The Turkish region of Cappadocia is one of the most popular travel destinations in the country, featuring on Instagram feeds and bucket lists from all over the world.
In the first eight months of 2022, Cappadocia hosted a whopping 2.5 million tourists. The most famous images people associate with Cappadocia are probably the hot air balloons flying over the lunar-like atmosphere, a popular honeymoon trip.
However, there is plenty to see in the region on the ground as well. Go hiking in striking locations such as Red Valley, visit the historic cave houses in Göreme, or browse the markets for one of the famous local carpets.
The pictures of Cappadocia certainly look idyllic, but you might be wondering if the reality on the ground is as beautiful as what you see in the images.
Many beautiful destinations hide ugly truths behind their photos, such as unsafe streets and high crime rates. To figure out if Cappadocia is a must-visit destination or a place you should wait to see, our travel experts put together this detailed safety guide.
Keep reading for more information about safety challenges, including crime, in Cappadocia. Let us be your guide!
Is Cappadocia Safe to Visit in 2024?
Yes. You’ll be relieved to find out that Cappadocia is a very safe place to visit! In fact, this beautiful place is one of the safest regions of Turkey and is largely immune from many dangers you might encounter elsewhere in the country.
While you should still be on your guard against petty theft and other minor crimes, your trip to Cappadocia should be safe. But there are still a few things you should know about to remain safe.
Most concerns that you might encounter in Cappadocia are minor, such as:
- Tourist scams
- Petty theft
- Sexual harassment
Violent crime is rare in this area, even more so than in other parts of Turkey. Since Cappadocia lives off of tourism, the authorities have a distinct interest in keeping the region safe for visitors.
Although Cappadocia is one of the safest parts of Turkey, problems that affect the whole country will also affect this region.
For example, the United States warns its citizens to exercise increased caution when visiting any part of Turkey due to the threat of terrorism and arbitrary arrest. While this risk is higher in big cities such as Istanbul and Ankara, it is present anywhere in the country.
In May 2023, Turkey went through a tightly contested presidential election where the incumbent, Erdoğan (an authoritarian leader, according to some analysts), was forced by the opposition into a runoff for the first time.
The tightly contested election might lead to civil unrest for months afterward. Although most protests will be confined to big cities, it is worth keeping this in mind even as you plan your trip to Cappadocia.
In February 2023, Turkey was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed thousands of people. The region that was affected the most was the southeast of the country, close to the Syrian border, which is close to Cappadocia.
However, Cappadocia was not devastated by the earthquakes and has not been damaged by the aftershocks. Many locals who depend on tourists for income are hopeful that visitors will continue arriving despite the bad news gripping the headlines.
The problems that affect the rest of Turkey will, of course, affect the region of Cappadocia.
However, this peaceful touristic region often feels removed from the rest of the country. While you should take precautions while you are here, you don’t need to be constantly vigilant.
Crime in Cappadocia
Crime is one of the primary worries for many people going abroad. Many tourist destinations are also crime hotspots, as criminals know that tourists are an easy, potentially lucrative target.
You might be worried that Cappadocia hides similar dark secrets beneath the pretty pictures of hot air balloons. To start with, let’s look at the overall crime rate in Turkey.
According to the World Bank, the intentional homicide rate in Turkey is three incidents per 100,000 people, which shows that the violent crime rate overall is quite low. The violent crime rate in more rural places such as Cappadocia is much, much lower.
Most crimes in Turkey are concentrated in Istanbul, the biggest city. Outside of Istanbul, the crime rate drops drastically. Several towns make up Cappadocia, such as Göreme, Avanos, and Derinkuyu.
Kayseri and Aksaray are the two biggest cities in the region. Kayseri even has its own airport. The crime rate in Kayseri is a good indicator of crime in the rest of Cappadocia since it is the biggest town and the most likely place to have crime.
According to Numbeo, Kayseri scores 29.63 out of 100 on the crime index, which is a low value. People are somewhat concerned about verbal harassment and theft from vehicles, but the incidence rate of most crimes is low.
If the crime rate in Kayseri is low, then it is bound to be even lower in the smaller towns that make up Cappadocia, such as Avanos.
These towns are so small that the opportunity to commit crimes is rare. Plus, since most people live off of tourism, the whole village is usually invested in making sure that people visiting Cappadocia have a good time.
There is some concerning news about crime in the region. Most people in Kayseri are concerned about crime increasing over the past few years.
This makes sense as the city has grown rapidly recently, and with rapid population growth also comes an increase in crime. Crime has also increased all over Turkey due to rising inflation and economic troubles.
You might experience petty theft or verbal harassment while you are in Cappadocia.
Although crime is low in the region, it is not nonexistent. However, you will not need to be constantly vigilant around your valuables the way you might be in some other parts of Turkey, such as Istanbul.
Plus, the threat of violent crime, especially violent crime affecting foreigners, is virtually nonexistent. You can truly relax on your vacation in Cappadocia.
The most likely crime you will encounter in Cappadocia is petty theft. This mostly comes in the form of pickpocketing, bag snatching, and some tourist scams.
