Goreme (Göreme, pronounced guh-reh-meh, uh like er in "her") is a town in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. The town is centered in the middle of an internationally popular region that is best known for its natural rock formations, often called "fairy chimneys". The rock formations are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Several bus companies (Nevsehirliler, Metro, Goreme Tourism, Suha and Göreme Cappadocia) have day-time and overnight buses that run directly from Göreme to Istanbul (or directly from Nevshehir, 20 minutes down the road). You can catch a bus from Istanbul by catching a ferry to the Harem ferry port. Make sure you book a couple of days in advance in peak times as buses book out. There are connections to Konya (3½ hours), Ankara (40 TL, 5 hours including a transfer in Nevşehir), Denizli (10 hours), Pamukkale (10 hours), Selçuk (12 hours), Kusadasi (12 hours), Marmaris (13 hours), Bodrum (13 hours), Alanya (9 hours), Çıralı (10 hours), Canakkale (17 hours), Kayseri (2 hours, 15 TL), Trabzon, Van.
If you book your ticket directly to Göreme, make sure that the bus (or a smaller van associated with the bus company) will drop you off at the Göreme bus station (otogar) even if the bus ticket says Göreme. It is a common occurrence for a bus company to sell you a ticket that says Göreme but then drop you off somewhere in Nevşehir, sometimes at a tour office, and hope that the folks at the tour office will help you get to the Göreme bus station. The Metro Turizm bus company is reliable, and the transfer is included in the ticket.
There are numerous buses from Göreme to other parts of Turkey. The cheapest fare quoted to Istanbul as of July 2010 was 50 TL direct from Sultanahmet (Old City), Istanbul by Suha Company with reclining seats and TV sets at the back of every seat, though this required changing buses at Nevsehir and arriving at Göreme by shuttle most of the times.
The nearest airports to Goreme are in Kayseri or Nevsehir. To Kayseri Airport, Turkish Airlines as well as Onur Air or Pegasus have several flights a day from Istanbul. SunExpress is another low-cost option.
Outside the airport are only taxis (cost 12 TL to the main bus station, otogar) and arranged shuttle buses, no dolmuş. The stop for city buses is a bit down the road following the airport exit. The Kayseri otogar is far from the airport. From otogar, there are very limited direct lines to Göreme (10 TL), but more frequent lines to Avanos, where you can transfer to a local bus for the remaining 9km to Göreme; the station is unmarked and the ride costs 2.5 TL.
If you have a hotel transfer option, take it: it is much more convenient.
The town of Goreme is fairly small, and walking is your best option. Walking also provides excellent views of the surrounding canyons, which are sights themselves. Available for rent are mountain bikes, scooters, motorcycles and all terrain quads. There is regular bus service to Nevşehir (every half hour as of Oct. 2008), and from there to regional destinations including the underground cities at Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu. Dolmus service also runs approx. every hour to nearby cities like Avanos and Urgup.
If you travel by bus, make sure you know when the last bus back to Göreme is. It is possible that service from Nevşehir stops at 18:00.
Göreme has a wide selection of natural and cultural wonders. Simply walking through the village you will be amazed at the bizarre 'fairy chimney' rocks cut naturally by the wind and rain.
Several tour operators offer one-day packages (green tour, red tour, blue tour) that may include a stop at a Caravansari, one of the amazing underground cities, a walk through the ancient churches decorated with frescoes, and finally a stop at a carpet/pottery/onyx shop. Whereas these one-day tours can make your journey significantly easier, they are fairly expensive (expect to pay about 100 TL per person). The red tour is almost a scam, since you can do the trip yourself almost for free (only twice 2 TL for the public bus, and 15 TL for the open-air museum). Furthermore, avoid buying at the shops, as you pay 2-3 times higher through commissions.
- Göreme Open Air Museum. The museum has a collection of caves and fairy chimneys. The museum is a succession of very nice underground churches, some with simple geometric motifs, and others with wonderful frescoes from the 11th and 12th centuries. Free toilets at the entrance of the site; expensive café and shop. Be sure to visit the church in a cave across the highway outside the museum entrance, which is included in museum admission (save your ticket). 20 TL, 10 TL extra for the Dark Church.
