How To Plan a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride in Turkey

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Right in the heart of Turkey is a place with the most unreal landscape. It is a place where towers of rock jut out from the desert and transport you straight into a fairy tale or mystical movie set. This is Cappadocia – a geological oddity with an abundance of history. The best way to experience it is by taking a Cappadocia hot air balloon ride. 

With no doubt in my mind, it was one of my favorite destinations in Turkey as it is unlike anywhere I’ve been before. I will not soon forget the hot air balloon ride I took over the fairy chimney pinnacles. It gave me a whole new perspective of this wondrous region.

This activity truly stands out as one of the highlights of my international travel bucket list and I urge anyone traveling to Turkey to set aside time to visit the town of Goreme and take the life-changing balloon ride as I did. 

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Turkey (Travel Guide)

Planning a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride

Cappadocia hot air balloon ride in Turkey

How to Get to Cappadocia

The Cappadocia region is about 450 miles from Istanbul and 175 miles from the capital of Ankara.  There are a few towns which lay within Cappadocia but the main town with the most to see is called Goreme.

The two ways to get to Goreme are either by land (rent a car or bus) or by air. Domestic flights leave Istanbul daily and take approximately one hour. The closest airport to Goreme is in Kayseri which is about an hour and ten minutes by bus.

Taking the bus is really economical at approximately $10 US. Taking a taxi is also an option but costs quite a bit more with rates between $45-55 US.  If you are coming from Istanbul you can also take an overnight bus which takes about ten hours and costs approximately $32 US.

Having taken an overnight bus myself I can safely say that they are comfortable and clean. To get the best fares and most up to date schedules try using Busbud.

Hot air balloon in Cappadocia Turkey

How Did Cappadocia Come to Be?

This obscure but rare landscape was created millions of years ago when volcanic eruptions blanketed the earth with thick ash. It then solidified into a soft rock, where over time nature took its course molding it into a landscape of fairy chimneys and mushroom-shaped pinnacles that stand as tall as 130 feet!

The town of Goreme was settled around 1800 BC when Christians fled to escape Roman persecution. It became a religious refuge and the perfect location to build an underground city.

Monks excavated extensive dwellings both underground and into the rock formations. Some of these dwellings still stand well-preserved today. Interestingly enough the word Goreme actually translates to invisible or unseen. 

Sunrise Cappadocia Balloon flight

What to Expect From a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride

As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region, I suggest booking your balloon excursion ahead of time. Different tour companies will offer different packages so make sure you select the package that best suits your needs.

For example, some may include an overnight stay in a hotel or even transfers to and from Istanbul, while others may be quite simple with just the flight. My experience included breakfast, champagne upon landing and a personalized flight certificate.

I would say the average price per excursion is from $140 – $350 per person. This may sound rather expensive, but I assure you that the experience is worth every penny. 

If safety is something you are concerned about here is a little information to put your mind at ease. Cappadocia is known to have an outstanding safety record where pilots undergo at least 15 months of training and have over 200 flight hours under their belts before they are allowed to fly tourists.

Below is a list of regulations that an operator must abide by to fly a hot air balloon in Turkey:

  • No more than 100 balloons are allowed to fly over Cappadocia at one time.
  • Pilots must be able to speak English at a minimum of an A2 level.
  • All balloons must have the most up to date GPS devices on board.
  • Every three months a rip test of the balloon is required. This means that the pilots have to check the balloon for brittleness due to heat.
  • Balloons must be replaced after 1000 hours of use. This translates to approximately every 4 years in Cappadocia. 

Be prepared to wake up at the crack of dawn so that you can be up in the balloon as the sun starts to rise. Flights usually set off at 5:45 am, making the pre-balloon breakfast and pick up seems like an inhumane time.

You will soon forget that you’ve cut your sleep short as the flight itself is out of this world. The basket that you stand in is actually really big as it holds approximately 20 people at a time.

You may wonder if getting into a basket with that many people would allow you to have a pleasant experience, but I assure you that there is plenty of room to claim your own space.

The flight itself lasts anywhere between 1 to 1.5 hours depending on which package you choose. With the sun rising as you float above the ground I can best describe the experience as being utterly peaceful.

The rhythmic hum of the balloon’s fire is so melodic that it makes the experience even more mesmerizing. Once in the air, your balloon will hover as high as 1000 feet and then gracefully maneuver up and down through the pinnacles.

Sometimes it feels like you could even pluck a piece of fruit from the trees when you hover low through the landscape. What is even more beautiful is that the hues of the rock change color as the sun begins to rise.

Hundreds of other balloons are also flown at the same time which makes for your photos to be absolutely stunning. The pilots are so skilled that even though you are in the sky with thousands of other people, it actually feels like you are a million miles away.

The panoramic views are something out of a dream and I guarantee that the flight will literally fly by!

Looking for a magical hot-air-balloon tour? Choose your flight duration, and ascend into the atmosphere where you can admire the region’s lunar landscape from above. Before your flight, enjoy a buffet breakfast with coffee or tea, and cheers with a glass of Champagne upon landing. No trip to Turkey is complete without treasuring this unforgettable experience.

Hot air balloons over Goreme Turkey

Best Time to Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia

Cappadocia truly is one of the most popular locations for hot air ballooning in the world. With Cappadocia’s population sitting at approximately 5000 people, the vast majority are employed in the tourism industry. It is also one of the few places in the world where you can fly all year round.

Flights will go in the heat of the summer as well as in the snowy winter season. Although I was not there during the winter, I was told that the view from the sky is just as magnificent with its snow-capped fairy chimneys. 

As I mentioned above, there are various packages that you can choose from. Some companies even offer Deluxe Flights that have a longer flight time and fewer people in the basket or private flights. Obviously the cost would be greater with these two options. 

I am lucky enough to say that through my extensive travel I have been able to experience some incredible things. My balloon flight over captivating Cappadocia ranks up there as one of my favorites. It is peaceful. It is majestic. It is absolutely an experience that I will take with me forever. 

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About Heather Halpern

Based in Edmonton, Canada - I caught the ‘travel bug’ many years ago when I was a competitive rhythmic gymnast and haven’t been able to quench the thirst for exploring the world. Even though I live a pretty regular life with a full time job, I aim to take at least one overseas adventure a year. This means, I skimp, save and try to live the happiest life possible throughout the year so that I can experience my one true love…travel!

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