Overnight buses are not my favourite thing in the world, and neither is arriving into an unfamiliar town at 6:30am when it’s still dark and I’ve only had about 4 hours sleep. HOWEVER my experience upon arriving in Goreme- a town in the middle of Turkey in the Cappadocia region is going to be an early morning arrival I will never forget.
I knew that Cappadocia was famous for it’s morning hot air balloon rides and that was what had attracted me to visit Cappadocia but I wasn’t sure if the balloons flew directly over the town of Goreme or over the nearby countryside?? To my delight, once I’d gotten off the overnight bus which I had taken from Pamukkale, got my bearings and started following my trusty map app- maps.me to find my hotel, I saw a couple of balloons being lit up and starting to lift off the ground! The excitement was real!
Watching the Hot Air Balloons from the Ground
I had already thought that on one of my mornings in Cappadocia I wanted to get up and see the balloons from the ground but while walking through the dark and sleepy town I still wasn’t sure if this would be the morning.
Luckily I found my hotel really quickly, I was staying at Diamond of Cappadocia Hotel which I really liked, dumped my bags in reception, grabbed my phone and camera’s and headed up the hill near my hotel for a better view as the sky was starting to get light.
My second dose of luck was that I saw a couple who looked as if they were also heading up high and seemed to know where they were going so I followed them, walked up the hills as fast as I could and I got to the top of the hill, also known as Sunrise and Sunset point just as the balloons were taking off from the town below, soaring above us and heading into the sunrise the other side. There were a few people who had the same clever idea but thankfully it wasn’t too overcrowded and didn’t spoil the atmosphere!
I stayed there for about an hour, taking way too many photos until the sun had really risen and the balloons were starting to deflate back down on the ground.
At this point I wasn’t sure if i should do the balloon ride myself, it looked so amazing from the ground I thought maybe I could get up another morning and see it again like this and save the money, however after talking to some people who had just done it and thinking that I would never be here again I decided to book the balloon ride for my last morning in Cappadocia and oh my, I’m glad I did!
Update: I did return back to Cappadocia 3 years later, this time my hot air balloon ride was actually cancelled because of the wind. But that led me to write this post: 2 Day Itinerary for Cappadocia and Important Information for your trip, so be sure to check that out after!
Going on a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia
After deciding I had to do it, I booked a hot air balloon ride with my hotel, the company I went wit was Turkiye Balloons which turned out to be a great company to go with.
The following day I got picked up by a minibus at 5:10am and my group along with a few others got taken to a restaurant for breakfast whilst the drivers waited to hear where we would be taking off from (it all depends on the wind direction). Before we knew it we were back in the mini bus for the short trip to our take off point and the pilot was explaining what to do when we land and how he cannot control where the balloon will go, he can only control the accent and decent (umm great?!?).
As we arrived 3 balloons were starting to be blown up and then myself along with 15 other people climbed into the basket.. which is a lot bigger and higher than you imagine may I add!
As we took off, which is a really gentle movement, we started to see the sky getting light in the distance and then the sun start to rise!
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We flew over a few of the nearby villages which are a sight in themselves as they are all built into the rocks and are the true fairy chimney’s that everyone comes to see in Cappadocia, and they were still very sleepy.
There were already lots of balloons in the sky which are an incredible sight and totally makes the experience even better and more incredible. We drifted a long and up and down as the sky got brighter and brighter.
We were in the air for about an hour which I felt was enough time before the pilot started to lower us to the ground and pick a landing spot. The landing was a bit bumpy but this is a normal thing and there were lots of workers on the ground to hold us down and make sure we didn’t tip over!
After climbing out of the basket we were able to enjoy the view of the remaining balloons up in the sky and have a glass of champagne which is a tradition after all balloon rides apparently. It was an amazing experience!
I would recommend you book your Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia in advance and for your first morning, as I mention in this post, mine got cancelled twice because of the wind and after this they become really booked up as everyone who had a cancelled one goes on a waitlist. To book a hot air balloon ride in advance, have a look at one of these options, they generally start at €140.00 now.
Other Activities in Cappadocia
I spent 2 nights in Cappadocia and loved it! The town itself along with the surrounding landscape is like nothing i’ve ever seen before, the houses are literally built into the rocks and the landscape is made up of fairy chimneys (yes that’s a real thing!).
On my second day there I did the ‘Green Tour’ where we visited an underground city, a monastery built into the rocks, took a lovely walk along a river in a canyon and visited a panoramic view-point. I would recommend doing this tour as I enjoyed it and it takes you away from Goreme to see more of the Cappadocia area.
Update: On my second trip to Cappadocia I did the Red Tour which I also liked, it’s a bit shorter and stays around the Valleys close to Goreme but on this tour you see the iconic Cappadocia places you see online.
Again I would recommend booking either of these tours in advance, you can book them here:
There are so many more things to do in Cappadocia here, for example going on a quad bike safari through the Valleys, going to the Open Air Museum, hiking through the Valleys yourself or on a tour, having a traditional Turkish Hamman, enjoying the many cafes and restaurants in the town of Goreme, going on another day tour or doing a traditional cooking class.
Useful Information about your trip to Cappadocia!
The town of Goreme is completely set up for tourists, there are buses running to and from all places in Turkey including Fethiye, Izmir, Antalya, Pammukkale, Ankara, Istanbul.
There is so much accommodation in Goreme, I stayed in Diamond of Cappadocia Hotel which I would highly recommend, it was a reasonable price for the standard of rooms and a brilliant location.
Update: on my second trip to Cappadocia, I stayed at Cappadocia View Hotel which I also really liked. It has a brilliant terrace to watch the balloons from in the morning!
Goreme also has plenty of hotels so you can visit Cappadocia on a budget too!
Look into Accommodation in Cappadocia here and be sure to book in advance as it does get busy now it’s so popular:
I would recommend staying in the town of Goreme if you are travelling by bus as it is easy to get to everything. If your are hiring a car to drive yourself around Cappadocia you could stay in another village or town nearby that perhaps isn’t as touristy, but without your own car staying anywhere else but Goreme would be difficult.
If you do the balloon ride (which of course you should!) then also get up early one morning to see the balloons from sunrise point, or bare this in mind when arriving on an overnight bus as like me you might be able to catch them then!
I flew to Istanbul from Kayseri airport which is one of the airports that serve the Cappadocia region. It’s an hour drive from Goreme and I got a shuttle bus to the airport for 25 TL/ £5.00 which was a lot cheaper than some of the shuttle companies I saw advertise online so wait until you get there to book it. The flight is really quick from Kayseri to Istanbul, just over an hour and flights can be found for a really cheap price too. I got a flight for £10.00 with luggage by looking on Skyscanner.com in advance.
I hope this helps plan you trip, let me know in the comments below or by tweeting me @wandering_quinn!
If you’re visiting some other places in Turkey you may like these other posts of mine: