🎈You’re in Cappadocia, Turkey… on a sunrise hot air balloon ride over spectacular valleys of fairy chimneys. Sounds like bucket-list travel at its best, or is it?
You’ve seen the pictures right? But is it worth the 150 to 250 Euro price tag that comes with it? Read on to find out exactly what we thought… from our reservations about booking to our final thoughts and review on our hot air balloon experience over Cappadocia.
We’ll answer ALL your questions on what to expect from a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. If you have questions related to how long a hot air balloon ride is, how much it costs, the best time of year to visit Cappadocia, what to wear + MORE.
But also, if you’re like me and a little tame on adventure tourism activities, I’ll give you the rundown on how scary a balloon ride is or isn’t.
Skip through each section below to find answers to your questions and finish on our review at the end of this post. Find out exactly what you can expect from a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. And if you want more things to do in Cappadocia or ideas on the best places to stay, then jump through to this post here.
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Table of Contents
How Long is the Hot Air Balloon Ride?
The hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia last for around an hour of flight time. The tour providers will pick you up from your accommodation shortly after 4am. The balloons lift off at around 5am and land approximately 6am.
After landing, there is a quick ceremony with some sparkling grape, while the balloon is packed up. And the drivers will have you back to your hotel in time for breakfast before 8am.
How Often do the Hot Air Balloons Fly?
Because hot air balloons require little to no wind it means they do not fly everyday. The Civil Aviation make a call the day before, or the morning of, as to whether it’s safe enough for the balloons to fly or not.
In an average year, the hot air balloons will fly 250-280 days. So your odds are pretty good if you plan a four night stay in Cappadocia. Just as a reference, we stayed in Göreme for four nights and the balloons flew on three of the mornings we were there.
Wondering how many days to stay in Cappadocia then don’t miss our post – Road Trip and Itinerary Guide to Turkey.
What is the Best Month to Visit Cappadocia?
Obviously the odds of the balloons flying will depend greatly on what time of year you visit Cappadocia. Weather conditions for hot air balloon tours in Cappadocia are best between April and November.
During the winter months you may see dramatic photos of valleys filled with snow, and this is a beautiful time to visit, not to mention a cheaper one. However, with greater unpredictably around weather systems in winter, you can expect to see the balloons fly less frequently. Naturally, it’s also a lot colder so you’ll need to make sure you are rugged up. Also the timings would vary given that the days are shorter.
We definitely recommend sticking to the months that lead into or out of summer – April to June and September to November. That way you’ll avoid the much hotter temperatures of Cappadocia. If you can, it’s also a good idea to avoid peak times in and around school holidays and national holidays. Cappadocia gets super busy and the hot air balloon rides book out in advance.
We had to adjust our Turkey road trip itinerary completely as we hadn’t booked accommodation for Göreme and a hot air balloon flight in advance. So check your dates don’t coincide with peak times and book in advance!
How Much is a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia
When it comes to price, a hot air balloon ride varies. Depending on the tour operator, the season, school holidays in Turkey, school holidays in Europe and plain old supply and demand.
During the pandemic prices plummeted to below 100 Euros per person. Though to give you a rough idea at their peak, prices can go over 250 Euros per person and in winter you can book a hot air balloon ride for as little as 100 Euros.
Is it Best to Book a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Advance?
This is a more difficult question to answer… as it really depends again on supply and demand.
A good way to gauge how busy it is, is to take a look here at the Booking Platform for Royal Balloons in Cappadocia. Skip through the months and you’ll get an idea of how busy the upcoming dates are.
I tend to air on the side of caution and book in advance, especially if I know it’s an experience I really don’t want to miss. As I mentioned above we had to change our travel itinerary, due to the simple fact that I had left it too late to book a hot air balloon ride and accommodation.
The positive thing about booking with a reputable tour operator in Cappadocia, is that if the weather doesn’t pan out they will try getting you up in a balloon for the following day. And if by the end of your stay, and the weather has truly not been on your side, then you will receive a full refund.
How Many Days in Cappadocia is Enough?
Given that hot air balloons fly on average two thirds of the days out of a year, then I’m going to say three nights in Cappadocia gives you a good chance of getting up.
However, there is so much to see and do in Cappadocia that ideally I would recommend at least four nights. This gives you an even better chance of getting a hot air balloon ride and it means you get to explore more of what Göreme and Cappadocia has to offer.
Take a look through our post – 17 Magical Things to Do in Cappadocia – and I’m sure you’ll find plenty to do and see.
What do you Wear on a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia?
Forget fancy… you can save that for the mornings when you go to the viewing points to watch the balloons fly over the valleys.
Instead think comfortable, practical and warm.
Getting in and out of the hot air balloon basket requires a little climbing. It is chilly in the dark cold mornings and if you feel the cold then you’ll want to be wearing something warm. Then when they fire up the gas burner in the hot air balloon you might find yourself getting hot.
So I recommend you wear a few layers, and bring a small bag to put clothes in if you find you start getting too warm. Especially, with kids!
Do Balloons Fly at Sunset in Cappadocia?
The wind conditions for flying are better in the morning. This means that hot air balloon rides are not available at sunset in Cappadocia.
Can Children Ride in a Hot Balloon Ride?
