A hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia is a once-in-a-lifetime experience found on many people’s bucket lists.
In this guide, we’ll tell you all about hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, everything you need to know before booking the flight (such as weather requirements, types of flights, etc.), and share our own hot air balloon experience.
Let’s dive right in!
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Why are balloons so popular in Cappadocia?
Cappadocia is one of the most popular places for hot air balloon flights in the world, and it’s because of its unique landscape and perfect weather conditions all year round. There are roughly about 260 flying days in a year in Cappadocia!
You can hardly find a place in the world with so many balloons taking over the sky so often, and that’s why Capadoccia is so magical. There are over 150 balloons flying simultaneously in Cappadocia. It’s as if there is a balloon festival taking place every day.
A bit about hot air balloons
A hot air balloon or so-called ‘gentle giant’ is an aircraft that flies with the help of hot air (hence the name).
A gas heater is used to heat the air inside the balloon, making the whole balloon rise since the hot air is lighter and less dense than the cold air around the balloon. Once the air inside the balloon cools down or the air is let out, the balloon slowly goes down.
There are no steers on a hot air balloon, and therefore, you can’t operate it as efficiently as, let’s say, a car. The balloon goes wherever the wind takes it. By heating and cooling the air inside the balloon, professional pilots navigate it in a suitable direction. Today, advanced technology helps a lot with that, and it’s much easier to know in which direction and at what speed the balloon will fly.
Hot air balloons can fly super low, which often happens in Cappadocia, or they can go high up to 1000 meters. And experienced pilots are already so good and precise at flying that they can go just centimeters away from trees or rocks, especially in Cappadocia.
The whole time the hot air balloon is flying, the “chase crew” follows its flight path, ready to rush to the landing spot once the pilot announces it, as you can’t know the exact landing spot that fast, as it depends on the wind direction.
In Cappadocia, there are several common landing spots, and pilots there know the area very well, so by analyzing the wind, they can approximately predict the landing spot.
Ballooning is an exciting sport, and Arijana once even had the chance to be a part of a balloon team in Croatia.
Cappadocia hot air balloon experience
Here’s a simple explanation of the process of going on a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia:
- Hotel pick-up
- Registration and breakfast
- Driving to the take-off spot
- Quick balloon preparation
- Take off & fly above the incredible landscape for about 1 hour 🙂
- Landing ceremony
- Hotel drop-off
We got picked up by a Royal Balloons luxury van at 5 am in front of our hotel and brought to their office in Goreme, where we had an open buffet breakfast. There were a lot of different foods, fruits, and drinks, but we were so excited that we couldn’t eat much. 😀
We completed the registration, and once the aviation authorities gave the green light for flying, we jumped into the vans again and got taken to the take-off spot. It was pitch dark as this was at the beginning of October, and the only thing you could see was balloons glowing up. It was fascinating seeing countless balloons illuminating the valley.
We didn’t wait long as everything was well organized and going fast. After a few minutes, the balloon was already up, and we jumped in the basket (there’s a ladder that makes it easier to get in).
And that’s it! We were ready to take off!
The take-off was very smooth and we started gliding peacefully through the air.
It was terrific to see so many balloons take off. The only downside of our experience was a very cloudy morning which meant no light until almost the end of our flight. We don’t have too many photos as it was too dark for our cameras and phones.
On the other hand, our pilot Tolga brightened up the morning! He’s an amusing guy and entertained us the whole flight. He’s also a tour guide, so he told us a lot about Cappadocia, and, of course, had to answer all our questions about ballooning there.
Seeing Goreme from the air was a mesmerizing experience, as we usually get to know this perspective only through our drone. 😀 There were many people on the viewpoints and their hotel terraces waving to us while having their photoshoots. We flew just a few meters above them at times.
Book your stay: Goreme Hotels
One of our favorite moments was flying very low above the rocks while our pilot Tolga played the Titanic song. 😀
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t on our side, and the sun decided to peek through the clouds just a bit before landing. We were also a bit unlucky with the wind as it took us a bit away from the other balloons (which isn’t the ideal photo-wise), but those are the things you can’t control. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our flight and would highly recommend this experience to everyone.
We were preparing for a bit harder landing, so we all had to duck and hold for the basket, but in the end, it turned out to be a soft one.
