Cappadocia so you’ll be able to find the perfect scenario to fit your travel desires and must-haves while also working around your budget as needed. Fly, drive or ride through the countryside; no matter which option you choose, you will be sure to have a memorable experience!
Istanbul to Cappadocia: picking the best route
One thing to keep in mind when making your decision on how to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia is the distance you will cover while doing so. It takes roughly 8 to 9 hours to drive the entire length of the trip, and sometimes even longer if you need to stop for any reason. Because of how large the country is and how much distance you’ll be covering, it is worth keeping in mind when planning your travel itinerary.
Many of the different options are affordable due in large part to the relative weakness of the currency in Turkey when compared to other countries, so no matter which option you decide on, almost all of them will be fairly reasonable, no matter which budget bracket you are working within.
Research all the options ahead of time to get a better understanding of how much time and money to allot to your trip. An added benefit to researching ahead of time is that you will often find advance or online booking discounts for many of the different options, as well as additional information about any potential layovers, exchange trips or finding transportation between various legs of your journey.
Read on for more in-depth information about all the different options to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia!
Istanbul to Cappadocia by Air
One of the easiest options for making the journey from Istanbul to Cappadocia is by air. Domestic flights within the country are surprisingly cheap and with two different airports located close to Istanbul, you will have plenty of options for choosing a flight and destination in order to get to the remarkable wonderland of Cappadocia.
Flights operate daily (with the exception of inclement weather events, of course) and the prices on these flights range from around $30-$40 USD to about $60-$80 USD, depending on the typical factors of departure time, busy seasons and operating costs.
In Istanbul, the major airports are Istanbul New (airport code IST) and Sabiha Gökçen (airport code SAW), of which SAW is closer and operates more flights to Cappadocia. SAW Airport is closer by about a half an hour (when traveling by bus or hotel transfer, making it slightly more convenient than IST, but both are accessible and conveniently located, especially when using public transportation to get to and from.
Flights from Istanbul to Cappadocia last around 1-2 hours, depending on factors such as weather and maintenance, making it an easy way to travel the large distance between both locations.
You’ll arrive at one of two airports near Cappadocia; Nevşehir and Kayseri. Kayseri is farther away from Göreme than the other, but both are not terribly far and you can easily find a transfer from the airport to your hotel or utilize the public transportation bus that runs frequently between both of the smaller airports and the main city of Cappadocia.
If Cappadocia is a highlight trip during your time in Turkey, you have the option of booking a more comprehensive two day tour that includes the airline tickets, accommodations and transfers needed to explore the region before returning to Istanbul. Including flights to and from, as well as boutique hotel accommodations overnight in Cappadocia, you’ll be able to enjoy guided tours of this otherworldly tourist destination, all without having to worry about any of the logistics of traveling so far in order to do so!
For an added perk and the ability to experience one of the most popular Cappadocia tours, you can find a package that also includes a hot air balloon ride as part of the experience. Cappadocia is synonymous with hot air balloon rides.
This iconic experience is renowned the world over and you would be remiss if you neglected to take advantage of the opportunity while visiting Cappadocia. As the best way to see the amazing landscape of this unique region, this experience is a memorable way to enjoy your time before returning to Istanbul to continue your adventures!
Flying is the best and easiest way to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia and compared to similar trips elsewhere, you’ll find it surprisingly affordable! While more expensive than other travel options, it more than makes up for the time you save. That extra time will be perfect for exploring all the remarkable sights and experiences to be had in the region of Cappadocia!
Istanbul to Cappadocia by Bus
For budget savvy travelers looking to add on an excursion to Cappadocia to their trip, another much less expensive option is the overnight bus that brings you from Istanbul to Cappadocia. These trips usually last anywhere from 10 to 12 hours in length and often include beverages or light snacks to hold you over during the trip.
This option, while it might take much longer, is much more affordable and the ability to travel overnight gives you plenty of opportunity during the day to explore the region of Cappadocia. Costing usually around $20 USD, the savings are incredible and could be a great option for maximizing a travel budget while still being able to tick off items on your travel bucket list!
Be sure to research the bus routes and information ahead of time so that you are familiar with stops along the route and any potential transfers that might need to occur during the adventure!
