To the Moon and Back: A Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Cappadocia, Turkey

If there’s one thing you must do in Cappadocia, then a hot air balloon ride gets my vote. There’s nothing quite like floating through the air and watching the most magical, other-worldly scene you’ll ever see.

Photos definitely don’t do this place justice. But I hope this post paints a visual of how incredibly beautiful this experience is.

But first, The Cappadocia Region

Cappadocia is a region in Central Anatolia known for its underground cities, fairy chimneys and other unusual volcanic rock formations. Thanks to its ideal weather, the area is one of the top places for a hot air balloon ride recording over 260 favorable days per year. On any given sunrise, you’ll witness hundreds of balloons fly over the morning skies.

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

The Bucket List Experience

Still in dazed, the shuttle service picks us up from our hotel at 5 AM and transfers us to the headquarters for a full breakfast buffet. We arrived in Cappadocia at midnight, so we barely slept that time. To keep myself alert, I load up with a plate of bread, ham, hardboiled egg, some fruits and a cup of coffee.

Minutes later, we grouped for our next stop: the launching point. Our balloon is almost ready to go when we reached. So one by one, we hop into the sectioned basket to fill each of the four corners. The basket can hold up to 17 persons, but there are only 12 of us plus the pilot. Hence, each passenger compartment just had three people in it giving enough room for everyone. The extra space came in handy later on as it’s easier to move around while taking photos. When you have an opportunity, choose a smaller basket with fewer people. It’s worth the extra money.

The pilot gives a few reminders, prepares us for what will happen, and what to do during the landing. And then, off we go!

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

We float over colorful valleys, cave villages and fairy chimneys as the sun slowly warm the earth. Our pilot, Tolga, skillfully raises and lowers the balloon as we hover over different rock formations. He fills us in with bits of information about Cappadocia and explains hot air balloon flying techniques while gliding along air currents. Accompanied by his silly jokes, Tolga keeps us entertained with his little balloon party as he ignites the burners in different beats.

Those who are afraid of heights don’t need to fear as the flight is very still. I hardly even notice that we are already drifting high above the ground. The basket is quite tall, so it’s unlikely that you’ll fall. It doesn’t sway either.

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

The hot air balloon ride is one of the most serene experience I ever had, and I am entirely in awe all throughout our journey. An hour of tranquility up in the air is all I ever needed. And I just soaked in the quietness of the moment.

With the pilot’s constant communication with the crew, we descend back down and land right on the floor of a trailer. The landing was so light and smooth; I did not feel fear or panic at all. As it’s difficult to climb out of the basket, the crew assisted and carried each one of us out like princesses (yes, including the men) showing off their strength and utmost teamwork.

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey
Our funny pilot, Tolga Eke
hot air balloon cappadocia turkey
See how massive a balloon is!
hot air balloon cappadocia turkey
Post flight party!

To end an already perfect experience, a congratulatory glass of champagne (or orange juice in my case), chocolate-coated strawberries and biscuits are served. We also get to take home a baseball cap and a medal for bragging rights. ;)

Now, which balloon company to choose?

Cappadocia has around 25 balloon companies with up to 100 balloons taking off every morning. So selecting from which one to fly with can be a daunting task. I did research and read a lot of reviews until I shortlisted three companies. Prices and inclusions vary, but the defining factors for us are the balloon quality, pilot experience, and insurance policy.

In the end, I reached out to Royal Balloon to book our flight. They own the best equipment, have experienced and reputable pilots who have soared all over the world, and operate on a higher level of service than any other balloon companies in Cappadocia. They only own few but very high-quality balloons built by prestigious hot air balloon producers, Cameron Balloons and Lindstrand Balloons (both made in the UK). These are very high-class silver-coated balloons which offer top security for the material used.

The tour includes a pickup from our hotel, a breakfast spread in Royal Balloon headquarters, a glass of celebratory champagne upon landing, transfer back to our hotel, and bonus gifts — a baseball cap and a medal.

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

It’s worth mentioning that since Royal Balloon only own few balloons, the crew gets to mingle and chat with each of the passengers after the flight. While offering snacks, Tolga and the team walk around to get to know us and check on how we felt about our hot air balloon ride. This simple act makes the experience all the more personable since they go out of their way to see that their passengers had a good time.

hot air balloon cappadocia turkey

That morning was dreamlike.

