There are few experiences in Europe that grant the same incredible aerial vistas and feel like that of a hot air balloon. In a place like Cappadocia, where its deep-rooted history is so evident in its landscape, the experience is second only to real magic itself. Being suspended hundreds of feet in the air while the world slowly drifts away below is something that's both dream-like and thrilling, all at once.
Some may even argue that a hot air balloon is the best way to see and appreciate all that Cappadocia has to offer, and many people would tend to agree. This once-in-a-lifetime excursion is something that's worth investing in on any trip to Turkey, and here's how to do it.
What To Know Before Booking
Before even considering a hot air balloon tour company, there are some things that travelers should know about. For starters, hot air ballooning isn't something that's usually done at dusk; preferably, tours start at dawn. Therefore, all the photos and videos out there of hot air balloons in Cappadocia were, more often than not, taken during sunrise rather than sunset. Travelers can anticipate waking up while it's still dark out in order to catch a tour that takes advantage of the first hour for daylight. The reason behind this time frame is that it's safer, as the atmosphere is more stable, leading to a smoother flight. Since flights start at dawn, travelers will need to be awake prior to being picked up - again, while it's still dark out.
When it comes to nearly all of the tour companies in Cappadocia, breakfast, and transportation are included services. This makes it incredibly easy to pick a tour and be ready at the pre-arranged time, and tour-takers won't even need to worry about eating beforehand because it's taken care of. The food is the only thing that will vary from company to company.
Fast Fact Recap
- Tours are started before dawn.
- Tour-takers are picked up at their hotels with the other passengers.
- The morning consists of eating while the balloons are prepped (travelers have the chance to watch them get inflated).
- Breakfast is included.
- Following breakfast, 4WD trucks arrive to take passengers to the balloons for take-off.
- Snacks are provided after landing.
- Passengers are taken back to their hotels between 8 AM - 8:30 AM.
What's The Flight Like Once You're Up There?
This is the whole reason for the tour, isn't it? Once passengers have ascended into the air, they'll be met with dramatic views of the Cappadocia landscape. This includes the Kızılçukur Valley, Meskender Valley, Gülludere Valley, and Love Valley. Also visible are the villages of Göreme and Çavusin, with longer flights taking tourists over the outskirts of these valleys.
Amongst the green hillsides of Cappadocia, tourists will see various rock formations and the 'fairy chimneys' that the region is so well known for, offering a unique perspective on what's already a stunning destination.
- Length of Flight: 45 - 75 minutes
- Number of Passengers: Anywhere from 16-24, plus the captain
- Flight Paths: Determined based on weather conditions (which are usually stable)
- Restrictions: No children under the age of six, or passengers under the height of 140 centimeters
Booking A Hot Air Balloon In Cappadocia
Now that the basics are out of the way, how does one go about actually booking a flight on a hot air balloon in Turkey? This, also, is very easy to do thanks to reputable companies who maintain stellar records and routine procedures when flying hot air balloons.
Travelers are heavily advised to book a trip beforehand, whether it be weeks before their trip or months before; booking at the same time one has booked a trip to Cappadocia is a good rule of thumb. Even though these hot air balloons can carry up to 24 passengers, it doesn't mean they'll have last-minute openings or won't fill up quickly, especially during Turkey's summer months.
The Best Hot Air Balloon Tours
Butterfly Balloons. This hot air balloon company is well-known throughout the region and is arguably the most popular in Cappadocia. Located in Göreme, these flights have a minimum air time of roughly one hour, with a max of 16 people on-board at any one time.
- Cost: €100 for 1 hour, €150 for 1.5 hours
Voyager Balloons. Another well-known and reputable company located in Avanos, Voyager Balloons has been taking travelers into the air and showing them the best of Cappadocia for quite some time now. They've also been rewarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence four years in a row. They offer Standard, ULTRA Comfort, Deluxe, and Exclusive flight tours that vary in pricing; interested travelers should request info for pricing.