Fun fact: Sometimes the balloons can land with the basket on the side, so it’s crucial to brace yourself before any landing, just in case. But don’t worry, even when it does land like that, it’s not dangerous.
After landing, there is a landing ceremony which is a tradition and a standard practice in the ballooning world. We celebrated with some champagne (since the first people who flew in hot air balloons were French), orange juice, and strawberries dipped in chocolate (our favorite!). We were also given medals to celebrate and always remember our flight – a unique gift from Royal Balloons.
We landed close to Uchisar Castle, which we also flew over. Afterward, we got a ride back to our hotel.
This was Matej’s first hot air balloon ride and Arijana’s second time. We both absolutely loved it and had a fantastic experience. Arijana did her first flight during a Croatia Hot Air Balloon Rally in Zagorje, Croatia, in 2017.
Prices of Cappadocia hot air balloon rides
Hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia cost between $150 and $300 per person, depending on the number of people in the basket. Private flights in a balloon of your own, of course, cost way more than that.
During the height of the pandemic, the prices were relatively low, but in 2022 the prices seemed to go back up with the influx of tourists.
Types of hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia
Most companies in Cappadocia have different flight options based on the number of people in a basket. There can be anywhere from 8 up to 20 people in one basket, and the one with 20 people will be cheaper and you will have less space.
Each basket is usually separated into three main segments, with the middle being reserved for the pilot. Each side is again split into half and can fit up to five people. That’s a lot, and that’s why it’s better to pay a bit more to get a more comfortable experience.
There’s also an option of having a private flight, but that is quite expensive. However, if you can afford that and want a private experience – why not.
There were only nine people in our basket, and that’s a perfect number if you ask us, as we were all couples except one solo person, and that meant everyone had their own private space.
Best time for hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia
One of the reasons hot air balloon flights are so popular in Cappadocia is the perfect year-round weather conditions.
Even though flights in Cappadocia are possible the whole year, the ideal time to do a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia is from April until November. It’s less likely that the flights will get canceled during this time (but not impossible!).
Why do some flights get canceled in Cappadocia?
Since ballooning is a weather-dependent activity, there is a possibility your Cappadocia hot air balloon flight will be canceled last minute. About an hour or so before the flight, pilots and the ballooning team, in coordination with Civil Aviation, check the weather and decide if flights can happen or not. If flying is not permitted that day, they will cancel all the flights, and they can cancel them because of different weather conditions such as rain, storm, or strong winds.
It’s common in the ballooning world that the flights are usually canceled last minute and not a day or so before, as it’s tough to predict the conditions.
Important: It’s advised to book your flight for the first day in Cappadocia and leave a few extra days in case your flight gets canceled.
If your flight gets canceled due to bad weather, you can choose to get a full refund or reschedule your flight for the next day (if there is availability). That’s how most of the companies in Cappadocia have it, but make sure to double-check!
Should I book a hot air balloon ride in advance?
Yes! To secure your spot, you should book your hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia in advance.
Even though over 100 balloons fly in Cappadocia every day, this is one of the most popular activities in Cappadocia (and Turkey) and often gets fully booked.
Duration of hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia
Hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia usually last about 1 hour, but if you book a special flight, the time can go up to 75 or even 90 minutes.
The whole duration of the activity is between 3 and 4 hours from the pickup.
Who to fly with in Cappadocia
It’s essential to research the company you’re planning to do the hot air balloon ride with, but more or less, most companies will provide a similar experience. The main difference can be minor details like gifts, breakfast, and similar. Although, it’s better to go with a more reputable company as they care a lot more about the customer experience, and they’ll make sure you’re having fun.
In these situations, the higher price usually means better quality in terms of more experienced pilots, quality balloons, and better safety procedures. Activities like these are where you don’t want to budget and go with the lowest price, as that can equal a worse experience.
We decided to fly with Royal Balloons as they are one of the best and most reliable companies in Cappadocia with over 12 years of experience.
What is included in a Cappadocia hot air balloon tour?
When you book a Cappadocia hot air balloon ride, it usually includes pick up and drop off at your hotel, breakfast before the flight, a professional pilot, a 1-hour flight, insurance, and a small gift or certificate.
Flight times of hot air balloons in Cappadocia
Hot air balloons fly every day, all year round, in Cappadocia. The wind conditions for flying in Cappadocia are the best for sunrise, so all the balloons will take off early in the morning before or shortly after sunrise. Most flights in Cappadocia usually start around 5:00-5:30 am, depending on the season.
The balloons in Cappadocia take off in two rounds, and at times over 150 balloons fill the sky above Goreme.
We were in the first round, and honestly, it wasn’t the most ideal time as it was still very dark during the take-off, and due to a cloudy sunrise, we didn’t get the best photos. If we took off in the second round, the light conditions would be much better. This was at the beginning of October, so it’s probably not a big deal if you visit during summer. On the other hand, the other mornings we were in Goreme looked much better. Still, we had a great time, and you shall too. 🙂
What to wear for a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia
There is no dress code for a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia, but you’ll be the most comfortable in comfy pants and a shirt or sporty clothes. It’s also advised to have closed-toe shoes and no heels. This type of clothing will serve you better in case of a bit more rough landing.
You can also take a hat if you stand close to the burner as it can be a bit hot for your head (especially if you’re tall). That’s the reason why almost all pilots wear hats during the flight!
Also, it can be a bit chilly during mornings in Cappadocia, so it’s useful to have something with long sleeves to keep you warm.
Can you take a camera in the hot air balloon?
You can and should take a camera with you on a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, as the landscape is stunning and so unique, so it’s a perfect opportunity to capture it from a bit different perspective.
Who can go on a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia?
Hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia are suitable for everyone, except women in the 28th week and further in pregnancy or wheelchair users.
Many balloon companies don’t allow children younger than 5 or 6 years on flights as they may be too short to see over the edge of the basket, so they’d need to be held for at least 1 hour, and it may be dangerous during the landing. Kids over 110 cm tall can see over the basket. If you’re not sure whether your child can join the flight or not, you can always contact the company and check.
You should also be able to stand for at least one hour in the basket.
Should I go on a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia if I’m afraid of heights?
You can still enjoy the hot air balloon flight, even if you’re scared of heights. If you’re terrified, then you should probably skip it, but otherwise, it’s completely safe and different from, let’s say, standing on the edge of a cliff. You’re perfectly safe standing in the basket.
Matej has a slight but genuine fear of heights, and this was his comment:
“If you’re a bit unsure about taking a balloon flight in the first place like I was, be assured that it’s completely safe, and you have nothing at all to worry about. I first felt a bit uneasy, but soon after, I relaxed. I’m so glad I went for it and can’t wait to do more of them.”Matej
While we’re already talking about flying and heights… You might want to check out paragliding in Oludeniz, as that’s the next thing we did just a week after our balloon flight in Cappadocia, and it was incredible!
Is hot air ballooning in Cappadocia safe?
A ride in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia is perfectly safe! All pilots in Cappadocia must be experienced, and many companies employ pilots with many years of flying experience.
All pilots and balloons have to be licensed and pass regular flight checks.
Ballooning is safer than airplanes and helicopters, and besides that, it’s a weather-dependent sport, so in case of bad weather (too strong wind, rain, etc.), all the flights will be canceled, and flying won’t be allowed.
Is a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia worth it?
Experiencing Cappadocia from a hot air balloon is absolutely worth it! Flying in a hot air balloon is a unique experience, and doing it over an incredible landscape like Cappadocia and with so many balloons in the air with you – it’s sure to be one of those lifetime memories.
How to get to Cappadocia for your balloon flight
Getting to Cappadocia is easy by flying into the Nevsehir or Kayseri airport and getting a taxi or shuttle to Goreme, where the balloons fly.
Most accommodations in Goreme will be able to arrange transport from the airport once you arrive in Cappadocia, and our accommodation arranged one for us. The shuttle from Kayseri Airport to Goreme takes 70 minutes and costs about 10 USD per person one way. The shuttle from Nevsehir to Goreme is cheaper than from Kayseri and should take only 40 minutes and cost about 8 USD.
The airport shuttle service in Cappadocia is frequent and very efficient, and you will get picked up by a reliable driver at the airport right after landing.
We hope this guide helped answer most questions about hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia.
If you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment below.
Is a hot air balloon ride on your bucket list as well?