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Cappadocia is a fairy-tale land of unique rock formations set amongst the backdrop of hundreds of hot air balloons that float into the sky each morning. But more to that, there’s an entire world of valleys and underground cities to explore. The best way? On the Cappadocia green tour.
The Green tour is one of the best day tours you can go on in Cappadocia. It takes you to some of the most interesting places in Cappadocia that are further away from Goreme, thus making it difficult to get to on your own without a vehicle.
If you’re thinking about going on the Cappadocia green tour this post will give you a glimpse into what to expect on the tour, with the aim to show you why it’s worthy of a day on your Cappadocia itinerary.
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Cappadocia Green Tour
The main attraction of the green tour is Derinkuyu underground city, but it also takes you to several other points of interest around Cappadocia. This full-day tour departs around Goreme 9:30 -10 (depending on your accommodation), and gets back around six. Just in time to watch the sun go down from one of the cities many rooftops!
Here’s what you can expect along the way.
Goreme Panorama Viewpoint
After leaving Goreme we arrived at our first stop on the green tour shortly after – Goreme Panorama Viewpoint. From there you can get clear views of Pigeon Valley below.
The landscape around these valleys is unreal. Once a volcano, thousands of years of eruptions and cooling left what we see today.
Apparently, this particular area is named pigeon valley because when people were living in the caves, they would use the small holes to attract pigeons who would leave poop. Then they would use the poop as fertilizer. Kind of gross, but interesting!
Onyx Jewelry Factory
The second stop was at an Onyx jewelry factory to see how the local rocks (onyx) are made into jewelry. Inside they gave us a demonstration where a man carved a piece of white onyx on a lathe into the shape of an egg. Tip: if you remember the name of the tour guide, you might win the egg!
From there, they showed us how the rock is further polished and eventually made into jewelry. Afterward, they take you up to the salesroom to look at the beautiful, but expensive, jewelry. Of course, there is no pressure to buy anything, but it did feel like a bit of a tourist trap. If you don’t have any interest in buying the jewelry, you can simply go outside.
The next stop was at the Selime Monastery, which dates back to the 8th century. The monastery was built for religious purposes and then later transformed into caravansaries on the old silk road trade route. Inside the monastery, there was a missionary school, a living area, and at least one church. It is quite fascinating to walk through, with lots of holes inside the rock to explore.
Ihlara Valley Hike
One of my favorite stops along the green tour was the Ihlara Valley. This lush, green river canyon (hence the name of Green tour), is absolutely gorgeous. It’s the largest, deepest, and longest crater canyon in Cappadocia at an impressive 80m deep. It’s a paradise for nature lovers!
Ihlara Valley was formed by the volcanic actions of Mt. Hasan, next to Ihlara Valley. After the eruption, Melendiz River eroded the valley for millions of years and eventually, the canyon was created. The whole Valley is 14 km in length, although we only walked a couple.
In the past, Christians lived in several parts of the Valley. Along the way, you can see carved churches dating back to the 4th century, with paintings from the 10th century inside them!
After a walk through the canyon, we stopped at a riverside restaurant for lunch which included soup, salad, and a choice between fish, chicken, vegetarian, or meatballs. Lunch is included with the price of the tour, but drinks are extra. The restaurant is super cozy, with little lounging spaces right on the river.
We also made a quick stop at Yaprakhisar viewpont, where you can see examples of conical fairy chimneys. This area is known as the Star Wars movie set, since the area is very similar to what you see in the movies.
Nar Crater Lake
Nar Lake was one of my favorite stops on the Cappadocia Green Tour. This stunning turquoise lake is inside a volcanic crater in a remote and deserted valley surrounded by hills.
The depth of the lake is not known but apparently the hot water surging out from the south and north shores of the lake is be healthy for you, so you will often see locals bathing in it.
Derinkuyu Underground City
The last stop of the day was Derinkuyu underground city. Normally you visit the underground city in the morning, but because it was very hot that day, our guide took us as the last stop to avoid the heat. Good call, it’s cool in the caves!
Visiting the underground city should definitely be on your Cappadocia bucket list. It’s insane how far big this place is, and only 25% of the underground city is open to the public! We went down six floors, and there was still more to visit. During the tour we saw a winery, a baptismal, meeting rooms, a church, a well, a grave, and a kitchen. No bathrooms though, that seems to be a mystery of the underground cities.
There are a few theories as to what the underground cities were used for. Most historians guess that people lived in them as a way to escape from enemies. They would live underground up to a couple of months at a time!
After the tour through the underground city, we made our way back to Goreme with a final stop along the way at a shop where we got to sample local treats. Of course, they wanted us to buy some, but hey free chocolate is free chocolate.
Booking the Cappadocia Green Tour
You can book the Cappadocia Green Tour online, or through tour agencies in town. I booked mine through my hostel, Hostel Terra Vista, which cost 38 Euros. Unlike the hot air balloon rides, you don’t need to book this tour far in advance. It goes every day!
What to bring on the green tour
During the summertime, the weather is super hot so you’ll want to bring some light hiking clothing, and most importantly a good pair of shoes. I brought sandals and regretted it as climbing around the rocks at Selime Monastery was slippery. They will also be helpful for the Ilhara Valley hike.
Don’t forget to buy travel insurance for your trip to Cappadocia!
Other Cappadocia Tours
There are many other Cappadocia tours you can do. An alternative to the Cappadocia green tour is the red tour, but this doesn’t give you as much value. The reason why is that the stops along the red tour are close to Goreme. You can hike to many of them like rose valley and the open-air museum, so you don’t need a tour to take you.
Where to stay in Cappadocia
One of the best parts about visiting Cappadocia is the opportunity to stay in one of the region’s unique cave hotels. I wrote a detailed guide on the best cave hotels in Cappadocia for any budget. Check it out to find your dream cave hotel!
If you’re spending a few days in Cappadocia the green tour is well worth a spot on your Cappadocia Itinerary. The underground cities are fascinating to explore, and Ilhara valley and Nar Lake are both beautiful.
For more help planning your trip to Cappadocia, don’t forget to check out my ultimate Cappadocia guide!