I mean, where do you even start with Cappadocia?
This is one of the most phenomenal places in the world. Not just because the skies fill with the magical image of colourful hot air balloons from the first sight of daylight in the morning, but the landscape, cave houses and terrain is just out of a fairy-tale.
Getting to Cappadocia/Goreme
Cappadocia is a region of Turkey which hosts the beautiful National Park and UNESCO site of Goreme. If you want to see the skies filled with hot air balloons each morning then make sure you look for your accommodation in Goreme.
Getting to Cappadocia can take some planning so I suggest booking in advance rather than a last minute spontaneous flight (although could make for more of a spontaneous trip if you prefer that). There are two airports that you can fly into Cappadocia. Kayseri airport is roughly 70km from Goreme or Neveshir Airport which is 35km.
We flew into Neveshir Airport which is a very small airport and only flies domestically. It is highly recommend that you organise for a driver to pick you up from the airport to take you to Goreme as the only other alternative is a taxi and they do not come cheaply. Most accommodations in Goreme offer a pick up service at airports so ensure you choose one in advance and check prices before booking. In September 2019 our transfer was 50TL (£6) per person which seems to be the going rate. We did have to wait a little while for the transport to collect more passengers from other incoming flights before we left, but this allowed us time to stretch our legs and grab some snacks. Once the mini-bus was full to the brim with luggage and people, off we set to Goreme.
The bus ride was about one hour. As you are a few kilometers from Goreme you can start to see the unique rock formations appearing in the distance. This was the first time that the excitement of this bucket list destination started to kick in. Prepare to be blown away when you arrive.
Have you ever been able to say you've slept in a cave? Well pop it on the list and do it.
We splurged a little more than usual to stay in a cave because, well, when would you have that opportunity again? Accommodation can be a little more pricey in Gerome in comparison to other locations in Turkey therefore we decided to spend a few extra pounds a night for the full experience. It is unlikely you will stay here for more than a few nights so the splurge feels a bit more justifiable.
We stayed at Hazande Suites with a breakfast buffet included and a fabulous balcony that overlooks Gerome. It was worth every penny.
Experiencing the Hot Air Balloons
There is simply two ways to enjoy this phenomenal experience. From the skies, or from the ground.
Now, a fact that is not widely known is that the hot air balloons may not fly everyday. It may seem obvious once pointed out but it can often mean a very disappointing trip if the plan is to stay for just 1 or 2 nights. In saying that, besides the risk of missing the hot air balloons, you do not need to spend any more than two days in Gerome as it is quite small.
The two days prior to us arriving in Gerome the ballooning was cancelled due to poor weather. The one and only morning we were there (yes, we only booked for one night) we were so lucky that the weather held up and the balloons were given the go ahead. Because the previous two days were cancelled the cost of getting into a balloon was insane, so we happily decided to view from the ground.
From the ground
From the ground you have two options which will depend on where you are staying. If you have scored a lovely terrace that has view of the whole of Gerome, then you can get comfy with a hot drink and enjoy the skies.
The other option and notably most popular is making your way to the highest point possible. A short walk in Gerome you can head to Sunset point (easily identifiable with the big Turkish flag). Due to it's convenience there will be a collection of other tourists enjoying the skies so be prepared to not have much space to yourself. You might even come across some locals blocking the road and requesting a small fee to continue to the top (it was not clear whether they were actually meant to be there or cashing in on the opportunity) but perhaps carry some small change with you so you do not miss out.
Other options are hiking to Love Valley or Sword Valley (about 45 minutes) for a less crowded view. Do be careful if you choose to hike as the terrain can be a little unpredictable.
From the skies
If you want the full experience and to be able to look down at the view then get yourself in one of those baskets. It is recommended to book in advance, but it is possible to book the day before. Be prepared however that the price is not cheap. On a good day it can cost anything from £150 per person. On a bad day (like in our instance) you could be looking at £200/250+ per person. The experience generally lasts for a full hour up in the skies, but some can last for 90+ minutes.
Depending where you stay, some hotels may have affiliated companies that they can reserve a place for you. You can also search the internet, however I found most would say that you have to reserve 7 days before staying.
If you do plan to go up in the balloon make sure you try on your first morning in case of poor weather. If you are cancelled on the first morning then you will have the opportunity to try again the next day. You will normally be notified the evening before if your trip is cancelled to avoid a very early disappointing wake up.
Do not miss out!
Make sure you wake up early! Anywhere between 4-5am is ideal as the first sign of light the balloons will be on their way up. The show tends to be over by around 8am which is then perfect to head back to your hotel for some breakfast and get prepared for the activities that await in Gerome.
Share your experience of visiting Goreme with us or even make us jealous with your Hot Air Balloon story and pictures!