Goreme has an interesting mix of long-time locals, entrepreneurs, expatriates, and tourists. It is reminiscent of many places where a natural phenomenon attracts first those early residents and then, as interest continues to grow, begins to attract new hotel, restaurant, and tourist service development, artists and expatriates, and still more tourists, and you just hope that is all managed without damaging what had originally been the main attraction.
Goreme is nestled in the center of some of the most interesting of the valleys and rock formations, and many of the hiking trails begin on the outskirts of town. The Open-Air Museum is a kilometer from the town center. This UNESCO World Heritage Site protects a collection of hermitages, convents, and monastery structures carved into the rock and decorated with extraordinary fresco paintings.
Wandering from the main tourist route, one quickly encounters the older residential section where water is still drawn from public fountains, produce is sold from trucks, and village elders kibitz, sip tea or coffee, and play cards during the heat of the day.
The scenery of Goreme is otherworldly. Thick deposits of volcanic ash sculpted over centuries by wind and rain have become a bizarre rockscape of spires, "fairy chimneys," and deep canyons in beautiful tones of rose, green, and gold. Every morning approximately 100 hot-air balloons take people for a sunrise tour of this unusual landscape. The balloon ballet, as beautiful from the air as from the hotel terrace, was a fine reason to get out of bed.