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Riding a Cappadocia hot air balloon was truly a highlight of my life. I’m wary of “yoloing” or “once-in-a-life-timing” when I travel (that’s how you go broke fast), but for this, I’ll make an exception. I consider myself pretty frugal but I’m so glad we splurged on the Cappadocia hot air balloon!
If you want to ride one at some point in your life, do it here. The landscape – marked with valleys, canyons, and unique fairy chimneys – is fantastic, and sharing the skies with 100 other balloons amplifies the experience even more. I can say with certainty that the sunrise hot air balloon ride is the best thing to do in Cappadocia, and honestly, all of Turkey.
However, there are definitely some things you need to know before you go.
This guide covers the entire Cappadocia hot air balloon experience from prices and weather to frequently asked questions and so much more! Let’s get started 🙂
View from our balloon a few minutes after takeoff
17 Frequently Asked Questions About Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons
Find the answers to all of your burning questions about Cappadocia hot air balloons below.
1. How much does it cost to ride a hot air balloon in Cappadocia?
Prices for the Cappadocia hot air balloon rides range from 110 euros per person at the low end up to 180 euros per person at the high end. Anywhere between 130 and 150 euros is a pretty fair price.
There’s no set price for the hot air balloon ride and it’s going to vary based on what season you’re visiting in (high vs. low), who you buy from, and more. With this range in mind though, you can avoid getting ripped off.
2. What does the hot air balloon ride include?
The price of your hot air balloon ride also comes with pick up at your hotel, breakfast (cereal, pastry, coffee, tea) at the company building, the balloon ride, a champagne mimosa and cake when you land, a certificate of completion, and drop off back at your hotel.
3. How long are the hot air balloon rides?
One hour. Landing is pretty dependent on the wind though, so it may be cut short by about 10 minutes or go over time – we ended up getting about 15 extra minutes because the wind just stopped blowing for a while. One hour may seem short but it felt very long on the ride an I was satisfied.
Sharing the skies with so many other balloons is what makes the Cappadocia experience so special
4. How do I book a hot air balloon in Cappadocia?
I think every single person in Cappadocia can probably hook you up with a hot air balloon ride, but the easiest way to do it is through your accommodation. Tell your hotel/hostel/Airbnb the day you want to ride and they’ll take care of the rest.
If you can’t/don’t want to do this you can also book directly with the companies yourself. We went with Kapadokya Balloons and had a fantastic experience, so I can definitely recommend them.
5. Do I need to book the hot air balloon ride in advance?
All hot air balloon rides must be booked at least one day in advance because you’ll be picked up at your hotel so early in the morning.
We went in February, which is the low season, and we were able to book a ride the day before without any problem. However, to ensure you get a spot on a balloon in the high season it’s probably a good idea to book at least a few days in advance. Ask your hotel about it when you book your accommodation.
6. Can I ride the Cappadocia hot air balloons in the winter?
Hot air balloons rely heavily on the weather, so they fly less in the winter than in the summer. The companies still plan to fly every day, but cancellations are just more frequent.
When we visited in February 2019, the pilot told me they had only been able to fly about 15 times in the past three months! However, he also said this was unusually bad.
So, yes, you can ride the Cappadocia hot air balloons in the winter, but the chances of cancellation due to weather is higher.
Getting ready for takeoff. The balloons were much bigger than I imagined!
7. Are the Cappadocia hot air balloons safe?
Turkey hot air balloons are a big part of the country’s tourism so they regulate it heavily to ensure it’s safe. The companies don’t get to decide whether they fly or not – there’s one regulatory body that makes the decision each day – and the pilots are required to have multiple licenses. If you’re still nervous about flying, this is a great article about Cappadocia balloon safety with more to say on the matter.
8. Why do so many hot air balloons fly in Cappadocia?
I had the exact same question, so I asked our pilot after we landed. He explained that in the 1990s some foreign balloon pilots visited the area and realized it had great, stable weather for flying. So, they hauled in their balloons and opened up shop and the tradition has been growing ever since.
9. Where do the hot air balloons take off?
Hot air balloons are weather dependent (they can move up and down, but have no control over side-to-side movements) so the take-off spot changes daily based on the wind. It’s always near the town of Goreme though.
10. What do the hot air balloons fly over?
Don’t be disappointed if your flight doesn’t match every single photo you see online. Your hot air balloon may go over the town of Goreme, it may float over the Rose Valley, you may go into the Love Valley – again, it all depends on the wind direction the day you fly. Goreme National Park is quite large so you’ll have great views no matter where you end up.
Lone balloon over Cappadocia
11. Where is the best place to watch the hot air balloons from the ground?
Because the routes change every day, the best place to watch the Cappadocia hot air balloons is from Sunrise Point. Don’t confuse this with the sunset viewpoint that’s far away or be concerned that there are no reviews for it in Google Maps – this is the right place.
