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Tips For Choosing The Right Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tour

Soar above the captivating landscapes of Cappadocia with our comprehensive on how to choose the best Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tour experience. Uncover the magic of this UNESCO World Heritage site from breathtaking heights as you drift over fairy-tale-like rock formations and ancient valleys.

Tips For Choosing A Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tour

Glowing balloons floating effortlessly against a dramatic sky set amidst the towering flowerpots of central Turkiye might be the defining image of this incredible country.

It’s a scene set both in the sky, from adventurers gazing out over the stunning landscapes of Cappadocia, as well as from the ground, where magical portraits of travelers posing on the rooftops of their cave hotels before a sky filled with floating artwork.

As someone who has enjoyed the Cappadocia hot air balloon experience from both the air and the ground, I can tell you that it’s just as magical in person as it is in photos. But choosing a hot air balloon tour in this magical region of Turkiye can be a challenge.

My family did their first hot air balloon tour in Luxor, Egypt, in 2020 (right before the world shut down) and fell in love with this peaceful sightseeing experience. When we planned our travels in Turkiye in 2023, we knew that a hot air balloon tour would be on our list of things to do.

Hot air balloons glide effortlessly over the landscape of Cappadocia

Hot air balloon rides are unimaginably beautiful and relaxing and offer a perspective that really can’t be experienced any other way. The calm breeze of the morning air, with a bird’s eye view without the windows.

Ever since the first hot air balloon tour in Cappadocia was launched back in 1991, the industry has dealt with controversy. From shady business practices to lax safety standards, any activity that involves putting control in the hands of a stranger can be cause for concern.

Today, hundreds of balloons launch from fields and hilltops throughout Cappadocia each morning. There are far better safety standards in place now than ever, and Cappadocia is one of the safest places in the world to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This guide is designed to help you choose the right Cappadocia hot air balloon experience for you.

Our Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Experience

Wandering Wagars family prepares to launch in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkiye

During our four days in Cappadocia, my family stayed both in Goreme, at Divan Cave House Hotel, and in Urgup at Kayapaki Premium Caves, two of the best cave hotels in the region.

Divan Cave House Hotel was amazing for watching the Cappadocia hot air balloons from the ground. They had an incredible rooftop patio overlooking the beautiful town and its famous fairy chimneys. Both mornings, Christina and I were up before sunrise to watch the balloons fill the sky.

Kayapaki Premium Caves in Urgup is farther from the action. While the hotel is beautiful, it doesn’t get surrounded by balloons like Divan Cave. But Kayapaki also owns Royal Balloons, one of the best hot air balloon companies in Turkiye.

We woke up at 4:00 in the morning and were picked up at the hotel office by the tour company. They took us to a mustering area where all of the tour vans arrived in order to gather the guests together for their rides.

We were treated to a nice breakfast of pastries, coffee, and hot chocolate, signed some waivers, and then were organized into our individual balloon groups.

From there, we were shuttled off to the launch site, where dozens of hot air balloons were being prepped and readied by the crew. It was pretty spectacular watching the fire heat the balloons against the darkness of the late morning sky.

The balloons were filled surprisingly quickly, and once they were ready, the crew organized the passengers and helped us to get loaded safely into the baskets. There were six of us in our basket, including Dylan, my 10-year-old, Cohen, my 12-year-old, Christina and I, and a father and daughter duo who were on their first hot air balloon ride.

Dylan was thrilled. When we were doing a hot air balloon tour in Luxor, Egypt, he was too small to see over the basket and had to peer out of peep holes. This time, he was big enough to look over the top and roam around.

Once we were all on board, the pilot gave us a safety demonstration in the event of rough air or a hard landing, and the gas tanks came to life, and we began lifting calmly up into the air.

At first, we drifted high up, giving us a look at the other balloons lifting off of the stark landscapes of Cappadocia. But as we approached Love Valley, we began to descend, and at points, we were mere inches away from some of these stunning fairy chimneys and cave hotels.

It was breathtaking.

A family looks out from a hot air balloon in Goreme, Turkiye

One of our favorite experiences was waving and smiling to all of the people watching the hot air balloons from the ground. After having been on that side of the experience before, we knew just how beautiful it looked.

As we passed over the city, we began to rise again, going over fields and valleys until our pilot found a safe landing area. We could see the chase car following us along back roads, desperately trying to keep up with us.

We began to slowly descend, and the crew on the ground were soon wrangling ropes dropped to them by the onboard crew, who helped us to make a perfect landing right onto the trailer of the chase vehicle.

The whole flight lasted about 90 minutes.

Once we were on the ground, the crew helped us exit the basket, and we were treated to a champagne toast (juice for the kids). We each received a medal and a certificate of completion from the pilot. The boys even got the chance to help fold up the hot air balloon.

Once everything was done, we were driven back to our hotel, where we had a quick nap before heading out to do some more exploring of the region.

Tips For Choosing Your Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tour

Weather Is Everything

Fire casts a silhouette of a hot air balloon crew in Cappadocia

When you’re dealing with any kind of activity where you’re at the whim of nature, the quality of the weather decides whether it’s a go or no-go for hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia. Rain, wind, fog, and temperature can all play a role in whether the balloons launch or whether they stay on the ground.

