Everything You Need to Know About Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia

a group of hot air balloons in the sky
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Last Updated on: 26th May 2024, 06:25 am

I’m sure you’ve seen photos of hot air balloons flying over the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia. Maybe you are hoping to do this, perhaps you’re a bit afraid, or you might wonder if it’s worth the cost.

Wind and Whim to the rescue. Here is everything you need to know about hot air ballooning in Cappadocia.

A Little Background

When Steve and I spent six nights in Cappadocia in September 2022, taking a hot air balloon ride was at the top of our list of things to do.

Well, it was at the top of my list. Steve was apprehensive because he avoids anything that could be dangerous and is unnecessary, like carnival rides. After giving it some thought, he decided to do it. I was surprised and pleased.

Until the minute Steve got on the balloon, I wasn’t sure he would go through with it, but he was glad he did. He will be the first to tell you it wasn’t the least bit scary.

We flew with Voyager Balloons, and everything went perfectly. We didn’t book as early as we should have, so the 60-minute flight was full. We booked the 75-minute flight. 60 minutes would have been plenty. We paid $270 each for the 75-minute flight. As you will see below, the prices have increased.

a hot air balloon ready to take off at dawn
Our balloon – ready for boarding

Cappadocia Basics

What is Cappadocia?

Cappadocia is a region in Central Turkey full of valleys, caves, and unique towers and cones called fairy chimneys. Its towns include Goreme, Avanos, Urgup, Kayseri, Uchisar, and Derinkuyu.

a collage of Cappadocia landscapes
Cappadocia landscapes

Where should I stay in Cappadocia?

Goreme is the most popular place to stay, but many other options exist. This article by Goats on the Road can help you decide.

We chose Goreme because it is centrally located, and there were plenty of reasonably priced hotels there.

a man and woman standing on a balcony with a view of Goreme
Steve and I in Goreme

How do I get to Cappadocia?

Getting to Cappadocia takes a little while because it is not close to other popular tourist cities.

Here is a chart that shows the shortest number of hours it takes to travel from four popular cities in Turkey to Goreme. The data is from Rome2Rio.com.

Traveling byFrom IstanbulFrom AnkaraFrom AntalyaFrom Bodrum
Car8.547.512
Bus13.54.58.515
Train147NANA
Plane2.53.51.255.25

If you fly, you will fly to either Kayseri or Nevsehir. If you aren’t renting a car, you can get a shuttle to your hotel. It takes one hour to drive from Kayseri to Goreme. The drive from Nevsehir to Goreme takes twenty minutes.

We flew into Kayseri and booked a transfer with Goreme Transfer. Our driver was reckless enough that one passenger filmed the drive. I would have liked to get off, but we were driving through a rural area, so we held on and hoped for the best. We used Cappadocia Express for our trip back to the airport, and that driver was much better.

Both of these transfers cost $10 per person. A private transfer for $80 was also an option.

How do I get around Cappadocia?

The village of Goreme is small and walkable, but you will need more than your feet to see many of the Cappadocian highlights. Renting a car is an option. You can find taxis readily enough, and there are also local buses, but finding information about them is difficult.

The Balloons

Why are there so many hot air balloons in Cappadocia?

The climate in Cappadocia is dry, with hot summers and cold winters. Combined with the unique landscape, it is an ideal place for a balloon ride. The best times of year to visit are from April to June and September to October, but the balloons fly all year.

Are hot air balloons safe?

You can die in a hot air balloon accident. But you probably won’t. According to this article by BBC Travel, “Being killed by a shark, a lightning strike or even falling into the Grand Canyon (which, shockingly, leads to about 12 deaths per year) are all more likely.”

In Turkey, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the same agency that regulates airlines, regulates the balloon industry. This agency decides if it is safe to fly on a given day. Flights may be canceled as late as the morning of the flight if the weather is not conducive to safe flying.

Pilots must undergo training as described here.

An accident can happen when two balloons collide vertically, causing the lower balloon to deflate and descend to the ground too quickly. However, it is during the landing that an accident is most likely to occur.

For this reason, before your flight takes off, you will be instructed on the position to take at landing. You will crouch into a seated position with your back facing the direction of travel while holding on to ropes for balance.

