With its fairytale landscape, magical rock formations, and hot air balloon-filled sky, Cappadocia is one of the most popular destinations to travel to from Istanbul. 352 miles separate the bustling city of Istanbul and the ethereal Cappadocia and, given the popularity of the route, it’s relatively easy to travel between the two!
We’ve used a variety of transportation between Istanbul and Cappadocia on our visits to Turkey and have put together this guide on traveling from Istanbul to Cappadocia to help you plan your travels.
How to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia
Most visitors to Turkey arrive by air through Istanbul International Airport. Depending on your mode of transport there are a few options for traveling between Istanbul and Cappadocia or directly from Istanbul Airport to Cappadocia.
There are 4 popular transportation options for traveling from Istanbul to Cappadocia:
- By Air: Fly from Istanbul to Cappadocia
- By Road: Rental Car to drive from Istanbul to Cappadocia
- By Road: Bus between Istanbul and Cappadocia
- Tour: join a tour from Istanbul to Cappadocia
Istanbul to Cappadocia tip: there is no direct train between Istanbul and Cappadocia.
Where to Stay in Cappadocia
There are 5 main areas to stay in Cappadocia that all offer great options for places to stay and the towns of Göreme and Uçhisar are the most popular options. Our favourites include:
- Sultan Cave Suites, Goreme: made famous on Instagram for its epic rooftop terrace and views across Göreme and the sunrise balloons, Sultan Cave Suites is one of our favourite hotels in Cappadocia. The rooms are cave suite style and hewn into the rock: they are cosy and presented at a very high standard – check prices now!
- Rox Cappadocia, Uchisar – We stayed in the Rox and the experience was exceptional. The rooms are cave style and the breakfast delicious. The view from the roof terrace is one of our favourites in Cappadocia – check prices now!
- Mithra Cave Hotel – The next door neighbour of the Sultan Cave Suites, the Mithra Cave Hotel also offers excellent panoramic views of the hot air balloons but it’s possible to secure rooms at lower rates. Mithra also has a resident dog and rooms range from basic cave rooms to two bedroom cave suites – check prices now!
1 | Istanbul to Cappadocia by Air
- Flight time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Three airlines (Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, and Turkish Airlines’ regional airline, AnadoluJet) operate direct flights between Istanbul and Cappadocia. Depending on the time of year, flights can be relatively cheap and there are regular departures throughout the day.
When choosing your flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia make sure to consider the departure airport in Istanbul:
- Turkish Airlines (IST to ASR): Turkish Airlines fly between IST (Istanbul International Airport) and ASR (Kayseri Erkilet International Airport close to Cappadocia). If you are arriving by air to IST or are based near the major sites on the European side of the city then I’d reccomend flying from IST.
- Pegasus Airlines/AnadoluJet (SAW to ASR): both Pegasus and AnadoluJet depart from SAW (Sabiha Gokcen Airport) in Istanbul. SAW is located on the Asian side of Istanbul so can be less convienent than IST if you staying on the European side of the city.
Getting to your Cappadocia hotel from Kayseri Airport
It takes just over 1 hour to travel from Goreme or Uchisar After arriving at Kayseri Airport.
- Private Transfer: private transfers are a popular option and ensure a seamless and comfortable transfer – check prices here!
- Shared Transfer: a less expensive option to a private transfer, shared transfers are convienient for travel between the aiport and accomadation – check prices here!
- Bus: a regular bus tranfer is the cheapest option. Buses depart from Kayseri Central Bus Station between 7am and 9pm daily. Tickets cost around Euro 3.
2 | Istanbul to Cappadocia by Rental Car
- Drive time: 8 hours direct
Renting a car is an awesome way to explore Turkey and we’ve had some amazing road trips through the west of the country. Outside of the gridlock of Istanbul, driving in Turkey is a pleasant experience and we’ve always felt safe.
We recommend two driving routes between Istanbul and Cappadocia:
Istanbul to Cappadocia Direct
It takes around 8 hours to drive the 470miles/760km between Istanbul to Cappadocia.
If you are arriving in Istanbul International Airport (IST) then we recommend staying overnight in an airport hotel and setting off first thing the next morning for Cappadocia. If you are staying in Istanbul then, again, setting off early is essential to escape before the traffic jams start!
