The Goreme Open Air Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cappadocia, Turkey. It is a complex of ancient cave dwellings, and historical monasteries and churches carved into the volcanic rock of the hoodoos.
The museum is home to a number of unique and beautiful wall paintings, murals and chapels. The most famous of these chapels is the Dark Church which I’ll discuss in more detail later on in the post.
In this article, I’ll go over any details you’ll need to know before visiting the attraction, give you my unbiased review, touch on other things to do in Cappadocia, let you know where to stay in Goreme and how to get around the region.
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The Goreme Open Air Museum is very close to the city center of Goreme. Goreme is the most popular town in the Cappadocia region. You can walk here from Goreme which should take about 20 minutes or you can easily grab a taxi if you are visiting the museum independently. There is a taxi stand in the center of town across the street from the ATM’s.
The incredible sight is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has some of the best preserved monasteries and paintings in the Cappadocia region. Try to visit the Goreme Open Air Museum earlier the better as it gets busy with tour groups making it more difficult to wander the small churches without heaps of people.
If you are traveling here in the summer, by mid day the heat gets pretty intense so early morning temperatures make the experience much more enjoyable.
Goreme Open Air Museum Entrance Fee
If you bought the museum pass (400 TLR), the Göreme Open-Air Museum is apart of the pass. If not it is 35 Turkish Lira to enter the facility.
The Göreme Open-Air Museum is open every day from 8:30am to 7pm. In the winter, it closes a couple hours earlier at 5 pm. If you are driving yourself it will cost 5 TL to park. Parking is limited so again come early for easier parking. There is a lot directly across the street from the museum.
Tours that include the Goreme Open-Air Museum
If you are short on time or just prefer to go on guided tours, you can book a tour that stops at the Goreme Open Air Museum as well as other top attractions in Cappadocia. All tours listed below are reasonably priced, have good reviews and the guides speak English.
My Review of Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia, Turkey
We arrived at the Goreme Open Air Museum later in the afternoon exploring the Fairy Chimneys in Pasabag Valley. Parking was a bit of a problem arriving so late in the day but we managed to snag a spot right across the street from the museum.
Since the Göreme Open-Air Museum is one of the most popular things to do in Cappadocia, there were a lot of tour buses out front which meant, even more people inside. Since we had bought the museum pass a few days earlier, we swiped our passes, quickly got into the museum and avoided having to wait in a line to get a ticket.
If you didn’t want a physical guide to tour you around the museum you can purchase an audio guide at the entrance to the museum. Unfortunately, the museum was all out of audio guides when we arrived but I think an audio guide would have been awesome to learn about the history of all the cave churches.
Once inside the museum, follow the cobbled path to the 11th century Chapel of St. Basil. This chapel is a prime example of Byzantine art and architecture. The chapel is especially known for its frescoes which depict scenes from the Bible including the Last Supper.
Next you’ll come upon the Chapel of St Barbara. This rock chapel dates back to the 9th century and is adorned with beautiful paintings depicting biblical scenes such as the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Magi and the Last Judgement.
The path begins to loop down to the Apple Church which is named after its large apple-shaped ceiling. This is thought to represent the Garden of Eden. The interior is adorned with vibrant colors which tell the story of the Old and New Testaments in the Bible.
After the Apple Church, we start to head uphill to the Snake Church, also referred to as the Church of St Onuphrius. This is a single-nave church that features a unique fresco of a snake winding around a cross. The walls of this church are also adorned with other murals and inscriptions that tell the story of St Onuphrius.
Next up is the most famous of all the churches inside the Goreme Open Air Museum, the Dark Church. The Dark Church aptly named for the lack of windows and natural light. It is known for its intricate fresco work and costs extra to enter.
Travel Tip: The Dark Church is included on the museum pass.
Inside the church is filled with frescos that tell the story of Jesus’ life. The paintings inside the church are still remarkably vibrant but most of the people depicted in the church have their faces scratched and crossed out. No pictures were allowed inside the Dark Church but it was incredibly fascinating.
Just past the Dark Church we came to the Chapel of St Catherine. This is a smaller cave church and was packed with a tour group so we didn’t go inside.
We continued downhill and arrived at the Sandal Church. This church has multiple entrances and named after the footprints that are marked on the floor. Finally, we were over the crowds and the heat of the day meant that the Sandal Church was our last stop.
Other Nearby Things to do in Cappadocia
There are a ton of things to do in Cappadocia including riding a hot air balloon flight at sunrise and explore an underground city. Here is a list of other things to do in the area. Click on the blue links below for a more detailed guide of each activity.
- Ride a Hot Air Balloon at Sunrise
- Ortahisar Castle
- Sunset Horseback Ride
- Kaymalki Underground City
- Uchisar Castle
- Fairy Chimneys in Pasabag Valley
- Lovers Point
- Red Valley
- Underground City of Derinkuyu
- Rose Valley
- Love Valley
- Zelve Open Air Museum
- Devrent Valley (Imagination Valley)
- Visit a Local Winery
- Cavusin Castle
- ATV Tour
Where to Stay in Goreme
Goreme is the most popular town to stay in Cappadocia. The town offers some of the best views and lookouts for watching balloons take flight at sunrise and is full of restaurants, local shops, tour agencies and coffee spots. These are some of the best places to stay in Goreme.
Sultan Cave Suites – Amenities include a swimming pool, spa, Turkish bath and some of the best views in town. Stay here for luxury, location, views and an unforgettable holiday.
Artemis Cave Suites & Spa – A luxurious adults only resort that offers stunning views, luxurious facilities and is walking distance to one of the best viewpoint in town.
Mithra Cave Hotel – Great location in the center of Göreme and delicious breakfast served every morning on the terrace accompanied with the sunrise and hot air balloons floating by in the valley.
🛖 Cappadocia Accommodation Guides:
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How to Get Around Cappadocia
The easiest way to get around Cappadocia is renting a car. Renting a car is extremely affordable in Turkey and roads are well maintained, making it very easy to navigate and get around. Joe and I rented a car for the full week we were in Cappadocia and loved every minute of it.
If you’re not into the responsibility of renting a car, booking tours will be your next best option. Tours are reasonably priced and will take you to all the best things to do in Cappadocia. Plus they’ll pick you up and drop you off at your hotel and who doesn’t enjoy that.
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💰 Average Daily Budget: Expect to pay 30-50 USD’s a day on a mid range budget.
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