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Flying High: Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia

It’s worth waking up at 4:00 a.m. to go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia.

The surreal moonlike landscape of this region in Turkey is rivaled only by Africa as the best place in the world to float in a balloon.

More than half a million people a year safely enjoy a balloon ride in Cappadocia.

Up to 100 balloons take off each day.

Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia

If you’re wondering if you should book a Cappadocia hot air balloon ride, dither no more – just do it!

It will turn out to be a real highlight of your trip to Turkey.

Ballooning is one of the top things to do in Cappadocia, and the experience is unforgettable.

Guide to hot air ballooning in Cappadocia

Our experience

Cappadocia hot air balloon tours

Tour details – How many people in the basket? How long are the flights?

Cappadocia hot air balloon cost

What does the cost include?

Best time to go ballooning?

Cancellation – What happens if your balloon ride is canceled?

Are the Cappadocia balloons safe?

Bonus: Tips for an amazing balloon ride!

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia – our experience

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia
It’s pretty amazing to be up in the air with scores of other balloons all soaring over Cappadocia

The sun is just starting to burst over the horizon when we arrive at our take-off spot.

Our pilot and ground staff start to inflate the balloon (which is lying on the ground), using a giant fan and blowtorch.

This is done so pressurized hot air can be safely fired into the balloon’s large open mouth.

And it’s quite the noisy and fiery spectacle!

Crew shoot hot air into our balloon

Once the balloon is upright, we quickly clamber into the chest-high basket using foot holes in the sides, which serve as ladder-like rungs.

The pilot pulls on levers about a foot above our heads, shooting flames and hot air into the balloon.

And we gently rise up, up, up into the sky.

It's a beautiful clear day for our Cappadocia hot air balloon ride!
It’s a beautiful clear day for our Cappadocia hot air balloon ride!

We’re worried at first our hair will get singed.

When the pilot yanks on the handles and hot air whooshes loudly into the balloon, bits of flaky white soot shower down every so often on us.

But we soon relax and focus on the incredible scenery below us.

The pilot can make the balloon rise faster by blasting a larger flame to heat the air more quickly

Our pilot had hoped the winds would take us over Uchisar Castle, a towering rock citadel with hollowed out caves, and the highest point in the area.

But you can’t steer a balloon – only lift and lower it (and seek out the height where the wind direction is favorable).

Today, the gentle breeze doesn’t cooperate.

Still, we glide over fertile green fields, vineyards and the clay-roofed town of Avanos, famous for its pottery, on the snaking Red River.

Flying over the red-roofed village of Avanos
Flying over the red-roofed village of Avanos

Over the Rose Valley, we descend between the cliff sides of the gorge.

Cappadocia's Rose Valley gets its name from the rose-colored rock
Cappadocia’s Rose Valley gets its name from the rose-colored rock

We ogle cave houses cut into the rock sides by early Christians who fled to Cappadocia to escape persecution.

Ancient rock cave houses we fly over on our Cappadocia balloon ride
Ancient rock cave houses we fly over on our Cappadocia balloon ride

We even spot a fox scampering along a plateau, before rising again.

Floating over the earth, we also drift by “fairy chimneys” and other weird and wonderfully shaped rock formations, before gently landing.

Fairy chimneys in Cappadocia
In early times, people carved out houses in these tall rock “fairy chimneys”

And then?

The traditional celebration that follows every successful balloon flight – popping open a bottle of champagne and toasting our safe landing and good fortune with a glass of bubbly.

Champagne toast after hot air ballooning in Cappadocia
Glasses of bubbly for the traditional champagne toast after our ride

Different Cappadocia hot air balloon tours

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia
We’re floating in the sky in our Cappadocia hot air balloon!

There are many balloon tours in Cappadocia (and tour operators) to choose from.

We went with Royal Balloon, one of the most reputable and best Cappadocia hot air balloon tour operators. (See TripAdvisor reviews.) You can book this exciting tour here.

Other highly-rated balloon tours in Cappadocia are offered by Butterfly Balloons, Kapadokya Balloons and Urgup Balloons.

The balloon rides differ in terms of how many passengers they take, how long the flight is and the cost.

“Standard” or regular balloon rides are shorter and take more people, but are more affordable.

“Deluxe” flights are longer with fewer passengers, but of course, cost more.

You can also book a private tour.

Many different Cappadocia ballon tours are offered
You choose – many different Cappadocia ballon tours are offered

How many people and flight times?

The balloon baskets can carry a fair number of people. Many balloon rides are in larger baskets which can accommodate 16+ guests.

The following are some popular Cappadocia balloon tours, with flight times and number of passengers.

Royal Balloon

Royal Balloon offers some of the best hot air balloon tours in Cappadocia
Royal Balloon offers some of the best hot air balloon tours in Cappadocia

Royal Balloon (the company we went with) offers a few choices of balloon rides.

