Taking a hot air balloon ride somewhere like Cappadocia always comes up high on surveys of people’s bucket lists. For me, taking a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia Turkey was number 9 on my 50-before-50 bucket list. I decided to travel to Turkey for New Year 2022 and successfully completed this bucket list item then.
Although I’m a nervous (plane) flyer, I wasn’t apprehensive on the morning of my balloon ride. Throughout the flight, I was a little nervous but not terribly and it didn’t spoil the ride. I’m glad I did this bucket list item and I’m going to tell you about the experience here. I’ve also included a load of answers to FAQs about hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia. Scroll down to read them or click a link in the table of contents to go directly to the answer you’re looking for.
Book the Hot Air Balloon Trip Early in Your Trip
I’d been watching the weather forecast for about a month before arriving in Cappadocia. Based on that I booked my hot air balloon flight for 2nd January. However, the whole point of my trip was the hot air balloon ride and I didn’t want to miss it if the weather was bad. So I contacted Butterfly Balloons and changed the date.
Just as well I did because the balloon rides were cancelled on the 2nd. They were also cancelled on one of the other mornings of my trip. I was surprised because the weather looked perfect and everything was running the next day when the weather seemed the same to me. So my advice is, book your flight early in your trip. That way if it gets pushed back you have some leeway. If I hadn’t done this I’d have ended up going home without crossing off my bucket list item.
Early Morning Pick Up
My flight package included a pick-up and drop-off service from my hotel and I was the first to be collected at 7:30am. A few minutes after collecting me the driver pulled up at the next hotel stop. He went in to find the guests and I sat in the pre-dawn darkness. The weather was freezing (literally) but as I sat there in the cold, dark morning, the morning prayers played out over the speakers from the mosques and I felt a tingle of magic.
Breakfast and Balloon Allocation
Once we collected everyone in our transfer we were brought to a base in Göreme that was already a hub of activity. Hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia are big business, even in the winter. When we went inside we filled out a couple of forms and then were offered the breakfast included in our package. The space was nice and warm and there were decent toilets available.
After everyone had arrived and been registered we went off to meet our driver and designated balloon group. (I’d booked the package that had a maximum of eight people in the balloon with a ride that lasted one hour.) We bundled back into a minibus and headed out of town to our lift-off site.
The Magic Begins
As we drove up the road I could see hot air balloons being set up all around us and it was so magical! It was still dark outside and it was beautiful to see the balloons glowing orange as the gas was blown into them. Not long later we arrived at our destination. Up close the balloons were huge! I was getting really excited by this point and was feeling the adventure. Our driver pointed out our balloon and we walked over to watch the preparation.
It didn’t take long for the balloon to be ready for us to get into. When it was time, we were called out to get into the different sections. Our basket had five compartments. The main one in the middle was for the driver and the gas canister. The remaining four were at each corner, designed to hold two people each.
Getting into the Hot Air Balloon
We were called to climb into the balloon in a certain order to balance out the weight. There were two Chinese women about the same height and size as each other that went in the first corner. I was called to go in the compartment next to them along with a small Indian man. ( I am big and tall and he was small and short so we evened out that corner.) My basket mate was with a group of other Indian lads who were put in the other two compartments on the other side of the basket.
For some reason, I’d had in my head that the end of the basket was hinged like a door to let us get in. But it isn’t at all. There are two footholds in each section and you have to use them to clamber up and over the edge of the basket to get in. The basket is about chest height, or lower if you’re tall. So you need to be able to haul yourself up.
Up, Up and Away
After we’d all scrambled into the basket we were told about how the landing would work. There were four red rope handles in each compartment for the landing. We were told which way we had to face when we came to land and how we had to squat down for the impact. After that, there were some Turkish conversations with the men on the ground. Then one of the gas canisters was hauled over the basket and we were off!
That part was a bit unnerving for me. The hot air balloon really has no steering and no brakes and it was a bit nerve-wracking to think we were at the mercy of the wind. But we quickly rose and it was breathtaking to see the other balloons around us. Some were still on the ground. Others had taken off before us. It was quite a sight. We moved smoothly and the atmosphere was peaceful and still. We took off about half an hour before dawn and saw the sunrise while we were flying.
After we were in the air the driver put a playlist on so there was music throughout the flight. I think I would have preferred to enjoy the peace. But perhaps it created more atmosphere with various groups of people who hadn’t met before. The only other sound was of the gas being released into the balloon every now and then. It was quite loud and also hot. If I did another hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia or anywhere else, I might wear a hat.
