Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon: How to Choose the Right Company

Written By: The Planet D

A Cappadocia hot air balloon ride is probably the most famous place on earth soar above the landscape. It’s been a dream of ours since we first saw images of colourful balloons floating above the fairy chimneys and dotting the lunar landscape. A Cappadocia hot air balloon flight is something you won’t soon forget. But we learned that not all flights are created equal.

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Flight

It was while relaxing in Istanbul that Dave booked our first hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia via the Internet. We scoured the endless tour companies listed in our search and decided on the most expensive offering. We thought this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so we didn’t want to blow it.

cappadocia hot air balloon with royal balloons
We had the best views with Royal Balloons

It was low season so they gave a deal and for €140, we were automatically put in the comfort tour where they offered larger baskets with more room. We felt great about our choice and looked forward to our first flight over the fairytale chimneys.

cappadocia balloons

We were confident that we were going to have the best hot air balloon ride in all of Cappadocia.

They picked us up at our accommodation, the Kayakapi Cave Hotel, on time but when we were brought to breakfast we were a little disappointed to see a sparse display of pastries and cookies with a bit of tea and coffee.

Hot Air Balloon Tour Cappadocia

We’ve done many hot air balloon tours around the world, and they always feed you well so we were surprised to see such a small breakfast on our Cappadocia tour.

However, we’d always had breakfast after our balloon rides, so maybe this was just a snack. We weren’t too upset either way, because we were here for the flight, not the food.

Note: In Cappadocia, they feed you before your hot air balloon ride, unlike all other balloon rides we’ve taken on four other continents. So our little snack beforehand turned out to be our breakfast.

cappadocia balloons
Balloon at sunrise

We sat forever waiting for the vans to finally bring us to our launching pad. We heard through the grapevine that some celebrity wedding was taking place and we were waiting on them, but they never showed. (Damn rich people ruining it for the rest of us!)

When we finally got in the van to go to our launch pad, it was getting late in the morning. When we arrived at the launch site other balloons were already filled and many others were already in the air.

The Launch Area Makes All the Difference

balloons of cappadocia
So many balloons

The sun was already coming over the horizon and we weren’t sure if we were late because of the celebrity mix up, or if this is how they always operate.

Dave mentioned to me that we were going to miss the sunrise. I relayed our frustrations to our guide and said, “You advertise that you are the best and that is why your prices are much higher than others, so why are we taking off last?”

cappadocia balloon ride
Extraordinary landscape

According to their website, Voyager Balloons has the guides who are most experienced and who are skilled enough to fly low through the fairy chimneys. Because of their skill, they are supposed to be able to mix it up and go where other companies can’t.

Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia

The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia are fascinating; they reminded us of the hoodoos of Alberta

balloons cappadocia

We never did fly through the fairy chimneys, and I chalked it up to not understanding what they meant when they said “fly through fairy chimneys.” Maybe they just meant that we saw them. And we did see a lot.

We named Cappadocia one of the see where else we suggested.  most romantic getaways in the world.

Our Second Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Flight Was Better than the First

unique landscape of Cappadocia
Cappadocia’s Unique Landscape

On this flight we never managed to get those epic shots that everyone always sees of hundreds of Cappadocia Balloons soaring through the sky together.

We were always either higher above the balloons or right in the middle of them.

It was low season, so there were only about 100 balloons in the sky instead of the usual 150. But the flight itself was a bit of a disappointment, due to the fact that we didn’t go through any caverns or near any spires.

balloons of Cappadocia

I don’t want to waste too much time on this Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon experience, because we had a second chance and that second flight gave us everything we ever wanted out of Cappadocia.

So, let’s move on!

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride Number Two!

cappadocia hot air balloons

Luckily, we had two chances to fly over Cappadocia in Turkey. Our second morning in Cappadocia was organized by our hosts at a travel conference we attended in Istanbul. They booked with Royal Balloons and I’m not going to lie, I expected this flight to be worse than yesterday.

ballooning in cappadocia

My expectations had dropped considerably. I assumed I booked with the best, so how could this be any better? Plus, we weren’t going in the comfort balloons, we were all going into a regular size. Regardless, I was happy to be going up again.

hot air balloons and fairy chimneys

The morning already started off way better than the day before. We arrived at the hotel restaurant to a full buffet breakfast with actual tables to sit at to have a bite before our flight.

There were a lot of people in the building, but we were all broken into smaller groups and sent to different vans to join our different balloons once we filled our bellies.

cappadocia hot air balloon with sun

We took off in a very different location than our balloon ride the day before, and were thrilled to see that as we took off, the sun was just coming up. As we rose, we witnessed the incredible Cappadocia landscape filled with colourful hot air balloons.

Flying with Royal Balloons lived up to all our expectations. Before our eyes were the Cappadocia Balloon-filled sky I’d come to expect. It seemed that hundreds of balloons were in the sky, soaring above jagged spires and tall chimneys.

