Updated: July 2019
Right in the heart of Turkey, Cappadocia is a popular tourist destination for hot air ballooning and spectacular landscapes covered in pinnacles called “Fairy Chimneys”. There is so much beauty to explore in this land of incredible cultural, historical, and geological interest, that we could have easily spent more than a week there. Sadly, we only had 3 days so we did what we almost never do: we joined the two most popular tours in Cappadocia, i.e. the Red Tour and Green Tour.
We’re not big fans of the tour option as we like to explore new places at our own pace, but Cappadocia is a big region where public transport is limited and all highlights are really spread out. We had no choice.
Is it worth joining the guided Red Tour and Green Tour?
If you’ll visit Cappadocia on a tight schedule like us and won’t have the chance to rent a car, joining the regional tours is an effective way to explore the area. There are plenty of tour companies in Cappadocia, but they all offer two main standard tours: the Red Tour (also called North Cappadocia Tour) and the Green Tour (South Cappadocia Tour).
Keep in mind that these are only 1-day tours and as such, they barely scratch the surface of the rich history and geology of this wide region. However, you’ll learn a great deal from the very knowledgeable tour guides (and there’s a lot to learn, trust us) and will be saved the trouble of looking for transport and food. In a vast and remote region like Cappadocia, we were thankful to have this option and enjoyed it very much.
So yes, it’s worth joining the organized tours of Cappadocia. In addition to the Red Tour and the Green Tour, some companies also offered the so-called Blue Tour, which we cannot really tell you about because we didn’t take it. You can easily find reviews online though.
Now, if you’re looking for more great things to do in Turkey, check our other posts on experiences that we really recommend:
Map of Cappadocia
Cappadocia Tour information
Booking the Red and Green tours is very easy. We booked our tours with the company Old Town Travel just a day before through our hotel Goreme Mansion. It seems that the prices for the tours are fixed no matter which company you use.
Prices included transport (hotel pickup and drop off), lunch (except for drinks), all the entrance tickets to museums and monuments, and an English-speaking guide for the whole day. We got two excellent guides (Kadir and Mustafa, both Turkish nationals, very knowledgeable and with great English fluency) and travelled comfortably in a minibus in a group of 16. Both tours included a visit to a local workshop mastering the crafts of the region. After the demonstration, everyone had the chance to buy some of the finished products but this was completely optional. We never felt forced or obliged in any way to buy anything.
Globalites’ tips and recommendations
- If you visit during summer like we did, bring at least 1.5 L of water per person as the weather is hot and dry.
- Protect yourself from scorching sun with sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat/cap. A light scarf/shawl will also be useful to give your arms and neck a little break from the sun.
- On the other hand, locals told us that it can get very cold (-20°C!) and snowy during the winter. Prepare yourself accordingly, based on the season of your visit.
- Wear comfortable shoes with good grip. Hiking shoes or sandals are recommended.
- You’ll never regret bringing a couple of painkillers, plasters, and bandages in a small first-aid kit (which by the way you should bring on every trip). You’ll be climbing and hiking a quite a bit (far from medical assistance) and never know when you’ll twist an ankle. It actually happened to someone in our group! Luckily, we never travel without some essential first-aid items and could share with him.
- Although the price for the Red Tour covers the tickets to Göreme Open Air Museum, one of the churches in the complex (the so-called Dark Church) will cost an extra 10 TL (US$2.5) to those interested in its interior. It is optional of course, but if you’re into Byzantine art, it’s totally worth paying.
- If we were to recommend a tour, it would definitely be the Red Tour. This is, of course, a matter of personal preference but we absolutely loved the open-air views of the stunning fairy chimneys, the caves, and the history covered during the itinerary. Plus, all highlights are in close proximity to one another, so you’ll spend more time exploring and less time sitting in the van. As for the Green Tour, the underground city has a very interesting history but inside it’s too dark, damp, and narrow for our taste (not recommended for claustrophobics). The Ihlara Valley included in the Green Tour is pretty, but nothing really exceptional compared to the rock formations covered in the Red Tour.
- Another activity that you can’t miss in Cappadocia is flying in a hot air balloon. The views of the amazing landscapes are without parallel!
Differences between the Red Tour and the Green Tour in Cappadocia
Here’s a quick comparison between the Red Tour and the Green Tour in Cappadocia. For more details, scroll down to the section below where we describe each tour individually in words and pictures.
|Red Tour||Green Tour|
|Price||150 TL (US$33)||175 TL (US$38.5)|
|Duration||6.5 hours||8.5 hours|
|Group size||Max 18 people||Max 18 people|
|What’s not included|
|List of attractions|
* Not included in a typical Green Tour
What is the Red Tour in Cappadocia?
The Red Tour is also called North Cappadocia Tour and as the name indicates, the tour covers the tourist attractions north of Göreme.
Red Tour Cappadocia price
150 TL (US$33)
Full day from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm (6.5 hours)
Small group of not more than 18 people
Map and information of the Red Tour from the tour company we used
1. Uçhisar Castle: at the highest point in Cappadocia, this impressive fairy chimney was used as a castle in former times.
2. Göreme Open Air Museum: early Christian monastery with beautiful cave churches and impressive views.
3. Love Valley: amazing panoramic view of the fairy chimneys and red valley. Contrary to the popular belief, the name of this place does not come from the phallic shape of the chimneys. According to our guide, it was a place for lovers to meet in former times, far from disapproving looks and strict relatives.
4. Avanos Pottery Demonstration: very impressive ceramic art from the region.
5. Paşabağı valley: our favourite part of the Red Tour. You will see different stages of fairy chimney formation in this valley. Absolutely stunning.
6. Devrent Valley: called Imagination Valley by the locals, here you can find rock formations resembling camels, penguins, and even Napoleon’s hat!
7. The three beauties: the iconic landmark of Cappadocia but we missed it due to lack of time! (small delays during the day add up in the end)
What is the Green Tour in Cappadocia?
The Green Tour is also called South Cappadocia Tour. The tour covers the tourist attractions south of Göreme.
Green Tour Cappadocia Price
175 TL (US$38.5)
9:30 am – 6:00 pm (8.5 hours)
Small group of not more than 18 people
1. Göreme Panorama: great location for a fantastic view over countless fairy chimneys.
2. Onyx Factory: another craft from the region. Here you’ll see a demonstration of the cutting and polishing of this semi-precious stone.
3. Derinkuyu Underground City: one of the many underground cities in the region built by early Christians to protect the community from attacks.
4. Ihlara Valley: 40 mins stroll in the valley along Melendiz River. There are many cave churches in Ihlara valley but we only had time to visit St. George church.
Selime Monastery: a cathedral carved out from rocks. Again, we were not taken there by our tour guide because we didn’t have enough time. Instead, we were taken to another church nearby and a lake not included in the original tour (see below).
6. Belisirma church (Not included in a typical Green Tour): according to our guide, this could be the first cave church where early Christians openly practice Christianity.
7. Pomegranate lake (Not included in a typical Green Tour): a serene lake with the shape of a pomegranate.
8. Pigeon Valley: a panoramic viewpoint overlooking a valley with thousands of pigeon houses carved into the valley rocks.