Istanbul to Cappadocia via Safranbolou and Hattusha
This is a great route if you want to do some sightseeing on the way to Cappadocia. It takes 9.5hours to drive the route and we spent two nights in Safranbolou to give us time to explore.
- Istanbul to Safranbolou: 250miles/400km (2.5hours) – the Ottoman City of Safranbolu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 2,000 traditional Safranbolu red roofed houses lining its cobblestone streets. It once played a key part in the caravan trade as the main commercial link between the Orient and Europe.
- Safranbolou to Hattusha: 186miles/300km (4hours) – we’re huge fans of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Turkey so wanted to include a detour to Hattusa, an archaeological site with ruins of temples, a royal residence and fortifications. Hattusha was the capital of the Hittite Empire, an ancient Anatolian people, in the late Bronze Age.
- Hattusha to Cappadocia: 155miles/250km (3hours) – from Hattusha it’s 3hours to Cappadocia so, if you start your journey early in the afteroon, you can catch a Cappadocia sunrise on arrival.
3 | Istanbul to Cappadocia By Bus
- Bus journey time: 12 hours
Buses depart frequently for trips from Istanbul to Cappadocia. The main operators are Metro Turizm, FlixBus, Kamil Koc and Öncü Seyahat and passengers can travel during the day or take an overnight bus – there are multiple departures throughout the day and night so it doesn’t require too much advance planning.
Tips for taking the bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia
- Reserving tickets: outside of very busy times you can usually reserve your tickets on the day of travel, either at the bus station or the bus company office. If you are worried about availability then stop by the bus station/bus company office in advance to reserve your tickets. There are some online reservation systems but they can be difficult to navigate without understand Turkish or having a Turkish ID. You can always ask at your accomadation for some guidance.
- Seats: most bus companies allow you to choose your seat in advance and the most comfortable buses have a single row of seats and a double row of seats. It’s more spacious and single seats are great for solo travelers.
- Bus Station: the main bus station, Istanbul Otogar, is huge so arrive early. There are some convience stores to purchase snacks and the individual bus companies have waiting areas and offices. The station is located at the Otogar tram stop via the M1a or M1b red metro line.
- Bathroom breaks: there are bathroom breaks along the route.
- Getting to your Cappadocia accomadation: depending on your bus and route, you will finish your journey in Neveshir or Goreme. For buses which terminate in Neveshir, the bus company usually provides a shuttle to Goreme. If your bus finishes in Goreme then you can get a taxi/hotel pick up from there on arrival. You can check out our guide to where to stay in Cappadocia for accomadation ideas and, if you want a rooftop terrace view of the balloons, check out our guide to the hotels with the best view of the balloons in Cappadocia.
4 | Istanbul to Cappadocia: By Tour
If you prefer to join a tour then there are some excellent options from Istanbul. A tour is a great choice if you like all the logistics, transfers and schedule to be taken care off and they are great for squeezing a lot of sightseeing into a short time.
- One day Cappadocia tour: this one day tour includes return flights between Istanbul and Cappadocia, hotel pick up and drop off, lunch and a guided tour. Stops include Piegon Valley, Kaymakli Underground City, Rose Valley, Cavusin and Ortahisar Castle – check itinerary and prices here!
- Two day Cappadocia tour: this extensive two day tour includes return flights from Istanbul, airport transfers and one night accomadation in Cappadocia. Stops include the Goreme Open Air Museum, Devrent Valley, Pasabag, Uchisar, Ortahisar, Piegon Valley – check itinerary and prices here!
5 | Istanbul to Cappadocia: By Train
We often get asked about taking the train from Istanbul to Cappadocia but unfortunately, there is no direct train between the two.
There are 2 options for train travel if you want to include some additional stops on your itinerary:
- Istanbul to Ankara by train, bus from Ankara to Cappadocia: it takes 4.5 hours to travel by train from Istanbul to Ankara and a further 3.5/4 hours by road to Cappadocia.
- Istanbul to Konya by train, bus from Konya to Cappadocia: it takes 4.5 hours to travel by train from Istanbul to Konya and a further 3.5/4 hours by road to Cappadocia.
- If you’re planning to stop in both cities, it takes 2 hours to travel by train between the two.