CAPPADOCIA HOT AIR BALLOONS: THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU FLY
The Cappadocia hot air balloons are fast-becoming one of the most common travel bucket list items in the world. It’s not hard to see why as you seamlessly float above the historic cave dwellings of Goreme Town with over 100 other balloons at sunrise in what can only be likened to a fairytale scene. I spent 10-days in Cappadocia and watched the hot air balloons at sunrise from many vantage points and also enjoyed a hot air balloon ride. In this guide, I will share with you all the information you need to know before booking your balloon flight, the weather requirements and even whether you should enjoy the flight from the balloon basket or save some money and experience it from one of the hundreds of epic viewpoints. Let’s do this.
Each year more than half a million people enjoy hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, which is an incredible number and makes this region the number one hot air balloon destination in the world. I think half of the spectacle is seeing all the other balloons in the air at the same time, not just the epic landscape you are flying over.
CAPPADOCIA HOT AIR BALLOON AVAILABILITY
Something most tourists don’t realize before they arrive in Cappadocia is that the hot air balloons don’t fly every day. In fact, when the wind is too strong they can’t fly because there are no brakes on the balloons and it can be dangerous. They need calm weather. This means that many tourists book 1-2 days in Cappadocia and expect to be able to fly in that window. Unfortunately, all too often the weather doesn’t agree and tourists leave without having seen a hot air balloon in the sky.
There are two ways to make sure you fly in a hot air balloon on your visit to Cappadocia.
- Firstly, book in advance and make sure you book for the first morning of your trip. If your flight is canceled, you don’t lose your booking or money, you simply get bumped to the next day. Therefore if you arrive and try and book in the town, there may be a backlog of people waiting because the hot air balloons haven’t flown for three days. This is what happened to me. Because of this, we were offered ‘special tickets’ for almost 300 Euros. Out of principle, I declined but I imagine many tourists with only one morning let will just pay the premium. So the idea is to book in advance online for the first morning of your stay to give yourself the best chance of flying. You can Click Here to visit the booking page to get your tickets online for a set fee without having the hassle of bartering once you arrive and possibly missing out because of availability.
Book your ticket online now: Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Experience
- Secondly, you should stay for more than 1-2 nights to give yourself a window big enough to allow for unfavorable weather. I stayed for ten days to explore the trails so I had a huge window, which isn’t necessary but I would suggest allowing at least 3 days if not 4. I know most people have limited time and want to see lots of Turkey but trust me, there are so many spots to visit and trails to walk in Cappadocia that you are making a mistake if you only stay for two nights anyway!\
CAPPADOCIA HOT AIR BALLOONS COSTS
Cappadocia hot air balloons cost ranges 190 USD all the way up to $300 USD for a ticket in a group basket. If you want your own private, smaller balloon get ready to hit the ATM because I think you will be looking at $500+ per person. I highly recommend booking online in advance with a reliable vendor like below to make sure you don’t miss your window of opportunity as I mentioned above. The link to book below is with GetYourGuide, which is a reliable booking service, one of the biggest in the world and this specific activity has lots of positive reviews.
Book your ticket online now: Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Experience
BEST SEASON TO FLY IN THE CAPPADOCIA HOT AIR BALLOONS
The beauty of Cappadocia is that while it is a fairytale location in summer, it only gets more and more beautiful in the winter. When it snows in Cappadocia it is truly a mesmerizing sight and something out of a dream world. I visited during the summer but am seriously considering returning to fly again in the winter although the flights are a little more irregular due to the weather of course.
April to October: Most favorable time for the hot air balloons in Cappadocia with warm nights, clear skies and cool air.
November to February: If you do visit in February the weather is a bit more up and down but you have the chance to fly over snow, which would be a once in a lifetime experience.
HOW LONG IS THE CAPPADOCIA HOT AIR BALLOON FLIGHT
The flight lasts for 60 minutes but the whole process takes a few hours. First, you need to get picked up from your hotel and taken to the check-in area where we were supplied a basic breakfast and coffee at 4:30 am. Then we transferred in a mini-van to the launch site and took after about 30-minutes before sunrise. After the 60-minute flight, we landed in the valley and had a glass of champagne, snacks and packed everything up. We were back at the hotel by around 7 am.