An Hour of Wonder
Once we were up all we had to do was look at the other balloons in the sky with us or at the scenery below. I didn’t love looking directly down from the basket, especially when we went up really high. But it was wonderful to see so many balloons in my eye line and it was fascinating to see the rock formations as we passed. Cappadocia has such a unique landscape that it’s the perfect place for a hot air balloon ride.
Sometimes we went really low in the balloon. Almost a bit too close to some of the rocks for my liking! Other times we went up higher than the other balloons. But throughout, the journey was smooth. The balloon slowly turned as we were travelling so we got a great panoramic view.
We continued over the various Cappadocian valleys for an hour. Our driver pointed out Love Valley and the Red and Rose Valleys along with various other landmarks. He recorded the journey on his 360-degree camera and every now and then got us all to say hello to it.
A Bumpy Landing
When the hour was up we came into land. It was a bit bumpy and we slightly hit the edge of the hill rather than setting down nicely onto the flat. There was a bit of manoeuvering between the driver and the men on the ground that had come to secure us. The driver released more gas into the balloon so we weren’t dead weight. And the men on the ground hauled the basket to a suitable point.
Getting out was the same as getting in. We had to haul ourselves over the top and find the footholds to climb down. While the balloon was being deflated a table was being set up and arranged with champagne and medals. The tradition for champagne is something along the lines of the first balloon ride came down in a field in the Champagne region of France. And the farmer came and gave the driver a bottle of champers. So now, they do that in Cappadocia too!
Anyway, we had the option of a soft drink instead but I went with the bubbly at nine o’clock in the morning! We were presented with a certificate and our medals and watched the hot air balloon being packed away.
Reflecting on the Experience
I felt nice and warm in the balloon because the gas flame produced a lot of heat. But standing around afterwards I could feel the cold creeping in. Luckily it was time to go anyway. We left some money in the tip box and we all bought a recording of the journey. Then we got back into the minibus. We were dropped back at our hotels to enjoy the rest of the day.
Everything about the trip was fantastic. The day I went it was a bit cloudy but it didn’t detract from the experience at all, despite what I thought beforehand. In fact, I think it made for some interesting photos.
All in all, it was a very slick experience. Everything ran smoothly from pick-up to drop-off and I’d personally recommend Butterfly Balloons to you too.
Hopefully sharing my experience has answered some of your questions about a hot air balloon ride Cappadocia. But here is a list of common questions, with answers, about taking a hot air balloon trip in Turkey.
Hot Air Balloon Cappadocia FAQS
How Far Ahead Do You Need to Book a Hot Air Balloon Ride?
Under normal circumstances, I’d book at least a month in advance as hot air balloon rides are one of the biggest attractions in Cappadocia. July and August are busy months but throughout the winter the area is popular too.
I used Butterfly Balloons. Once you choose the date you want, their website shows how many spots they have available in each ride. It’s a good way to keep an eye on how things are booking up. Keep in mind that a group could come along and book a load of spots at once so book as soon as you can.
How Much Does a Hot Air Balloon Cost in Cappadocia?
The cost of a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia depends on a few factors like, what time of day you go, how many other people are on your ride, how long the balloon ride lasts and what else is included in your package.
Most packages include:
- pick-up and drop-off at your hotel
- 1 hour balloon ride
- completion certificate
My flight cost 150 euros. In addition to the above, I got breakfast, a champagne landing, medal and there were only 8 of us in the basket.
Which Hot Air Balloon Cappadocia is the Cheapest?
The cheapest hot air balloon in Cappadocia I’ve found is through Airbnb Experiences. What makes your hot air balloon ride cheaper is going on one that has 20+ people in the basket. Also, packages that exclude breakfast and medals will be cheaper than those that offer everything.
The price might also reflect the type of gas used to heat the balloon so you could ask the company you use about that.
Airbnb experiences for hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia prices for 2022 start at around £43 (around 52 euro or 58 USD).
Is It Noisy in a Hot Air Balloon?
Because the balloons in Cappadocia only fly when the wind isn’t too strong it’s not noisy in that sense. The gas burners that heat the balloons can make a lot of noise. But they’re not used constantly, only when the driver needs to make the balloon rise.
During my hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, the driver had music playing so that was quite loud. Also, I can imagine that the noise is more when there are 20 other people in the basket with you than when there are only seven others.
Can Anyone Go on a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia?
Can I go in a hot air balloon if I’m pregnant? What if I weigh a lot or have injuries?
I wasn’t asked about my weight anywhere on my booking application with Butterfly Balloons. I don’t know if it’s different anywhere else. However, as I mentioned in my story above, they did pair me in a compartment with someone about half my size. So I think they’re pretty good at balancing things out. One of the reasons I booked with Butterfly was because of their many excellent Google reviews and for their good safety record. Hot air balloons can hold a lot of weight by all accounts and I didn’t feel unsafe.
