From when to visit and how to book, to what to expect and wear on the day, these these tips will help you plan your Cappadocia hot air balloon experience.
If you’ve decided to go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, then well done! It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve done on my travels, and I still have such incredible memories of my trip! I’m constantly recommending it, and I know a lot of you have found my blog from searching for info on the region.
It’s rare a day goes by without some dreamy photos popping up on Instagram of the skies above Cappadocia filled with hot air balloons. But while it’s an amazing experience, it’s one that takes careful planning. You need to consider timings, companies, prices and safety. In this post, I’ll share when I think is the best time to visit, how to research the various companies and what the experiences include, plus a few important pointers on managing your own expectations.
A lot of you may have found this post after reading my blog about the experience hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, and after receiving so many questions, I thought it’d be good to pop together a guide on what to expect, how to plan and make the most of your experience.
21 Tips For Your Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Experience
Prepare for an early start
The majority of hot air balloons in Cappadocia take off just before sunrise. The tour companies collect you in buses from local accommodation and cave hotels between 4-5am, and take you to their office where you sign waivers before being taken to the launch site. Don’t worry – I promise the painful alarm call is worth it!
Plan to stay a few days in the region
Recently someone messaged me saying they were going to fly from Istanbul to Cappadocia for the day. As well as thinking they would be missing out on SO much, they hadn’t realised that balloon flights only happen early in the morning! They were travelling all that way, only to miss out on the main event.
I’d recommend staying four days which allows enough time to explore all the amazing things to do in Cappadocia, plus the hot air balloon experience.
If you want to find out the best way to travel from Istanbul to Cappadocia, check out my post on travel options here.
Book your hot air balloon experience for your FIRST morning
You might think it’s a good idea to save the big moment until the end of your trip as a big old finale, but no. Don’t! Here’s why…
Balloon flights can be cancelled
Understandably hot air balloons don’t fly in bad weather. Every morning the pilots in Cappadocia have to wait for the go ahead from the Turkish Civil Aviation, before they can take their groups to the launch sites. From what I’ve heard, the balloons fly around 250 days of the year, and the majority of cancellations occur in the winter months.
While these decisions can be hugely disappointing, remember they’re made for your own safety.
Book your hot air balloon flight in advance if you can
If you’re visiting Cappadocia in high season, be sure to book your balloon flight well in advance. While you might be able to book a few days before, I don’t think it’s worth risking missing out! Remember – it’s the most popular thing to do in Cappadocia, and one of the main reasons people visit the region.
It’s expensive but worth it
I’ve just looked at latest prices (2019/2020) and they vary from 180 EUR to 250 EUR depending on the company, flight duration and level of luxury you go for. Some companies offer extras like champagne ceremonies and certificates after landing, or more spacious baskets to make the flight more comfortable.
Trust me though, this is the best 200 EUR you’ll spend on a travel experience. Other than the helicopter flight I did over my home city of London, and perhaps paragliding in Rio de Janeiro, it’s one of the most memorable activities from my years of travel.
Hot air balloons go high
Well duh, this is probably not an experience for anyone suffering with vertigo. While the heights you reach in your hot air balloon will depend on weather conditions and your pilot’s experience, there will be moments when you can’t believe how far away the ground looks!
When I went last time we were told we’d go up to around 800m, but I’ve seen a variety of heights mentioned by the balloon companies on their websites! It’s worth noting that the maximum altitude permitted by Turkish Civil Aviation is 6,000 feet (1828m) but it’s unlikely you’ll go anywhere near that high!
You’ll get to know your basket mates well
The baskets are a lot bigger than you probably think they are. I thought I was going to be squished in with a lot of people and barely be able to see. That wasn’t the case at all. On the biggest (cheaper) flights you can expect up to 28 people per basket. The smaller ones tend to carry around 16. Check before you book which you’ll be in.