You can choose to do a 60-minute flight with 4 to a maximum of 16 passengers (or 20 passengers, depending on the flight you book) or a 75-minute flight (Royal King Flight) with a maximum of 8 passengers.

On our Royal Balloon flight, we were fortunate to share with just one other couple – and our balloon pilot, of course – in a small basket (which our gruff Aussie pilot said was actually a training balloon basket).

Royal Balloon: Website

Cappadocia Discovery Balloons

You’re picked up from your hotel one hour before sunrise and driven to the take-off site. Fill up on complimentary snacks, get your safety briefing – and then your balloon flight takes off!

After, you toast the day with the traditional glass of bubbly.

Like Royal Balloon, their sunrise hot air balloon tour also gets great reviews.

Discovery Balloons: Website

Butterfly Balloons

With Butterfly Balloons, you can choose from two types of flights.

Their one-hour flights carry 16 to 20 passengers in baskets divided into 5 compartments. Their 90-minute flights carry 6 to 12 people.

Butterfly Balloons: Website

Kapadokya Balloons

Kapadokya Balloons’ “standard” flights also use larger baskets carrying 16 to 20 people, with a flight time of 45 to 65 minutes.

Smaller baskets are used for their “deluxe” flights, which carry 10 to 14 passengers (flight time of 1.5 hours).

Kapadokya Balloons: Website

Urgup Balloons

Urgup Balloons offers three choices:

  • “Classic” flights have large baskets accommodating 20 to 28 passengers (one-hour flights).
  • “Comfort” flights are also one-hour long but carry fewer people (up to 16).
  • “Deluxe” flights, which are 90 minutes long, take 12 to 16 passengers.

Urgup Balloons: Website

Cappadocia hot air balloon cost

Costs vary, but in general, you should expect to pay between $150 and $250 USD p.p.

Ask about a discount for cash payment.

What do the balloon rides include?

The cost of your Cappadocia hot air balloon ride typically includes:

  • Pick-up and drop-off at your hotel
  • Light continental breakfast at the balloon company’s building (e.g., a simple buffet with pastries, juice, coffee and tea)
  • Watching the crew prepare and inflate the balloon
  • The balloon ride (of course!)
  • Glass of champagne or bubbly (and perhaps cake too) when you land
  • Certificate of completion and medal as mementos of your flight

Best time to go ballooning

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia takes place both in winter and summer. But there’s a greater chance of cancellation due to bad weather from October through March.

The best time to visit Cappadocia is in the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October).

This is also a good time for hot air ballooning.

Summer is also great for ballooning, but the weather in Cappadocia is hot for other activities.

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia
Imagine hot air ballooning past scenery like this!

Cancellation due to bad weather

What happens if your balloon tour is canceled because of bad weather?

Companies offer you the choice of rescheduling your balloon ride for the next morning (assuming there’s space) at no extra cost or refunding your money in full.

Are the Cappadocia balloons safe?

Turkey hot air balloons are a popular tourist activity and regulated heavily. Everyone wants to make sure the Cappadocia balloon rides are safe!

Whether balloon tours can proceed on any particular day or not is dependent on the weather.

And it’s the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority that governs all hot air balloon companies in Cappadocia and decides whether or not the balloons can fly that day.

The pilots must all have both a private pilot’s license and a commercial pilot’s license.

The pilots with Royal Balloon, for example, have accumulated more than 15,000 flight hours and flown more than 200,000 passengers.

The company uses British-made balloons.

The risk of an accident occurring is very small.

That said, as with everything in life, accidents happen, and a handful of balloon accidents have occurred in Cappadocia over the years. Here’s a good article on balloon safety in Cappadocia.

Tips for your balloon ride

  • Dress in layers: It’s cool in the early morning and also cooler up in the air than on the ground. (You may need a hat and gloves, depending on the time of year.)
  • Wear comfy shoes: You’re going to be standing on your feet for a while!
  • Bring sunglasses: The sun is bright in Turkey!
  • Don’t forget your camera: You might want to bring a GoPro camera (with a selfie stick) so you can take amazing photos of yourself and the scenery while soaring in your balloon!

Experience more of Turkey!

A sweet cave hotel: We stayed at Esbelli Evi, a boutique cave hotel in Cappadocia with kitchens in the rooms and suites.

Hammams: Check out the top hammams in Istanbul for luxury lovers!

Ephesus: Don’t miss a visit to Ephesus, a beautifully preserved ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bodrum: Do yourself a favor and stay in Bodrum at Casa Dell’Arte, a lovely, art-filled boutique hotel on the water.

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!

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Cappadocia hot air balloons

Photo credits: © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase (except 1, 14 and 16)

Royal Balloon kindly invited us to experience hot air ballooning in Cappadocia. But all views and words are our own.

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!


Wednesday 5th of February 2014

Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia has been held for the last 20 years and is becoming more and more famous every single day. I recommend it!

Janice and George

Wednesday 5th of February 2014

We certainly enjoyed it!