It’s easy to walk here from the Goreme city center and it has 360 panoramic views so you can see the balloons no matter where they go. On our flight, we landed right next to it and flew so low over the people watching that we could wave to each other. There’s also a cafe here for coffee and tea to warm you up while the balloons soar overhead.
12. What’s the best spot inside the hot air balloon?
One thing I didn’t know about hot air balloons before I rode one is that they actually spin in slow circles. So, it doesn’t really matter where you stand in the basket because you’ll get to see everything. But if you can, try to get in last because the ends are a little more spacious.
13. How many people will be in my hot air balloon?
The baskets are much bigger than I expected. Cappadocia hot air balloons hold 16 or 20 people, so don’t expect a private flight. Although you can shell out for one if you really want to.
Watching the balloons (with a new friend) at Sunrise Point in Goreme
14. Is it hot or cold in the hot air balloon?
It’s early morning and you’re flying high into the air, so it’s always going to be cooler than it is on the ground. On our February flight, I wore plenty of layers and heavy boots but my toes were still starting to hurt by the time we landed. If you fly in the summer it obviously won’t be as cold but I’d probably bring a light jacket or sweater just in case.
15. What time do the Cappadocia hot air balloon rides start?
For some reason I thought the balloons flew at sunrise and sunset before I went, but I was wrong – they only fly at sunset a few times a year so your odds of getting a sunrise flight are about 100%.
Of course, the sunrise time changes throughout the year (so go in the winter if you want to sleep more) but we were picked up about two hours before the official sunrise time.
16. Is Cappadocia close to Istanbul?
Not really. Istanbul is in northwestern Turkey and Cappadocia is in central Turkey, but the region is easy to access with cheap flights. I use Skyscanner to find the best deals and got flights from Istanbul to Nevsehir (the closest airport to Goreme) for only $46 round trip. Click here to learn exactly how to travel between the two cities.
17. Where should I stay in Cappadocia?
Another thing I didn’t know before I booked our trip was that Cappadocia is actually a massive region with multiple cities in it. To ride the hot air balloons, the best place to stay is the small town of Goreme. It’s the most popular base in the area and will give you easy access to all the main sites, including the hot air balloon tours. I stayed in a super cozy and romantic cave room in Anatolia Cave Pension and definitely recommend it.
Still daydreaming about our cave room at Anatolia Cave Pension
4 Extra tips for your Cappadocia hot air balloon ride
This article is getting long but before I wrap it up I wanted to share four more quick tips that I picked up on our trip to Cappadocia.
1. Remember to be present in the moment.
The views are going to be unbelievable and it’s tempting to keep your camera locked in front of your face for the entire hour. But I recommend taking pictures for the first 20 to 30 minutes of the flight and then putting your phone/camera away and making an effort to be present in the moment. Not only is it just an amazing experience, but the light is also better at the start and those photos will be better than anything you take later anyway.
2. Ride the balloons on your first day in Goreme.
Balloon rides in Cappadocia can be canceled for days at a time due to the weather so book your ride for your first morning in Goreme. If it’s canceled, you’ll automatically be moved to the next day to try again. If you never fly, your money will be refunded.
3. Don’t dwell too much on finding the perfect hotel terrace.
I spent a lot of time looking for a hotel with an Insta-worthy terrace like I saw in all the influencer photos. In the end, I booked one without it and it didn’t matter at all.
We rode the balloons one day and watched them the sunrise point on the second day and they were canceled on the third – I wouldn’t have used the terrace anyway and there was no guarantee the balloons would fly by even if I did.
4. It’s worth the money.
I experienced the Cappadocia balloons on a ride and from the ground and can say without a doubt that riding them is worth the money.
To save money in other areas of your trip, consider staying in a budget-friendly dorm room at the Shoestring Cave House, skipping the Green and Red tours (I didn’t think the Green Tour was worth the money) and eating cheap meals (a traditional meat flatbread at Buyuk Adana Kebap is tasty and filling for only 25 lira / 4.50 usd).
Cappadocia has plenty of cheap and free activities like hiking to Love Valley (use this guide to do it for free) or visiting the Open Air Museum (45 lira / 8 usd per person) which can help make up for the expense of the hot air balloon.
One last view from our incredible sunrise hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia
The Complete Guide to Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons
Now it really is time for me to wrap it up.
I hope this guide to Cappadocia hot air balloons helps you learn more about what to expect from the whole experience and, of course, I hope you have a fantastic trip to Cappadocia!
This is part one in a four-part Cappadocia Series. Read the rest below!
The 2019 Guide to Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons [Part 1 – you are here]
How to Get From Istanbul to Cappadocia [Part 2 – read me next]