If you are on a budget, note that other churches with simple geometrical motifs can be seen for free in the chimneys across the street (easy hike).
- Sunset Point - Every night local guys will be up at the highest point in town (North) showing off horses, ATV's, family-owned caves or private gardens to female tourists willing to listen. The spectacle alone is worthwhile. The view at sunset (or sunrise with the balloons) is well worth the 10 minute walk uphill. Everyone in town knows sunset point.
- Hiking - Following the paths along the valleys is an amazing (and free) option. Check with your hotel owner or the tourist office for a map of the area with suggested walks and trails. There are several nice loops on packed dirt, sand and rock, that maintain a constant elevation and pass through the scenic valleys.
- Pigeon/Love/Red & Rose valleys can be walked individually or together and each 'trail' offers different landscapes. Pigeon valley walk starts from the end of the street Flinstone's Hotel is on and leads to Uçhisar (approx 1 hr). Love Valley starts from the Onyx Factory at the bottom of Uçhisar and takes you to Çavuşin (approx 1 hr). Red & Rose Valley is on the way back to Göreme and can be seen on a 2 hour 15TL sunset tour (available everywhere) or you can easily spend 1-4 hours walking around the valleys independently. All stunning landscapes and fun to walk around. Unfortunately the paths are poorly marked.
- Hamami/Turkish Bath - There is a Turkish bath near the center of town to relax after a long day of hiking. The standard service for steam room, mud face mask, soap massage, and scrubbing is 60 TRY. An additional tip for your bath attendant is strongly urged.
For a cheaper option take the 15 min. scenic minibus ride to the nearby city of Nevsehir where you can get the same service in a non-tourist place for as low as 25 TL. Just get off at the main intersection in Nevsehir and ask around for "Hamam".
- Turkish Night Dinner. Nightly show 8PM-11PM. Hotels and agencies will offer to take you to a real Turkish dinner in an underground restaurant. It is very touristy with dance troupes, dervish dancing, etc. The food is ok and beer, wine, and raki is unlimited. 80 TL.
Pottery - Avanos, 10 km away, has been a pottery center for centuries. Many stores will sell pottery in Goreme, and you may end up at a pottery workshop at the end of a tour, but for the best prices, head into Avanos and wander around the back streets. Compare the prices and quality, and if you are worried about it surviving shipping/your backpack, ask them to stand on it to test the strength (vases, jugs, and larger objects should take their weight). While the quality in touristy shops is often high, you will be paying 2-3 times what you otherwise would.
Carpets - Goreme and the surrounding area are known as one of the top places to buy carpets in Turkey. Their proximity to well known local weaving villages means the prices are generally cheaper than Istanbul and the atmosphere for purchasing far more relaxed with few if any hassles. Try Tribal Collections -Nomadic Ruga & Textiles- they get the best reviews.
Goreme has a wide selection of typical Kebabs and Pide, as well as some unusual 'pottery' dishes that are prepared and served in a clay pot which you can 'break' open. Often the 'pottery kebabs' are precooked earlier in the day so check around to see which restaurants require a 'pottery kebab' booking - it's likely that they will be the places that make the kebab on the spot (they take about an hour to cook). Many of the restaurants and bars change hands on a regular basis, making specific recommendations difficult.
That said, Alaturca, with mains from 15-20 YTL, is considered to be one of the finer dining establishments in central Turkey, but is overpriced for the quality of food and a stiff service that is out of place in an otherwise informal town. Alaturca is on the secondary road that heads towards the open Air Museum.
- Cappadocia Kebap Center, Müze Cad. (just south of bus station across canal, it's small so look carefully). Good food at competitive prices, a standard döner sandwich is 6 TL for example.
- Meeting Point Cafe, Müze Caddesi (near the Canal). Cenap and Eliza are very friendly hosts; Eliza, being a South African Malay cooks delicious curry. Taste the excellent smoothies and fresh juices (orange and watermelon or watermelon and ginger are great). The cafe becomes a bar in the evenings - popular with locals and tourists alike - and, in colder months, Cenap sometimes hosts 'fire parties'.