If you want to experience a number of different tours in the region of Cappadocia, or simply want to avoid worrying about planning the logistics of the excursion, you could find a number of tours available that handle all the details for you!
A 2-day tour of Cappadocia starts in Istanbul and covers round trip bus travel to and from, while also taking care of accommodations and some meals! You’ll also have the benefit of included tours of the highlights of the region and experiences that you might miss out on when planning the trip alone.
If you want to save money but also experience more time in the area, you can also choose a 3-day tour option that will allow for more time in between overnight bus transportation to explore all the different sights in Cappadocia.
The area is filled with dozens and dozens of remarkable experiences, so the additional time to explore the area will be worth the investment, especially when you’ve already saved so much money on the transportation from Istanbul to Cappadocia!
Istanbul to Cappadocia by Train
While traveling from Istanbul to Cappadocia by train is always a possibility and another way to save money while on your trip, it is generally the least popular or recommended option due to the hassle and length of time it takes. While the trains in Turkey are usually high speed passenger trains, Cappadocia does not have a train station and you will most likely need to transfer at least once during the voyage, which tacks on layover times and the possibility of missed connections.
In addition to the hassle of late night train connections and timetables, one other thing to keep in mind while considering this option is that you’ll also be lugging your suitcases with you. Additionally, because the train station is not located near the city of Göreme in Cappadocia, you’ll also have to transfer to a public bus or hire a car service or taxi.
If your heart is truly set on traveling through Turkey by rail, it is definitely an option available to you, but be sure to keep in mind the potential for hassle or travel disruptions during your voyage. While it might not be the best or easiest option, there is always a sort of romantic appeal to traveling through a foreign country by rail, so regardless of what might occur, you’ll be sure to make some memories that will last a lifetime!
Istanbul to Cappadocia by Car
If you don’t like to be tied to timetables, ticket stubs and transfers, perhaps traveling from Istanbul to Cappadocia by car is an option for you! The cost is slightly higher compared to bus or train travel, but the benefit of having the freedom to set your own pace can be well worth the effort.
The price ranges from around $50 USD to $100 per day, which accounts for fuel costs as well. Fuel is far more expensive in Turkey than the United States, as it is around most of the Eurasian continent, and ironically most cars in Turkey run on diesel!
Budget accordingly and you shouldn’t run into any issues. One helpful piece of advice is to research the route ahead of time so you can be sure to refill the tank ahead of any particularly long or remote stretches. Running out of fuel on the side of a remote highway is never a fun vacation memory, especially if you don’t know enough Turkish to ask a local for help!
You can use your United States driver’s license in Turkey for up to 90 days without an issue and it is always a good idea to book insurance through the car rental facility to cover all your bases. They drive on the right hand side of the road in Turkey, just like in the United States.
You’ll have to brush up on your knowledge of the metric system, since Turkey uses that over the Imperial system that is used in the United States. For an easy way to estimate distances, just remember that a kilometer is equal to roughly .6 miles, so just over half a mile for every kilometer.
Be sure to pay attention to the speedometer and road signage, as you will be likely to see police with radars enforcing the speed limit at regular intervals. Traffic can be intense near Istanbul and the major highways through the remote stretches of road can be frequented by long distance truckers in large freight trucks.
No matter the situation you find yourself in, take your time and keep your cool and you’ll soon find that driving from Istanbul to Cappadocia is not hard at all. The sights you’ll see along the way can make the effort well worth it!
No matter which option you decide on, the trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia is a memorable experience and well worth the cost and time it will take to get there. Depending on where you are coming from, Cappadocia is a remote location but the most convenient starting point is Istanbul.
Because of the vast appeal of this area, travel options to and from have become plentiful and easy, making it a trip worth taking to see the remarkable sites that the region is so well known for.
Flying is by far the easiest and will save you hours of travel time. You’ll want as much time as possible to take advantage of the sights and experiences of Cappadocia! If you are looking for more of an adventure or perhaps the ability to save a good chunk of money, the other options each come with their own set of pros and cons.
Regardless of the option that is right for you, making the trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia is something you absolutely can’t miss out on!
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