Fairytale Chimney’s of Cappadocia

balloons of Cappadocia
balloons balloons everywhere

Our pilot took his time rising in the air and stayed low, getting so close to the fairy chimneys we felt as if we’d run into them. He went through narrow gorges and jagged peaks and we all grinned with excitement as the spectacle unfolded before us. Balloons were everywhere and we seemed to have the best vantage point of all of them.

Booking a Balloon Flight with the Right Tour Company

hot air ballooning cappadocia

I soon realized that you must book with the right Cappadocia hot air balloon company to have the best Cappadocia experience.

If you don’t launch far away from the crowd, you’ll never see the mass of balloons above the landscape.

It also seemed to depend very much on the pilot. If the pilot doesn’t have enough experience, he can’t stay low in the valleys. He has to go higher above the other balloons and away from any obstacles to keep safe. The more experienced the pilot, the better flight you’ll have. If he is skilled and confident, he can soar and dive at will.

He can ride the wind through narrow gorges and close to fairy chimneys and he can take you out to see the extraordinary views. Our second pilot also spoke better English and had a lot more to say about the landscape. I also loved his sense of humour and casual way of speaking.

balloons cappadocia

I truly believe that the launching point makes all the difference. Our first flight left with many balloons and we were surrounded by other companies. We never could get away from the crowd enough to see the full spectrum of balloons.

cappadocia hot air balloons

Our second hot air balloon ride took off far away from the crowd, allowing us to view the parade of other balloons in the sky.

While our pilot was skilled, he couldn’t turn or drive the hot air balloon.

All he could do was ride the wind currents by raising and lowering the balloon to change directions with the wind. By beginning at a premier location, he already had the best vantage point.

How do you choose a Hot Air Balloon Company in Cappadocia?

Dave and I thought we did our research well. We read travel blog posts about our company and we scoured each and every website.

We were taken by the expensive price and SEO skills of the first company we went with.

They claimed to be the best and that is why their prices were higher, and we believed them. But we should have asked more questions.

Questions to Ask Before Your Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Cappadocia

  • How skilled are your pilots?
  • Can we be booked on the flight with your most skilled pilot? (I am willing to pay more for this once in a lifetime experience)
  • Will they go low in the valley?
  • Will they mix up the flight and go low and high (like ours with Royal Balloons) or will they just stay high?
  • Where is your launch point?
  • Do you take off with the crowd, or do you launch with other balloons?
  • 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?
champage after cappadocia flight
Champagne Once you Land

Note: We booked with Royal Balloons and Voyager Balloons, and Royal gave us the better ride.

But we had read that Voyager gives good rides as well, so perhaps we didn’t ask the right questions.

Do Your Research Before Booking a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia

Visiting Cappadocia is a once in a lifetime experience and you want to make the most of your hot air balloon flight.

We were lucky to have two opportunities. Had we not had the second day, we wouldn’t have realized what we had missed.

I honestly thought that all the grand photographs I saw were photoshopped like crazy, and just assumed that our first flight was the norm and that travel bloggers and travel writers just made up the experience.

But once I saw that a Cappadocia hot air balloon flight could be extraordinary on the second morning, I realized that it’s the pilot you are with that matters.

Cappadocia balloon flight with champagne
Enjoying the after flight drinks

Perhaps the first company did have more experienced pilots, but we didn’t ask the right questions.

We just paid the most money and thought we’d get what we paid for. We learned a valuable lesson: to ask questions before committing. The Internet can lead a lot of customers astray.

Sure, if we didn’t have the second day, we would have gone away feeling fine about our flight, but by seeing what a real hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia is like, we went away mesmerized by our experience. What one would you want?

Tips for a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon
Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia Turkey
  • Dress in layers: you will go to high altitudes and it can be very cold
  • Pack a hat and gloves
  • Bring Sunglasses
  • Carry a GoPro on a Selfie Quick Pod Stick so you can get shots of yourself in the balloon
  • Be the last of your group in the basket. If you hang back and let others go in first, you’ll be on the outside corner giving you unobstructed views.

In the end, we loved our Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Experience.

Both trips ended with a champagne toast and a chance to offer tips to our guides. I was surprised that Royal Balloons didn’t offer sticks with photographs and instead gave people actual hard copy photos.

hot air balloons of cappadocia

I think they should update their photography experience and take photos of the entire trip allowing people to buy all the photos uploaded onto a stick. More people would buy for sure.

Dave and I had plenty of photographs but I am sure that others would love to give €20 Euro for memories of their Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Experience, from take off to landing.

Have you taken a hot air balloon ride? Where was your favourite place to fly?

Read Next: Hot Air Balloon Ride over Kenya’s Masai Mara

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Book Your Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner. We have used them for years and have found that they have the best flight deals.

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor.