- Manzara Restaurant (up the hill from the center of town). With one of the best views in town, catching the sunset with a cocktail from the upper deck is a must do in Cappadocia. They also have a lower deck and indoor dining with a fireplace. The kebab plate is a good choice for dinner.
- Firin Express (off the main street by the junction). Has freshly baked and wonderful Pide and Lahmacun for a few Lira.
- Safran Restaurant (just down from the museum street after the see bank. First highest terrace in the middle of the center), ☎ , e-mail: (mobile of John the manager)email@example.com. Climb the stone steps to this charming terrace restaurant run by a friendly family from Malatya in Eastern Turkey who have worked in hospitality in Goreme for approximately 20 years. Emine is a superb cook. What makes the food of this restaurant amazing is that this is the only restaurant in the town whatsoever that makes both the eastern and western foods. Ilker, Emine's German-born nephew speaks excellent English and cooks delicious manti, Turkish ravioli, if he can be coaxed into it.
- Nazar Borek (just up from Meeting Point Cafe). A small pastry cafe with outside wooden seating area on a platform above the canal. Proprietors Top Deck (Mustafa) and Reyfik are fantastic hosts. Their sweet and savoury pastries good value and delicious.
- Orient Restaurant (on the way out of the village on the Uçhisar, Nevsehir road). A high class, beautifully decorated eating joint that can provide both not-too-expensive top end meals and fare to suit tighter budgets. Proprietor Refayi speaks excellent English and French.
- Old Cappadocia Cafe & Restaurant, Hakkipasa Meydani Isalli mahallesi (opposite of central mosque), ☎ 0384 271 2858. Homemade meal on your table. The mother is cooker, the father is baker and the son is waiter. All staff from in family. If you believe family kitchen, just visit there. 5 TL.
- Silk Road Kebabs (near Pasha Bar) has excellent and filling chicken kebab (get the 1/2 loaf) for 2.50 TL.
Simply walking by carpet shops will open invitations for tea. If you're thirsty, take advantage of this free drink and learn something about carpets at the same time.
For a good western style coffee, M&M Cafe on the main street serves a great cappuccino, with real espresso and a nice little area to sit outside. Coffeedocia, near the bus station is a larger place, better to relax but with a very westernised feel, drinks are not as good and higher priced.
For the bar scene, several bars and clubs are open (primarily in the high season), and there is a disco in nearby Avanos frequented by locals and tourists alike.
Göreme has a huge selection of hostels, hotels, and guest houses (some 60 odd). The friendly (and tout-free) accommodation office can help you find something. Upmarket and boutique hotels also exist in Göreme. Many places include breakfast in these prices (as of Mar 2008). As of 2012, prices have become higher - 20 TL is the starting point for dorm beds with breakfast, and doubles run upward of 50 TL.
Many of Göreme's hostels and hotels offer the unusual option of sleeping in a cave. Much of the rock in the area is sandstone (tufa) which is fairly soft, and for centuries rooms (and houses) have been created by cutting directly into the soft rock. Comforts in these 'cave rooms' range from truly cave like to beautiful and tasteful with modern bathrooms; almost all have windows and are fairly well lit.
- (Gümüş) Silver Cave Hotel, ☎ , fax: +90 384 2712821, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Informal & friendly service, clean rooms with en-suite shower/wc, and very reasonable rates make this hotel/pension a pleasure to stay in. Located in Göreme 5 minutes walk from the bus station, Gümüş makes a great starting point for exploration of the surrounding areas. Help with planning tours and visits to local culture is available upon request. Facilities include a cave bar, flower garden, barbecue & laundry service. Breakfast is included. Single €15, doubles from €25, triples from €35. +€10 for Deluxe rooms.
- Shoestring Cave Hostel, fax: +90 384 271 22 99, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-out: 10AM. A good budget option with authentic cave rooms and dorm rooms at 20 TL pp. Heat and hot water are solar powered often leaving a scarcity of heat in the cooler spring and fall seasons. A Turkish breakfast buffet is included. The common are has 2 computers for use. En-suite double room €35.
