Cappadocia, a land of ancient civilisations and underground cities, fairytale chimneys, hot air balloons, and wondrous rock formations.

In Cappadocia, the landscape looks isolated and sparse while stories of the past feel mysterious and otherworldly. I have long been fascinated with this area of Turkey. Although not easy to get to, its beauty lies in its remoteness. Cappadocia is hugely popular for its hot air balloon rides, which take flight at the break of dawn. When I visited, there were unusually high winds, so balloons were not allowed to fly. This initial disappointment however, turned into a unique opportunity to experience the valleys and landscapes of Göreme and its villages on foot. October, quiet and warm, is the most beautiful month to visit. Staying at the Argos Hotel in Uçhisar, with roaring fireplaces in most rooms, felt like staying at the home of an old friend. From there, driving out to the Red Valley, there was little to see from where we parked the car. But descending the steep rubble-strewn paths, the vistas that opened up at every turn were breathtaking. It’s about a two-hour hike through the valley, but it comes with surprising rewards along the way.

Deep into the trail, up a small rock face in a secret cave is the Haçlı Cross Church. The church is carved into the mountainside and hung with some of the most exquisite Byzantine paintings. Its intimate scale and hidden location made the trip feel all the more special. Its unusual entrance is difficult to reach, up a narrow weathered ladder, over slender ledges and through narrow openings, making it a memorable experience. Equally memorable is surely the most remote cafe in Turkey, the charming Bamboo Cafe where visitors can refresh themselves mid-walk with fresh-squeezed orange and pomegranate juice. I lingered here to admire what may be the best views of Cappadocia. Üçhisar offers a different perspective on the region. The castle that towers above the town, giving it its name, has one of the highest vantage points in the area and is one of the best places to watch the glowing red sunsets and explore the dwellings cut into its extraordinary rock formations.

On the way out, there is a tiny cafe where two women sit on the cave floor next to huge domed skillets, baking traditional gözleme, a food special to this area. This delicious stuffed flat bread is also the perfect way to finish your day in this stunning part of the world.