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Safety Wing - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Book Your Activities: Looking for walking tours, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more? Then we recommend Get Your Guide.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

54 thoughts on “Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon: How to Choose the Right Company”

  1. Dave & Deb, thanks for this post. To clarify, did Royal Balloons pick you up at your hotel, or did you have to go early morning to another hotel as your meeting point for van pickup? You describe a full breakfast at a hotel during your Royal Balloons experience. I’m just wondering if this meant you ate breakfast at your own hotel, or Royal took you to another hotel for breakfast before then taking you to the launch site. Thanks in advance!

    • We went to another hotel for breakfast. I remember them picking us up at our hotel and then taking us to another hotel where we ate breakfast as a group at the second hotel before getting on a shuttle to take us to the launch site. I would just double check before booking whether or not you have to get yourself to the breakfast location or if they send shuttles as things change constantly in the world of travels. Have an amazing time, it was the trip of a lifetime.

  2. Hello, Thank you for your wonderful review on what to look for when doing a hot air balloon flight and which company to choose. I seriously had no idea. I noticed a lot of companies want to charge me at least 25%-50% more because I’m a solo traveller yet I’ll be in a basket with at least 20-50 people tell me how does that work lol.

  3. Hi,
    I love your article and the images are great. Do you recommend visiting Turkey and Cappadocia in the winter or not all?
    Also, would you recommend someone who prefers to choose a smaller group when going on a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia?

  4. Hello Dave & Deb. Hot air balloon flights are also being organized over Pamukkale (Cotton castle) since couple of years. You may consider attending one if Pamukkale will be your destination in the future. Thank you for the useful article.

  5. The hot air balloon flight is the best thing to do in Cappadocia. The view from the top is amazing. Everyone should make that trip at least once in a lifetime!

  6. Simply the Images sprang great desire in me for a life time experience. God has created nature, human made it seem like surreal. Ride in the Hot Air Balloon Ride will definitely make memories for lifetime. I am sure I will plan a holiday to this dream destination.

  7. Can’t wait to go in Cappadocia! In Lake Tahoe, the company is called Lake Tahoe Balloons and is the only hot air balloon company in the world that takes off and lands from a boat. Amazing views and great company

  8. Wow Hot air balloon, is a Top class adventure. I have a dream to fly someday on the hot air balloon. Very pleased to read this post. Outstanding photography. looks magical to me. Loved it!

  9. Lugar maravilhoso !! Sem comentário… procurei sobre cappadocia no google e cair nesse site. Simplesmente incrivel !!

    Parabéns !!

  10. Great Post… Cappadocia is very interesting city in turkey. I’m from turkey, thanks for sharing this blog… I appreciate

  11. Cappadocia is one of the best places to visit. I have been there once, but im planning a second visit.
    Thank you so much for sharing these incredible photos.

  12. Excellent post, my friend. Since we are planning to go to Cappadocia in the future, your great reviews will really come in handy. Loved it.

  13. I’m simply delighted with the images in the video, they are indpiring. If I had any doubts, I do not have any more. My next trip will be to Cappadocia. Loved it.

  14. The photos are wonderful, I love traveling with theplanetD, you guys are incredible, thanks for the photos and the lovely video 🙂

  15. Taking a balloon ride in Cappadocia is pretty much a must! It was amazing when I went (I chose a different company, Butterfly). Loved your descriptions and photos! Re getting into the basket last, I was lucky – everyone in my quad of the basket was keen to get good photos so we worked together and periodically rotated around so everyone had a chance for the “prime spot”. International collaboration at its finest 🙂

  16. I had a superb experience with Voyager, and we were away from other balloons and went into valleys and could almost touch the chimneys. I am so sorry you did not get the same wonderful experience we had. I thought they were the best and they have a great group of safe pilots.

    • I am glad to hear that you had a fantastic experience. I think if we would have asked the right questions we could have made sure that we got what we expected. I had heard that they went into the valleys and chimneys, so perhaps they put us with a new pilot. Great to hear you had a super time, that is what counts. It is a once in a lifetime experience.

  17. Excellent post, Dave & Deb. Since we are planning Cappadocia in the near future, your unbiased reviews will really come in handy. Loved it. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  18. Beautiful photos, Cappadocia looks so dreamy! the balloon ride should definitely be in everyones bucket list! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this. Safe travels.

  19. Hot air balloon, Top class adventure. I have a dream to fly someday on the hot air balloon. Very pleased to read this post. Outstanding photography. looks magical to me. Loved it:)

  20. ‘ve never had a balloon, I want to know how it feels. I think it’s something fantastic and unforgettable. I still have to make that dream!

  21. I’ve only been on a hot air balloon ride once before, it was an amazing experience, even for me who isn’t great with anything that might put me in danger. This looks amazing though, the photo’s are incredible. I definitely think a hot air balloon ride is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

  22. Great review, tips and photos from our two wonderful hot balloon rides! Yes, we definitely learned that paying more doesn’t necessarily equal a better ride – in fact the opposite in our case. Looking forward to seeing you guys again in Turkey in April 🙂