Cappadocia is of the biggest must-visit destinations right now, but seen as its smack bang in the middle of Turkey and Turkey is one big Country, it can seem a bit hard to get to! The truth is it’s not that hard, it’s not really easy but as I say, anywhere that is a bit harder to get to will be better and more rewarding once you’re there and that’s definitely the case with Cappadocia!
Therefore combining a trip to Cappadocia with stopover or City Break in Istanbul is a great thing to do, I’ve done it myself twice!
On my recent trip I spent 5 nights in Turkey, 2 full days in Cappadocia and 3 nights with one travel day to get me to Istanbul and 1.5 days in Istanbul and 2 nights before leaving that night to my next destination. This is a good amount of time to see both, although if I was you I’d try to visit Cappadocia for 3 full days and perhaps 4 nights.
In this post I want to give you helpful information on how to visit and travel to Cappadocia and Istanbul in one trip, so here goes:
How to Get to Cappadocia
I would recommend going to Cappadocia first because you will more than likely need to fly into Istanbul and then get a second flight there and it’s always nice to get the longer travel leg out of the way first.
The first thing to note is that Cappadocia is a region in Turkey. Goreme is the main tourist town but Goreme doesn’t have an airport and there is no airport called ‘Cappadocia’. The two airports that serve the Cappadocia region are Kayseri Airport and Nevsehir Airport.
I flew from London Stansted to Kayseri Airport in one day with Pegasus Airlines. I had a stopover in Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport for 2 hours and both flights went really smoothly and therefore if you are flying from London or the UK I would recommend this route to you.
If you are flying from elsewhere in Europe or in the world, you will more than likely need to swap planes in Istanbul. Note that Istanbul has 2 airports and they aren’t that close together (so I wouldn’t recommend flying into one and out of the other). Pegasus Airlines to fly to and from a lot of locations so it’s worth seeing if they fly from your nearest airport to Istanbul!
When you arrive in Istanbul will need to go through passport control and get your visa stamped (note that most Nationalities require a Visa to enter Turkey. You can apply for an E-Visa easily online) and then head to Domestic Departures. Thankfully Pegasus Airlines dealt with my bag and put it on the second plane so I didn’t have to pick it up.
If you have a long layover or even just a 2 hour wait in the airport at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen I would recommend paying to use the ISG Lounge. There is one in the Domestic Terminal and the International Terminal. They are exactly the same except the Domestic Lounge is a bit smaller. There is no free WiFi in Sabiha Gokcen Airport so if you want WiFi you have to purchase some food and in most cases to the value of 30-35TL or more to get a pin code. Whereas you can go in the Lounge which has a really relaxed atmosphere, offers unlimited WiFi codes, unlimited drinks and food for just 60TL. Bargain!
To SEE my day flying from London to Cappadocia, have a look at my YouTube video:
How to Get from Kayseri Airport to Goreme
Mini bus is the best way to get from Kayseri Airport to Goreme. I emailed my hotel (Cappadocia View Hotel) in advance and asked them to book me a mini bus, I paid 35TL which is pretty good and I had someone waiting for me outside of the airport with a sheet with my name on. I was a bit worried about whether I could get a mini bus as I arrived at 22:00 but it seems like whenever there is a flight landing, there are mini buses running to take visitors to Goreme, which makes sense seen as tourism is so big in the area now.
The drive from Kayseri Airport to Goreme in a mini bus is about 1 hour.
If you want to save money be sure to ask your hotel to book the bus for you first rather than booking with a company online as it will be a lot cheaper.
I’ll say now that although a day trip to Cappadocia from Istanbul may seem like it’s possible, I don’t think it is thanks to how long all of the sections of transport will take!
Where to Stay in Cappadocia
Goreme is the main tourist town so unless you are hiring a car, you should stay in Goreme otherwise you will struggle getting around.
Goreme has so many Hotels of all different budgets, plus there are plenty of hostels available too so Cappadocia can be visited on a budget.
I stayed at Cappadocia View Hotel which I would recommend, especially for its terrace to see the balloons from in the morning.
On my first visit I stayed at Diamond of Cappadocia Hotel which is right in the centre of Goreme. I also enjoyed by stay there.
Have you thought about Insurance for your trip to Turkey?
It’s something I know a lot of us forget or think isn’t important but it is! If you still need to purchase travel insurance I’d recommend World Nomads. Firstly you can get insurance even if you’re on your trip right now! Secondly they offer 24/7 emergency assistance, trip cancellation, protection of gear, and a lot more. Plus they’re flexible and simple! Just what we need! Get a quote here!
What To Do in Cappadocia
I have written a full blog post on ways I recommend you spend 2 or 3 days in Cappadocia. It includes going Quad Biking, going on a Day Tour, hiking in the Valleys, eating delicious Turkish Food and of course, going in a Hot Air Balloon.
TO SEE A DAY TOUR I DID IN CAPPADOCIA, HAVE A LOOK AT MY YOUTUBE VIDEO!
How to Get from Goreme to Kayseri Airport
The same way as you got to Goreme. Book a mini bus with your hotel, with one of the tour operators in the town, or directly at the bus station which may get you a slightly cheaper rate.
How to Get from Cappadocia to Istanbul
Now to will be time to head to Istanbul for your City Break there.
As well as flying you can get an overnight bus from Cappadocia to Istanbul but I would recommend flying because it’s a lot quicker! Flights from Cappadocia to Istanbul are just over an hour and often flights can be purchase really cheaply. Pegasus Airlines fly from Kayseri Airport to Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport regularly everyday.