Yes, children can fly in hot air balloons from the age of six and above. In some cases the operators have higher age restrictions and in some cases they allow younger children to fly. It really depends on who you fly with. We flew with our girls at the ages of seven and nine and it was no problem at all. I have had friends who flew with their five year old. The best thing to do is ask before you book.
And you also have options if you have really young kids or toddlers and you don’t want to take them on a hot air balloon ride. Many hotels in Göreme offer a babysitting service for families in this situation, all you need to do is ask around before booking your hotel accommodation.
Are Hot Air Balloons Scary?
Strangely, for someone who loves travel so much I’m a bit of a nervous flyer. So I was concerned that I might have a panic attack flying in a hot air balloon. And actually my experience was not scary at all.
You might also be reassured by the following –
- Hot air balloon pilots undergo an extreme amount of training
- There is both a pilot and co-pilot onboard
- Civil Aviation make the final decision on whether or not weather conditions are suitable for the hot air balloons to fly
- Pilots give you a safety briefing on what to expect during the flight
- Balloons fly to a maximum altitude of 1800 metres (6000 feet)
Perhaps it is the smooth flight of the balloon or the soundless drift… if I felt any anxiety, it only lasted for a minute or two. So no, in my opinion flying in a hot air balloon is not scary.
What to Expect on a Hot Air Balloon Flight in Cappadocia
Naturally you’ll need to expect an early morning start. Mini vans buzz around town between the hours of 4am and 4.30am picking up balloon riders. You’ll need to be ready waiting because they don’t like to wait.
When everyone is onboard they head out of town to the allocated launch point for that tour provider. When you get there, the balloons lie side by side already half inflated, and it doesn’t take long till you are bundled in fours or threes into the basket partitions.
In our balloon there were eight compartments, with three or four people in each. So, it’s full, but you aren’t jammed into the basket without system. Our family of four had a section to ourselves and we were very comfortable. With the balloon pilot and co-pilot both onboard it’s one two three and up you go.
And ofcourse the biggest factor in all of this is which way the wind is blowing. Over several days of watching balloons fly over Cappadocia we saw them take several different directions depending on the wind direction. We had lift off at 5am and were landing by 6am.
When the balloons have landed, and the pickup team and ground crew arrives, the balloon is loaded onto the back of a truck. Then everyone is unloaded and it’s time for a quick celebration drink. By 8am you are back at your accommodation ready for breakfast!
Is Cappadocia Worth the Hype? An Honest Review
I was apprehensive about forking out the Euros they were asking. So if you are thinking the same then you’ll want an honest review. Is a hot air balloon over Cappadocia really worth the hype?
I believe we have Instagram partly to blame for a glorified version of Cappadocia of hot air balloons and fairy chimneys. Which is a shame really, as I believe Cappadocia is SO much more than hot air balloons.
As a result, travellers flood into Cappadocia for beautiful photos of hot air balloons. And herein lies the catch 22.
If these travellers didn’t pour in, the same number of balloons wouldn’t fly every day. And let’s be honest, some of the magic of Cappadocia is in watching the sheer number of balloons fly over the valley.
So lots of tourists, means lots of balloons, higher demand and higher prices. But ultimately more balloons also means more magic.
From a sustainable perspective, there is certainly worse ways to explore a place! We felt in terms of responsible tourism, the whole experience was relatively positive. Hot air balloons fly on propane gas, which provides less threat to the environment than other gases. And overall there was little to no unnecessary waste created from the whole experience.
But one of the biggest pros for me, was the magic of it all. Cappadocia has long been a destination I’ve wanted to visit. And it has to be said, long after we parted ways with our 150 Euros per family member, the money paid is forgotten but the memory of our hot air balloon ride remains.
Final Thoughts on Hot Air Balloon Flight in Cappadocia
In a nutshell, is a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia worth it. Yes I believe it is.
Would I go so far as to say it’s worth the hype? Probably not, but I’m not the kind of traveller to get swept up in hype.
This said, a hot air balloon flight is extremely special, and if you are lucky enough to experience it just once in your life then you should. IF that once coincides with a trip to Cappadocia then I say don’t think twice… go for it!
Click the links here to see two hot air balloon operators in Cappadocia. While most offer a very standard service, we would recommend Royal Balloons. They are a Get Your Guide original tour operator, the reviews online sing their praises and in terms of experience and professionalism they would be my top choice.
Pro Tips for a Great Hot Air Balloon Experience
Tip One – Plan your flight for your first day in Cappadocia. Don’t wait till midway through your trip because the weather might not be in your favour. We met several people devastated that they could not get their balloon ride. Firstly because weather conditions weren’t suitable and secondly because they were sold out.
Tip Two – Be sure you are in the first group of hot air balloons. A hundred balloons take off for the sunrise flight and around 50 take off at the second flight 45 minutes later. You get the wow factor if you are in the first flight as the bulk of the hot air balloons float in the sky all round you.
More on Turkey
If you are planning to see more of Turkey then don’t miss our other posts in this series…
- 17 Magical Things to do in Cappadocia
- Road Tripping Turkey
- How to Plan Your Visit to Pamukkale
- 4 Days in Istanbul
- 16 Awesome Things to Do in Kas
- How to Visit Anzac Cove & Gallipoli
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