It’s not rare for the best Cappadocia hot air balloon companies to wait until the last minute before they decide to pull the plug on a day. That’s because the weather can change very quickly. The companies don’t want to cancel if they don’t have to. Doing so means that they lose money, and their customers leave disappointed.

During our four days in Cappadocia, the balloons ran for three days. They were canceled on the second day of our time in Cappadocia due to high winds.

It’s typically a universal cancellation if the weather in Cappadocia becomes too much for the balloons. If you see other companies cancel and your company doesn’t, I recommend asking for your money back and leaving.

Why Do Hot Air Balloon Rides Leave So Early?

Whether you’re taking a hot air balloon tour in Cappadocia, Luxor, Egypt, or over the hot springs of Pammukale, the flights leave very early. This often means a 3:30-4:00 AM wake-up call, followed by a ride to a breakfast spot and a final cruise out to the launch point.

The reason that hot air balloon tours leave so early is that cooler morning air makes it easier and faster for the hot air balloons to rise. Hot air balloons rise because the hot air inside the balloons is less dense than the cooler air outside, so the greater the difference, the faster the balloons can get into the air.

The added benefit of less traffic and the serene beauty of the morning sunrise just makes these early morning launches too good to pass up.

Most hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia launch just before sunrise so that guests are in the air and near the most beautiful scenery when the morning sun performs its magic.

What To Do If Your Hot Air Balloon Ride Gets Canceled?

Cappadocia hot air balloon tours are completely dependent on the weather. During my family’s stay in both Goreme and Urgup, there was one day when the tours were canceled due to high winds.

I highly recommend spending at least a few days in the Cappadocia region in order to ensure that, should your balloon tour be canceled, you’ll have options to reschedule.

Giving yourself a few days in the region also opens up all of the other incredible things to do in Cappadocia and gives you a chance to experience the Cappadocia balloons both from the air and from the ground.

I also recommend booking your hot air balloon tour for your first morning in the region. This gives you the most flexibility should there be a cancelation.

Cappadocia balloon tours typically operate around 250 days out of the year. This means that there are about 165 where they get canceled. Most tours will offer you a free re-booking or money back if a flight gets canceled. But it’s always a good idea to check ahead of time what their policy is.

Book Your Hot Air Balloon Flight In Advance

Hot air balloon pilot launches in Cappadocia

Cappadocia is one of the most popular places to visit in Turkiye. During high season, tours can book up incredibly fast. In the shoulder season, you may be able to save a few dollars by booking at the last minute, but a few dollars is not worth missing out on the experience of a lifetime.

Hot air balloon tours are the most popular experience in Cappadocia, and some people travel all this way JUST to do one. Some won’t even take the time to experience the incredible Cappadocia cave hotels, the outdoor museum, or the magical valleys.

How Much Are Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tours?

Balloon rides are the most popular of all of the Cappadocia attractions. There are hundreds of hot air balloons that fill the skies each morning, and every year, more operators are offering this experience. They, quite literally, cannot keep up with demand.

Tour prices are not cheap. They typically start around $200 to $300 USD per person and can go all the way up to $5,000 for a private hot air balloon tour. But it’s worth it.

Some tours offer a discount for children. Others don’t. My family of four, with three adults (my oldest son was 12, so he paid an adult fare), went with Royal Balloons, the same company that owns the gorgeous Kayapaki Premium Caves in Urgup. We paid 1,425 USD.

This tour included:

  • Hotel pick-up
  • Breakfast buffet
  • Transfer to launch site
  • One of the first balloons to launch, so more time in the air
  • Champagne celebration
  • A certificate and medal of participation

The champagne celebration, certificates, and medals weren’t something that we were interested in, but Royal is considered to be one of the best hot air balloon companies in Cappadocia. The pilot was exceptional and brought us safely within inches of some of the fairy chimneys.

How High Do The Hot Air Balloons Go?

If you’re afraid of heights, hot air balloons are probably not the best option for you. The views from the ground are exceptional. Enjoy them!

But, if you don’t mind dizzying heights, you won’t likely find a cooler experience.

The height that the hot air balloons reach in Cappadocia depends upon factors such as weather conditions, pilot experience, and the weight of the passengers and crew. But it’s not rare for the balloons to reach heights over 2,500 feet.

For photographers, some of the best photos are from above, when you can see the other balloons dotted across the landscape around you and when you’re low to the ground with a birds-eye view of the surroundings.

How Many People Are In A Hot Air Balloon?

Most of the hot air balloons in Cappadocia use a five-basket layout. There are typically four to six passengers per basket.

The layout is two baskets on one side, a pilot’s basket in the middle, and two baskets on the other side.

This means that there can be between 20-24 passengers plus a pilot and usually two or three additional crew. But some hot air balloons are smaller, and there are some that are even larger. But this is the typical size that you can expect in Cappadocia.

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Flights Are A Minimum Of One Hour Long

Royal Hot Air Balloons over Goreme, Turkiye

Most hot air balloon flights take off just before sunrise and stay in the air for between 60-90 minutes. There’s no exact route because the balloons are dependent on the winds to get them to a general landing area.