How to Get from Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Istanbul City Centre
Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport is on the Asian side of Istanbul so it is quite far away from the City Centre. You could get a taxi or book a shuttle bus at the airport to the City Centre, but the cheapest and most popular option is to get a bus. There is only one company that offers a bus which is Havabus. Exit Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport in arrivals and you’ll see signs for Havabus. They run every 30 minutes all day and most of the night.
The cost is 18TL which is paid to the driver once you get on the bus.
The only thing is that this bus only goes to Taksim or Kadikoy, not to Karakoy or to Sultanahmet which are the two most popular areas to stay in in Istanbul, which is a bit annoying and a bit strange.
Kadikoy is on the Asian side of Istanbul so you could get a bus there and then get a boat over to Karakoy or Sultanahmet if you are staying here. I visited the Asian side of Istanbul a few years ago, it was easy to work out the boats but with all my bags I didn’t really fancy doing this journey.
The second option which is what I’ve done twice is to get the bus to Taksim which takes roughly 90 minutes but it can be longer when the traffic is bad. Taksim is technically the Centre of Istanbul too (Istanbul is very big) but I wouldn’t recommend staying here, more on that below.
The Havabus stops at Point Hotel Taksim and there will be lots of taxi drivers waiting for you, you could get a taxi, I believe I was quoted 60TL to go to Sultanahmet or you can walk down the street and head towards the Metro.
Istanbul’s Metro System is really easy to use, but of course with a lot of bags everything can seem a bit harder to do, it is possible though. You need to get an Istanbulkart (see how in the below point), and then head towards the Funicular to Kabatas, it’s just one stop, quick and pretty cool.
Then get on the tram, it only goes in one direction from Kabatas to the ‘City Centre’ aka Karakoy or Sultanahmet. This is the cheapest way to get from Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Istanbul City Centre and it’s not that hard either.
How to Get an Istanbulkart
An Istanbulkart can be purchased at most little tobacco stores or in the Metro stations. Some of the ticket machines only offer Istanbulkart re-charge and do not sell the actual ticket, so be sure to check above the ticket machine and look for Istanbulkart Sales.
You’ll see the option on the screen, a card is 6TL. You then need to top it up. If you put in say 10TL it will purchase your card and then top it up by 4TL, so be careful not to put too much of a big note in. If you just paid 6TL or you need more credit, hold your card to the reader, choose the amount, put the money in and then wait a few seconds until the timer finishes and you see a green sign on the screen to say it’s been completed. (I walked away too soon the first time and mine didn’t top up even though I paid, luckily it was just 5TL).
The metro is really cheap to use, literally just 2-4 TL per journey and you’ll know when your card is out of credit as it won’t let you through the barriers. From what I saw all stations and stops have a ticket machine to top up your card at.
Where to Stay in Istanbul
There are a few popular areas to stay in in Istanbul, Sultanahmet is the best place to stay in Istanbul in my opinion if you are only staying in Istanbul for 1-2 nights as it’s where all of the attractions are for example Hagia Sophia and the popular Mosques. There is an array of accommodation in Sultanahmet and although it may be a bit pricer, it benefits from being convenient.
Karakoy is just a cross the River (but still in the European Side), this is a popular area as it’s just across the bridge from the tourist spots but because of this it benefits from slightly cheaper accommodation prices as it is less touristy, it’s more hipster!
Then there’s Taksim, this could be a good place to stay if you are in Istanbul for a while or really on a budget as the prices are lower and there are lots of accommodation options, but if you’re there for just a few days I’ve advise against it.
Kadikoy is another popular area to stay in Istanbul but I’d say that’s because it’s a bit different due to it being on the Asian side of the City. The rest of the city is easily accessible by boat but again, if you’re there for just a few days I would say you’ll end up travelling too much to get to the tourist sites.
What To Do in Istanbul
I have a blog post on how I spent 3 days in Istanbul which you can read here. I did a lot in these 3 days including visiting the Asian side, going into some of the Museums and Mosques, getting a Hamman and visiting Taksim.
What To Do in Istanbul in One Day
If you only have one day in Istanbul here is how I recommend you spend it.
Visit 1 – 3 of the Museums – Hagia Sophia, Basilican Cistern or Topkapi Palace for example. All of of these 3 are in the same area and really close to each other, to save time be sure to purchase Skip the Queue tickets in advance to save yourself time.
Go into the Blue Mosque which is also in the same area.
Head to the Grand Bazaar.
Grab Lunch from one of the Food Sellers on the Streets.
Cross over the River via the Bridge.
Walk up to the Galata Tower so you can see the Galata and Karakoy area.
Go on a boat trip up and down the Bosphorus River which takes you right between the European and Asian Side of Istanbul.
Have Dinner in one of the many restaurants in Sultanahmet.
TO SEE WHAT I DID, ATE AND SPENT IN ONE DAY IN ISTANBUL, HAVE A LOOK AT MY YOUTUBE VIDEO!
How to Get from Istanbul to Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport
Take the Metro again to Taksim and then get the Havabus. You can’t book in advance but they again run every 30 minutes. The location is just down the road from where you were dropped off at Point Hotel Taksim. There is what looks like a ticket shelter so look out for this.
And that should be all you need to know for a combined trip to Cappadocia and to Istanbul! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below or by tweeting me @wandering_quinn!
If you would rather go on a tour to Cappadocia and Istanbul and see more of Turkey on a tour at the same time, I would recommend going to Turkey with Travel Talk Tours. I’ve been to Egypt and Greece with them and my friend recently went to Turkey with them, she saw so much including Cappadocia!
For more Inspiration and idea’s have a look at this posts:
I flew to Cappadocia in collaboration with Pegasus Airlines but all thoughts, information and recommendations in this post are my own.This post contains affiliate links but at no extra cost to you, if you use the links to make a purchase I get a small commission for recommending them.