I’ve heard that the bigger balloons/baskets tend to be steadier, but I didn’t find the one I was in unstable at all, so I don’t know how much of a consideration that is.
READ MORE: Best Cave Hotels In Cappadocia
Flights are a minimum of one hour
Most flights give you a one-hour experience, but some go up to 75 or 90 minutes. Personally, I think an hour is enough to take in the beauty and magic of it all, and to take lots of great photos. However, it might depend a little on your take off point as to how much of the landscape you see in that time.
What if my hot air balloon in Cappadocia is cancelled?
As mentioned, balloon flights can be booked for every single day of the year, but they only go ahead around 250 days a year. Check your balloon company’s cancellation policy before booking. Most offer a full refund and will check availability for the next few days, so hopefully you can rebook easily.
Can children go on hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia?
In general, the rules are that kids need to be 6 or over, able to understand the pre-flight briefing, and tall enough to see over the basket. If they’re only just able to see, I’m not sure it’d be a particularly enjoyable experience for them, so it might be better to wait until they’re a bit taller! Again, check the latest rules and your company’s Ts and Cs before you book.
Can pregnant women go on hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia?
Sadly not, but it’s all about safety. Occasionally there are bumpy landings and it’s just not worth the risk or anxiety.
How do I choose who to book with?
The Cappadocia hot air balloon market is a crowded one, with lots of companies offering different packages and balloon prices. Some have better safety records than others, and ultimately reviews are a good place to start. For me, I was keen to have a guide who spoke good English, lots of experience and was fun, as with this tour!
Bring a GoPro
A GoPro on a stick mount will be your best friend on your hot air balloon flight. Capture incredible views, hypersmooth videos and selfies from outside the basket. You won’t regret it!
Do hot air balloons sway or jolt?
I’d describe the feeling of being in a hot air balloon as one of floating or flying. It’s relaxing and effortless. While the burner makes a loud noise, when it’s not going it’s a really peaceful experience. Just imagine you’re a bird gliding over the landscapes!
Cappadocia balloon flights are different every day
With so many conditions to keep track of, flight routes differ each day. Everything from the launch and landing sites, the height of the balloons, speed they travel at and the landmarks they pass.
No matter where you go, the views are magical, especially when you see the skies around you filled with colourful balloons! It’s worth noting that only very experienced pilots will take you low over the fairy chimneys or close to other balloons.
How many hot air balloons fly in Cappadocia each day?
It depends a little on when you visit, as more demand = more balloons, but most days around 100 balloons take to the skies in Cappadocia. In peak season up to 150. There are regulations in place which allow up to 100 balloons to take off before sunrise and then another 50 shortly after.
When is the best time to go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia?
I’d recommend visiting between March and June, or in the autumn from September to November. Peak summer = big crowds, higher prices, and a more hectic trip!
However, for something totally different, visit in winter when the ground is covered in snow. The landscapes look totally different (and absolutely magical!) Just be prepared for a slightly higher risk of cancellations.
Is hot air ballooning in Cappadocia dangerous?
No, but every activity has its risks and from time to time there will be accidents. Most issues in Cappadocia are due to atmospheric changes (wind etc) or the pilot being inexperienced. From the research I could find online, out of almost 1.5 million passengers, fewer than 10 people have died and under 50 injured. It’s safer than getting on a plane or in a car if that helps?!
What to wear for a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia
Regardless of the time of year you visit, it’s chilly first thing in the morning, plus while the burner is warm, it may feel a little cooler in the higher altitudes.
I wore loose trousers, a t-shirt, jumper and jacket, with trainers. I wanted to be comfortable, warm and able to enjoy the experience to the max! I didn’t wear a hat, but a lot of people did. If you’re tall you might appreciate it as you feel the heat from the burner. Also don’t forget sunglasses for once the sun comes up. Also, remember that the baskets are quite tall, so you’re reasonably well protected once you’re inside.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful for planning your hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia. Any questions, feel free to ask below!
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