MY CAPPADOCIA HOT AIR BALLOON EXPERIENCE
At 4 am we rose out of bed and got ready. An early start has never been more worthy than when you are gearing up to fly in a hot air balloon over Cappadocia. By 4:30 am the van picked us up and comically dropped us 100-meters down the road. Here we checked in and had a small breakfast and coffee provided by the company as they organized all the guests into the right groups.
We set off in the van to the launch-off site, which is quite exciting as everyone waits around watching the balloons inflated. Fire is being thrust into the balloons as they slowly fill with hot air and begin to take shape. The buzz in the air is contagious and the anticipation of what is to come can be seen all of the excited faces of guests waiting to jump into their baskets.
The baskets are tight quarters. There are four segments and each segment is about 2-meters long and shared by up to 5 people. The pilot is in the middle in his own segment, where he pumps hot air into the balloon from different canisters depending on which way he wants the balloon to float. It’s quite an interesting skill and they are very, very precise.
The take-off was quite smooth and all of a sudden we were floating. We calmly drifted off of the cliff and began to float over Love Valley. It surprised me how low and close to the rock formations the pilot went but he was calm and collected the whole time, safely guiding us on our tour through Goreme.
At our lowest we were just a few feet off the ground and at our highest, we reached 1500 feet. Most of the journey is between 500 and 1500 feet giving you great aerial views over the town and the incredible rock formations that make the Cappadocia landscape so unique.
My favorite part was as the sun slowly broke over the horizon. Other balloons would block it momentarily, making for great backlit photos and an amazing scene. The pilot does a good job of keeping the balloon in a very slow, unnoticeable rotation so that all guest get an equal amount of time looking at the sunrise or certain spectacles down below.
It wasn’t cold at all. I had taken a beanie and several jackets but because the flame is being blasted right next to you it was actually kind of hot despite being hundreds of feet up in the air before the sun was up. It doesn’t hurt to take off layers so bring a jacket of course but don’t expect to be freezing as you are essentially in an oven with open windows!
After an hour, our expert pilot landed us softly in one of the valleys. On a windy day, the landing can be a little heavy and rough but for us he dropped the balloon right on the trailer with outstanding precision.
We had celebratory champagne and some snacks before boarding the vans and being dropped off at our hotels.
BEST VIEWING SPOTS IF YOU AREN’T IN A BALLOON
Several hundred Euros is a lot of cash to splash for an hour-long joyride in a balloon. It’s a once in a lifetime experience but for many that still won’t justify a huge outlay of cash for just one-hour of epicness. I get that and to be honest, I had just as much fun watching the balloons from the touristy viewpoint in Goreme. I had a blast inside the balloon but it’s still worth visiting Cappadocia even if you don’t fly in the hot air balloon. This is especially true considering you are actually above the balloons for some of their flight while standing on the viewpoints and cliffs. I thought I’d add this section into the blog post to let you know the best vantage points to watch the balloons. Their route can change slightly but for the most part, they take a similar path each day so these spots should set you up for a great balloon encounter.
- Lover’s Hill – This panoramic sunset viewpoint in Goreme Town is the perfect spot to watch the sunrise, which is why it is quite crowded in the morning for sunrise and of course sunset. Despite the crowds, it is where I took all of my best Cappadocia hot air balloon photos. You are often above the balloons and can shoot towards Uchisar Castle, Red Valley or over Goreme Town. There will be crowds but also epic views of the entire region.
- Love Valley – This is a bit of an off-beat spot to watch but generally, the balloons do fly low over Love Valley so if you waited inside the valley, you should be rewarded by some epic photos if you framed the balloons between the rock formations in this valley.
- Red Valley Hill Viewpoint: From the Red Valley sunset viewpoint, hike up onto the hill behind, which is marked with a flag. You can now explore the cliffs while watching the balloons and I guarantee you will be alone.
