Is seeing the magical Cappadocian landscape topped with a sky filled with balloons on your bucket list? What about being a part of it?
Cappadocia may look as mysterious and magical as Middle Earth, but this fantasy setting is real. It is one of the world’s most ancient and stunning landscapes, and the best views are from above the ground.
The UNESCO-listed lunar terrain is a joint creation between man and nature; you simply will not find anything like it anywhere else in the world.
The spectacular, surreal landscapes combined with excellent flying conditions make Cappadocia one of the best hot air ballooning spots in the world.
Catching a hot air balloon ride for the sunrise in Cappadocia is at the top of many people’s bucket lists – and it’s very easy to see why!
This landscape is astonishing
The views are breath taking and constantly change as you drift through the different areas: Fairy Chimneys, Monk’s Valley, Imagination Valley, Love Valley (and yes, they are a work of Mother Nature). You’ll wonder at its fairyland-fantasy weirdness.
You’ll gently float over limestone caves, honeycombed boulders, river valleys and villages formed by volcanic eruptions about 16 million years ago. You’ll sail above and between fairy chimneys and the pigeon houses hewn into the rock formations. You’ll marvel at the doors, windows, pillars and churches that have been carved into the formations since the fourth century, when Christians and other locals used the caves for homes or to escape persecution. You’ll fly over orchards and vineyards and through valleys, each with distinctive rock formations, colours and features, and then soar up and over ravines for breath-taking views.
From the highest points on your flight, the panoramas are truly awe-inspiring, while from the lowest points you could almost pluck the fruit from the trees.
Hot air balloons galore
But added to the weird and wonderful landscape, seeing the other balloons in the sky makes it completely magical. And you won’t just see a few balloons, the sky around you will be filled with 100 balloons of differing colours and designs.
The Cappadocia region of Turkey is the most popular location in the world for hot air ballooning. Last year, over half of the world’s balloon trips took place in the region, with almost half a million people taking to the skies.
Ballooning all year round
It’s also one of the few places in the world you can balloon almost all year round. Trips run during boiling hot summers and snowy, cold winters, and the landscape looks incredible in both.
What to expect when hot air ballooning in Cappadocia
Stuff that’s pretty handy to know.
- Cappadocia is most beautiful in spring and autumn. In July and August this usually tranquil place is teaming with tourists and it is hot.
- As long as the conditions are right, you can go hot air ballooning throughout the year.
- Turkey is one of the most highly regulated places in the world for ballooning, and it has an excellent safety record. To fly here, pilots must train for around 5 times as long as in other parts of the world.
- No time for lingering. You will be picked up around 5:00am for your balloon flight (pick up times vary depending on the season and what time the sun rises). You’ll then be given breakfast and much-needed coffee while the drivers wait to hear where you’ll be taking off from as it all depends on wind direction. Once this is confirmed, it’s back into the mini bus for take-off.
- As the balloons are navigated by the wind, no two flights are the same. You’re guaranteed a unique experience.
- Flights last between 1 hour and 90 minutes, depending on what you’ve signed up for.
- On still mornings, the 100 or balloons floating above this extraordinary landscape is visually astonishing. There are two flights each day in Cappadocia, the first being the early one when there are 100 balloons in the air. Then around 30 minutes later a second flight of 50 balloons are allowed to take off.
- Balloons can travel anywhere between 4 and 20 km depending on the wind speed.
- Most flights are quite low level so you can better enjoy the spectacular fairy chimneys and rock formations. The typical balloon flight can be anywhere from tree level to about 1,000 metres above ground.
- After the flight, you’ll celebrate with bubbles and be awarded a certificate to say you’ve been there, done that.
- Don’t book until the day before and check the weather. There are a number of operators in Goreme, the main town in the Cappadocia area. E100 per person is around the going rate. Talk to the team at Bucket List Travel about the best balloon operators.
- No matter when you go, you should spend at least 3 nights in and around Goreme. If your flight is cancelled, the balloon operators will either give you a refund or they’ll let you fly the next day. Make sure you have time.
- The best way to see Cappadocia is from a balloon, but if you’re not keen on heights or you’ve got a spare day, seeing the balloons from the ground is also an amazing option.
- If you’ve got a rooftop or a balcony at your cave hotel, (talk to the team at Bucket List Travel about the best places to stay) you can roll out of bed, get yourself comfy and be prepared for an hour of beauty. If you want to get to the highest vantage point you can head up to ‘Sunset Point’ in the centre of Goreme. From up there you’ll be able to see the balloons in the sky flying right above you, the sun rise, and as it gets lighter and lighter, the town of Goreme come alive below you.
- The road distance between Cappadocia and Istanbul is 735 km. The quickest flight from Istanbul Ataturk Airport is the direct flight which takes around 1h 35m. Alternatively, you can bus, which costs $20 – $35 and takes about 9 1/2 hours.