How high do the balloons fly?

The balloons typically fly between 1,000 and 3,000 feet above ground level. The maximum allowed is 6,000 feet.

When do the balloons fly?

It’s romantic to ascend in a balloon as the sun breaches the horizon. But balloons in Cappadocia don’t fly at sunrise to be romantic. They do this because the winds are calmer at that time than later in the day when the sun has had a chance to warm the earth.

Which balloon company should I pick?

According to Tom Brosnahan, the travel expert behind Turkey Travel Planner, there are twenty-five balloon companies in Cappadocia. Four of the best companies according to Mr. Brosnahan are Atlas Balloons, Butterfly Balloons, Royal Balloon, and Voyager Balloons.

Here is information from Mr. Brosnahan about these companies and what to look for when chosing one.

What are the flight options?

The basket size, the maximum number of passengers, and the flight length vary. We were in a 20-person basket, but the number of passengers was capped at 16. There were five compartments on the basket. One was for the pilot and copilot. The other four had four passengers each. There was enough space to see well.

What does the experience include?

The four companies above offer similar experiences.

Your day starts long before the sun is up when you are picked up at your hotel. If you are staying far from Goreme, you should verify that your chosen company will pick you up.

You are taken to the company’s headquarters for breakfast. After that, you are driven to the launch site, where you can watch the balloons being inflated.

a group of hot air balloons at dawn
Getting the balloons ready

After the flight, there is a small ceremony that can include champagne or a non-alcoholic drink, medals or certificates, and photos. You are then driven back to your hotel.

The entire experience takes about three and a half hours.

What happens if my flight is canceled?

There is always the possibility your flight will be canceled due to rain, high winds, or stormy conditions. It may also be canceled if the weather is predicted to deteriorate.

Your company will try to reschedule you. If they can’t, they will refund your money.

How do I book a flight?

It is easy to book online. You can also book through a travel agent. Be wary of booking through a random person on the street. There are scams out there. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

How much does a flight cost?

As of this writing, you should expect to pay around $300 per person for your flight. Three of the above companies, Atlas, Butterfly, and Voyager, have easy-to-use price charts on their websites.

Royal does not have a price list on their site. You must fill out a form to find out if a flight is available for your date and what it will cost.

Here are the prices and flight options for Atlas, Butterfly, and Voyager as of July 1, 2024:

AtlasButterflyVoyager StandardVoyager Ultra Comfort
Length of flight60 minutes60 minutes60 minutes75 minutes
Number of people28162016
Cost$261$326$283$337

Are children allowed to ride?

Children must be at least six years old and at least 4’6” tall so they can see over the side of the basket. Children younger than six may also have difficulty assuming the landing position.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely. This was an experience Steve and I will never forget.

a group of people sitting on a vehicle
Back on terra firma with one of our pilots

Helpful Hints

1. Book your flight as soon as you know when you will be in Cappadocia. We wanted to fly with Royal Balloons, but they were booked. Voyager was our next choice, but we were too late to get the 60-minute flight, so we had to spend more.

2. Book the flight early in your trip so you have another chance if your flight is canceled. According to the travel company Cappadocia Balloon Tours, balloons fly 280 – 300 days a year.

A honeymooning couple at our hotel booked their flight for the last day of their stay, and it was canceled. Don’t be that couple.

3. Make sure that the van that picks you up is from your balloon company. One scam involves picking up balloon riders and taking them to another company, which gives the driver a finder’s fee.

4. Check the company’s cancelation policy before you book. Butterfly and Voyager have their policies on their websites. I did not see any for Atlas or Royal.

5. To learn more about this adventure, check out Royal Balloon’s FAQs.

More About Turkey

Prepare for your trip to Cappadocia with “18 Things To Know Before Visiting Cappadocia.

Expand your horizons along the Turkish Coast in “6 Cities, 6 Vibes On the Turkish Riviera.”

Find out what to expect in Istanbul in “Visiting Istanbul: The Good, The Bad, And The Startling.”

And if you’re crazy about cats, check out “Turkey Is For Cat Lovers.”

Until Next Time

I hope this post has inspired you to visit Turkey and indulge in the wonderful experience of hot air ballooning in Cappadocia.

Happy traveling,
Linda

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