It is an experience of a lifetime but probably not for once – because given a chance, I’d be happy to do it again in a beat.

Many thanks to Royal Balloon for the complimentary hot air balloon ride. As always, all opinions are my own. Furthermore, only hotels, tours, and experiences that I absolutely love and recommend are shared in this space. ❤

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  • Nadeen

    Beautiful pictures! This is definitely on my bucket list! I have done one hot air balloon ride in Napa Valley but to me this is the ultimate place to do it! Thanks for all the great tips!

    • Thank you, Nadeen! After Cappadocia, I think I want to do hot air ballooning everywhere!! :))
      Napa Valley is a great place, too. It’d be lovely to see the fields from above. <3

  • Anuradha Goyal

    My only hot air balloon experience was over a river that has some lovely islands on it. It was a surreal experience to fly low in an open basket. Loved. It is my dream to ride over Cappadocia and Bagan some day. Beautiful Images.

    • I guess no matter where, it’s always surreal to see the world from above. Ballooning over Bagan and Yarra Valley are on my bucket list, too. Hope we make it there someday.

      Thanks Anuradha. :)

  • This is so on my bucket list!! Your photos are gorgeous and it’s helpful to know which company you chose since there are so many. I would love to do this sometime, even though I am afraid of heights!

    • Thank you Hannah! Don’t be afraid, this one is definitely not the stomach-stirring-kind of activity. The air is very still and there’s nothing but quietness and peace up there. :)

  • Katie Dickinson

    This sounds so lovely! I love that the experience was more than the trip up and down…. the hotel transfer, treats, and mingling with the crew really adds to the experience and puts them a step above the other operators.

    • I couldn’t agree more! It maybe a minor thing but it’s also what made the experience stand out.

  • Wow looks like you enjoyed the ride. Would love to try that soon 🙂

    • I did! Sarap ulit-ulitin! Happy travels, Mav! Visit more countries while you’re in SG. Ang hirap kumuha ng visa sa Pinas. Hehe.

  • Stefanie Vandeweyer

    This looks amazing! Have seen a few pictures about this place. Nice to read about it :). It’s going on the bucket list!

    • Glad you liked it, Stefanie. Hope you get to try it someday! :D

  • Gaah this is literally on my bucket list to do. I went to Turkey last year but I decided not to go because in the winter and the weather was unpredictable. I think a better time to do this should be in the spring or summer. Your pictures brought my dream to life!

    • They say hot air ballooning over Cappadocia on winter is just as beautiful. But yeah, it can be really cold out there.

  • Jin Chu

    Oh this is lovely! I was in Cappadocia almost 2 years ago, but we didn’t get to ride the balloons! Looks amazing from up there!

    • It was an unforgettable experience. I think it’d be amazing to ride a hot air balloon from anywhere. :)

  • LYNE。

    Wow this looks amazing , definitely a great experience. Not ontly to ride the balloons but also the view is stunning! Great photographies !

    • Thank you! Can’t beat the views from up there! :)

  • A bucket-list experience for sure! I’m happy to see that balloon rides are still a famous attraction and the incidents from the past have not had a negative impact on this amazing experience ;)

    • I read about safety but tried not to get discouraged about those unfortunate incidents. According to statistics, it’s still very unlikely to happen and one can’t predict accidents, anyway. Thankfully, we had an amazing time. :)

  • Sophie

    Oh my goodness – what gorgeous pictures! Those views 😍 I didn’t even know this existed! How in the dark I’ve been. Definitely a bucket-list experience no doubt.

    • Hope you get to try it someday, Sophie! :)

  • Shibani Sharma

    Hot air balloon is on my bucket lists and after reading your personal experience I’m more sure of it!! I’m little afraid of heights, and your tips will be super helpful!! Pinning it right away for my soon travel to Turkey :)

  • Akvile Stan

    My best friend is from Istanbul and we talked about Cappadocia a lot, it’s been on my list for such a long while! I’ve always been worrying though that when I decide to go there, there will be no air balloons seen!

  • Alexis Rae

    Ive always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride – this certainly looks like the place to do it!