Seeing Cappadocia in one day is almost impossible, so the local companies have divided the region into 2 main tours The Red tour and the Green tour (other options are available but these 2 are the most popular).
Today we will cover the Cappadocia Red Tour aka North Cappadocia Tour.
If you are looking for a good value tour that captures much of the key sites of Cappadocia, then the Red Tour is a good option.
This tour is offered by nearly every travel agency in Cappadocia. Some agencies may have different names for it, but it is pretty much the same. We went with the Gorgeous Travel agency for the Red Tour, and we enjoyed so much that we booked with them almost everything that they had on the list.
As I said before, we prefer to explore on our own. In Cappadocia the interest points are spread out over large distances and the public transportation isn’t well developed, so a guided tour is the best option to get around.
In the morning we went on an epic hot air balloon ride, so we had already seen Cappadocia from above. Being back at 07.00 am, we had plenty time to enjoy the Red Tour.
The tours starting time are dependent on everyone’s returning from their hot air balloon flight. This means that the tour starts in general between 9.00-9.30 am.
Pick up from our hotel was at 9.30 am in a minivan along with other 12 people.
The first stop was UCHİSAR CASTLE which is the highest rock formation of the region. On the way, our guide gave us a brief introduction of the history surrounding the rock castle and then we had like 10-15 min to explore and take some photos.
Uchisar Castel is the Tip castle which stood on the edge of the region giving its inhabitants a protective view. When enemies were approaching they were able to warn the rest of the region.
Goreme Open Air Museum
The following stop was at the Goreme Open Air Museum. After entering the museum, we sat in the shadow of a tree and the guide told us about the history of the churches as well as the early Christian community in Cappadocia.
Goreme Open Air Museum is the most visited site in Cappadocia. It has the best and the most extensive collection of rock-cut churches, many of which have been decorated with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. Dating back to 10th century AD, they are over thousand years old, when the first Christians fled from the Roman Empire’s persecution. So, the monks established here a vast monastic complex composed of scores of refectory monasteries placed side-by-side, each with its own fantastic church.
The cobblestone path will guide you through the different churches. Here there are many churches and chapels, but among the most important are Apple Church, Snake Church and of course the Dark Church, where you can find the best-preserved example of ancient frescoes. To enter here you must pay an additional 10TL. These incredible paintings are over thousand years old and still look amazing.
Entrance to the museum is included in the tour fee though you can visit it on your own. If you decide to visit is about 20 min walk from the city center of Goreme.
After an hour of wondering around the museum, we gathered at the entrance and walked down to the minivan for the next stop.
Love Valley is situated on a high plateau. This Valley certainly has a claim to fame- a very large one. The valley is home to rock structures that bear a passing resemblance to…well, you have the picture…In this environment, these huge phallic natural structures seem like some sort of ancient homage to male fertility. However, they are far from man-made despite the possible resemblance to man hood.
But it is impressive none of the less… and one of the best hiking trail in Cappadocia.
We went to a local restaurant that offered an extensive buffet.
Everything was included in the tour price except drinks which were available for an extra charge. People were being shuttled in here by buses so it is obviously a touristy restaurant.
Regardless, the food was pretty good with plenty of choices.
With full stomach and feeling bit more bonded, we found our seats in the van and got back on the road to our next stop.
Avanos Pottery and The Red River
Pottery in Avanos dates back 3000 years to the hitties.
Throughout history, people have always been resourceful. They took the features and the benefits of the landscape and used it in their advantage, whether it was carving a house in the rocks or building villages near a source of water. The small town of Avanos in no exception to this rule. It was built near the longest river in Turkey, the Red River, named after the red clay that lies on its banks. Locals have been using this clay for so long. Hundreds of men are skilled in making the ceramic. They are potters masters from generation to generation.
We are not strangers of this pottery craft. In Romania we have lots of masters like this, only that the models, the clay and the techniques are different.
We visited a family run shop where we watched a pot being thrown. Even I took the place of the potter and try it myself. With the help of the master, I was able to make a nice bowl. After this, we had a some time to explore the shop and see their collection of items for sale.
I fall in love with this place. Pasabag has one of the most striking Fairy chimneys in Cappadocia. Also known as Monks Valley due to the small chapel dedicated to Saint Simeon that was built in one of this chimneys.
Saint Simeon was a Syriac ascetic who lived in seclusion for 37 years atop a pillar in Syria. Inspired by him, the hermits of Cappadocia isolated themselves cutting into fairy chimneys and creating rooms of 10-15 m aboveground.
Pasabag Valley was one of my favorite places in Cappadocia. I would have loved to spend some hours here just walking around and taking pictures.
It is known as the Imagination Valley, the rock formation here are of unusual shapes, often resembling animals like dolphins, snakes and seals. The most famous rock formation here is one which resembles a camel. It will certainly put your imagination to work.
In my opinion, this Red Tour is one of the best things you can do in Cappadocia outside of the hot air balloon ride. It’s a great introduction to the area and takes you to some of the most striking spots in the region. At just 25 Euros per person with transportation, entrance fees, and buffet lunch already included, I think it’s a solid value as well.
As described up top, many agencies offer their version of this tour but I highly recommend Gorgeous Turkey Tour. Apart from the Red Tour, we booked a few other activities with them like the Green Tour, ATV or bikes.
We were pleased with all of them.