If you’re pregnant it’s generally not considered a good idea to go on a hot air balloon. The reason is that the landings can be quite bumpy. It’s safer to wait for another time.
How Do You Get Into a Hot Air Balloon Basket?
Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to scramble over the hot air balloon basket to get in it. You also need to stand up for an hour or more. So you need to be physically well enough to be able to do those two things to access and enjoy your balloon ride.
What Do You Wear In a Hot Air Balloon?
Dress for the weather on the ground the temperature will be similar. It’s probably a good idea to wear closed-toe shoes that you can climb into the basket with and clothes that are suitable for that. Bear in mind you also need to stand comfortably for an hour or more.
The gas burner that heats the balloon is quite hot when it’s lit so consider wearing a hat. I found it quite hot on my head, like when you leave the hairdryer in one spot for too long. So another time, I would probably wear a hat.
Do Hot Air Balloons Fly Every Day in Cappadocia?
Cappadocia runs hot air balloon rides all year round. However, they don’t run absolutely every day. That’s because if the weather’s not right your hot air balloon flight will be cancelled. Usually, it’s because there’s too much wind. In the winter it could be that rain or snow would make for a miserable experience.
What Happens if My Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia Is Cancelled?
If you pick a day where the weather turns out not to be too good the normal procedure is for you to have a full refund for your balloon flight. Or if you’re staying on in the area you can move it to a different day if there is availability.
Are Balloons Still Flying in Cappadocia During Covid?
Although flights were suspended for a while during 2020 everything is back in action. I was in Cappadocia at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 and the balloon flights were running.
How Do You Get a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia?
My recommendation is to book a hot air balloon flight online in advance. I used Butterfly Balloons because they had so many good Google Reviews. If you want to look at some other companies you can do a Google search and see what comes up.
Airbnb Experiences also lists balloon ride packages in Cappadocia. You can read reviews from people who’ve used those options before too.
Walking around Cappadocia you’ll see plenty of travel agents offering hot air balloon rides. And probably your hotel/accommodation in Cappadocia has a particular company that they work with too. The only issue with waiting until you’re there to book a hot air balloon ride is availability.
What Time Are The Hot Air Balloons in Cappadocia?
Most of the hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia set off about 30 minutes before sunrise. Some companies also offer a later flight that happens after sunrise. However, I’ve noticed they only tend to run in summer because of the weather.
I was collected from my hotel in December at 6:45am. We took off about 7:30am. In the summer it’s a much earlier start. It wouldn’t be unusual for you to be collected from your hotel nearer 5am.
When Can You See the Hot Air Balloons in Cappadocia?
If you just want to go and see the balloons and not actually take a ride then early morning is the time to go out. The rides start about 30 minutes before sunrise so check what time that will be in the season you’re visiting.
From about half an hour before dawn, you can see the hot air balloons in Cappadocia for around 60 – 90 minutes. You might see them for longer in summer.
Where Can I See The Balloons in Cappadocia?
You can see the hot air balloons from all over Göreme so just step outside and you’ll see them. There are a few good spots for the best views though.
If you’re one of the Instagram pack then you might have booked a particular hotel to get the best pictures of the balloons. Popular hotels with terraces set up for Insta-worthy pics are Sultan Cave Suites, Koza Cave Hotel and Artemis Cave Suites.
Many other hotels have outside areas that are well located for watching the balloons, even if they’re not set up with cushions etc for an Instagram shot
Sunrise/Sunset Spot Göreme
I walked up to this spot to see the sunset but it’s also a great place to watch the balloons in the morning. Get up for about 30 minutes before sunrise (or earlier if you’re there at a busy time of year). It takes about 7 or 8 minutes to walk from the town centre. There’s an entrance fee which was ₺3 when I went in December although I’ve heard it can be more in the summer.
I used Göreme Yellow Taxi a few times during my trip and his recommendation was to watch the balloons from Love Valley. I didn’t make it up there any of the mornings myself but I can imagine that it’s quite spectacular from the top.
Why is hot air ballooning so popular in Cappadocia?
With the rock formations of the valleys and the fairy chimneys, Cappadocia is a breathtaking place to go on a hot air balloon ride. I’ve also heard that because of the nature of the environment there is less wildlife in Cappadocia. That means that the balloons are able to get closer to the rocks than they would be able to in other places which makes for a more interesting ride.
Any Other Questions?
Well, I hope I’ve been able to answer all your questions about hot air balloons in Cappadocia. If you have any others then drop me a line and I’ll do my best to answer them!