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Before you plan your trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia, there’s something important that you need to know: Cappadocia isn’t a city. It’s actually a large region in central Turkey with a lot of different cities and towns in it.
So, which one do you want to visit?
The most popular (and best) place to stay in Cappadocia is the small town of Goreme.
It’s full of cave hotels, surrounded by Goreme National Park, and where the famous hot air balloons take off. If you want the Cappadocia experience you see in all the photos online, Goreme is the place to be.
But, Goreme is small so you’ll first need to go to one of the two larger cities nearby, Nevsehir or Kayseri. The two best ways to get to them are by plane or by bus and this guide will tell you exactly how to do it!
The amazing view on our sunrise hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia
How to Fly from Istanbul to Cappadocia
Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Cost: Around $50 round trip
Flights from Istanbul to Cappadocia are incredibly affordable – I got mine for only $46 round trip! And this was on Turkish Airlines, so there weren’t any extra bag fees tacked on. Because of that, I definitely recommend flying from Istanbul to Cappadocia.
Airports in Istanbul
However, there are two airports you can fly out of in Istanbul and two airports you can fly into in Cappadocia, so booking the flight can be a little confusing.
The Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) on the Asian side of Istanbul handles a lot of domestic flights, so chances are you will be flying in and out of SAW instead of the new and larger Istanbul Airport (IST) on the European side of the city.
Transportation from Istanbul to SAW and IST
Whichever airport you fly out of, the HavaBus is the easiest way to get there. These buses leave every 30 minutes from Taksim or Kadikoy and go direct to both airports. Their website is really easy to use, so click here for the full schedule. The total cost is 18 lira / 3.30 usd per person.
From Taksim to SAW airport the trip is about 1.5 hours (but can be up to two hours during rush hour so plan accordingly). From Taksim to IST the trip is about 45 minutes to an hour. You can also take Ubers to either airport as well.
How to get from Nevsehir or Kayseri Airports to Goreme
Both Nevsehir and Kayseri airports have direct shuttles to Goreme.
From Nevsehir the trip takes about 40 minutes and costs 25 lira / 4.50 usd per person. From Kayseri the trip is about an hour and costs 30 lira / 5.50 usd per person.
Your hotel/hostel/Airbnb can arrange this for you, just request the service when you book. Even though our flight was hours late due to high winds, the shuttle was waiting for us with our names on a sign when we landed.
Where to Buy Flights
I recommend comparing prices on Skyscanner to find the cheapest deals for your flight to Cappadocia because they make it easy to check flights from SAW to Nevsehir, SAW to Kayseri, IST to Nevsehir and IST to Kayseri to find the best flight for your budget and itinerary.
The town of Goreme, taken from above at Sunrise Point
How to Bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia
You can also travel from Istanbul to Cappadocia by bus.
I don’t recommend this because the trip is much longer but won’t save you that much money. A one-way bus ticket from Istanbul to Nevsehir with the Metro Turzim bus company is 110 lira / 20 usd, so the round trip will only cost 6 usd less than the flight!
What to Expect
Buses from Istanbul to Cappadocia leave from the Samandira Tesis station on the Asian side of the city.
From Istanbul to Nevsehir there is a morning bus and an overnight bus, both of which take about nine hours. The return trip from Nevsehir to Istanbul costs the same and also has morning and overnight options, but it takes 10.5 hours.
Buses to Kayseri cost 110 lira / 20 usd as well, leave from the same station, and take around 10 to 11 hours each. But, it leaves more often (and has an afternoon option) so if you need to go at a specific time this may be a better choice.
The return trip from Kayseri to Istanbul is the same.
Where to Buy Tickets
The Metro Turzim bus website is easy to navigate and lists all of these schedules and prices. Just choose Istanbul on the first drop down and either Kayseri or Nevsehir on the second to see your options.
Once you arrive at the bus station in either Kayseri or Nevsehir you will need to transfer to another bus to complete the trip to Goreme.
I don’t have too much information on this last step but my educated guess would be that they run pretty often and should only cost a few dollars per person. Ask around when you arrive and the workers should be able to point you to the right place.
Hidden corner in Cappadocia
Istanbul to Cappadocia Travel Guide
Taking a flight is the fastest way to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia and only slightly more expensive than the bus, so traveling between the two cities by plane is definitely the best way to go.
(Turkey does have a train system but the closest it runs is from Istanbul to Ankara, which is still 185 miles from Goreme. The Turkish Railways website is not easy to navigate and I couldn’t find prices or timetables either. So, a train from Istanbul to Cappadocia won’t save time or money on your travels.)
Because of that, the train is definitely out and though the bus vs. plane showdown was somewhat close, the winner is clear: flying from Istanbul to Cappadocia is the way to go!
Ready to go?
Explore cave hotels in Cappadocia to book the perfect stay and then check out more food, cultural, and outdoors experiences in Cappadocia to round out your itinerary. (Or, book a multi-day Turkey tour to finish your travel planning in once click!)
This article is part of the Capturing Cappadocia series. Read the rest below:
Or, explore the complete Turkey Series for more insider tips on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in the country.