Cappadocia is the only place in the world where hundreds of hot air balloons go up in the air every single day (even in the winter). Watching the sunrise over the surreal landscape of Cappadocia from the hot air balloon is one of those pinch-me moments, where it feels like the world has stood still. If you didn’t already know about this fairytale destination, Cappadocia is one of Turkey’s hidden gem, however, the town of Goreme is where all the magic happens!
To help you better understand what to expect from the hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia and how to make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity, we have put together this hot air balloon guide for you.
If you are looking to enjoy 100’s of hot air balloons taking off from the comfort of your own hotel, take a look at – Hotels that offer the best view of the balloons in Cappadocia here.
Best time of the year to visit Cappadocia to ride on the hot air balloon?
The hot air balloons run all year round in Cappadocia. The peak season runs between May to September. As you would expect with peak season in any destination, you would be sharing the experience with many other tourists.
Having said all that, Cappadocia during the winter months is simply magical. Flying over the fairy chimneys of Goreme covered in a blanket of snow along with 100’s of colourful balloons flying alongside you is like a dream. One thing to bear in mind is that the hot air balloon flights are weather dependent so the cancellations are likely to be higher during the winter months.
How to choose your hot air balloon company
The first thing you will notice when booking the hot air balloon experience in Cappadocia is, the number of companies offering, essentially, the same service. It can be a bit overwhelming, deciding which company to go with. To help make this process a little easier, we have put together some of the big companies and some of the smaller and more independent hot air balloon companies.
5 big hot air balloon companies in Cappadocia:
Most hotels and travel agencies will be able to help you book your hot air balloon trip.
There are a few things that either make your hot air balloon experience epic or leave you feeling the ‘reality didn’t quite meet the expectation’ – The launch site, the time you take off and your pilot.
“Taking off from a site that has other balloons taking off along with you really adds to the experience.”
Taking off from a site that has other balloons taking off along with you really adds to the experience. Once you are in your basket and as you slowly ascend into the sky is when you truly get to experience the full spectrum of balloons – some already high up in the air, some just being inflated, some taking off along with you.
If your chosen company is taking off from a secluded spot it can leave you feeling quite underwhelmed and the reality won’t quite match the photos you have seen of Cappadocia.
Another thing we would say is that the company you are booking from can be big, small, old or new but it is all down to the pilot. Once you are up in the air, you are in the hands of the pilot, he will be your guide to the landscape and he will navigate which direction to take the balloon. Not everyone can fly through the infamous fairy chimneys of Cappadocia either, an experienced pilot will be familiar with the region and will make your experience the most memorable!
One of our favourite pilots is Serkan Ayas, do take a look at his incredible Instagram for a daily dose of the balloons in Cappadocia. To book simply get in contact via his Instagram.
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Types of flight and duration of the flight
Most tour companies offer 2 -3 different types of flights.
The standard flight generally lasts around 60 minutes and is shared between 14 – 20 people.
The more comfortable option lasts between 75 – 90 minutes and is only shared between 6 – 16 passengers. These types of flights offer more legroom and space to move about in the basket. Some companies such as the Voyager Balloons, even have photographer pilots who help you capture that perfect photo.
Most companies also offer private exclusive hire, where you can have the balloon basket all to yourself and make this once in a lifetime experience extra special. Companies like Voyager Balloons, also offer seated baskets.
Take off sites for the hot air balloons in Cappadocia
All the take-off sites are located around the town of Goreme but the exact location of the take off-site changes daily. The take off-site for the hot air balloons is completely dependent on the weather. Generally, the companies decide where to take off from on the day of the flight, based on the speed and direction of the wind.
What time do the flights take off and what to expect on the day
The hot air balloon flights take off early in the morning, just before the sunrise so you can watch the sunrise atop a balloon. The exact time of the take-off changes depending on the season and weather condition, but the take-off time generally varies between 5:00 am and 7:00 am.
Some companies even offer 2 take-off slots, one slot to watch the sunrise and other just after the sunrise.
Most of the hot air balloon companies in Cappadocia will pick you up at least 2 hours before the takeoff. After being picked up from your hotel, you will be taken to the company’s office and restaurant as the majority of the balloon companies provide breakfast before the takeoff. After you will be driven to the take-off site to watch the inflation of the balloons and finally take off!
Some companies do offer sunset flights but this is quite rare as the wind conditions are better around sunrise. In most cases, hot air balloon companies run evening sunset flights if the morning has been cancelled due to weather conditions. As the majority of the companies take off in the morning, you get to witness hundreds of other hot air balloon soaring through the sky, unlike the sunset flight.
Champagne tradition and ticking it off your bucket list
Your hot air balloon journey doesn’t end as soon as you land… there’s more! Every company will host a champagne toast after you have landed along with a slice of cake. This tradition started when the Montgolfier brothers made their first successful flight in 1873, this tradition lives. If you are visiting around the winter months, most companies will serve you mulled wine as the temperature in Cappadocia can reach below 0 degrees.
As this is a once in a lifetime experience for many, to commemorate the event companies even hand out a certificate with your name printed on it, some even give out medals. It ties in the whole magical experience perfectly.
How high do the balloons go and safety
How high your hot air balloon goes is all down to the company you have chosen to go with and the pilot. Some companies go as high as 6,000 feet and some go as low as tree-level. The best hot air balloon experience is the one that involves both, so you can witness the spectacular fairy chimneys and rock formations up close as well as get the bird’s eye view of the whole town of Gorme as the sun rises.
Hot air ballooning is an extremely safe activity and has been around for many years. The balloons take off and land 7 days a week throughout the year. The balloons are registered just like any other aircraft and are subject to regular safety checks. Balloons that are used for a commercial purpose must pass the strict FAA inspection and have licenced pilots.
Where is the best place to stand in the balloons
As the balloons are shared with others (unless you opt for the private hire), there is automatically a sense of competition for securing the best place in the basket to get the best view and photo.
One thing to know is that the big basket is further divided into sections so you will only be sharing your sub-basket with 4 – 5 people and the pilots can rotate the balloons so you can get the 360- degree view, regardless of where you stand in the balloon.
Do I need to book the hot hair balloon experience in Cappadocia in advance?
It is advisable to book your hot air balloon experience at least one day in advance, as you will be picked up very early in the morning ( before the sunrise ). During the peak seasons, hot air balloon is an extremely popular activity so companies do tend to get fully booked, it is best to plan your experience a few days in advance to avoid disappointment.
Where to book hot air balloons ride in Cappadocia?
The hot air balloon rides can be booked either straight via the company’s website, the hotel you are staying in will happily book this experience for you along with tour agents located in Gorme and surrounding areas. This experience can even be booked in advance, take a look at some of our recommendations below.
A few tips from us:
Plan your hot air balloon ride during the first few days than leaving it towards the end of your trip. This once in a lifetime experience is very much weather dependent, so if the trip is to be cancelled due to strong winds or rain, you will still have the opportunity to ride the balloon the following day.
Scams do happen! book through the mentioned companies or through your hotel. Booking at the very last minute make you more vulnerable to scams.
This experience is just as good as it looks it in the photos. Don’t spend too long debating if you should ride or not. It is a must experience when you are in Cappadocia and 100% worth the money – just book it!
Take plenty of photos but don’t forget to be present in the moment!