ULTIMATE GUIDE to hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey

Feb 1, 2023

Cappadocia is a stunning area in central Turkey famous for fairytale scenery, caves, Suess-esq rock formations, and dreamy hot air balloons taking flight at sunrise each morning. Hot air ballooning over the ancient valleys and moonscapes is the top thing to do in Cappadocia.

So what do you need to know before you go to get the most out of this bucket list experience? 

You’ll have to wake up early.
And I mean 3 or 4 AM early. You’ll arrive at the site in total darkness and watch them firing up the balloons. The sun still won’t have broken the horizon while you’re loading into the balloon. 

It will be cold no matter when you go.

The time of year that you visit doesn’t make a significant difference for the predawn temperature. It will be dark when you’re picked up around 4:30 AM and continue to be cool and windy at sunrise when you’re flying in the balloon at a higher altitude. 

They’ll probably include breakfast before the flight.

Most companies include a small boxed breakfast- a muffin, a bottle of water, and maybe an apple. While most of the cave hotels include a full Turkish breakfast, they typically don’t start serving until 7 AM. If you know that the boxed breakfast won’t be enough for you, pick up snacks the day before for the morning.

The hot air balloon company will pick you up from your hotel.

Don’t worry about having to get to the site where they launch the balloons, because every company I looked into picks you up at your hotel in the morning and drops you off after the experience. In fact, you couldn’t drive yourself if you wanted to because there’s no physical address- the launch site is out in some fields in the valley, and there’s not even a proper road that you could drive a normal car on. It was a bumpy ride, so I recommend taking something for motion sickness if you’re worried about it. 

You go higher than you think and the balloon basket walls are surprisingly short. 

I was surprised by (1) how high we went in the balloon, (2) the number of people packed into the basket, and (3) the short height of the basket walls. I’m tall, but the basket walls barely came up to my belly button. You’re also not seat belted or tied to the balloon in any way, so if you’re afraid of heights, consider that you’ll high up in a confined space. I think this is absolutely a once in a lifetime opportunity worth pushing through that fear, but you know yourself best. 

If you’re worried about accessibility, research companies to see who can help make accommodations.

I don’t have any accessibility concerns, but if I were to evaluate the experience from that point of view, I’d say it’s not the most accessible experience for people with physical disabilities. You’ll have to crawl into a cramped van, endure a bumpy ride to a field, climb up and over the balloon’s sides to get in and out, and stand in the balloon for the duration of the flight.

Frequently asked questions 

1. How much does it cost to do the hot air balloons in Cappadocia?

The price to do the hot air balloons in Cappadocia is typically between $130 and $250 per person. This price depends on the duration of the flight and whether it’s peak season or not.

2. What should I wear for hot air balloons in Cappadocia?

I wore leggings, a sweater, tennis shoes, and a winter coat when I went in November. This wasn’t enough- most people in my group had gloves, scarves, and hand warmers (it sounds obvious, but it was quite windy).

3. What’s the best time of year to go for hot air balloons in Cappadocia?

The hot air balloons fly year round, but the best time to go is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September and November). Some of Cappadocia’s best sunrises are in the winter, and if you go in summer, you’ll have to get up even earlier for the earlier summer sunrise. In the summer, you’ll also have to compete with the holiday crowd.

4. Is it worth it to go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia?

Only you can answer this question, but as a seasoned traveler, I have never seen sights like these anywhere else. Cappadocia is a special place, and there’s no better way to take in the quiet, calm beauty of this ancient landscape than being a part of it. 

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