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In antiquity, Cappadocia included all of central Anatolia, stretching as far as Ankara in the north and Adana in the south. Today the region includes the area in and around a small triangle formed by Ürgüp, Avanos, and Nevsehir, where the canyons are the deepest and the paint pigments in the rock-cut churches are the richest. But the fun doesn't stop at the edge of the triangle. There are plenty of potential excursions: to the underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, the Ihlara Valley and surrounding villages, a detour to caravansaries or a thermal bath. With so many options all over the region, an infrequent and inconvenient public transport "system," and the presumed limitations on your time, I highly recommend that you either rent a car when you get there or, barring that, set up base camp at one of the more vibrant (developed) centers mentioned here and buy into a day tour with a local tour operator. This chapter is organized to help the independent traveler choose a base of operations then venture out to explore around the region.

If your time is limited, it's possible to visit the major sites of the area in 2 full days with either your own car or the assistance of a local tour operator. Doubtless, you'll wish you had stayed longer. Tours can be either tailor-made -- and therefore more pricey -- or selected from a stable of standard issues. Typical day tours include 1) a visit to the open-air museums of Zelve and Göreme, overviews of the valleys from Pasabag and Dervent, a climb up to the top of Üçhisar Fortress, and an optional pottery demonstration in Avanos; or 2) visits to the underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu and a leisurely 4km (2 1/2-mile) hike through the monastery-rich gorge of Ihlara Valley. Tours may also include horseback riding; more challenging sports such as mountain biking can be easily arranged, but these are generally not advertised.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.