- Star Cave Pension. Great outdoor lounges and relaxed atmosphere. Includes a mediocre breakfast. All rooms built in caves with ensuites. Don't expect for promises of free transfers to the bus station to come to fruition though as the manager forgot us. The receptionist walked us. The Australian seems to have left to be replaced with a middle aged and a young Turkish guy. They were not good hosts unless you were handing them money. Whereas many hostels make cheap meals at a nominal price, this hostel offers an occasional meal at restaurant prices. Although it is not bad, going to an actual restaurant might be more economical. Dorm 20TL, doubles start at 70TL.
- Kookaburra Pension, Konak Sokak 10. Not far from the bus stop, walking south you should see a sign pointing the right direction. The signs disappear closer to the hostel, but any one around should be able to point you toward the small uphill alley. Beautiful view over the city, in a central location, free wi-fi, but many people have reported the owner as being incredibly rude. Laundry service 15 TL. After lots of bad reviews on TripAdvisor, don't expect this place to be packed. Dorm 30TL, Double 60+ TL, including tiny breakfast.
- Flintstones. A bit up the creek; literally! It's up the dry riverbed from the scooter and bicycle rental near the bus station (and in fact, almost at the start of the pigeon valley hike) but they have nice rooms, a dorm, a pool and laundry service. And yes, you get to sleep in a cave so there might be some insects there. They have the same solar heated showers so be early or be cold. There are some mixed reviews though. 20 TL/double room.
- Local Cave House Hotel. Located in the center of Goreme, offers 9 cave rooms 1 family cave suite 1 honeymoon suite, deluxe suites with double and single bed.
- Rock Valley Pension (300 metres from bus stop, plenty of signs along the road), ☎ , fax: +90 384 2712821, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Great place to stay, with swimming pool and huge lounge area. Extremely friendly staff. Includes an impressive free breakfast and free wi-fi internet. Dorm 20 TL, double rooms from 70 TL.
- Nomad Cave Hostel (5 minute walk from the bus station), ☎ . Check-out: 10AM. €12.
- Kelebek Pension, Kelebek Pension Aydinli Mah., ☎ (+90) 384 271 2531. A simple, very beautiful hotel/pension. The rooms are nice and there's a beautiful, airy common area for relaxing, eating breakfast, and using the internet. I stayed in a small inexpensive room (with medieval frescoes on the roof) but some of the rooms are quite grand. €35 +.
- Ottoman House. Simple and affordable hotel with friendly, English speaking staff. Breakfast is included and the rooftop views boast views of the hot air balloons taking off.
- Arif Cave Pension Hotel, Aydınkıragı Mah, ☎ . Check-in: 11AM, check-out: 10:30AM. Cave rooms at the top of Göreme town where you are able watch around. You can watch the sunset from the terrace. €35.
- Cave Life Pension, Eski Bağ Yolu (5 mins up the hill from the bus station, hotel's manager can pick you up if you call them), ☎ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 10AM. Just near Goreme Open Air museum with a beautiful view from the terrace. Free wi-fi in public areas. Extremely friendly and helpful staff. From €40 incl. breakfast.
- Traveller's Cave Pension, Gaferli Mah. No:28 (5 minutes walk from Goreme bus station: free pick up from Goreme bus station), ☎ , fax: 0384-271-2624, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 24-hour, check-out: 10AM. located at high position at Goreme, with great Goreme national park view from their room and terrace. offers great breakfast, hospitality, cheaper OP tours and other service
- Traveller's Cave Hotel, Aidinli Mahallesi Görceli Sokak no 7 (5 minutes walk from the bus station: free pick up from bus station), ☎ . Check-in: 24-hour. Located at high position. Good breakfast, books tours and other service (partner with HIRO tours), good free WiFi. €50-70.
- There is a high concentration of stray animals here in the high-season.
Hiking is mild, not notably strenuous or fraught with danger that can't be ascertained by oneself. Woman however should not go hiking in the valleys alone as there have been a few incidents over the years.