If you rent a car, you might be a victim of theft from a vehicle. The Canadian government warns about the risk of petty theft throughout Turkey (which obviously includes Cappadocia) in its travel advisory for citizens.
Popular tourist destinations such as Cappadocia are common targets. Criminals know that foreigners tend to congregate in these areas. Especially due to the ongoing economic crisis, foreigners are far more lucrative targets than locals.
The same basic precautions you would take to prevent pickpocketing anywhere can keep you safe in Cappadocia.
Make sure that you don’t show signs of affluence that might mark you out as a potential target — although you may want to take a photo with gorgeous jewelry in the region, leave your valuable heirloom pieces at home.
Make sure that your valuables are always in your sight and within reach. If you are renting a car to travel through the region, take precautions, as thefts from vehicles are common.
Don’t leave your bags, especially your wallet or purse, sitting out on the seat. Place your things in the trunk or glove compartment, or even better, take them with you. When you park your car, park in a secure location.
Make sure that doors are locked and that windows are rolled up. As with any tourist destination, you might encounter scams during your trip to Cappadocia.
There are countless tour operators offering popular activities such as hot air balloon rides, but some of these tours are scam fronts. The tours they deliver are of worse quality than what they promised, or they don’t meet promises of refunds in case of bad weather.
Always research tours carefully before booking anything, as many require a cash deposit upfront. Another popular scam happens in the tourist markets, which you might encounter elsewhere in Turkey.
Sellers will promise to sell you an authentic handmade carpet or jewel for a high price, but what they are selling you is not worth even half of what you pay.
Ask your hotel receptionist or accommodation hosts beforehand what you should pay for souvenirs and keep that in mind when heading to the market. Haggling is expected in Turkish markets.
For female travelers, visiting Cappadocia comes with additional complications. Sexual harassment and even assault can happen here.
According to the Australian travel advisory for Turkey, this is a problem that is widespread throughout the country. Unfortunately, patriarchal attitudes affect foreign women as well.
The Australian travel advisory warns about the risk of harassment and assault in popular tourist destinations. While this is most likely in Istanbul and coastal resort areas, it can happen in Cappadocia as well.
Verbal sexual harassment and catcalling are probably unavoidable if you are a woman visiting Cappadocia.
You can minimize the incidents by trying to blend in with local women by dressing more conservatively and by studiously ignoring the catcallers. If you are a woman traveling alone, take precautions to avoid the risk of assault.
Never tell anyone where you are staying, and watch that you are not being followed. Be careful of overly friendly new acquaintances. You may feel overly paranoid, but that is better than having to go through something traumatic.
Avoiding Bad Areas
There are no really bad areas in Cappadocia. Throughout the region, crime is mostly low. Be careful if you are continuing your trip to Turkey after your visit.
Don’t visit the southeast of the country due to a tenuous security situation or the earthquake-affected regions, which are still experiencing aftershocks and shortages.
Things to Consider
Here are a few additional safety tips for visiting Cappadocia:
- Be careful when taking hot air balloon flights. Make sure that you are going with a reputable tour provider, and don’t go out in bad weather. There have been fatal accidents affecting tourists before.
- If you are visiting with children, take additional safety precautions. Some attractions, such as hot air balloons and cave homes, are not safe for very young children. Never let your children wander around unattended, including going to the public toilets.
- The summers are hot and arid, while the winters are very cold. In the summer, wear plenty of sunscreen and drink lots of water to hydrate. In the winter, make sure that you wear warm clothing and prioritize warmth over clothing that looks good in a photo.
- The tap water is safe to drink, but most people don’t do it. There’s a low trust of the government in Turkey, including when it comes to ensuring safe tap water. Plus, it tastes very metallic. Stick to bottled or boiled water like the locals usually drink.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions you might want to get the answers to before you visit Cappadocia:
Is it safe to visit Cappadocia now?
Yes, it is safe to visit Cappadocia now! The region was not affected heavily by the problems the rest of Turkey has faced, such as the earthquake or civil unrest. However, that could change at any moment, so keep those challenges in mind when planning your trip.
What are the threats in Cappadocia?
The main threats in Cappadocia come from over-tourism, such as illegal construction, erosion, and pollution. These threats don’t affect tourists, but they might affect your enjoyment of Cappadocia.
Is Göreme safe at night?
Göreme is one of the most popular towns in Cappadocia, and it is beautiful at night. It is safe to walk around at night, but try to take some precautions, such as walking with another person or a group.
Is it safe to travel to Cappadocia now after the earthquake?
The earthquake of February 2023 was devastating for Turkey’s southeastern region but not for Cappadocia. Although the region was close enough to the epicenter that it felt the earthquake, the damage was minimal, and everything is back to normal.
Are balloon flights in Cappadocia safe?
The balloon flights in Cappadocia are mostly safe, although there have been five fatal crashes in the past decade.
Thousands, if not millions, of people take a balloon flight each year and come back to the ground safely. Balloon operators have years of experience, and accidents, when they happen, are the result of freak weather conditions.
So, Is It Safe to Visit Cappadocia?
If you want to visit Turkey but are concerned about your safety, Cappadocia is a great place to start. This scenic region has low crime rates besides some petty theft and is the perfect place for a vacation. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!