Some of the world’s oldest known human habitations were established in the hills and valleys of Central Anatolia, but today the main attraction here is the magical panorama of Cappadocia, where wind and rain have shaped the area's soft volcanic rock into a kind of fairy-tale landscape.
In Cappadocia you'll discover incredible rock formations, spectacular valleys, ancient cave churches, and underground cities that reach many stories beneath the surface. The small towns of Ürgüp, Göreme, Uçhisar, and Ortahisar are good bases for exploring the region’s otherworldly landscape. Whether hiking through the amazing terrain on foot, exploring underground passageways, or floating over the incredible landscape in a hot-air balloon, you’ll find Cappadocia to be unlike any place you’ve ever been before.
Southwest of Cappadocia is Konya, home to the tomb of Rumi—the 13th-century founder of the whirling dervishes—and to a fascinating museum dedicated to him. Known as Turkey's most religiously conservative city, Konya is not a place for those looking for nightlife (alcohol can be difficult to find) or a sophisticated dining scene. But centuries-old mosques and religious seminaries lend historic character to Turkey’s seventh-largest city.
The region's other major city is Ankara, Turkey’s capital and second-largest metropolis. Though lacking the mystique of Cappadocia or Konya, this modern urban center has one of the best archaeological museums in the country and a handful of interesting historical sites, including a citadel that surrounds a picturesque neighborhood. Also in Ankara, the imposing mausoleum of Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic, provides visitors a great deal of insight into the modern Turkish psyche.
As you travel through the Turkish heartland, you’ll see mostly agricultural regions—the province of Konya, with its vast plains where grains and other crops are grown, is known as the country’s breadbasket—and encounter a slice of provincial life.