Sword Valley or Rose Valley: These valleys are just a short drive or walk out of Goreme Town and are where most of the Balloons tend to fly over at low altitude and many of them land nearby. The cave dwellings and rock formations here are incredible and you can compose some amazing shots in this area. You will also be able to sit in a cave and watch the balloons. Pretty epic if you ask me. This is your best after Lover’s Hill if you don’t have transport.
WHERE TO STAY IN GOREME, CAPPADOCIA
Where I stayed: Design Cave Suites Cappadocia – I was lucky enough to stay at the Design Cave Suites in Goreme. The location was great and I walked to all attractions. The rooftop garden was awesome for sunrise balloon watching. Buffet breakfast spread was amazing as was the cave style room designs.
Best Cave Hotel with Pool: Local Cave House Hotel– This cave hotel rose to fame because of its incredible pool. Make sure you click the link and check out how epic the pool backdrop is, with those classic Cappadocia rock formations in the background and traditional cave rooms it is a top pick.
Cave Hotel with Best Roof View (and dogs): Sultan Cave Suites – This cave hotel became famous because of its epic rooftop area for sunrise viewing. Guests can lay out on traditional pillows and carpets while watching the hot-air balloons flying above. The hotel dog might also join you for a photoshoot on the roof!
Budget Option in Goreme: Emre’s Stone House – For just $6 USD per night you can enjoy Cappadocia and this budget accommodation even has an epic rooftop to enjoy. It’s the best value in Goreme, Cappadocia.
Save money in Cappadocia by staying at an Airbnb! Get a FREE $40 Airbnb Coupon by using my code when you book! I use Airbnb on about half of my travels and find you always get more value than a hotel.
TRANSPORT IN CAPPADOCIA
Hire a Private Driver: Hiring a driver for a few hours to take you to several sites will cost about 100 Turkish Lyra depending on the car and your negotiation, which is about $20 USD. This is a good idea if you want to see 1-2 locations in an afternoon.
One of the best ways to get around is to hire a driver that will allow you to create a customized itinerary. That way you can visit all the spots you are interested in. To hire a private car with a driver/guide you can book online here or you might be a bigger group and in that case, it can be cheaper to hire a van in Cappadocia, which also comes with a driver.
Rent a Mountain Bike: We thought about renting a mountain bike but they were 150 Turkish Lyra for the entire day so it would have been 300 Turkish Lyra for both of us just to transit around. That’s almost $60 USD. It would have been fun but once we fund out everyone wanted to help us by giving us lifts there wasn’t much need. We either walked or hitchhiked.
Rent A Scooter/Moped: A scooter costs about 150-200 Turkish Lyra ($30-40 USD) per day and could be handy if you want to explore some attractions a bit further away or venture over to Uchisar.
Rent an ATV: Given the rough terrain in Cappadocia, an ATV is a fun option to help you explore the natural wonders and rock formations of the region. Prices are about $40 USD for two hours. If you are keen to head out on an ATV there is an awesome Quad-Bike Safari Tour that takes you through Sword, Love and Rose Valley during golden hour!
HAVE YOU CHECKED OUT THE REST OF MY CAPPADOCIA BLOG POSTS?
Click on one of the articles below to check out all of the places you should visit while in Cappadocia!
The big guide! This post has all of my favorite activities, which I personally did while in Cappadocia for ten days: 24 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN CAPPADOCIA
The hiking guide! Find out about all of the best hikes in Cappadocia with details, directions and lots of photos: 8 AWESOME HIKES IN CAPPADOCIA
Thinking about flying in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia? Read this first: CAPPADOCIA HOT AIR BALLOONS: THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU FLY
Have you heard about the castles in Cappadocia? Check these out:
Not sure where is the best region to stay? Wondering which hotel provides the best value? Check out this guide that will help you decide: WHERE TO STAY IN CAPPADOCIA: THE BEST HOTELS & HOSTELS
OR… I write a post about the 12 BEST CAVE HOTELS IN CAPPADOCIA that you might find interesting.
I’ve written a blog post for almost all of the places I’ve visited while in Cappadocia. You can find every single one of these articles right here: CAPPADOCIA ARCHIVES