There is no “set” landing spot for each balloon. Instead, each of the hot air balloons has a “chaser” that follows the balloon’s path and stays in radio contact with the pilot. You could end up landing near a road, in a valley, or in a farmer’s field. It all depends on the winds.

Can Children Go On Hot Air Balloon Flights In Cappadocia?

Most hot air balloon tour companies in Cappadocia have a minimum age requirement. For most companies, the minimum age for participation is six years old. This is to ensure that all participants can follow the instructions given to them by the pilot should anything unexpected occur.

If you are doing a hot air balloon tour with smaller children, check with the operator to ensure that there are peepholes in the basket that they will be able to see out of. You will not be able to carry your child while you are in the air, so these holes in the basket will allow them to see the scenery without having to be lifted up.

Can You Ride A Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon If You’re Pregnant?

Most Cappadocia balloon tour companies will not allow pregnant people to ride. Because the experiences are linked to uncontrollable elements such as the weather, occasionally landings can be bumpy, and they don’t want to risk the safety of the pregnant person.

When Is The Best Time To Go Hot Air Ballooning In Cappadocia?

Hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia typically only run from March to November. During the slow winter season, most companies shut down for the season. But there are a few who run year-round. So if you want to experience the dreamy view of fairy chimneys dusted with snow, winter is an amazing time to visit.

Between March and June and September to November, the crowds are lower, and hot air balloon prices are typically less expensive. Through July and August, crowds are at their height, and prices are at peak levels.

What Are The Best Hot Air Balloon Companies In Cappadocia

The safety record in Cappadocia is very good. There have been incidents. But when you consider the sheer volume of balloons that launch nearly every day, accidents are extremely rare. That being said, some companies have a reputation for safety and performance and have secured some of the best take-off locations in Goreme Valley and Love Valley.

Questions To Ask Before Booking Your Hot Air Balloon Tour

A boy smiles up at a camera from a hot air balloon in Urgup, Cappadocia

Any activity where your safety is in the hands of someone else can be cause for a bit of scare. But let me assure you that most of the companies in Cappadocia are very safe. However, if you’re not booking with one of the companies that I mentioned above, there are a few things that every traveler should ask before they take a hot air balloon flight:

  • How experienced are the company’s pilots?
  • Can you be booked on a flight with the company’s most skilled pilot?
  • Will they go low in the valley, stay high in the air, or vary between low and high? (As I mentioned earlier, you’ll want to mix up those views for the best experience)
  • Where is the company’s launch point? (Love Valley and Goreme Valley are the best)
  • Does the company launch on its own or with other balloons? (the more balloons nearby, the better the photographs)
  • How big is the basket, and how many people are in each basket?
  • What is the breakfast like? Is it a proper meal or just snacks?
  • Are you speaking to the actual owner/operator of the company?

What Should You Pack For A Hot Air Balloon Tour?

If you want to make the most of this magical experience, you’re going to want to be prepared before you take off. You know it’s going to be an early morning, so pack up everything that you need the night before so that you’re ready to go in the morning.

Here is your hot air balloon packing list:

  • Camera and a good selfie stick that you trust. I like this selfie stick and tripod. I trust that it will hold my phone if I hang it outside of the basket.
  • A lightweight, packable down jacket will keep you warm as you rise up. Remember that the higher you go, the colder it usually is. Something lightweight and small means that you can toss it back in your bag if you get warm.
  • Wear longer pants or a long dress, as well as something underneath for layering during the summer season. During the winter, you’ll want to bundle up warmer, as it can get quite chilly.
  • Bring Sunglasses. When that morning sun hits you, it can be very bright.

Tips For Family Travel In Turkiye

Family travel in Turkiye, especially in places like Sanliurfa and the Southeast, requires some planning and a little bit of luck. Some areas of this country can be closed due to political unrest, so it’s always a good idea to check out current travel advisories and stay informed of the current travel status.

Check out our Turkiye Family Travel Blog for everything that you need to know about family travel in Turkiye and watch ouf Tips for Family Travel in Turkiye video below to help you plan an unforgettable visit to this mesmerizing and wonderful country.

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Final Thoughts On Hot Air Ballooning In Cappadocia

A woman gazes out a sky filled with hot air balloons in Goreme, Cappadocia

There may be no other place in the world where this many hot air balloons launch at the same time. Sure, there are a few hot air balloon festivals around the world where thousands of balloon aficionados get together, but these events happen maybe once or twice a year. In Cappadocia, it’s 250 times a year!

My family absolutely loved the experience. Balloons are peaceful and scenic and harken back to a simpler time when travel was at the mercy of the winds. And there’s something truly magical about that.

I hope that these tips for choosing your Cappadocia hot air balloon tour were helpful. If I missed anything, please feel free to drop a comment below, reach out via our contact page, or chat with us on our social media channels.

You can find valuable tips about visiting Turkiye on our Turkiye Family Travel Blog. Or feel free to join our Family Travel Support Group on Facebook. You can connect with more family travelers just like you who love to explore the world.

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