With only two and a half days to spend in Cappadocia, like many others who visited, I did my best to see the many incredible landmarks that this one of a kind region has to offer.
Advance planning of flights to and from Istanbul and by pre-booking activities thru the hotel where I stayed in Göreme, I was able to do the things I wanted to experience in Cappadocia and that includes doing two out of the three most popular tours in the region, The Green Tour and The Red Tour.
The Red Tour is a good option to consider, specifically on a scenario where you only got one full day to spend, is looking for something to do after the early morning Hot Air Balloon Ride, and wanted to catch an evening flight back to Istanbul on the same day.
The Red Tour is a good value tour as it brings you to some of the prominent places in Cappadocia, making it the most popular tour too. It often starts at around 10 in the morning and gets back at around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Hotel pick-up and drop-off at Göreme is included, together with a free lunch, free entrance to all the sights and an English Speaking Guide. A stop to a carpet and pottery shop are both included on this trip.
The view of Uçhisar Castle is the first destination of the Red Tour. The tour did not go inside the castle, but stop at a viewpoint below. It was a good stopover not just for the view of the castle, I enjoyed watching the local women sew Soganli dolls.
The open air museum is easily reachable by a 15 minute walk from the village center of Göreme, however being the most accessible and an essential Cappadocia destination, it is also the most crowded out of all the sight in the region. Joining the tour will come in handy on this case, specifically for not needing to queue for the entrance tickets, since the tour guide already have them ready for the group.
The Göreme Open Air Museum is a vast complex of refectory monasteries and churches dating back 10th, 11th, 12th century. Displaying the finest rock-cut churches in the region, with beautiful ancient frescoes inside. The open air museum is an exemplary showcase of rock-hewn architecture and frescoes technique of iconoclastic Byzantine period.
Included on the Red Tour are Love Valley, Pasabag or Monks Valley and Devrent or Imaginary Valley. Unlike Göreme Open Air Museum that is easily walkable from the town proper, transportation is needed to reach all these three destinations.
Euphemistically named after the rock structures that resembles manhood, Love Valley is one of the many sweeping landscapes that made up Cappadocia. These phallic natural structures molded in the high plateau and formed by the unique weather of the region.
Pasabag or Monks Valley is another place to visit for its amazing towering fairy chimneys, well on this case, mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys. Some of the fairy chimneys are even with twin and even triple rock caps and some cones even cascaded into smaller cones, making it even remarkably striking.
Compare to Love Valley where we were given only few minutes to see it from the viewpoint, at Pasabag, we are given adequate time to roam around and able see the rock formations up close. Camels are for rent for those who don’t want to walk and there are good souvenir shops available too.
The Devrent or Imagination Valley does not have rock-hewn chapels or mushroom like fairy chimneys. By the name itself, Devrent is a lunar landscape of various rock formations that requires a play of imagination when looking at the structures. Most of the rock formations said to resemble various animals, while the most popular rock pillar seems to resemble Virgin Mary holding Jesus Christ.
The last stop of the Red Tour is the Three Graces or also known as the Three Beauties, located nearby the town of Urgup. The three fairy chimneys, a fascinating natural rock formation has an equally fascinating love story behind of a princess, her husband and their child.